journal of a self proclaimed beer connoisseur

Posts tagged “Beer

Coopers – Sparkling Ale

Date: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Brewery: Coopers
Beer: Sparkling Ale
Category: Specialty Beer (Australian Sparkling Ale) 
ABV:
5.80%
Brewed in: Australia

Coopers Sparkling Ale is technically an “Australian Sparkling Ale” which is not a specifically recognized style of beer by the BJCP. We would hope the next official release of  BJCP guidelines would include this style. For the time being it is specifically referenced as falling under “Specialty Beer”.

In terms of what type of beer it is similar to? I have seen others refer to it as an “English Pale Ale” or EPA.

The beer pours a attractive golden and is cloudy which is a result of the beer being unfiltered and bottle conditioned. In fact, the yeast in the bottle has another distinct effect.

If you are wondering why it is called “Sparkling Ale” – check this out:

The head developed one finger thick and an almost pure white. Retention was very average and minimal lacing occurred.

The aroma I get it sweet malts, some bready yeast, and subtle hints of hops and citrus notes. I think it kind of smells like how it looks if that makes sense.

The taste begins a smooth with a crisp maltiness that gives way to the hops and a more bitter finish. There are definite fruits notes here with citrus being obvious. The other influence is harder to identify – maybe apples or pears. Again, the finish is hoppy. Very balanced overall.

The mouthfeel is light to medium. It is smooth but at the same time quite carbonated.

Overall, I found this beer to be extremely refreshing and thirst quenching possessing some very subtle complexities to keep me interested. I would have never tried this beer if I hadn’t been given that “Beer a Day” book. I am glad I did. This will surely be a staple of my warmer-season beer roster.

I would also add that this beer has the complexities and subtleness to it’s character that most beer geeks would enjoy it but, at the same time, it has the perfect blend of qualities (and price) to give to your non-beer geek friends to get the started on quality beer.

Last comment: next time you want to toast to Australia, put down the damn Foster’s and grab a Cooper’s. Aussie’s will notice and thank you.

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In-depth: Aging Beer

If you have started to get into the craft beer scene you have probably started to read various sources of beer reviews or ratings. You may be surfing on ratebeer or beeradvocate and have obviously somehow found this blog.

Through these travels you likely have encountered examples of beer that has been aged months up or years. Many beers continue to improve with age.

I know in my reading I have come across numerous instances of this. What confused me was that I would see some beers that were considered to get worse with age. These beers were recommended to be consumed as soon as possible. This actually applies to virtually all mass-produced beers you will find.

This led me to wonder what the difference was and how I could identify beers that would benefit from me purchasing and aging them. Lots of beer aficionados will purchase beer of a particular vintage, sometimes numerous bottles, then leave them to sit for a few years. You may then sample the same beer of different vintages or agings. This is known as a “vertical” tasting. (more…)


Dundalk – Smithwick’s Ale

Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Brewery: Dundalk
Beer: Smithwick’s
Category: Irish Red Ale
ABV:
5.00%
Brewed in: Ireland

This Irish Ale is a clear amber with a rusty tint to it. It pours with a one finger white head. Head retention was moderate and lacing was present but not in huge amounts.

The nose is very subtle with a faint malty aroma. There are notes of caramel and hops but, again, very subtle.

The taste is clean and reminiscent of a lager. The malt leads the flavor march and tastes a bit more grainy than the aroma. Caramel is again present but understated. The yeast and hopes are present but very hard to detect. They taste very clean – almost fresh – but are quite understated.

The mouthfeel is soft and it drinks very clean and crisp with a somewhat dry finish. Medium carbonation.

This Ale seems to straddle a couple lines with lagers but is quite refreshing and very easy to drink. This is another beer to remember when you aren’t looking for something new or extremely interesting and just want a reasonably priced six pack for some event. In fact, if you have friends who aren’t big into the beer scene this might even be quite interesting for them.

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In-depth: Beer in Munich

Background

My wife and I were in Munich for about 4 days in September of 2009. While there we learned a great deal about the local beer, it’s history, and the beer culture so ingrained in the German state of Bavaria. Munich immediately seized a special place and meaning for me and I continue to be fascinated by all things beer. This has lead me to write this piece to share what I know about beer as it relates to Munich.

While we traveled we took a “Beer and Brewery” tour with a local guide that also taught English classes to the local Bavarians. He would always invite his English class students along on the beer tour to provide them an opportunity to polish up their English and to add an authentic presence to the tour. Not a bad idea in my opinion.

I should note it was these gentleman who informed me that people living in Munich or elsewhere in Bavaria do not often consider themselves “Germans”. They prefer to be called “Bavarians”. I can’t speak to how much of a biased comment this was. This is me in the front and the two Bavarian dudes along for the tour in the back:

Me and some locals at the Hofrbrauhaus

I don’t have a specific idea of what I want to write about – so this could get long…click to keep reading

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Traquair – House Ale

Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Brewery: Traquair
Beer: House Ale
Category: Strong Scotch Ale
ABV:
7.20%
Brewed in: Scotland

Traquair House Ale pours a dark chestnut color that is virtually impenetrable by light. The head developed one finger thick even with an extremely aggressive pour. There was minimal lacing and short retention.

My nose is picking up on a handful of similar aromas: roasted malt, toffee, caramel, and molasses. They all balance each other out quite well.

The taste was not as loaded as the aroma. I only really notice roasted and nutty caramel and toffee. It is surely less complex then smelling the beer let on.

The mouthfeel is quite light and carbonation is low to medium. The alcohol content of 7.2% is not any more noticeable than a beer with 5%. It goes down quite easy.

The individual aspects of this beer are less than the sum of its parts. My general overall impression of this beer is quite positive. It has very complimentary flavors, smells, and mouthfeel that combine for a very enjoyable drink.

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Ratings retrofit

I hadn’t really thought about it – but I don’t currently have any way for someone to gauge my general “ranking” or opinion of a beer. For that reason I am going to undergo a “ratings retrofit” and amend all my reviews to date to include a rating. I typically do this on http://www.ratebeer.com anyway, so I will just round those ratings to the nearest whole number.

I am going to rate beers out of five pints.

1 pint is a disgusting liquid that should be injected back into the horse (or moose) weiner. These are beers I wouldn’t ever drink again even if they were free.

 

 

5 pints will represent a heavenly brew that beer lovers should go above and beyond to obtain. We are talking about beers that epitomize their respective styles.

I will then use these ratings going forward for new reviews.


Beer Tasting – Unibroue Night

I am planning a beer tasting night on February 5, 2011 with 4 of my closest friends and fellow beer lovers.

Really the night will just be a hang out time with the guys but we are going to make the beer drinking center around beers from Unibroue and share our thoughts on each one. I sent a list to everyone to choose their top 5 picks. I’ll tally the votes up and see which 5 have the most. Check back after February 5th and I’ll post my review on each of them.  You can see a quick summary after the jump or go to http://www.unibroue.com to check them out.

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Duvel

Date: Friday, January 21, 2011
Brewery: Duvel
Beer: Duvel
Category: Belgian Golden Strong Ale
ABV:
8.50%
Brewed in: Belgium

Pours a cloudy yellow with a bit of an orange tint. The head develops rapidly and reaches four fingers of thickness. It is white and very fluffy. The head retention is insane. It literally doesn’t recede until you drink it.

The aroma is earthy and a little grassy with some sweet malts. The hop smell is amazing and screams quality ingredients. There are some light fruit notes – maybe bananas and oranges. Quite understated but adds a bit of complexity.

The taste echoes the aroma with added elements of lemon and some spice – cloves maybe?  The taste is sweet from the malts but balances with the floral hops and the funky belgian yeast. The alcohol becomes increasingly more apparent as it warms but is never overpowering or unwanted.

The beer has a moderate body and medium to high carbonation with a dry finish. The beer is very effervescent and is mesmerizing to just watch through the bottom of your tulip glass.

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This is the picture KingBobyJr originally commented on:

Sleeman – Honey Brown Lager

Date: Saturday, January 22, 2011
Brewery: Sleeman (Sapporo owned)
Beer: Honey Brown Lager
Category: Dark American Lager
ABV:
5.20%
Brewed in: Canada (Guelph, ON)

I had this beer on tap at Devaney’s Irish Pub in Edmonton. A friend and I split a pitcher. The beer is a clear light golden brown and head pours a thick and creamy white – about two fingers. Retention and lacing are both surprisingly good.

The aroma is very faint and I am hard pressed to detect much of anything. I can smell some sweet malt. Despite how much I try I can not pick up on any honey.

The beer tastes very sweet and malty. I still don’t pick up on any honey although that might be what is causing the sweetness. I also taste no hops.

The beer is lightly carbonated with a light body. It is quite smooth.

There was nothing disgusting about this beer but there was also nothing stellar. I wouldn’t ever intentionally seek this beer out. When you are going to be drinking a couple pints and your other options end in “Light” or “Lite” or advertise their drinkability – this is a good choice.

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Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout

Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Brewery: Kiuchi
Beer: Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout
Category: American Stout
ABV:
7.50%
Brewed in: Japan

Pours clean black resembling a dark cup of coffee with a cappucino colored head. The head was thick and about two fingers in the glass provided at the Sugar Bowl. It faded rather quickly and left decent lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of espresso beans and dark chocolate. There is a distinct burnt smell. The coffee notes smell like a fresh espresso.

The taste is of strong and old coffee. The freshness you would hope for in the espresso flavor is lacking. Something is off about it (a bit of research has shown me this is probably because they add espresso beans directly to the boil). There is a nice taste of dark chocolate and roasted malts. There are not hints of hops in the beer.

The mouthfeel is smooth and velvety with gentle carbonation. The mouthfeel was one of the more impressive parts of this beer.

This beer was not terrible but I consider this type of beer one of my favorites and can name at least three direct competitors that are clearly superior. Don’t shy away from giving this one a try but you will likely find yourself lead away permanently by better coffee/espresso stouts.

I should point out that my choice of category of “American Stout” doesn’t fit the BJCP guidelines. It should technically go into category 21 or 23 for specialty or coffee beers. But in reality it is a stout. It isn’t really an Imperial but it is 0.5% stronger than the range for American Stout. Many would call this a “double American Stout”. So I decided to put it in American Stout.

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