This month Gourmet Monthly Clubs sends us beer from Lucky Bucket and Michigan brewery. There were a couple of surprises this month, notably the Michigan Porter.
Lucky Bucket IPA
Up front there’s clear notes of pine with just a touch of citrus in the aroma. As I took my first sip those same flavors followed through though I was slightly surprised by a malt sweetness to the beer. It’s just a touch sweeter than I’d personally prefer, though many prefer this. This is fairly aggressively hopped and there’s a nice pine resin flavor that caries through. This is definitely a west coast style IPA.
Lucky Bucket Lager
I’ve been on a bit of a lager kick lately so I had high hopes for this beer. Calling a beer a lager is so vague that I often really don’t know what to expect. There’s a really nice slightly fruity flavor to this beer (note, I didn’t say it tasted like a fruit beer, just has fruity notes, didn’t want to scare any of you). The beer has been dry hopped with Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo hops which give it an awesome aroma. I would definitely buy this beer if I saw it in the stores. It’s just a nice tasty lager, and that’s a good thing.
Michigan Brewing Peninsula Porter
This beer pours a rich dark brown color with a light tan head. There’s notes of coffee, dried fruit and chocolate in the nose. While I’m not a stickler for style by any means if you handed me this beer and asked me what it was I would have said milk stout. There’s a distinct lactose flavor to this beer which is really nice. There’s deep chocolate and coffee notes with a touch of dates to the finish. This beer caught me totally of guard but in a great way.
Michigan Brewing Nut Brown Ale
The problem with reviewing beer is that personal taste plays an inherent role in the comments. I’m going to preface this with the fact that I don’t love brown ales. I don’t dislike them, but I just like other styles more, it’s pretty rare that I buy a brown ale. This beer nice, slightly sweet, and has some nice malt notes with touches of brown sugar. There’s a slight nuttiness to the beer, though not as much as I would have liked. Overall the beer is alright, it just didn’t wow me.
If you're thinking of joining a beer of the month club you've found the right place. Each month we review a beer of the month club shipment to give you an idea of what you really get. This month Gourmet Monthly Clubs sends us Dominion Brewing Company from Delaware and Pennsylvania Brewing Company...from Pennsylvania (obvious, huh?).
Pennsylvania Brewing Company Marzen
Appearance: This Marzen pours a crystal clear dark amber to almost brown color. The taupe head maxes out at about 2.5 inches tall with a rough pour, but quickly settles. It seems a bit dark for a Marzen, to be honest...but that’s not a bad thing.
Smell: As a Marzen should, this brew has a clean aroma and just a faint sweet malt scent. It’s a lager meant to be drank in mass quantities, so it should be fairly easy going.
Taste: Just like the smell, it’s a bit sweet on the tongue and there’s virtually no hop bitterness. We wish this one had finished just a tad dryer, as the sweetness makes it a bit thick and hard to drink a lot. It’s tasty enough, but there are others in this style we’d prefer.
Pennsylvania Brewing Company Penn Weizen
Appearance: As a traditional German Hefeweizen, Penn Weizen looks just like it should! It pours a hazy golden straw with a huge white head. It’s on the dark end of the spectrum for this style, but that could be because we stirred up the yeast a little bit before pouring.
Smell: Yum! This smells like some of the best German Hefeweizens we’ve had. Banana and clove, with this one being heavier on the banana, predominate. In the background there is some wheaty, bready malt. This is a style we often overlook and we’re really excited to drink this one.
Taste: Yup, there it is! That great wheat malt flavor we love in beers like this, it finishes dry and almost chalky...but in a good way. The banana in the nose really lends a bit of complexity. This beer is refreshing enough for summer, but malty enough to hold up in winter. Check it out for sure, this is a winner.
Dominion Hop Mountain Pale Ale
Appearance: Hop Mountain is a clear amber with slightly orange tones to it. A dark cream colored, dense head forms on top. After smelling this beer, you get the feeling that the foam is almost green from all the hops.
Smell: Whoa, this is like sticking your nose into a bag of hops! Seriously. A bag of hops. For real. That’s all you can smell. Dank hops.
Taste: And this beer tastes just like it smells. It’s not super bitter, but rather well balanced...we don’t mean it’s not bitter, it’s just not enamel dissolvingly bitter. After the bitterness, though, there’s a ton of hop flavor. Dank, piney flavor stays with this one throughout your entire drinking experience. It’s like drinking a bag of hops. Yum!
Dominion Brewing Company Oak Barrel Stout
Appearance: Suuuuuuuuuper black, Oak Barrel Stout doesn’t even allow a little bit of light to come through at the edges. A light brown, coffee with 5 creams, head fluffs up to a height of about 3 inches before it recedes to just wisps a minute later.
Smell: Dark, bittersweet chocolate is the first thing that comes out, and you can tell it’s enhanced by the vanilla they use in the brew process.
Taste: It’s actually a lot lighter on the tongue than you’d expect from a beer this dark. Fairly dry, you get a bit of cocoa with the vanilla just there enough to make it more chocolaty. This may be the first beer with vanilla in it that we’ve had where the vanilla didn’t totally dominate the brew. This is definitely one to check out if you can. A delicious stout with an interesting take that makes it a unique version of the style.
If you're thinking of joining a beer of the month club you've found the right place. Each month we review a beer of the month club shipment to give you an idea of what you really get. This month Gourmet Monthly Clubs sends us a local (to us) favorite, Ipswich Brewing Company. Ipswich has been brewing for 20 years now and puts out some of the most delicious brews in New England. They're definitely one to look out for, and we're stoked to have Gourmet Monthly Clubs send it to us this month!
Flying Dog Garde Dog Biere De Garde
Appearance: Garde Dog pours a crystal clear light amber with a fluffy white head. While the head is shorter than expected, it’s there and puffy for sure.
Smell: This one smells Belgian! Yeast is the prominent player in this brew, and that’s perfect for style. While it’s a French-style biere de garde, it definitely smells quite a bit like a Belgian-style saison (which is fine, as the styles are close cousins and overlap quite frequently). Yeasty phenolics, light banana and a little pepper come through, with a pale, lightly bready malt as a backdrop.
Taste: While the smell is Belgian, the taste is definitely French! This is more malt forward than the more popular Belgian cousin and finishes a little sweeter. The malt is a little earthy, while the beer transitions to finish a with a light banana flavor. To finish off the review, look out for a little spiciness from the rye malt that the crazy buggers over at Flying Dog threw into this one...it’s not traditional, but rye makes everything better!
Ipswich Brewing Company Original Ale
Appearance: Ipswich Original Ale pours a mildly hazy amber with just a tinge of orange. A bone-white head forms about two inches tall on top, but recedes to a couple of millimeters where it seems to stay almost indefinitely.
Smell: Well, it’s an “Original Ale.” What did you expect it to smell like? It smells like beer. A little malt, a little hops and some yeast...but somehow that simple combo smells delicious!
Taste: Mild hop bitterness and a clean malt character start the beer out deliciously! It has a light, but not thin body, resinous hops that are somehow not bitter or even strong in flavor and a dry finish. This is the beer you want when you just want a beer!
Now, some may accuse us of favoritism on this one as Ipswich Brewing Company is one of our local favorites, but let us tell you that they live up to anything we say about how good they are. Ipswich has been putting out delicious beers under the radar for years now, but only recently have people really started to take notice. So be happy you got this delicious local favorite from Gourmet Monthly Clubs...and if your live somewhere that you can get Ipswich, go pick up a six-pack. It’s all good, but in addition to this month’s package, we have to recommend the Oatmeal Stout as well!
Flying Dog Road Dog Porter
Appearance: Road Dog pours a clear, dark brown. When you hold it up the light you’ll see that it also has some very dark, brick red tones to it. A surprisingly light foam springs up and that heads sits at two fingers for quite a while.
Smell: This beer smells a bit like bitter chocolate with notes of coffee beans. You also get a bit of bitter, almost acrid (but in a good way) aroma from the black malt that the brewers added.
Taste: When you look at this beer you can get a good idea of how it will taste. Many porters are pitch black and you gets bitter, roasty black malt flavors. This one is much lighter and, accordingly, the flavors are a bit sweeter and you even get a little prune out of it. There is some malt bitterness on the finish but, for the most part, this is a super-interesting, if non-traditional, take on the style.
Ipswich Brewing Company IPA
Appearance: Ipswich IPA pours a rich orange and ruby body with a slight haze and a craggy, taupe head that just seems to hang around forever getting rockier and rockier.
Smell: With the pour so came the aromas of hops that permeated the room. Ipswich somehow coaxes an herbal hop aroma out of the Cascade hops they use in their interpretation of an IPA. At the same time, you get malt that is more than a hops delivery device, it provides a backbone and structure that makes this beer so much more interesting than just hop juice.
Taste: Aaaaaaaand this is why this is one of our favorite, if not significantly underrated, IPAs! It has the bitterness and IBUs that make you feel like the enamel is being stripped off your teeth, but the malt to balance out the beer a bit and give it some intrigue. This beer does not get the hype it deserves; it’s without a doubt one of the best IPAs to emerge from the East Coast (or anywhere) in the craft beer movement. As we mentioned, Ipswich is a local brewery and we feel that it’s our duty to alert those not lucky enough to have tried this beer to it’s deliciousness! This is the reason that clubs like Gourmet Monthly Clubs is so great, they find the delicious local beers you’d never otherwise be able to try!