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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 is from Gourmet Monthly Clubs.

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Atwater Block Michigan LagerAtwater Block Brewery Michigan Lager

Appearance: Michigan Lager pours a mildly hazy, straw color. A big, puffy white head full of big bubbles forms that sticks around for a few minutes before receding to a thin, but still substantial, layer.

Smell: There’s some noble hop aroma in the nose that is the first thing you smell. Some mild, biscuity aroma comes through towards the end... not predominantly, but cleanly in the end.

Taste: This is a dry, crisp beer right up front with A LOT of carbonation dissolved in the beer ever after pouring it pretty hard and releasing a big head. A good swirl raises a two finger head so either use an oversized glass and pour hard, or pour and swirl in the glass. After cutting the carbonation, it’s a clean pilsner with a great, bright hop bitterness. Some clean malt comes through right after the hops, giving a great backbone for the taste of the earthy noble hops that come through. All in all this is a very tasty pilsner style beer that just has too much carbonation. If the brewery could get a handle on that, this would be wonderful!


Bison Brewing Organic Gingerbread AleBison Brewing Company Organic Gingerbread Ale

Appearance: The Gingerbread Ale pours much like the color of gingerbread itself, a dark brown... unlike gingerbread, though, light shines through at the edges rendering the beer a ruddy reddish-brown. The head is a dark cream color and doesn’t form that high before it quickly disappears.

Smell: It smells like gingerbread! A little bit of warm winter spice, this beer seems super appropriate for Christmas and the holiday season. Through the spice you can get some dark malts that are more toasty than roasty.

Taste: While the brew smells quite strong, the flavor is much less spiced than expected which is very good. There’s nothing worse than an overspiced mess of a beer. Just a hint of gingerbread comes through; it ends up being more like a mild pumpernickel or other dark bread. There are definitely some stout characteristics to this one, some mildly sweet roasted and chocolate malts.


Atwater Block Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Block Brewery Vanilla Java Porter


Appearance:
This beer pours a super dark, but not opaque, color that looks dark, deep garnet at the center when held up to the light. A thin, dark cream colored head barely shows itself on top then disappears into the darkness.

Smell: Yup! Coffee and vanilla are right! They’re both definitely here in this beer. They pretty much take over the beer and it smells like something you’d buy at Starbucks.

Taste: While the beer smells big, bold, smooth and thick the beer doesn’t quite come through like that. The body is actually quite light and it’s an easy drinking brew. The mid-palate is almost non-existent, which is quite a strange sensation, with the vanilla providing a light sweetness on the finish. The coffee and vanilla are here, but seem to disappear after the aroma that is inherent in lifting the glass to your mouth and near your nose. While this may not seem like the best thing, we thing this actually is great. A lot of vanilla beers really overdue the flavor. This is done in a very balanced manner with the vanilla integrated very well into the roasty coffee and chocolate of the porter.


Bison Brewing Company IPABison Brewing Company India Pale Ale

Appearance: This IPA pours an orangey, copper color with one and a half fingers of bone white head.

Smell:
Perhaps our noses are just shot, but we only get a mild citrusy aroma from this one. Malt is pretty quiet, as are the hops, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect from an IPA.

Taste:
Some solid but understated bitterness in this IPA, it’s definitely not west coast style... but not all IPAs have to be, or should be! There’s a great orange flavor that comes from the hops in the finish of the beer that is interesting. Normally people get grapefruit or citrus like that, but this is decidedly orange. The malt in the beer is clean, but gives a great mouthfeel and solid sweetness to keep the hops in check. This is definitely a tasty IPA for a cool day, as the sweetness gives it a good bit of body but it doesn’t have the heft of an Imperial Stout or Barleywine for winter.

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 is from Gourmet Monthly Clubs.

Join this beer of the month club or compare other beer of the month clubs.

Geary's Brewing Company London PorterGeary’s Brewing Company London Porter


Appearance: This porter pours jet black with the slightest tinge of ruby at the edges when held up to the light. With a light brown head, it almost looks like a pint of espresso with a huge crema on it. Be careful, though, when pouring this brew. It’s a bit overcarbonated and will throw a huge head off, even with the lightest of pours. It’s going to take a few steps of pouring and letting the head settle.

Smell: Roasty unsweetened cocoa is the first thing you can smell. The aroma is dry with some minerality to it. There’s maybe even a hint of that Guinness sourness to it.

Taste: Even with the huge head this beer is still overcarbonated. The prickly bubbles cover most of the flavor, so give this one a few good swirls to knock out some more CO2. After agitating it, we were able to easily build up another three finger head and the excess carbonation was gone. At sub-5% abv, this is a thin, easy drinking beer that is probably quite to the style that porters (for which the style is named) on London docks used to drink during work. It’s quite dry, with some minor roast notes and a cocoa/coffee finish. It’s definitely easy to drink, and the slight sourness (similar to Guinness) keeps this lower-alcohol brew quite interesting.

Hub City Oatmeal StoutHub City Brewing Company Oatmeal Stout

Note to beer drinkers: The caps on Hub City bottles say, “Twist Off.” It’s not! Don’t try, you’ll rip up your hands! We don’t know if their old caps or what, but don’t trust the print. Always use a bottle opener.

Appearance: If we thought the Geary’s London Porter poured dark, then we don’t even know what this one is. This is black as the night on the new moon... no light is getting through this one. Conversely, the head on this beer is as opposite as can be from the London Porter, in that there is not. We poured this brew heavily and there nothing but a few traces of bubbles.

Smell: You can definitely get the oatmeal in the smell of this one. It smells quite mild, probably from the lack of carbonation to carry anything to your nose, but what is there is sweet chocolate, without the roast and grain bitterness sometimes found in dark beers.

Taste: As expected, carbonation is quite light but it’s far from flat. There’s just enough CO2 to give this beer a good mouthfeel, and the mildness of the bubbles really helps with the thick, slick and full mouthfeel of the oatmeal. This Oatmeal Stout has a solid body and some good semi-sweet chocolate that carries from the beginning to the finish. Even the aftertaste is nice. If you’re looking for a tasty Oatmeal Stout that you can drink all night, this is definitely a good choice!

Geary's Hampshire Special AleGeary’s Brewing Company Hampshire Special Ale

Appearance: The Hampshire Special Ale, or HSA as the lovers of this beer call it, pours a rich golden-red, copper color with crystal clarity. A light, milk colored head forms on top about one finger tall and soon recedes to a thin layer of micro bubbles with some intermittent patches of larger ones.

Smell: This brew leads in aroma with hops and alcohol. At 7% abv and nearly 50 IBUs, this is no surprise. There’s also from fruity esthers from the ale yeast used by Geary’s and, in the background, is just a little bit of malt suggesting that this brew is going to be balanced by a bit of sweetness.

Taste: This one leads with a sharp, but fairly balanced, bite of hops with a little alcohol. There’s definitely some sweetness, almost reminiscent of honey, balancing the bitterness. It fades quickly, though, and leaves a thin finish that, while not hot, is alcoholy and almost a trace of solvent in the nose. In the back of the mouth there’s definitely some fruitiness as well, probably coming from the yeast esthers. Being based in Boston, MA we’ve run into this perennial New England favorite before. While it seems we didn’t love it, it does have a large local following of experienced beer drinkers who love it. So this is one we cautiously recommend with the caveat that some love it and some don’t. But it’s definitely worth checking out and is one of those local gems that makes Beer of the Month Clubs such great gifts!

Hub City Paradise AleHub City Brewing Company Paradise Ale

Note to beer drinkers: The caps on Hub City bottles say, “Twist Off.” It’s not! Don’t try, you’ll rip up your hands! We don’t know if their old caps or what, but don’t trust the print. Always use a bottle opener.

Appearance: Hazy golden, this beer pours with a large and active head that settles into a stable, meringue-like topping. We poured gently and still got a large topping of froth, but it looks tasty!

Smell: Oooh. This “tropical IPA,” as Hub City describes it, is brewed with some of our favorite hops: Amarillo and Simcoe. And you can tell! Paradise Ale smells dry and has some serious fruity, tropical hop aromas. Lemon, pineapple and citrus comes through. There is little to no grain or alcohol in the aroma, we’ve really got a hop forward beer on our hands.

Taste: Just a note, after analyzing this beer’s smell and appearance for a good five minutes there’s still a serious, thick head on top. The first thing we notice is the hop bitterness, as it should be in an IPA. It’s dry, with some great fruity hop flavor and finishes with almost a honey-like quality. On the very end, you get a dryness in the throat and a coating of hop resin on the back of your mouth.

Join this beer of the month club or compare other beer of the month clubs.

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 is from Gourmet Monthly Clubs.

Join this beer of the month club or compare other beer of the month clubs.

Appalachian Brewing Mountain LagerAppalachian Brewing Company Mountain Lager

Appearance: Mountain Lager pours a deep golden with a white, airy head that quickly disappears into a thick film of bubbles.

Smell: We have to be honest... there’s not much going on in the aroma here; that’s not unusual for this style, though. Lagers are brewed to be clean.

Taste: Wow. There’s some tasty, bready malt in this one! The lager is clean and crisp, the solid yet mild malt shows through while the yeast is only noticeable if something was done wrong. The grain is the major star here! It’s a little like chewing on some 2-row barley.


Abita Brewing Wheat BeerAbita Brewing Company Wheat Beer

Appearance: For a wheat beer, this is oddly clear. There’s a hint of haze if you look for it, but for the most part this is a clear, golden beer with a 1 1/2 finger head if you pour it hard. These are usually not what you think of when you think “wheat beer.”

Smell: There’s definitely some wheat in the aroma, but it’s mild and there’s not much else going on here. It’s mild aroma in a different way than the Appalachian Lager, though, as that smelled crisp. This smells just muted.

Taste: Wow. This is one of the cleanest and crispest beers on the front of the tongue we’ve ever tried. On the back of the tongue there’s some chalky wheatiness, though, and the beer finishes with a bit of fruitiness after you swallow. As for carbonation, the head tells the whole story: it’s mild.

Appalachian Brewing Jolly Scot Scottish Style AleAppalachian Brewing Company 80 Schilling Scottish Style Ale

Appearance: While some beers call themselves red ales, this one is a brick/garnet red. A thin, light brown head forms on top but disappears quickly

Smell: This smells great! Sweet malt and the Scottish Ale yeast go great together! There is definitely some brown sugar in the aroma, although we bet it’s just from the malt.

Taste: Sweet, but not cloying. The malt has some serious body, in a great way. The light carbonation works great and this beer comes together very well. It’s definitely a bit light for style, but we enjoy it! Just to reiterate, sweet malt and the Scottich Ale yeast Appalachian uses go great together!


Abita Brewing TurbodogAbita Brewing Company Turbodog

Appearance: This is one dark brown ale! We would’ve guessed it was a porter if not for the label on the back of the bottle. A two finger head puffs up and then thins out.

Smell: Lots of chocolate in the aroma here, it smells sweet but yet there is something else. The earthy fragrance of English hops finish out this brew.

Taste:  As good as this beer smells the taste is only pretty good. It’s a little thin and lacking the chocolate and roasted malt that the aroma promised. It’s dry, but the aftertaste is a little sour. It’s a good enough beer, but not one that we’d seek out.

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