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This month's selections are great for summer. We were pleasantly surprised by the two "lighter" offerings. We put "lighter" in quotes because the beers defied style quite a bit and offered a lot more than we expected. Read on for the full reviews.

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Coastal Fog Amber Ale

Appearance: Medium amber, actually a bit darker than you’d expect for the style.

Smell: Nice piny hop aroma, again stronger than you’d think for style. We’re intrigued at this point.

Taste: The appearance and smell don’t lie, this is a tasty beer with a nice hop flavor. Often amber ales are a sort of throw away for the brewery, a please the masses offering if you will. This actually has nice hop flavor that’s very well rounded though not overly bitter. This certainly isn’t trying to pretend to be a pale ale but there’s really nice grape fruit notes to the hops and it’s very easy drinking.

Coastal Fog IPA
Appearance: Hazy straw with a fluffy white head

Smell: A bit of malt and a hint of hops

Taste: You know, this one threw us for a loop. We swear the amber actually has better hop flavor than the IPA does. We wanted more bitterness from this beer. For us this beer was decent but between the amber and the IPA the amber is the stand out. This beer is tasty, it just didn’t wow us.

Cisco Bailey’s Blonde Ale

Appearance: Hazy straw with a HUGE head. The head on this beer is super fluffy and thick, in the picture it might look like it’s about to spill over but it never did. It just billowed straight up almost like a souffle.

Smell: Lots of citrusy hops.

Taste: We’re starting to think GMC had a trend this month. Once again, this style is normally not known for it’s hop flavor but this beer delivers in a big way. We’ve said this before, but we try so many beers that we often forget about some breweries in our back yards. This beer is super local to us but we can’t remember the last time we had one. It's an outstanding beer, though. Using both Centennial and Cascade hops this brew is perfect when you want a nice hoppy beer but might not want something as full bodied as an IPA.

Cisco Whales Tale Pale Ale

Appearance: Light amber

Smell: Fruity hops

Taste: This drinks more like an English IPA than an American one. By that we mean there’s a more defined malt flavor that’s backed by hops. This beer is available widely where we live so we’ve had this on many an occasion. While it’s a good beer by any standard once again from this brewery their other offering this shipment is what really wowed us.

We've been meaning to do a write up on the Rare Beer Club for a while. In fact some of you have even emailed us lately asking if we've tried it. We've been reviewing regular beer clubs for a couple of years now and the folks from the Rare Beer Club were kind enough to send us a shipment so we could check it out. Read on for details, but let's just say we were not disappointed.

You can order this club here: Join the Rare Beer Club

Jolly Pumpkin Biere de Goord

This is a beer for the Pints for Prostates charity and a donation of $3 will be made for every bottle of this beer sold. That said, other than visiting the brewery, this club is the only way to get it... which is why it’s totally worth it to join the Rare Beer Club.

Brewed as a saison with kale, pumpkin, pumpkin seed, peppercorn and green tea then aged in oak barrels and fermented with Ron Jeffries’ proprietary house strains of crazy funk, we expect this beer to be nothing short of epic. With funky pumpkin beer on our minds, let’s sit back and try it...

Appearance: This beer pours super hazy, although it’s light in color. It looks great, like a wit with a lot more color intensity. But there is so much more to this beer. A pale white head is smaller than expected and receeds fairly quickly. Oh well, who cares since we can already smell this beer and it smells amazing! While taking the picture you see, Jeff kept messing it up by sticking his nose in to smell it!

Smell: The first thing you smell is tartness! This beer smells tart and delicious! After the sour notes back off, this beer explodes in aroma. The big one is super-ripe cantaloupe! Wow. You know when your cantaloupe smells like it might have fermented a little, and it smells amazing but you know it’s the last day you could eat it? That smell is here. There’s also a good bit of pineapple and sharp citrus. This beer smells funky, sour and bright! Now let’s drink it!

Taste: At first sip, the tartness is right up front. As you continue on, though, the depth of flavor really comes through. This is one of the best beers we’ve EVER had. We’ve been doing this site for almost five years now, and this is easily one of the best brews we’ve ever had. Right up front the bitterness from the green tea and kale plays into the sourness and there’s a crazy upfront attack! As the beer finishes while you swallow, you get the peppercorns coming right on through, and they linger on the back of your throat in a mild black pepper burn. This pepper and the minerality of the kale really contribute to a dry finish that rounds out the sour and mildly sweet start quite well. In the middle you get that pumpkin gourdy earthiness.

Part way through, Devon said, “I never want to stop drinking this!” For real. We’re looking to see if we can order more of this through Rare Beer Club like you often can. If all the beer is as good as this one, we might subscribe to this on our own dime. Also, Ron Jeffries, we are officially petitioning you to make this beer annually! Contribute money to Pints for Prostates every year for it if you must (and that would even be quite cool)... but find a way to make it happen... please? Pleeeeaaaaassssseeeee?????

Panil Barriquée Batch #11 2009 Bottle #2716

OK, first, anything with a batch number is usually a good indicator of both rarity (hence the club name) and, we hope, quality. Throw in a bottle number and we’re excited. Tell us that it’s a sour, oak aged, Flemish-style red and we’re ecstatic! Now that we’re all blissed out, let’s drink the beer.

Appearance: When you really look at this beer, it’s reddish brown. When pouring or, if you look quickly, it looks like it might almost be pink-ish. It’s a weird effect. There’s not much head on this one, but a dense light brown one does form before it runs for cover shortly after popping it’s head out.

Smell: Whoa! Mild wine vinegar and oak are the predominant aromas we get. Some kind of vegetal matter as well.

Taste: Way smoother than expected. You get a bit of that mild wine vinegar from the smell as you sip. It’s fairly dry (especially accentuated as it smells a bit sweet), which makes it pretty good that there’s not much carbonation. There’s quite a bit of fruit in this beer, cherries and raspberries predominantly. Because we have some chocolate and cheese lying around (we were also working on Chocolate & Beer and Cheese & Beer pairings for our seminars at New Hampshire Brewers Fest tonight), we tried this beer with Taza Chocolate’s Salted Almond Mexicano Chocolate. Let us tell you, this combination tastes JUST like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s amazing and we recommend you try it!

Hopefully some of you have found this review useful, we just put this club on our Christmas lists!

Once again, you can order this club here: Join the Rare Beer Club

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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Uinta Solstice KolschUinta Soltice Kolsch

Appearance: Translucent golden goodness

Smell: Very mild as you’d expect with this style, slightly fruity

Taste: Nice clean lager flavor. This tastes like summer. Picture yourself on the beach or by the pool or near the salt flats of Utah (where it’s made), this is the beer you want in hand.

St. John Island Summer AleSt. John Brewers Virgin Islands Island Summer Ale

Appearance: Much like Uinta’s kolsch, this beer pours clear and golden. Big white head accompanies the summer looking beer.

Smell: To be honest, there isn’t much to the smell. It’s a mildly fruity, clean and crisp smelling beer. Great for hot summer days.

Taste: Crisp and clean, it has mild hop bitterness accentuated by the beer’s dryness. There’s some decent beer flavor up front and then it’s gone. This is a good beer on a hot day... and we’d know, it’s hot right now!

Virgin Islands Liquid SunshineSt. John Brewers Virgin Islands Liquid Sunshine

Appearance: Golden and hazy

Smell: Sweet, spicy yeast notes,

Taste: Very light light for a Belgian style. For those fans of Allagash White or Blue Moon, this is a good into to other Belgian styles, it has a more robust yeast flavor that will lead you towards other Belgian singles and dubbels.

Uinta  Peak PorterUinta King’s Peak Porter

Appearance: Pretty dark, with hints of ruby around the corners. There’s no head on this beer, probably about 1/4 inch.

Smell: Super dry smelling, chocolate and cocoa in the nose... almost a little like chocolate syrup if you removed the sweetness.

Taste: This is a very thin porter... it’s, like, the Kate Moss of porters, just a little too thin. That said, the chocolate taste (no chocolate added) from roasted grain is really nice. It’s a good porter that we’d drink in warm weather. While we’d like more body, it’s not a disqualifying aspect.

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