Drink Craft Beer
Hey all you craft beer drinkers! It's that time again! What time? New Beer of the Month from Amazing Clubs time! Yeah... we know, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But the beer... The beer tastes good. So let's get to it!
This month, we've got beer from Carolina Brewing Company and The Lion Brewery. Carolina Brewing Co. sends their Carolina Blonde and Low Down Brown, while Lion Brewery has their Steg 150 All Malt Lager and Stegmaier Porter. With that in mind, let's get to the beer!
And, like always, if you want to join this club go here: Click to Join.
Carolina Beer Company Carolina Blonde
Appearance: Very little white head that dissipates quickly. Light straw body that is slightly hazy.
Smell: Very mild aroma. There's just a little malt.
Taste: The beer starts out a little sweet and mildly fruity. Strangely enough, if you like wit biers, you may like the mild sweetness in this beer, it's reminiscent of the style. It ends dry, though. This would be a great beer for the summer! A good, dry lager would really quench the thirst, and the mild fruity sweetness makes it interesting. It would go very well with fruit salad.
A little while ago I took a trip (along with Devon, Sarah our Cider Writer and some friends) to Maryland for our friends’ wedding. Being who I am, I kept my eyes open for a place to grab some new beer and found it just a quick drive from our hotel. The day before we left, I stocked up. This is one of those beers.
The first thing that caught my eye about the Caldera IPA wqas the bright yellow can. How could I not check this one out? When I took a closer look, I saw Oregon on the label and knew I had to grab this west coast beer. The left coast is known for their use of hops and, despite the east coast doing some amazing things lately, I had to check out what our craft beer brethren/sistren were up to all the way on the other side of the continent. So let’s see how this west coast IPA does.
With a near opaque haziness and an orangey copper body capped by a craggy, dense off-white head...yeah, this looks like an IPA!
If you stick your nose into your glass, be prepared for what you’re going to smell...it’s hops! Not the dank, dense, oily hops of some west coast IPAs but hops almost like fresh grass clippings. After that there’s a bit of citrus fruit in there. In the background there’s a bit of clean, crisp malt but it’s definitely a canvas for hops.
This is IPA the way I love the style! The malt? Dry, smooth, clean and just a hop conveyer. The bitterness? There, but not too assertive and it doesn’t linger. The hop flavor? Citrusy, crisp and it tastes like spring. The beer isn’t resiny or abrasive, but rather it uses the hops in a way where you can enjoy a six-pack of this beer. This is an awesome IPA that I wish we had access to in Massachusetts! It’s just insanely drinkable, but it still gives you your hop fix. Plus, the bright yellow can with a neon green tab on top would draw just a slight bit of attention. If you have access to this, check it out!
Hey all you craft beer drinkers! It's that time again! What time? New Beer of the Month from Gourmet Monthly Clubs time! Yeah... we know, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But the beer... The beer tastes good. So let's get to it!
This month, we've got beer from Atwater Brewing Company and Lakefront Brewing Company. Atwater sends their Pilsner and Vanilla Porter, while Lakefront has their White and East Side Dark. With that in mind, let's get to the beer!
And, as always, if you want to get the same club as us go here: Click to Join
Appearance: Light golden, clear, light white head that disapates quicklu
Smell: very lager aroma, light
Taste: Very light, hint of biscuity malt, light hop bitterness.
Decent beer, very drinkable, it's a step up from the macro's but it's not going to blow your mind.
This article is the second in a series, published once per year. To check out Craft Brewers Get Fresh With Your Hops, 2007 click here.
Every year, once per year, is the hop harvest. This is a glorious time when the hops are at their freshest and most flavorful. Usually, to make beer, hop farmers will dry the hops so that they can be stored and used all year long. At hop harvest time, however, brewers can go through the extra effort of procuring hops before they're dried and use them to make a beer that is unique and a showcase of the many volatile aroma compounds lost when hops are dried. Oh yeah, and the brewers have to brew it within 24 hours of the hops being harvested.
So, loving the hops like we do at DrinkCraftBeer, we like to have a mini-contest each year. This usually entails us drinking every fresh hop beer we can get our hands on in a season and trying them back to back. It makes for an interesting night. But it tastes so good.
Last year's favorite, Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale, was not distributed to Massachusetts this year, so we couldn't include it. We did, however, get quite a few new ones. So, that being said, let's get to the beer!
Sierra Nevada 2008 Chico Estate Harvest Wet Hop Ale
This beer is brewed with fresh hops that Sierra Nevada grew in their own hop field.
Appearance: Light tan head and dark amber liquid. Rocky heads that sticks around.
Smell: Smells very mild for the hoppiness.
Taste: Hoppy, but not very bitter. A lot of hop flavor... some oily fresh hopness, too. This really showcases the fresh hops. The head really sticks to the sides of the glass all the way down (technically, this is called lacing). Devon says it's a little sweeter than he likes. Jeff thinks it's right on with a very interesting hop profile. The hop oils really stick in your mouth. A couple minutes after the last sip, we're both still tasting the whole beer. It's not like an aftertaste, we're still tasting the entire beer!
Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale
Appearance: Looks the same as the Chico Estate: Light tan head and dark amber liquid. Rocky heads that sticks around.
Smells: Hoppier than the Chico, you really get a bit of citrusy hops. You also smell a solid malt body.
Taste: First observation: this beer doesn't coat your tongue with hop oil the same way as the Chico does. Both less sweet and less bitter than the Chico. This is still quite a hoppy beer that shows off the fresh hops.
Devon chooses: Harvest Wet Hop Ale
Jeff chooses: Chico Estate
DrinkCraftBeer tip: Combine them 50/50... it's great! Both of us agreed!
Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA
Appearance: Hazy with hops. Very pale. White head.
Smell: Citrusy hops and malt sweetness.
Taste: Devon says, "Holy hop, that's bitter! It's like a mini hop-ninja kicked me in the teeth!" Yup! A hop-ninja. This is one of the founders of this site. And some of you listen to us about beer.
Jeff says, "I don't think it's that bitter. Crisp hop bitterness, decent malt behind it. Good hop flavor. No hop-ninjas here. I'd like a little more hop flavor for a fresh hop beer, but this is good."
OK, for real. Starkly different from the Sierra Nevadas. Much less hop flavor or malt sweetness. Pretty bitter. Coats the tongue, but not as much as the Chico.
DrinkCraftBeer tip: Combine them 50% High Tide, 25% each of the Sierra Nevadas... It's real good, perhaps even better than the previous mix. Do notice a pattern?
Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA
Appearance: Light tan head, dark amber liquid.
Smell: We can't smell hops anymore! But yeah, this one smells hoppy.
Taste: Good hop flavor without much bitterness. You can taste the fresh oily hopness. Decent malt backbone, but not overpowering the hops. Crisp hoppyness. Quite dry. One of the lighter flavors hop-wise. It's good. Earthier hop flavor. More complex than some of the others and builds as you drink it. We approve!
Founders Harvest Ale
DrinkCraftBeer Note: We're really stoked to see this bottled and distributed! We were in Michigan last September and got to try it out of the fermenter right after dry hopping (thanks Dave Engbers! Check out the interview here.) and it was great! Now we get to try the final product!
Appearance: Heads up, this beer is super foamy! Pour lightly. About six inches of foam right away. Very pale for this tasting. White fluffy head. Hazy.
Smell: Very American citrusy hop smell. Complex hops, which is expected for a fresh hop ale. It's the whole point of not drying them first.
Taste: This beer is great, it's everything we want a fresh hop beer to be! It's aggressive and fruity! Easy drinking but yet still a crazy IPA. Bitter, but not too bitter. Great hop flavor. Yeah, this is the one we could drink a ton of. It makes us forget that we've been drinking a ton of beer already, it revives our tastebuds and makes us want to drink more beer. Even as it warms up, the hops are delicious. This is a great beer for the ages. We look forward to it every year now.
Founders, by a mile! It showcased a perfect balance of bitterness, hop flavor, malt and drinkability. It revived our tastebuds deep into a tasting and all we wanted was more. Some of the beer we liked but were sick of half way through. Founders wasn't over oily, overly bitter or overly anything. It was just a great showcase of fresh hops. Wow! Well done Founders! We only wish Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale had been in Massachusetts this year to give you a challenge (as they were the 2007 DrinkCraftBeer Fresh Hop Champions).
When Jack’s Abby Brewing came on to the scene in Massachusetts, they said that they were just going to do lager. Everyone thought, “Hmmm...that’s interesting, is it a gimmick?” While it might be their “thing,” this is no gimmick! Since then, they’ve been putting out beer after beer, recreating common craft beer styles with a lager execution. After having Kiwi Rising Double India Pale Lager (their take on a Double IPA), Hoponius Union India Pale Lager (their take on an IPA), Jabby Brau Session Lager and Smoke & Dagger (a lightly smoked black lager), I thought it was time to write about one of their beers in the half liter bottles, especially seeing as they’re going to be at Drink Craft Beer Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ale with a crazy lager interpretation of a farmhouse ale!
You heard right, their non-bomber beers are in 4-packs of half liter bottles, which means when you think you’re done, you’ve luckily got a little left! That brings us to their Cascadian Schwarzbier, a take on the now-trendy Black IPA style.
So the first thing I noticed is to be careful while pouring this beer! I may have been a little heavy handed with how I unleashed this into the glass, but a column of bubbles quickly filled the entire container with only about a half of an inch of beer at the bottom. The beer itself a dark but not opaque, with ruddy brown hues. The massive head is a light tan color and doesn’t appear to be leaving anytime soon...hopefully like this lager-based brewery.
Once you get past how the head on the beer expands like a vinegar and baking powder volcano, you’ll notice that it has an insane hop aroma! For real, the smell on this thing is incredible. It smells like I walked into a pine forest with a chocolate factory in the middle of it. The hops are assertive but not overwhelming, letting the schwarz (German for black) do its thing as well. Jack’s Abby is doing some awesome stuff with lagers over there.
And yeah, it’s all there! A solid hop
bitterness is the first thing you get. Like a lager should be, it’s
clean. Once your tastebuds are done with the bitterness, you’ll start to
notice some piney hop notes (and the hop burp confirms the pine flavor)
that complement the minor, but there, roasted malt character. This beer
does not taste as dark as it looks! Don’t get me wrong there are some
roast and chocolate notes here but, give its color, I would’ve expected
this Cascadian Schwarzbier to be a little bit roastier. That’s good,
though, as it really lets the hops shine. I’d say this is a really good
schwarzbier, a great but underrated style of beer perfect for just
drinking, with a solid dosing of hops to it. The lager answer to the
Black IPA, and I love it!