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Mayflower Brewing Company to Release Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter

ImageWe just received word from Mayflower Brewing Company that they will be releasing their much-awaited Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter this weekend, December 12th & 13th, 2008. The beer was aged in Buffalo Trace barrels and will be extremely rare. For more details, here's the email sent by the brewery:

Happy Holidays from Mayflower Brewing Company!

ImageWe are pleased to tell you that we will be releasing our Bourbon Barrel-Aged Porter this week at the brewery. This unique version of our award-winning Mayflower Porter was aged in a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel for a month this fall. The result combines hints of bourbon and oak with the rich flavor of our Porter to create a smooth and complex brew that will warm your soul.

As you may know, supply is extremely limited, with just 70 growlers for sale. To make it available to as many of you as possible, we will be pre-filling growlers and selling them on a first-come, first-served basis at two separate times , with the first 35 growlers available on Friday 12/12 from 4:30PM to 6:30PM and the second 35 growlers available on Saturday 12/13 from 12 noon to 3:00PM. Pricing will be $20 per growler (including the $2 deposit), and quantities will be limited to one per customer.

All the best for the holidays, and we look forward to seeing you this week at the brewery!

This is one beer we've been excited about for a few months now, and could not wait to try! Unfortunately we'll both be in Pennsylvania this weekend for the Sly Fox IPA Fest (I know, I know... no sympathy for us!). We're leaving early Friday and coming back late Saturday, so looks like we'll miss this one. But it is definitely highly recommended!

Beer of the Month Club Review - Amazing Clubs February

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.

Why You Should Embrace the Shandy

Summer is upon us, the grills are fired up, the sun is beating down and life is good! Summer is also a time for great beer; seasonal releases like Peak Summer Session, Narragansett Summer, Mayflower Summer Rye and a host of others always get me excited. More recently I've been turning to the Shandy, though. Now bear with me because I'm sure some of your are screaming blasphemy. Yes, there have been some breweries releasing pre-bottled versions of a shandy, this is NOT what I'm talking about. If you've been to the UK or Australia you've probably had their version of the drink, which is lager and Sprite, yeah not that either. What I'm talking about is a good crisp summer beer mixed with GOOD tart lemonade. 

I find the ideal mix to be 60% beer and 40% lemonade, the resulting drink lets the beer come through while allowing the freshness and tartness of the lemonade to compliment the beer. A key to this drink is adding the lemonade second. If you add the beer second it will float on top of the lemonade. Narragansett Summer Ale has been my go-to beer of choice, the Citra hops come alive with the addition of the lemon and, honestly, I could drink these all day. And that's the thing, you can drink these all day. With the lemonade addition a pint is around 2.5% abv making it the ultimate session beer. The lemonade makes all the difference, though. If you go the store bought route Simply Lemonade brand works quite well. If you're planning ahead, though, making a pitcher of lemonade will not only make the drink better but it's a great way to serve an easy drink to guests.

For those of your that have already embraced the goodness that is the Shandy you're probably nodding right now. For those who haven't tried it, or have only tried the pre-bottled versions, I'd urge you to give this a go, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. And with that I'll end my sales pitch...time to go make another Shandy.  



Sixpoint Apollo Hefeweizen [Beer Review]

Last year (2011) Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery started putting their beers into “nano-kegs” (aka cans) for home consumption. Autumn marked the first seasonal in these nano-kegs but summer has, perhaps, brought one that I’ve anticipated the most. On top of now canning their beers they’ve also brought on a new brewmaster, Jan Matysiak, to replace Sixpoint founder Shane Welch so that he could focus more on growing the business. Most recently, Jan was the brewer at Texas’ Live Oak Brewing, known for having one of the most revered Hefeweizens brewed on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. As soon as I found out Jan would be heading east, I started bugging Shane to ask if they’d be putting out a hefeweizen. He told me just to chill and wait, but I had a feeling. Well, here is that “hefe” that I’ve been hoping for from Sixpoint, so let’s see if it’s going to live up to my expectations!

Sixpoint Apollo Hefeweizen

A deep golden straw color this one is a bit darker than many hefeweizens I’ve come across in the past. It poured with a big, pillowy white head but it quickly receded...that said, having had this a few times before, I’m going to say this is an anomaly as it’s never happened before.

Hefeweizens typically have aromas of banana and clove that come from the yeast they are fermented with. That, and the wheat used in the beer, is what makes is a hefeweizen. Typically the beer will lean towards one of those two smells and this is no different as the banana really comes through. Don’t worry if you don’t like banana, though. They are one of my least favorite foods on Earth and I love a good banana-y hefe...there are some very important differences between the fruit and the smell of the beer. Once you’re past that yeasty note, you’ll get some dry, tangy wheat. Overall, it smells like a classic Bavarian wheat beer and I’m not going to wait any longer to drink it!

That banana-like aroma comes through in the taste in a way that few American-brewed hefeweizens pull off. Up front the beer is a little fuller than some others in this style and really coats your tongue. As it lingers on my tongue, I get just a hint of tartness. It’s barely there, but it adds a great dynamic to the beer...some delicious complexity that keeps you on your toes. As you swallow, though, the wheat really brings a drying character that, along with the carbonation, finishes the brew nicely. Add the fact that Apollo comes in 16oz tallboy cans and barely tops 5% abv and this is going to be an instant classic at all your barbecues this year! Pick some up, you’ll dig it and your non-craft-beer-drinking friends will love it!

Craft Brewers Get Fresh With Your Hops, 2008!

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!

ImageSierra 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!

ImageSierra 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!

ImagePort 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?

ImageTwo 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!

ImageFounders 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.

Verdict

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).