Learn how to homebrew

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 Lake Placid Craft Brewing from Utica, NY and Choc Beer Company from Krebs, OK.

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Choc Beer Company 1919 American Wheat AleChoc Beer Company 1919 American Wheat Ale

Appearance: The 1919 American Wheat pours a barely hazy light straw color. The head is bright white and, while it puffs up immediately, it falls fairly quickly. This is a trait more common in American wheat beers than compared the styles it descends from, German hefeweizens.

Smell: This brew smells quite clean, with just a hint of wheaty, dry spiciness that, again, is usually found in the traditional variation of this beer. American wheats, like this one, are known to be a cleaner, less yeasty beer and this one certainly lives up to that!

Taste: While it lacks the banana and clove so expected from the yeast of a German wheat beer, the flavor of the wheat is really showcased here! It gives the beer a dry, almost chalky (but in a good way) flavor. The wheat is a little spicy and extremely refreshing. This beer would be great on a 90⁰F+ day at a cookout.

Lake Placid Hefeweizen Wheat AleLake Placid Hefeweizen Wheat Ale

Appearance: A cloudy, deep golden beer fills the pint glass as we pour this one. We have to be careful as a big, white head forms on top and threatens to spill over if we’re not careful.

Smell: Smelling the Lake Placid Hefeweizen after the Choc American Wheat is a perfect lesson in the difference between a German hefeweizen and an American wheat ale! This one has a ton of clove in the nose with a healthy dose of banana, all from the yeast. It still has the dry, chalky aroma from the wheat, but some strong notes that really liven up the beer from the fermentation process!

Taste: While this beer has a big aroma, the flavor is mainly upfront. On the front of the tongue the yeast and wheat flavors carry over from the smell. But as you swallow, it all drops right off. The mid-palette is there as well, giving this beer a lot of flavor while preventing palette fatigue. Is this the most complex brew we’ve ever had? No. Is it a strong example of an American-brewed German hefeweizen, perfect for a hot day? You better believe it! Not everything has to be a huge, barrel aged beer and this one is a great example of a well brewed, traditional style that satisfies.

Choc Beer Limited Edition Summer Belgian-style Blonde AleChoc Beer Company Limited Edition Summer Belgian-style Blonde Ale

Appearance: As we would expect, this beer pours a bright, mostly clear golden color until the yeast sediment (optional to pour) comes out at the end of the pour, which turns the whole beer a darker, murkier, hazier dark tan. A white head appears briefly on top but quickly recedes. Not usual for Belgian-style brews but not a big deal for flavor.

Smell: As opposed to the German wheat beer style, while these two look the same this is a Belgian-style beer and therefore lends a lot more bubblegum type aroma and spice from the yeast. There’s also less of a wheaty, chalky aroma. While the two look similar, they smell VERY different.

Taste: The first this you notice is that this beer is a bit sweet than the two wheat beers we just had. Again, the yeast is the predominant flavor, but it’s not the clove/banana thing that you get. Bubblegum, just as in the aroma, is right up front as a flavor. Not in a bad, weird way but in a way that makes sense for a Belgian-style beer. So far this beer of the month club shipment has been a great showcase for slight variations in yeast with a similar malt base. Totally interesting if you want to learn about how beer is made and where the differences come from!

Lake Placid Ubu AleLake Placid Ubu Ale

Appearance: And now for something TOTALLY different, the Lake Placid Ubu Ale is a dark English Strong Ale. About as different from Belgian and German wheat beers as you can get! This one pours dark, we’re talking dark, dark brown, with tinges of red around the edges when held up to the light...but when on the table, it just looks black!

Smell: When you smell the Ubu Ale, you realize these English ales are fairly mild in the aroma department. The main thing you get is a bit of dark fruit, with a little bit of caramel sweetness. But that’s if you look really hard. The smell on this is pretty light.

Taste: While the smell is light, the taste is most definitely not! This one clocks in at 7% abv, and you can taste a bit of that alcohol! Also, that dark fruit you swelled? It really comes through in a prune-like sweet taste. In typical English fashion, the hops are quite subdued, leaving the malt as the predominant taste in this one. It’s pleasant, but strong. Definitely an end-of-a-night type of beer. Enjoy!