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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.