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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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Geary's Brewing Company London PorterGeary’s Brewing Company London Porter

Appearance: This porter pours jet black with the slightest tinge of ruby at the edges when held up to the light. With a light brown head, it almost looks like a pint of espresso with a huge crema on it. Be careful, though, when pouring this brew. It’s a bit overcarbonated and will throw a huge head off, even with the lightest of pours. It’s going to take a few steps of pouring and letting the head settle.

Smell: Roasty unsweetened cocoa is the first thing you can smell. The aroma is dry with some minerality to it. There’s maybe even a hint of that Guinness sourness to it.

Taste: Even with the huge head this beer is still overcarbonated. The prickly bubbles cover most of the flavor, so give this one a few good swirls to knock out some more CO2. After agitating it, we were able to easily build up another three finger head and the excess carbonation was gone. At sub-5% abv, this is a thin, easy drinking beer that is probably quite to the style that porters (for which the style is named) on London docks used to drink during work. It’s quite dry, with some minor roast notes and a cocoa/coffee finish. It’s definitely easy to drink, and the slight sourness (similar to Guinness) keeps this lower-alcohol brew quite interesting.

Hub City Oatmeal StoutHub City Brewing Company Oatmeal Stout

Note to beer drinkers: The caps on Hub City bottles say, “Twist Off.” It’s not! Don’t try, you’ll rip up your hands! We don’t know if their old caps or what, but don’t trust the print. Always use a bottle opener.

Appearance: If we thought the Geary’s London Porter poured dark, then we don’t even know what this one is. This is black as the night on the new moon... no light is getting through this one. Conversely, the head on this beer is as opposite as can be from the London Porter, in that there is not. We poured this brew heavily and there nothing but a few traces of bubbles.

Smell: You can definitely get the oatmeal in the smell of this one. It smells quite mild, probably from the lack of carbonation to carry anything to your nose, but what is there is sweet chocolate, without the roast and grain bitterness sometimes found in dark beers.

Taste: As expected, carbonation is quite light but it’s far from flat. There’s just enough CO2 to give this beer a good mouthfeel, and the mildness of the bubbles really helps with the thick, slick and full mouthfeel of the oatmeal. This Oatmeal Stout has a solid body and some good semi-sweet chocolate that carries from the beginning to the finish. Even the aftertaste is nice. If you’re looking for a tasty Oatmeal Stout that you can drink all night, this is definitely a good choice!

Geary's Hampshire Special AleGeary’s Brewing Company Hampshire Special Ale

Appearance: The Hampshire Special Ale, or HSA as the lovers of this beer call it, pours a rich golden-red, copper color with crystal clarity. A light, milk colored head forms on top about one finger tall and soon recedes to a thin layer of micro bubbles with some intermittent patches of larger ones.

Smell: This brew leads in aroma with hops and alcohol. At 7% abv and nearly 50 IBUs, this is no surprise. There’s also from fruity esthers from the ale yeast used by Geary’s and, in the background, is just a little bit of malt suggesting that this brew is going to be balanced by a bit of sweetness.

Taste: This one leads with a sharp, but fairly balanced, bite of hops with a little alcohol. There’s definitely some sweetness, almost reminiscent of honey, balancing the bitterness. It fades quickly, though, and leaves a thin finish that, while not hot, is alcoholy and almost a trace of solvent in the nose. In the back of the mouth there’s definitely some fruitiness as well, probably coming from the yeast esthers. Being based in Boston, MA we’ve run into this perennial New England favorite before. While it seems we didn’t love it, it does have a large local following of experienced beer drinkers who love it. So this is one we cautiously recommend with the caveat that some love it and some don’t. But it’s definitely worth checking out and is one of those local gems that makes Beer of the Month Clubs such great gifts!

Hub City Paradise AleHub City Brewing Company Paradise Ale

Note to beer drinkers: The caps on Hub City bottles say, “Twist Off.” It’s not! Don’t try, you’ll rip up your hands! We don’t know if their old caps or what, but don’t trust the print. Always use a bottle opener.

Appearance: Hazy golden, this beer pours with a large and active head that settles into a stable, meringue-like topping. We poured gently and still got a large topping of froth, but it looks tasty!

Smell: Oooh. This “tropical IPA,” as Hub City describes it, is brewed with some of our favorite hops: Amarillo and Simcoe. And you can tell! Paradise Ale smells dry and has some serious fruity, tropical hop aromas. Lemon, pineapple and citrus comes through. There is little to no grain or alcohol in the aroma, we’ve really got a hop forward beer on our hands.

Taste: Just a note, after analyzing this beer’s smell and appearance for a good five minutes there’s still a serious, thick head on top. The first thing we notice is the hop bitterness, as it should be in an IPA. It’s dry, with some great fruity hop flavor and finishes with almost a honey-like quality. On the very end, you get a dryness in the throat and a coating of hop resin on the back of your mouth.

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