Posts Tagged ‘american beer’

Alimony Ale

Posted: October 28, 2011 in American IPA
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Tonight I’m drinking Alimony Ale by Buffalo Bill’s Brewery in Hayward, CA.  The bottle and web site both tout this beer as different and eccentric.  We’ll see about that…

This is an IPA and pours a dark hazy amber with a two finger head and tons of carbonation.  So that’s different from most IPA’s…one point to the beer.  The scent is very citrusy and grassy with the hoppiness that comes standard with an IPA.  Exactly what I’d expect from this beer type…one point for me.  The taste hits you with a ton of hops up front with some caramel and malt sneaking in around the edges.  One point to the beer for the caramel and one for me for the hopsplosion.  As it warms, it’s starting to taste like an American Amber up front with the hops only coming through on the finish. That’s a bit odd…one point to the beer.  I find it more enjoyable than other IPA’s I had simply because as it warms it tastes less like an IPA.

If you’re new to craft beers and are still in the Shiner Bock/Yuengling/Firestone DBA/Fat Tire phase of beer drinking, this might be a good intro into other beer types.  Also if you typically prefer Ambers, Barleywines, or ESBs, this would make a good intro to IPA beer.

I’m a couple of tasting evenings behind in my beer reviews.  It turns out I like drinking beer much more than writing about it.  And I just got a new beer haul that’s begging to be drunk.  So it looks like I really need to get moving on the writing part or I’ll just wind up with piles of notebooks like some kind of OCD hoarder.

Anyway, let me tell you about Anchor Steam Beer.  The Anchor Brewing Company’s been brewing beer in San Francisco since 1896.  Historically, steam beer referred to West Coast lagers brewed in primitive conditions without ice or refrigeration, but the term has since been trademarked by the Anchor Brewing Co. and the style is now called “California Common.”

It pours a clear dark amber with a creamy head and a hoppy bitterness/mildly malty scent.  The taste really reminds me of unsweetened iced tea…kind of citrus and caramel.  Really interesting and easy to drink.  Not overly carbonated and only 4.9% abv make this very nice for sitting around drinking with friends when you just want a nice beer you don’t need to think about too much.  There’s nothing exciting about it, but that’s good sometimes.

Little Sumpin’ Wild is a limited release from Lagunitas, a brewery that I’m sure regular readers will know I tend to favor.  It’s a clear orange/gold beer with a pale off-white head.  The smell pops you in the nose with citrus, pineapples, and spices but the hops come out more in the taste.  It really seems more like an American IPA than a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, but not obnoxiously hoppy.  It’s 9.2% abv but doesn’t taste like it and the overall feel is pretty smooth.

I actually took some of this to a coworker’s 21st birthday party last night with the instructions that he is not to drink this after an evening of Bud Lights.  I explained that he’s a big boy now and needs to learn to drink real beer, but if he really needs to drink Bud Light he should start with the Lagunitas and finish with the Bud Light.  He was impressed with the sexy lady on the bottle.  And the 9.2% abv.

This past Friday I flew from Sacramento to LA and was running a bit behind.  After two hours of rush hour traffic and a too long wait for the shuttle from economy parking, I made it to the gate about 15 minutes before boarding.  I looked around and right across from the gate was an airport bar featuring the beers of Pyramid Breweries.  Surely this must be a sign, I thought to myself and went over and ordered an Alehouse Amber.

It was a very hazy brownish orange.  The scant foam was likely a result of an indifferent airport employee who cares very little about a proper pour.  It smelled kind of fresh and spicy with a bit of fruitiness.  The spice continued into the taste with a good amount of malt and very subtle hops. It was a very drinkable brew.  I find it especially nice for pounding rapidly in an airport bar.

Today I’m drinking a Fat Tire Amber Ale from the New Belgium Brewery in Colorado.  It’s a translucent honey-gold with an off-white head that quickly fades but leaves quite a bit of lacing.  The scent’s an earthy malt with some hops thrown in.  The flavor’s on the mild side but has a pleasant caramel and malt tastes.  The hops are refreshingly light. (I live in California where the breweries seem to be in constant competition to get the most hops into their beer.)  The mouthfeel was fairly thin and watery, which is fine for a beer I’m trying to drink all night, but not very interesting.  Ultimately, if I were drinking several beers in a sitting, I’d choose this, but if I’m drinking to have an interesting beer experience, I’ll pass.  It’s not bad, but it’s really nothing special either.

I recently missed an appearance of Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA at a beer pub, so I’ll have to make due with the 90 Minute IPA I found in my local supermarket (which really has a great beer selection).  It’s an Imperial IPA (or American Double IPA, your call) which means that I should expect all the hoppiness of an IPA, but more aggressive and in your face.

It’s a clear copper/gold color in the glass with a yellowish cream-colored head that slowly fades and leave substantial lacing on the glass.  The smell is more citrusy than hoppy with a bit of malt coming through.  It’s not nearly as hoppy as I expected.  I can certainly taste hops, but they’re not kicking my teeth in or anything.  The taste really mirrors the scent with the addition of just a hint of pine on the back end.  It’s a pretty smooth drink, not too boozy or too carbonated.  Despite not particularly liking IPA’s, I quite enjoyed this.  I’ll definitely have to track down some of the other IPA’s Dogfish Head makes.  This is a good beer to try if you’re attempting to ease yourself into hops.  I’d drink it again.  (And the brewery has a steampunk treehouse!)

This Amber Ale pours a great golden brown, slightly hazy with a sizable cream head that dissipates quickly.  There’s really not much to the aroma of this one.  I was kind of expecting more from such a nice looking beer.  It’s kind of sweet and tastes mostly of malt and caramel.  I’m kind of surprised to find a California beer so light on hops.  There’s really nothing too interesting about this beer.  It’s not complex, or weird or anything like that, but it’s a good drink.  If I want to drink a nice local beer that I don’t have to think about, this is a great option.

Dead Guy Ale

Posted: August 17, 2011 in Maibock
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Tonight’s a warm night in the Bay Area, so I’ve decided to open up some Dead Guy Ale by Rogue Ales.  This is a German-style Maibock, which is similar to other bock beers only lighter in color.  It’s a clear gold with a substantial, though short-lived head.  It’s sweet malty scent is exactly what I think a beer should smell like, though that may be my years of Shiner Bock consumption talking.  It’s amazing…I feel like I should be throwing darts or shooting pool when I smell this.  The hops really come out in the tasting of this one.  Not nearly as malty as I was hoping, but not overpowered with the hops.  It’s initially kind of sweet but has a bitter finish.  Kind of middle of the road for carbonation, and pretty well balanced in general.  Overall, I enjoyed this even though it’s a bit hoppy for me.  If you’re a fan of hops but don’t like being kicked in the teeth by them, give this a try.

This is my first time trying a barleywine.  I stumbled upon this one by Lagunitas at my local Safeway and since Lagunitas rarely disappoints, decided to pick it up.  Plus it said “limited edition” on the label and I’m a sucker for that sort of thing.  Barleywines tend to the strong side and this one is no exception, coming in at 10.6% abv.

It looks amazing as I pour a glass.  A very deep translucent amber with a pale tan head that leaves some of the best lacing I’ve had in awhile.  The aroma is pretty sweet with some citrus fruitiness and just a bit of hops.  The citrus and hoppiness come out in the taste as well, but are joined by some significant pines.  It’s pretty similar to some of the IPAs I’ve had, but not nearly as hoppy.  It’s a smooth drink.  Not too watery, not too chewy.

Really this has all the deliciousness of a good IPA but without killing you with hops.  I definitely would prefer this over an IPA any day and it really makes me want to go out and find some more barleywines to see if I have a new favorite beer style.  If you know somewhere I can find a good barleywine in the East Bay/Napa, leave a comment and I’ll track it down.

While in Napa last week, the second beer I was talked into was Grand Teton Brewing Co.’s Bitch Creek ESB.  It’s an American Brown Ale and the first beer I’ve had from an Idaho brewery.  I asked the bartender for a nutty brown ale and she really delivered.  I love that I’m in an area where the bartenders really know their beers (and have good beers to know about).

  It poured a dark hazy brown with a tan head and some decent lacing on the glass.  It smelled strongly nutty with some malt.  The taste was mostly nuts and caramel with a slight fruitiness.  It was a nice, smooth, moderately carbonated drink.  I really enjoyed it, and not just for the clever name.  This is going on my list of go-to beers.