Posts Tagged ‘California 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 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.

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.

A couple evenings ago, I had been hanging out with a friend, talking about beer.  Her favorite beer is Great White and when she found out I hadn’t yet reviewed it, she suggested we stop by Billco’s on the way back to Napa to try one.  I walked in, fully planning on having one glass of Great White and then returning home.  As we waited at the bar, I scanned the wall of taps to see if anything jumped out and grabbed me.  Well, hanging out on the top row was a little inconspicuous round red logo…Pliny the Elder.

Pliny is brewed by the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA and is considered one of the best beers available.  Beer Advocate Magazine rates it A+ and calls it “One of the best DIPA’s on planet earth, ever.”  In beer circles, this is on everyone’s list of beers to drink before you die.  I would have been a bad Beer Chick indeed if I passed this up.

Before drinking this beer, I actually hadn’t read much about what to expect from it.  I kind of like to experience a beer without any preconceived notions of how it should taste.  It poured a beautifully clear orange/gold with a fluffy white head.  I was very surprised when I smelled this beer.  There was a strong hop scent and…something else…  The smell was so unfamiliar to me that I was a good ways into the actual tasting of it before I figured it out.  Pine!  I’ve never had that smell or taste in a beer before (or at least not as strong as this), so it was certainly unusual for me.  There was also some subtle citrusy notes to it.  Oddly, it wasn’t as bitter as I would expect from something so hoppy…and then I found out later that it’s rated at 100IBUs.  So the bitterness is masked quite well by everything else going on.  It’s moderately carbonated and has a slightly astringent mouthfeel.  Overall, while IPA’s aren’t my favorite style, this is a nice beer to drink.  For those of you who like hops, this is a very nice beer.  If you have the chance to try this one, do!

Just a side note:  I realize I’ve been drinking an awful lot of IPAs for someone who prefers other types of beers, but it seems IPAs are the unofficial state beer of California, so I guess I’m stuck for awhile. =)

Censored

Posted: April 23, 2011 in American Amber Ale
Tags: , , ,

I ran into this at the local Safeway recently and decided to pick up a 6-pack. Censored AKA The Kronik is an American Amber Ale from the Lagunitas Brewery.

It’s a clear copper with short-lived off-white foam and quite a bit of carbonation.  The smell is deep and malty with a bit of caramel sweetness, but nothing too overwhelming.  It tastes sweet and malt with a little hop bite at the end that kind of hangs around a bit.  I’m really enjoying this beer.  It’s good without being too complicated.  A good beer to sit around and drink with some friends.  This beer should really be more popular than it is.

The verdict:  If you have the chance, try this beer!

I went back to the Olde Sonoma Public House last night and after browsing their offerings make a plan to start the evening with Damnation, follow it up with some Delirium Tremens, and end the evening with Consecration.  Unfortunately I only made it as far as the Delirium Tremens and missed out on Consecration entirely.  There may be some kind of lesson or moral there; I’ll let you decide.

I was really expecting a much darker beer for something called “Damnation” but it turned out to be a slightly hazy golden yellow.  It smelled strongly fruity, especially banana.  Some slight fruity notes came out in the taste, but were overpowered by a spicy clovey taste.  Very little hops or malt to this one and just enough sweetness.  I was absolutely convinced this was a hefeweizen but the Russian River Brewery calls it a Strong Belgian Pale Ale.  This beer was smooth and crisp and very drinkable.  Even though I hate bananas, I’d drink this again and would suggest you try it if given the opportunity.

Now I just have to track down the Consecration to complete the set…

Today I opened up a bottle of Hop Stoopid by Lagunitas Brewery.  It’s on my list of breweries to tour while I’m in the Bay Area.  I’ve been told that the hops on this one tend to hang out for awhile after drinking.

Color-wise I was expecting something along the lines of an IPA, but this poured a real golden yellow with a thin white head that left some pretty good lacing.  The smell is overwhelmingly hoppy.  The hoppiest beer I think I’ve smelled.  Some background notes of citrus.  Holy crap.  I thought I’d had hoppy beers before, but this is just stoopid!  It has a bit of sweetness, but nothing can really compete with the hops.  The hops do linger for a bit, but they’re not homesteading or anything.  As much as I’m not a fan of IPAs in general, this wasn’t bad.  If you like a good IPA, you should definitely give this a try.  My cousin, an IPA fan, drank this beer with me and enjoyed it quite a bit.

I was at the Sacramento Airport getting ready to board a plane for Nashville and found myself with enough time to enjoy a beer before my flight.  I selected this Hefeweizen brewed in San Jose, CA and the results were quite interesting.

This beer was a cloudy golden orange color with an off-white head to it.  It left just a little bit of lacing on the glass as I drank it.  My first impression of the scent was sour which I found a little confusing, but on second smell I got strong cloves and a fruity scent with a bit of banana.  The banana and clove strengthened in the tasting and really the only taste to this beer was spicy bananas.  The taste did linger a bit after drinking.  Overall, a very smooth drinkable beer if you like bananas.  I typically avoid banana-flavored anything, so won’t be drinking it again, but if you enjoy that flavor this could be a great option.

Comments are very much appreciated, as are recommendations for new and exciting beers