Thursday, February 27, 2014

Capital Jobu Review

Name: Capital Jobu 
Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 8.5%

Capital Brewery has been steadily releasing some new beers in the form of a bomber as opposed to the 12 oz. bottles that I'm used to seeing. I give you Jobu, a brown ale aged in Caribbean Rum barrels, as opposed to Whiskey or Bourbon barrels, which I'm used to seeing. Since I'm currently in an environment which is the polar opposite of the Caribbean, I've decided to grab irony by the horns and take a look at this.

Jobu pours a dark brown color which turns to a crimson red when held up to a light. The khaki-colored head is quite filmy and fades after a couple of minutes. There is some mild carbonation visible as well. If I didn't know better, I'd say I'm looking at a glass of Coca-Cola.

The nose starts out quite yeasty with some chocolate malts, roasted barley, oak and rum. The rum characteristic at this point is somewhat subtle at this point

The flavor starts out with some chocolate malts paired with caramel, oak and a bit of nuttiness. The rum aspect is quite a bit stronger here but it's not as prevalent as as the chocolate/roasty flavors. Still it is there and goes nicely with everything else.

The palate fairly lightweight and mildly carbonated. This gives it an easy drinkability & crisp quality which fits well with the flavor.

It's a different take on the brown ale style and I think it works out pretty well. I think anyone looking for something a little off the beaten path in terms of conventional styles will find something to love with Jobu.

Capital Jobu - 8.5/10

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Flying Dog Raging Bitch Review

Name: Flying Dog Raging Bitch
Style: Belgian IPA
ABV: 8.3%

Tonight I'm trying out a beer from a brewery that I haven't had for a couple of years: Flying Dog Brewery which based out of Maryland. Perhaps what is most noteworthy about the brewery aside from being from Maryland is that each of the beer label is done by artist Ralph Steadman, whose best known for his artwork with writer Hunter S. Thompson. If you've been to any college dorm across America, chances are that you've probably seen his poster of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas adorned on a wall.

Tonight I will be reviewing a beer called Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA. It's also the first beer I remember from when I first tried out Flying Dog.

Raging Bitch pours a hazy orange color with a foamy head. The carbonation takes on a rather mild appearance and the lacing retention is also fairly good.

The nose starts out with notes of citrus & piney hops, with caramel malts, spices and yeasts. The Belgian influences are rather noteworthy here.

The flavor also doesn't deviate too much but the caramel maltiness and Belgian profile are more noticeable here, particularly with the Belgian yeasts and clove aspects.

The body is rather moderate in weight but has a sort of thinness to it. It's also mildly carbonated so it allows the drinker to take in the flavors.

Despite it's name, this a very good beer! It utilizes it's Belgian characteristics very well which balances nicely with the citrus & piney hops. All and all, it makes for an excellent Belgian-style ale that is worthy of your attention.

Flying Dog Raging Bitch - 9/10

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Alaskan Pilot Series Barleywine Review

Name: Alaskan Pilot Series Barleywine
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 10.7%

For this review, I've got a little something that I have been sitting on for a couple months now and that's Alaskan Brewing's Barleywine, which is part of their Pilot Series: The brewery's lineup of seasonal beers which come in bombers. I've had a couple Pilot Series beers before but both times they have been the Smoked Porter, which is quite good if you haven't tried it out yet!

The beer pours a hazy crimson color with a semi-foamy head. The visible carbonation is mild and the lacing is pretty good.

The aroma starts out with a rather piney hop scent with notes of grapefruit and orange peel. On the backend is a nice malty backbone which consists of caramel malts and toffee.

On the flipside, the flavor starts out quite malty with notes of caramel, toffee and dark fruit notes before settling to a piney & citrus hop finish. The overall flavor is surprisingly smooth and mellow, yet at the same time, not subdued.

The palate has a moderately weighted body and some very mild carbonation. It is quite easy to drink in my opinion and allows one to enjoy the flavors.

It's vibrant and flavorful, yet at the same time, not overwhelming. The flavor isn't subdued but mellow and enjoyable. In short, it's a very balanced barleywine that will please anyone who tries it out and definitely worth your time!

Alaskan Pilot Series Barleywine - 9/10

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bell's Hopslam Review

Name: Bell's Hopslam
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 10%

During the bitter cold months of winter when it seems life has all but  vanished from the outdoors, Bell's Brewery delivers to us their highly anticipated Hopslam Imperial IPA. In fact I'm fairly certain that this is one of the most highly anticipated craft beers that is given a widespread release.

Even if you don't know of Hopslam, then you would probably recognize the label: A person laying flat on the ground, seemingly crushed to death by oversized hops dropped on him by the angry beer gods as punishment for drain-pouring a bottle of Pliny the Elder (Alright so I made that last part up.) I remember having this back in college and it was one of the first Imperial IPAs that I ever had. At the time I thought it was quite good, so I figure it's time to revisit this beer.

Hopslam pours a dark orange color with a cloudy appearance. The head is filmy, and the beer leaves behind some good lacing.

The nose is quite fruity to start out with notes of mangoes, strong citrus hops, toffee and caramel. At the back end of the aroma is a subtle piney hoppiness.

The flavor is almost the same as the nose but there piney hop aspect is definitely stronger here. It's goes,along well with the mango, citra-hops and caramel malts that are already in the flavor.

In terms of drinkability, it’s rather heavy in body with some mild carbonation, making this pretty smooth and easy to drink.

Overall, this is an excellent and well balanced Imperial IPA that any hop head should try out. It may be a bit pricer for a 6-pack but the price of admission is worth it.

Bell's Hopslam - 9/10

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Peace Tree Imperial Stout Review

Name: Peace Tree Imperial Stout 
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10%

Tonight I'm trying out a new brewery from Iowa called Peace Tree Brewing, of whom I have been seeing offerings on the shelves in stores around here. The only other high profile breweries that I know of that are Iowa-based are Toppling Goliath (which is supposed to be available in Minnesota later this year) and Exile Brewing. I decided I would take a look at their Imperial Stout and I found it to be decently priced for a bomber.

The beer pours a pitch black color with a filmy brown head. There are a few bubble which climb along the sides of the glass and the lacing retention is minimal at best.

In the nose are some chocolate malts, cocoa nibs, cloves, and licorice. Interestingly enough, there is a fairly prominent smokiness in here too, but not in the Baltic Porter/Rauchbier sense. What I mean is that it smells like actual smoke from a house fire.

The flavor is quite roasty with notes of roasted barley & malts, smokiness and mild cherries. There is also an encompassing ash-like characteristic here, which derives from the smokiness which I picked up in the nose. It's different but I'm not sure if I'm digging it. The mouthfeel is quite heavy and it has some pretty moderate carbonation.

It's got some decent flavors going for it but the flavor way too smokey/ashy for my liking. If it had a more balanced flavor profile, this would've been a great Imperial Stout. For right now, it's probably in your best interest to spend that extra $2 on a better Imperial Stout.

Peace Tree Imperial Stout - 7/10

Monday, February 17, 2014

Miller Fortune Review

Name: Miller Fortune
Style: Amber/Vienna Lager
ABV: 6.9%

Today I have a special review lined up and that is Miller Fortune from The Miller Brewing Company, which was just released within the past month or so. This is MillerCoors' answer to Bud Light Platinum and, more namely, Budweiser Black Crown. Both of the latter beers mentioned have a higher-than-normal ABV for a marco-lager.

About a month or so before it's release, I was seeing posters for this beer in stores everywhere; Like it was the newest upcoming release from Michael Bay. I have never seen such a huge push for in-store marketing like there was for Miller Fortune.

Now before I start, I'm going to break my normal rule of keeping a neutral tone and just throw this out here: I did not like this beer and anyone who is curious to try it out should avoid this at all costs.

Miller Fortune starts out with a clear amber color with a amount of high carbonation. The head is rather fizzy which settles to a small filmy appearance and there is no lacing left behind.

The nose itself is actually quite promising with Munich and pale malts, mild hoppiness, barley, caramel with some minor but noticeable boozy notes. Booziness aside, this actually has the aroma that is fairly typical of a Vienna Lager.

Flavor-wise, it's a much different story. In what I can only describe as "bizarre," the flavor is mixture of cardboard, barley, metallic rust, very strong booziness and Munich Malts. It's almost like they made a malt liquor with munich malts

The body is fairly lightweight but, as expected, the carbonation is very heavy and intense. As you can probably guess, this does not sit well on the palate.

I may not be a huge fan of the regular offerings of Bud, Miller, or Coors but if someone offers it to me at a party, I would not turn it down. Miller Fortune has the rare distinction of venturing into Molson XXX territory as being one of the beers that I would turn down at a party if I was offered it for free. You aren't missing anything by having this, trust me.

Miller Fortune - 1/10

Sunday, February 16, 2014

New Belgium Abbey Review

Name: New Belgium Abbey
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 7%

I know I have said this many times in different reviews before but New Belgium Abbey holds a special place in my heart for being the first Abbey style ale that I ever had. In fact alot of beers styles that I was introduced to was because of New Belgium Brewing. Funny how that works out, yeah?

In any case, when I first had this a couple years ago when I was still in college, I was taken aback by how good this was and it introduced me to a plethora of new flavors as well as what a beer can taste like. I have had quite a few Abbey Dubbel ales since then and now I think it's time for me to revisit this beer.

New Belgium Abbey pours a darker but clear red color with a filmy head. The visible carbonation is quite mild and the lacing is pretty good.

Dark fruits and licorice starts things off in the nose with caramel malts notes and some mild clove and spice notes. The flavor is more or less the same as the aroma but with more of a spicy/yeasty taste to it and there are noticeable floral hop notes thrown in for good measure.

The palate is moderately weighted which has a rather thick texture. The carbonation is also rather moderate but it helps bring out some extra characteristics in the flavor.

Having been exposed to more Dubbels since I first had this, New Belgium Abbey has held up surprisingly well and I also don't think the quality has suffered in the time New Belgium has expanded their operations. In fact, I would go as far to say that this is a great beer to introduce someone to the Dubbel-style ale. Check it out and you'll see why I fell in love with the Dubbels in the first place

New Belgium Abbey - 8.5/10

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA Review

Name: Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 10.6%

Hmm.....I don't quite know how to explain this to you, Deschutes Brewing but you have a very worrying obsession with IPAs; Much like how Buffalo Bill has an obsession with wearing the skin of other human beings. First you give us Fresh Squeezed IPA, then Chasin' Freshes, and now we have Hop Henge Experimental IPA.

Well, truth be told if I didn't want to try this out, I never would've gotten this in the first place. So for the time being, you have won this round Deschutes. In any case, as the name suggests, this beer utilizes hops that are new to the market, not unlike Summit's Union Series.

Hop Henge pours a hazy orange color with a filmy head. There is some good lacing retention and the carbonation is rather mild in appearance.

The aroma takes on a rather fruity characteristic with notes orange peel, peaches, caramelized malts with just a touch of piney hops thrown in for good measure.

In contrast to the nose, the flavor is very piney hop forward with caramel malts, mild citra-hop notes and some yeastiness. The palate is pretty moderately weighted and mildly carbonated, so it's pretty easy to drink.

Hop Henge doesn't do anything new, in terms of flavor, compared to other Imperial IPAs. However it's a pretty well put together Imperial IPA and those who are familiar with the style will no doubt find something to love with his.

Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA - 8.5/10

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bell's Expedition Stout Review

Name: Bell's Expedition Stout
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.5%

It's time to review yet another winter seasonal from Bell's Brewery and tonight I'll be reviewing their Expedition Stout, which is their Imperial Stout. It's also has the distinction of being one of the first Imperial Stouts that I ever had when I first got into craft beer (The first being Surly Darkness.)

Expedition Stout pours is black in color with a brown head. The head itself has some good volume and it the beer leaves behind some decent lacing.

The aroma starts off which a heavy chocolate malt & cocoa nib scent with notes of vanilla and roasted barley.

Interestingly enough, the flavor has a distinct smokiness and roasted barley taste followed by notes of dark chocolate, licorice and vanilla. The aftertaste consists of chocolate malts and roasted barley. Oddly enough, I don't remember there being any smokiness when I had this before, but that could be because I didn't pick up on it the first time around.

The palate has some heaviness to it along with some rather mild carbonation, which fits seemingly well as it allows the drinker to enjoy the flavors this beer has to offer.

Expedition Stout is a nicely balanced Imperial Stout that has just the right amount of malt and roasty/smokiness that one would expect from an Imperial Stout. Definitely worth checking out if you can get it in your area.

Bell's Expedition Stout - 9/10

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lake Superior Sir Duluth Oatmeal Stout Review

Name: Lake Superior Sir Duluth Oatmeal Stout
Style: Oatmeal Stout

It's time to review another local beer courtesy of Lake Superior Brewing with their Sir Duluth Oatmeal Stout. The beer gets it's name from the French explorer who founded the city of Duluth: Sir Daniel Greysolon De Lhut.

I'm not feeling particularly well tonight, so this review is going to be rather brief and short instead of long and wordy. Since I've just taken some Nyquil, I feel it's best to get it over with now before I fall asleep with my index finger on the "J" key. And in case you were wondering: No, I did not just have this beer because with some of my reviews, I review them ahead of time, take notes and use them to compile my review.

Sir Duluth pours an opaque black color with a filmy khaki-colored head with some spotty lacing retention

The aroma starts off with some roasted malts notes, oatmeal, milk chocolate and some mild floral hop notes. It comes off as fairly sweet with just a slight roastiness.

The flavor initially starts out with a sweetness that consists of oatmeal, milk chocolate, and toffee before settling in down to a roasty aftertaste which has notes of roasted malts and coffee.

The palate has a pretty moderate weight and the carbonation also has the same consistency in terms of intensity. It would nice if it were a bit less bubbly but I'll let it slide because it helps bring out more of the flavor.

Sir Duluth is an all-around, good oatmeal stout. Say what you want about our Arctic-calibur temperatures, but Duluth makes some solid darker beers. If you want proof, look no further than this beer along with Fitger's Big Boat Oatmeal Stout and Bent Paddle Black Ale.

Lake Superior Sir Duluth Oatmeal Stout - 8.25/10

Lift Bridge Commander Review

Name: Lift Bridge Commander
Style: Barleywine
ABV: 12.5%

For this review, I'm looking at a beer from Lift Bridge Brewing that I have been seeing on store shelves for the past couple of years but have never really bothered to pick up until now. I'm talking about Lift Bridge's Commander Barleywine. The name comes from the Commander grain elevator located in downtown Stillwater, MN and there are currently plans to open a restaurant in the said building.

This will be my second "strong beer" from Lift Bridge, with the other being their Silhouette Imperial Stout, which I found to be very good. Needless to say, I'm curious to see how this turned out.

Commander pours a mildly hazy red color with a fizzy head that almost completely fades away after a couple of minutes. The visible carbonation is rather high and there is no lacing left behind to speak of.

At the front of the nose is a nice vanilla and oaky scent, giving it sort of a bourbon barrel-aged like quality to it. Behind that are some caramel malts, hops and some booziness.

The flavor is pretty similar to the aroma with notes of oak, caramel malts, mild citrus hops, bourbon and mild booze. As you can probably tell, the flavor is quite malty but the components that make up the flavor feel incomplete and underwhelming

The body is very light in terms of weight but the carbonation comes off as heavy. For what it is, it isn't exactly what I would call ideal when you consider the flavor and style of this beer.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine tried to homebrew his own barleywine. After letting it condition for 4-5 months, he gave me and my friends a couple of bottles for us to try out, Upon having it, I didn't think it was bad, and believe me I've had way worse, but it tasted awfully similar to Commander. It's not terrible but this is definitely more of the "okay" barleywines that I've had.

Lift Bridge Commander - 7.5/10

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA Review

Name: Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.6%

It's time to confront my biggest demon in terms of craft beer. It's s story that began 2 years ago during the earlier half of 2012 when I first encountered Sierra Nevada's Ruthless Rye IPA. It was a simpler time back then: Working feverishly on my senior year projects, studying for weekly exam(s) and playing some Skyrim when the time permitted.

Then one February evening while I was browsing the selection at Haskell's, a store associate recommended I try out Ruthless Rye and he convinced me to buy a six-pack of it. Upon getting home and trying it out, I found myself reeling in disgust and ended up doing a drain pour. I wasn't used to rye beers at the time and lamented the $8 I had wasted on it. Now it's a couple years later, and I have a more refined palate, particularly towards rye beers. I say it's high time that I re-evaluate this beer

Ruthless Rye pours a darker gold color with a very clear look. The head takes on a filmy appearance and leaves behind some good lacing.

A citrus hoppiness and spiciness are fairly prominent at the front of the nose; The spiciness no doubt coming from the rye. Mixed in with those are notes of cracked peppers and caramel malts.

The flavor is equally strong with both the rye and citrus hops. Much like the aroma, the caramel malts and cracked peppers take a backseat but provide a good foundation. Strangely enough, the aftertaste has an odd pils-malt/earthy flavor.

The body is very lightweight but the carbonation is rather intense. This paired with the rye creates a very stingly and unpleasent texture.

Looking back, Ruthless Rye does possess a great flavor but the palate is comparable to that of sulfuric acid, which is probably why I poured it down the drain before. If the carbonation were more subdued, it would be another solid IPA from Sierra Nevada. However right now, this is only for the most dedicated of rye beer fans

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA - 7.5/10

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bell's Special Double Cream Stout Review

Name: Bell's Special Double Cream Stout
Style: Stout
ABV: 6.1%

I have yet another winter seasonal courtesy of Bell's Brewing. Since I've been on somewhat of a roll with reviewing stouts, I have taken this opportunity to review Bell's Special Double Cream Stout. I find it a bit odd that they would throw in the name "Double" even though the ABV is only at 6.1% as opposed to something higher. In any case

The beer pours a black color with a red tinge along the edges when held up to a light. The head starts out with a nice foamy look before settling to a more filmy appearance with some pretty good lacing.

The aroma has a nice chocolate and surprisingly strong lactose quality to it. Along with that are notes of roasted barley, and some mild coffee ground notes. It smells almost like someone poured coffee creamer into my beer which is the best way I can describe it.

Flavor-wise, it's pretty heavy on the chocolate and lactose with some notes of whipped cream, sugar and roasted barley and malts. Again, it's like coffee creamer but with some much sweeter notes. As for the aftertaste, it's a mix of sweet cream and roasted barley.

Despite my expectations, the palate is very light in terms of both body and carbonation. With that said, it's also got a very smooth texture which makes this very easy to drink

I have to say that I enjoyed this quite a bit! It may be a little too high in lactose for some, but this is a great beer to try out and an excellent cream stout. I wish Bell's would make this a year-round offering because I would definitely buy this on a regular basis.

Bell's Special Double Cream Stout - 9/10

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sam Adams White Christmas Review

Name: Sam Adams White Christmas
Style: Witbier
ABV: 5.8%

As many of you may be thinking in your heads, I am painfully aware that Christmas was over a month ago. Still, that does not necessarily mean that I am done with winter seasonals because there is still over a month left in winter (sadly.) How I long for a winter like the one we had in 2012 because we pretty much had no winter that year, and to me, those are the best kind of winters.

In any case, today I'm looking at a winter seasonal from Sam Adams called White Christmas, a Belgian White aka Witbier. I'd make a cheesy Bing Crosby reference here but I will refrain from doing so.

White Christmas pours a wet golden color with a some high carbonation. The head has a pretty appearance and no lacing to speak of.

The aroma starts off with a pleasent scent of orange peel, wheat and spices. Along with that are notes of cloves, cinnamon and malts.

Cinnamon and spices make up a good portion of the flavor. These are supported by some citrus hops, wheat and pale malts.

The palate is moderate in weight and some mild feeling carbonation is tacked on for good measure. This beer is pretty easy to drink.

I found this to be a pretty good Witbier and warms you up a little bit when drinking thanks to the cinnamon and spice flavors. I could see myself drinking this again next time the winter rolls around.

Sam Adams White Christmas - 8/10