Monday, January 31, 2011

Belgian White

Cathedral Square Brewery is a small, pretty new brewery from St Louis. They make primarily Belgian style beers in large bottles, and on tap, for the local market. I've tried a couple of their other styles, and they do some good work.
This is the Belgian White, which is typically a light colored, citrusy summer beer, with a decent body. This one fits the standard well. It pours a deep gold color, and slightly cloudy from the live yeast and protein haze, which is intentional. The aroma is light and sweet, with a nice dose of citrus, and some mellow sourness. The flavor is a good traditional White, with a solid body, and hints of grapefruit, and a bit of spiciness from the hops. I was a bit disappointed with the aftertaste, which was on the sour side, like the yeast had been left too long. As it warms up, that dead yeast flavor gets a bit strong, and not very pleasant. But overall a pretty good beer.
Look: 3 - cloudy gold
Aroma: 3 - sweet and citrusy
Taste: 2 - lost points for dead yeast aftertaste
Feel: 4 - great body
Total: 3

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rice Beer

Ive tried rice beers from Japan before, where there is a strong tradition of brewing with rice. Actually, theres a tradition of brewing with rice in the US too, but not very well. The big name brewers use rice and corn for their beers because its cheaper than barley, but they usually dont do it well. This one does. Its the Samurai Rice Ale from Great Divide Brewing Company in Colorado.
While Japanese beers tend to be light and dry, this one keeps the flavor more in line with American tastes. Its a lovely pale gold, with lots of carbonation, and slightly cloudy. The aroma is amazing for a beer. Ever stick your head inside a box of rice crispies? Yup, thats what this smells like. Lightly sweet and ricy, plus some hoppy notes just to tease you. The flavor is quite nice, if on the light side. You get the tickling light sweetness of the rice malt, plus a touch of citrus and some crisp spicy notes from the hops. The aftertaste is not heavy at all, but has enough bitterness to balance. Overall a darn refreshing beer.
Look: 3 - cloudy gold
Aroma: 5 - rice crispies. seriously. wow.
Taste: 3 - light and clean
Feel: 3 - good body for a light beer
Total: 3.5

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter Hibernation

Winter does bring out some great seasonal brews, usually dark and strong and full of flavor, to keep you warm and happy during long winter nights. This is the Great Divide Hibernation Ale, which the label says is an English old style ale.
Its dark brown, nearly black, with moderate carbonation, and an aroma of toasted nuts and woodfires. Plenty of sweet malt and hints of maple syrup. You get some sourness in the aftertaste that reminds me of apple cider, and the alcohol is just high enough to taste. Good lingering hop flavors, overall a decent beer.
Look: 3 - dark brown
Aroma: 3 - sweet and nutty
Taste: 3 - deeply malty
Feel : 3 - good body
Total: 3

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Lager

I have to admit, the label caught my attention first. This is the Howl Winter Seasonal beer from Magic Hat Brewery of New York. Ive had a number of their beers in the past, and they do pretty nice work. I drank a couple of these while watching the Packers beat up on Atlanta in the playoffs.
Its a deep dark coffee brown, with a good caramel colored head. The aroma has plenty of malt, and enough kick to let you know it means business. The first taste kind of surprized me, it started off almost watery, but that goes away quickly with sip number two as the deep toasty flavors and hops assert themsleves. It has a good nutty flavor, even some of the dry tannic of walnuts, and hints of coffee, molasses, and dates. The hops are moderately strong on the finish, but not overpowering, and just enough alcohol to warm you up without affecting the flavor.
Look: 3 - deep coffee brown
Aroma: 3 - toasted malty goodness
Flavor: 2 - starts off watery, but warms up fast
Feel: 3 - nicely carbonated
Total: 2.75

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Maximum IPA

The Lagunitas Brewery of California has impressed me in the past, so I thougth I'd give this a try. Its the Maximus IPA. As a quick refresher, that stands for India Pale Ale, a highly hopped and moderately strong ale. The style originated with British colonists in India, who wanted beer from their homeland, but the standard beers couldn't survive the long trip by ship. The extra alcohol and lots of hops acted as a preservative for the voyage.
Its pours a good pale brown, slightly cloudy, with a good dose of carbonation. The aroma is all IPA, with hops, hops, and more hops. You get the crisp strong ale flavors, with some floral spiciness like basil and thyme. Lots of carbonation, almost too much. The aftertaste is darn good, the hop bitterness lingers and leaves you wanting more. Overall a great example of the style.
Look: 3 - cloudy gold
Aroma: 4 - lotsa hops
Taste: 3 - clean and tasty
Feel: 3 - good carbonation
Total: 3.25

Monday, January 10, 2011

Its not just for breakfast any more

This one came highly recommended from my local beer warehouse, so I gave it a try and bought a four pack. Its the Founders Breakfast Stout, from Founders Brewery of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Acording to the bottle, its a stout made with oatmeal, chocolate, and coffee. Sounds like a brilliant combination!
It certainly looks like a stout, pouring a deep inky black that sucks up light. The aroma is amaizing, you get fresh coffee, plus deep bitterness from the hops, and a lovely malty sweetness. The flavor is anything but subtle. Your tongue is first hit with the molasses-like malty flavors, then the bitterness of the coffee and chocolate creep in. Ever try a chocolate covered espresso bean? Thats what this beer tastes like. The hops give you a nice bite at the end, and theres just enough alchohol to let you feel the burn. Overall an excellent beer.
Look: 4 - deep inky black, nice head
Aroma: 4 - coffee and chocolate
Taste: 5 - like a chocolate covered espresso bean. seriously.
Feel: 4 - lots of body
Total: 4.25

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Im a big fan of the dark beers, and a great coffee stout is like heaven. This one looked promising, Big Shot Espresso Stout, from Twisted Pine Brewing Co of Boulder, CO
It has a deep, opaque, inky black color, and lots of carbonation. The aroma definitely says coffee, plus burnt maltiness and molasses. The first taste, however, was a bit of a let down. It comes across very watery, without a lot of body. Yes, theres lots of coffee flavor, but wheres the stout? The hops take over the aftertaste, plenty of fuggle goodness. As the beer warms up, the flavor does get a bit darker, but the wateriness cant be overcome. Overall, a disappointment.
Look: 4 - promising inky black
Aroma: 3 - fresh coffee
Taste: 2 - watery
Feel: 2 - too light for a stout
Total: 2.75

Monday, January 3, 2011

Field Trip

Over the weekend we took a little road trip to Kirkland, a suburb of St Louis, and stumbled upon the Highlands Brewing Company. They are one of the many little brewpubs that make beer just for their own bar, and dont sell in bottles. There are probably many near you, too, and they're worth a look.  In the photo here you can see the number of brews they have fresh on tap, and the bartender informed us that there were a number of others not on the board.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

First beer of the year!

Lets get this party started right!
I rang in the new year with something really special. This is Sam Adam's Infinium, a limited release beer they created late in 2010. They partnered with the Weihenstephan brewery of Germany, one of the oldest in existence, to produce a new "champagne like" beer that follows the Rheinheitsgabot, or German Purity Law, meaning it uses only water, malted barley, hops, and yeast.
Its a lovely deep golden color, with plenty of carbonation. The bottle conditioning gives it tons of tiny bubbles. The aroma is strongly citrus, from the noble hops, with some sweet undertones of peach and a bit of floral spiciness. The taste is just lovely. It has plenty of body, giving it a thick and slippery mouthfeel, but not an overpowering flavor. Theres a good sweetness from the malt, balanced by flavors of lemon peel and apricot. The hop finish is light and clean, and leaves you wanting more.
It comes on with a bang, at 10 percent alcohol, but the alcohol flavors are barely detectable. Great beer for a celebration.

Look: 4 - deep gold with lots of fine bubbles
Aroma: 5 - lots of citrus and spicy hops
Taste: 5 - layers of malt, fruit, and hops
Feel: 4 - lots of body, but still light and creamy
Total: 4.5