What happens when two beer geeks try to converge delicious beer collections? The need for a bigger fridge arises. What happens when that isn’t possible (say at 7PM on a Sunday evening)? I get to drinkin’, THAT’s what happens!
So after a month of moving shenanigans, I sat down Sunday night with a gamut of 15 different brews at my disposal, waiting to be drunk for fear of a slow and painfully stinky death.
And so, faithful readers, we begin another journey of epic proportions through the realm of craft beer stylings available today. I hope you can keep up with me…
1. Summer Weizen Ale / Smuttynose Brewing Co., New Hampshire, USA / Wheat Ale / 5.8%
With a clear pale gold pour and thick white head, this beer resembles more of a filtered wheat beer than a hefeweizen. On the nose it is clearly herbal tea and grass, which makes sense since Smuttynose touts it as “brewed with chamomile”. The taste is reminiscent of lime Runts or perhaps even a lime sorbet palate cleanser. It is watery and refreshing but with a great bite and carbonated kick-a good outdoorsy beer for with a summer barbeque.
2. Woody Creek White Belgian Wit / Flying Dog Brewery, Maryland, USA / Belgian-style Wit / 4.8%
The aroma on this cloudy straw colored brew is that of the nature of Summer- the earthen smells of those hot , humid days; weedy, overgrown green smells merge together with sudden rainstorms and wet wood. Orange and coriander are definitely prevalent in the Woody Creek brew. Flying Dog offers a strong Belgian flavoring with clean wit texture in this brew.
3. Bitter Brewer / Surly Brewing Co, Minnesota, USA / English Bitter / 4.0%
While I’ve seen similar colors in other brews, I had never before thought to call the color of this brew Athletic Gold, but that’s exactly what it is. Think classic sports teams with that deeper, yellowish, mustardy gold. While the Flying Dog smelled of Summer proper, this brew gives off the essence of Christmas- the bitter orange aroma of clementines from my family members’ stockings and piny hops. The taste also brought forth bittery clementine.
4. Red Trolley Ale / Karl Strauss Brewing Co, California, USA / American Amber Ale / 5.8%
Well, seeing as how I’m on a roll tonight with beer aroma, I’ll add this one to the mix. This copper penny colored Ale smells of red wine and fresh rolls- the faint aroma of an Italian Restaurant. On the same token, it tastes of a freshly baked sourdough roll with toffee pieces in it. The sweet and bready flavoring of this brew makes it highly like-able in my world, but intense hop lovers should move on.
5. One / Dark Horse Brewing Co, Michigan, USA / Oatmeal Stout Ale / 8.0%
I have to say, I was uber excited to open up this brew. I’d heard much about the Dark Horse stout series, and I’m a stout freak, so how can it get any better than that? (Plus- I experienced Plead the Fifth just a day before, and, well, if I said how great it was here, I’d have to kill you. That review will come another day…) With a nose of malted milk balls and hot buttered toast, the “One” Oatmeal Stout tastes super buttery, just like the Oatmeal cookies my Dad makes with the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe (just insert instant oatmeal and voila!)
6. Too / Dark Horse Brewing Co, Michigan, USA / Cream Stout / 8.0%
Again, I was excited for this Dark Horse brew, however, the Cream Stout style of Ale had never really seemed to impressed me before. I was SO wrong. This bear of a beer smelled and tasted so delicious, I capped it up and saved the last 2/3 of the bottle so that I could drink it for enjoyment. With a meaty and earthen aroma, the SUPER creamy texture felt like melty soft ice cream in my mouth. I likened this brew to dark chocolate syrup on bacon flavored biscuits- if anyone knows of a place that makes such a thing, email me… now.
7. Scratch #27 (Cocaoabunga) / Troeg’s Brewing Co, Pennsylvania, USA / Milk Stout / 6.7%
This clear dark brown brew with a tiny, tan head smelled deeply of chocolate liquor, despite its meager 6.7% ABV rating. So, the taste of this brew totally makes me have to admit something somewhat weird about myself. It tastes just like Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate powder mix… let me explain. I’m one of those people who likes to, once the mix is added to my hot chocolate, spoon the floating bubbles of undissolved chocolate powder up and eat it. Gross, some people say, while others agree with me- that sh*t is delicious! I swear- next time, try it, and tell me you don’t like it! Or just drink Scratch 27, if you can get your hands on it.
8. Big Sound Scotch Ale / Cigar City Brewing Company, Florida, USA / Scotch Ale / 8.5%
Let me just start off by saying that Cigar City may just be my favorite brewery. These guys have yet to fail me on a brew- everything that they offer is well thought out and really delicious. Big Sound stays true to my word on this. The beautiful cloudy cherry mohagony brew had one of the biggest noses of the night with a chewy toffee bread flair, similar to that of Panera’s Cinnamon Crunch Bagel. Monkey bread, a bready peel off cake dish smothered in toffee, caramel gooey-ness. Cherry rock candy meets toffee cookie in this huge and complex brew. Yum!
9. Old Brown Dog Ale / Smuttynose Brewing Co, New Hampshire, USA / 6.7%
Sad to say, this may have been my least favorite brew of the night. The aroma leaves much to be desired, as there’s not much actually there. The Ale is tart, yes, I’ll give Smuttynose that, but it’s barely tart and there’s nothing spectacular about it. This may be because I had it right after that crazy complex Cigar City Scotch Ale, which is sad, but a beer should stand up for itself, no matter what you have before or after it.
10. Tripel Over Head / Mother Earth Brewing Co, North Carolina, USA / 9.0%
Props to Mother Earth Brewing Company for their sustainable brewing practices. This Tripel is highly commendable- the odor is straight up Belgian and the taste just screams of clove (with a few bananas thrown in for good luck). The only issue I had with this brew was the weird aftertaste that reminded me of dirty water. For a smaller brewery with sustainable brewing, this output is a good, solid Belgian and a delicious intro to the style.
11. Bourbon Barrel Aged Triple Over Head / Mother Earth Brewing Co, North Carolina, USA / 9.0%
Clearly darker gold and with a thicker, fluffier head, this brew is completely different from is base brother. The nose is that of spice and robust, “fancy” cheese. On the tongue I get a mixture of cheese and malt- perhaps a mac and cheese made of monteray jack or a tiny quiche-like pastry made of phyllo dough, gouda, and topped with carmelized onions. It is much better for my style than the base itself, however, that is purely a subjective matter. Two very solid offering from Mother Earth- cheers, men!
12. Adam / Hair of the Dog Brewing Co, Oregon, USA / Hearty Old World Ale / 10.0%
All that comes to mind when I try to remember this brew is… leather, leather, leather. Smoked leather, tanned hide, stained leather, you name it! My first reaction when tasting this bad boy was, literally, “Yum!” Burnt buttered toast meet pork meat. It is deliciously complex but drinkable. Smokey, but not ashy; salty, but not bready; etc; these are the pluses to Adam.
13.India Pale Ale / Avery Brewing Co, Colorado, USA / IPA / 6.3%
While malty at first, this brew gives way to bitter and citrusy hops. It’s a good, solid, IPA but nothing to write home to mom about. It’s classic and easy to drink, but there are better examples of the IPA style available out there today.
14. Double Trouble / Founder’s Brewing Co, Michigan, USA / Imperial IPA / 9.4%
Clear straw colored with a large, foamy head, this beer smelled of wet forest including damp wood and leaves. Malty, sweet caramel meets bitter, earthen hops in this great example of an Imperial IPA. Uber drinkable and delicious as well, this beer makes me love Founder’s even more. (Blogger’s Note: on the same night, at the same time, characters from the HBO series “Hung” were drinking Founder’s Double Trouble as well… score one for craft beer!)
15. XS Imperial Red Ale / Rogue Brewery, Oregon, USA / Imperial Red Ale / 9.0%
This deep brown, foamy brew combines sweet, bitter, candied hops with a hint of chocolate. It’s somewhat lacking and surprisingly one dimensional and flat for an offering from Rogue. The Red Ale is definitely not my cup of tea, which was fine, since I had more of that Dark Horse “Too” to delve into to save my dying palate.
Cheers, my dears!