For most beer lovers, Samuel Adams is a household name. Their beers have been around for quite some time, and some might argue that they put craft beers on the map. One of the great things about them, since they are a larger craft brewer, is that they can put their money where their mouth is, and develop newer beer styles, and experiment with different flavors. Case in point would be their “Barrel Room Collection.” Lets take a look at one of the beers that came from experimentation in their barrel room. Enter the Thirteenth Hour:
This beer pours into your glass like a nice, normal stout. Oil black appearance, with a nice, very pronounced khaki colored head. The carbonation is very lively with this one, almost like a soda, which might give you the wrong impression of this beer. This beer smells very nice once the cork is popped, with flavors of darker sweet fruits taking the stage. Taste-wise, this beer hits you at once with a rush of those darker fruits, but then rides out with some familiar stout flavors, and even has a slight sour touch. The sourness mixed with the heavier than normal carbonation reminded me of a Kriek, but my experience of that style is very limited. The Belgian flavors do come out in this beer, and you can also slightly taste the oak of the aging process. Overall, this beer is very interesting, and very easy to drink. The flavors are a great compliment to each other, and I found myself wanting to drink more of it. Top that off with a catchy looking bottle and that would be a winner in my book.
Whether you like Samuel Adams or not is a moot point, this beer is interesting enough to give a try. I found myself enjoying it the more I drank it, and was quite sad once the huge bottle was empty. I plan on trying out the other three styles of the Barrel Room collection before they disappear. Well done Sam Adams!
Fall has really arrived here in Southwestern Ohio, and with that comes darker style beers. That said, starting earlier this month, Founders Brewing, out of the state up North, released bottles of their fabled Breakfast Stout. With the draft release being today, it is only fitting that I tackle this one on a Friday night. Breakfast for dinner? Yes please. Enter the Breakfast Stout:
To get this started, let’s have a story: I have wanted to try this beer for some time. My first experience with it happened at a friends wedding. After one or two too many rum and cokes, a friend handed me a bottle of this and proclaimed, “This is one of the greatest beers that I have ever had!” Instantly, I was intrigued. At this point in the evening, the wedding reception had moved into the hotel bar. In my rum clouded vision, I insisted that the bartender should open this beer for me, as I did not have an opener. He politely told me to take my drunk ass back to my room. I then, when he was not looking, proceeded to try to open this beer on the fancy marble counter top. After a few tries, much to my dismay the bottle was still intact, and now in the hands of my wife after she caught me in the act of trying to open the bottle. Fast forward to the next morning, and the bottle had disappeared, but my interest in this one was still hanging on. To this day, I am not really sure what happened to that bottle.
Enter today. After securing a 4 pack of this beer, it was finally go time. The beer pours nice and dark, like a good stout should. This one however, has a very pronounced head. Aroma wise, nice notes of coffee and roasted malts hit your nose. When the beer hits your taste buds, you will be hit with flavors of coffee, malts, bitter chocolate, some oatmeal flavor, and more coffee at the finish. Carbonation is spot on, this beer feels good in your mouth. It basically makes you want to have another. Careful with this beer though, as it clocks in at 8.3% ABV, which is heavy duty for a stout. It blows my mind that this beer is so high in ABV, as you cannot taste the alcohol at all. This one is very enjoyable, and it sets the new standard in my household for a stout!
When you think of stouts, if the first beer that pops into your head is a Guinness, you NEED to drink this beer. It will completely re-write your opinion of the darker craft. I will even go on to say that I enjoy it above and beyond my favorite stout, Sam Smith’s Oatmeal stout. This beer delivers, so go give it a shot! It pains me that it has taken so long to finally drink one of these amazing beers, but boy am I glad that I did. Once again, Michigan delivers the good stuff. I really need to look more into property up there…
Well done Founders!
As I have stated before, dopplebocks are a favorite of mine, and usually I drink quite a few during this time of the year. Even though this is one of my favorite styles, a lot of times the different varieties start to blend together, and the fall months are a giant blend of bock beer, where one is indistinguishable from the next. Dark Horse Brewing Company must feel the same way, so they took a popular style, and added coffee. Coffee? Yes… Enter the Perkulator:
This dopplebock pours a good looking dark brown, with a medium sized off white head. Right from the pour, you can start to smell the coffee. Roasted coffee hits your nose, and it is a delight. Keep in mind, this is coming from a coffee lover. The coffee is there in the beginning of your first sip, with overpowering flavors that almost cover everything else in the beer. I say almost, because a little bit of maltiness hits mixed with a lager style yeast flavor, that you will usually find in a dopplebock. Overall, the coffee consumes the taste, which is good. This beer is supposed to taste like coffee. And that it does. This is the best coffee flavor that I have had in a beer. Ever.
If you are in the market for a different dopplebock, give this one a try. I would suggest however, if you don’t care much for coffee, I would leave it on the shelf. This beer is a keeper for me…
Well done Dark Horse!
Since it is fall, it’s time to break out the darker beers. Around this time of year, Oktoberfest style beers rule the roost, but another style lies just behind the popular ones: doppelbocks. This type of beer shows up and stays for a while at my household during the fall months. Let’s see how this goat fares, enter Wolfgang:
Once poured in your glass, this bock looks like it should, nice and dark brown. One interesting characteristic about this goat is that the head sticks around for a bit, with excellent lacing. Smell wise, dark fruits like raisins stick with you. Taste wise, this beer delivers. Smooth sweet caramel flavors blend with bread like malts in an excellent way. Like most Great Divide beers, this beer is amazingly smooth. I would even say almost creamy. This is a very tasty doppelbock that rivals some of my favorites of the style, mainly Ayinger’s Celebrator. The main difference between the two though, is this beer hits you with 8% ABV. Not too shabby in my book, especially when you remember that Celebrator is only around 6.7%.
If you are looking to dive into the style of the bock beer, definitely give this goat a go, it will be worth your while. Once again, Great Divide delivers. Well done!
Fall is in the air, well, at least in my home. So you know what that brings, right? Darker beers! After my recent dances with IPAs, I noticed the changing of the seasons in my local beer aisle. Smuttynose Brewing is one of my recent favorites of the past year for their “Big Beer” series of brews, which are always at a great price point. Factor the price with the quality craft beer, and that equals a winner in my book. That said, let’s walk this goat together. Enter the S’Muttonator Double Bock:
This beer pours out of the gate a very nice looking double bock, in a darker hue with a tan head. The head races out of the bottle like a pissed off goat chasing you out of his domain, then recedes ever so slowly as to let you know who is boss. Can you tell that I have been chased by a billy goat before? True story. Back to the beer: This is a classic for a double bock. Malts are your best friend with this one. Sweet malt flavors hit you in the front, with a hint of dark fruit making itself known. The beer finishes with a touch of alcohol flavor, since it does weigh in at 8.5% ABV. That is big for a double bock. Like the other Smuttynose beers that I have had, this beer is on my list to buy again.
Double bocks are a great way to usher in the colder temperatures. While there are quite a few on the market that are worthy of your time, I would say to give Smuttnose a shot at your bock beer time, you will appreciate every moment with this goat. Well done!
For some reason, Michigan has become one of the bigger craft beer markets. Quite a few breweries are gaining traction in the beer world, while being based out of the state up North. One brewery that I have not really heard too much about is out of Battle Creek, called Arcadia Ales. Since I have been on an IPA kick as of late, a farewell to summer if you will, I decided to take a walk with their version of a double IPA, called the Hopmouth.
This beer looks like an IPA, and smells like an IPA, so it should be an IPA right? Yes, yes and yes. The beer pours a perfect looking IPA, just a little darker red than normal. Some IPAs rush right to the top of the glass when poured, but this one came out of the bottle perfectly. For the record, I pour every beer the same, right down the middle of the glass, no tilting. Tilting is for cans or kegs. That is another rant altogether. Back to the beer. Once in the glass, the beer smells a bit of pine, and a little fruity, but not as powerful as you would expect. Taste wise, this beer is excellent. Hops meet your taste buds at the gate, then fade away to a few different malt flavors, one that jumps out at me is a bit caramel like. The hops do not make an encore, and the beer finishes nice and dry, with a touch of alcohol, which clocks in at 8% ABV for those who care.
This beer was a great pick, unfortunately for the Hopmouth though is that it had to follow Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum in my beer que. Overall, this is a solid beer, a little maltier than I expected, but a nice change for a double IPA. If you see it, you should try it out. Well done!
December 21st of this year is shaping up to be something special. The ancient Mayan civilization marked that date for the last day of their cyclical calendar. They believed that after the end of each cycle, a new era would begin. Or at least it seems. Some folks think that the sky will split on that day and life will cease to exist. Talk about the glass half empty. Anyway, In commemoration of this historic event, Rivertown Brewing company has released a very special, limited edition four part beer series giving a nod to the Christian version of the apocalypse by focusing on the four horsemen.
“And behold, I looked, and there was a rider on a red horse, and he poured out of his glass a smoked red ale.”
That’s in the bible, right? Enter Rivertown’s War:
This beer pours a very nice red color, and right off of the bat you can smell a fire. The smokiness overpowers any other scents that could possibly be in there, and for some reason, I like it. Makes me think of camping. Once you start to drink this limited edition brew, the smokiness comes back at you, but quickly fades into the rear. Rye starts to show itself, and blends with a bit of malt, then finishing nice and dry with a touch of hop bitterness. The malt is not as much as you might expect for a red ale, but this beer is still a very good drink. I found that the more I drank this one, the more I liked it. As odd as the smokiness is, this beer is a solid purchase in my book, but it could be hit or miss for some folks. If you like the smell of a campfire, give this horseman a try.
Rivertown is on to something with this series. Who would have thought that I would be impatiently waiting for the next horseman of the apocalypse to show up? I wonder what dandy of a beer he might bring?
Well done Rivertown, can’t wait for the next round!