Dipping back to a familiar style, the IPA has re-entered my household. While usually I stick to random craft beers, I spotted one a while ago that I had never seen before by the name of Henry Weinhard’s. I left it on the shelf for another day, and out of the blue my brother in law brought some over for Halloween. Looks like a craft beer, so it must be one right? Hold on just a minute…
First a history lesson: Henry Weinhard is an actual person. Much like Cincinnati’s own Christian Moerlein, Henry was a brewer from the old days, who actually spent some time here in the area before settling down in Oregon. For a long time, he crafted beers under his own name, and at one point, as it sometimes happens, his company was bought by another larger company. This “craft” beer just happens to be made by the folks at SABMiller, but for some reason they don’t want you to know that. Well, they are not advertising it at least. Anyway, lets see how this IPA stands, enter the Woodland Pass IPA:
The beer pours like a normal IPA, with a good looking copperish hue. Smell wise I am picking up mostly pine aromas, and not much else. Taste wise, this beer is surprising. Right out of the gate, you pick up a nice hop flavor, but not overpowering like most IPAs that you will find nowadays. It is mild, but nice. Mixed with the hops, you will notice quite a bit of malt flavors, which mellow out the hops even more, and the beer finishes a little bitter. This IPA is lighter than most, and that is not a bad thing. This would be a good, cheap, grilling out type of beer.
Overall, I like this beer. True, it is not a real craft beer. True, it is more along the lines of a pale ale than an IPA. This is a beer that you could drink a few of and not find yourself without your pants the next morning. Not that that is a bad thing, or that it has happened to me. Well done Henry Weinhard’s, err…SABMiller, not great, but not a bad start.
Barleywines are a favorite style of mine, and every time that I see one that I have not had I usually buy it. There is just something almost elegant ending the day with a nice, slow sipping Barleywine. Not one to miss a new one for my list, I spotted this guy hanging out at the new Jungle Jim’s, so of course it came home with me. That said, lets take a look, enter Mendocino’s Imperial Barleywine:
This beer pours into my snifter like a solid Barleywine. The smells are spot on for the style, with darker fruits taking the stage mixed with a slight sweetness. Taste wise, dark fruits are there again, this time mixing with a nice alcohol warmth, which makes sense due to the 11%ABV. This is a big beer.
Overall, this beer is average to me. Nothing really stands out to really make me want to buy this again. With so many amazing barleywines on the market, this one kind of falls to the rear of the lineup. It’s good, but I would call it average at best.
IPAs are a mainstay in my household. Nothing finishes off a day better than a smooth, highly hopped, bitter IPA. Sometimes though, the West Coast style burns me out, and I start to look elsewhere for my evening beer, branching out to stouts and porters, etc. but I always find myself back to the IPA. Surprisingly though, I have never had an IPA from the origin of the style: Great Britain. Time for that to change, enter Meantime’s IPA:
The style got it’s start in the UK in the mid 18th century. Folks traveling to India wanted a beer that would make the journey, and what a beer they got. English IPAs became very popular, and the style crossed the pond in the early 1900s, and now almost every brewery here in the states has their own version. There is even the difference between East and West coast IPAs. Enough about that, lets get down with Meantime.
This IPA pours like your typical IPA, maybe just a tad lighter in appearance. Scent wise I am picking up a nice mixture of fruits and alcohol, which this beer is around 7.5% ABV so that is no real surprise. Taste wise, this is not your normal stateside IPA. Very mellow in comparison, but also very enjoyable. Fruity, bitter, smooth, a well balanced beer. The carbonation reminds me of drinking Anchor’s Old Foghorn, as it is very crisp and well done. This is an easy drinking IPA that I am glad that I found!
If you are like me, and drink a fair share of IPAs, give this one a try to mix it up a bit. Not your normal IPA, but historically, it is right on par for the style. This one I will buy again!
Well done Meantime!
Sometimes while standing in the beer aisle and contemplating life, I cannot decide what style of beer will be on my menu for the evening. With more and more quality beers showing up at my local grocer, it is starting to become a little overwhelming. When those beer panic attacks happen, I usually grab the nearest company sampler pack to cover all of the necessary beer bases. That was last night, and my choice came from the very respectable Sierra Nevada.
The Beer Camp sampler is quite amazing. Sure, a little early in the review, but let’s just get that out of the way. This sampler is in a whole different class of sampler, as the company runs a contest to bring in different home brewers to help make some interesting beers. Great concept, and even better execution. Let’s start part 1 with the Oatmeal Stout:
The beer pours pitch black, with a larger than normal tan head. The smells off of the top are of nice bitter chocolate, mixed with roasted malts. Tasting, this beer hits you with those familiar favors, but also with hints of coffee, and a small but noticeable hint of hops. Maybe it is just my mind playing tricks on me, but I always expect that familiar Sierra Nevada hop flavor with all of their products. I can taste a bit of hops though, and it makes this beer very smooth. To say that this beer is smooth and easy to drink would be an understatement. I would almost describe it as silky.
As per the norm, this beer ranks high for me. I love Sierra Nevada’s products, and this beer is no different. This is the quintessential stout in my house now. Yes, I just said that about Founders Breakfast Stout a couple weeks ago. This beer tops it. Hands down. My new favorite stout, and now placed into my top 5.
Well done Sierra Nevada, now put this beer in a six pack. Or at least a single big bottle.
If you have read this blog before, you probably have realized by now that I love Ohio. I feel that it is the best state in our great country, or at least that is what the politicians are saying. Anyway, every time I see an Ohio beer, I feel that it is my civic duty to try it out. That said, enter The Brew Kettle…
Based out of Strongsville Ohio, Then Brew Kettle has a unique twist to a micro brew. You have the option to show up, make your own beer, eat dinner, show up two weeks later or so, and bottle your own beer to take home. Very cool concept in a brewery! They also pump out a variety of bottles year round, like the Ruddy Rye. Let’s see how this one goes…
Once opened, the beer smells nice, with that familiar rye scent hitting your nose. Poured into my glass, it was all carbonation. Uh oh. This is not going to end well. As I had feared, the beer is bad. Not just a bad flavor, but bad fountain soda bad. All carbonation. Maybe that was just a bad bottle right? Nope. Bottle number two was the exact same. I am going to go out on a limb and assume that they are all bunk, but I will try them all just to be sure.
I am intrigued by this brand, but I will probably leave them alone for a while, to get their quality control in check. With the intense competition for my money in the craft beer game, I am amazed that this problem even exists on the shelf. Nothing pisses me off more than to watch $10 go down the drain.
Congratulations Brew Kettle, you are now the 3rd beer that I have ever poured out.
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!