Saturday, September 17, 2011

Beer of the week: Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale

Beer score: 5.7
Web site: The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery
ABV: 5.5
IBU: unknown
Pours a very dark blonde color, almost like a tea. Has a bit of a burnt caramel in the scent over the glass. Not a lot of foam or carbonation, but not flat. Quite wet, and a little more sturdy than your typical amber ale. Starts off (very) slightly sweet, but the hoppy bitterness grows in strength on the back of the tongue and the more you drink. A touch of caramel in the taste, with maybe a bare hint of fruitiness. This is quite the respectable beer, though I wouldn't classify it necessarily as a great beer. This brew is light enough and flavorful enough that a beer snob could drink it all day without being embarrassed, so if you're a beer snob looking for something you can keep on hand in your fridge for regular, every-day drinking, this would not be a bad choice by any means. The craft brew comes to us from Farmville, North Carolina.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Beer of the week: St. Cloud Belgian White

Beer score: 2.2
Web site: St. Cloud
ABV: 5.4
IBU: 12
Has a light, dirty straw color to it as it comes out of the bottle and hits the glass. The smell is kind of noxious, and the taste doesn't improve it any. There's some citrus accents in the smell, just a little, and that is stronger in the flavor once you sip. There's a little bit of a wheat taste here, but that's overpowered by a sour bitterness that quickly explodes any potential for this beer to be good. Honestly, this is without a doubt the worst beer with the words "Belgian White" on its label that I've ever had. This stuff is made by Winery Exchange, a supplier of premium beers to grocery stores and other such markets, and I'm thinking they should stick to the wine business.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beer of the week: Carolina Pale Ale

Beer score: 6.3
Web site: Carolina Brewing Company
ABV: 5.6
IBU: 40
Coming to us from Holly Springs, North Carolina, this isn't a bad brew. It's got a slightly dark golden color in a glass, and I have to admit it's a little more sturdy than it looks. I wouldn't classify this as a great beer, but the brewers have nothing to be ashamed of here. There was no head whatsoever when I poured it, which is neither here nor there in my opinion, but some folks like more head on their brew. Quite wet with a slight hoppy bitterness that grows stronger the more it lingers on the tongue, but without becoming overly strong. Kind of a flowery smell here, with a touch of malt graininess and maybe a little lemon or orange zest. The style is American pale ale, but it's definitely on the lighter side of any pale ales. Somewhat on the average side, but not atrocious by any means. You could do a lot worse, believe me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beer of the week: Bard's Original Sorghum Malt Beer

Beer score: 6.6
Web site: Bard's Tale Beer Company
ABV: 4.6
IBU: 20.5
More and more people are turning to gluten-free products nowadays, so it would seem a natural that eventually there would be a gluten-free beer. But a beer that doesn't include wheat, rye, oats or barley? Yes, it exists in this beverage, Bard's Original Sorghum Malt Beer, which is brewed with 100 percent malted sorghum and is of this writing the only beer to be brewed with 100 percent malted sorghum. Basically, this drink from Utica, New York, is a beer made from sourghum. It also happened to be the first gluten-free beer. But you want to know how this stuff tastes, right? Well, first off, it's style is that of an American lager, just to give you a feel for it. When you pour it into a glass it gives off kind of a sweet burnt sorghum smell that borders on being heavy. The coloring is a light reddish, looking somewhat like a slightly darker version of premium "red" beers. Very wet, almost watery, quite smooth, has a decent head that didn't grow overly large. It tastes stronger than it smells, starting off with that slightly sweet but burnt, almost maple texture that quickly grows into a sturdy bitterness. There's a hint of spices, almost like one of this winter holiday brews. I can't say this is something I will drink on a regular basis, but it was worth trying, and I'd definitely recommend it to those who want to drink beer but have to stick with gluten-free foods and drinks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Beer of the week: RJ Rockers Patriot Pale

Beer score: 6.7
Web site: RJ Rockers
ABV: 6.0
IBU: unknown
Since 1997, RJ Rockers has been bringing quality brews to the Spartanburg, South Carolina, region, and this was one of their flagship beers. This American pale ale has a nice gold, cloudy look to it in a glass, and a slightly malty and citrus scent. Very wet, with a frothy head and a strong hoppy bitter flavor that goes down smooth. There's also a touch of caramel flavoring with hints of citrus. The taste is stronger than the scent, so don't be fooled and don't say I didn't warn you. This is not an overly complex beer, but it is quite a good one. This would make an excellent staple beer for any connoisseur's fridge. By the way, RJ Rockers is a microbrewery, and their brews are handcrafted.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beer of the week: Presidente

Beer score: 3.4
Web site: Presidente
ABV: 5.0
IBU: unknown
Coming from the Dominican Republic, this pilsener is not worth your time. It tastes much like your typical Mexican brew, but with quite a bit more carbonation, making it almost acidic. There is a little beer taste, sort of grassy, splashing around in this liquid, but I just can't recommend it to true beer connoisseurs. It's wet, with some light bitterness that lingers on the tongue. Sorry if this is one your favorite beers, because it sucks.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Beer of the week: The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel

Beer score: 5.0
Web site: The Bruery
ABV: 8.1
IBU: 25
In all fairness, this is a quality brew. However, I just didn't care for the flavor, thus the lower score on my part. That being said, there are probably plenty of beer snobs out there who would love this beer. Trade Winds Tripel is the summer brew from The Bruery out of Placentia, California, and I have to admit it is one of the more unique-tasting beers I've had. It's a Belgian-style ale but it's brewed with Thai basil and rice, which is enough to make this an usual beer, and worth trying. When I poured it into a glass it had a nice, light blonde coloring and quite the foamy head. The scent is quite strong, and I could really smell the basil along with some floral elements. There's not a lot of alcohol flavor here, which isn't bad, though there is an overabundance of bitterness which is where this drink went bad for me. There's also a wheat flavor here, some citrus qualities and you can taste the rice. Again, this is actually a good beer, but it's just not my thing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Beer of the week: Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55

Beer score: 8.5
Web site: Brooklyn Brewery
ABV: 5.0
IBU: 24
Has a slightly dark, almost burnt blonde color to it in the glass, and a perfect quality beer scent. The Scottish Maris Otter malt brings a solid, almost cake-like sweetness, but it’s a soft sweetness, not overpowering but obviously there. The bitterness is strong at first taste, then fades away a little but returns on the way down. This is one of the most well-balanced beers I’ve ever tasted, with a perfect mix of hops and malt, and one of the better pale ales from the U.S. The name of this brew comes from the 1955 World Series when the Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the Yankees.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beer of the week: La Fin Du Monde

Beer score: 8.7
Web site: Unibroue
ABV: 9.0
IBU: 19
Normally I'm not a big fan of Canadian beers, but this fine beverage from Quebec brewer Unibroue can give most beers in Europe a run for their money. This is a Belgian-style ale that's been triple fermented. Pours with a cloudy gold color and has a strong wheat and fruity smell. I'd be surprised if there's not been a touch of citrus and honey added to this drink. In the drinking there's just a little too much carbonation for my liking, almost like you're drinking champagne, but it's not too bad. The flavor starts off fruity for the first sip or two, but then a strong bitter and alcohol flavors kicks in. If you are a fan of Belgian-style brews, you are more than likely going to enjoy this one. I can't quite classify La Fin Du Monde as a favorite, but it's darn close, and I'd never turn one down.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beer of the week: Guilford Golden Ale

Beer score: 4.1
ABV: 3.8
IBU: unknown
I was really looking forward to this lighter American ale. It's from a regional brewery in Greensboro, North Carolina, and I always like trying something new. Plus, I was in the mood for a brew that wasn't real heavy, and I had hoped this beer would suffice. It didn't. Sorry, but the smell assaulted me right off the bat with a skunkiness reminiscent of something like Old Milwaukee. The flavor has sort of a light, bread-like quality, but that's it. Nothing special here, and the fizz was a bit too much, though not overpowering. Also, I found three different Web addresses for the brewing company, none of which was working, so I'm not sure if this company is still in business or not; apparently they are also a restaurant and pub. I've included a link above just in case the site was only down temporarily. Regardless of my all-around disappointment, this was just one brew, so I'll give this brewery another shot at some point.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beer of the week: Hell's Belle

Beer score: 7.2
ABV: 7.0
IBU: 30
Has a nice, light floral quality to it with a very pleasant scent that wafts up from the glass. There’s just a touch of almost IPA-like bitterness on the tip of the tongue with this drink. Just a hint of spice and sweetness here. Very restrained in its fruitiness, but there are fruity undercurrents here. Light enough you could drink several in one sitting, but does have a complex flavor that keeps you guessing. Comes from the Big Ross Brewing Co. of Raleigh, North Carolina. The bottle calls this a "Belgian Style Ale," and that's right on the nose, almost like a white ale.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beer of the week: Smuttynose Maibock

Beer score: 8.4
ABV: 8.7
IBU: unknown
R-i-i-i-i-c-h. As in flavor. The price is actually very decent. But that flavor kicks you right at the first sip. And what is that flavor? It's difficult to describe. Kind of grainy, as in wheaty, almost like this brew came right from a farm field and was served to you. Has a fine caramel smell, and there's a hint of fruit, perhaps citrus or grape, in the back of that scent. Goes down smooth though there is a strong alcohol flavor with fruity undercurrents right at the back of the tongue. Goes well with broiled pork chops and potatoes, I can say. Might be a little too strong for drinking every day of the week, but if you're in the mood for something different then this beer is more than worth considering. Comes from the Smuttynose Brewing Company of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and those folks should be proud of this brew. A maibock is traditionally a light-colored lager with a robust amount of alcohol, and that's the case here. The Smuttynose folks put out a new maibock each Spring, and the one I tried was for 2011. I'll be looking for this one again next year.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Beer of the week: Saison Dupont

Beer score: 7.9
Web site: Brasserie Dupont
ABV: 6.5
IBU: unknown
This beer from Belgium almost always draws very high marks on various brew review websites, and while I give it fairly high marks myself, I didn't feel it was so great or so unique. Don't get me wrong, this is a solid beer. Your Budweiser friends will be at a loss if they tried a Saison Dupont. But the flavor and texture here was nothing unexpected and nothing all that complex or unusual. If you like a traditional Belgian ale, you can't get more traditional or normal than this. On the plus side, several people have told me this beer has a skunky odor to it (which is common among beers in green bottles), but I have to say I did not experience any of that. Very earthy without being thick on the tongue, with early hints of fruitiness that die away swiftly to be replaced by a cool bitterness. Has a nice head. This is a bottle fermented brew and a top-fermented brew. By the way, a "saison" traditionally is a beer somewhat similar to a pale ale but with a low-alcohol level; historically this beer was brewed and fermented in farmhouses in Belgium and possibly some parts of France and served to farmworkers.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How to name your dog after beer

If you are a beer lover and an animal lover, like me, at some point in your life there's a pretty good chance you are going to want to name a dog after a beer. However, it's quite possible your significant other will shoot down the idea, or perhaps it will be your parents. Or maybe there could be some other reason that would intrude upon you wanting to name a dog after a beer.

Don't let this get you down. You can still name a dog after a beer, you just have to be a little more sly about. it.

For instance, you obviously wouldn't want to name your dog Budweiser. Why? Because that's a world-wide recognizable name meaning beer. However, you might be able to get by with something a little more slick, like Bud or Buddy. Not exact, but it's close enough to count.

Another fine name for a dog is Foster, after Foster's, the Australian beer. I'm not a huge fan of this particular brew, but I do like the name. And I once fooled my wife into allowing me to name a dog Foster. She never caught on until I told her years later.

If you'd like something a bit more esoteric, you could name a pet after Bert Grant's. Heck, this brewing company doesn't even exist any more, but they put out some very fine drinks. Either Bert or Grant would be solid names for a dog. Even Bertie wouldn't be too bad for a small dog.

If you want a sturdy, old-fashioned name for a dog, you could always try Breckenridge after the Breckenridge Brewery. Possibly Breck would do, as well.

Are you religious? How about Pete or Peter after St. Peter's Brewery of England. They make a fine Organic English Ale. And don't forget the folks at Pete's Wicked, who make a great Strawberry Blonde.

Even less obvious options would be Rod or Roddy after Young's Ram Rod, or Nick or Nicholas after Young's Old Nick, or even Dick after Young's Dirty Dick's Ale.

If the dog is female you could go for Stella after Stella Artois or possibly Sierra after one of the fine Sierra Nevada brews, such as Sierra Nevada Porter.

One of my personal favorite names is Skullsplitter. And yes, there is a Skullsplitter Orkney Ale.
More obvious choices would be Sam or Sammy, after such brews as Sam Adams Triple Bock or Samuel Smith Taddy Porter.

Truly, it's up to you. I suggest having fun with the exercise. Pick a unique name for your dog, something you think will represent his or her spirit and will fit well.

And don't forget to enjoy a good beer every once in a while.

Beer of the week: Highland Brewing Company Gaelic Ale

Beer score: 7.7
ABV: 5.8
IBU: 32
A pretty sturdy amber ale. Nice, clean, smooth. A touch of sweetness early on gives way quickly to a strong burnt bitterness that is not overpowering, though it comes close to crossing that line. Very wet. Comes from the Highland Brewing Company of Asheville, North Carolina. Apparently this Gaelic Ale is the company's best-selling brew, and that's not a surprise. Though, admittedly, as of this writing I've not tried any of their other beers. That is a disastrous situation I will have to remedy.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Beer of the week: Sierra Nevada Glissade

Beer score: 8.2
Web site: Sierra Nevada
ABV: 6.4
IBU: 42

Quite possibly the perfect beer for hot weather. Has a smooth, fruity quality and a light texture that makes this an awesome brew for summer. The label on the bottle calls this a "Golden Bock." Basically, this is Sierra Nevada's seasonal brew for the Spring. Has a light bitterness on the tongue. There is a touch of sweetness right at the beginning, but that dies away after the first sip, though that sweat, almost honey-like, quality is still present in the scent. As of this tasting, my favorite Sierra Nevada beer. Don't let the high bitterness ranking fool you, because I didn't find this to be an overly strong beer in bitter territory; must be a fine trick with malts to have such a smooth beer with such a high bitterness units rank.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Beer of the week: Fort Collins Brewery Chocolate Stout

Beer score: 8.3
ABV: 4.9
IBU: 33
Oh my gosh! This stuff looks like dark maple syrup as I pour it into the glass, and even has a bit of a burnt syrup smell to it. The only way I can see light through this beer in a clear glass is to hold it up almost directly next to a bright light source, otherwise this stuff is dark, dark, dark. Quite smooth with a nice, frothy head. Has a very cool roasted bitterness that true stout fans will love. This is my first brew from the Fort Collins Brewery folks, but I’ll definitely be trying more in the future. Truly, an excellent stout.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What is cock ale?

Cock ale.

It sounds funny. Even dirty. But it's not. At least not in the way your twisted mind is probably thinking.

Cock ale is actually ale, a type of beer brewed with malted barley and yeast and then fermented at relatively high temperatures (for fermentation, anyway), that is also fermented with poultry, often chicken.

Cock ale has a history going back at least 500 years, and some beer historians believe that history started in Scotland.

As mentioned, this beverage is often made with chicken, but sometimes duck or other poultry can be used. Also, fruits, nutmeg, clove, mace and sometimes other herbs are used in the fermentation process. The chicken and the herbs can also be soaked in wine for a day or longer to add a little zing to the flavor.

Strictly speaking, the general goal is to create a mincemeat of the poultry being used, but modern recipes often just rely on using shredded chicken.

However, all that being said, you shouldn't just take shredded poultry and mix it in with beer you bought from the store. You'll just end up with a mess, and it'll taste nasty.

Proper cock ale is made during the actual beer-making process, during the fermentation. I'm not going to go into all the details of beer brewing because aficionados will already know and everybody else is not likely to care, but basically the poultry and other ingredients are placed into a bag and added to the fermenting beer on the second day of fermentation. Fermentation should take about a week longer than usual and the final product should be matured in the bottle for about a month before drinking.

Generally speaking, cock ales have a taste and texture akin to what are often called barley wines. Cock ales are usually darker or red, and usually have a fruity taste to them. But what can you expect if you add all that fruit?

So, there you go. At its most basic, cock ale is ale that's been fermented with chicken. Now you know.

Friday, May 27, 2011

St. Peter's Organic English Ale

Beer score: 6.8
Comes from St. Peter's Brewery in Suffolk, England. Quite smooth, very like a smooth pale ale in texture and flavor. No sweetness here, but a fine, wet bitterness that is just right, not too bitter at all. Should go well with just about any meal as it's light enough for seafood but sturdy enough for steak. If you happen to be traveling in England, look up the St. Peter's Brewery; they have a pub in London and a restaurant at their Suffolk spot.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Belgium Brewing Fat Tire Amber Ale

Beer score: 5.8
Light and smooth enough that it almost seems like you're drinking a pilsner at first, but then the light sweetness of the first few sips fades away to be replaced by the deeper toasted texture of a more traditional amber ale. Not a bad brew. Goes well with cheddar cheese.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Utica Club Pilsener Lager Beer

Beer score: 6.0
Web site: Saranac
Smooth with a crisp sweetness that isn't overpowering but grows stronger as you drink. The bottle's label says this was the first beer sold in the United States after prohibition ended. A fine beer, but nothing truly extraordinary here.