Archive for the Ale Category

Cream Ale, Newburgh Brewing Company

Posted in Ale with tags , , on October 5, 2012 by bizzlepop

Finally, a long overdue tribute to my hometown brewery. Since I started contributing to Beersighted a few months ago, I have been planning on writing this review. It’s not that the beer isn’t good, or that I don’t want to promote the newest member of the Hudson Valley craft beer scene, I think it’s just because I’ve been lazy. I’d rather throw back a few pints of Newburgh at their gorgeous 4th floor taproom overlooking the river than to get a growler and sit in my living room typing this up. Bring my laptop there maybe? No way. They’ve got indoor cornhole and ping pong. Wednesday night is trivia night, and on the weekends they have live music. Who can concentrate on work when theres so much to do to entertain yourself? Not me, that’s for sure!

Wait, there’s a brewery in Newburgh? That is correct. The brewery first started distributing April 19, 2012, and opened their taproom a few months later. If you’ve never visited, I strongly suggest you change that very soon. They offer several choices including cream, brown, bitter English, smoked porter, IPA, saison, gose, and recently created strong Belgian (10.2% abv, yikes!!). With the exception of the IPA (7.1% abv) and the Belgian, all of their beers come in between 3.4% abv and 4.2% abv. Why such a low abv you might ask? Well, Newburgh prides their creations on being “sessionable”. This meaning you can enjoy multiple pints without going over the edge. Low abv, still big taste. Now, on to the beer…

Tonight, I have sitting before me, a nice frosty pint (or 2) of Newburgh Cream Ale. Weighing it at 4.2% abv, this is ridiculously flavorful for such a light beer. It has a slightly bitter start that leads into a smooth, and as the name suggests, creamy finish. There is nothing fancy here. No fruity aromas or aftertastes, minimal hoppiness. This is just a clean tasting, hard to put down beverage. Newburgh’s brewmaster Christopher Basso, in a recent interview with “The Session Beer Project” blog clearly described what his visions are. (Keep in mind this is my paraphrasing) He was sick of beers having to be super high in abv and include rare, random, and multiple flavors and additives to be considered a high-end craft beer. In his time brewing for Brooklyn Brewery, he always thought you could brew a simple, low abv session beer and put it on a pedestal. And did he ever hit the mark with this one. The beer is simple. It includes mostly locally grown ingredients. It’s delicious. What more could you ask for?

Final Rating –  (4 Pints)

Ommegang Three Philosophers

Posted in Ale, Strong Ale with tags , , , , on September 21, 2012 by Steve

Ommegang Three Philosophers – Brewed by Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY. – 9.8% abv

Let me preface this review by saying, I love Ommegang. I’ve only had a handful of brews by them (look for a review of their amazing Rare Vos next week) and they’ve all been great. Until now… (I can already hear the beer snobs at Beer Advocate digging for their pitchforks now)

Three Philosophers is a “unique blend of a Belgian-style strong dark ale and Liefmans Kriek, an authentic cherry ale from Belgium.” It’s described as being 98% ale, 2% ale with cherries. Naturally, I purchased the bottle based on the reputation of Ommegang, the other brews by them I’ve enjoyed, and all the good things I’ve heard about Three Philosophers. It’s cherries for gods sake, who doesn’t like cherries?!

Well, I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time I cringed at the first taste of a beer. I can also honestly say, I can’t remember that last time I couldn’t force myself to muscle down the rest of it. I got to about half a glass before I tapped out. It’s something about the taste. It reminds me of the Dogfish Head 120 min IPA, with it’s real strong alcohol taste, but 120 min IPA is closing in at 20% alcohol for god’s sake, not 9.8. You expect it with the DFH 120 min. I’ve had PLENTY of beers around the 9-10% range that don’t give you that pure alcohol taste. Maybe my man card isn’t up to snuff, but I like to enjoy my beers, and my palate just wasn’t ready for this one.

Please though, don’t take my word for it. Give it a try. Despite them being beer snobs, they are pretty knowledgeable, and Beer Advocate currently has this as one of the top rated beers there. Maybe you’ll enjoy it, plenty of people do! For me, though, thank goodness I had a bottle of Rare Vos on hand to help fix my thirstiness.

Ommegang, if you read this, I still love you. Your Rare Vos and Witte are delicious!

Final Rating – (1 Pint)

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut Down Ale

Posted in Ale, American Ale, Imperial Ale with tags , , , , , , , on September 11, 2012 by Steve

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut Down Ale – Brewed by Lagunitas Brewing Company out of Petaluma, CA – 9.8% abv

First, lets give a little back-story. This beer was brewed by Lagunitas in remembrance of the “2005 St Patrick’s Day Massacre”. Massacre you say?! Nope, calm down. As it turns out, in 2005, Lagunitas was having one of their regular Thursday night tastings when a “good samaritan” (read: asshole) spotted someone outside the brewery enjoying a little reefer (medical marijuana was/is “legal” and the stuff accounts for a major % of the economy in that area) and called the cops. For the following 8 weeks, the police conducted an investigation into the brewery, thinking they were selling weed out of it, sending undercover cops in there on Thursdays trying to score some pot.  Many offered it to them for free, but nobody ever tried to make a sale. Needless to say, it failed, cops got pissed, and on St. Patrick’s Day arrested a few people on some minor pot possession charges (later dropped). They then suspended Lagunitas’ alcohol license for 20 days.

“We brewed this especially bitter ale in dedication to all the world’s would-be astronauts, in remembrance of the 2005 St. Patrick’s Day Massacre on the Brewery Party Grounds and also in joyous celebration of our 20-day suspension that following January. Do the crime. Do the time. Get the bragging rights. Cheers.” – Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-down Ale label

So now onto the beer. The brew itself is pretty freaking good. Not as bitter as I was expecting. Definitely has that hoppy taste but no real aftertaste or bitterness one would find in an IPA or other ales. To be fair, this isn’t an IPA but you never know with Lagunitas. Very good ale right from the start. It’s self described an “oxymoronic imperial mild ale”. It makes sense. It has those tastes one wouldn’t expect from an imperial or IPA but right no bite.

Has a nice red color, some hints of caramel and toffee right before you get that warmth from the alcohol itself (it is 9.8% after all). A couple swigs and I can feel a slight buzz already. This brew is actually considered an American Strong Ale, or an Imperial Red Ale. Halfway through, it starts to get even tastier. Maybe I’m just thirsty but its starting to go down quicker. For the amount of alcohol, it  isn’t overbeating either which is nice.

I love Lagunitas. I’ve had multiple offerings from them and they are generally on top of the game. This beer doesn’t wow me, but it’s another solid offering from a brewery that just can’t help but create delicious beers.

Final Rating – (4 Pints)

Hex, Hocus Pocus. Magic Hat Brewing Company

Posted in Ale, Summer Ale, Wheat with tags , , , , , on August 26, 2012 by bizzlepop

I’m going to try something different this time. Seeing as variety packs are becoming more and more popular these days, I’m going to do a double review based on the Magic Hat “Participation” variety pack. I’d like to start out by making it clear that the South Burlington, VT brewery is my favorite. Since 1994, they have been making their mark on the small batch craft beer map. They offer an amazingly tasty year round brew, #9, which is included in “Participation” pack. Along with two other year round choices, they also offer seasonal selections, a variety of different, rotating I.P.A.s, and random flavors based on seasonal ingredients such as apple pie, honey, and dandelion. Overall, their creativity is second to none, and the constant threat of any flavor being removed permanently at their discretion is enough to persuade one into trying every possible selection, maybe more than once. #9 and the current I.P.A. “HI.P.A.” are included in this pack. However, this review will focus on their Octoberfest “Hex”, and their back-by-popular-demand summer ale “Hocus Pocus.”

First up, “Hex.” Dubbed “Ourtoberfest” by the brewery, this seasonal selection rings in at 5.4% abv. Right away, its amber color is almost mesmerizing. It has a very full and changing flavor. It starts out crisp and smooth, then gives way to a slightly bitter finish. Not much of a hoppy after taste which is really a nice change of pace from some of the recent beers I’ve been trying. Personally, it brings me back to my first ever Sam Adams Octoberfest. I can imagine the cold, crisp fall weather and the leaves changing. Seasonal beers always seem to give me a great mental picture, and this one is no different. I’ve had it on two separate occasions, and this second time is proving to be much more enjoyable than the first. Overall, this beer has a great earthy flavor prominent in beers this time of year. You’ll have to keep reading to see what my overall rating was for this superb seasonal.

 

It’s time for something a bit lighter. The color, taste, and logo are all lighter now. “Hocus Pocus” is a summer ale that was at one point discontinued, then brought back at the consumers’ demand. I had this beer during it’s original tour (I’m estimating the summer of ’08 if my memory serves correctly), and was very upset when I couldn’t find it the following summer. This was how I discovered Magic Hat “retires” beers and rarely, if ever, puts them back into production. Fortunately for everyone, this one was given a second life. “Hocus Pocus” weighs it at 4.5% abv, right around the average for a summer ale. Like all Magic Hat concoctions, this has a very complex flavor that works together to create a delicious experience. It starts out light and wheaty (no, wheaty isn’t really a word, but it just seems to fit!) and finishes fruity. There’s a touch of bitterness in the middle, but doesn’t linger as a rush of citrusy fruits wipe the palate clean. Magic Hat offers a year round wheat called “Circus Boy.” As good as it is, it lacks the complexity and fruitiness “Hocus Pocus” has to offer. Personally, I would consider this one of my top 3 wheat beers I’ve had. If you’ve never had, I suggest making a move. This particular variety pack will be pulled from stores around October 15th, and once it’s gone, there is no telling when, if ever, these two choices will be available again. -BW

Hex Final Rating- (4 Pints)

Hocus Pocus Final Rating- 4.5 Pints  (4.5 Pints)

 

Blowing Rock High Country Ale

Posted in Ale, American Ale with tags , , , , on July 26, 2012 by Steve

Blowing Rock High Country Ale – Brewed by Boone Brewing Company out of Blowing Rock, NC – ?% alcohol

This is an American style ale, and simply put, it’s delicious. This review is short because while drinking it, I didn’t want to write. I just wanted to drink and enjoy it. It’s got some light hops, slight to no aftertaste. One word: awesome.

This is probably one of my favorite beers now and it’s a shame I probably won’t be able to find it anywhere around here. It’s not overbearing, and GOD DAMN it’s delicious. Screw it, I just found the first 5 Pint-rated beer of this blog. Mmmmmmm give me more!!

Final Rating – (5 Pints)

Widmer Brother’s Original Drifter Pale Ale

Posted in Ale, Pale Ale, Uncategorized with tags , , on October 21, 2011 by Steve

The Original Drifter Pale Ale – Brewed by Widmer Brother’s Brewing from Portland, OR – 5.7% alcohol

Funny story: I onced seeked this beer out a couple years ago due to the review it received in Maxim Magazine’s beer issue. I believe it took 2nd over Pork Slap. When I finally found it after a few months of looking, I got excited, rushed home to stick it in the fridge. When they were cold, I grabbed one out, opened it and…..hated it. I was so disappointed. There was something telling me that I was really going to like this beer. I was still in my Bud Light phase and not very experienced in other beers yet. Segway to very recently…

My girlfriend decided to surprise me with a 6 pack of beer to do a review on, and not remembering that I had tried this brew before, she picked up some Drifter Pale Ale. Since I was a little more cultured in beers this time around, I said hell with it and tried it again. One word: Wow.

This beer is delicious and I don’t know what the f@#$ I was thinking. Even the girlfriend likes it. She hates pale ales. She hates most beers, honestly. There’s such a presence of citrus in this, but it’s not strong and overbearing and it definitely helps mask any bitterness that may be in it, because you taste absolutely none.

I’ve been reserved on giving out 5 pint ratings, and even though I love this beer….I don’t know if it’s that top tier 5 pint beer I’ve been seeking out. Still, if you see this anywhere, GET IT! It’s rare from what I can tell so you won’t see it often, and you won’t be disappointed.

Final Rating – 4.5 Pints (4.5 pints)

Sam Adam’s Rustic Saison – Drunken Review!

Posted in Ale, Saison on October 21, 2011 by Steve

Sam Adam’s Rustic Saison – Brewed by Sam Adams – 4.35% alcohol

Ok, so I’m not writing this review drunk, however, I took all my notes for this beer while drunk, and I’m not sure that was the greatest idea, but !@#$ it, I deeeeeed it!

So I never heard of this beer, and it came in through a variety pack someone brought to a party. It’s freaking delicious. It’s got a good, complex flavor, and tastes real good.  It is a Belgian style farmhouse ale, and according to Wikipedia, “saison is the name originally given to low-alcohol pale ales brewed seasonally in farmhouses in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium, for farm workers during harvest season”. Interesting indeed…

Simply put, it tastes good. Has a “fallish” character to it, and I like it.

Final Rating – (4 pints)