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)

 

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Victory Whirlwind Witbier

Posted in Uncategorized, Wheat with tags , , , , , on August 16, 2012 by Steve

Victory Whirwind Witbier – Brewed by Victory Brewing Company out of Dowington, PA – 5.0%

First, I apologize and hope Victory doesn’t mind me stealing their picture. I took one and it seems like my phone deleted it along with all my other beer pictures. Bastard.

Whirlwind Witbier was voted 2005 Best of the Mid Atlantic / Southeast Belgian Wit (vit) at some competition or other. It smells like a wheat beer with its lemony citrus goodness and I guess that is to be expected since it is a wheat beer. Immediate thoughts after my first sup were that it’s not too bad, but I’ve had better. It’s a pretty light, sessionable beer and goes down quick, but I think when it comes to a wheat beer, I want more flavor or more, I don’t know, something. It’s lacking something that puts it above other wheat beers. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. Maybe I was just expecting more from Victory as a number of their other brews are downright delicious.

I see no reason most people wouldn’t enjoy this beer. It’s light, citrusy, and it doesn’t taste horrible. Just think it’s a little too light for my tastes. I almost wonder if there is too much citrus overwhelming any other possible flavors. Who knows, I’m no expert and my palate is suspect.

Final Rating –  (3.5 pints)

Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager

Posted in Lager with tags , , on August 10, 2012 by Steve

Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager – Brewed by Flying Dog Brewery out of Frederick, MD – 4.7% alcohol

Since I started getting into craft brews, I’ve always been a fan of Flying Dog. They were one of the first variety packs I bought to help get me started on the journey of my “beer-awakening” and I obviously could not have started off any better. I haven’t had all of their creations, but from In-Heat Wheat, Snake Dog IPA, Doggy Style Classic Pale Ale, it’s very hard to pick a bad choice, if any such choice even exists from Flying Dog. Plus, look at the artwork on their labels. It’s fantastic. **FUN FACT** Flying Dog founder George Stranahan lived right down the road from Hunter S. Thompson in Colorado. An artist by the name of Ralph Steadman had done many works for Hunter, including art for “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and was introduced to George by Hunter in 1996, and has been doing the label artwork for Flying Dog ever since.

So now onto the brew. Once again, Flying Dog does not disappoint. Right off the bat it’s very very good. Has a real crisp, smooth, delicious taste with no real aftertaste which is to be expected of a lager. This beer doesn’t lack the hops, using both Perle and Goldings hops, but it doesn’t slap you in the face, and doesn’t leave that bitterness that so many people love or hate in ales. It isn’t heavy, but it isn’t light either. This may very well be one of my favorite lagers of all time.  If you’re looking for what types of food it would go with, Flying Dog suggests “salads, cheeses, seafood, and light proteins”.

As some of you know, often I’ll go to my local beer store, make my own 6 pack, and write reviews on that one tasting. This is one of those times I wish I had more. Not so that I could give it a better chance, take more notes, etc, but because it was so damn good, I almost finished it before I could even make any notes.  This beer goes down quick, so be careful. It’s perfect for hot summer days, or even just for the hell of it, because really, why not? What specific reason do you need to be able to enjoy a delicious libation of this magnitude (or any magnitude for that matter)? None. Exactly. Go out and try this stuff. You will not be sorry.

Final Rating – 4.5 Pints (4.5 Pints)

Mermaid Pilsner, Shmaltz Brewing Company

Posted in Pilsner with tags , , , , on July 31, 2012 by bizzlepop

As a thank you to all of our fans, new and old alike, I’ve decided to do a review this evening on a beer that I have been saving for a special occasion; Mermaid Pilsner. Part of the Coney Island Craft Lagers line from Shmaltz Brewing Company, this beer first caught my eye in the “make your own 6 pack” section of my local beer store. The entire Coney Island line comes covered in original artwork from a combination of Shmaltz’s art directors and Brooklyn based tattoo artist Dave C. Wallin. The colorful drawings on each bottle depict characters from a carnival setting. As you might have already guessed (or noticed in the picture), this particular one depicts a mermaid. Genius!

Now on to the beer itself. Very light and crisp. I would have never guessed it was sitting at a solid 5.3% abv. It is more hoppy than I had anticipated, but that bitter taste doesn’t linger at all. It is actually a really nice contrast to some of the fruit infused beers I have been enjoying recently. It finishes off tasting like a good summer seasonal beer (similar to Sam Adam’s Summer), although it is in fact a year round offering. This would be the perfect beer to drink while attending a baseball game. Perhaps the cure to watching some of the recent Mets games? A late game pitching meltdown would go down much easier if it was being chased by a few pints of Mermaid. Overall, this beer seems to have the total package. Not too dark or heavy, goes down easy, and carries enough punch to get you in a good mental state quickly.

I was originally very excited to try, what i thought was, an actual Coney Island beer. After some research, I discovered Shmaltz is actually based out of San Francisco. What a letdown. Although, it turns out that the majority of their product is brewed in a facility in Saratoga Springs, NY. I guess that’s close enough. Either way, it’s a really solid beer. -BW

Final Rating-  (4 Pints)

Purple Haze, Abita Brewing Company

Posted in Wheat with tags , , on July 28, 2012 by bizzlepop

Let me start by saying that I’m very excited to publish my first review. I will be posting, or at least attempting to post, every Friday as a contributing writer for Beersighted.

Today, I will be tackling Purple Haze. A light, fruit/wheat beer brewed just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, in the town of Abita Springs. Don’t let the 4.2% abv fool you, this is much more than your average light beer. Crisp and refreshing, the raspberry puree that’s added after the filtration process does a nice job keeping the wheat from taking over, and adds the perfect amount of sweetness.

When I think 4.2% abv, I immediately think of Bud Light, Coors Light and Michelob Ultra. These are the kind of beers that will get you full before they get you drunk. Not to be confused with these volume beers, Purple Haze combines a light drinkability with the flavor  of a heavier, small batch craft beer. Honestly, I’m not sure if my lack of descriptive words is due to this being my first review, or because the beer is just THAT good.

Yesterday, I enjoyed the majority of a growler of Purple Haze. It was so good that I was done drinking before I could get any notes in. Now, I’m halfway through a 6 pack, and I can’t believe how good it tastes out of a bottle. Now I’m a firm believer in the Draft>Bottle>Can methodology, and will ALWAYS encourage a beer to be enjoyed from a tap, however, the bottle is damn near as good as the growler I had yesterday. Overall, this beer cracks my all time top 5. Go get some as soon as possible! -BW

Final Rating- (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)

Two Brother’s Ebel’s Weiss

Posted in Hefeweizen, Wheat with tags , , on July 13, 2012 by Steve

Ebel’s Weiss – Brewed by Two Brother’s Brewing Company out of Warrenville, IL – 4.9% alcohol

This is a hefeweizen (German Wheat) style beer with a banana and vanilla aroma. I thought that by the looks of the label, with the flowers, that this would be a weak chick beer. I was wrong. I don’t know if I just have a thing for hefeweizens or wheat beers, but once again, I’m a fan.

This is a nice, smooth, refreshing brew. Tastes delicious and when the 6 pack is gone I’m going to wish I had more. Two Brother’s specializes in rare and seldom-brewed beers. I’m not sure how rare hefeweizens are, but who cares. This shit is awesome.

Final Rating – (4 Pints)