Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dogfish Head - Raison D'Etre

This is the first time I've sampled a Dogfish. The Delaware-based brewery's ales are readily available in my local supermarkets, but I don't recall seeing the Raison D'Etre before, even though it is part of their year-round offering.

Anyway, the company describes it as:
A deep, mahogany ale brewed with beet sugar, green raisins, and Belgian-style yeast. As complex as a fine, red wine. 8.0 ABV
Let's give her a try...

This ale pours a nice, deep, golden-amber color. It has a clear appearance and is quite bubbly. The cream-colored head is light and foamy, and leaves a moderate amount of lacing.

Raison D'Etre has a complex aroma. It's a balance of malty , fruity and sweet. I picked up strong whiffs of raisins and brown sugar.

Taste & Feel
Very sweet and fruity. I'm definitely tasting the raisins, while detecting another fruit flavor... plums. This is a solidly malty brew; very light on the hops.

It has a full body and great mouth feel. It gives a bubbly nip right at the tip of the tongue and finishes with a nice, boozy,  post-swallow warmth at the back of the palette. Sugary residual taste on the lips. Very little bitterness.

I like this. A lot. Their website claims it pairs well with duck, among other things. Understatement... it actually makes me hungry for duck.

This is a great ale. Sweet, liquid gold. I suggest trying it. Half of you shouldn't have trouble finding it. It's available in 25 states. 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Red Hook - Late Harvest Autmn Ale

This is my first Red Hook.


Late Harvest has a Clear, golden honey- amber color. I'm not sure why, but Red Hook's website calls it a "deep chestnut". I suppose their marketing folks are colorblind. Either that, or chestnuts in Portsmouth, NH are light orange.

A steady stream of carbonation props up a modest, creamy head. A quick swirl leaves thin lacing.
5.9% ABV.


I usually expect autumn brews to have a hearty nose. This has a relatively mild aroma. It is mildly spicy, with a light maltiness and very faint hints of fall fruits. I caught whiffs of apples and pears in the pour.

Taste & Feel

It has an energetic, light-medium body with a bubbly burst across top of tounge. Feels like a lot like a lager.

Balanced, slightly malty taste. Light on flavor intensity, especially for a fall seasonal. Not as rich and smooth as most ales.


Good, but not great. It's a decent drinker that will go well with a steak or a campfire.

-- via BlogPress

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Takeaways from the World Beer Festival

Yesterday, I spent four glorious hours sampling a fine selection of beers at the World Beer Festival in Durham, NC. Three beer tents, 108 booths, hundreds of beers. It was like taking my tastebuds to Disney World.

The 2-ounce samples were too small to provide adequate reviews, but were just enough to give me a decent idea as to whether or not I'd like to try each beer in a larger quantity. The hardest part was picking which to sample. I wanted to limit myself to 24 different beers. Anything beyond that, I'd probably start to lose the ability to differentiate tastes. At that point, you're not sampling; you're just drinking.

Anyway, I tried 26. Here's a quick recap (I left off the few I didn't like).

On the To-Review List:
  • Abita Andygator
  • Aviator Breweing Co. Old Bulldog ESB
  • Aviator Breweing Co. Hot Rod Red
  • Bellhaven Scottish Ale
  • Big Boss Harvest Time Pumpkin Ale
  • Breckenridge Brewery Avalanche Amber Ale
  • Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter - sadly, this one isn't yet available on the East Coast
  • Dogfish Head Punkin Ale
  • Foothills Brewing Oktoberfest
  • Left Hand Brewing Sawtooth ESB
  • Natty Greene's Old Town Brown  - I also learned that they plan to open a taphouse in Raleigh later this fall.
  • North Coast Brewing - Brother Thelonius Belgian Style Abbey Ale
Best Impressions:
  • Abita Abbey Ale
  • Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter -  a gold medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival.
  • Fort Collins Brewery Chocolate Stout
  • Left Hand Brewing Milk Stout
  • LoneRider Brewing DeadEye Jack Porter
  • Mother Earth Brewing Weeping Willow Wit - Light, crisp and clean with a refreshing celery taste.
  • New Holland Brewing Co., Charkoota Rye - a flavorful, smoked rye dopplebock
  • Redstone Meadery Sunshine Nectar - I like dark, heavy beers, but this light, sweet mead was a nice break.
  • Rogue Chipotle Ale - woooo. Spicy, smoky. It was like drinking BBQ.
Biggest Surprise:
Bud Light Golden Wheat - I wouldn't have even considered trying it, but I was talking to one of the local craft brewers and he told me I'd be surprised. I'm not much of a wheat fan, but I found this macro to be on par with several of the craft wheats that I've tried. Nothing spectacular, but much better than anything I've come to expect in a Bud product.

Favorite Stout, Biggest Disappointment:
Old Dominion Brewing Oak Barrel Stout - Great beer. I went back for seconds... then I found out that they're pulling out of NC. Sad me.

Favorite Overall:
Atwater Block Brewery Vanilla Java Porter - Rich, robust malt flavor with a syrupy-sweet vanilla-caramel flavor. The sweet, strong aroma reminded me of pipe tobacco. It seems to get mediocre reviews online, but I'm not sure why. I found it to be a great beer. Not a meal accompaniment, but it would go nicely with a sweet dessert or on it's own as a slow sipper. I have to get my hands on more of this.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

World Beer Festival

In a couple short hours, I'm heading over to Durham for the World Beer Festival. Finally! The past several years have been a disappointment for me, because I've always either had a scheduling conflict or the event sold out before I could get tickets.

This time, though, there's no stopping me.

Should be a great event. The weather is perfect, as is often the case in North Carolina, especially this time of year.

The plan is for 120 brewers to set up at the old Durham Athletic Park. I don't anticipate being able to hit every tent, but my goal is to visit as many as I can in four hours.

The sample sizes are small, just a couple ounces each, so I won't be reviewing anything today. However, I expect to be able to add a few dozen beers to my ever-growing list of brews to purchase, savor and then blog about.

I'll try to post a recap of the event this weekend. At the very least, I'll be tweeting from the event all afternoon.

-- via BlogPress