What I'm Drinking (via Untappd)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Red Brick Brewing Co. - Laughing Skull Amber Ale

Bio
Another one of Red Brick's brews, one with an interesting story. This is actually the second incarnation of Laughing Skull, resurrected in 2009 after a four year hiatus. The previous version of the brand was a pilsner, brewed by Red Brick for Atlanta's The Vortex restaurant. 

5.7% ABV

Appearance 
It offers a honey gold color and a dense, stiff, cream-colored head that leaves heavy lacing. Good clarity reveals a storm of small-bubbled carbonation. 

Aroma 
Rich caramel malt. Sweet, dried fruits. Slight herbal hops.

Taste & Feel
Laughing Skull has a crisp, clean feel. It's sweet up front, led by a light raisin fruitiness. Tart autumn fruits soon become more detectable before a resiny hops bitterness takes over. The carbonation that was so visible begins to build in the mouthfeel mid-sip and lingers through the finish. The body is a bit light for an amber. 

Verdict
Decent. I certainly enjoyed it better than the Blonde Ale.

Red Brick Brewing Co. - Blonde Ale

Bio
The name says it all... Red Brick Blonde is an American-style blonde ale from Atlanta's Red Brick Brewing Co. (which changed its name from Atlanta Brewing Co. earlier this year). Red Brick's distribution covers the Southeast.

5.2% ABV

Appearance
Pretty much a typical blonde, it pours a pale straw color, capped with a thin, bright white head. The high level of clarity reveals an ample amount of carbonation.

Aroma
Not too much happening on the aroma front. It's mostly a light, yeasty bread with hints of pears and floral hops.

Taste & Feel
This clean-drinking ale has a thin body and very light flavor. The malt is light and bready with a touch of honey. Just as you begin to think it runs the risk of tasting like a corporate macrobrew, the hops kick in somewhat sharply right at the finish, leaving a perfumy aftertaste.

Verdict
Harmless. Light on flavor, but high on drinkabilty, making it a sessionable summer brew and a decent transitional beer for craft beer newbies. It's a bit light for my tastes, buy the hoppy finish salvages a B- rating.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Brewery Ommegang - Three Philosophers Belgian Quad

Bio
Three Philosophers is one of five award-winning ales offered by Brewery Ommegang, a Belgian-style brewer located in Cooperstown, NY.  Three Philosophers is a 98/2 blend of a Belgian strong ale and a kriek.

9.8% ABV

Appearance 
The translucent body creates a warm glow that emanates throughout the chestnut color. Holding it up to a light reveals ultra-fine pillars of carbonation floating up to a dense, cream head.

Aroma 
The aroma is characterized by a deep, rich maltiness loaded with a dark, sweet fruity essence and a warm booziness. It smells like Mom's homemade black cherry brandy.

Taste & Feel 
This medium-bodied brew is complex and very well blended. It's rich, sweet and malty. Plenty of caramel and roasted malt flavor, with tart cherry notes. Very smooth, with a bit of a  carbonated tingle toward the warm, peaty finish.

Verdict
This is a superb brew, easily an A+. Don't just drink it. Admire the look, smell it, sip it, hold it in your mouth and savor it.  This is a triple-play... beautiful look, great aroma, incredible taste. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cottrell Brewing Co. - Mystic Bridge IPA

Bio 
Cottrell Brewing is a small, family-run brewery in Pawcatuck, Connecticut. In operation since 1996, the brewery's current output is roughly 2,000 barrels, according to their website. Not much is mentioned about Mystic Bridge on their site, but it appears to be one of only two varieties they offer.  Distribution is limited to southern New England.

6.0% ABV

Appearance 
Pours with a slightly clouded appearance and bright copper color. It has a significant amount of visible carbonation. The thin, but creamy, white head is short-lived and leaves a thin lacy cap that lasts quite a while.

Aroma
The aroma is fairly simple, but balanced. It's led by a rich, caramel apple malt with an underlying spicy hops. Honey notes begin to appear as it warms.

Taste & Feel
This light-bodied ale is spicy and aggressively carbonated up front. It settles into to a bit of sweet apple maltiness and mellows to a smoother feel before rebounding with a hoppy, citrus finish and pine aftertaste.

Verdict
A well-balanced and uncomplicated brew that offers a fairly intense flavor. A solid "B" beer that you should try, if you have access to it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blue Point Brewing Co. - Toasted Lager

Bio 
This amber lager from Long Island's Blue Point Brewing Co. won gold at the 2006 World Beer Cup.

5.3% ABV

Appearance 
Jewel clarity, brassy amber color. Significant carbonation. Bubbles are sporadic, but large. Pillowy white head. Light lacing.

Aroma 
Rich caramel malt. A sweet, dried fruit essence balanced with a light, but crisp toasted character.

Taste & Feel 
Medium body. Smooth, clean feel. Light toasted malts, Apples, white raisins and caramel. Slightly dry finish.

Verdict
A very drinkable and versatile beer. Light, yet flavorful. I'd give it a "B+."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dogfish Head - 90 Minute Imperial IPA

Bio 
When I'm not shamelessly cheerleading for North Carolina beers, I make it no secret that Dogfish Head is my favorite brewer. I don't think there's anything they produce that I haven't loved. Hard to beleive, then, that I still hadn't already done a review of their 90 Minute IPA.

This is an IPA that is continually-hopped during the boil, then dry-hopped during conditioning.   It is part of their year-round offering.

 9% ABV

Appearance 
90 Minute pours a deep golden color with a very clear appearance. It appears to be lightly carbonated, with microbubbles rising so slowly it creates a rather viscous look. The pillowy cream head leaves a bit of sticky lacing.

Aroma 
Surprisingly malty. It has a sweet, toffee malt scent with light, boozy hints of dried fruit, balanced nicely against piney and earthy hops.

Taste & Feel 
Hoooo boy, that's tasty. For a beer so thoroughly hopped, one might expect a big, hoppy punch in the mouth, but that isn't the case at all. 90 Minute is well-blended, exceptionally smooth and perfectly balanced. This medium-bodied beauty is earthy and sweet with a white raisin fruitiness and just the right amount of resiny hops bite. It eases into a warm, peaty finish.


Verdict
Exceptional.

Brew Dog - 5a.m. Saint

Bio 
You've heard of Brew Dog. Even if you aren't immediately familiar with the brewery, I'm sure you've heard of their beers. These are the same guys that gave the world such high-octane treats as Sink the Bismark, Tactical Nuclear Penguin and the now-infamous The End of History, a budget-busting beer so rare and high in alcohol content that packing it in a dead squirrel almost seems reasonable. No, seriously.... they really wrapped that shit in roadkill.


Fortunately, the Scottish brewery also produces a number of wallet-friendly and readily accessible beers. Among them is 5a.m. Saint, an amber ale.

5.0% ABV

Appearance 
5a.m. Saint pours a chestnut brown color with a warm, ruddy glow and slightly hazy clarity. Small amount of very tiny bubbles slowly rise up into a stiff, almost meringue-like cream head.


Aroma
Not exceptionally aromatic, but there's enough there to make out pine and citrus hops, tempered with a light, fruity malt. I'm picking out a delicate balance of pineapple and grapefruit.


Taste & Feel
This one is very resiny and hoppy throughout, with an underlying caramel maltiness. It's considerably more hoppy that most ambers, but despite that, it's not overly bitter.  In fact, the middle is smooth and somewhat sweet. It has a medium body, slightly aggressive carbonated feel and a dry, grapefruit finish.


What's odd, is that well after the swallow, there seems to be a lingering raspberry aftertaste.

Verdict
Pretty good. Definitely a well-crafted brew. It was surprisingly hoppy, but had a decent balance. The low ABV makes it incredibly drinkable. A solid A.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Unibroue - Ephemere Apple

Bio 
Ephemere Apple (there's also a black currant variation) is a white ale brewed with granny smith apples. It is a product of Quebec's Unibroue, a subsidiary of Japan's Sapporo. I picked this up at East Wake Wines and although I hadn't seen it elsewhere, the brewery's website suggests that their beers are widely available in the Raleigh area.

5.5% ABV

Appearance 
Ephemere has a hazy appearance. It pours a pale, golden color that looks much like apple juice. The effervescent head is short-lived (appropriate, given the name) and cream-colored. It appears to be heavily carbonated, with a steady upward flow of small bubbles.
 
Aroma 
I usually take time to admire the look of a beer before delving into the aroma. This one has such a punch that as soon as I popped the cap, the smell of crisp apples filled the room. So quickly, in fact, that my wife asked, "is that your beer that smells so fruity?" before I had even finished pouring it.

Beyond apple, lots and lots of apple, the distinct scent of coriander fills out the crisp, yeasty aroma. 

Taste & Feel 
A light, sparkling body and crisp feel. Sweet on the lips. Bubbles dance across the tongue as tart, sweet apple flavors mix with a light, wheaty malt. Coriander and spice peek through before the tart, fruity finish.
  
Verdict
A decent "B" beer. I can see it pairing well with fruit or a creamy cheeses. Otherwise, it's a bit too light & fruity to be a part of my regular rotation.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sherwood Forest Brewers - Friar's Belgain Style White Ale

Bio 
I'll admit, I know very little about this brewery other than it's based out of Marlborough, Massachusetts.

Appearance 
This one pours a pale straw color. The appearance is a swirl of crystal clear and cloudy, which I've found isn't at all unusual for the style. Almost no carbonation is visible, but the head was fluffy and white.

Aroma 
The aroma is light and yeasty, like fresh, buttery bread. Coriander is prominent, followed by a mild spiciness. The second bottle was a bit more floral than buttery, giving it a somewhat soapy scent.

Taste & Feel 
Much like the aroma, the flavor is light and bready up front. All of the tastes are mild, with citrus and coriander being the key players. It has a lightly citrusy hops finish, with a lingering herb essence.

This beer has a very light body, and slippery smoothness. Only a whisper of carbonation is evident in the mouthfeel.

Verdict
I was a bit hesitant to give this one a try, because I had another beer by the same brewery awhile back, and found that one to be absolutely awful. Having only a casual appreciation for witbiers, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this one was much better. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Aviator Brewing Co. - King Rat Stout

Bio 
King Rat is an imperial oatmeal stout from Fuquay-Varina, NC's Aviator Brewing. The 750 ml  bottle comes corked and caged,  which presents a stark contrast from the cartoony rodent label. Cartoons aside, I suppose you have to appreciate, on some level, a beer that pops like champagne when you open it.  

8.0% ABV

Appearance 
Pours a completely opaque, black color. The head is frothy and tan, but short-lived. It also has a fine, oily look. 

Aroma 
Heavy malt aroma filled the room as soon as the bottle was uncorked . It's sticky and sweet, and filled with molasses and coffee scents.
Taste & Feel 
Sweet, but aggressively carbonated up front. Rather tingly across the tongue at first before settling into a much smoother middle. The flavor is predominantly dark chocolate malt, balanced with earthy hops. Finishes very dry, with a lingering flavor that's both nutty and heavily roasted.

The full, smooth body has a light, airy feel. It's also a bit warmer than I'd expect from an eight percenter. If I hadn't read the label, I'd guess it was over 10. 

Verdict
Oatmeal stouts are my favorite variety, so I'm probably being extra-critical by giving it a B+. It's a good beer. The aroma and flavor are both very strong, but stop short of crossing the line of being overpowering.