Sunday, April 24, 2011

Terrapin Beer Co. - Tomfoolery Black Saison Ale

Tomfoolery is the 14th installment in Terrapin's Side Projects series, limited-edition single batch runs of experimental brews. It is a "black saison," loaded with rye, wheat and dark malts that give an otherwise traditional ale an unusually dark color.

7.3% ABV

Black, is accurate. Tomfoolery is completely opaque. It appears to have a significant amount of carbonation, which forms a dense, khaki head that leaves sticky lacing. 
This one is quite aromatic. The scent is heavy with roasted malt, rye bread, sweet figs and herbal hops. It's somewhat sour.

Taste & Feel 
Very flavorful. Heavy on the wheat... bready. The caramel sweetness almost has a  flat cola taste. There's also quite a bit of dark rye in  the dry, roasty malt. The malt is balanced by a spicy hops.

Tomfoolery is medium bodied, with a creamy mouthfeel a bit of a carbonated tingle.

This one is all over the place... it's a rye, it's a wheat, it's dark, it's sweet, it's creamy, it's dry... whooo. Seriously, though, this is a good, flavorful beer. Extremely complex, but easy to drink.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dogfish Head - Aprihop

I stumbled upon Aprihop a couple weeks ago while perusing the selection at East Wake Wines & Craft Brew. The owner, Ken, suggested that I try it, noting that "they managed to add fruit the right way." Based on his recommendation, I picked up a few bottles.

Aprihop is a dry-hopped IPA brewed with apricots. Clever name, huh? It's a recurring Dogfish seasonal, available from March to May.

7.0% ABV

A bit darker than I expected, Aprihop has a deep copper color. The jewel clarity reveals slow, steady pilars of carbonation. It's capped by a dense, creamy head. 

Awesome aroma....fruity, woody, sweet and hoppy. The apricots come through nicely in the nose and compliment the floral hops.

Taste & Feel
Wow, this is well-crafted. It's full of flavor and very nicely blended. A smooth, rich caramel malt leads off before the fruity apricot flavor comes through. The fruit is balanced by a woody taste. It finishes dry, with a very floral hops taste that lasts well past the swallow.

Aprihop is medium-bodied, with a decent carbonated bite.

A most excellent treat. Too often, fruit beers are doused with extracts that give beers a fruity aroma but a bitter flavor. This, on the other hand, incorporates apricots nicely. Try it, but hurry. It's only around for a couple more weeks!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rohrbach Brewing Co.- Vanilla Porter

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I've been sitting on this one for quite a while. My trip to Rochester was well over two months ago and even though I banged out the review on my phone right away, this post has been sitting in draft since then.

Rorhbach Brewing Co. is a Rochester restaurant and microbrewery that also distributes to other area establishments. Their Vanilla Porter, which I enjoyed on tap at Dinosaur BBQ, is an English-style porter brewed with a robust blend of malts and vanilla extract.

6.5% ABV

A pretty standard-looking porter. Brow-black in color and opaque in appearance, with a slight glow at top & bottom of the pint. It was topped by a thin, mocha head.

Very pleasant. It has a a rich, sweet caramel malt aroma blended with strong, warm vanilla notes.

Taste & Feel
RVP has a somewhat aggressive carb feel, which is balanced nicely against they underlying smoothness of a medium body

The taste is rich and malty, but not quite as sweet as excpected. The vanilla flavor shows up late and lasts right through, and well past, the finish.

Very good. More carbonation and less sweetness than I expected, and overall quite enjoyable, especially while feasting on barbecue in a warm restaurant while overlooking a very icy Genesee River on a blustery winter afternoon.

Beer News: Honey Basil is Back for 2011

Earlier this week, Bison Brewing announced that the 2011 edition Organic Honey Basil Ale has been released. The spring seasonal will be available until mid-summer.

For those who haven't tasted it, Honey Basil is certainly worth a try. It is infused with organic clover honey and fresh whole leaf organic basil, giving it a light, sweet taste and a floral and herbal aroma. It was one of my favorite brews at last's year's World Beer Fest Raleigh. 

Sadly, I've been unable to confirm whether or not it will be available locally here in NC. Several stores carry Bison products, but according to their website, it isn't available here. Check here to see if it can be purchased in your part of the world.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Takeaways from Beer Fest

This past weekend, Moore Square was once again host to World Beer Fest Raleigh. Naturally, I ventured downtown to see what tasty treats were waiting for me.

I have to say, overall, the event was a bit disappointing. Not because of the beer choices or the event planning, but because of the weather. Soon after the evening session began, it started to rain. By 7:30 a steady downpour had forced the entire crowd under the tents. Now, I don't mind some people if they're pressed in close to me. I can handle a few noisy drunks and can even tolerate the occasional wet body. The combination of the three, however, multiplied by hundreds simply became too much and by 8:00 my tolerance of people reached a new low.

That aside, I did manage to find a few gems in the selection...

For a spring event, I was surprised to see so many porters and stouts. I was expecting more spring and summer seasonals. Being a fan of dark beers, I wasn't going to complain. I started off with a Deschutes Black Butte Porter. I've had it before, but it's always a must-sample. I made it a point to enjoy that first, before anything else could spoil the taste. If you've never had it, try it. You'll understand.

Two other porters also impressed. Moon River's Captain's Porter has a light smokiness that I really enjoyed. In the other tent, Skull Coast's Gallows Point Dead Man's Porter was simply awesome. Imagine a chocolate macadamia nut cookie in a glass.

While still in the mood for malty,  I stumbled upon (OK, not literally stumbled... it was still early) North Coast Brewing's Brother Thelonious, a strong, sweet Belgian abbey ale. Highly recommended.

On the lighter side, Fullsteam was pouring a rather tasty Sparkling Pear farmhouse ale. It was light, crisp and refreshing and should be part of everyone's rotation this summer. Speaking of refreshing... my favorite moment of the night was when Sean, Fullsteam's chief mad scientist, handed one patron's glass back to him empty, pointed to a hand-written note on the beer board and explained that they, "didn't have a beer called 'Whatever.'"

Don't be indecisive, people. It's all great beer; you won't make the wrong choice.

My favorite of the night, by far, was Craggie Brewing Co.'s Antebellum Ale. It's a rich, sweet malty beer brewed with ginger and molasses. I enjoyed the spicy, holiday taste. Or, as Kevin Myers put it, "Tastes like Christmas tree." Good stuff. Merry Christmas to me.

So, even despite the miserable weather, I found happiness. Two ounces at a time, so everyone could enjoy.