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Monday, October 22, 2012

Starr Hill Brewery - Boxcar Pumpkin Porter

I was excited about this one, because one of my friends was over last week and drank my other bottle. He couldn't stop raving about it.

BASICS
Style: English Porter, with pumpkin and spices
Availability: Fall seasonal
ABV: 4.7%
Serving Type: 12 oz bottle, poured into a snifter

APPEARANCE 
Color: Black
Clarity: Opaque
Carbonation: Ample
Head: Dense, khaki, short lived
Lacing: Minimal

EXPERIENCE 
Aromas: Light, sour and dusty, with roasted malt and hints of nutmeg
Flavors: Toasted, nutty malt. Oddly, a bit of coriander. Very toasty finish. 
Body: Medium
Feel: Smooth

VERDICT
Most pumpkin ales go for a pumpkin pie flavor. This was more like roasted pumpkin seeds. Decent, but not likely to be on my must-have list next year. Sorry, John, you over-hyped it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Samuel Adams - Fat Jack (2012)

Fat Jack is a small-batch, limited release double pumpkin ale brewed by Samuel Adams. This is the second year that it has been available. The label boasts that 28 pounds of pumpkin go into every barrel.

BASICS
Style: Pumpkin Ale
Availability: Seasonal, limited release
ABV: 8.5%
Serving Type: 22oz bottle, poured into tulip glass

APPEARANCE 
Color: Deep ruby
Clarity: Jewel-like
Carbonation: Significant. Small, slow rising bubbles
Head: Foamy & cream colored. 
Lacing: Thick

EXPERIENCE 
Aromas: Caramel. Bourbon. Pie spice. Hard candy. Almond. 
Flavors: Brown sugar. Pumpkin. Cinnamon. Earthy hops. Bourbon finish. 
Body: Medium
Feel: Bold, bubbly and a bit boozy. 

VERDICT
This is a nice alternative to the super-spicy, malty pumpkin ales that have dominated the market for the last few years. It's still a bit spicy, but is very well blended and balanced. As big as they've become, Sam Adams still manages to stay true to the craft roots when it comes to putting out specialty beers like this.

I'd call this one a must-try.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Orange Blossom Pilsner - Toasted Coconut Porter

I'm playing around with the formatting for reviews. For now, I'm trying short narratives for the background and verdict, but the facts will be in a simplified format. Feedback is welcomed!
Have to credit both OBP, the creators of Orange Blossom Pilsner and OBP Squared, as well as the folks at Thomas Creek Brewery. This is an OBP recipe, but brewed at Thomas Creek. I picked up a couple bottles during my first-ever visit to Bottle Revolution in Raleigh. It's a cool place with a good selection. Check it out when you get a chance.

Anyway, back to the beer...

BASICS
Style: American porter, brewed with coconut
Availability: Year-round
ABV: 5.25%
Serving Type:12 oz. bottle, poured into a snifter

APPEARANCE 
Color: Dark brown
Clarity: Opaque
Carbonation: Ample. Small bubbles near head.
Head:Dense, khaki-colored, quickly dissipated
Lacing:Very light

EXPERIENCE 
Aromas: Strong and roasty. Coffee is most prominent with coconut, caramel and cream notes
Flavors: Dark roasted coffee with a touch of coconut. Light, earthy hops.
Body: Medium-full
Feel:Aggressive up front, smooth middle, dry finish

VERDICT
It's good, but not spectacular. The coconut flavor is a decent complement for a porter. If you have the opportunity to pair this with a sweet dessert, especially something creamy or vanilla, definitely do that. I bought two bottles, and I'll likely try pairing the other one with a carrot cake ice cream that I have.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Weyerbacher Brewing Co. - Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2012)

When it comes to fall seasonals, there's no doubt that there are some serious players out there. That's why I was surprised last year when, in a very crowded pumpkin market, Weyerbacher's relatively under-the-radar pumpkin ale was easily my favorite of the bunch.

I picked up a couple bottles of the 2012 edition, hoping for the same. One noticeable difference is that they have changed the packaging this year.

8.0% ABV

Appearance 
Almost identical to last year: deep copper color, clear to semi-translucent appearance and a thin, cream head.

Aroma 
Warm and inviting. The familiar pumpkin pie and  brown sugar aroma contains a bit more clove than I remember, while the cardamom is noticeable this time, too.

Taste & Feel 
Definitely the sweet and spicy pumpkin pie taste I remember, with a touch more cardamom. I like this one.

Verdict
Very consistent with the beer I loved so much last year. Still the king of the pumpkin ales.

Monday, October 1, 2012

21st Amendment Brewery - Monk's Blood

I don't even have to come up with a description  it's right there on the can. Monk's Blood is a "Belgian-style dark ale brewed with cinnamon, vanilla, oak chips and dried figs." I really can't write anything more enticing than that. Sounds snifter-worthy.

8.3% ABV

Appearance 
This is an opaque ale that has a deep mahogany color. It's capped with a dense, tan head that leaves a bit of lacing.

Aroma 
Monk's Blood has a very sweet and sticky aroma. Dark cherry, figs and bourbon define the nose.

Taste & Feel 
Huge flavor, with sweet, dark fruit up front. Cherries, raisins and figs lead off. Mid-sip, a light spice character builds, accompanied by a robust, woody flavor. The cinnamon, vanilla, figs and oak combine to give it a boozy taste that reminds me of the shot of Balcones Rumble that I had earlier this year. Earthy hops and a dry, peaty finish round out a complex and pleasing flavor profile.

Verdict
Spectacular.