The Beer Savant

October 19, 2013

Pumpkick

Filed under: Ale,American,Pumpkin — hikingsandiego @ 10:05 pm
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pumpkick
Date: October 2013
Cost: 9.99/6-pack at BevMo
Brewer: New Belgium Brewery, Fort Collins, Colorado
Alcohol content: 6%
Served: Cold in chilled glasses

I’ve been a fan of several New Belgium beers (Trippel, Mothership Wit) in the past, so I was excited to see a pumpkin ale from this brewery. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Out of the bottle, Pumpkick has a slightly hazy pumpkin-orange color with a delicate white foam. The aroma is sweet, hoppy, and rich with citrus and spices. And it just gets better with your first sip.

This ale isn’t overly carbonated, which I appreciate in a pumpkin ale. There’s a mild tartness from the cranberry, which is nice, but overall the pumpkin, cranberry, and spices blend together to create a truly smooth, refreshing, flavorful autumn ale. I’m impressed! New Belgium has knocked another out of the ball field!

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September 25, 2013

Great White

Filed under: Ale,American,Witbier — hikingsandiego @ 9:24 pm
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greatwhite
Date: September 2013
Cost: $7.99/6-pack at Sprouts
Brewery: Lost Coast Brewery, Eureka, California
Alcohol content: 4.8%
Served: Cold in a chilled glass

As the end of summer neared, San Diego’s weather decided to get one last hot punch in before giving way to fall. The last several weeks of August/early September were wretchedly hot. Although the local libation providers were already displaying fall brews, I wanted something lighter…more refreshing…to mitigate the brutal heat. Great White seemed to fit the bill.

Great White poured a mild yellow with a slight head and lacing. It carried the scent of summer…a light wheat and citrus. And the scent carried through to its taste…light wheat and citrus, with a hint of herb. These are nice traits, yes, but I would have liked to taste them more; as it was, I found myself straining to taste anything. It’s a refreshing beer—the right lightness and crisp flavor for a hot day—but a beer can be refreshing and flavorful as well. Great White’s cousin, Tangerine Wheat Ale, is a good example of a refreshing beer that’s chockfull of flavor. I don’t think that Great White will find itself in my shopping cart again.

November 17, 2012

Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

Filed under: American,Belgian,Pumpkin,Wheat — hikingsandiego @ 9:24 pm
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Shock Top Pumpkin WheatDate: November 17, 2011
Cost: $7.99/six-pack at Ralphs
Brewer:  Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, Missouri
Alcohol content: 5.2%
Served: Cold in chilled glasses

I was pleasantly surprised when I tried “regular” Shock Top in May 2011. I’m generally disappointed by the watery, flavorless concoctions produced by corporate brewers, but Shock Top—with a twist of orange—was a pleasant exception to the rule. So when I saw a display of Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat, I didn’t hesitate to place a six-pack in my shopping cart.

Shock Top Pumpkin pours a nice pumpkin orange with a slight cream-colored head. Take a sniff and enjoy the scent of spices, caramel, and hops. Again, I was nicely surprised by this beer. The Pumpkin Wheat delivers a full-body pumpkin/spice flavor that blends nicely with its hops and wheat base. No add-ons like a twist of orange needed…I noticed a slight pumpkin flavor that admittedly did get overpowered by the taste of orange. I detected no bitterness and no bad aftertaste from my first sip to my last. I’m picky about my pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers, so with that in mind, I’m declaring Shock Top Pumpkin a winner! I’ll definitely buy it again.

October 22, 2012

You Know What Autumn Means…

Filed under: Oktoberfest,Pumpkin — hikingsandiego @ 7:12 pm
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…It’s time for Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers!

I’ve been sampling several these past three weeks and will have new reviews posted soon! In the meantime, grab a six-pack and enjoy!

October 14, 2012

Wells Banana Bread Beer

Wells Banana Bread BeerDate: October 12, 2012
Cost: Not recorded
Brewery: Wells & Young’s Brewing Company, Bedford, UK
Alcohol content: 5.2%
Served: Cold in a chilled glass with snacks

I love bananas, but I usually don’t like banana-flavored foods and beverages. I know this doesn’t make sense, but there you have it. I had to make an exception to this rule when I discovered the Holy Grail of all beers, Ayinger Ur-Weisse, which has a delightful hint of bananas foster. (I need to write a review of that beer, but not today.)

Banana Bread poured a nice golden amber with slight foam that melted away quickly. It smelled of nuts and bananas and spices. My first mouthful tasted bitter, like they had used the inner peel of the banana to brew the beer. After several swallows, I warmed up to it a bit and enjoyed the malty, banana flavors and hints of yeast and hops. The carbonation was spot on.

This wasn’t a bad beer, but it wasn’t a fabulous one, either. I would certainly drink it again but wouldn’t go out of my way for it, especially with the far-superior Ayinger Ur-Weisse just up the street at BevMo.

October 6, 2012

Moose Drool Brown Ale

Moose Drool Brown AleDate: September 29, 2012
Cost: $7.00/bottle
Brewery: Big Sky Brewing Company, Missoula, Montana
Alcohol content: 5.3%
Served: Cold in a chilled glass at the National Park Inn, Longmire, WA

When you’re staying at an inn inside a national park and you see an ale called “Moose Drool” on the drink menu, well, there’s only one thing to do: try it!

At Mt. Rainier’s National Park Inn, you can sit on the front porch of the hotel, your trail-sore feet propped up on the railing, surrounded by nature and a glorious view of the grand mountain across the valley, and order drinks off the menu, which are then delivered cold with a chilled glass. Again, I found myself in a familiar situation: was I grading the beer on its taste or on the experience surrounding it? It wasn’t easy, but I dialed down my euphoria for a few moments to give this beer its true day in court.

Moose Drool poured a medium brown that almost looked like blackberry at times. It had nice lacing and carbonation and sported a full, hearty taste without being overwhelming. I tasted some nice malts and caramel flavoring with a touch of nuttiness, all well balanced and not overly sweet. Take away the mountains, the forest, the song of birds and rustle of leaves, and this beer would still score high with me. And that’s a good thing, because I plan to drink it again, and unfortunately, the next time will probably be within the city limits.

September 23, 2012

Tangerine Wheat Ale

Filed under: Ale,American,Fruit,Wheat — hikingsandiego @ 7:30 pm
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Tangerine Wheat AleDate: September 2012
Cost: $6.99/6-pack at Ralphs
Brewery: Lost Coast Brewery, Eureka, California
Alcohol content: 5.0%
Served: Cold in a chilled glass and chilled in the bottle

September has been brutal in San Diego: temperatures in the 90s and 100s, alternating between tropical rainforest humid and desert dry. When I saw a six-pack of Tangerine Wheat Ale on sale at Ralph’s, I thought that sounded like a nice, light, fruity beer that would put a cold kibosh on the murderous heat. And I was right.

Let me preface this by saying that it wasn’t love at first taste. My initial reaction to the first sip was that the tangerine flavor was delightful, but the ale behind it was weak. Still, not a bad summer beer.

Subsequent bottles have made this beer grow on me. Served cold, really cold on a blistering summer day, this beer is like a liquid oasis. The spicy, fruity tangerine and cold, mellow ale flavoring mixed with the chill of the fridge will make you feel civilized again. It’s a different beer with a unique flavor, and I’ll definitely buy it again.

July 1, 2012

Trippel

Filed under: Ale,American — hikingsandiego @ 9:15 pm
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Trippel
Date: June 16, 2012
Brewer: New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado
Alcohol content: 7.8%
Served: Cold in chilled glasses

With the exception of Fat Tire, I’ve been a devotee of New Belgium’s beers, so I was thrilled when I came across a bottle of Trippel at my local BevMo. The label states this ale is “brewed with coriander.” Sounded intriguing…but would it be as interesting as it appeared?

As I swallowed my first sip, the first thought that came to my mind was, “This is a beautiful beer!”  It’s a light yellow color with continuous trails of bubbles rising from the bottom. The taste is exotic; the loveliness of an ale accentuated with herbs. Nothing bitter here, no weird aftertaste, just sweet, smooth flavor. Oh, yes, I will buy this ale again! Another triumph for New Belgium!

November 4, 2011

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale

Filed under: American,Pumpkin — hikingsandiego @ 7:55 pm
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Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin AleCost: $7.99/six-pack at Vons
Brewer:  Blue Moon/Coors Brewing Company, Golden, Colorado
Alcohol content:  5.7%
Served: Cold in chilled glasses

With trepidation, I tried my first pumpkin ale at a brew pub in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, in October 1994. The combination of pumpkin and beer sounded like the stuff nightmares are made of to me. But I was hooked on my first sip and have since developed a Pavlov’s dogs’ response to the words “pumpkin ale.” So when I heard a six-pack of Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale calling me from the beer cooler at Vons, I answered the siren song with relish.

The ale poured a deep copper with a slight frothy head. The aroma of spices and wheat swirled inside my nose, and I anticipated that first mouthful of pumpkin wonder with delight. But…no pumpkin. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad beer, because it isn’t. Blue Moon did a good job with the spices and wheat—they’re just right—but I couldn’t for the life of me taste the pumpkin.  This aspect of Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale was a disappointment; however, I did enjoy the beer itself. It was tasty and refreshing with just the right carbonation. I would recommend relabeling this ale as an Oktoberfest and keeping it as is. If it wants to be a true pumpkin ale, I’m going to have to taste more than allspice and nutmeg.

I would buy this beer again, but only when I’m in the mood for an Oktoberfest.

October 7, 2011

Eye of the Hawk

Filed under: Ale,American,Strong — hikingsandiego @ 9:12 pm
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Eye of the HawkCost: $3.99/1 pt. 6 fl. Oz. bottle
Brewer:  Mendocino Brewing Company, Ukiah, California
Alcohol content: 8.0%
Served: Cold in chilled glasses

The first time I tried a Mendocino Brewing Company ale, it was pure happenstance; it was in easy grabbing distance from where I was standing in line. This time, I sought their label on purpose. My experience with Red Tail Ale was a delight. But was it a one-hit wonder for the folks in Mendocino? There was only one thing to do: pop the cap and find out.

Eye of the hawk is a strong ale that pours a reddish amber with a nice head and lacing. Before you sip, take a whiff and savor the aroma of ripe fruit. Nice! For a beer of its strength, it felt smooth in my mouth. Evident were rich malts, caramel, and a light biscuit flavor. The hops give it a slight bitter aftertaste, which so many beers overdue, leaving my mouth puckered like I’ve been swilling vinegar.  Eye of the Hawk got it right; you get the bite, but it disappears quickly. At 8.0% alcohol, this ale packs a punch, so don’t plan on driving for a while after imbibing. Sit back, relax, and enjoy where the hawk takes you!

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