The Beer Savant

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!


July 1, 2012


Filed under: Ale,American — hikingsandiego @ 9:15 pm
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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!

August 4, 2011

Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat

Filed under: Ale,American,Wheat,Witbier — hikingsandiego @ 9:31 pm
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Leinenkugel Sunset WheatDate: July 21, 2011
Cost: NA
Brewery: Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Alcohol content: 4.8%
Served: Cold by the glass at the Spaghetti Factory in San Diego

It was a day of adventures. We spent the morning and afternoon at Comic-Con, where we took in a lifetime of weirdness in one day. It was grand! I listened to one of my favorite authors, Christopher Moore, speak on a panel. I learned how a steampunk proton pack works. And I watched as the entire cast of “The Big Bang Theory” walked across the sidewalk in front of me and entered their hotel. Whew! All that excitement works up an appetite and a thirst. We decided to take care of both at the Spaghetti Factory.

A day of adventures shouldn’t end with a mundane order such as spaghetti and red wine, so I ordered the crab ravioli and a Leinenkungel’s Sunset Wheat. Let me tell you, my choices were spot on.

Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat pours a hazy golden yellow, and indeed, it does look like a summer sunset. I could smell the rich fruity and floral fragrances before the glass touched my lips. And the taste followed through. The beer was served with a slice of orange, and I squeezed it into the glass, enhancing the already citrus taste of the beer. Orange, lemon, wheat, and a little spice made this an interesting and rich beer to savor. The carbonation was just right. I felt refreshed down to the soles of my very tired, sore feet.

June 21, 2011

Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale

Ballast Point Calico Amber AleDate: June 13, 2011
Cost: NA
Brewer:  Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, California
Alcohol content: 5.5%
Served: Cold from tap with seafood dinner at the Red Sails Inn

When you try a beer for the first time, the “where you are, who you’re with” factor can sometimes cloud your judgment. I tried my first glass of Ballast Point Calico Ale at a seaside table while dinning with my cousin and his wife from New Zealand, whom I had not seen for many, many years. It was a special evening.

The waitress brought me a glass of deep, clear, amber ale with the smallest of heads. I caught a whiff of grass and perhaps herbs as I raised it to my lips. It was love at first sip! My mouth was flooded with a rich ale full of malty flavors accented with hops and a slight bitter bite. It’s a complex tasting beer; each sip seemed to reveal additional nuances: a biscuity yeast, hops, maybe some citrus, caramel, etc.

As I mentioned, sentiment can wreck havoc on one’s objectivity, so to ensure a fair tasting, I ordered a second. I can swear without a doubt that this is one damn fine amber ale! I think I would find it no less satisfying if I were drinking it alone while eating a Big Mac following my best friend’s funeral.

May 15, 2011

Shock Top

Filed under: Ale,American,Wheat,Witbier — hikingsandiego @ 9:39 pm
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Shock TopDate: May 13, 2011
Cost: NA
Brewer:  Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, Missouri
Alcohol content: 5.2%
Served: Cold in chilled glasses, side of unsalted peanuts

I’m usually cautious when presented with a “corporate” beer. Corporate beers are kind of like Chips Ahoy Cookies: technically, they’re a cookie with small lumps of chocolate, and they’ll do in a pinch when your sweet tooth demands satisfaction. But craft beers and microbeers are like a hot Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie: a divine experience…a confectionary nirvana.

Shock Top is a product of the King of Corporate Beers, Anheuser-Busch, so  with a touch of trepidation I flipped off the bottle cap and poured my first glass. The beer pours slightly hazy with a soft lemony color. So far so good. The packaging describes it as containing coriander, orange, lemon, and lime peel with wheat. At first sip, I didn’t taste much of these and, well, it tasted pretty much like most corporate beers. Then I cut a wedge of fresh orange, squeezed it in the glass, and poof! The beer came to life! Orange juice is to Shock Top what that ol’ top hat was to Frosty the Snowman: the one element that brings it to life. But I digress.

Orange added, Shock Top has a delightful, citrus taste that is refreshing with a nice, tart aftertaste. It’s clean and not filling, making it another fine beer for a sweltering summer day. Like Corona, it’s an uneventful beer without an added squeeze of citrus. Really, you can look at that as a plus…there are far worse ways to get your vitamin C!

May 12, 2011

Mermaid’s Red

Filed under: Ale,American,Red — hikingsandiego @ 8:02 pm
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Mermaid's RedDate: May 6, 2011
Cost: Not available
Brewer:  Coronado Brewing Company, Coronado, California
Alcohol content: 5.7%
Served: Cold in chilled glasses

I have had a long love affair with this ale. I drank it first at the company’s brewpub on Orange Avenue in Coronado, accompanied by a large, fresh soft pretzel. Good times, my friends. I love the Coronado Brewing Company’s restaurant: the atmosphere is A+; there’s usually a nice, laid-back crowd of regulars and tourists; the menu is varied and the food delicious; and the beers…aahhhhhh.

Mermaid’s Red Ale is a dark, full-bodied, hoppy red with a touch of malt, caramel, and a kick. It’s a little cloudy, like a wheat beer. That’s fine with me. This ale has a lot of flavor and goes well with most foods or as a standalone. You won’t be disappointed.

If you’re in San Diego or planning to visit, the Coronado Brewing Company’s restaurant and beers are worth a trip across the bay.

May 8, 2011

Coastal Fog IPA

Coastal Fog IPADate: April 23, 2011
Cost: $3.49/22  Oz. bottle at BevMo
Brewer:  Hermitage Brewing Company, San Jose, California
Alcohol content: 5.6%
Served: Cold in chilled glasses

I was in the mood for a West Coast beer, so after mulling over the wide selection at BevMo, I settled on Coastal Fog IPA. This beer is darker than most IPAs I’ve tasted; it was almost an amber ale. I noticed immediately that it had a yeasty taste akin to what you’d experience drinking someone’s first attempt at homebrew. (Well, maybe not that bad.) It was drinkable, but I don’t think I’ll buy it again, not with so many really good IPAs on the market. You can safely skip this one with the assurance that you’re not missing anything.

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