Archive for the ‘Flavor Series’ Category

Merry Christmas to me!

Posted: December 29, 2010 in Flavor Series, IPA, Winter Brews

This Christmas I got something I look forward to every year, a variety pack.   I was given this year a Magic Hat’s winter variety pack by my brother and Sister in law (thanks guys)!  This 12 Pack includes 4 very top notch beers.  They are; #9, the staple of Magi Hat; Encore, a winter IPA; Howl, their seasonal brew; and current Odd Notion, winter 10.  I am going to review each one in the following post.


#9  A crazy concoction, that is sweet, hoppy, malty and dry all at the same time.  This beer has become so popular because it’s so complex, and flavorful.  Magic Hat themselves are not quite sure how to classify it, so they call it not quite a Pale Ale, which I feel is rather accurate.  This beer has some serious fruity flavors, it used to be my favorite but I am quickly noticing that a few gives me a stomach ache, it’s a great beer to have one or two of but I can’t drink them all night on the town.  It has right around 20 IBU’s so it’s not bitter enough to be classified as a pale ale but you wil get a slight but distinct hop bite at the end.  At 5.1%ABV I wish it wasn’t so sweet as it would be a great all around beer to drink anytime.


Encore, This beer, brings Maltsters and Hop heads together for the holidays.   With aroma’s of Great fruits which remind me of Christmas (I don’t know why), and soft undertones of warm malts, I knew this would be a great beer.  After the first sip I was hooked.  Great malty flavors up front, sweet like honey at first blending in to an intricate dry hoppy finale that will leave you wanting more.  This beer only gets tastier the further down it you get.  Maybe it was the few beers before I had before, but I am not a big IPA fan, and this beer had me hooked, I wanted to keep drinking them but a get rowdy after a few IPA’


Howl, definitely a decent winter time beer, classified as a black lager, and that’s what it is, if they were trying to steer down the path of traditional black lagers they nailed it.  I only pose that somewhat negatively because I know that isn’t Magic Hat’s style and I know they could have done more with it.  Anyhow, this brew has some great malty, buttery biscuit flavor, sure to keep you warm on even the coldest winter nights.   It finishes almost exactly as it started, don’t get me wrong its got flavor its just not the complex beer I have come to know and love from Magic Hat.  If you have never had a Magic Hat before and you picked this one up you would call me a liar, but try some others as well and you will see where I am coming from.  This beer has 4.6% ABV and right around 20 IBUS.


Odd Notion, Winter ’10.  I feel these are the beers that really set Magic Hat apart from other Breweries.  Like Dog Fish Head the President, and the Brew Master do crazy flavors in beers, and release a new one each season.   This winter is Fantastic, classified as a Red Ale it has the flavor and the know how to be a red ale, but here is the twist.  They brewed it with Hibiscus Leaves.  Wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this one but it’s pretty damn good.  The Hibiscus adds such a different flavor to the beer especially to a Red Ale that is really not like anything I have ever tasted before, and I have tasted lots.  The earthy smell of this beer sacred me a little at first, but there was so little hoppy bitterness that I forgot all about the aroma after the first taste.  Needless to say this was my favorite beer in the variety pack and I can’t wait to get my hands on some more.  Maybe someone locally with get it on tap and really make my holiday season.




We wish you a Mocha Porter!

Posted: December 13, 2010 in Flavor Series, Porters

Well the title really says it all, and on this rainy and nasty Sunday morning, I wish I wouldn’t feel like an alcoholic for drinking before noon, because I would totally drink a Rogue Mocha Porter for breakfast, its filling enough that’s for sure. Not just Rouge Mocha Porter, but any type of porter, i really do love them this time of year. Today I would like to discuss two. The Rouge clearly, as well as Foothills Brewery’s Peoples Porter.

Rouge Mocha Porter. So already in this blog post I have tried to write Chocolate in some way 3 or 4 times into the title of this. The aroma and flavor of milk chocolate in this beer is what I feel makes it so fantastic. It’s nice and malty which of course you know I love. I had this beer out of the bottle, mainly because i couldn’t find it on tap. But with a straight pour it takes two pours to get the whole bottle, but on both the head looks from the side super thick, however when you see it from the top or as you drink it you will notice its head is very light, one of lightest I have ever seen. This beer is dark but I wouldn’t classify it as black. Now I already said the aromas were heavy of chocolate, and wonderful roasted malts. Slight hops noticed towards the end. Mouthfeel for this beer is not as thick or full as you might think it has a nice medium body that finishes dry and leaves you wanting more! In terms of flavor this beer is rather complex, it delivers nice chocolates and hints of coffee along with toasted malts up front, but finishes with a little notes of caramel and just the tiniest hop bite, which rounds this fine beverage out nicely. I like this beer a lot as its only 5.3% ABV, so I can enjoy a few to keep warm, and not be sloshed!

People’s Porter, Foothills Brewery. Remember a few weeks ago when I said I would be talking about Brixx, well this is why! The People’s porter is on tap there and it is awesome. By far my favorite draft beer there and my favorite porter right now. It has a great dark brown color, and when held to light it has a deep ruby color that just looks cool. When poured it has 2 fingers plus of a nice thick head that doesn’t go anywhere quickly, which of course make for great lacing! The Flavor of this beer is incredibly simple in that it all fits together smooth but to a beer snob you would notice, great warm roasty malts, and distinct hints of coffee and chocolate, followed closely by very light hoppy grassiness, that gives it a great dry finish, leaving your palette clean and ready for whatever comes next which your brain is hoping is another sip, and at only 5.7%ABV you can probably have another.


Brewing special seasonal beers predates modern history and has its origin in the pagan celebrations of winter solstice. Later, as monasteries often functioned as the local brewery, some monks made the first holiday commemorative beers to celebrate the birth of Christ. Winter beers are as much a state of mind as a style, but beers best for fending off the cold of a long winter night — such as old ales, strong ales, barley wines and strong lagers — are often associated with winter.

There are a ton of different styles of winter beer, its perhaps the most widely flavored seasonal brew with each brewer having the freedom to do what they chose. What classifies a winter beer? Well it’s dark, sometimes, and it tends to be thicker, but that’s really about it. The beer itself may be sweet, it may be bitter, it may be hoppy, or it may be malty, it can really go in a thousand different ways so the easiest way to talk to about them is to just cover a few of my favorites but I encourage you to try as many as you can, because they really are all so much different!

The Gift, Star Hill. This beer truly is a gift, and if someone gave me a six pack for Christmas, I would be perfectly happy! This beer is a lovely copper color, which pours from the bottle with little if any head. Some carbonation bubbles are seen lazily rising towards the surface but not many. This beer starts malty, but there are serious hints of apples, oranges and grapes, giving it some nice fruity undertones. You get a really nice toffee, almost caramel aftertaste that makes you crave another sip. This beer is not at all thick, it’s medium bodied, and almost a pilsner! The gift weighs in with 25 IBUS and 6.5%ABV

Hibernator, Long tail. This Unfiltered Scottish aAle winter masterpiece a dark Reddish, garnet color, when held up to the light you can tell this beer is unfiltered, as its more than a little cloudy. It has a light brown almost sandy colored head that doesn’t stick around long but does leave its mark with a little bit of lacing that will hold on all the way to the finish. It starts of with a very strong malty taste, almost like a buttery biscuit, which is very different. It ends with a just a little fruit, possibly citrus, tang, and just the slightest bite of hops. Take your time on this beer, its much for complex if you drink it slow and the savor the sips. The Hibernator weighs in with 25 IBUS, and 6.0%ABV


How in the world Lagers ever got to be the most popular beer in the world is beyond me! Well actually its not, the science behind lagers is so simple that it actually makes sense, couple that with the process of continuous fermentation – which allows the beer to ferment faster—and bam you have the American dream, simple and fast! I like light lagers, when I am at the bar, or when I know I will be at a social event when I am going to be drinking for a longer period of time the low alcohol content keeps me under wraps. But they are by no means the top choice for my fridge!

Lagers are a bottom fermented beer that are made in cold storage. The yeast they use, require colder temperatures and much, much longer periods of time in order to ferment. Lagers got their start being fermented in caves outside the city walls of Rome, and when they first started they were a much stronger brew than the ones we know today! Lagers became very popular in Germany sometime in the 16th century and were marketed as a beer that was darker and stronger than ale. Lagers did not make their way to the US until around 1840. With the large influx of German immigrants dunring that time, it was really only a matter of time before lagers became popular. The first documented brewing of a lager with the US was in Philly, and done by a Bavarian imagrant named John Wagner, he brewed it with yeast he smuggled in with him from Bavaria.

In 1953 a New Zealander name Morton W. Couttis developed the process of continuous fermentation. Now I am not a chemist so I don’t understand the technical aspect of it, but I can tell you it did two things to lagers. First it sped up the fermentation process so it could rival the fermenting time of traditional ales. Second it lightened the beer so it made it not as strong or as dark, broadening its market, essentially making it more popular. Through the years major breweries have learned how to lighten this even further to make “Light Beers”.

Today lagers have skyrocketed companies such as Anheuser Busch, and Coors/Miller. The ability of these companies to make a cheap, decent tasting, inexpensive light lager, had allowed them for years to rule the beer market. However the Micro-brew and craft beer revolution, have taken a large chunk of the market over but these cheaper beers still do very well in all markets of the US. Bars really help to sell these cheap beers as well as football and other sporting events. Again these beers are a great sell for these types of establishments because they have lower alcohol contents and are much lighter than other beers therefore allowing people to drink more without feeling drunk or full. If you are a traditional or light lager drinker I encourage you to get out there and try some of the great micro-brews offered. Stop in at your local beer store, or go to a brewery or brew pub, and ask questions. Get to know some different beers, and I guarantee you will quickly trade in that domestic light beer, for something perhaps a little more local! Cheers!

I would like to thank Matt Tripp for the inspiration on today’s post. Last night he reminded me of a small brew company in Vermont called Rockart Brewing, they are brewing some fantastic beers, although I have yet to find any outside of Vermont yet Any how I will talk about my favorite beer from them in a bit, but as I am sure you have put together it’s a stout. Stouts are tough sell, very dark, very heavy and very filling. I like stouts in the winter time; they warm you up nicely, and usually have great chocolaty or coffee flavors in them. There are a number of varieties of stouts which are also know as porters, such as imperial stouts (of Russian descent), Dry stouts (of Irish descent), Baltic Porters (of Balkans descent), and Porter (of English descent). All of these types are very similar, in color, taste and ABV, they differ however in the way they are brewed.
Stouts were first brewed in the 1790’s in England but they were known as porters. Stout meaning strong was not actually used until 1820 when Guinness of Ireland called their strong versions of porters Stout Porters, eventually the porter was dropped, and we were left just Stout beers. The key thing to remember is Stout means strong and in the good old days they weren’t talking strong in taste, these beers are notorious for super high ABV’s, especially the Imperial stouts (damn Russians). In the late 19th century the popularity of Stouts grew enormously, as they were promoted as a healthy nourishing beer that would make you stronger and faster. Nursing mothers were encouraged to drink stouts as it was said to make their babies grow bigger and stronger (Probably not the best promotional idea ever but it worked for the times). Also, doctors recommended them to patients to help them recover from illness as it was said to build your immune system. Clearly, not much of this was true, but its cool the beer has a history as rich as its body. I personally don’t drink a lot of stout, and I don’t know many people, who do, but I have had a few; some I liked; others not so much!

Stump Jumper Rockart Brewery. Apparently stump jumpers have something to do with logging. Well this beer is as Burly as any logger I have ever met I will tell you that. Its black as the night sky and a straight pour will give you a half a glass or more of head, which will take more than a few minutes to settle. The stout has hints of Coco, and espresso, which is why I like it in the winter time. This beer is one you almost have to chew, and when you’re all done you could lick the lacing off the glass it’s that thick! Interestingly enough however it only has 5.8% ABV so it won’t ruin your next day like many other stouts. No IBU’s listed on this beer, but it is rather Hoppy I would guess its 50+IBU’s.
**Thanks to for the image
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn Brewery. Now don’t go thinking because this one has chocolate in the name that it is at all like a Hershey’s kiss. The first time I had this beer, I drank it from a glass, and I almost didn’t drink it because I thought it was bad. It pours from the bottle like 10w20 from your motor. It’s the same color and about the same consistency. This beer is thick; a straight pour leaves a good inch of light brown to Carmel colored head, which leaves a more than decent amount of lacing on the glass. The first sip tastes like a double brewed black coffee from a truck stop somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Its strong and bitter to say the least, However, as it moves through your mouth it transforms to a bit of a sweeter flavor, with definite hints of chocolate and brown sugar that makes it an enjoyable beer. Don’t enjoy too much however because after one you will be feeling rather good, with its 10.0%ABV. I would like to try this beer off the tap, since I have only had it out of the bottle, maybe I will make it to Brooklyn sometime to try.


Amber Ale; a New Revolution!

Posted: October 18, 2010 in Amber's, Flavor Series

Last night I asked two separate people for their favorite beer style so I can make sure I am covering all beers not just the ones that usually appear in my fridge. I asked a friend Brooks Meade, who I have done some bartending with in the past, and know he, is very knowledgeable in the beer world. I also asked my brother Nick, who knows, quite a bit about beer but also brews some awesome craft beer and will hopefully be a large part of the Hops at Home movement. Whether by sheer coincidence or maybe its way more popular than I thought, they both answered Amber. So we will start the week off with a little amber ale discussion.

 Amber Ales are fairly new in the world of beer styles, and if you asked for Amber ale just about anywhere outside of North America the bartender or brewer might give you a funny look. Amber ale is a description used pretty much only in North America to describe what the rest of the world refers to as Pale ale. So to make up for us being different from the rest of the world we call other pale ales here North American Pale Ales or APA’s for short, but that a different post for a different day. Amber ales account for a very small group of pale ales, which range in color from light copper to light brown. They are most often brewed with American-variety hops which are less bitter than most. The IBU’s can range fairly widely on Ambers but none is ever referred to as particularly hoppy, or bitter. The exciting thing about this post is gives me a chance to talk about a brewer that I really like, but I feel is not super well known about. ROGUE

Santa’s Private Reserve, Rouge Brewery. Let me just say to start I have never had a bad beer from these guys, if you haven’t indulged in Rouge go pick some up, it’s available at most grocery stores. Santa’s Private is great winter time beer. Some classify it amber other classify it as red ale, they are virtually synonymous anyhow. It has a distinct amber color almost rusty, and a straight pour will leave a good amount of head. One very distinct thing about this beer is that for it not being a dark beer it leaves quite a bit lacing on the glass, but I have a feeling that has something to do with its high amount of IBU’s. The first time I had this beer, it seemed harsh, but half way through, I was in love, it’s not at all bitter, it’s very smooth and is very lightly carbonated. This beer weighs in with 68IBU’s (remember though it’s not bitter) and 6.0% ABV. I will write a full review on this beer when I am home, it deserves the justice of being written while being tasted not off memory from over a year ago.

Long Trail Ale, Long trail Brewery. Long trail is a local Vermont beer which has just in the past few years been going national; they have an awesome brewery, in Bridgewater Corners VT just off the Long Trail. This beer is my brother’s favorite and as he wrote to me today, “I think it might actually be lager”. I explained to him how it could be considered and amber ale, as it has nice copper color, and with a smooth rich flavor. However, some might classify it as a lager because it’s a heavier beer, but again it’s brewed with North American hops so the IBU’s are higher but it’s not a Hoppy beer. This great creation is also available in most grocery stores and weighs in at 30IBU’s and 4.6%ABV.

Hopefully some good beer will help ease out your Monday.


Posted: October 17, 2010 in Flavor Series, Heffe's

Let me start of today by saying that this blog is torturous right now, talking about all this beer, and doing research and stuff, and not being able to drink at all, well its hard. But it gives me something to look forward to and with that said, the beer I am looking most forward to is a Heffeweizen. Heffeweizen’s are a top Fermented unfiltered wheat beer. They are of German descent and the literal translation is yeast (Hefe) and wheat (Weizen), so as you can imagine they are a smoother, lighter beer. Heffe’s come from a family of beers known as Weissbier, or White Beer. Heffe’s tend to contain only between 10-20 IBU’s and are usually more carbonated microbrews, not as carbonated as commercial light beers however. The carbonation helps off set the malty sweetness caused by top fermentation. I love Heffe’s in the spring and summer time, as it is light and crisp, and over all a refreshing beer. Most people would describe a Heffe with flavors of citrus, vanilla and occasionally even banana. I really haven’t ever had a bad Heffeizen, but my favorites include:The Love by Star Hill Brewery, Crozet VA, this beer is just an awesome all around beer and very often my first choice since it’s on tap a lot local restaurants. There are distinct hints of banana and clove in this brew, and it’s often garnished with a slice of orange to bring out its citrus flavor, but I enjoy it without. It weighs in with 9 IBU’s and 4.6%ABV so it’s a great social beer.

The Wintergreen Weiss from Devils Backbone Brewery in Nelson County VA is another summertime favorite. It took home a bronze at the 2010 Great American Beer festival. It’s very light and flavorful, with hints of orange and Vanilla.  Its a beer as relaxing as the brewerys setting.  It weighs in with 13 IBU’s, and 4.7%ABV.