Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tasting Notes: Spanish Peaks APA

Brewery: Spanish Peaks Brewing Company
Poured: July 2007
ABV: 5.7%

Still more notes from the Great Midwest excursion. Two thoughts: Damn, I bought a lot of beer on that trip and Damn, I need to do something a little more creative on this bog pretty soon.

It's a lightly hazy copper, yeast in suspension with a fluffy ivory head. Sweet, sweet hops in the nose, sweet pale malt too.

The sweet hop aroma does not hint at the herbal biting bitterness the hops deliver. It's like a turbo charged English style pale ale. Mouth is dryish lots of herbal hops in the finish and aftertaste.

Something about this beer doesn't mesh well, the hops (Crystal, Mt. Hood, Horizon) are not right for the malt profile or they overpower it too much. Whatever, it just doesn't work for me. Only fair.

Spanish Peaks Brewing

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tasting Notes: Summit India Pale Ale

Brewer: Summit Brewing Company
Poured: July 2007
ABV: 5.8%

Yet another beer found during my trips to the midwest this summer...

It pours a deep clear amber creamy khaki head. There's a lot of lacing on the glass. The nose is full of herbal and floral hops. It's a wonderful sweet aroma.

Very herbal hops in the flavor, some hints of loose tea from the hops as well. The body is crisp but lightly sweet malt comes through and it finishes with the low-level herbal hops. The hops linger in the aftertaste.

A nice surprise. A well-balanced and tasty regular IPA. I've been pretty impressed with Summit so far. They make solid, tasty beers.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tasting Notes: Bell's Java Stout

Brewery: Bell's Brewery
Poured: January 2008
Style: Coffee Stout

Still more stout from Bell's and more beer from the trip to the Great Midwest...

It pours blacker than black with a thin tan head. Powerful coffee aromas, big mocha and bitter chocolate. Roasty but still lots o' sweet chocolate.

The flavor is dominated by coffee. Lots of mocha and bitter chocolate. Unfortunately, the coffee taste builds and overwhelms the beer in time. It's too much coffee for me. A lingering bitterness in the finish.

Outside of the heavy handed coffee, it would be an outstanding beer. Even so, it's still pretty good. In the interest of equal time, K (my wife) loves this brew.

Bell's Brewery

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tasting Notes: Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat

Brewer: Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing
Date Poured: January 2008
Style: American Wheat

One of the fringe benefits of having people over for poker is that they sometimes leave beer at your place that you wouldn't normally buy on your own. Somebody left this Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat in my fridge a couple weeks ago.

This beer pours a hazy pale orangey gold and is topped with a lacy and frothy snowy white head. The nose is full of citrus, lemon and orange. Almost mimosa type smells with light a sweet spiciness.

The first taste is quite bitter with over the top orange peel flavors. Crisp but sweetish wheat malt with a spicy finish. A sweetness starts taking over, an orangey sweetness with a extracty kind of taste.

I'm not a fan of American wheat beers as a rule and they tried to do a Belgian wit here but missed the mark.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tasting Notes: Kalamazoo Stout

Brewery: Bell's Brewing Company
Date Poured: September 2007
ABV: 6.5%

I love Bell's Brewing. I unabashedly state that they are the best brewers of stout in the country. So I am thrilled to finally get ahold of some Kalamazoo Stout, one of the few Bell's offerings I have not tried.

This beer is pitch black in the glass with a dense tan head you could support small coins. Smells sweet and chocolatey with light hints of mocha. Very nice.

There is much more coffee in the flavor than in the nose. More bitter than I was expecting but with a sweetness that offsets it. The bitter and the sweet lead to flavors reminiscient of dark chocolate.

A nice thick body that is just heavenly in the mouth. Drinks smooth as silk with some light smokiness in the aftertaste acconpanied by hints of coffee and a creamy sweetness.

It's money. I might drink nothing but stout if Bell's distributed to Atlanta...

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Session #11: Doppelbock

"The (Paulaner) brewery Has its origins...with a community of monks of St. Paul, who became well known throughout the city for the strong beer they brewed, call Salvator (Saviour) to sustain themselves during Lent...Most other double-bock beers echo the Saviour's brew by bearing names ending in -ator."

- Michael Jackson

With these words echoing in my head, I got off the train in Munich. Did I say I? I mean "we". It was the fall of 1996 and I was with my girlfriend (eventually my wife) K. It was my first proper stop in Germany and the day was going to spent hopping about the various biergartens and I was like a kid in a candystore.

Being on small budget during this backpacking excursion around Europe, many lunches were bought at local grocery stores in the form of bread, chesse and various suasages. Munich was no different and to go with lunch, I bought my first Salvator...in a .5 litre can! Barbarian that I was I drank it from the can as well! Even so, it had a profound effect (from both a spiritual and physical sense) on me and I spent most of the rest of the day trying to sample as many examples of the style as I could, as well as getting a proper serving of Salvator in a glass later that afternoon.

The day is quite hazy or I'd run down all the places we went. Let's just say a day in Munich is a marathon and not a sprint. K took a liking to doppelbocks too and paid to price for it by evening's end!

These days I tend to neglect the original doppelbock. Up in Helen, GA there's a little German restaurant called the Old Bavaria Inn. Sometimes, you can get a bottle of Salvator on special for $1.50. A hell of a deal that I never pass up. Because of this, when I see a bottle of Salvator (like the one non the table before me) I can't help but think of camping up in the north GA mountains.

So to wrap up this tribute to the original doppelbock, some quick tasting notes from tonight's bottle.

The body is a luminous orangey brown with a frothy ivory colored head. You can get a wisp of alcohol in the nose, it's a fairly fresh sample (bottled in October) but mostly you get that rich nutty malt character typical of a doppelbock. I have never been able to put that aroma (or flavor) into words but once you try a few doppelbocks, you'll see what I mean. A doppelbock has a distinct flavor and aroma imparted by the malt.

The flavor is dominated by that same maltiness, some nutty caramel with just a bit of fruitiness too. It's velvetey smooth and drinks easy, masking it's strength. Why don't I pick this up more often? Sometimes the constant search for the new makes you overlook the old reliable. But make no mistake, this is still classic.

For more posts for The Session, pop over to Brewvana who is hosting this month's session.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tasting Notes: Flying Monkey Four Finger Stout

Brewer: Flying Monkey
ABV: ???
Poured: 10/2007

(I'm clearing out some old notes from back in the fall. Here's the first one...)

Still more from the stash rounded up this summer from the Great Midwest...

This stout pours black, of course, with a dense brown head. Lots of mocha aromas and supported by burnt malt and roasty smells. Strident but lesser sweetish dark malt aromas mixed in there as well.

It's a nice balance of sweet and bitter flavors, damn near perfect balance as far as I'm concerned. Lots of dark chocolate flavors here with sweetish finish, lightly sticky and rich. Very full bodied with a lightly bitter finish.

It's nice, one of the best stouts I've had in awhile. I am impressed. Run, don't walk.

Flying Monkey Beer