Friday, October 26, 2007

Weekend Brews ... The Series Begins!

Friday. The day known to all of us working folk as the first glimpse of hope of relaxation and free time to do whatever the hell we want to. Alright, maybe it's not all that glorious, but it is a chance to happily seek out a new tasty beer to sample and tell you about.

So, now that it is Friday, who wants a couple-ah ice cold beers?

Every week I plan on writing about a new beer or beers to get your weekend going. You only really have two days off, so it's important that you drink some delicious beers while you have the chance. And for that reason, I have decided to start the new series, "Weekend Brews." Trust me, this is going to be good for all of us.

For this premiere entry of "Weekend Brews", I've selected a fine 1 pint, 6 fl.oz. bottle of Fresh Hop Pale Ale from the Great Divide Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado. It's always a little bit more special when your pouring from a big old bottle as opposed to the old 12 oz. standard.

Once poured, the pale ale sets up in the glass nicely. A frothy head sits atop the translucent amber liquid just begging me to taste it. That foamy goodness dissipates quickly to the edge of beer, but leaves a pleasing white lace covering around the sides of the vessel. And the smell...

... Ahhhhhhhhh, the aroma of the gods. This being a "fresh hop pale ale", it is filled with that crisp scent of grass that was just cut on a dew-filled morning. Well, it's not like a PGA golf tournament or anything, but I'd love to open my window at sunrise and have that slap me in the face.

See, Great Divide Brewing Co. is lucky enough to have the connections to get their hops right at the peak of the harvest season shipped overnight to the brewery. This unique flower and grass character can really only be achieved by using hops that fresh... and considering the fact that the fresher the hops, the more you need to impact flavor, the beer is a tiny bit pricey. It's nothing crazy, but it will run you $6-$7 for the bottle.

Alright, enough with the nonsense, what the hell does it taste like?

Oh man it's good. Nicked with a touch of bitterness, it has a stellar bite with an ample amount of sweetness. The bitterness is the feature here though, and I think it works well with the fresh hop smell.

This beer's not as intense as say a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but it does the trick. It may not be an everyday beer, but I definitely recommend that you drink one down considering they only get the chance to brew with hops this fresh once a year.

Grab one today or tomorrow and give your weekend a little extra slice of happiness pie.

Overall score on this one: 4.0 out 5.0.

Drink it.

Remember, I'll be featuring your Weekend Brews every Friday from now on. So drop down some comments and if you have some suggestions for upcoming Weekend Brews, let me know.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Beer of the Week to Start This Friday!

Well just what in the hell is a blog about beer that doesn't have a beer of the week review, right? Exactly. So starting this Friday I will be happy to drink and review another tantalizing brew that will hopefully tickle your tastebuds and encourage you to get out there and do your part in support craft breweries. And, Friday is just such a perfect day to begin drooling over fine ales and lagers. Mmmmmm...

We are now in the Fall season, well not here in Florida, but I'm from New York so it's still Fall to me. That means some great seasonal beers, especially those winter brews should be hitting the shelves.

I'm looking forward to exploring those and don't be shy if you want to drop a line of post a comment on this blog. It gets lonely in this quiet little beer cave sometimes.

If you have some recommendations for Beer of the Week, just let me know.


Monday, October 8, 2007

R.I.P. Beer Hunter

I should have put this post up back in August when it happened, but I feel it is always better late than never to show tribute to a great man. The man is Michael Jackson. The "Beer Hunter." As someone who enjoys writing and reading the written words of others, he has certainly been an inspiration.

Michael Jackson has written some brilliant books and articles on beer and it's origins even before I knew what beer was. He was one of the individuals responsible for sparking interest in beautfully crafted beers from around the world, and without a doubt is at least partly responsible for the rise in craft breweries, and the love for craft beer here in the US. The fact that this man had a passion for great beer and turned that passion into a career is absolutely fascinating. His eloquent prose on the subject is second to none, and you know if Michael Jackson writes well of a certain brew, you had better give it a try.

To see the way he interacted with the young craft brewers of the US and did his best to promote them is a testament to the man's passion and belief in those who are trying to keep the history of good beer alive and well in the 21st Century.

If you haven't yet, pick up one of his books or at least read more about him online. He will be missed. Thank you Beer Hunter.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Four New Tasty Brews to Talk About

It's a been awhile since I've posted anything on ye ole blog, so I'm hittin' up the page with some news on four new tasty brews I've had the pleasure of sampling.

Wrote a post about 'em, wanna read it? Here it go...

First up is a selection from Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was the movie, "American Beer" that inspired me to want to track down some beers from Bell's. Lucky for us in Gainesville, Florida, they just got distribution here. Hooray! The Bell's beer I'd like to tell you about is called, Oberon. It's their summer beer offering. It was a tasty wheat ale certainly fit for summer with it's light body and citrus aroma. The beer poured nice and created a nice creamy head. I was thinking it would be a bit more foamy than creamy, but nonetheless, its appearance of a cloudy golden hue matched well with the silky head.

The Oberon featured an aroma filled with fruit, mainly banana and some citrus. In this particular bottle the orange smell was front and center, a perfect scent for a summertime grill out. A nice big burger would do well with this one.

The flavor followed suit, heavy on the citrus, and extremely smooth. Personally I thought the carbonation level on this beer was too low. I think a bit more of that bubbling refreshment from more CO2 would've added a better finish to this summer brew. Overall though, I have to say the beer was a good introduction to Bell's and I look forward to trying more of their beverages as they become available here.

My overall score for Bell's Oberon: 3.25 out of 5.00

Beer number two is Sierra Nevada's Anniversary Ale.

Now who am I not to celebrate the anniversary of a great craft brewer? I'm a big fan of the Sierra Nevada brews, and this beer did not disappoint at all. With a gorgeous amber body and wonderfully full and foamy head, this beer introduced itself to the glass with class. This was like that amber they found the mosquito in for Jurassic Park... just beautiful.

The aroma? Lordamercy! Can you say Cascade Hops? This beer can... and with a blast of pungent citrus and floral notes, this ale was screaming at me to drink it! So I did. It's been said before, but this beer truly does represent the perfect marriage of hops and malt. It seemed less hoppy than their Pale Ale, and thus was a nice change of pace for a Sierra Nevada ale. It had a great malt character and lovely sweetness that made each sip taste like a gulp of joy. This beer does not have the bite that the Pale Ale does and thus you don't get that dry mouth feeling so often associated with hoppy American Pale Ales and I.P.A.s. All in all, this beer is certainly a worthy addition to their beer line up, and definitely something worth celebrating.

Overall score for Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale: 4.5 out 5.0

Third beer? I thought you'd never ask. It's from another brewery that just started to distribute to our area. It's Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale. Wowsers! This beer makes me happy.

The Imperial Red coated the glass with a dark copper/brown liquid fit for a king. A thick solid head that could stand the test of time greets your nose as you lift the glass. I'm pretty sure you could float on that head like you were vacationing at the Great Salt Lake. The aroma was a magical mixture of sweetness and hoppiness featuring another citrus blast with a creme brulee finish.

Drink it down I say! And I did. This brew has a serious malt character that offers up some serious sweetness that is balanced well with the hop bitterness. This beer is a smooth and thick like gravy ale that would be a perfect after-dinner drink. This is not the type of beer you'd sit and drink a sixer of. In fact, based on my aroma thoughts above, I'd say this beer would actually match perfectly with creme brulee. I just may have to try that one of these days.

There's a bit of that dry I.P.A.-like aftertaste, but that sort of effect fits this beer style well.

Overall score for Lagunitas Imperial Red: 4.25 out of 5.00

The fourth and final beer is from Terrapin Beer Company in Athens,GA.

The beer was their Golden Ale. This was actually the first of the four I tasted, but what the hell, you get to read about it last. This beer is a great introduction for those not acquainted with the craft beers of the U.S.A. It's a light bodied ale with, you guessed it, a warm golden color. It produced a light and fluffy head when it hit the glass, and actually had a very welcoming appearance with some serious carbonation adding to its golden color. I just love watching those little bubbles make their way up through the drink.

The Golden Ale had a light aroma to match its body. A slighty fruity smell was present, but nothing too overwhelming. The flavor followed suit, easy to drink, smooth with a slightly biting aftertaste. It actually reminded me more of a German lager than an ale, but overall it was satisfying.

I think if you are going to try a beer from Terrapin I'd first recommend the Rye Pale Ale for those who enjoy their craft brewed beverages. However, if you are a begginer, this ale is a nice place to start and ease your way up to the fuller, hoppier beers that are available.

Overall score for Terrapin Golden Ale: 3.5 out 5.00

Okay, that's all for this installment. Check back soon as I try some of Germany's Oktoberfest selections. Man, what a great time of year it is for beer!