Sunday, August 31, 2014

Full Circle Kölsch

If you all remember your beer style lessons, you''ll recall that a Kölsch is a beer style originating in Köln (Cologne) Germany - a hybrid of ale and lager styles - brewed with top fermenting yeast, making it an ale, but lagered, i.e. set aside to cool and age, which you do with lagers. Technically it's a Kölsch-style, since you have to be brewing in Köln to call your ale a Kölsch. 

Full Circle pours a cloudy, very carbonated, golden hue, with a short white head. There's subtle aromas and tastes of pear, white grape and honey. It's pretty light, so it's a good fit for the still-hot days of late August, early September. Not bad.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dragon's Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout

Yes, yes, I know it's not the correct season for Ill-Gotten Booty to be drinking stouts, let alone Imperial stouts, and forget about Bourbon barrel Imperial stouts...but I was so intrigued by the new offering on the shelf that I had to pick up a four-pack.

Pours a really, really, really, deep brown, almost black that just sucks up the light with an invisible head. The bourbon comes through even before the first sip, as the aroma tantalizes the olfactory nerves. The name suggests that it might be a milk stout, a.k.a. a sweet stout, and it certainly has a creamy sweetness to it, as well as some nice vanilla notes. There is just a smidgen of chocolate and coffee, but not much, although I'm catching some dark fruits (fig, date, raisin) as it warms up. The consistency is a bit thin, but the taste isn't. Please sir, may I have another?

The Ogden Belgian Style Tripel by Goose Island

The name comes from William Ogden, who opened Chicago's first brewery, the beer is part of Goose Island's "Imperial Series", the style is a Belgian Tripel. The Ogden pours a hazy gold, with a frothy white, three-finger head. Citrus aromas tickle the nostrils right off. Some pepper, honey and a little coriander. It's not as whiskey-maple-syrup smooth and dark as I've come to expect from Belgian Tripels and even dubbels, but a little research showed me that golden is the traditional color of the style. The IBU level is 35, about what you'd expect from a pale ale and the ABV is 9%, right in the money for a tripel. This is as smooth, light and delicious as Goose Island premium brews usually are. You won't be disappointed. 8.75 on the IGB scale!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sam Adams Harvest Saison

Part of the 2014 Harvest Collection, Harvest Saison pours a delightfully hazy ripe pineapple hue with an short eggshell colored head. Sweet to the taste, made with barley, oats, rye and wheat, this saison delivers on the Belgian style very well. Banana, bubble gum, pineapple and pear all vie for the attention of the taste buds. Similar in some respects to a hefeweizen, or even a dunkelweizen (sans the dark color of course) but with a character all its own. Great addition to the annual Harvest Collection.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

North Coast Brewing Old Stock Ale 2011

A version of Old Stock Ale 2011, aged in oak bourbon barrels, was my personal choice for best beer at the 2011 Lincoln Okto Beer Fest a few weeks ago. While this incarnation doesn't have the silky smoothness of its cooler big brother, it's certainly no slouch.

Cloudy, dark apricot-orange in color, not much of a head. Technically a barleywine, it undoubtedly shares some characteristics with its grapey cousins. Very strong raisin tastes, maybe some plum, and lingering on the borders of perception...figs. Hold on; I think that I detect some black cherry on the back of my tongue. Almost syrupy in consistency, similar in feel to those "nectars".

Very tasty; but be careful, 11.9% ABV makes this a sit-at-home-and-don't-operate-heavy-machinery brew.

Ad Astra Ale by Free State Brewing

Pours a coppery bronze color with a teensy little beige head. Getting some toast with the first few sips. Some honey and peppery notes as well. Just a hint of peach on the back of the tongue as it warms up. Not a bad autumn brew...even though it is freakin' hot outside!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Belgium Abbey

First of all, I can't believe that I have never had one of these before. I've tried many different varieties of New Belgium brews and reviewed most of them, but somehow missed Abbey. Billed as a Belgian Dubbel, Abbey pours a deep mahogany with ruby highlights, with a  tan, one-finger head. malty sweetness, with a symphony of dark fruits: raisins, figs, plums, black cherries and dates. Lots of maltiness and even some subtle piney hops hiding out behind the scenes. Great representative of the style.