Evolution Craft Brewing Co. is Delaware's other craft brewery... at least that's the way it seems when you're at a package store in the Mid-Atlantic, there's plenty of Dogfish Head but not much else from Delaware. I made the trek to Delmar, on the southern border of Delaware and Maryland, a couple months ago to check out some of more exotic beers Evolution has in the works and I was quite impressed. Exotic beers don't pay the bills for most brewers so I decided to pick up a six pack of their Primal Pale Ale to see how these guys approach a more mainstream style.
Trader Joe's recently opened up in Kansas City. There was much fanfare and at least a week's worth of massive lines as people clamored for cheap wine and slightly-better-than-Aldi-quality food. I patiently waited a couple weeks until stopping by and picking up a sixer of Mission St. Pale Ale. I'd heard a lot of good things about this beer but was always reluctant to bring any home from out of town because it's essentially just another relabeled product and I figured a beer that's contract brewed for a discount grocery couldn't be all that great, right? Well, it did kinda win a gold medal at GABF...
Goose Island's Belgian ales are by far my favorite beers from Clybourn. Goose Island's six pack offerings never really appealed to me, I found them pretty bland and uninteresting. The Belgians on the other hand were a lot more flavorful and just better beers. Tonight I'm sitting down to a bomber of Matilda, a Belgian style Pale Ale with Brettanomyces. Brett and I go way back, I'm a big fan of his work and we along really well. I've had the Matilda once or twice but I don't remember ever having a bottle and I generally like brett fermented beers better out of a bottle, so I'm excited to try this Goose Island Matilda again.
I was looking for something simple to drink tonight. I need a night off from big, complex beers. I found this bottle of Oxfordshire Ales Pride of Oxford in the basement fridge and decided to see what they're so proud about. This beer comes in fairly simple looking bottle. It has a black and blue label with a picture of central Oxford on it. The beer pours pretty light and has a huge head. It smell like a mediocre Pale Ale, I'm hoping that's just because I've been spoiled with such amazing beer in the past two months.
This time last year I was elbow deep in Christmas beers. For the past couple of years I've done a month-long Christmas beer challenge where I drink a different Christmas seasonal each day leading up to Christmas. Sound like fun? It was, at least until the middle of the second week when all the Winter Warmers start to taste the same and you'd strangle your own mother to get your hands on a Pilsner. I decided to pass on the Jingle Beers this year and just realized this would be my first Christmas beer review of the year.
Mikkeller's Yeast Series is an awesome concept. It's a line of beers, all the same style but fermented with different yeast strains. The bottle I've opened today is Mikkeller's Yeast Series: Brettanomyces. Brettanomyces is the yeast you get in a lot of Belgian style beers that taste like orange peel, coriander and lemon. This Pale Ale is 8.0%, considerably stronger than a lot of brett based beers I've had before. I'm hoping the yeast flavors are able to come through and this isn't just a pale hoppy mess. Mikkeller makes great beers so I have faith in them doing this the right way.
This bottle of Three Floyds' Alpha King was actually a left over bottle from an afternoon beer gathering I attended a few weeks back. One of the guys had recently been in Chicago and brought back a couple bottles of Alpha King to share with the unfortunate masses here who aren't able to buy Three Floyds' right off the shelves. This was the fourth of about a dozen beers we had that after noon and I remember it being quite good. Hoppy but very very flavorful in a way that didn't rely on hoppy bitterness to get your attention. I've been holding off on opening this last bottle of Alpha King for some time, thinking that it wouldn't live up to what I remembered. Well, I've drank my way through about 3/4 of this bottle and I'm just going to put this right out there... Three Floyds' Alpha King is the best Pale Ale I've ever had.
It is a rare occasion when I'm able to pull a bottle of New Glarus from the fridge. I recently came across a number of bottles of various New Glarus beers and just couldn't wait to dive in. Hoping to save the best for last I decided to start with what I saw as the low hanging fruit of the haul. New Glarus' Moon Man is a Pale Ale that clocks in right at 5% ABV. It has a light aroma which does a great job of showcasing the sweet citrusy hops in this beer. Overall I thought the aroma and appearance of this beer were mediocre at best, I felt good about my decision to knock this beer out first.
I'm nearing the end of my Brouwerij Van Steenberge sampler pack I picked up about six months ago. These stubby little bottles have been consistently good, with a couple being phenomenal. Piraat is one of the beers that blew me away. It's been a tortured wait for this beer. Knowing that I had a bottle of this floating around the fridge at home meant I didn't want to order one while I was out and saw it on the menu. Well, now that I've killed the bottle at home I'll definitely be ordering this every chance I get.
I tend to prejudge beer by their label, it's a bad habit of mine. Hey, we all of our flaws. When I first saw this bottle of Heavy Seas Pale Ale I thought of Johnny Depp... well, actually I thought of Captain Jack Sparrow. Clipper City put a big cartoony skull and cross bones with an eyepatch and a pirate hat. It just comes off as being too full of itself. These guys want you to think they're "hip" and "with it," tapping into the "underground chic" of pirates... Packaging like this makes me assume the beer inside couldn't be sold without tricking the Ed Hardy crowd into buying a six pack because it seemed a little more extreme than Miller High Life.