It's finally here, the long awaited collaboration brew from Boulevard and Christopher Elbow arrived in Kansas City this week and it was welcomed with open arms... a LOT of open arms. The larger liquor stores around town received around a dozen cases of Chocolate Ale and nearly every bottle was sold before 5pm on that first day. It seemed this local collaboration really struck a chord with Kansas Citians, it also didn't hurt that this is a chocolate beer and it hit shelves right before Valentine's Day. Whatever the reason, folks are clamoring to try the Chocolate Ale, and I can't blame them.
Russian River beers are always a treat. They aren't available in my area so I generally only have one while away on vacation. About four months ago I took a trip to Denver and brought back a few bottles of different Russian River beers. Tonight I decided to open up one of them because tomorrow I'm heading back to Colorado and will hopefully be able to pick up a few more bottles to bring home. This bottle of Temptation is the third Russian River beer I've been able to bring home and log a review of. The name of this beer seems fitting, I'm very tempted by this corked and caged bottle with "sour ale aged in Chardonnay barrels" written on the label.
Rye Beer isn't a style I reach for very often. Most beers that I've had which have been brewed with Rye, have been overly spicy and bitter. It's a grainy bitterness that I don't particularly enjoy. It's not that I have anything against rye, I just don't think it makes the best main ingredient in a beer based off of the Rye Beers I've had so far. I've waited a while to open this bottle of The Bruery Rugbrød because it's a "JuleBryg-Style Dark Rye Ale". I don't know the first thing about JuleBryg style beers... but rye is a familiar ingredient. I wasn't in a hurry to open this, going off of the assumption that I won't be that crazy about it. Today I decided to just get it over with. Let's see if JuleBryg is a style worth differentiating from other Rye Beers.
Saint Somewhere is a small brewery in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Last year they produced less than 400 barrels of beer. Two of Saint Somewhere's Saisons are distributed here, despite being 1500 miles away. I don't understand the magic behind the distribution game but I'm thankful we can get these small batch beers in the Midwest. This bottle of Saint Somewhere Cynthiana is especially exciting because it is a Saison brewed with Norton wine grapes. Norton (aka Cynthiana) is one of the styles of wine I really enjoy because it is so bold and dry. I'm hoping to find a little of that in this beer.
I first had the Schalfly Export India Pale Ale at the Schlafly Taproom in Saint Louis this summer. Not only was the Export I.P.A. on tap but they were serving it from the cask. Normally, I don't order I.P.A.s when I go out - since they aren't really my favorite style of beer to drink. Since my goal for the summer was to find an I.P.A. that I genuinely enjoyed, I was felt compelled to order the cask I.P.A., and I'm glad I did. Very first impressions of the Export I.P.A. were great, it was served in a snifter after all. The taste of this beer was quite remarkable, it wasn't like any I.P.A. I'd had before. Schlafly managed to make a very balanced I.P.A. ...well, very balanced FOR an I.P.A., meaning it's not just a hop bomb. The Export I.P.A. has plenty of sweet flavors to balance out the spicy and harsh hops that come with being an India Pale Ale.
If you're a fan of Belgian beers then you probably know all about Chimay's Red. Chimay is the only Trappist ale available to most people and the Red label dubbel is their entry level beer at ONLY 7% alcohol. The wide availability of Chimay may lead some to conclude that this is the Budweiser of Belgian beers, but that certainly isn't the case. Chimay, and more specifically their Red label beer, is a great example of the Trappist genre. Chimay's Red is a strong but well balanced Belgian Dubbel that had a sweet and maltly taste up front and finishes smooth and creamy. It is, in so many ways, a perfect example of the style. As the younger brother of the Tripel, the Dubbel is still a big beer. It has strong flavors but is able to remain sweet and smooth. For anyone who has been intimidated by Tripels or Quadrupels in the past, you should really pick up a bottle of Chimay's Red.
Avery's Brabant is really a beer unlike any other that I've had. Avery describes this beer as a Wild Ale that has been aged in Zinfandel barrels. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well, front the first pour of the Brabant I could tell Avery wasn't joking about the Zinfandel barrels. This beer is dark, almost black, and when pouring it into the glass you can see a dark red, almost purplish, tint to the beer... not unlike a dark red wine. The Zinfandel did rub off on this beer quite a bit. Every time you put the glass up to your lips you get a nose full of rich red wine with just a faint hint of caramel malt. As the beer warms to room temperature you can really pick up on the Zinfandel flavor. While chilled this beer is a bit more complex. Straight out of a lightly chilled bottle the Brabant is light and bubbly with a tart cherry twang and a dark chocolate aftertaste. The beer remains dark throughout drinking and retains all of the sweet malts and chocolate flavor, even as the Zinfandel flavors intensify exponentially with each degree on the thermometer. The combination of flavors in this beer is definitely different compared to Avery's other 12 ounce bottles. If I had to compare this Wild Ale to any other beer I've had before it'd have to be a quadrupel or a barley wine... only lighter.
Mahr's Bräu's Der Weisse Bock is a strong dark beer with a ton of flavor. The beer's name isn't just clever, it really describes the style quite aptly. This beer is a blend of the Bock and Weissbier styles. It's sweet and malty like a dark Bock beer but it's also sour and light bodied like Weissbier. The label on the bottle has a white goat on it, he's licking the overflowing foam from a full glass of beer. The label is almost as a clever as the pairing of the Bock and Weiss flavors. This beer is brilliant, it's smooth and creamy while retaining all the flavor for a Bock AND a Weiss. This beer smells like a butterscotch sunday, and some of that follows through to the flavor. It's sweet and sour in flavor, super creamy and still a bit malty. I'd suggest this beer to anyone who wants a complex and strong beer that isn't as bitter as your usual bock/stout/porter. Keep an eye out for Mahr's Bräu's Der Weisse Bock, you won't regret it.
Primátor's Maibock comes in a very unassuming bottle. Looking like it hasn't seen a redesign since the last major war in Europe, you'd certainly be forgiven if you didn't give this beer more than a second glance at the store. Once you take a good long look at this boring label you'll notice the fine print above the Primátor name says, "2008 World's Best Lager." That's either a big claim or a prestigious honor, you can never really tell with these Eastern European beers. If they really did win the 2008 World's Best Lager competition it must not have come with an prize money because this beer looks rather low budget... I know, packaging isn't everything but when this is just one of thirty beers on the shelf in front of you, package means a lot. But enough about the label. Is this beer really "World's Best Lager" caliber?
Nutmeg. Oak. Cinnamon. Caramel. There's a whole lot of Christmas in this beer. Dundee's Festive Ale is... just that, festive. This beer pours a deep copper color and develops a thin tan head. The dominant aroma in the glass is caramel but there are hints of cinnamon. When you take a sip of this beer you'll notice that it's flavor profile follows the aroma very closely. When Dundee's Festive Ale hits your palate you'll notice the sweet caramel and butterscotch maltiness right away. A counterbalance to all that sweetness is a cinnamon bite that takes your attention off the sweet malts before this beer finishes with a hint of oak.