There aren't many beers that have a better sounding name. Caramel Porter... it conjures memories of sticky caramel candies and creamy dark Porter beers. Mmmm it just sounds delicious. Perhaps I had unreal expectations of this beer, because all of my hopes were dashes as soon as I took my first sip. Saranac's Caramel Porter was probably doomed long before I picked this beer up from the store. You see, these flavors don't really work all that well together. The creamy and chalky Porter might just be too bitter to play nicely with the caramel. It sounds like it'd be a match made in craft beer heaven, and maybe it could still work... but Saranac wasn't able to pull it off.
The Primátor Double Bock is a big beer in a small bottle. This Doppelbock weighs in at ten and a half percent alcohol yet it doesn't smell like a strong beer. The taste doesn't really seem to be in line with the ABV either. In many ways, this beer just doesn't make any sense... it's definitely an odd beer. Getting back to the aroma, this beer doesn't smell like a Doppelbock at all. There isn't much for you to pick up when you smell this beer, the aroma is very subdued. I could pick up on a little caramel and coffee in this beer but mostly I was only able to smell the sweet malt, which wasn't all that strong either... This all seemed very uncharacteristic for such a dark beer.
My expectations of this beer were pretty low. I've had a couple Stevens Point beers before and I remember them being nothing special. They were better than mass produced macrobrews but in the pantheon of great craft beers, Stevens Point is pretty far down the list. Also, it seems like the bulk of O'Fallon's beers are being brewed in Stevens Point now... and they're pretty poor quality. I tried to keep an open mind though and give this beer as fair shake. I'm pleased to say the St. Benedict's Winter Ale is better than I was originally expecting. How much better? Well... not much.
I've had this bottle of Curim Gold Celtic Wheat for about two months. It's a souvenir from a weekend trip across state lines. While we were out of town I stopped by a new beer store to see what exotic offerings they might have. The selection wasn't all that different to be honest, but I did find a few beers worth bringing home. This Celtic Wheat is something I hadn't seen in our local market so I thought I'd give it a try. At 4.3% ABV I didn't have high expectations of this Irish imported Wheat beer.
Southampton's Altbier has an interesting flavor profile... This beer is almost all malt, there is just a little bit of hops on the tail end of each sip. When you take a drink you'll get a mouthful of creamy malt that has a roasted flavor at first but quickly turns bitter. I love malty beers but this Altbier just didn't sit right with me. Perhaps it has more to do with the Altbier style and less to do with Southampton... Altbier, in German, literally translates as "old beer" and it shouldn't take a medieval beer expert to tell you why. These old beers aren't terribly dynamic and leave quite a bit to be desired. Southampton's Altbier is something of a one trick pony, it has a lot of roasted malt but not much else. The aroma lures you in by promising sweet sugars and sour bananas but as soon as you take a drink you realize it was all a lie and you are stuck with a thoroughly malted palate. As boring as this beer was, it wasn't bad... It is faithful to the style and has a fairly unique flavor, which is just pure malt. If you can track down a single bottle or a pint of this beer on tap you should try it out, but I wouldn't suggest committing to any more than that.
The Kaiser has a lot going for it. Not the least of which is its reference to the turn of the century German monarchy. The label is thoroughly Germanic and even has a picture of Wilhelm II donning his favorite Pickelhaube. This beer speaks to me on levels that I'm uncomfortable discussing in public... and yet, I can't quite come to terms with the actual beer inside the bottle. First impressions mean a lot, even when it comes to drinking a specialty beer. The Kaiser does just about everything right, it's got a killer bottle, mouth watering appearance and aroma... but it ends up being all for naught. Well, that may be a little melodramatic, but you get the idea. There's some deceptively awesome packaging here and I really want to like this beer but the flavor falls short. Actually, it falls too far... as in, it's too strong, too alcoholic and too sugary sweet.
I'm not really sure what to make of this beer... Brasserie Lefebvre's Barbãr Bok is a very dark Strong Ale that has some very dark strong flavors. The aroma of this beer should have been enough warning that this was going to be a wild ride. The aroma is sweet in a medicinal sort of way. There is a minty Schnapps freshness to this otherwise dark beer. The sweet fruit flavors taste most like fig or plum thats been stewed or candied. On top of all that, there is a layer of toffee malt that seems just about as out of place as everything else...
Boulder Beer's lineup has been a bit of a gamble thus far... I found this bottle of Obovoid on sale the other day and decided I'd roll the dice one more time. The Obovoid is part of the Looking Glass series of special release beers Boulder Beer puts out on a seasonal basis. My experience so far has been that the Looking Glass beers are certainly bigger but not always better... The Obovoid hasn't really changed my opinion of the Looking Glass series, or for that matter, Boulder Beer Company in general.
A couple bottles of Bischoff arrived at my doorstep last week, some Ur-Weisse and a few Doppelbocks. It's a little late in the evening for a Weisse so I reached for a chilled bottle of their Doppelbock to close out the night. Bischoff is relative unknown to me. Now, I don't claim to be any kind of authority of German brewers so it's not like I was expecting to identify this beer right away. I'm actually glad I was able to get a few bottles from a smaller German brewer I otherwise probably never would have bothered to seek out. I don't mean that just because they don't have a big name or famous beer in their portfolio, but their packaging is pretty awful...
Boulevard Dubbel is an, as of yet, unreleased beer that's undergone a long development process. I first had this beer almost a year ago at a Boulevard brewmaster luncheon where it was paired with a short rib ravioli dish. The Dubbel went really well with the food and I couldn't wait to pick up some Dubbels at the liquor store. When I asked Steven Pauwels when the Dubbel would be released he said it probably wouldn't be any time soon. Apparently this beer has been brewed a number of times over the past nine years and the brewers still aren't happy with it. I was completely sold on the Dubbel I had last spring, but then I had it again in the fall...