I'm not real sure about this beer... Spaten is a brand I don't drink too often and I've never really been able to explain why in a meaningful way. I don't hate Spaten, but I don't love their beers either. Generally speaking, their beers are about 80% of the way there. They taste vaguely German, kinda how unsauced sweet and sour chicken pieces taste vaguely like chicken nuggets. All of the ingredients are there but something's just... off. Spaten's Oktoberfest plays right into all of my preconceived notions of what a Spaten is, or isn't. This beer follows the Oktoberfest archetype pretty well, it looks and smells like a Märzen style beer. It tastes, however, like someone was meaning to make an Oktoberfest but cut as many corners as possible to do it.
I haven't had much luck finding a Saranac beer that I like... They all sound pretty good as first, look appetizing and smell like they've done everything write. It's only when I take a drink that it all goes south. I went into Saranac's India Pale Ale with fairly low expectations... Being an IPA from Saranac doesn't exactly strike me as a beer I'd be likely to enjoy. I tried to keep an open mind however, pouring this beer into tall glass to develop a nice head and bring out the aroma. What I found in this glass of Saranac was pretty intriguing.
Sand Creek and the Lilja line of beers don't make their way this far southwest so I had to bring this bottle back from Illinois myself. I knew virtually nothing about this beer when I picked it up this summer, I was just on the look out for beers that weren't distributed back home. I picked up a number of Lilja's bottles and promptly forgot all about them... This Hop Nest Monster IPA has been sitting in the basement for a couple months now so I figured I'd better hurry up and drink it because it certainly isn't getting any younger... It's for the best really, as the summer weather turns to fall and I bring the sweaters out of storage, hoppy IPAs won't be my first choice of beer.
I'm not sure what to make of BrewDog's 5 a.m. Saint... For starters, I'm pretty sure I've already had at least three different Amber style beers from BrewDog. Plenty of breweries do a Stout, Coffee Stout, Imperial Stout and maybe even another variation on the same style, but I've never heard of anyone making as many different Ambers as BrewDog. Secondly, I don't get the label. I can't tell if it's tongue-in-cheek or if BrewDog stole the marketing copy from a bottle of Arrogant Bastard. "You probably don't know much about beer." "You don't understand beer." Those are the first two lines on the back of the bottle... "lowest common denominator beer" is mentioned a couple paragraphs later. The name's meaning eludes me as well. Maybe this whole beer is just over my head.
This bottle of Mad River's John Barleycorn has been in my basement for a while now. Honestly, I'd forgotten about it... I picked up this bottle in mid-Summer 2010 while out of state. I really didn't know anything about the beer itself, it was just something I couldn't get back home... so I picked up a bottle. The label is pretty plain, it's black and white with an etching style image of a scene from the folk song. One thing I did notice on the label this time around that I must have missed before is that this beer is "Celebrating the harvest of 2008" ...so it's got a little age on it. At 9.1% alcohol I'm sure this Barleywine has held up, but this is a style that can be really hit or miss with me so I'm anxious to try it and see how this California Barleywine stacks up.
Left Hand's Sawtooth Ale is a beer I'd seen at the liquor store a couple of times but I'd never thought to pick any up because Sawtooth Ale isn't a terribly descriptive name and the packaging makes virtually no mention of the style. I tend not to bother with beers which are stylistically unidentifiable after you take a good look at the packaging... just as a matter of principle. Anyways, after reading the fine print on the bottom of the six pack box, it turns out the Sawtooth Ale is a English style Bitter. Bitters aren't the style of beer I'd normally seek out in early June, but since it was rainy and a bit cold I figured it might warm things up a bit. This bitter hit the spot, it was really well balanced and easy to drink. It was creamy and smooth, but perhaps too smooth. It came off a bit watery, this was quite noticeable once I got past the halfway point. Nevertheless, the Sawtooth Ale was pretty good. It was a pleasant drink. It was sweet, bready and a bit hoppy. If only they could get that wateriness taken care of...
I'm not a huge fan of pecans. I don't really get excited about pecan pie or pecan sandies, so I was a little ambivalent about Abita's Pecan Harvest seasonal beer. I mean, it sounds like it'd be an interesting combination right? You take a slightly bitter Brown Ale and throw in some oily, salty pecans and what do you get? A slightly more bitter beer with an earthy, almost dark roasted flavor. I say ALMOST dark roasted because it also tastes ALMOST burnt. I don't mean to crap all over this beer by any means. It's actually not a bad drink. As a Brown Ale this beer does many things right. It has the flavor you'd expect but with a little extra oomph. The bitterness is also bumped up a little but I think that has to do with the addition of pecan to the beer.
Today is the Winter Solstice so it's only fitting that I crack open a bottle of Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's Solstice d'hiver. This beer is a 9.8% Barleywine, a style of beer that is almost as big on flavor as it is on alcohol. I haven't had much luck finding a Dieu Du Ciel beer I've liked so I'm holding out hope that this is the one. Barleywines are a style of beer I drink rather sparingly because of their incredible richness and double digit ABV. Will the planets align today, on the shortest day of the year? Will this Canadian Barleywine be a hit or a miss?
This is the first He'Brew beer I've had. It's not like I've been avoiding these beers for any reason, I just wasn't able to find single bottles before and I tend to be wary of six packs of beer I haven't had before. I finally found a bottle of He'Brew's Messiah Bold today so I quickly picked it up and ran home to pour it in a pint glass. The first thing I noticed about this beer is that it's dark... really dark. I only mention this because the Messiah Bold is a Brown Ale not a Porter or Stout, but you'd never know from looking at it.
When I first head about Victory Brewing Company it was in reference to this beer. Prima Pils is a German style Pilsner beer with a big hop bud on the label. Everyone I know who's had Victory's Prima Pils before has spoken very highly of it so I figured the least I could do was pick up a bottle and try it out. The Pilsner style is one I find exceptionally boring. If I were a brewer I'm sure I'd appreciate the style more for the level of difficulty involved in mastering it. As a consumer however, I generally just tune these beers out and look for something with a bit more flavor and texture. Who knows, maybe this bottle of Prima Pils is the key to unlocking the mystery of why people like this style of beer...