Ah, Hobgoblin... the beer David Cameron presented to Obama earlier this year. This beer always struck me as a bit of a novelty. It's brewed by Wychwood, a fairly well regarded English brewery. When I first got into craft beer I lumped this beer into the same pile as Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale as beers I just didn't take seriously. It took a while but I finally bought a bottle of Hobgoblin just to see what it was like. To my surprise this beer was actually quite good. That was about four years ago, my tastes have changed and I've found myself to be in possession of another bottle of Hobgoblin. Let's see if anything has changed...
I'm a bit divided in my feelings about the Buzzards Bay... First appearances left me with a sense that this beer was trying to hide something. This beer's label doesn't give any information about what's in the bottle. Nothing at all. The label simply has the brewery name and logo, stylized in a way that isn't particularly easy to ready. Nowhere on this bottle does it indicate the style or name of the beer. If they'd giving this a name like "Old Buzzard" and just left it at that, it'd at least be something to go off of. It took me quite a while to find out what this beer actually is. I should have just poured the beer and taken a drink, but instead I spent a good ten minute perusing their website trying to find the bottle that matches mine... Had I just taken a sip of this beer I would have been able to tell it was an Altbier, a style I really don't care for.
Pyramid is a brewery that has always confused me. Their packaging says Mutli-National Conglomerate while their beers say Innovative Craft Brewer. I've had enough of their beers to say that I've got a good understanding of their brewing philosophy but I can't commit to whether or not this is a brewery I can really get behind. I love their Apricot Weizen, it's a delicious beer, but I can't bring myself to drink an Audacious Apricot Ale or Haywire Hefeweizen. There comes a point when marketing is a bit too much for me and I just tune it out. Now, rather than turn this review into a diatribe about Pyramid's rebranding, I'm going to review one of Pyramid's beers that I picked up a few of months back - before they rebranded and everything became EXTREME!
Everyone seems to speak so highly of Surly Brewing Company that I started to feel left out because I haven't been able to get my hands on any of their beers. Recently three cans of Surly found their way to me and I couldn't wait to see what all the fuss was about. The first can I opened was Surly's Bender. It was an interesting Oatmeal Brown Ale that I enjoyed but felt was ultimately a little too hoppy for my liking. Today I opened up the second can of Surly in my fridge, it's their Furious IPA. I'm expecting this one to be hoppy but I'm hoping it has more to offer than just bitterness.
I'm still going through all the bottles of Indiana beer that showed up last month and I decided it was time to open up one of these Dragonfly Pale Ales from Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington. I've heard the name Upland before and their logo looks familiar but I don't ever remember seeing their beers on shelves or taps anywhere, so I've never been able to try them before. I know very little about Upland so I'm going into this IPA relatively blind. I don't like the first beer I have from a brewery to be their IPA since they're really hit or miss with me, but this is the Upland beer I have so here it goes...
I first had a bottle of Pete's Wicked Strawberry Blonde last winter when I randomly picked one up when I was putting together a mix and match six pack at the liquor store. Being winter, I was mostly drinking darker winter warmer type beers, so the Strawberry Blonde was a quite a change of pace. I wanted to drink the Strawberry Blonde while it was "in season" so I could properly enjoy it. I picked up a six pack of this a few weeks ago and I've finally gotten around of giving it a bit of attention... I remember enjoying this beer quite a bit in the winter and I think now that it had quite a bit to do with being different than the other beers I was drinking at the time.
Boulevard's Zon delivers on the unspoken promise of its name. It's a summer seasonal beer that lives up to the light and citrusy Belgian Wit style. Boulevard's take on the Belgian original does leave a bit to be desired. It's a summer beer and it's intentionally light and refreshing, but the downside to that is this beer comes off as a bit boring. I do enjoy the flavor of the Zon and I appreciate all of it's light characteristics but it just leaves me wanting more. Not more bottles of Zon, but more flavor and more texture. The Zon does plenty of things right, it has a good fruity/citrus flavor that leaves a pleasingly sour aftertaste. My main gripe with the Zon is that it just doesn't do anything outstanding, and in a fridge full of stellar Belgian Wits it's just too easy to pass over the Zon in favor of something a bit more interesting.
I've got a friend who is really in to Big Sky Brewing's Trout Slayer. He's not the biggest aficionado of craft beer and we don't always see eye to eye, but I still wanted to see what all the excitement was about. I finally picked up a bottle of Trout Slayer as part of a build your own six pack deal and I've decide to put it through the paces. I was surprised to learn that this is a Wheat beer, for some reason I'd always thought it was an Amber... Sure enough, this beer is a Wheat beer, though it tastes a bit hoppier and thinner than some of my favorite Wheat beers.
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.
There once was a time when I was crazy about German beer. Sure, there were styles I wasn't crazy about, but nothing could compare to a Weissbier back then. That was a while ago, I've expanded my horizons and had a lot of interesting beers that no German would ever brew (insert Reinheitsgebot knock here). I can't say I never looked back though, it's actually a lot of fun to look back and compare old favorites to the new flavor of the month. Tonight I dug a bottle of Weltenburger Barock Dunkel out of the fridge. I haven't had this beer before but I've had hundreds of Dunkels before, it's a style I know well and I really enjoy. It's been a while since I've revisited the non-Weizen Dunkel style beers and I'm looking forward to it.