I don’t know if ESB (Extra Special Bitter) is Redhook’s best selling beer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is since it seems to be the one that I consistently have the least trouble finding. It’s a coppery-colored amber ale that doesn’t have much of a scent. It’s got what I’d call a faintly metallic taste, with a balance of malt and hops that makes for a fairly mild taste, and a mildly bitter finish. It’s a nice beer, but not exceptional.
OpenCraftBeer.com has reached a milestone of over 100 posts! For this occasion, I picked up a mixed case of Costco’s house-branded Kirkland Signature beer brewed for them by the New York Brewing Co. (Ok, so I didn’t really choose it to mark the milestone, but it just happened to be what I had on hand when I sat down to write.) There have been a couple of changes since the last mixed case that I bought. The Geman Lager that I reviewed earlier is no longer offered, and one of the new beers is the Belgian White Ale that I’m reviewing today. The bottle says that it uses a combination of oats, wheat, and barley malt and is flavored with coriander and orange peel. There’s not much of a nose at all, and the flavor is that of a wheat beer with a *lot* of orange peel. There’s not a lot of the fruit that I’d expect from Belgian yeast…Just a hint in the finish. It’s more of just an ok wheat beer.
I love it when I get to use my Chimay glass! Chimay’s Grande Reserve is a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, and strong, dark, and Belgian it is. The Belgian yeast gives it that characteristic fruitiness, and this is heavy with cherry from the nose, through the middle, and into the finish. The hops are subdued, and this is a rich, heavy beer that’s all about the malt and yeast. It’s one of my favorites.
Hell’s Belle is a Belgian Pale Ale, and the first beer I’ve had from Big Boss Brewing Company out of Raleigh, NC. I really enjoy Belgian ales, and this is a fine example. There’s a floral sweetness in the nose, and the middle is smooth and fruity, with a light to medium body, and a hint of peach in the finish. It’s a sweet pale ale, typical of the Belgian style, but not overly sweet. I’m finding it to be a very enjoyable beer.
Burton Baton is one of several Imperial IPA offerings from Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. The twist in this variety is that it’s flavored with oak. The nose is woody and floral, and it’s a medium to full bodied ale. There’s a good acidic bite from the oak in the middle, but without the overpowering alcohol flavor that you often find in ales flavored by or aged in oak. The bite is offset by the sweetness from the malts in this big 10% ABV beer, and the finish is rich, sweet, and lingering. This is a fabulously offbeat Imperial IPA, and it earns extra points from me for the uniqueness and execution, which is superb.
Dragon’s Milk Ale is actually a stout, rather than an ale, that has been aged in oak barrels and is from New Holland Brewing’s “High Gravity” line. It’s got a medium to heavy body, and the nose is vanilla, sweetened milk, and alcohol. There’s more vanilla, sweet roasty malts, and alcohol in the middle, and a smooth, weighty finish, warming you with more alcohol. This is a big beer at 10% ABV, and you can taste it all the way through. It’s an interesting beer. You certainly get the bourbon-like profile of an oak-aged beer, but it may have a little too much influence for my taste.
Another day, another fairly ordinary IPA. The Saranac IPA from Matt Brewing is pretty basic. Floral notes on the notes, and a mildly hoppy, slightly disappointingly one-dimensional flavor. It’s got the hops, and the bitterness that make an IPA, but there just isn’t anything to make it particularly interesting.
So as far as I can tell, “Barrel Trolley Brewing” which the side of the bottle tells me is “brewed by World Brews, Rochester NY” is a private label for Harris Teeter supermarkets, which is where I found this beer on special this summer. It’s a pretty standard pale ale for the most part. Floral hops in the nose, citrus and hops in the middle that solidifies into a lemony finish. It’s good a decent medium weight body, I like the lemon, and it’s a good, if somewhat unremarkable beer.
Southern Tier calls Iniquity an Imperial Black Ale. Whatever it is, it’s a big beer, at 9.0% ABV. It’s got sweet, roasted notes on the nose, and reminds me of kind of a light version of a porter. It relies pretty heavily on the roast for flavor, but it’s very nicely balanced with hops for a middle that only has hints of bittersweet chocolate and follows with a very dry finish. This is a really unusual, interesting beer, and would be an outstanding choice late on a cold winter’s night.