The name says it all. This beer is about chocolate, and more chocolate. This black as night stout has a dark brown head. The scent is that of sweet chocolate cake. The middle is predominately semi-sweet chocolate, and the finish is bitter chocolate and the bite of alcohol. This beer is chocolate from start to finish. As a side note, it received gold medals at the World Beer Championships in 2009 and 2010, according to Rogue. That said, it’s not my favorite. A bit too much alcohol bite in the finish for my taste.
Yet another unique beer from the folks at Dogfish Head in Delaware Red & White is a Belgian witbier with a twist, (surprising?) being brewed with coriander, orange peels, and pinot noir grapes, then aged in pinot noir and oak barrels. This is a big beer, at 11% ABV. The orange is predominant in the nose. The middle is where the coriander comes through, with more orange, and then it transitions into the grapes and a heavy oak flavor in the finish. The oak is a bit more overstated than I’d prefer, but this is a super interesting and very complex beer, and a nice treat.
I’m coming to the end of my Sam Adams Winter selection, and to the end of the winter seasonals, in fact. Porters are often hugely malty, but the Samuel Adams Holiday Porter is less in your face. It’s still definitely a malt-driven beer, but it relies on the malts to add flavor and texture and complexity in subtler ways than a big shouty look-at-all-my-maltiness porter. The nose is sweet, the middle is milky and smooth, and it fades to a bitter-sweet chocolate finish. This is really a nice beer.
I know, I know, it’s late February and I’m just now getting around to opening my bomber of Santa’s Private Reserve, from Rogue Brewery. Tough. There are a lot of good winter seasonals to get through, and I’m not done with them yet. Santa’s Private Reserve is a little bit different from your average winter ale, in that it’s a red ale. Not particularly heavy, and not particularly malty, it’s a refreshing treat. The flavor profile reminds me a lot of an IPA, actually. Pine on the nose, hoppy in the middle, and more pine in the finish. Rouge’s tasting notes claim it’s roasty and malty in flavor, but I’m not getting that at all. This one is hops all the way though, which is never a bad thing, in my opinion.
The most important bits:
Check your favorite dispensary now to see if they’re stocking 120 Minute IPA. Check this week to see if they’ve gotten any My Antonia, and check back next week to see if they have Red & White. (A review of Red & White will be coming out on this site around the same time.)
OK, so I couldn’t wait. I have a bomber of Stone’s 2011 Vertical Epic Ale. The idea is to bottle condition it for a bit over a year, so I really shouldn’t have opened it until at least December 2012. However, the promise of spices and chilies proved to be too tempting, and I had to crack it after three months in my fridge. The Belgian yeast is distinctly present, and I’d have to agree with Stone’s tasting notes that they give this year’s edition a banana flavor. The spices and chilies are also there in the background but very subdued, and not overpowering at all. The finish is nicely hoppy and pleasantly bitter. I need to get another bottle of this beer, because as good as it is after 3 months, I can’t wait to see what it’s like after a year.
I just picked up a variety pack of Samuel Adams winter seasonals from the Boston Brewing Company. There a a couple of beers in the mix this year that I’m not familiar with (I don’t know if they’re new, or I just haven’t seen them before) but the first review is going to be the new-to-me Black & Brew Coffee Stout. The nose is roasted chocolate, and the coffee comes on strong in the middle. It’s not a heavy stout, as I’d call it a medium weight body. The finish has notes of cocoa and fruit. It’s interesting and enjoyable, though it’d be better if the various flavors were all a bit more subtle and blended.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of lagers in general. Nothing against them, specifically, it’s just that they’re often not particularly interesting. As lagers go, however, Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams Winter Lager is a pretty nice one. It’s spiced, which adds a bit of holiday cheer, and a bit of bitter goodness to the middle. The nose and the finish are pretty standard lager. It’s a light to medium bodied beer, which is also a bit of a nice occasional change-up from all of the heavy winter warmers that define the season.
I recently reviewed, and didn’t particularly like Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat Ale. I’m happy to report that their Blackberry Witbier is, in my opinion, a much better example of a fruit beer. I like the wheat ale base for a fruit beer as it’s nice and mild, and really lets the fruit shine. In the case of the Blackberry Witbier, there’s just the right amount of blackberry there. It’s every present, but not overpowering. There’s a bit of blackberry in the nose, plenty in the middle, and it fades to a balanced finish. Fruit beers aren’t my favorite, but this is a pretty good one.
The winter seasonal from the Boulder Brewing Company is a Strong Ale named Never Summer Ale. The nose is a bit hoppy, with the predominate scent being pine. The middle, however, is malty, with sweet caramel and a finish that’s balanced, but leaning slightly back towards the hoppy side with some trailing bitterness. I’d say that this is actually a winter beer that’s going to appeal more to the folks (like me) who are hop fans. A good solid effort from the folks in Colorado.