Compass, by New York’s Southern Tier Brewing Company, is an Imperial Sparkling American Pale Ale. Oh, and it’s bottle conditioned, and brewed with rose hips. So, it has a lot going on, to say the least. The nose is predominantly citrus with lemon and grapefruit, and it has a floral note that Southern Tier tells me is rose hips, but that I associate with honeysuckle, and a slight undertone of tropical fruit, specifically pineapple. The middle is creamy and buttery, with more tropical fruit and a bit of citrus. Southern Tier promises some bitterness, but I’m not tasting much at all. A tiny hint of citrus rind/pine in the finish, perhaps, which is also where the carbonation makes its presence felt. The body is medium, and the alcohol is a healthy imperial-level 9.0% ABV. I really like Southern Tier, but in honesty this one wasn’t one of my favorites. It’s good, but not great.
I give it a 3.8 out of 5.
Tonight I’m back to a porter, and this is one of the classics of the style. Fuller’s London Porter The nose has roasted malt, and a hint of raisins. The middle has coffee and a bit of cocoa, and the finish has some bitter herb notes balancing the molasses sweetness of the malt. When I think of a porter, this is what I think of. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is a light 5.4% ABV.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
In my quest to try as many Dogfish Head beers as I can find, I’ve managed to get my hands on a four-pack of Olde School barleywine-style ale. Barely. One of the local bottle shops here in Charlotte posted on Twitter that they had gotten a couple of cases in that day, and when I showed up roughly two hours after the tweet was posted, they had one solitary four-pack left, so I made it mine. So what is it, exactly? It’s a barleywine-style ale, as I’ve already mentioned. Specifically, it’s a big, fruity barleywine-style ale. And I do mean big. And fruity. The fruitiness comes from the fact that it’s brewed with figs and dates, which, quite frankly, are a perfect match for a barleywine-style ale and make for a lovely winter beverage. The bigishness comes from an absolutely whopping 15% ABV, which makes this legally the most potent beer the nanny-state government of North Carolina will allow to be sold here. The nose is rich with fig and plum notes, and even the alcohol comes through, which is pretty unusual for a beer. The body is heavy weight, and the middle is syrupy and sweet with flavors of raisins and dates, and brown sugar. The finish is sweet and warming as the alcohol comes back through again. I like a good barleywine-style ale, but I generally don’t love them. This however, is an outstanding beer and can even reasonably stand in the stead of a stiffer drink on a cold winter’s night.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5
Coco Loco Porter is NoDa Brewing’s latest offering in a can. It’s pours with a generous head and a dark brown hue as befits a porter. It’s brewed with cocoa nibs and coconut, and both the cocoa and the coconut are present in the nose, with lovely warm cocoa in front and faint coconut in the background. The middle is velvety and chocolaty, without being sweet. A hint of sweetness does come out in the finish with some toasty malt to remind you this is a porter. It has a medium weight body, and a nice 6.2% alcohol level. It’s an excellent porter that relies on the chocolate for flavor without undue sweetness. One of my new favorite porters, I’d say.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.