Rosabi is an Imperial Pale Ale from Dogfish Head with, as the name suggests, wasabi as the off-centered ingredient. It starts with a big sticky head that hangs around for a bit. The nose has a bit of pine, grain, and citrus, and wasabi hits your nostrils faintly right at the end as the other scents are fading. The middle is a big chewy Imperial Pale Ale, with citrus and honey, fading to pine and rind in the finish. The coup de grâce, however, right at the tail end, is strong wasabi. It’s not particularly hot, but that unmistakably pungent flavor is in full force and it strengthens as the beer warms. The body is medium to heavy, and the alcohol is 8.0 ABV, so it lives up to the “Imperial” billing quite well. It’s a bit of a oddity, and certainly not an every day beer, but it’s worth a try, especially for those of you who love wasabi as much as I do.
I give it a 3.9 out of 5.
Jam Session is, as its name implies, a session beer. I’ve found it in 16oz cans, which is just about my favorite container these days. It’s a 5.1% ABV American Pale Ale from the NoDa Brewing Company right here in Charlotte, NC. It is deep orange-amber in color, and has a thick, meringue like head that sticks around. The nose has pine and lemon, and is predominantly hoppy. The middle still leans toward hoppiness but isn’t overpowering. It’s grassy with more lemon and a bit of caramel from the malt balancing it. The finish has a touch of orange and toast and the tiniest undercurrent of pine. This is a really nice pale ale and in this lighter session beer format, one I’m going to be happy to drink quite a bit more of this summer.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
American Beauty is an occasionally brewed Imperial Pale Ale from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. As with virtually all Dogfish Head recipes, this one comes with an off-centered twist, and in this case the ingredient is organic granola in homage to the Grateful Dead. The head is creamy. The nose is yeasty, with some caramel and a slight hint of orange. The middle is mostly balanced, with a bit more malt than hop. The flavors in the middle are caramel and orange, with a bit of rind and honey. There is some alcohol in the finish (and there should be, at 9.0% ABV) and a lingering sugar. The sugar right at the end is all that strikes me from the granola addition. It’s quite a nice beer, but not particularly special.
I give it a 4.0 out of 5.
This is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale from the Huyghe Family Brewery, which the bottle claims has been around since 1654. It’s a beautiful pale orange color in the glass with a head reminiscent of champagne foam, except for the fact that it’s persistent and only dissipates slowly. The nose is more fruity than yeasty, with peach and pear notes and a bit of grass. This middle is fruity and spicy. Strong pears and apples, and pepper and grains of paradise are evident. The finish is very interesting. It’s bitter, and reminds me of collard greens, or spinach, perhaps. Overall this is a wonderfully unique and finely crafted Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Very enjoyable.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Don de Dieu is a trippel wheat ale from the Belgian masters at Unibroue in Quebec. There isn’t much of a head to this beer. You get a lot of foam early, but it disappears rapidly. The nose is mild, which is pretty standard for a wheat ale, and it has notes of apricots, pears, and orange. The middle is tangy with mandarin, honey, pears, yeast, and a hint of alcohol. The finish adds pear syrup and vanilla to the mix. This is a medium to heavy bodied beer, and relatively high alcohol at 9% ABV. With the signature Belgian fruit and yeast, this is a lot more flavorful than a traditional wheat ale, so it will probably be a bit much for a Blue Moon fan, but it’s right up the alley for those who like big traditional Belgian styles.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
Another from this year’s Sam Adams summer variety pack is Belgian Session, a Belgian-style pale ale. The head is nice and creamy, and doesn’t fade too quickly. The nose is malty, with toffee and a hint of Belgian yeast in the background. The middle has banana esters and some traditional Belgian spices, particularly coriander. The finish has some caramel and orange, and a little lemon zest. All in all, a very decent Belgian Pale Ale.
I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
A summer seasonal from New Belgium, Rolle Bolle is a nice light (in body and color) beer with a Belgian twist. It’s kept light with malted oats to soften the base in a manner similar to wheat, and then spiced up with monk fruit and Soursop. The head is large, very light and lasts for quite a long time. The nose is light and floral and just a bit grainy. The middle is an interesting combination of the sweetness of the monk fruit with bitter herbal notes. The finish has some lemon, the last hint of some sweet grapes, and mineral bite that New Belgium aptly describes as “flint.” There is a notable resemblance to a very dry, very light white wine. It’s quite an interesting beer, and though it may have a bit too much going on for an everyday post-lawn-mowing beer, I’ve really enjoyed it.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Pale Ale is a beer that needs no introduction. You’ve almost certainly had one or six in the past, and it’s available nation-wide. Why would I review a beer that all you readers have already tried? Simple…I believe this beer deserves it. To me this is one of two beers (Samuel Adams Boston Lager being the other) that epitomize the success of modern craft brewing in the United States. This is one of the two beers that sets the standard for brewing high quality beer with care, and still being able to make it widely available for the enjoyment of a general national audience. But I digress. The beer: This is a classic American Pale Ale in all it’s hoppy glory. The nose is slightly bready, with some floral notes. The middle is bursting with clean bitter pine, and a hint of orange peel. The finish is pine and bread. It’s a medium-bodied beer, and clean and crisp all the way through. There’s nothing outlandish about this beer, but it excels in its simplicity. This is one of my favorites for a hot summer evening.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.