Smuttynose Brewing makes some really nice beers, but their Winter Ale isn’t one of my favorites. It’s chocolately, fruity, and sweet from the scent to the flavor, and through to the finish. Cloyingly sweet, to my palate. It’s a medium bodied beer, and if your taste runs to the sweet, by all means give it a try, but it’s a bit much for me.
The New York Brewing Company is the brewer for Costco’s Kirkland Signature line of beers, and the Pale Ale is another variety from the mixed case I picked up recently. There’s some citrus and honey in the nose. It’s a light to medium bodied ale, and there’s a bit of fruit and sweetness in the middle, like you’d get with Belgian yeast. The finish is a bit bitter, but it’s a flat bitter, not a distinctive hoppy bitterness. It’s so-so.
It’s supposed to be 27 degrees here tonight (Fahrenheit) which means it’s time to start reviewing the winter seasonals. Snow Day Winter Ale from New Belgium brewing is a black ale that’s custom made for a cold night. It’s got a roasty nose, a full body, and you can taste the roasted malt in the middle with a healthy dose of bitter piney hops to balance it. It’s a hoppier beer than I expected. It’s got a creamy smooth and somewhat bitter finish. If you’re a fan of hop-heavy beers, this is a good one to use to welcome the first days of winter.
Another day, another of Dogfish Head’s Off-Centered Ales. In this case, according to Dogfish Head, Sah’tea is an updated version of a 9th century Finnish “proto-beer.” It’s brewed with rye, juniper berries, and chai tea. First, the beer pours a light amber color (the picture shows it much darker than it actually is, due to flash troubles.) You can certain smell the juniper and the rye in the nose, and the middle is sweet, with just a hint of rye and the strong signature flavor of chai tea. It’s a big beer (9% ABV) and full bodied, with a full, sweet, lingering finish. Definitely off the beaten track, and for the fans of sweet, spicy beers rather than hoppy beers, but I like it a lot.
It’s getting late in the year now, and time to get wrap up the fall seasonals. Today is Sierra Nevada’s Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale. It’s a classic brown ale with a lot of caramel in the nose, and a medium body. The middle is malty and sweet, but not overly so. The sweetness trails off to a finish that’s nearly perfectly balanced with hops, with just a hint of bitterness. It’s a shame this is only a seasonal, because this is hands down one of my favorite brown ales, period.