Monthly Archives: November 2012

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye


Hop Rod Rye from the Bear Republic Brewing Company, of California, is as its name suggested, a heavily hop-loaded rye ale.  Now, I love big hoppy beer, and I love rye beer, so this is a combination that puts this beer right in my wheelhouse.   It has the standard heavy sticky head of a rye ale, and the nose is sweetly floral with a bit of orange and coriander.  The middle has strong citrus flavors, orange and grapefruit with caramel and peppery spice.  The finish is chewy, and a little bit boozy with just a hint of pine and grain.  This is a stellar example of what I think a rye-based ale should be.

I give it a 4.6 out of 5.

Ska Molé Stout


Molé Stout is a brilliant autumn seasonal stout brewed with peppers, cocoa, and spices from Ska Brewing.   It’s got traditional stout coloration, and is relatively uncarbonated with a head that quickly dissipates.  The nose is dominated by espresso, with a bit of cocoa around the edges.  The middle is mildly sweet with lots of chocolate and some a hint of chili oil that adds flavor, but not any discernible heat.  The finish is oily and smooth with pepper and spice.  This is an excellent complex stout, and the first beer my wife has ever proactively hunted for in our local Total Wine outlet after having a taste of mine.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

Southern Tier Pumking – A Thanksgiving Pumpkin Special Series Cont.


Pumking is an imperial pumpkin ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company in Lakewood, New York.  As the “imperial” indicates, this is a bigger pumpkin ale than average.  It pours a beautiful coppery amber with a nice light head.  The scent is toasty, with lots of pumpkin, bread, and strong hazelnut.   The middle is predominantly fruity, with tons of pumpkin and spices, and is slightly bitter.   The finish is rich and buttery with lots of vanilla.  This is a rich savory beer, and would pair best with a rich sweet dessert.

I give it a 4.1 out of 5.

(This has been part 4 of a 4 part Thanksgiving weekend series.)

Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale – A Thanksgiving Pumpkin Special Series Cont.


Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale is a much lighter take on a pumpkin ale than what I usually see.   It’s a Pilsner y golden yellow, with a fluffy but relatively quickly disappearing head.  It’s a wheat ale, which gives it the very light coloration, body, and flavor profile.  The spices, (cinnamon and nutmeg) while definitely there, are subtle as well.  This reminds me of a pumpkin variation on a Saison  or on a Munich Pilsner    It’s an interesting beer, and quite well done, but probably one I would prefer in the heat of summer to late autumn.

I give it a 3.4 out of 5.

(This has been part 3 of a 4 part Thanksgiving weekend series.)

Samuel Adams Fat Jack Double Pumpkin Ale – A Thanksgiving Pumpkin Special Series Cont.


My first impression is that this beer looks gorgeous, pouring a dark reddish tinted brown.  The nose has some subdued pumpkin spices, and scents of the pumpkin itself.  The middle is rich with flavors.  The pumpkin spices in the background, and the hops and the malt in the foreground.  There’s a brown sugar or maple syrup sweetness offsetting bitter pumpkin and citrus.  The finish fades and heat from the alcohol moves to the front for the final note.   The body is heavy and this is a solid pumpkin based example of a nice sweet digestif beer.

I give it a 4 out of 5.

(This has been part 2 of a 4 part Thanksgiving weekend series.)

Harpoon UFO Pumpkin A Thanksgiving Pumpkin Special Series


It’s time for my second annual Thanksgiving series on pumpkin ales and first up is the Pumpkin ale from Harpoon Brewery’s UFO (Unfiltered) line.   The head is light and dissipates quickly.  The nose is bursting with pumpkin spices, but they’re more muted in the taste, which has a bit of bitterness from the pumpkin and a little sweetness from the malt.   It’s a light bodied beer, and without much carbonation it comes off as watery, which is a bit disappointing.  This is probably not the pumpkin ale I’ll be recommending this year.

I give it a 2.5 out of 5. 

(This has been part 1 of a 4 part Thanksgiving weekend series.)

RJ Rockers Black Pearle Dark IPA


Trying not only a new beer, but a new brewery tonight.  RJ Rockers Brewing Company which is not too far down the road from me in Spartanburg, SC is the producer of Black Pearle Dark IPA, which they call a 80-minute octo-hopped IPA.   And it’s dark, obviously.   The presentation is definitely not an afterthought, as the bottle cap is topped with a fairly massive wax seal.  The head, as you can see from the photo is huge and lasts an age, and had a texture that’s remarkably similar to the foam that you get from a root beer float.  This beer has more foam than I’ve ever seen before.  By a lot.  I feared that might mean it was overly carbonated, but it’s not, not at all.  It’s nearly flat, in fact, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The nose is super roasty with chocolate and coffee notes, and the middle is heavily hopped, with lots of bitterness balanced by sugary sweetness.  There’s a bit of pine, but the middle is mostly citrus, bitter rind and sweet grapefruit and toffee.  For all the sugar and bitterness in the middle, the finish is surprisingly dry, with notes of cocoa at the front.  There’s an undercurrent of booziness throughout, but it’s subtle, and not unpleasant.   This is a really nice, interesting beer, and I’m definitely going to be looking to sample more of RJ Rockers offerings in the future.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

Boulevard Single-Wide IPA


Boulevard Brewing’s Single-Wide IPA is a wheat IPA which means that that signature hoppy bitterness of the American IPA is even more dominant than normal.  There’s a foamy long lasting head and the scent is citrusy, with orange and grapefruit.  The middle and finish have a ton of pine, with some lingering citrus in the background.   It is a hop bomb if I’ve ever had one, and a good beer for sure, but there’s nothing that makes it stand out for me.  Enjoyable, but unremarkable.

I give it a 3.6 out of 5.

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew


I finally got my hands on a coveted bottle of Bitches Brew, which pays homage to the Miles Davis album of the same name.   I have to be honest, when I saw that this was brewed with honey, I expected this to pour golden and sticky sweet, maybe along the lines of Black and Blue.  I was wrong.  This beer pours as black as coal, and the sweetness is chocolaty and rich.  The nose is roasty, with cocoa and a fruitiness reminiscent of Belgian yeast.  The middle is rich, with bitter chocolate in the background and sweet, heavy milky body in the foreground.  The finish is balanced between the sweet and the dry notes, with some vanilla right at the end.  This is a wonderfully complex and well executed beer.  I need to go get another bottle to put away, to see how it changes with age.

I give it a 4.6 out of 5.

Stone 16th Anniversary IPA


Stone’s 16th Anniversary IPA is a delicious double IPA brewed with lemon, and what it perhaps my favorite grain, rye.   They’re both noticeable in the nose, through the fluffy meringue like head.  The middle is heavy and sticky and has plenty of sweet to balance the bitter.  The finish is heavy with lemon and offers a lingering bitterness.  Overall, this is a well balanced double IPA that has a nice touch with the addition of rye, but isn’t particularly remarkable.

I give it a 3.9 out of 5.