Ruby Lager is a red lager from Charlotte’s Old Hickory Brewery. It’s a fairly traditional malt-heavy lager with some neat flavors. The nose is super bready with some well-done toast. The middle is flinty, with molasses and a bit of lemon zest. The finish is pretty similar to the middle. The bottle claims a “nutty” finish, but I’m not tasting it, so it must be pretty subtle. All in all, a nice, but not great lager. One that I wouldn’t hesitate to order, but also wouldn’t seek out.
I give it a 3.4 out of 5.
Arrogant Bastard is a top-notch craft beer classic from Stone Brewing that I’ve avoiding reviewing, and for that matter drinking, solely based on how passionately I hate the name. Yes, I know it’s tongue in cheek and all in good fun, but it still makes me cringe. That said, it gets a 98 on BeerAdvocate from the brothers, and a 99 on RateBeer, so I really can’t ignore it any longer. It’s classified as an American Strong Ale, which in this incarnation means it’s a big, heavy, hop-bomb. The nose is actually pretty light, lighter than I expected for sure, primarily grassy with a bit of pine and some lemon. The middle is bitter, with dark roasted coffee, pine pitch, and grapefruit rind the major notes. The malt brings a bit of caramel sweetness towards the finish along with a bit of booze and more lemon. It’s got a fairly heavy body and lingers on the tongue for a bit. As a strong ale, I can envision it being more balanced, but that clearly wasn’t what they were going for here, and it’s without doubt exceptionally artfully crafted and executed. If you don’t enjoy hoppy, bitter beer this is certainly not the brew for you, but if do you enjoy the big west-coast hop bombs, this is an wonderful example of the pinnacle of the style and craft.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
Now that summer is upon us, I thought that it might be time to offer up some choices for a nice refreshing craft beverage. They’re slanted towards my tastes, obviously, but I hope you’ll find something here that you can enjoy and will keep you cool in the heat.
In no particular order:
- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – Light, refreshing, slightly hoppy, and available virtually everywhere, this is a classic that comes into its own in the summertime. Available in both bottles and cans, this is a go-to beer for any summer occasion.
- New Belgium Shift Pale Lager – For those who don’t enjoy the hoppier side of beer, and want something less bitter, Shift Pale Lager is an excellent option. Light, malty, and available in 16-ounce cans, it can quench the mightiest thirst.
- Shiner Ruby Redbird – A grapefruit twist on a shandie, Ruby Redbird is a beer that gets not so great reviews, but demonstrates that there’s no accounting for taste, because I happen to love it. It’s easy-drinking, highly carbonated and refreshing, and I look for it every time I’m in Texas in the summer.
- Victory Summer Love – The hoppiest beer on the list, Summer Love is an option for those days when you need something that’s still nice and light but that has a little more bite.
- Bell’s Oberon Ale – Oberon Ale is a wheat beer and the mildest on the list for those who are most averse to bitterness, or who don’t traditionally drink beer, perhaps. It’s smooth and subtle and another fantastic option.
These are some of my favorite summer treats, and they’re certainly one reason to look forward to the months of heat and sun ahead.
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.
Porch Rocker is another of the styles in this year’s Beer of Summer variety pack from Samuel Adams. It’s a shandie, which is a mix of beer and lemonade which is a nice refreshing combo but a style that seems to generally lack a bit when pre-blended before bottling. The flavors just don’t seem to mesh well, and there’s a bit of a back and forth tussle between the sweet lemonade and the malty lager. I’ll give this one a pass in future.
I give it a 1.8 out of 5.
Hoppyum is an American IPA from the Foothills Brewing Company of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It has a big, meringue like head and the nose is predominantly scents of grapefruit. There’s thick pine pitch and more grapefruit in the middle of this medium to heavy weight brew which has that body despite a relatively low alcohol content of 6.2% ABV. The middle starts bitter and fades to sweet with lots of orange and sugar, and then the finish is dry with citrus rind giving a bit of bitterness back at the end. This is a really well done American IPA, and well worth a try.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Continuing my quest to try (and review) every single Dogfish Head beer, today I’m sampling a gluten-free Tweason’ Ale. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that gluten-free beers really just aren’t very good, but Dogfish Head has made a valiant effort with this one by adding several interesting ingredients including strawberries and buckwheat honey. The result is something that’s much closer akin to a lambic than anything else, but without the funk that you get from the wild yeast in a lambic. The head doesn’t hang around long at all, and the nose distinctly strawberry. It pleasantly reminds me of a fresh strawberry display at a farmer’s market, in fact. The middle is tart and fruity, and the warmth of the honey comes through in the finish and adds just a touch of sweetness. The hops are quite subdued and there’s no bitterness in this beer at all, and it has a medium weight body to it. It’s a reasonably decent fruit beer, and one of the better gluten-beer free beers I’ve found, so if you have a gluten intolerance, you might want to give it a try.
I give it a 3.8 out of 5.
Tonight I’m sampling another fine example of the Colorado craft beer tradition in New Belgium’s Rampant Imperial IPA. This is a big, bitter American double IPA, that’s a bit lighter in color than I’m used to seeing, which might be a hint to the fact that the flavor is heavily tilted towards the hop side, with the malt well in the background. The nose is citrus and pine with some floral notes mixing it up. The middle is strongly bitter, with pine and orange rind the predominant flavors. The bitterness mellows in the finish…The rind carries through but it’s softened by some sugary orange and a hint of maple. The alcohol content is moderate for a double IPA at 8.5% ABV, and a medium body means this isn’t big heavy beer, but it’s got enough weight to justify the imperial moniker. A nice solid example of the style.
I give it a 4.0 out of 5.