We have another Dogfish Head brew on offer this weekend, and this time it’s Kvasir, from their line of Ancient Ales, beer brewed with ingredients and processes that go back to the earliest days of brewing. Kvasir is a re-creation of an early Scandinavian beer-like beverage and the flavors are provided by ingredients including lingonberry, cranberry, honey, birch syrup, and herbs. This is a wheat beer, so the malt influence is mild and gives the ale a grainy backbone. You smell the berries in the nose along with a strong dose of funky Belgian-esque yeast. The cranberries really come through in the middle with some bright, tart fruit. The finish is really well balanced between some lingering sugar from the honey and syrup and bitter herbs. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol (10% ABV) is well hidden by the bold flavors here. The fruit is so forward that you almost forget you’re drinking an alcoholic beverage. The target audience for this beer is, I’d say, those who enjoy the Belgian fruit-based beers like Gueuzes, or lambics in general. This is an excellent execution on an old-world, pre-hop style beer.
I give it a 4.6 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.
It’s bitterly cold here in Charlotte (read, below freezing) and so what better time to try a winter seasonal White IPA from New Belgium Brewing? Accumulation is crisp and cold, and pretty spot on for what I expect of a white IPA. It’s very hop forward since there’s not a lot of maltiness from the wheat base to balance it out. The nose has pine and orange, the middle has more pine and lemon, and there’s a smooth breadiness to the finish with some strong citrus and herbal notes that remind me of thyme and rosemary. The body is fairly light, and the alcohol level is a fairly-standard-for-an-IPA 6.2% ABV. This is definitely hoppier and lighter than your average winter fare, but it’s a nice change of pace for those of us starting to go into hop withdrawal this time of year, and it’s quite well executed.
I give it a 3.9 out of 5.
Tonight I’m trying another of this year’s winter seasonals from the Boston Beer Company, and it’s like their Chocolate Bock, only this year it has been infused with cherry. Now, this isn’t the first bottle I’ve had. I picked up their winter variety pack which came with three of these babies, and I have to say this is the first time I’ve been dreading a review because of the fact that I would rather throw the beer away than drink it. I’ve reviewed the chocolate bock before, and to be frank, it wasn’t very good. For this beer, they’ve apparently added large quantities of cherry cough syrup to it in order to turn it into something truly awful. It pours a nice dark brown with a reasonably pleasant head that reminds one of root beer float. The nose is of cough syrup. The body is thin and watery. The middle is an unsubstantial chocolate that reminds one of a chocolate-flavored sucker, drowned liberally in, again, cherry cough syrup, which is quite overwhelming. The finish is cherry and a bit metallic. The alcohol level is quite moderate at 5.8% ABV. There are no discernible hop flavors at all. Regardless of your taste, I can unequivocally recommend that you give this beer a pass. Personally, if it came down to a choice between this and Bud Light, I’d take the Bud every time.
I give it a 1.4 out of 5.
It’s a dark and rainy evening here, and I think a beautiful Belgian strong dark ale perfectly fits the bill. A gold medal winning brew, from Brouwerij Roman in Belgium, Adriaen Brouwer Dark Gold Ale is fine example of the style. In the glass it’s a dark honey brown, with a big, thick, lingering head. The nose is fruity and funky and clearly Belgian, but not as heavy or bold as many. The middle is straightforward, predominantly dried fruit like raisins and prunes, and fairly sweet. The body is medium, which is on the light side for a strong dark ale, but it’s nice none the less. The finish fades from the sweet fruit to a dry earthiness. It’s not hugely complex, and nothing jumps out, but this is a really solid beer that is well executed in every aspect. I like it very much, and I’m going to enjoy relaxing with the rest of my glass now that I’m done writing.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.