Reviews

Brew Review: Widmer Brothers Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout ’12

Widmer Brothers Raspberry Imperial Stout '12I stopped in at D’Vines in Columbia Heights the other day looking for something new to try.  I was hoping for something dark and strong to celebrate the cooler temperatures and found this beer.  I’m a fan of the Widmer Brothers Heffeweizen and figured that a Russian Imperial Stout would do the trick.

The beer pours black with almost no head.  There is some light fruity sweetness on the nose from the raspberry that is mellowed out by a bitter chocolate aroma at the end.  The flavor is mostly dark, bitter chocolate as expected from an imperial stout.  There is some fruit sweetness at the end whcih helps balance the lingering bitterness.  There is less  fruit taste than I expected from the aroma but that keeps the beer from being too sweet.  It has a surprisingly thin mouthfeel for a boozy stout, which I appreciated.

Overall, I enjoyed drinking this beer.  It is very drinkable for an imperial stout and wasn’t too sweet despite the raspberry.  The lingering bitterness keeps it from being a sessionable beer for me though.  Plus, at 9.3% ABV in a big bottle it could make for a short session.

-DK


Brew Review: Maine Beer Company Zoe Amber Ale

Saving the whales at less than $0.08 per bottle!

Maine Beer Company Zoe: Happy, Hoppy, Amber Ale; Portland, ME; 16.9 oz @ 7.2% ABV

I found this bottle of Maine Beer Company’s Zoe Amber Ale at D’vines in Columbia Heights and hemmed-and-hawed over buying it, which was asinine because when in doubt, buy the damn beer.  The description on the bottle, “Our Happy, Hoppy, Amber,” is intriguing because “hoppy” and “amber” don’t normally go together (well, aside from the ol’ Nugget Nectar).

The story on the backside explains that beer is named after Zoe, someone’s daughter who smiled at the Whale Museum, and is supposed to put that same smile on the drinkers face. My guess is that Zoe’s smile didn’t involve semi-glazed over eyes or wasn’t caused by a surprise hops ambush, but anyways, this brewery donates 1% of Zoe sales to Adapt-A-Whale program. For X, this gives him one more reason to drink — “SAVE THE WHALES!”

Pour: Dark deep amber that looks brown. The head is white-creamish and lasts a while. After about five minutes and three drinks, it’s still about 5mm high. Additionally, there is lacing on the glass for a good while.

Aroma: Hops! They were correct — at least on the nose (so far) — that this is a hoppy amber. The aroma does have a little surprise sweetness at the end.

Taste: Awesome! The taste starts off small, simple, and just a little less sweetness than most ambers, but then you turn the corner and BOOM! the hops kick in. My taste buds have been roped-a-doped by this beer, but that won’t stop me from having some more. Thankfully, this beer comes in 16.9 oz bottles, so there’s MOAR to drink.

Body: Medium body, but as with any hoppy beer, it feels larger once the hops kick into the flavor.

All in all, it’s a great take on the amber style. Sessionable? Not for me since the hops seem a bit out of place and strong; that said, it is more sessionable than Nugget Nectar, and I highly recommend anyone that likes hops or trying new styles to give this a whirl.

 

 

 

 

 

— Shintern1909


Brew Review: Fish Tale Organic Amber Ale

Where's the yeast? "Ingredients: Water, Organic Barley, and Hops"

Fish Tale Organic Amber Ale; Olympia, WA; 5.5% ABV

Back in April, Squirrel took a trip to Portland to visit a friend and came back with several gifts for me, including Fish Brewing Co.’s Fish Tale USDA Certified Organic Amber Ale (Thanks!). I do love ambers (the reason she grabbed it) and am excited to try it.

Pour: The beer has a super-cloudy copper color with a small, off-white head. Maybe the cloudiness is intended to prove that you are drinking a beer made with “Water, Organic Barley, and Hops.” In addition to using, evidently, in0rganic hops, it seems weird that water isn’t organic… Anyways, I don’t give a rat’s ass so long as it’s good.

Aroma: Getting some organic sweetness on the nose from the barley, not much in the way of hops. It’s clear who the star of the show is going to be.

Taste: It’s not as sweet as it smelled and is quite pleasant but isn’t anything to blog write home about. After the initial sweetness, the beer gives a hint of bitterness from the hops.

Body: Very thin and barely carbonated.

Overall: It’s a good beer, and I could have several if I were inclined to do so. I am glad to have tried it and thankful to have been given the opportunity.

— Shintern1909


Brew Review: Widmer Citra Summer Blonde Ale

Widmer Citra SummerI recently wrote an App for my Blackberry to make reviewing beers more efficient.  It takes input of various aspects of the beer, allows you to take a picture and then emails all of this to you.  This was in effort to get myself to review more beers.  Well, the App works as intended but so far I haven’t been as successful in reviewing more beers.  I think it will help because it helps me from forgetting certain aspects of the beer.

The first beer I reviewed using my App was the Widmer Brothers’ Citra Summer Blonde Ale.  I love most beers made with citra hops so I had to give this one a try.  It poured a light light golden blonde color with quick fading white head; as to be expected from a blonde ale.  The aroma was all about the sweet citrus smells from the citra hops.  It had a refreshing feeling even before I took a drink.  The taste started with a sweet citrus flavor that faded into a crisp refreshing finish.  At 4.3% it is a very light and sessionable summer beer.  This is definitely a summer beer worth trying.

-Pyzocha


Brew Review: Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Maple Wheat

Editors note: with several moves from the area and departures from the JStreet Team, we’ve added some new help.  DK will be joining the team as our newest reviewer.  Everyone say “Hi DK!”

Recently, I saw this beer on tap at RFD and decided to give it a try.  I’d had a few Harpoons and found them generally enjoyable but knew nothing about this beer.  The idea of maple in a beer seemed like an interesting twist on all of the summer wheat beers that are now available.  The name conjured images of frozen trees being tapped for syrup and snow being melted for beer which, in the middle of summer in DC, was a very tempting thought.  I was hoping for a mild beer with a sweet finish.  Sadly, the beer delivered none of these things.

The beer pours a caramel color with a medium head.  There is very little aroma at all.  The beer tastes like…actually, it’s hard to say.  It doesn’t have the mild flavor that I expect in a wheat beer.  It doesn’t have much maple flavor or any other sweet taste.  There is a mildly bitter aftertaste that could be burnt sugar, probably from the syrup, but not something that improved the flavor.

Aside from the slight aftertaste it’s a drinkable beer but not at all what comes to mind when one thinks maple wheat.  I guess I’ll just stick to summer wheats.

-DK


Brew Review: Widmer Brothers Dark Saison

Widmer Bros W’12 Dark Saison, 5.5% ABV

I have had a couple of Widmer Brothers beers since moving back to States in 2009, and, to be honest, the jury is still out for me. I’ve had a couple that I find delicious (usually the styles that are not cheap to make but easy to get right like barrel aged stouts) and a few (say, the lemongrass that was unique but not my mug of beer) that finished with the same “only a little bit more to go, just gut it out” facial expression as I have during that last mile of run. Consequently, I have decided to try and stick to their darker style beers for the time being.

Now, I picked up the Widmer Brothers Dark Saison as one of the 24 that I grabbed in the olio (means “mixture” and is a word that gets as much use in crosswords as a Miller Lite tap in a college bar) made possible by a Groupon.  Let’s see how it shook out:

Pour: Came out a rich brown color with traces of red. The little white head disappeared in about 10 seconds, and it had loads of carbonation at beginning but then nothing aside from very small bubbles coming up through the middle of the glass..

Aroma: It came off a little sweet with hints of dark fruit (like prunes), but there was a little spice towards the end of a deep inhale, too.

Taste: The Dark Saison was sweet for an instant at the beginning but finished with a mild tartness. The sweetness reminded me of banana chips.

Body: The beer has a nice thin body that has a surprising bit of carbonation, which I wouldn’t expect based on not seeing more bubbles in the beer, but maybe it’s quantity and not quality — lots of wee little bubbles.

In the end, Meh. I’ve had better saisons.

 

 

 

 

 

— Shintern


Brew Review: Florida Beer Swamp Ape IPA

I hadn’t tried any beers from Florida Beer so when I saw this pretty big (10%) IPA I figured I’d give it a try.

As you can see from the picture, it poured to a clear-ish light amber color with little to no head.  I gave it a smell…almost nothing, slight malt and even less bitter hop aroma.  I figured my nose was just playing tricks on me because there was no way a high percentage IPA would have this little aroma.  So I gave it to a friend to smell and he didn’t get anything either.  Not a good start.

The taste followed suit with the aroma and was a bit of a let down.  It started with a decently sweet hop flavor that progressed into a bland malt middle and a slightly bitter hop finish.

I was not very impressed with the first beer from Florida Beer.  The only thing I can say that it had going for it is that when it was cold it hid the alcohol well, but even that left once it started to warm up.

This is at best a mediocre IPA, but I’ll give it one hop out of three because it’s strong…I like strong beers.

-pyzocha


3XB: Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale

"Aging" another way of saying "Forgot about"

Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Fresh Hop Ale, 6.7% and 1 pt 8oz bottle; circa 2011.

I picked up this beer sometime last year on a trip with Squirrel to D’vines on 14th and Irving NW. The Northern Hemisphere came highly recommended when I tried it and didn’t let me down, so picking up it’s little brother was an easy decision. The beer is an American-style IPA from the west coast brewery (re: I’m expecting hops), Sierra Nevada (re: I’m expecting more hops). On top of all that, Sierra Nevada flies three types of hops from New Zealand that are used to fresh-hop the beer (re: This could easily be a hop-bomb).

Sadly, this big bottle made it’s way to the back of my fridge until a couple of weeks ago. Letting a fresh-hopped beer go that long without drinking was bush league but does allow for an unique tasting of this beer. Let’s get this show on the road!

Pour: The beer comes out a cloudy/creamy amber brown color. Head starts off strong and slowly goes down. You can see the bubbles  rise through the cloudy and continue to do so, at least, for as long it took me to down this brew.

Aroma: The scent is actually not as biting/pine-y/grassy/citrus-y as I expected; instead, it has a bit of sweetness from the malt, which helps to mute the fresh hop smell (bit of grassy) that is evident.

Taste: It’s mellow at the beginning then goes into a nice little bit of bitter and ends mellow again. Aging may have mellowed it out a bit but can’t really say for sure since I haven’t had it fresh. You can taste the bitter fresh hops in the middle that were in the aroma. It’s almost like having a mild pine-cone in your mouth.

Body: This beer comes with a full body that seems to fill your mouth. It doesn’t finish clean but with such a balanced/mild last taste, that’s perfectly fine.

Overall, I look forward to trying this one again when it’s re-released, which should be soon, and recommend that you do the same. Now, I need to look in my fridge and make sure there aren’t any other ‘aging aka forgotten’ beers in the back.

Good

— Shintern1909


Brew Review: Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA

75 MinuteI was out on my usual Friday after-lunch beer browsing when I came across the Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA.  Like most, I’ve had the 60, 90 and 120 minute IPAs, but I’d never seen the 75 before.  I heard this was a brew that typically stayed at the brew pubs.  Naturally, I had to give it a try.

Without even looking a the description I paid for it and went on my merry way.  Once I got home I took a look and saw that it is a blend of the 90 Minute and 60 Minute with maple syrup added.  Maple syrup in an IPA? I was worried.

It poured, as a typical IPA would, with a slight amber color.  As you can see from the picture, it had quite a head on the pour (no it was not a bad pour by me!!).  I attribute this to being naturally carbonated in the bottle.

The aroma was hoppy, similar to the 90 minute, but there was a slight sweet maple finish that blended quite well.  My worries started to fade with the aroma, so I took a sip.  Overall a mellow hop flavor started sweet, then progressed to a slightly bitter hop and back to the sweet maple flavor.  The flavors melted together perfectly and could barely tell this was 7.5% beer.

This beer is very solid, but in limited supply, so if you see it get it!  Dogfish sells it on their website, but make sure they deliver to your state before ordering.

-pyzocha


Brew Review: Mendocino Brewing Co. Eye of the Hawk (American Strong Ale)

Mendocino Brewing Eye of the Hawk, American Strong Ale, 12oz @ 8% ABV

I have this issue with driving somewhere in Virginia where no matter what, I get lost the first time I go there. Typically, this only leads to cursing in the car and apologizing when I show up 15 minutes late. Honestly, it’s never gone well for me until a couple of weeks ago when I came finally came across Total Wine while trying to find a bowling alley (stupid google maps). Since moving to the area, I had heard all about this magical store out in Virginia but never really found the time to go out there, so once I saw it, I had to go. When I turned the corner to start walking up the beer aisle, I knew that getting lost this time was divine intervention. They had all sorts of great stuff, but this beer, Mendocino Brewing Co.’s Eye of the Hawk, stood out since I had just had it on tap near their Ukiah brewery. I thought it was pretty good then but was unable to do notes on the fly, so thanks to Total Wine for making this review happen.

Color/Pour: The beer pours very easily and with very little head or carbonation. It comes out a milky red/brown color that reminds me of store-bought ice tea in jugs.

Aroma: The beer has a heavy fruity sweetness. The smell is a lot like the one you get from a dried bag of banana chips. Thus, I’m starting to think I might have been wrong about this beer when I got it in CA…

Taste: …until now. The beer does not really have the sweetness or taste that I would associate with the aroma. Yes, it tastes a sweet on the back-end, but the front-end has an incredibly balanced flavor given the aroma. Nothing really sticks out — not malty sweet or hoppy bitter. Very well done.

Body: The texture of the beer reminds me of a slightly diluted barley wine. It’s heavy and seems to try to coat your mouth but doesn’t succeed. It clears with just a little reminder of the dried banana on the first inhale after drinking.

All in all, I think this is a solid American Strong Ale and recommend keeping an eye out for it. I’m not a massive fan of barley wines, and this beer seems to be toeing the line right below that style, and I like it.

Drink It

— Shintern1909


Brew Review: Kona Koko Brown

Shiner Mason Jars = Great Anniversary Gifts

Kona Brewing, Aloha Series: Koko Brown, American Brown Ale w/Coconut, 5.5%. (Thanks, Squirrel for the awesome mason jars and an amazing year!)

I originally came across this beer one night at RFD. Unlike most of my trips to that Chinatown bastion of delicious beers, it wasn’t a Thursday night, and I was alone. While many people find it unusual to go out for a beer or two by yourself, I sometimes find it very appealing. You can chat more with the bartenders or not talk at all — just enjoy a couple of beers and some food and be on your way; it’s all up to you. Anyways, it was one such evening that I first came across Kona Brewing’s Koko Brown, and, man, I must say that it is one brown ale that you should try.

When I think of brown ales, I usually think about beers that are sessionable, smooth, and not too bitter or sweet — just something that’s tasty to drink, hits the spot, and right down the middle of the beer road. In other words, I really like a good brown ale but don’t expect it to have a ‘wow’ factor. The Koko Brown is something different, but then again, it should be considering that the Hawaii-based brewery decided to throw in some of their state’s main cash crop – (toasted) coconut.

Now, I have had coconut-infused beer before via Maui Brewing Company’s delicious (and canned) CoCoNut Porter, but much like when I had that beer, my first taste of the coconut brown ale left me a little miffed before I really settled in and decided that this was a good experimental beer. The more and more that I had, the more I was convinced that this beer was something everyone should at least try. For dark-er style beers, the sweetness of the coconut is a brilliant addition.

Color: The Koko Brown is, well, brown with a white/creme (more white though) colored head. The 1/4 inch of head I got from my pour didn’t really die down much over time. Again, as to be expected with a brown ale, there were not a lot of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass.

Aroma: A touch of sweetness from the toasted coconut but nothing overly distinctive. Basically smells like beer

Taste: The beer is creme-er than the usual brown. The coconut is there but is not overly powerful, and the beer ends up being a pretty tasty brown ale, which usually have a good flavor but nothing uber-special. I really like this version.

Body: Smooth, but not as smooth as browns normally are. Perhaps that’s because I poured it cold – bbbbuuuuuuuttttttttt more likely due to coconut. As expected with a brown ale, there’s very little carbonation.

Overall, it’s good and definitely worth a taste, particularly if you can find it on draft. If you’re up for a full sixer, I’ve seen it crop up in the usual beer-centric places. I found my six-pack two weeks ago at Total Wine and believe it was available in their mix-and-match isle but don’t hold me to that.

— Shintern1909


Brew Review: Russian River Damnation Batch 23

Russian River Damnation Batch 23, Tripel aged with Oak Chips, 11% ABV

Pardon me for throwing a rare-in-DC beer into the mix, but I feel like it’s my duty to warn you about Russian River’s Damnation Batch 23. Damnation is RR’s Belgian Strong Pale Ale and quite delicious; now, Batch 23 is Damnation turned into a Tripel with oak chips thrown into the mix. Squirrel first let me know about Batch 23 after she found it at Monk’s Kettle in SF. We both really like Damnation and were excited about trying it, but the price point was a little on the high side ($25) for a 12 oz bottle. Luckily, we found it at her local-SF Whole Foods for $9 and socked it away for a week or two. We were so, so excited for this beer, especially since I believe that oak chips/barrels always benefit a beer…

… but we were massively let down by it. Maybe we were too excited? Maybe we should have aged it longer/shorter? I don’t know, but we weren’t impressed. The funny thing was that neither she nor I said anything definitive until about 1/4 of the way down the glass. I don’t remember who said it first, but the other instantly said something along the lines of, “Oh my God, I thought I was crazy for thinking the same thing!”

Pour: It poured a gold color with a white head, which is similar to normal Damnation. This beer had a lot of carbonation, which sneaked up on me — I had poured the beer with a thin head, yet the head kept growing and growing like those fireworks called ‘Black Snakes’.

Aroma: The beer had a sweet smell to it and came off more mellow than the normal damnation. The sad news for me: I couldn’t really smell much oak. This was a bad sign to me…

Taste: For me, it tasted very, very similar to normal Damnation. It had a little buttery taste followed by some sour and, much like the smell, I didn’t get much oak in the taste.

Body: Damnation Batch 23 is very carbonated out of the bottle; however, it was pretty smooth (buttery taste related) and somewhat lighter than expected due to the high alcohol.

Overall impression: Definitely not worth $25 and might not be worth the $9 I paid for the bottle; however, I don’t want you to be scared away from trying it. I just want to caution you not to overspend because I found it to be very disappointing. (So much so that when I visited their brewpub I avoided it. In hindsight though, I feel like I have committed a cardinal beer-drinking sin — not giving a beer a second chance, especially when it is offered fresh. Now, I will rectify that and, when I do, update this with my findings.) Until then, I’ll give it a simple “Meh.”

— Shintern1909


Brew Review: Shiner Holiday Cheer

Too late now but for future reference

Shiner Holiday Cheer, Dunkelweizen, 5.4% ABV (Was on draft at RFD)

Note: It’s a Leap Day miracle!!! Multiple beer reviews! Now to convince Sir James Wilson to give me beer for tears.

My first impression of this beer was severely tainted by Pyzocha and X. I was away visiting Squirrel in SF and enjoying some very, very delicious bourbon when they informed me that Shiner was on tap at RFD.  At first, I was pissed off at missing Shiner on tap, but then they said it was Shiner Cheer, the winter draft.

My love of Shiner has basically revolved around their one, solid beer — the Bock. Every time, I find one of their new brews, it becomes my first beer at the bar. Unfortunately, Shiner has let me down. Again. That said, I know loads of people that really, really like their winter

Pour: The Cheer poured an amber color with a very thin cream-colored head. There was very little evidence of carbonation due to lack of bubbles and the low head, but that was not unexpected with a winter beer.

Aroma: Honestly, my first thought upon smelling this beer was ‘Sour Patch Kids’. I swear to God, to me, Shiner Cheer smelled exactly like a bag of Sour Patch Kids. Once that delicious candy was in my head, I couldn’t get past it and unable to report any hint of anything else. (To be fair, everyone else I had smell the beer thought the same thing.)

Taste: Put it simply, it did not taste like bhat said, it tasted like it smelled — like fruit-flavored gummy candies.

Body: The beer had nice thin body that coated the mouth. The body wasn’t bad for the beer, but it wasn’t great either.

Overall, I was disappointed by this beer. I do respect that other people enjoy this beer and invite their thoughts and notes in the comments. In the end though, I have to give it a “Meh” as the best news about Shiner Cheer is that Shiner Spring (Dortmunder) is right around the corner… along with another beer review.

— Shintern1909


Brew Review: Three Floyds Jinx Proof Lager

Tonzi Strikes!

Three Floyds Jinx Proof Lager, 5.1% ABV, Courtsey of Santa Tonzi.

Beer Review Wednesday!!! It’s a Leap Day Miracle!

As our readers know about five months ago, Tonzi moved to Chicago (check out his Chi-town tAles blog on the right hand side). Since then Pyzocha and I have kept him in supply of DC beers that he can’t find (120 minute, various Heavy Seas, some Flying Dog, etc). The nice thing about sending him brews? He fills up the box and mails some back. In the first  batch he sent my way, he included some Three Floyds Jinx Proof Lager, and here are my thoughts:

Pour: The beer has a pale orange color, no bubbles, and no head.

Aroma: There is not much aroma, just a touch of sweetness

Taste: The Jinx Proof has good taste for a lager but nothing special; a little sweet but followed by a slight tinge of hoppy-bitterness.

Body: It is a little syrup-y, but that’s just getting nit-picky.

Overall, it was good, so if you can find it during the Summer/Spring, give it a try.

 

 

 

 

Thanks again, Tonzi!!!

— Shintern1909


Brew Review: Bud Light Platinum

I haven’t written a review in a while so I figured I better start back in with a bang.  I was out with a few friends one of which was an ABInBev rep, so of course I was offered the newest and greatest beer: Bud Light Platinum.  I saw all the commercials and, I’ll be honest, I was a bit intrigued.  So I tried one.

I comes in a very blue bottle and smells like a regular old Bud Light, Miller Lite, etc.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about you aren’t missing anything.)  The only difference I noticed so far, was that the bottle said 6% (higher ABV the Bud and less calories, I can drink and be thin!).  I was worried, a “light” beer that is relatively higher in alcohol. My brain tried to stop me, “This is going to be horrible” it said.  This wasn’t going to be stopped.

(more…)


Brew Review: Le Merle

750ml of MEH!

North Coast Le Merle, Belgian Saison, 750ml @ 7.9%.

I picked up this big bottle at Whole Foods in Clarendon ($8) because Squirrel had excitedly texted me a photo of it one night and raved about its amazing qualities.

Well, upon further review during a recent holiday, she recanted, and I confirmed. Squirrel succumbed to the equivalent of beer-googles for the tongue. It happens to all of us; it gets close to the end of the night, you order that one last beer that you’ve been wanting to try and just saw be put on tap or in the cooler, it’s the most amazing thing in the world, you tell your friends (hell, you even order it for them the next time y’all go out), and… it’s blah. To be honest, I wouldn’t have tried this, but I (1) heard some good things about it and (2) trust North Coast Brewery based on Old Rasputin, Acme, Scrimshaw, and Red Seal. The beers coming out of Fort Bragg, CA are definitely worth trying; however, Le Merle’s description had one word that made me worry about buying a big bottle of it: Saison. I’m just not a big fan of that style.

Enough rambling, on to the review:

Color: Cloudy golden yellow with a thick white head and a good amount of carbonation

Aroma: Seems to be all over the place. At the same time it smelt sweet, I would also get a little sour. In terms of fruit, I got a little citrus & apple.

Taste: From my notes, “Sour fizz. Nothing spectacular, nothing terrible but definitely not on of my preferred styles.” Sorry, I can’t be more specific, but it really seemed overly sour/tangy for a saison, and I wanted to finish it off quickly.

Body: A thick, fizzy body

Overall, it appears to be a carbonated/fizzy, not so balanced, or great, saison, and I wasn’t the only one who thought that. Squirrel took a couple of drinks before turning to me and apologizing for recommending the beer. Late night beer remorse happens, just make sure it doesn’t stop the beer adventure.

MEH!

— Shintern1909

P.S. Perhaps Squirrel was playing a joke on me like some of us did to the other writers with Shiner’s Ruby Red-craptastic summer beer…


Brew Review: Shiner Oktoberfest

Good, but not outstanding

Apologies for not having an actual picture, just pretend it was poured in a Shiner Bock glass with my fridge and the Longhorn magnet in the background... Marzen, 5.8% ABV, 12 oz Bottle

I’m back, b*tches! Many, many things have happened since our little pause in posting, including the start of football, most of summer and just about all of Autumn – hell, even Thanksgiving has almost passed, and OccupyEverything; however, something’s never change such as the fact our economy is yet again on the verge of collapse thanks to the refusal of Elephants and Donkeys to compromise…

Thankfully, it appears that J Street writers have awaken from a beer-induced slumber/haze and are back to bloggin. Frankly, it’s been entirely too freakin’ long since I posted anything here; I almost forgot what we were doing and how we reviewed beer, but Pyzocha reminded me that I had this left over. So apologies for the delay (so much so that while it was available in the District, it’s not anymore), but here is my review of… Shiner Oktoberfest (seems fitting and a nice way to ease back into the show…)

The beer pours a nice bubbly off white head with orange/brown/bronze color and lots of visible bubbles. It doesn’t seem anything special, but sometimes that’s ok or preferred to something smelling awful…

The beer gives off a nice smell of mild malt sweetness, which makes me think of a sweet lager/pilsner.

As for the taste, it’s about what I’d expect – nothing special, although there is a slight sweetness as it is swallowed with hints of Shiner Bock.

The beer has a medium to light body with good carbonation but not quite that clean of a clearance.

On the grand scheme of things, this is not a terrible Shiner Seasonal/non-Bock beer (re: Shiner Summer). In fact, it’s pretty drinkable and seems to go with the season. That said, there are better Autumn/Oktoberfest beers around, but this one is definitely one of the more sessionable ones, so I wouldn’t put ‘meh’ and will go with ‘Good.’

— Shintern1909 (back in the saddle!)


Brew Review: Short’s Nicie Spicie

Whole Foods on P Street is a great place.  Every time I go in there I’m always amazing by the bright colorful produce and tasty looking meats and cheeses.

My favorite part is the beer section (which seems to be slowly growing).

They’ve placed the beer section perfectly.  It’s like a grown-ups candy aisle.  You know how most grocery stores put little bags of M&Ms and candy bars and gum right in the aisle as you’re checking out?  It’s like a last second snack purchase.  Well, the Whole Foods on P Street has put the beer section just to the right of the express check out lane.  Which makes it virtually impossible to go to the store and not peruse their brewed wares.  You’re tricky Mr. Whole Foods.  You picked up on my weakness.  I can easily walk by an aisle of candy, but an aisle of beer… no way.

So, on my last trip to Whole Foods, I was tasked with getting burger rolls, eggs, and chicken.  I left with burger rolls, eggs, chicken, and a 6-pack of Short’s Nicie Spicie.

I have no willpower.

I picked up the Nicie Spicie because it looks like a decent summer beer, and it’s from Short’s (who make decent beer and aren’t usually readily available here).  My overall opinion on it: it’s okay, but I wouldn’t want more than 1 in a row.

The Nicie Spicie is pale yellow with a hint of cloudiness (it’s a wheat beer, so it kinda fits the mold).  The aroma is entirely expected.  The wheat takes over the majority of the smell and there’s a mild hint of citrus.  The flavor is a bit overpowering.  It’s light and crisp, like I was hoping for, but then there’s a rush of spice and citrus that takes over that kinda ruined my experience.  The lemon and orange zest comes on strong and then fades out, leaving behind a very spicy pepper flavor in the finish.

It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t have too many of them.

-Tonzi


Brew Review: Anderson Valley Imperial IPA

Anderson Valley 20th Anny Imperial IPA; 22 oz @ 8.7%. Also,don't judge the Palm glass: 1) It was free with a pour 2) It's not the worst souvenir one could have from a drunk, bad decision...

Anderson Valley makes some delicious beers; however, I’m not a huge fan of their IPA, so you should know that as you read this post. Of course, you might ask why would I check out their Imperial IPA, but that’s just ridiculous — I love drinking beer and have rarely found a beer that I won’t try at least once.

While Squirrel and I found this big bottle out in California (Cork ‘n Bottle in Fremont has a badass selection that’s better than BevMo AND they’re expanding), I did see it in four pack form yesterday at Whole Foods on P St, so I haven’t broken my promise to focus more on DC beers. Based on the words on the bottle, Anderson Valley first made the Imperial IPA to celebrate their 20th year brewing and warns that they use a lot of malt to balance out the 20 separate additions of hops. For me, this is great news as I find their regular IPA to be too far on the hops side — yea, I like hops, but similar to when I eat spicy food, I don’t want to only taste the spice.

On the Eyes: It pours a nice red/amber color with a white head that thins out but still remains on the outer circle.

On the nose: The smell is pretty faint and comes off sweet.

On the lips: Oh, it tastes soooo good. It’s a well-made, interesting beer. The beer starts off with a good piney hops taste that immediately gives way to some delicious malty sweetness. I love beers that pull off this kind of balance — it’s like getting two beers in one! Even better, when you take a breath, you get the flavors again.

On the tongue? cheek? throat? gut?: It’s pretty middle of the road in terms of body; that said, it does give your throat a good coating — the reason you get the flavors when you breath.

In the end, I recommend splitting a four pack with a buddy or trying to find it in single bottles. DRINK IT and let us know what you think…

— Shintern1909


Brew Review: BrewDog/Stone Bashah

I was at Pizzaria Paradiso in Dupont Circle and saw that BrewDog and Stone collaborated to make a Black Double Belgian IPA called the Bashah (that’s a mouthful).  Not only did they have it, but it was on tap.  Waiting for it I was practically drooling: I love Belgian IPAs, I had never tried a Black Belgian IPA and this was a double (twice the fun).  I had to have it! But would it live up to my high expectations?

This 8.6% ABV brew poured a deep opaque black with a small toasted marshmallow colored head. The aroma was not overpowering toasted malt was the dominant smell followed by a typical hop aroma.  With the first sip the toasted malt became even more apparent but in a much more complex way.  There was a bit of smokiness and spice (couldn’t quite put my finger on which ones, but tasty none-the-less).  The hops followed, and unlike other brews made by Stone and BrewDog they were not overpowering.  They were a perfect compliment to the maltiness.  The finish was slightly sweet and fruity.

So did this beer live up to my expectations? Absolutely!  I had my first couple sips and said to Boardwalk, “This is probably the best Black IPA I’ve had.”  I’d recommend going to Pizzaria Paradiso to try this ASAP!

-Pyzocha


Brew Review: Three Floyds Robert the Bruce

This beer was the shining star of my Chicago trip (excluding the Gumballhead, of course).

I’m always excited to find Three Floyds anywhere.  I’m yet to be disappointed by their beers.  As per usual, their Robert the Bruce is fantastic.

This Scottish ale pours a deep brown color with a nice malty aroma and a hint of spice.  The flavor is perfect for a Scottish ale.  It’s heavy, but not too heavy.  It’s bitter, but only slightly.  It’s malty, but not overpowering.  A nice sweet caramel throughout, and a subtle hoppiness to maintain balance.  It’s just done so well.

Oh, Three Floyds, how I wish you distributed to DC.

-Tonzi

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Brew Review: Two Brothers Cane and Ebel

This beer was a great surprise.  I had heard good things about Two Brothers, and this one definitely did not disappoint.

Brewed with Thai palm sugar (Cane), the Two (Ebel) Brothers put together a red rye beer that explodes out of the gate.  It’s reddish brown in color with a big floral hop aroma, much more than you’d expect with any rye beer.  The flavor I found very interesting.  It has a nice smooth sweet malty flavor, but it’s quickly overcome by a spicy, almost ginger taste that carries you into an almost tangy citrusy hop finish.

It’s very tasty and Two Brothers’ little step away from the norm was well worth it.

-Tonzi

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Brew Review: Wild Onion Summer Wit

Another Chicago-only beer (but don’t worry, you’re not missing much).

Wild Onion Brewery is a little outside of Chicago in Lake Barrington.  Its distribution isn’t very wide, and they may want to keep it that way with this offering.

The Summer Wit is a pale yellow color with that weird soggy wheat aroma.  That soggy wheat aroma carries into the flavor and provides you with a dull, all wheat taste.

Not very good.

-Tonzi

Rating:



Brew Review: Epic Hopulent IPA

I’m becoming a big fan of Epic Brewing so when I saw this bottle I just had to try it.  The Hopulent is an IPA that Epic is changing throughout the season.  They are changing the grain bill and they are doing everything over the top, lots of hops and lots of malt.

This particular Hopulent was the Release #13.  Epic has a website describing when each beer was brewed and which ingredients were used.  The #13 was brewed on February 13, 2011 using Premium Briess Two Row with a nearly equal amount of Ultra Premium Maris Otter as the base malts.  Briess Munich Malt and Weyermann CaraMunich finish off the bill nicely. Next the hops:
In the Boil: Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe and more Simcoe. The Dry Hops: Chinook and Centennial.  (Now us homebrewers need to figure out how to clone this one)  This grain bill resulted in an 8.4% ABV beer.

The pour was light and cloudy with a very small white head.  The aroma was exactly what I like in an IPA: very sweet hops and lots of them.  The taste followed the aroma with very sweet hops upfront, but then a solid malty middle and a slightly bitter finish created a beautifully balanced big beer.

Now unfortunately this is a limited release beer and I’m not sure how many are around, but if you can find one definitely try it.  This was an awesome beer!

-Pyzocha