Seasonal Selections

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.



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.


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.


— 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: 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: 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!


Brew Review: Alaskan Summer

The Alaskan Summer caught my eye with its orca tap handle; being a beautiful summer day didn’t hurt either.  This particular summer brew is based on the Kölsch style.  Seemed like a great light summer beer.

The pour was a clear golden-light color with a slight white head.  The aroma was not very strong but had mild scents of grass and just a little bit of citrus.  The taste was a very slight barley malt start that transitioned into some sweet citrus flavor.  The finish was crisp and refreshing, but something was a bit off.  I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, but it left a bad taste in my mouth (figuratively and literally).  At 5.3% this beer would be a great refreshing light beer if it wasn’t for the finish.

Now I’m not sure if maybe the keg that I had it from was bad, but based on my tasting, I thought it was decent.  Definitely some room for improvement.  Having an east coast bias I’d recommend trying it.


Brew Review-2010 Anchor Our Special Ale

Unfortunately, not all my forays into Christmas beers this week went well.  Do NOT order this beer.  Buying a six pack of it would be even worse.

I was looking for something more to try, so I asked the bartender what he thought about the Anchor, being new to the Bar’s menu.  He wisely warned me that most people have been disappointed by it.  Thankfully, I got a sample before trying a full glass.

Disappointed doesn’t cover it; I think disgusted would be a better word to describe my feelings.  Granted, my exposure was all of 3 mouthfuls, but that was all I needed to try to realize this was a bad beer.

It pours pretty dark brown and opaque, with a huge creamy looking head.  It gave off VERY strong notes of vanilla and cream.

As for the taste, it’s sort of like someone tried to make an alcoholic butter beer.  It’s that sickly sweet and disgusting.  I can’t imagine someone soldiering through 16 ounces of this.

It’s a shame, because Anchor usually has a number of solid, if uninspiring, beers.  This is not one of those.  Hopefully 2011 will be a better year.


Brew Review-Corsendonk Christmas

It’s almost Christmas time, and I was finally done with work for the calendar year, so I stopped off for a beer (or 4) on my way home, and that included the Corsendonk Christmas.  This dark Belgian, at 8.5%, definitely makes for some happy holidays.

It pours very dark and opaque, with a slight ruby colouring around the edge.  A small head deteriorated pretty quickly.  It gave off notes of honey, berry fruit, malt, and something for the life of me I can’t put my finger on.

This beer has a delicious mouthful.  It starts very sweet, with a sweet, sweet pull of honey that quickly intermingles with some berry or plum fruit taste, and supplemented by a good nutty, roasted malt undertone.  There is also some spice that ties this all together, but for the life of me I cannot put my finger on it.  While there may be slight traces of cinnamon or nutmeg, it certainly isn’t that.  For a while I thought it might be ginger, like the GL Christmas, but dismissed that by the second half of the glass.  I asked Shintern for his opinion, and neither of us could pinpoint the taste, though it gives the berry a great spicy compliment to all the fruit and honey sweetness.

This is a great Christmas Ale that isn’t too complex or heavy, and has a great amount of flavour without being too sweet or too spicy.  I didn’t tire of it for one sip through the entire glass.  A 750 of this would make a great holiday treat for that special beer drinker on your Christmas list.


The Great Pumpkin Beerathon (live blog)

Great Pumpkin Banner
Great Pumpkin Banner

You don't believe the story of the Great Pumpkin?

I’ll be posting the most recent blog updates at the top of the page for the rest of the day.  Scroll down below for the backstory, and to read this all from the beginning.

8:15 PM

And, it’s done.  A rather inglorious end for a glorious day.  My drinking met it’s end with the end …

Glad I did this, real thoughts later……..

8:15 PM

Put your momma in a headlock baby…Keith…and…T-pain…

7:59 PM

Whoops.  Thought I’d told people that this Lefthand has been in my fridge since Fall 2009…

7:57 PM

Malty finish? Yup. That’s really the biggest “plus” for the Left Hand.  I’d buy a 6er of this if given the opportunity.  However, be prepared for the malts, because they are coming; this is not the kind of beer to deal with on a Monday.

7:45 PM

Left Hand is really quite good given my state of drunkenness.  Smooth is the biggest word that comes to mind as I finish this glass…

7:34 PM

Left Hand = really malty, really sweet.  the legit version of the Dogtoberfest.

7:29 PM

Everything I said about the Post Road? Yup, that’s what I still think.  A moderate pumpkin beer, but moderate in the taste (e.g., cinnamon) and the acual pumpkin.

Now the Left Hand Oktoberfest.  Normally this would be a top 5 beer for me.  BUT. I bought this beer LAST fall, and its been in my fridge since then, so I’m sceptical.  Pours very coppery and with a sizable head…

7:10 PM

Post road pumpkin.  The last true “pumpkin” beer in the great pumpkin beerathon.  Pours like many before.  Copper, but a bit cloudier than before and with a very substantial head.

The first taste is, eh, moderate.  Some malts, but nothing spectacular.    Taste is similar.  I’d easily drink a full beer of this (I mean, I am) but all the taste is in a sweet aftertaste, no up front.  If I’m gonna try something as robust as pumpkin, I want to know what I’m getting into…

7:10 PM

Before it gets too late (drunk) the last pumpkin in the group.  JTonzin has warned me off this brew before…

7:00 PM

Deadlines, schmeadlines.  the Buffalo Bills pumpkin claims to be “America’s Original” and I can believe it.  Sweet and malty on the nose.  It lacks any “pfumpf” though.  Not a lot of spice, or pumpkin, or well, anything.  A middle of the road adventure.

6:55 PM

Once in my life, I’d like to play on a team like the Sharks. And in case you didn’t know: I’ll do whatever it takes for that inch.

6:51 PM

I’m unsure if Churchill or Al Pacino’s character from Any Given Sunday gives a better motivational speech.  Having listened to both in the last 10 minutes…damn…

6:47 PM

Buffalo Bills: Cloudier than most I’ve had today, copper in colour.  Nose is dominated by a sweetness.

6:44 PM

Okay, sorry about that drunken digression.  But I now have a general idea of what’s going on.  The Victory was, however, what I originally wrote.  A reasonable beer, but I’d never buy a 6er of it.  I’m listening to more of Winston and trying the Buffao Bills’ pumpkin now….

6:40 PM

Thank G*d for Red Bull.  And thank you Winston; you kept me great company. 

We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender

6:27 PM

Could this be the end of the beginning…

6:18 PM

Victory is golden, but clear.  malty nose.  The taste reminds me of the beer.  clear, crisp, but nothing to write home about….

Right now – first time i’ve really questioned the idea for today.

5:40 PM

Victory Feistbeir now…and a red bull…

4:50 PM

Kennebunkport Pumpkin – copper colour.  slight wispy head, clear.  Cinnamon and something nutty on the nose.  Sweet and Cinnamon on the first taste…

4:39 PM

Aynger:  clear.  golden, sugary on the nose.  Crisp taste with a poor malty finish.  Good for a quick drink, but not more than one beer.

4:20 PM

It’s a good news/bad news situation.  I realized I have a 16th beer, the Aiynger Oktoberfest…

4:15 PM

the Don has arrived.

3:55 PM

I am man.  I have made fire.

3:43 PM

Dogfish Punkin: cloudy, copper, reasonable head.  Sweet (caramel) and spicy (nutmeg) on the nose.

Malty, with finishes of pumpkin.  Surprisingly spicy.  Somewhere between the Terrapin and the Smuttynose.  Good, but not as aromatic as the Smuttynose.

3:18 PM

The Princess Bride is seriously one of the best movies ever made.  Great lines? Check.  Good story? Check.  Brilliant acting? Check.  Just a phenomenal film.  Thank YOU Rob Reiner.

3:05 PM

Red beer = bad beer. Sweet, but not in a good way.  Bitter, in a bad way.  Ugh.

3:03 PM

The Coney Island Freaktoberfest is red.  Like cough syrup red. Oh boy…

2:38 PM

Sausage for a late lunch.  Other than my crazy spelling my time in the U.K. taught me the right way to cook a sausage.  Hint: it takes time.  Plan on 45-70 minutes, depending on the thickness of the sausage.  Do not, under any circumstances, pierce the skin of the sausage (including  heat breaching the skin).  Moisture = a good sausage.

2:22 PM

Terrapin Punkinfest now.  Never had Terrapin before, just some of their collaborations.  Pours coppery, clear, moderest carbonation. On the nose, has cinnamon, nutmeg, modest pumpkin.  Smooth drinking, moderate taste.  Not as good as the Smuttynose, but nice and subtle all the same.  Enjoyable, but not the best.

2:07 PM

Hello.  My name is Inego Montoya.  You killed my father.  Perpare to die.  SamDinning has joined me!

Like me, he enjoyed the Ottercreek.  It is not your traditional Octoberfest at all.  Imagine an English bitter (I know those well) but with some malty favours.  A good, moderate selection.

1:46 PM

Thank goodness I finished that.  Ottercreek Oktoberfest now.  Hoping for redemption.

1:23 PM

Falling behind…no…

Not that bad though, just a quick trip outside.  Dundee Oktoberfest now.  Pours copper colour, clear, and you can see the bubbles.  Maltiness on the nose.  Taste is even more bland than the Hacker though.  None of the maltiness, no sweetness.  Crisp finish, which is an interesting change, but not that nice at the end of the day.

12:40 PM

So, I’m a little surprised, but I shouldn’t be.  I have never had a Smuttynose beer I didn’t at least enjoy (e.g., Star Island) and there are a number I really love (e.g., Old Brown Dog).  So, I shouldn’t be surprised with the perfect pumpkin ale they’ve put together.  This is now up there with Pumpkinhead for me as a perfect seasonal offering.  It does a great job blending tastes.  It’s not a “pumpkin” ale, it’s more of a true seasonal that combines aromas and flavours of pumpkin, spices, and maltiness in a great way.  Like most of these beers, it lingers on the mouth a bit too much, but that one small problem is outweighed by everything great this beer does.

12:17 PM

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale.  Pours cloudy with a playful copper colour.  Incredible nose of cinnamon, some nutmeg (I think) and delightful hints of pumpkin.  I’m excited.

12:08 PM

First thought on the Hacker-Pschorr “Original Oktoberfest:” Thank G*d I did this early.  It reminds me of all the continental European beers I’ve (binge) drank over the years, and those aren’t good (beer) memories.

It poured golden in colour, but very transparent, and clearly with a lot of carbonation.  The nose? Not much going on there.  Hints of some maltiness, but only if you really push the limits of the word “hints.”  Drinks like a standard lager, nothing really special, and the carbonation slows you down.

I wish I had the Hofbrau-Munchen – the “real” original Octoberfest – to compare, but I don’t think it would have been much different.  I’ve never been to the real Octoberfest in Munich (though I am drinking out of a stein acquired there), but my guess is this is par for the course at that event.  I think most Americans used to their craft brews would be a little disappointed by the beer there.

Anyone actually gone to Octoberfest?

11:33 AM

Flying Dog didn’t let me down.  The Dogtoberfest pours with a brilliant amber colour and a slight head.  There’s a strong smell of caramel and hints of maltiness in the nose.

It drinks really smooth with sweet notes of caramel that aren’t overpowering.  It lingers a bit on the mouth a little syrupy, but not too bad.  Definitely worth drinking.

Probably one more Marzen before I tackle the first pumpkin.

11:05 AM

Blustery fall morning? Check.  Blueberry pancakes for breakfast?  Check.  15 seasonal Beers?  Check.

Starting off with the Dogtoberfest to ease into the pumpkin but with something (hopefully) really tasty.  Flying Dog don’t let me down.



Fall is hands down my favourite season.  Cool crisp mornings, beautiful foliage, playoff baseball, college football, fresh apple cider and new Harry Potter movies clearly make it the best time of year.  And of course, there’s the beer.

Just a little over a year ago, the night before I headed out to JTonzi’s wedding, I spent the evening at the bar with a friend.  Inspired by the presence of one of my all time favourite seasonal beers – Shipyard’s Pumpkin Head – I decided I’d make it my mission to drink every Oktoberfest/Pumpkin ale on draft or in a bottle.  It was a hilarious night, I had a ton of good beer, and a really good time.  I also ended up with one of the worst hangovers of my entire life.  From that night, I learned that while fall produces a lot of great seasonal beers, it also produces a lot of less than agreeable beers as well.  Pumpkin is not an easy ingredient to work with, and the results can actually be disastrous.  Before you rush off to buy beer for your Halloween celebrations, you need to do some real hard thinking.