Posts tagged “Beer Review

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.


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

Big Bottle Breakdown: Epic/DC Brau Fermentation Without Representation

Not a Pumpkin Pie in a Bottle.

Epic/DC Brau Fermentation Without Representation, Release #2, Imperial Pumpkin Porter, 7.9% ABV

So, this might be a bit out of season since Pumpkin flavored brews are typically released in Fall when we’re all eating pumpkin pie, but on a recent trip to Total Wine, I came across a couple of big bottles of the second release of Epic and DC Brau’s collaborative Imperial Pumpkin Porter, Fermentation Without Representation. While one of my two bottles will age for a while in my beer cupboard (perhaps as an incentive for X to do another Great Pumpkin Beerathon), I decided to crack open one and write up a long-due big bottle.

Now, I don’t particularly remember having this beer when it was released on tap, so it was likely a simple taste. I’m pretty excited to try it again in a more coherent state. I love pumpkin pie, Epic makes great beers, and imperial porters are right in my wheelhouse. The fact that DC Brau helped is putting me on edge in a similar way to those stereotypical gifts from your Aunt/Uncle — usually, you have to pretend you like it, but every-once-in-awhile, they knock it out of the park. Let’s hope for the latter.

Pour: It pours similar to what you’d expect in an imperial porter, black with a nice creme colored head. Nothing to suspect something interesting is lurking within…

Aroma: BOOM! There’s the pumpkin spice, but to be honest, it’s there but not as over-bearing as some of the more pumpkin-y porters out there. For me, this is a good thing. Other than the spice, I don’t pick up much aside from a touch of the typical-boozy smell of porters.

Taste: I think it’s pretty interesting and a good change from the normal or bourbon-barrel porters that I usually drink. The flavor range goes from boozy-porter to an interesting little bit of pumpkin and ends with a bit of a sort of gritty coffee bitterness in the throat. Now, akin to the aroma, the taste isn’t overwhelmed by pumpkin like the bigger pumpkin beers.

Body: Fermentation Without Representation still has the body of a porter; it has a medium thickness that lightly coats your mouth and throat for a few seconds but then clears out.

All in all, I think this is a decent pumpkin beer, especially if you don’t want to feel like you’re drinking pumpkin pie filling. It’s good, but I don’t think it’s the absolute best pumpkin beer out there — just a good starter beer to get yourself used to the flavoring. If you come across it, it may be worth socking one away for a year, but I can’t make promises about how it’ll be until next year.

Till then, it’s good

— 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: 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 Imperial IPA (Pilot Series)

Living on the east coast I don’t get to try many Alaskan Brewing Co. beers, so I was excited to see a big bottle of it when I was in Seattle.  I am generally a big fan of imperial IPAs and even better – this was a pilot series beer. The Alaskan Imperial IPA was brewed in the American Imperial IPA style, which “was developed and made popular by west coast American brewers. The style is most often characterized by a gold or copper color, citrus hop character, big malt body and lingering bitterness.”  Let’s see how it stands up to their characterization.

This 8.5% brew poured a very dark brown with a toasty white head, solid start, but that ended with the aroma.  It was quite lacking, with mostly a caramel malt with a very slight hint of citrus hops.  The taste followed suit with a malt that overpowered any hops that could be found.  It finished with refreshing bitterness. They seemed to hit on all the points of the style but appeared to miss the ratios.

I had high expectations for this Imperial IPA, but it was quite a let down.  It’s an odd recommendation for an Imperial IPA to have less malt and more hops, but that is what this beer needed.  Normally, for a rare beer like this I would recommend trying it, but not this time.


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: New Belgium Lips Of Faith le Fleur Misseur

Lips Of Faith le Fleur Misseur

New Belgium is one of those breweries that feels more like a myth than reality to me. The tales that surround it made me excited to try Fat Tire when I was in San Francisco last fall yet I left unimpressed after a few pints. I knew the Black Squirrel had gotten in a lot of their brews recently and when my friend said we should try out Lips Of Faith le Fleur Misseur I consented after a bit of hesitation.

I’d comment on how it looked when poured but the amazing smell of funk that arrived as it came out made me barely notice. With the aroma making me drool I quickly took a sip and was not disappointed. Brett completely dominates the taste about as much as any beer I’ve ever had, in a delightful way. For the amount of wild flavor it has, the beer was still smooth with minimal harshness in the mouthfeel department.

For anyone who loves the flavor of Brett this beer is a must try. Some people might say that it’s  a one-note beer with minimal balance, but if that one note is absolutely awesome, what’s the problem?!
3-Drink It

Brew Review: Independence Brewing Co – Austin Amber

Yet another great Texas beer.

I had seen Austin Amber before and naturally was attracted to it, but it just never made the cut for space in my suitcase, so
again, I have to thank my college roommate, Big Poppa Bear Black (Side note: Congrats to him on popping the question), for making this review possible. Independence Brewery started making beers in Austin in 2004 and has continued to grow over the years but still is only available in Texas.

The beer’s coloring is typical for an Amber style beer — rich copper/brown and pours with a nice thick white head. You can smell the caramel from the malts along with a bit of spice. The beer tastes really solid for an amber. It has a little bit of bitterness from the hops but the sweetness from the malts comes through giving a good balance. The finish is very clean, and the body is light with minimal carbonation. Overall, this beer is right in my wheelhouse: local Texas, Amber, and perfect for Summer drinking.

I think I’m going to need a bigger suitcase…

— Shintern1909

Brew Review: Hair of the Dog Ruth


Ah, hair of the dog. If there is anything I believe in this is it. If there is a better way to alleviate the pain of a hangover than to fight back with more booze I certainly haven’t found it. Part of me has always dreamed of doing the ritual with a beer from the brewery of the same name but I had never seen any of their stuff until a recent trip to NY for my brother’s birthday where I spotted a few singles at Whole Foods and eagerly purchased them.

The bottle says “Ruth is light and refreshing” and that is an excellent way to sum up this beer. It pours a beautiful hazy yellow and smells greatly of citrus. The flavor is incredibly crisp and clean with a good amount of citrus coming through. This goes down incredibly quickly. Ruth is certainly on the light end of the spectrum for a pale ale and the 4.5 ABV makes it a good warm weather beer. Having had so much DC Brau Public lately I forgot that pale ales don’t have to be super hoppy to be delicious.

If you’re looking for a beer that is subtle but still tasty then look no further than Ruth. For anyone just getting a taste for craft beer I would suggest this in a heartbeat. The biggest setback is availability and price, as I paid 2.50 for a single.

Brew Review: Long Trail Belgian Wheat

I decided to go off the beaten track a bit on Friday, and try Long Trail’s Belgian White.  I should stay to the beaten track more often.

Drank straight from the bottle, so I can’t really comment on colour.  The nose was very strongly of wheat, with some mild citrus and coriander notes up front.

Plenty of carbonation in the taste, which starts with some mild orange/citrus flavours before the wheat body of the beer comes in completely and utterly dominates the beer.  It has a very dry, flat wheat taste through most of the beer.  It’s not very pleasant, not very flavourful, and really lingers on the tongue.  There’s no nice crisp and refreshing finish, just a long wheaty finish with each sip.  I did not enjoy finishing this bottle.


If I can just stop one person from trying this beer, my time, money and sacrificed taste-buds will be worth it.

Brew Review: Great Divide 17th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA

Great Divide might have pulled out of the DC market recently, but since I live in Virginia, I managed to get my growler filled at Whole Foods with GD’s 17th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA.  I think it’s time to get the phrase “lucky at growler fills, unlucky at love” going again.

The beer pours a dark copper colour, with a nice just off-white head and few signs of carbonation. On the nose there is some sweetness (fruity maybe), but the clearest smell is a nice batch of floral hops.

The taste reveals something different.  There is very little hoppiness for a DIPA, and a sweet, caramel maltiness dominates the taste, with a slight – though not unpleasant – lingering flavour.  As the glass warmed, I felt  oak and vanilla elements in the taste became more prevalent, intermingling well with the malt and caramel.

At 10% it packs quite a wallop, but is certainly an enjoyable testament to a great brewery.


Brew Review-Flying Fish Exit 4

Don’t worry, I still hate New Jersey

I used to think that the only good things to come out of New Jersey were Sinatra, The Boss, and of course my mother.  I’m not saying Flying Fish beer deserves to be in that elite company yet, but its definitely got some potential. I’m not the only one to think good things of Flying Fish’s Exit 4 – it did win a gold medal at GABF in 2009.

The beer pours a nice cloudy golden colour with a very wispy white head and plenty of carbonation.  It has a nice mild hoppiness on the nose with sweet scents of dried fruit.

The taste is great with some sweet, light maltiness up front along with hints of banana and some very mild spices.  This gives way to a slight bitterness on the back that works really well to balance the initial sweetness.  Despite the 9.5% ABV, this is a really smooth drinking and enjoyable offering.


Brew Review-Hitachino Red Rice Ale

Looking for something a little different, I grabbed the Hitachino during dinner at Scion the other week.  There were a number of great other interesting choices to go with, but I decided to go with something really different.  It was a mistake.

The beer pours a dark, deep red colour, and is quite cloudy, but without much head.  In fact, you can see specks of rice floating around in the beer.  I should have gotten the hint.  It has a very musty nose (Belgian Hops?) that wasn’t particularly pleasant.

It tastes fruity up font – mainly berries but with hints of citrus – and then the malts really come through with a rich, creamy biscuit/caramel taste.  The alcohol is pretty evident throughout, and not in a pleasant way.  The finish ends up really bitter and lingers seemingly forever on the tongue.  I ended up having to drink water throughout the beer just to wash it away.

Overall, not great.  Get something else.


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.


Brew Review-Yard Philadelphia Pale Ale

Yard’s Philadelphia Pale is described as a non-traditional pale ale because it features some unique aspects.  It is a crisp and hoppy ale with a strong citrus nose and taste. The pour leaves a hazy golden brew with decent lacing.  The malt base of light crystal or carapils malts balance out the strong lemon and apricot citrus flavors.  Despite its description, I didn’t find it all that hoppy.  However, I still enjoyed drinking it.  It’d make a great summer beer and is very sessionable for other occasions.   For someone trying to break into craft brews and pale ales, this would be a good place to start.


Donald “Don” Von Matterhorn
Revelry and Recreational Sports Division
Von Matterhorn Industries International Unlimited Global Inc.


Brew Review-Mystery Beer

I was in the mood for a beer and have a few different beers in my refrigerator – Dogfish Head 60min IPA, Flying Dog Raging Bitch, Yuengling, Miller Lite (What? Don’t judge! I like to binge drink from time to time and it is cheap) and a few other randoms.  None of these were really calling out to me to drink them.  I then came across the bottle pictured to the left.

This one was quite interesting because it is label-less and I did not remember where it came from.  The cap merely had the letters “SBC” so it was not much help in deciphering what this beer could be.  Was this merely a bottle whose label was missing?  Was it a random leftover homebrew? (Possibly one of the yummy Moose Drool clones or possibly a horrible watermelon beer).  There was only one way to tell…I had to try this beer to see what it was.


3xB: Stillwater Stateside Saison

This Week’s Big Bottle:  Stillwater Stateside Saison


Brew Review-Brooklyn Buzz Bomb

If you have a time machine, you could definitely get this beer two weeks ago at Afterwords in Dupont...

A couple of weeks ago (yes, I’m shit at posting on a regular basis), I stopped into Afterwords’ bar in Dupont (restaurant side Kramer’s Books) before heading to an alumni happy hour. While one might think that a book store is not the best place for a bar (I would agree after having a few and trying to read and write…), Afterwords has held a soft-spot in my heart since my first visit back in 2006. Of course, that was because they were serving Shiner on tap. Even though, they are no longer serving the greatest beer in Texas and thus the world, they consistently have a great rotating tap list – including one dedicated to Brooklyn Brewmasters Reserve.
Since they were out of the Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout, I decided to order the Brewmasters Reserve – the Brooklyn Buzz Bomb.