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.
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.
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
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!!!
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!
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.
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.