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.
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…
Yet another beer from the West Coast (sorry, this one was in the works before I said more DC beer reviews on the way). This one, Squirrel brought for me on her first trip to D.C. after going by Whole Foods and asking them what were the best beers they had that I would not be able to find in D.C. That employee definitely knows their stuff because this beer is amazing.
The Ballast Point brewery is located down in San Diego and raked in a number of awards including “Small Brewery Champion” and three gold medals at the 2010 World Beer Cup. While the Yellowtail Pale Ale wasn’t one of the gold medal winners, it definitely represents the brewery well.
The beer poured a goldish orange with normal carbonation and a small cream head. As I drank it, the beer left lace down the side. The beer smells on the citrus side but is nowhere near over-powering — in fact, I may have inadvertently snorted a little bit of it. Purely accident, okay? BACK OFF! I don’t have a beer problem…
The Pale tasted awesome, simply awesome. There was a time in my life when this beer might have been wasted on me, but now I can appreciate a brilliant, well-balanced brew that leads of with a nice bit of fruitiness/sweetness and ends with a slight touch of bitter hops.
Taste: Good, solid Pale taste. Good citrus and bitterness with a dry finish. It’s not overly hoppy and mellows out as you drink.
Body: good carbonation that emphasizes the hoppy bite when it is first poured. The really nice thing about this beer is that it has the lighter body associated with Pale Ales, which makes it seem perfect for summer drinking sessions.
5% San Diego
Alright, I’m willing to say it: DC Brau Public Ale, in its current form, is a solid beer. After trying it a couple of times over the first few weeks it existed, I was thoroughly convinced that the bitterness of the hops was overpowering for a pale ale.
Thankfully, I heard they had tweaked the recipe to reduce the hoppy bitterness, and this last Friday, I had a canned Public Ale at Justin’s Cafe., and it was solid. It is now well balanced and easily could be a sessionable beer.
I won’t take back my previous criticism because I see this new Public Ale as a separate beer, but I will say that if you haven’t tried DC Brau Public Ale, you really, really need to — you won’t be disappointed.
Drink It. It is not life-changing but it is a fantastic addition to DC’s beer scene. Now, we just need to get them to distribute it at the area’s sports venues…
I really can’t remember whether I picked this beer up at Whole Foods on P St NW or D’vines on 14th NW, and I wish I did because I want another. No matter where it was purchased, I remember thinking that I had heard good things about Epic and couldn’t pass up a quasi-special edition imperial IPA.
Based on previous reviews, I feel that readers have gotten to know my tastes pretty well; when it comes to IPAs, I prefer ones that have a good balance between the floral/citrus and bitterness – even if one hits you up front and the other follows. Even though the Epic Imperial IPA was a bit on the sweeter side, it did not disappoint, and I honestly think it’s one of the better tasting IPAs I’ve ever had. Thankfully, I decided to save this big bottle to share with a fellow J Streeter (Pyzocha) who also agreed that this beer is stellar.
The beer is a cloudy yellow color with a nice white head, and it has a nice floral sweet smell. The taste is absolutely divine – a nice floral sweetness with a touch of citrus that is followed with just enough bitterness to clean the palette. The beer’s body was creamy, full of flavor and had a small aftertaste.
All in all, get it! And tell me where you find it, so I can get some more…
Yes, a couple of weeks ago, a few of us went down to Port City to check out the facilities and all their beers. On that trip, I purchased a growler of their IPA (One that I find to be fantastic with a great balance of hops and malts. Thankfully Port City has gone for taste and finesse over joining in the hop dick measuring contest that is as annoying as Gillette and Schick trying to out blade each other’s razors). This time, I was taking a fellow Texas Longhorn grad down there along with Tonzi’s and Pyzocha’s growlers. Since they wanted the IPA and Wit, I decided to go with the other favorite from the first trip, the Essential Pale Ale. While I still think the IPA is a more meticulously made beer, the Essential Pale Ale is good in its own right, especially when compared to the overly hopped DC Brau Public Ale.*
I poured the reviewed pint two days after it was put into the growler. It pours a lovely gold-orange color with a white head. Currently, there is very little carbonation but that’s due to the age in growler. The beer has a nice floral sweet smell to it, and the sweetness comes through on the taste. You don’t get a lot of bitterness from this pale ale. The body is what one would expect (light-average) and it finishes nice and cleanly.
I’ll still first look for the Monumental IPA (seriously, I think it’s my favorite IPA out there), but I won’t be disappointed with the Essential Pale Ale.
* Hats off to them for opening up a brewery in DC and being at the forefront of the District’s market, but I just haven’t been really impressed by their beer. That said, be sure to try the DC Brau Public Ale, especially if you like hops, because I’ve heard people rave about it. It just proves everyone has different tastes. I love Shiner Bock, my father’s beer was Miller Lite, and his father drank only Pearl — to each their own.
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…
I’m keeping the Texas beer reviews coming with Saint Arnold’s Kolsh-style “Fancy” Lawnmower. I first came across this beer in college but knew which places I could drink $1 Shiners, Ziegenbocks, or crappy macro-brews any night of the week. Thankfully, my tastes have diversified along with my drinkable income, and I was reintroduced to the Lawnmower during OU-UT weekend and drank it all night long when the NYE bar had it on draft.
Saint Arnold Brewery is based out of that humid hellhole, Houston, but perhaps that crappy climate has helped their brewers out as they have made an amazingly crisp, refreshing beer, which, based on my NYE, is highly sessionable.
The beer is a great golden, yellow color and has a great deal of carbonation and a white head at the beginning that give way to less carbonation (still more than most beers) and no head.
The aroma is where this beer gets its name — it definitely has a strong, crisp fresh mowed grass smell.
The grass flavor is crisp and comes through strong but not overpowering. The body is light and leaves a small lingering taste which leaves after two breaths.
I brought the bottle I’m drinking back with me from Texas; next time I’m back there, you can bet that my bag will have yet another six-pack of Lawnmower.