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.
It’s getting to be that time of year again, the time when my favorite style of beers come back into ‘season.’ I’m talking about Pilsners/Lagers. (This one is a “golden bock lager.”) Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a great stout, porter, and tasty IPA, but there’s something about sitting outside in the sun at the ballpark, local biergarten, or my backyard and enjoying a crisp, refreshing lager. Consequently, I was stoked to see those types of beers starting to make their way into the beer aisle.
First up, the Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils. One of my favorite beers (and I’m sure my fellow J Street-ers would second) is Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, which was my first real love with this Baltimore-based brewery. Since then, I have tried others and can’t remember ever being disappointed (their chocolate stout is delicious, mostly because it tastes like a chocolate shake). I saw a sixer of the Small Craft Warning at D’Vines and knew I had to give it a try.
The beer pours a nice gold-orange color that hints it’s not going to be better than that “triple-hopped pilsner” we all drank in college (and still do for drinking games…). The head is white and starts, say, 3mm thick but dissipates in about 10 seconds.
The aroma it gives off is quite mellow with a bit of fruit and some sweetness.
The sweetness comes through on the taste; maybe a bit too much since I was initially expecting a crisp flavor. You do get some malt towards the end of the drink.
The body is a bit heavy and does not leave a ‘clean’ feeling. Instead, it seems to hang out and you can still taste it after a couple of breaths.
Overall, this is nowhere close to the worst beer that I’ve had, but when I see pilsner, I do expect something crisp and easily sessionable, especially when in the sun. I don’t think this is the beer for that. That said, if you see it on draft somewhere, give it a try. I’m not the end-all-be-all word on beer and maybe this one is right in your wheelhouse.