Posts tagged “Meh

Brew Review: Widmer Brothers Dark Saison

Widmer Bros W’12 Dark Saison, 5.5% ABV

I have had a couple of Widmer Brothers beers since moving back to States in 2009, and, to be honest, the jury is still out for me. I’ve had a couple that I find delicious (usually the styles that are not cheap to make but easy to get right like barrel aged stouts) and a few (say, the lemongrass that was unique but not my mug of beer) that finished with the same “only a little bit more to go, just gut it out” facial expression as I have during that last mile of run. Consequently, I have decided to try and stick to their darker style beers for the time being.

Now, I picked up the Widmer Brothers Dark Saison as one of the 24 that I grabbed in the olio (means “mixture” and is a word that gets as much use in crosswords as a Miller Lite tap in a college bar) made possible by a Groupon.  Let’s see how it shook out:

Pour: Came out a rich brown color with traces of red. The little white head disappeared in about 10 seconds, and it had loads of carbonation at beginning but then nothing aside from very small bubbles coming up through the middle of the glass..

Aroma: It came off a little sweet with hints of dark fruit (like prunes), but there was a little spice towards the end of a deep inhale, too.

Taste: The Dark Saison was sweet for an instant at the beginning but finished with a mild tartness. The sweetness reminded me of banana chips.

Body: The beer has a nice thin body that has a surprising bit of carbonation, which I wouldn’t expect based on not seeing more bubbles in the beer, but maybe it’s quantity and not quality — lots of wee little bubbles.

In the end, Meh. I’ve had better saisons.






— Shintern


Brew Review: Russian River Damnation Batch 23

Russian River Damnation Batch 23, Tripel aged with Oak Chips, 11% ABV

Pardon me for throwing a rare-in-DC beer into the mix, but I feel like it’s my duty to warn you about Russian River’s Damnation Batch 23. Damnation is RR’s Belgian Strong Pale Ale and quite delicious; now, Batch 23 is Damnation turned into a Tripel with oak chips thrown into the mix. Squirrel first let me know about Batch 23 after she found it at Monk’s Kettle in SF. We both really like Damnation and were excited about trying it, but the price point was a little on the high side ($25) for a 12 oz bottle. Luckily, we found it at her local-SF Whole Foods for $9 and socked it away for a week or two. We were so, so excited for this beer, especially since I believe that oak chips/barrels always benefit a beer…

… but we were massively let down by it. Maybe we were too excited? Maybe we should have aged it longer/shorter? I don’t know, but we weren’t impressed. The funny thing was that neither she nor I said anything definitive until about 1/4 of the way down the glass. I don’t remember who said it first, but the other instantly said something along the lines of, “Oh my God, I thought I was crazy for thinking the same thing!”

Pour: It poured a gold color with a white head, which is similar to normal Damnation. This beer had a lot of carbonation, which sneaked up on me — I had poured the beer with a thin head, yet the head kept growing and growing like those fireworks called ‘Black Snakes’.

Aroma: The beer had a sweet smell to it and came off more mellow than the normal damnation. The sad news for me: I couldn’t really smell much oak. This was a bad sign to me…

Taste: For me, it tasted very, very similar to normal Damnation. It had a little buttery taste followed by some sour and, much like the smell, I didn’t get much oak in the taste.

Body: Damnation Batch 23 is very carbonated out of the bottle; however, it was pretty smooth (buttery taste related) and somewhat lighter than expected due to the high alcohol.

Overall impression: Definitely not worth $25 and might not be worth the $9 I paid for the bottle; however, I don’t want you to be scared away from trying it. I just want to caution you not to overspend because I found it to be very disappointing. (So much so that when I visited their brewpub I avoided it. In hindsight though, I feel like I have committed a cardinal beer-drinking sin — not giving a beer a second chance, especially when it is offered fresh. Now, I will rectify that and, when I do, update this with my findings.) Until then, I’ll give it a simple “Meh.”

— 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: Le Merle

750ml of MEH!

North Coast Le Merle, Belgian Saison, 750ml @ 7.9%.

I picked up this big bottle at Whole Foods in Clarendon ($8) because Squirrel had excitedly texted me a photo of it one night and raved about its amazing qualities.

Well, upon further review during a recent holiday, she recanted, and I confirmed. Squirrel succumbed to the equivalent of beer-googles for the tongue. It happens to all of us; it gets close to the end of the night, you order that one last beer that you’ve been wanting to try and just saw be put on tap or in the cooler, it’s the most amazing thing in the world, you tell your friends (hell, you even order it for them the next time y’all go out), and… it’s blah. To be honest, I wouldn’t have tried this, but I (1) heard some good things about it and (2) trust North Coast Brewery based on Old Rasputin, Acme, Scrimshaw, and Red Seal. The beers coming out of Fort Bragg, CA are definitely worth trying; however, Le Merle’s description had one word that made me worry about buying a big bottle of it: Saison. I’m just not a big fan of that style.

Enough rambling, on to the review:

Color: Cloudy golden yellow with a thick white head and a good amount of carbonation

Aroma: Seems to be all over the place. At the same time it smelt sweet, I would also get a little sour. In terms of fruit, I got a little citrus & apple.

Taste: From my notes, “Sour fizz. Nothing spectacular, nothing terrible but definitely not on of my preferred styles.” Sorry, I can’t be more specific, but it really seemed overly sour/tangy for a saison, and I wanted to finish it off quickly.

Body: A thick, fizzy body

Overall, it appears to be a carbonated/fizzy, not so balanced, or great, saison, and I wasn’t the only one who thought that. Squirrel took a couple of drinks before turning to me and apologizing for recommending the beer. Late night beer remorse happens, just make sure it doesn’t stop the beer adventure.


— Shintern1909

P.S. Perhaps Squirrel was playing a joke on me like some of us did to the other writers with Shiner’s Ruby Red-craptastic summer beer…

Brew Review-Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils

Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils, Golden Bock Lager, 7% ABV

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.

— Shintern1909

Brew Review-Shiner Black Lager

Maybe Shiner's darkest beer should have remained the Bock.

That’s right, it’s time for a  Shintern Shiner Review. To start off with, I’ll drink the… Shiner Bohemian Black Lager. (The Bock would have been unsurprising, and the Hef, which is starting to be widely distributed, is out of season and, if my memory serves me well, does not taste great — Blasphemy, I know.)

It might be equally surprising that I haven’t ever had this beer, as Shiner started distributing this and a handful of other varieties after I left Texas. More on those as they can be acquired.

The Shiner Black Lager label states that the beer was brewed to commemorate the Spoetzl Brewery’s 97th anniversary  and “remains true to the old-world heritage of the German and Czech immigrants who started Shiner. Imported Czech Saaz and Styrian hops, and select roasted malts make this ‘Schwarzbier.'”

Well, it does pour darker than Shiner Bock but is not black so much as a really dark crimson especially around the edges. The initial head is quite small and disappears until it is about three mm thick around the glass.

The aroma has a faint tinge of malt and bread.

The beer does not have a strong taste, but it does have a hint of smokiness and malt.

The body is on the lighter end as one would expect for a lager, and it does leave a filmy texture in your mouth.

Overall, I’m not blown away by this beer, but that’s not a big concern because I’ll just walk over to the fridge and help myself to the tried-and-true Shiner Bock.

— Shintern1909

Brew Review-Abita Vanilla Porter

I found this beer on tap while traveling for the holidays. Even though it was on the ‘select tap’ at the bar and, thus, one of the more expensive beers, it was a whopping $5; yea, cheap rent/property/staff wages really help to bring down the cost of beer.

Anyways, I try to preach the good word of Shiner to anyone who listens but also listen to others’ opinions, especially when they like a local beer from college. Dr Boozenstein has convinced me that Abita, local to Louisiana, is good for at least a try, so it’s with that mindset that I ordered this brew.

In the bar, the beer was very dark in the middle with a red-tinge to the outside edges. You definitely get the vanilla smell, so much so that I could not distinguish anything else from the aroma. The beer gives you a vanilla flavor. The beer was very thin in body but managed to linger too long after each drink.

— Shintern1909