Showing posts from 2018

Innis & Gunn Original

Innis and Gunn's clear bottle gave me a skunked beer, and I lambasted them for it. They were really nice and sent me free beer to re-try it. The problem was that I was just dipping my toe in the idea of oak-aged beer, and I really didn't know what to expect. Well, I know what makes this stuff good now, and they switched to a brown bottle, so great things may be ahead.

The beer is a light copper color with a thin head that dissipates pretty quickly, and it leaves no lacing love for me. The aroma is rich and caramel with oak and light toast coming in over the heavy brown alcohol, and I think - this time - I am really looking forward to this.

First sip reminds me of the first time I had an Innis and Gunn beer, but I think I am expecting the right things now. The oak is heavy, and the toffee and caramel are compelling. I'm not tasting much in way of hops, but I'm getting earth in here, and that might be them.

Tip-in is very light carbonation tingle, and there is an unexpec…

Green Man Trickster IPA

One not great beer and one very good beer from Green Man so far, and I am still kind of creeped out by their face logo. I'm pretty happy with my new logo, and maybe they should think about getting themselves a more friendly, tech-savvy logo like mine.

The pale gold beer doesn't have much of a head, and it leaves pretty much no lacing as it goes down. The splotchy pad on top has a few bare spots and a few thick ones, but cascading bubbles are rising from the depths. I expected lots of hops, but I'm getting loose citrus with a lot more of a kind of doughy biscuits than anything else, and that is not right in some way.

First sip is floral hops with a light citrus hint and caramel with the biscuits relegated to a kind of backbeat that the others can play against. The tune they play is entertaining and a kind of swing that has some strong flowers in front, but it's the mix of everything that makes it enjoyable.

Tip-in is heavy biscuits with floral accents and carbonation ti…

Tallgrass Key Lime Pie Ale

Tallgrass has my respect. They are a relatively small brewery that manages to put out many interesting beers (including the absolutely fantastic Buffalo Sweat series). They try new things, and they usually do pretty well, so I like to encourage the testing of the waters. This might be a little too much of a test, I fear.

There is no spoon. Additionally, there is no head. I mean, this has bupkis after the very rapid settling; there isn't even the usual ring around the top of the beer that even the skimpiest of heads can manage. If it weren't for the fact that this is continuing to effervesce, I'd be convinced that this was a cider. Speaking of cider, the color is a very cider-like gold that puts me in mind of apple juice. The aroma is slight lime, but there is more vanilla and grains (maybe a crust).

First sip is very... unique. I was told that this would taste just like key lime pie, and I can't say that I agree. It does manage to have both a tartness and a sweetness g…

Anderson Valley Salted Caramel Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter

The other Anderson Valley beers were pretty good, but they all seemed to lack the punch of a great beer. Maybe this beer, with its added flavor, will be able to cut past the wateriness and bring the flavor density needed by the amber ale, for instance. This being a porter instead of the stout may actually work in its favor from that perspective.

Another black beer, but this one, unlike the stout, has a decent froth that has big, novelty-sized bubbles in the light tan head. There's very little lacing, however, so I has a bit of a sad about that. The aroma is sweet caramel and nuts. My mouth is watering just sniffing this, so I go in.

First sip is somewhat similar to the stout in that it sports a few flavors, but the overall drink is watery as heck. With that is caramel, vanilla, nuts, and bourbon. Again, it is not a bad taste, but it's a bit too mild during the sip.

Tip-in is light vanilla, sweet caramel, and nuts with a very light carbonation tingle. The middle is smoke and wo…

Huyghe Delirium Red

This is red - not pink, so don't go confusing it with the mildly bad beer that was produced by the same brewer, but only brewed by women. I have nothing against women brewers, as men can really make stinkers (thank you, Magic Hat) so I don't care if this was brewed by a man or woman, as I only want it to taste good.

True to its name, the beer is red. This isn't an amber beer - it's red. It's so red that the head is also red. It makes me wonder if they just brewed a beer and then stuck red food coloring in it. Mind you, they started with a dark beer. The aroma is cherry; I mean, this is a Cherokee Red kind of cherry, and that is pretty damn strange.

First sip is like a cherry cough syrup with a little less sweetness and without the medicine finish. I'm not saying it's bad, but I'm not saying it's great. I clearly should have been expecting a cherry beer instead of a red ale. So, I'm resetting my taste buds and going in for a swig.

Tip-in is sweet…

Evil Czech Czech-Munk IPA

I did not expect Evil Czech to be as good as they have been. These guys put out some good damn beer, and I'm going to stop making fun of their stupid, stupid name. I will admit to not liking the coffee-flavored white stout that I still don't understand how they got the color that way, but everything else has been very good.

The lovely copper-amber beer has a nice, sticky head that leaves lacing better than we deserve and an aroma of delightful floral hops and citrus. It's a little cloudy, and there are exceedingly few points of nucleation in the depths, so the visual of the beer is quite calm and relaxing, and I could do with that right about now.

First sip is a fairly rough malt/hops mix, but the bitterness that seems to be swelling at the front end just dies by the time the center of the drink is done. That's a lot to pick up out of the sip, but this is a beer that tells you what it's going to do, does it, and then tells you what it just did.

Tip-in is very light…

Boulevard The Calling Double IPA

I enter this review with trepidation. The only other Boulevard beer that I've had was their Single-Wide IPA, and it was horrifically bad. But, I don't judge the whole brewery based on a single beer, and that one was at a hotel, not following my standard practice, and might just be their only bad beer for all I know. I certainly hope they got it out of the way. The labels on this pack don't bode well for quality control, as the labels on the six pack are all falling off.

The two things I look for in an IPA are a nice, frothy, sticky head and a color along the lines of wheat or even amber that is a bit (if not entirely) hazy. This one checks both boxes, as it has that nice head with a straw/wheat color and it tops everything off with an aroma of citrus and tropical fruits. It's good on presentation.

First sip makes me think we may have a winner. The malt is more vibrant than I had been able to smell, and it quiets the bitter niggles that come with the mango and passion f…

Stone Grainiac Multigrain Ale

Why another Stone beer? Because everyone deserves to enjoy themselves at some time, and Stone makes it easy for me to enjoy their beers. I'm not sure what, exactly, a multigrain ale is, but I'm in the mood to just trust that they know best and wouldn't send a beer out unless it had real promise. No, they won't hit every time, but they hit more than they miss.

Holy Moses, this beer looks fantastic. It is a deep red in the glass at the thinnest part, and it becomes darker as it gets thicker. The head is white, and it sticks around pretty much until you give up and start drinking. The aroma is sweet and somewhat malty, but hops are not hiding themselves.

First sip is sweet like brown sugar and caramel, but it is tempered with light spices and flowers. It's very deep and strong, and sipping certainly isn't going to do it justice. So, we do this the old fashion way - we quaff it.

Tip-in is light carbonation with caramel and toffee mixed with light earth. The middle …

Evil Czech GG Patton Pilsner

General George Patton would likely slap someone across the face for reducing his complex personality to a (presumably hipster) beer. Beyond that, he might take issue with it being a pilsner- as they tend to be lighter lagers that don't necessarily have a lot of flavor.

The slightly murky yellow beverage has a thin cap of bubbles that leaves more lacing than you might expect. The aroma is bread and light spices with grass blowing lightly in the breeze. It's all very light and inviting on a warm summer's evening (yes, my reviews sometimes sit for a while).

First sip is simple and pretty good. It is sweet overall, but that's because the bitterness was all up front. The grass and lemon are nice and calm while the bready malt does a good job of backing it all up.

Tip-in is fairly heavy carbonation burn with thick bread, grassy grains, and slight bitterness. The middle is a delight of grains, nice and doughy bread, and ever-so-minuscule spices. The finish rolls in with a wav…

Founders Frootwood Bourbon Barrel Aged Ale

Founders produces a lot of different beers, and it seems like City Sliquors pretty much carries them all. This works out in my favor, as I seldom buy beer from anywhere else these days. Maybe there is a connection between them stocking so many Founders beers and me drinking them, but there's no way to do that math.

The deeply amber beverage with a slight red tinge has a slightly off-white head that has some serious staying power; the foam stays at about a quarter inch even after settling. The aroma is just not there. I smell absolutely nothing. If my dog could talk, I would let him use his super sniffer on the beer, but my normal, human nose gets nothing and is disappointed.

First sip is suitably fruity and woody, but it's entirely possible that it's too much of both. The sweet fruit mixes with the coarse wood, and the effect is like a chew toy that two dogs are pulling at either end of (I may have been spending too much time with my dog lately). It's discordant and fi…

Goodwood Bourbon Barrel Ale

I've done one other Goodwood beer, and it did not go well. I'm not one to call for the destruction of a brewery based on one bad style, bottle, or batch (despite evidence to the contrary). It wouldn't have mattered anyway, as I already bought this one before I tried the last one. Still, I think I would give this a try either way.

I'd like to say that this is the color of bourbon, but I'm no bourbon expert, and I can't rightly say what color bourbon is supposed to be when compared to regular whisky, Tennessee whisky, Scotch, Irish whisky, or whatever other kind of brown liquor you might come across. Instead, I'll say it is a pleasing dark amber with a light head that boils away to pretty much nothing. The aroma is definitely hints of whisky in its background, and a fairly noteworthy cracker malt.

First sip is very nice. It is definitely oaky with a strange amount of smoothness that I would not normally expect from something that is this woody inside. The tex…

Goodwood Stout Aged in a Bourbon Barrel

I used to think that beer aged in bourbon barrels had no hope. Then, Goose Island came out with their version, and that thing was pretty damn good. It is with this newfound respect for this type of beer that makes me go into this one with a full head of steam and an expectation of excellence.

Really, really dark ruby red, this beer is topped with a simple light tan head that leaves a big patch floating in the middle of the beer and a nice ring on the edge of the glass. The aroma is surprisingly good - the usual heavy bourbon aroma is absent, and I am smelling thick wood, dark fruit, and grains. It is a very inviting aroma, that's for damn sure.

First sip is WAY heavier than I expected. It is really heavy with tart cherries, wood, smoke, bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, and... did I say tart cherries? I didn't like the last tart cherry beer I had, and I'm not sure I like it in this one. I'm going to find out.

Tip-in is strangely sweet cherries, no carbonation, and then the …

Southern Tier Thick Mint Imperial Stout

Another in my growing series of dessert beers, this came in a four pack, so I better like it. If not, I'm stuck in the same situation I was with that white stout that tasted of coffee and have three of sitting in my fridge right now waiting for a visit from friends who like coffee.

Licorice black-brown with a very light tan head, the beer exudes a distinctly chocolate mint aroma that is reminiscent of the little mints you get after the meal at Olive Garden. I expected something more like the girl scouts cookies, but this is more... minty? I can't say I smell malt or anything else under it - the mint and chocolate are strong, but this is supposed to be an after dinner dessert beer, so I'm down with that.

First sip is MUCH more like the girl scout cookies than the Olive Garden mints. It almost has the texture of a cookie, but I suspect that is a special gift from the malt. It is sweet and minty, and it is definitely appropriate as a dessert beer. Will it still be if I gulp?

Evil Czech Static Chipmunk Double IPA

Evil Czech is a name I'm not going to make fun of anymore. I don't know what made them pick that name, but I assume it was a pride of heritage or something like Highland Brewing that is very Scottish and comes very much from Asheville, NC. Either way, I'm here to drink my new favorite style, the DIPA.

The beer is a sullen orange-tinted brown with a white head that doesn't really want to come out to play very much. Lacing is non-existent after the foam dies down to a skimpy patch in the middle with the almost cliche ring around the sides. The aroma is suitably floral and citrus hops with a fairly strong cracker malt.

First sip is a lot more citrus and a lot less malt than I expected. Normally, a DIPA is a lot less hops than the IPA you might be inclined to compare it to, but this one seems to sport more hops than the average IPA might (certainly more than most regular pale ales). This one is very citrus and floral heavy.

Tip-in is bready malt and citrus hops with resin …

New Holland Tasmanian Hatter Galaxy IPA

I've had only a few outings with New Holland, and I particularly think I couldn't give their Dragon's Milk a proper test. I mean, I was out at a bar, didn't really follow my standard process, and was actually more interested in watching the football game than I was taking notes on the beer. Well, I'm paying attention this time, so let's see where we get to.

Sticky head - check.
Slightly murky - check.
Gold-orange color - check.
Hoppy smell - check.

This starts to assert individual character by adding a coat of dust and mustiness to the hops. The hops themselves are citrus and tropical, but the biscuit malt is unusual for an IPA in its aggressiveness. Normally, the malt takes a back seat to the hops - that's what hops are for.

First sip is sweet malt, but a bit of funk comes to the front while the citrus and mango dance around without a care in the world. The sip is simple, but the slight funk and bitter end hint at something bigger than the sip can possibly…

Victory Summer Love Ale

Summer ales are a particularly strange beer. They aren't exactly an all-day IPA, but they are really close with the intent to stand up on their own, but they shouldn't overpower the taste buds with too much to do. Think of it as a beer to drink while you're sitting on a deck in the country with some friends. What is Victory's take on it?

The very pale yellow beer has a fairly sticky white head that leaves enough lacing to let me know this came to play. The aroma is more bread malt than hops, but lemons back it up with a definite grainy texture to them. I'm thirsty, so enough cogitating.

First sip is a lot more of the lemon citrus than malt, but the bready/crackery malt is holding it up fairly nicely. The grains are kind of passing too quickly, and they seem to be just another part of the crackers.

Tip-in is carbonation tingle that makes the whole mouth seem cool but with a bit of a bite. The citrus and the crackers are helping everything out as best they can. The m…

Victory Prima Pils

Victory brewing his put together a lot of really good beers. I have tried many of them, and sometimes I feel like I'm just chasing the dragon. With this one be another Golden Monkey? Can lightning strike twice? Let's find out together.

The pale, clear beer has a white head that leaves little to no lacing. Well, I guess there actually is some, but it's right at the edge of the rim. The aroma is quite heavy and floral with a solid grain backing to it. So, this appears to be exactly what a Pilsner is supposed to be.

The taste is crisp, and it's a little bitter. It definitely has the biscuit, and it's a little flaky. The floral hops are not particularly forward, at least in the sip. Maybe it has a little more grass to it then flowers in this brief experience. But, brief experiences are not what we're all about here.

Tip–in is crisp with a little bit of funk or skunk to it while carbonation is just a tingle sizzling on the outside. The middle gets very grainy with t…

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout

The fact is that Cigar City is right in the middle of average across the board. Should I expect better with this? Well, I'm going to. Imperial stouts are kind of hard to pin down, and these guys like a challenge. Eventually, you would think that they would hit one of these out of the park (especially with an ABV of 11.2%).

This black beer has a brown head. It's not tan like most of them or even white like others - it is brown like a UPS uniform. The aroma is like a bath of different parts just floating around together. There's coffee, oatmeal, chocolate, toffee, wood, and just loads of other things. I can't smell bourbon, but that's something the other smells put me in mind of.

First sip is seriously everything except the bourbon. It's got a syrup of coffee, caramel, oatmeal, chocolate, and wood. It's a very strong sip, and it ends on a bitter note that is in stark contrast to the sweet front end. I can't really get what is going on inside this. I need …

Fat Bottom Wallflower Spring Saison

Fat Bottom had a go, and it was not spectacular. BUT, a single beer does not define a brewery (except in the case of HiCu, which is exactly why I'll never buy another Magic Hat beer again). So, we move on to a saison - a strange beer to pick, if you are unsure about the market response to your beers. Instead, you would normally go with a reliable IPA and work your way out from there, like Lagunitas did. Still, this is what they chose, and I expect they did that for a reason.

When I buy a beer that is kind of off the wall, I am not usually all that surprised with the color, but this is a fairly standard saison, and the color is really strange. Yes, it is vaguely amber color, but there is a streak of strawberry red that has tinted it pretty well. The fullsome head eventually dies to a manageable patchy layer with the ring around the glass. The aroma is like a Sprite with flower pedals tossed in - all effervescence and citrus.

First sip is oddly smooth. It has floral hops and light c…

Bearded Iris Light Beam Hoppy Pils

This is the last of the Bearded Iris beers in the latest batch of reviews, and I will be sorry to see them go. Admittedly, they were pretty much all IPAs, but I love a good IPA, and I like that they tried so many different styles. Their same-same-same can design makes it a little difficult to tell them apart, but this one is a pilsner, I know that (because I read it).

The beer is shockingly bright yellow-gold, and for a Bearded Iris beer, this is almost clear. That said, it is still murky enough that you can't see properly through from one side to the other. The head is sticky enough for a pilsner, and I think it may be more than some of the IPAs managed to do. The aroma is lemon, spices, and bread.

First sip is crisp and short. The bread with a hint of citrus kind of lingers after the snap of the sip, but it really seems like a kind of sudden scream followed by a faint echo. The malt was definitely noticeable as more than just bread in the sip, but it's only a sip, and that&#…

Bearded Iris Tunnel Vision IPA

These Bearded Iris beers come one after another, don't they? This is yet another IPA, and I have no idea if they have more in them. I have one more of their beers in my fridge, but it's not an IPA, so I figured I would knock out the last IPA and move on to the ... was it a pilsner? I dunno; I guess we'll all find out when I do the next review.

She's just as cloudy and juice-like as her sisters. The nose is a bit more pine and malt, but these guys like their citrus hops, have clearly added some, and so far that has been a winning formula, so don't stop on my account. The head on this one was pretty minimal, and it goes almost completely away while it sits.

First sip is similar to the last one with the citrus, but it has a LOT more wet, doughy bread in there to just make everything a bit more solid, less crisp, and more... I think I already said it was bready, but I'm saying it again. Not sure if this will be better as a swig, but let's not stop trying out of…

Bearded Iris Hidden Gem IPA

Why does Bearded Iris have so many IPAs? Look, if you keep asking them that question, they may stop making them all, and I want variety from these guys. Their beers have a strange quality that really makes me long for them when I have other, more mundane beers in the fridge.

These beers are so damn similar in their murky, dense, fruit juice-like appearance, and this one is just a little lighter in color - more of a tangerine juice than an orange or grapefruit. The head is pretty minimal, and it doesn't seem to be leaving any lacing. The aroma is grapefruits and other citrus mixing around together; it's intoxicating (although not as intoxicating as actually drinking will be, even with a scant 6% ABV).

First sip is citrus heavy, and it has a solid "thunk" of a malt and yeast back-end. I admit to being slightly put off by the finish at first, but the trail-off was less bitter and more citrus sweet, so as I think about it and continue to taste the after effects, I just w…

Bearded Iris Homestyle IPA

I've had Bearded Iris stuff before, and they are all pretty good (not great), but I for some reason really find myself wanting more of them. Well, good news for Tim, as my local guy got a crap-ton of them in, and I bought a four pack of each new one. I am going to have a good month of reviews.

Another beer that looks like juice, and I am more than okay with it. In fact, I have been looking forward to this familiar look since I got this batch of beers. The head goes down to a thin layer of pulp-like bubbles on top, and the aroma is delightfully sweet and tart citrus hops.

First sip is a little different than expected. It is still the tart citrus, but it has a bit of a floral dusting that puts an extra spin on this sip that is not necessarily bad, but a sip is too jarring to really decide on.

Tip-in is meaty, sweet grapefruit and oranges with moderate carbonation burn. The middle is a wave of tartness with mild bitterness adding to the crescendo of citrus that fills the mouth in a f…

Bearded Iris Scatterbrain IPA

How many Bearded Iris beers have I had? Seems like the kind of thing that could either A) never be known or B) be determined with a simple count. I'm guessing it's the former, so I'm not going to try to count, but this brewer has really done their thing right.I always like it when a local brewery can one-up the big boys, and since our world has made Bud one of the big boys, that's not exactly saying anything, is it?

The very hazy orange body of the beer is very similar to the DIPA from this same brewer; it really gives the impression of juice more than beer, but this one is a bit more watered down than that one had been. The head is too thick for orange or grapefruit juice, and that is one of the other things giving it away. Another thing is the aroma of sweet malt that carries the fruity hop smell aloft.

First sip is mango-orange-apple juice on top of biscuits with a touch of sweet honey glaze. It's a solid taste - not as fantastic as I found the DIPA or even some…

New Heights Nothing Fancy Cream Ale

I have only had one New Heights beer before, and it was darn good. Admittedly, that was in a growler, and beer tends to be better when it is fresh and in... well, large quantities. This one is in a pint, and a pint is about the right way to drink a beer.

Colored pale yellow, the head dies down to a simple, splotchy cap and the usual ring around the rim. The aroma is your standard cream ale - kind of vanilla with lots of grains propping it up. There are almost no points of nucleation to speak of - so I have one calm, unmoving beer in front of me.

First sip is sweet like it has been sweetened with corn syrup (with the corn specifically right on the nose) and creamy. The grains back it up to give it the impression of a traditional American lager, but with care really taken to make sure that it would taste exactly how the brewer intended. It's less of a bite than a lager and too calm to be a frenetic ale.

Tip-in is vanilla cream and grains with very light carbonation around the outski…

Southern Charm Moonshine Jelly

A rare seemingly alcohol-free review. Yes, I used to do movies, but I switched to pretty much beer and derivatives lately. This is a jelly that they claim is made with moonshine, but there is no indication on the label that this is only for adults and there appears to be pretty much no alcohol, so I suspect that the alcohol burns off in the process (if there is any to begin with).

This stuff is completely clear. It's odd to spread something the consistency of jelly and the color of watered-down petroleum jelly (no, the two jellies don't have the same consistency) all over a biscuit. I'm hungry, so I'm not letting it put me off. There is almost no aroma beyond that of the buttery biscuit itself, so I don't know what to tell you.

First bite is sweet. It is heavy sugar sweetness and some white grapes. I don't actually taste any facsimile of alcohol, but the taste really lingers like grape jelly would after you take a bite, but this is decidedly sweeter than any gr…

Tailgate Pedal Tavern IPA

Ever see those odd open-air bars that drive around city streets, powered by the people on it pedaling? That's what they named this beer after, and I'm not sure which emotion they are going for. I mean, I see those and I'm not usually filled with joy - more perplexity or outright dismissal. I suppose someone loves those things, and this is for them.

This beer has chunks - chunks - of something swirling around. Eventually, they amount to no less than a half inch at the bottom of this glass. The gold-amber liquid that is left has a resilient enough head of patchy, white foam. The aroma is citrus hops and an oat malt.

First sip is a lot more mild than the look and aroma made me expect. It's actually a very nice, light citrus with the thicker bread and oats laying the base. It's a very good sipping beer, and I did not expect that. How does it really drink?

Tip-in is bread with acidic citrus walking hand in hand. The middle brings a mellow pine and citrus while the bread…

Fat Head’s Holly Jolly Christmas Ale

Should I comment on the antlers? I think I covered this on my last couple of posts, but I think it should be enough to say this was a present, and my brother has a sense of humor and an unexpectedly active craft habit. This is another beer from the Cincinnati area, and I'm drinking it.

The flat brown beer has a healthy head that takes a bit to wind down and leaves a light dusting of bubbles floating on the surface; there isn’t going to be any lacing here. The aroma is a sweet malt, honey, and spices galore. I’m diving in. There’s no reason to string this out.

First sip is fan-goddamn-tastic. I’m not trying to jump ahead here, but this is the best of these winter ales so far. That sip is just the right number of spices floating atop the sweet, delicious malt with the honey and maybe something that tastes almost apple-like. It mixes well with the cinnamon in the spices and just... zounds.

Tip-in is light carbonation burn with an oak and honey doing good, sweet things underneath. The…

Bell's Christmas Ale Scotch Ale

Another Bell's beer. I like them, and I like the fact that I didn't have to pay for it (thanks again to my brother). No, it doesn't normally come with the Rudolph-style nose, eyes, and antlers, but it comes with the usual beer in it all the same, so my review shouldn't be swayed by the cuteness of the bottle.

With a dropper of deep brown added to an amber color for the body, the head is eventually pretty much nothing but the thin skin of bubbles floating on top. More important is the spices and heavy malt that hit me as soon as I started to pour this sucker. So, this is a spicy Christmas beer, and that's fine by me.

First sip has a lot more raisin than I expected. This really tastes more like a Belgian Ale than a Scotch Ale. I'm not sure I taste any Scotch beyond a vague impression of wood somewhere in the background of the plum-raisin that is infused with the ginger and other spices.

Tip-in is dark carbonation burn with the raisin and plum mixing with caramel …

Breckenridge Christmas Ale

As I write this, it is cold outside. It is very cold, so a winter ale (or Christmas ale) should hit the spot just right. This is the latest in my series of reindeer-themed pack from my brother who is in or about Cincinnati and gifted me with a bunch of beers from the area. Even though this is a "Fine Colorado Ale," it is from the... big turnip? Rust City? I don't know it's nickname.

The slightly murky beer is a dark brown with red highlights. The stalwart head is leaving a good amount of lacing as it goes down to a fluffy little pillow that looks all sloshed to one side of the glass, but there's enough of this... slanket? to spread around the rest of the top. The aroma is heavy malt and those traditional winter spices.

First sip follows the nose almost exactly, but it is a lot more gentle than expected. So, we have the sweet malt with its toasted caramel and the spices like ginger and cinnamon all nestled in there like they were waiting by the fire on a winter ni…

Tröegs Mad Elf

My brother, who gifted me this bottle, used to live in the area of Hershey, PA where this beer is brewed. He said that he and friends used to go to a bar that had this beer available and get a bit tipsy after just a few beers (after all, 11% ABV is nothing to be sneezed at) and referred to it as "Getting Elfed." Well, I only have one of these to try, but I have a glass that matches it (thanks to the House of 1,000 Beers).

The deep brown-amber beer is relatively clear for a Belgian Ale, which is to say that light doesn't pass through it, but there don't seem to be chunks of anything floating around. The head dissipates very quickly, and nothing remains but a few scant bubbles clinging to the sides of the ornate glass. The aroma is raisins and plums, but cherries are taking over things.

First sip is a bite from Belgium by way of Pennsylvania. It has those cherries out front with their slight sourness and then the earthy goodness of the plums and raisins are backing it …

Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale

Anyone following my blog will recognize the peculiar and humorous way my brother makes the bottles from my Christmas Present beer that he has furnished me with in the past, and I certainly hope this becomes an annual tradition. This particular beer comes from Akron, OH, just a stone's throw away from his home and the home of the Steelers (go Steelers!)

The brown-tinted amber beer has a thin head that leaves nothing but a dusting across the top and will almost assuredly not leave any lacing. The aroma is honey malt and Christmas spices. It's definitely a winter ale (and I'm drinking this within a few days of Christmas, even though you may read this much later).

First sip is ginger and cinnamon riding on top of a caramel and honey malt. The taste is purely Christmas, and I am thinking they hit this sucker right on the head (not that they hit 12 dogs on the head - that would be cruel and unnecessary for the brewing of the beverage).

Tip-in is noticeable carbonation burn that …

Tennessee Brew Works Tripel Star

Small breweries are popping up around Nashville like zits on a teenager - we're maggotty with these things. I couldn't be happier about it, either. I wonder how many small breweries actually make it long term, and I suspect it is a lot like the other small business percentages, but I suspect the best will be able to keep it rolling (unlike Hot Chicks, Nashville, that had some of the best hot chicken ever, and I just found out they closed).

The haze in the orange-amber beer is generated by tiny little bits of stuff (I'm guessing hops) that is suspended in the beer. I comment only because, normally, hazy beers have bits that are so fine that they create the haze without giving the impression of floating flotsam. This one, however, has comparable chunks. The stark white head boils away to absolutely nothing - NOTHING! The aroma is a very light, funky yeast and maybe a bit of citrus.

First sip is a very nice yeast (with very little funk, but it's there) with the bright cit…

Tailgate Dino Breath IPA

What the hell is up with this label? It's got some long bearded hipster waving his thumb and pinky while riding a dinosaur that is puking a rainbow into a cup. Is this what the brewer looks like? Is this what breath is supposed to look like? I don't know, I'm just here to drink beer.

The beer is a hazy deep amber, and I didn't have to coax out quite as much head as I did with the last tailgate beer that I had. This beer is very different to the nose; it has a deep resin that seems to alter the citrus effects of the hops. Instead of grapefruit, I'm hit with a lot more pineapple and other tropical fruits. It's not off-putting, but it's a lot different than its stablemate.

First sip is very smooth. I  didn't expect that from an IPA, but that's what I got in the sip. The pineapple makes it very crisp while at the same time the malt seems to have smoothed it out quite a bit. It seems very tart at first, but everything seems to sweeten by the end. But let…

Hoppin' Frog Barrel Aged B.O.R.I.S. Oatmeal-Imperial Stout

This is the whiskey barrel aged version of a beer that I tried and didn't really like. A while ago, I would have told you that tasting this beer was a waste of time, as my only experience with barrel aged beer was on the Innis & Gunn beers that I just didn't like. I have, however, found ones that impressed me, so I'm trying this out.

The pitch black beer has a brown head, but not much of it. From my experience with these bourbon (and in this case, whiskey) barrel-aged beers, they don't usually have a big head, and they almost always have this kind of syrupy thickness to the drink; pouring it is a bit mesmerizing. The aroma is chocolate, oak, vanilla, and booze.

First sip is pretty stout. I don't mean that it's a stout, it is obviously a stout, but this is a thick slab of taste and texture sitting in a glass pretending to just be another drink. It has the thick, syrupy texture that I saw in the pour, but it is more than just that when you combine it with the…