Destihl "Deadhead" Imperial Red IPA

This is not my first Grateful Dead themed beer. I'd like to say I was a fan of the Grateful Dead, but I honestly just never got into them. It's not that they were off-putting or anything, they were just never in my wheelhouse. Beer, however, seems like where our two roads might meet. And this beer from Bloomington, Illinois might be the crossroads.

The beer isn't as red as I would've expected. Instead, it's more of an amber that has a brownish-reddish tint to it. The head is kind of fun, though. It's all bushy to start with, and it boils down to a nice, thin layer of moss across the top. There isn't much lacing, but at least there's some. The aroma is very sweet and citrusy, but it has some caramel malt and tropical fruits that are giving it a body unlike pretty much any beer I'm able to remember.

First sip makes me grab the bottle and check. Yep, this has a 9.4% alcohol by volume. I get that alcohol taste pretty much through the whole sip, but ther…

Bearded Iris Overcast Festbier

I'm generally not a fan of Octoberfest/Oktoberfest/Märzen/Festbier (could some international authority standardize the name of these beers, please? What to we pay the UN for?) beers, but this is a Bearded Iris brew, so I expect a cut above. That said, this has a pretty pedestrian 4.6% ABV, so I don't know that there will be a whole lot of "fest" really going on here.

The clear pale gold beer has a healthy head that is like a giant pillow. It eventually dies down to a nice, uneven layer that flows into the lacing strewn haphazardly around the sides. The aroma is almost stifling with yeast, vanilla, and some hops that almost seem soured. It's a strange aroma, but Bearded Iris doesn't normally lead me astray.

First sip is MUCH better than I had thought. The vanilla adds quite a bit to the citrus hops and cracker malt. The yeast is still stronger than I usually like, but the light spiciness is making the whole thing seem very harmonious. I think I would sip this …

Surly / First Avenue +1

I got this in a four pack, and I gave one to a close friend of mine. He tried some other beers that I had given him with it, and he had not been all that impressed. But, he sent me a text with a picture of this beer in it and said he was a fan. Now, he tends to be pretty scrupulous with his beer drinking, so I have high expectations for this joint venture between Surly and First Avenue.

Didn't really give me a whole lot of head to work with, but the bubbles cling to the sides pretty well. I'm expecting at least some lacing. The aroma is just about what you'd expect for a blonde, as it has a lemony front-end with grains and a cracker-biscuit malt. The presentation on this beer is pretty darn good. It's exactly what I expect to find in a blonde.

First sip is simple but very good. It's a little watery, but the lemons and grains are mixing together very well with the biscuits, and I could totally see sipping on this beer for quite some time. I'm reminded of the few…

New Heights "Hello My Name Is Earl Grey" Belgian Blonde

Earl Grey seems like an odd choice. I've had limited exposure to teas in general, and I know that one of the ones that is really full of personality is Earl Grey. It's not for everyone. Even the people I know who like to drink tea tend to stay away from it pretty hard. But, as an ingredient in a beer, it just might work out, right? I mean water is pretty tasteless and bland, but it makes the base for even the best beers.

The appropriately named blonde ale has a yellow-gold color with a thin white head that leaves little more than a dusting in a single pad in the middle of the glass. A microscope would be necessary to find any points of nucleation in the depths of the glass. The aroma is solidly blonde with the sweet malt and an indefinable tanginess with that tea riding the wave.

First sip is daunting. The tea doesn't seem to be mixing well with the beer, so the malt mixing with the hops mixing with the Earl Grey is resulting in a funk that is too overwhelming for a sip. I…

Southern Tier Cinnamon Roll Imperial Ale

This is the first time I've had a beer that has called itself and Imperial ale. Mind you, that doesn't mean that I haven't had others of the style, but they tend to slap Imperial in front of some other descriptor like IPA. This particular beer is a seasonal product, and it's not surprising given that it has cinnamon so prominently shown on the label. So, this is a good beer for a cold night, and tonight is such a night.

The fairly clear brown beer doesn't have a whole lot ahead to begin with, and it eventually just becomes that familiar ring of bubbles around the glass with a lily pad of very thin bubbles floating in the center. The aroma is certainly chock-full of cinnamon. It has some spices and maybe some caramel malt to go with it, but cinnamon is certainly the reason this beer exists.

First sip is kinda nice. It's definitely got a lot of cinnamon in it, but that cinnamon is mixing together with the spices and the caramel malt to give the whole beer a sensa…

Carolina American Style IPA

This claims to be "first in flavor." It is a bold claim. I have had many different beers in my time, and many of them were really flavorful and good. So, maybe they were only comparing themselves to other brewers in the Chapel Hill area. Maybe they were comparing themselves to every maker of food or drink ever. There's no way to really know.

The gold-amber beer was pretty reluctant to reveal any kind of head, but we got there in the end. The head that we get as a result is still pretty thin, but it's a nice kind of dusty off-white with patches of big bubbles surrounded by a sea of small ones. The aroma is as reluctant to come out as the head was, but it's light citrus with a doughy bread malt.

First sip is stronger than the smell, but it's still not overpowering in the least. It's a laid-back kind of all-day IPA, if I were to name it. The malt is heavy on the back-end, and the citrus is in the front, but it's not all up in my face. The bitterness isn&…

Ommegang "Mother of Dragons" Smoked Porter & Kriek Ale

As I write this review, I am waiting for the final season of Game of Thrones to start. As such, I figured I would grab this bottle off of the shelf where it has sat, unopened, for a little while now. Why has it sat after I very much enjoyed Ommegang's other beers? Because this is a blend of a porter and a kriek, and I fear that this will be sour.

The beer is quite dark, but it's not black. It's a very dark red, and it is skirting the edges of being opaque; even in the center of the beer, light can still eek through. The tan head is voluminous at first and has big, fluffy bubbles that are downright playful. Later, as the head boils away, only tiny little bubbles float in uneven circles around the top of the beverage. The aroma is a little bit cherry soda and a little bit moody, earthy smoke.

First sip is tart as all-get-out and bending to sour. Now I remember why I had this on my shelf for so long without trying it; kriek = sour = not good for me. I mean, this might be good…