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Rivertown Kontrola Pilsner

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My first Rivertown beer was in the very early stages of this blog, so I would take the 2.5/5 rating with a grain of... barley? This one is from my brother, and I will enjoy it more, I'm sure. After all, this was hand-selected to fit my discerning tastes (okay, my try-and-try-again tastes) by someone who cared. I expect great things.

The very golden beer doesn't sport much of a head, and it consequently doesn't leave any lacing. The aroma is beer. I mean, this is what I traditionally think of as a beer smell. If you took the low-end American macro-brew lagers and mixed them with all the mid-range Canadian beers, you would wind up with almost this exact smell. It's light grain in a heavy, yeast-tinged malt with a whiff of hops. It's not bad that it smells like this, but I'm trying to give you, dear reader, the idea.

First sip is much more than I expected. The yeast is right out front with the grains and sweet, honey malt in tow. It's a deep beer that is fille…

BrewDog Lost Lager Dry-Hopped Pilsner

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Dry-hopped? Usually an IPA or a pale ale. Lager? Yes, that's a thing. Hell, the American-style lagers are pretty much the best selling beers in the world. Pilsner? Technically a type of lager, but it's distinct like a stout is distinct from an ale. So, I don't know where these guys are going, but I remember the truly fantastic Hazy Jane, and I'm along for the ride here. With an approachable ABV of 4.7%, I think I could ride this all night.

The beer looks like a classic pilsner. It's a pale gold that is a bit too rich in gold color to be confused with a Bud, but it might be confused with a Coors or something like that in a darker room. The head isn't really trying; it's not much to start with and leaves only a slight patch on top with no lacing. The aroma is lemons and grains without the slightest hint of the dry hopping I was promised on the can.

First sip is grainy with lemon zest, grasses, and some honey. I think there is citrus around the outsides, but t…

Moerlein Christkindl Winter Warmer Ale

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One brother glues antlers to bottle and makes some genuinely entertaining bottles filled with entertaining beer. The other brother gives me cans filled with entertaining beer. Honestly, I appreciate them both equally. After all, I clearly like trying new beers, and these guys are contributing to the cause.

The deep ruby colored beer has very little head, and what it has goes away entirely. A few faint bubbles around the rim are all that remain, but that lets the aroma come through a bit better. That aroma is spices above dark fruits and earth; chocolate and sweet malt are laying the groundwork for this effort.

First sip is solid; coffee, chocolate, spices, and a definite earth are all heavy-feeling tastes that this is loaded down with. It's nice, but it's not smooth, dry, or otherwise easy to define. It's so stiff that the spices on top of it seem almost to belong to a different beverage. The earth and coffee and chocolate are really solid and deep while the spices are rea…

Sweetwater Festive Ale

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Sweetwater has been kind of all over the place. They haven't had any real stinkers, but their best standout... actually, it was really good. What the hell am I thinking? My brother wouldn't steer me wrong (much like he wouldn't disappoint me by giving me bottles that didn't have antlers at X-mas).

So brown that it has turned black, the beer has a head with an off-white hue made from many tiny bubbles and a few big ones. It attempts to make some lacing on the sides of the glass, but it's failing pretty miserably. The aroma is smoky chocolate with a mocha bend. The spices are light and barely perceptible.

First sip is a lot heavier with the coffee than the aroma let me know. The chocolate is dark and bitter, and it intermingles with the coffee and smoked oats. I don't know where the spices are, but I might have been taken off-guard by the coffee. I'm not a coffee fan; this isn't enough to ruin the beer, but it's not welcome.

Tip-in is sweet and vanill…

Boulevard Snow & Tell Scotch Ale

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Yup, it's another beer from my brother with antlers inexplicably glued on it. Look, it may not look great for the picture, but I like that my brother went through the effort to glue the little googly eyes on the beer with that stupid, beautiful shiny nose. So, a Boulevard has this decoration, and they were on my "naughty" list, when I had my first, but they have bounced back, so this might be very good.

The very dark amber beer is liberal with its head, but it's not too much to handle. The tight bubbles nestle nicely on the top of the beer like a sweet little mattress. Speaking of sweet - the brown sugar, molasses, and syrup sweetness is carried right over to me from a foot away, and I'm also digging the oaky addition at the outskirts of the smell.

First sip is smooth, but the end has an oak dryness to it that doesn't let go in a hurry. I can definitely taste the brown sugar and molasses, and there is some vanilla added for brightness. Still, that oak finish …

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

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The only other beer I've had from Great Lakes was their amber, and I liked it very much. I'm going through the Christmas beers that my brother stuck reindeer antlers and faces on before giving to me; This one is from his current home state of Ohio. So, let's see if he picked me out a good one.

This surprisingly clear copper beer didn't have much head from the get-go, but what little head I coaxed out is fluffy enough, and it never really goes completely away. The aroma is sweet with spices and honey (just like it says on the label) with very little thought given to the hops. The spices are prickly, but I'm not getting a bite of floral or citrus hops that I might come to expect. I don't even think I smell pine.

First sip makes me forget all of the worries I had about there not being hops in here. No, hops are not forward, but they do seem to be backing up a very nice warmly spiced malt with that sweet honey bringing up the rear beside the hops. The hops are defi…

Brooklyn Winter Lager

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Brooklyn has given me some good performances in the past, and - as you can see - my brother hooked me up with the festively-decorated bottle. So, this one is another one that is classified as a winter beer, but this is a lager. How will it do against the ale I had last time?

The dark brown beer has a good amount of head that fizzles down to a quarter inch or so of foam that makes the whole festive countenance of the beer seem more like a party. The aroma is roasted grains, bitter dark chocolate, and alcohol just nestled into the warm rug of malt.

First sip is the roasted grains joining coffee grounds and vanilla. The sip isn't particularly bad, even for someone like me who doesn't like coffee. It seems like it has a lot of carbonation, and that's making me burp a bit just from the sip. Odd.

Tip-in is mild carbonation tingle with the roasted grains and a caramel malt mixed with some earth under it. The middle widens to include more grains, some dark fruit, and that's ab…