Showing posts from 2016

Ommegang "Game of Thrones" Valar Dohaeris Belgian Style Tripel Ale

The only two Ommegang beers I've had were Game of Thrones themed, and they were both really damn good. This tripel is the third distinct style, and their track record would indicate that it's going to be a really fantastic interpretation of the style. While I was skeptical of the GoT tie-in at first, these guys have made a believer of me.

The golden amber beer has that sticky head that I love, love, love. Lacing is very nice, so the overall effect of just looking at the beer is like gazing into the face of an angel. The aroma is spices with yeast, grainy malt, and even some hops. The scent reminds me of the bret beers that I had with their overpowering yeast, but the yeast here seems to take more of a back seat - I still think I can smell it, though.

First sip is one hell of a mouthful. This beer has a big character, and it is sloshing that character from side to side, pushing its way through the crowd of other beers and generally making itself known to everyone around it (if …

Devil's Backbone "Schwartz Bier" German Style Black Lager

The Devil's Backbone Brewing Company is trying, and I give them credit for it. A proper black lager is hard to get right, and even good brewers can get it horribly wrong. How will this small Lexington-based brewer deal with something this complex? Well, I hope they figure this puzzle out.

The suitably black beer has a ruby fringe to it and a very thin tan head. The tiny patch of bubbles that remains on the top is just enough to let you know that this beer isn't flat, but it's calm. The aroma is smoked oats, vanilla, nuts, and coffee.

First sip is more chocolate than I could smell. The carbonation is notable for its splashy kind of smack and run on the tongue. It still has the stuff from the aroma, but I don't know that I can really pick out the best of the beer. I suspect this will take a proper gulp.

Tip-in is kind of harsh with a buzz of carbonation just dulling everything around it in an icy shower of bubbling. Somewhere in the back, barley and chocolate scream for …

Dogfish Head Flesh & Blood IPA

From the high to the low, Dogfish Head has been almost entirely on the positive side of my ratings. Yes, there is always one outlier, but they experiment and I get to enjoy the results pretty reliably. This one is a head scratcher as to what the hell it is supposed to be: is it a red or an IPA? Well, there is one sure way to find out.

The red hue almost looks like it was added after the brewing process happened. Maybe I'm being cynical, but that's the impression I get. The aroma is surprisingly hoppy. I say it's surprising, as I expected it to be more like a red or amber ale, and it is clearly an IPA from the aroma. I wonder what the taste will bring.

First sip is a sweet and hoppy beer. I had definitely not expected sweet malt to be foremost in the beer, and it takes a back seat to the hops, but the malt is making me aware of its location and the reason that it is here - to combat bitterness and rise victorious like a gladiator holding the severed head of his enemy. Okay,…

Blue Moon White IPA

People encounter Blue Moon and think of just one kind of beer. I have encountered many different versions, and they range pretty wildly. Naming this one White IPA instead of the Belgian White that most people think of when they think of Blue Moon likely leads to no end of confusion, and they may want to re-think their marketing strategy.

The hazy straw-colored beer has a fairly sticky and patchy head that lets the aroma of hops right on through. I'm not sure what makes this a "white" IPA as opposed to another style or color, but it gives the impression of pretty much being exactly what I expect an IPA to be.

First sip is a fairly nice IPA. It has hops all front and center, and the mix is mostly citrus, a bit of floral, and maybe even some pine. While it is heavy on the hops, it isn't heavy on the bitterness that usually accompanies it. Instead, the grainy, wheat-like malt and the yeast temper it very nicely, and the effect is of a well balanced sip. But, a sip is onl…

Bud Light Lime

Given the last experience with the best that Budweiser has to offer, you may ask why I'm even bothering with this one. Well, a guy I encountered recently could not stop talking about the awesomeness of this beer, and I had purchased him a 12-pack. He gave me one to review, and I am dutifully reviewing it now.

The beer is pale yellow with pretty much no head to speak of - why pretend to be a real beer at all? The very light aroma is citrus and malt, which is pretty much exactly what I would expect. I can't describe the amount of apprehension I have before I even take the first sip, but I'm doing this for science, dammit!

First sip is pretty damn lousy. I think the lime is successfully covering up most of the bad taste of the original Bud Light, but that doesn't mean all of it's covered, and the lime is pretty much playing the part of the lime in a Corona - masking the bad things while trying to bring out the good. Unfortunately, I wanted a beer - not a lime drink.


Seagram's Hard Soda Orange Cream

The first of this bunch didn't go so great. If Seagram's uses the same formula for all of these hard sodas, than all four of these will have been pretty much a waste of time. That's a negative attitude, though, and I have been very surprised by beverage before, so I'm going to assume that this will be awesome.

Am I a nut, or did you also expect this to be orange? I'm not saying that they should add coloring or anything, but I'm just surprised that this looks more like a cream soda than something orange. Nope, no orange. Instead, the white beverage is cloudy and has a moderate number of points of nucleation around the bottom of the glass. The aroma is the same wine cooler-esque alcohol over top of a more appropriate orange peel.

First sip is orangey, but it's like an orange slice mixed with a diet 7-Up or something similar. On top of that is the alcohol taste of the wine cooler variety. I'm not sure that the sip was a good one, but it was relatively inof…

Seagram's Grape Hard Soda

I've had hard root beer, hard Dr. Pepper, hard cherry cola, hard Mountain Dew, and hard orange soda. I think I've had even more than that, but I'm not going to keep doing searches on my own site - feel free to do your own in the top left search box. It's powered by The Google, so it should be pretty good. Out of the multi-pack that I got of these Seagram's, the grape is one of the two that I was most looking forward to, so I started with it.

The beverage is expectedly dark purple with no head - soda doesn't normally keep one for very long, so that's just what we want. The smell is very clearly alcohol-heavy grape. I can't say that the smell is enticing or even very promising, and that's a crying shame. But, a smell will only get you so far.

First sip isn't great. They clearly tried to cover the heavy alcohol with some serious artificial grape flavoring. Additionally, it's very sweet - it's like they took something like a grape wine coole…

Little Harpeth Upstream San Fran Lager

I very much liked the only other beer I had from this local Nashville brewer. I'm not sure I've tried a west coast lager before, so this'll be a new experience, and I look forward to most of those. Early on in my blog life, I claimed to not like lagers, but a succession of good ones changed my mind. A good representative of any style can really show you what makes that style stand out and what people like about them.

The deep amber-to-copper colored beer is hazy and topped with a nominal white head that could fool me into believing that it was thick and patchy, if I hadn't been the one who poured it and realized that there wasn't much head at all. The aroma is malty and smells faintly of corn, which is pretty odd, I think, and I am questioning my own nose.

First sip is certainly inoffensive. It is malt heavy and generally sweet with heavy graininess and light earth. I can't really taste any hops, but I suspect there is a lot more going on in there than a stupid…

Robinson's Old Tom Chocolate Strong Ale

The is supposed to be the World's Best Ale. Don't ask me - ask Robinson's about their label. Here I have been trying to find the best beers in the world (available to me here locally) and these guys went ahead and put it in their bottle, slapped a label on it that told me what I was looking for, and then sent it to my local brewslinger.

The beer is dark brown with a dense, swirling mist of white specks that make me think of this glass as a snow globe. The head isn't very much at the best of times, and it boils away to a few patches floating on top and the familiar ring around the edge. The aroma is slightly bitter and actually reminds me of a bourbon barrel aged beer with the heavy oak and distinct alcohol - and those kinds of beers are not my favorite.

First sip is not the bourbon barrel beer that I'd feared, and it is also not the chocolate porter/stout/black ale that I'd hoped for. Instead, it is a bitter swill of heavy bread malt, some coffee, very slight v…

New Belgium Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale

I will admit to buying this beer completely out of curiosity. I mean - who is your target demographic with this freaking beer? As the holidays are approaching, I suppose this might be the kind of thing you would drink in the middle of the day instead of eggnog or somesuch while dealing with some troublesome family member or the like.

I expected a dark beer. Normally these chocolate beers are stouts or porters, so I'm really surprised to find a bright golden yellow ale in front of me with a few scant bubbles floating on top. The aroma is more malt than anything, but I do smell maybe a sweet vanilla. Aside from that, it's nothing out of the ordinary, and I wonder what's going on.

First sip, and things become clear. The vanilla is very strong with this one, and it is very, very sweet. The trail off reminds me of those little fake chocolate balls that come in a sleeve at Christmas... what were they called..... SIXLETS! They don't overpower the beer, though, they are just k…

Founders Backwoods Bastard Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale

My first few Founders beers were really good. Since then, I've hoped that they would recapture that magic, but the best they can do is slightly above average. I'm looking for a return to form, and I have chosen this beer with a scraggly old man on it to drag them kicking and screaming into the toolshed of happiness.

She's a dark brown and red beer with an impressive opacity. The head doesn't amount to much, and what's left after a while is like a tiny negligee on top of an oak trunk. Speaking of oak, guess what I don't smell! That's right, anything. I don't smell a damn thing in here. It could be that I am recovering from a cold, but I swear I just dipped my nose so close that it was almost touching, and I couldn't smell a thing. So, I'm going in nose-blind.

First sip is ... quite bad. I've had these Oak Barrel beers before, and some have gone not bad. The problem is, it seems, the fact that this is a Scotch Ale rather than a Scottish Style …

Sixpoint 5 Beans Porter

Not sure I will ever understand the energy drink cans these guys use. I thought I had tried everything they offered, but I saw this on the shelf, and I decided to give it a good whirl. Fact is, I didn't look at it too hard, as it appears it may be a coffee-based beer. Beers that are based on coffee are an insult to my palate, and I hope they die a fiery death. Still, I have this one to try, and maybe it will redeem the others.

The black beer has a very slight red-brown haze around the outsides only when exposed to fairly bright light. The tan head is thin, but it has staying power. It caps the beer like a thin film of algae - unmoving and seemingly menacing. The aroma is very coffee. It's coffee grounds, vanilla, oak, smoke, and I'm sure a bunch of other stuff that is buried under the coffee. I fear, as a non-coffee drinker - I've made another mistake.

First sip is coffee grounds. If there's more in it, I can't taste it, but friends have told me that my sensiti…

Terrapin All American Oat Pale Ale

Terrapin is the best turtle-themed beer brewer I've come across. Mind you, I can't recall another, so I suspect they are in a class of one here. They have had some good beers, and they have had stinkers, but most of their beers are hovering around my middle-of-the-road 2.5 mark. I want to see them break out and start hitting home runs.

The pale golden beer sports a frothy head that leaves enough lacing to let you know that you're dealing with a real beer here. The murky depths of the beer glow with light overhead like a beautiful Romulan or viking elixir that would tempt the hardest of hearts. The aroma is flowers, grains, citrus, and maybe even a hint of pine, if my smeller is working right. I guess I should see if my taster is.

First sip is very grapefruit-forward, and the whole beer is just pretty damn refreshing. I could see enjoying this on a warm summer afternoon on the deck while the puppies play in the back yard and the horses graze nearby (I'm living in a Sout…

Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA

Dark horse was really a... dark horse, I guess... when I first tried one. since then, I expect quirky, bold, and good representations of beers I've had before. I like a brewer who tried to go outside the box once they have mastered the traditional beers, but it seems like Dark Horse has managed to skip the first part and go right to the second. I support this, if it goes well.

The very hazy light brown beer sports a white, clumpy head that indicates that it means business. The aroma is a fairly quiet and unassuming light floral and pine hops with little else there to back it up. It's surprising that the IPA is so mild in its presentation, but presentation is only part of the whole experience, and the taste is really what we're here for.

First sip is not at all mild. Instead, the floral and pine hops positively attack the mouth with the attitude that they may only get one shot at leaving an impression, and they're going to leave one that will take a couple of weeks to c…

Samuel Smith Organic Chocolate Stout

My experience with Samuel Smith has not been stellar. The best of the beers was better than average, but I came away from most of them thinking that they represent the worst of British beers, and they are watery and just not the kind of beer I would turn to for fulfilling my beer needs. That said, I didn't get this because I expected it to suck.

The beer is a deep ruby red to the point of blackness. The light tan head leaves no lacing, but it sticks around like a particularly drunk guy at a party who is just too busy talking about his blog and how important it is to the world even though no one reads it, Cameron! The aroma is smoke and chocolate with a little coffee mixed in there for good measure. I have high expectations based on the aroma - this may be the best of the British beers. Maybe.

First sip is a small chunk of Halloween candy, but it's one of those *special* candies that are only available to adults because they decided to add alcohol to the chocolate. There is als…

Lagunitas Born Yesterday Fresh Hop, Unfiltered Pale Ale

Oh Lagunitas. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more hop-filled and so expert at brewing beers.

Every damn Lagunitas review seems to be a love letter to that damn company, and I would be more upset if they didn't deserve it, but these guys put together an amazing beer time and time again, and they deserve the accolades I've showered them with. Let's watch that train of superbness pull into the station once again.

This cloudy as all hell yellow beer has a sticky (but not overly patchy) head with staying power. The aroma is fresh hops. These things are floral, slightly pine, and even more slightly citrus, and they are right off the farm and shoved into my glass. They are potent, and I can smell pretty much nothing under them.

First sip is not as nice and delicious as I'd hoped. Instead, it gives the impression of being watery at first, and it is rear-loaded with the hops to the point of overwhelming bitterness. I don't know where the malt is in her…

Devil's Backbone Vienna Lager

I don't know if I've had a Vienna-style lager before. I can't seem to find one in the handy search box on this blog. So, with the Devil's Backbone having hovered around the "Just waiting to break out and have a giant hit" section of the blog, I figured I would scoop this up and try it out.

The beer is a fairly clear kind of amber-orange with what eventually amounts to almost no head. Lacing is something this beer doesn't have anything to do with. Instead, It is happy with a gentle ring of bubbles around the top, and that's it. The aroma is very fresh bread; it's like walking into a subway restaurant kind of fresh bread. It's an interesting smell, that's for sure.

First sip is more complex than just the bread, but it's still very malt-heavy. There are spices and apricots feeding into the malt to give it a little extra and make sure that the beer isn't too malty. Is this a great sipping beer? Well, I'd say it's not bad. It ha…

Tennessee Brew Works Southern Wit

I picked up two cold Tennessee Brew Works beers the last time I hit the store. The first beer was, admittedly, not that great. That doesn't mean that this one will be as bad. I mean, these guys (gender neutral, as I have no special insight into their brewery) clearly got enough momentum to start a brewery and even distribute the beer (which is one aspect that CSB had and lost). Let's bring the awesome!

Another sticky head tops this pale yellow beer with a very grainy and lemony aroma that seems almost to be just this side of skunked. I'd have checked the date this was brewed, but they didn't decide to include the brew date on the bottle at all. It's okay, because it seems to just be flirting with the possibility of skunk, and it might just be me for all I know.

First sip is certainly not mild, but it's also not actually hitting me in the face. It's heavy on grains, and all other tastes are just there as dressing. There is a sour note in there that may very …

Tennessee Brew Works Cutaway IPA

I can admit that I want this to work. I appreciate local brewers, and I want them all to do well and produce good, fresh beer for me to enjoy in large quantities (although I rarely actually drink in excess). This is from Nashville, my home away from the North, and that makes it about as local as it gets. Guys, let's do the hometown proud!

A patchy, sticky head lets you know that you're looking at an IPA, and the lacing will let you know even after the beer has gone away. The color of the beer is also classic IPA - a very murky gold-tinted brown. The aroma sure enough keeps the idea of an IPA going with citrus hops that have just a bit of floral to them. <insert comment about really wanting to drink it based on these attributes>

First sip is definitely more characterful than a run-of-the-mill IPA. It is very bitter, as you might expect, but it is filled with untamed grains and grasses in the middle, and they kind of push everything else aside. The hops are trying to get t…

Boulder Beer "Shake" Chocolate Porter

Wait - Boulder Beer is in Boulder Colorado? Imaginative. As far as I know, there is no Nashville Beer, Inc. or similar, so I guess they have a unique kind of obviousness. I'm not sure why this is called "Shake" but I complained about the name of the brewery itself, so I shouldn't keep giving them a hard time. I genuinely don't know how an apparent microbrew from Colorado made its way to Tennessee, but I won't look a gift horse in the mouth.

The beer is a deep cherry brown like a very dark rendition of a cola. The head is thick and sticky with an aroma of coffee more than anything. I think I smell burned oatmeal, too, but I really wanted to smell the chocolate, and I'm not getting much of it at all. It's not that it's not mouthwatering - it's just not what I expected, and that's on me, not the brewer.

First sip is a bit confused. It has some chocolate, but it's certainly not a defining characteristic. Instead, there is the burned oatmea…

Terrapin Hi-5 IPA

Terrapin's wares have been up and down, but they are generally right in the middle. As a consequence, I don't actually have very high hopes for an outstanding beer, but I also expect not to have undrinkable swill. I don't generally aim for the middle-of-the-pack beers, and I hope they don't, either. I want a very good beer... might this be it?

It's a yellow beer with a slight orange glow that has a nice head that leaves a lot of lacing, and I, as you probably know, love that. The aroma is expectedly citrus hops with a touch of spices. I can't smell much more, as the aroma is really gentle. I really like California IPAs, and I'm going to love this, I'm sure.

First sip is NICE. It has the easy citrus calmness of a California IPA, and I really like the way it's full of flavor without needing to assault the senses. As a sipping beer, I can already say that this is among the best of the all-day IPA styles. It is simple enough to just drain the can right …

Stone 02.02.02 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone. They make beer, and I drink it. It seems like this would be a simple relationship, and it turns out, at least for these guys, it is. Sometimes beer makers try to do too much and go up in flames, and sometimes they try to do a lot and hit it out of the park every time. Stone is like the realistic girlfriend in the romance movie that the hero overlooks for the unattainable woman - yes, they have their faults, but ultimately they are in it for the long haul.

The light gold beverage has a lovely head that leaves enough lacing to let you know that beer has been here, and it knew what it was doing. The head is now a nice, patchy Mandelbrot floating on top. The aroma is a funky mix of funky yeast, coriander, orange, spices, and ... wheat. I didn't expect this to be a wheat beer, but this is a lot like the other wheat beers I've had before.

First sip is everything that the nose was but - get this - right in the mouth instead. The musty yeast is a bit much on the ass-end of the …

Stone Citracado IPA

The Stone guys are good. This is an anniversary ale, and it was released in August 2016. It is currently October 2016 (at the time of writing), so this should definitely be fresh enough (assuming this is one of the beers that is best fresh). I buy beer hoping it is good - there's no reason to buy beer that you know isn't good - and that's why I tried the best that Budweiser had to offer, but I haven't gone full Bud.

I could probably go a lot of ways with the description of this color. Is it a reddish brown? A dark amber? Chestnut? Dirty mahogany? You decide, as I have too many descriptions to pick from. The head is somewhat sticky, so it definitely leaves some lacing... okay, it's actually a really nice amount of lacing. It also leaves a fairly thick cap on top of the beer. The aroma is floral and citrus hanging out together with kind of a caramel malt with it.

First sip is very nice indeed. It is a mellowing malt that tamps down the bitterness of hops - more citru…

Stone Citrusy Wit

Stone knows how to make good beers, but they also experiment with it not actually paying out. The worst one I've had is still good enough to recommend in general, but it's slightly below average. I like a good brewer who isn't afraid to branch out and try new things, and they've proven that they like to experiment. Welcome to my lab.

Suspended in the hazy pale gold beer are many particulates of... I'm going to guess citrus stuff based solely on the title. It reminds me of the way the tiny little bits float in a nice glass bottle of Sun Drop (you know, the good one with the real sugar). The head dissipates to leave a very nice coating of bubbles as lacing on the sides of the glass as well as a thin layer on top that has lily pads of dense clusters of bubbles. The aroma is simple lemons and wheat grass.

First sip is wheat grains and citrus, so there's no big surprise. The sheer amount of tartness is kind of impressive. It seems to come from the heavy yeast, some …

Dark Horse "Kamikaze Kaleidoscope" Wit Ale

My second beer from Dark Horse, and I have not made my mind up about them. They have these ludicrous drawings on their labels that look like rejected Grateful Dead covers, and their beer names are from the fever dreams of people on strange substances that might get smoked or ingested at one of those concerts.

The hazy, straw-gold beer supports a head that refuses to leave lacing no matter how much I beg. Instead, it boils away to a thin veneer on top of the beer, and it lets the aroma of heavy citrus and grains permeate it just fine. I've always said that if beer makers want citrus added to their beer, they should add it at the brew-house, and it looks (or rather smells) like these guys have done that, and I applaud them even before tasting it.

First sip is very much a wheat beer. It is heavy in grains with wheat and barley blowing in the breeze downwind of a citrus grove. I expected the citrus to be front and center, but it's really doing a pretty good job of just hanging in …

Dark Horse "Scary Jesus Rock Star" Pale Ale

This is a beer that Jeremy from City Sliquors decided to "donate to the cause" even though he hadn't had a chance to try it himself, and I much appreciate his trust in me to review the beer on his behalf. For starters, this looks too much like a hipster beer from the get-go with its off-the-wall name and strange ingredients. Add to that the fact that "Dark Horse" is the name of a comic book company I remember fondly from my youth, and you have a beer that pulls me in two directions.

The beer is a surprisingly pedestrian shade of brown. This may as well be a brown ale based on color alone (no, I'm not judging based on color alone, but makers of brown ales can take note of just how UPS brown a beer can be). The head is gorgeous. Just look at it. It has the staying power to leave a good third of an inch floating on top, and that's while caking the glass with lacing. The aroma is expectedly citrus and flowers. There's an earthy malt hanging around, look…

Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot Ale

No, I will not write yet another love letter to Lagunitas as an intro. You all know what I think about the amazing non-craft brewer from Petaluma (and also Chicago, for some reason) so I won't go on about it. Instead, I'll comment that the beer today claims to be a "jobless recovery ale." I don't know what it means, but these guys have an odd sense of humor and they don't really understand that a label is probably not the best way to get a complete thought across.

The patchy head doesn't leave the lacing of its brothers, but it leaves some, and that's a step in the right direction. The beer underneath is a very deep red with the sweet malt and floral hops sending their scent straight up through the bubbles and into my nose, and my nose is happy about the whole thing.

First sip reminds me a bit of a barleywine, but unlike those beers I really kinda like this one. It's very malty, got a bit of oatmeal, and lots of other little bits and stuff like ma…

A+R Ales "I Do" IPA

On the occasion of City Sliquors' third anniversary of bringing goodness to beer lovers in the area, they had a special on growlers, so I picked this one up. They were really busy, and I pretty much picked the first IPA that I saw - I didn't even get a sample. So, I head into this with no real knowledge of A+R or what I should expect aside from my experience with IPAs in general. Should be fun.

The very clear pale gold beer leave no lacing and has not but a scant head. Many points of nucleation at the very bottom of the glass contribute to the strengthening of the thin cap at the top, so the beer still manages to look good and inviting, despite the lack of sticky, hoppy head. The aroma is is lemon citrus hops and light bread malt.

First sip is strong, but not harsh. It's got the citrus and bread, but it also has spices and it is really crisp. I don't know what else is making this up, but I can say that the strong taste doesn't mean that it couldn't be sipped. T…

Ballast Point Dead Ringer Oktoberfest

The first two Ballast Point beers that I reviewed demonstrated a clear ability to get things done in an orderly fashion that brings out what the type of beer is supposed to be. So, when I went back to the beer store, I got another one. Should I have gotten more? Possibly, but I didn't. Maybe next time - if this one works out.

The beer is a rich mahogany-burgundy with quite a bit of carbonation sending bubbles to the top to die a peaceful death. The patchy head of dying bubbles valiantly struggles to hang onto life as long as they can. The aroma is spices, dark fruits, and malt - pretty much the template for an Oktoberfest, if my past experience is anything to go by.

First sip is not as heavy on the front-end as I'm used to with these types of beers. That said, there is a lot of complexity, and that is totally what I was expecting. Still, it's all rear-loaded - that front end is almost lager simple with sweet malt, but that finish has the dark fruits and spices to really ma…

Shmaltz Star Trek 50 Golden Anniversary Ale (The Trouble with Tribbles)

A gift from the same friend that gave me the last Star Trek beer I tried, this is also from the same brewery. That one wasn't the best, but I have hopes that hops will make this one much better. Star Trek should certainly be picky about how good the beer is that they put their name on, but they've put their name on some pretty shoddy stuff before, so I don't know.

The beer is definitely golden. The head is dense and sticky enough to make me think that it may deserve the name of "ale." It's not patchy like an IPA, but it has possibilities. The aroma is more spices that have a right to be here; the bready malt is a lot more forward than I'd expect from an ale.

First sip is aggressively caustic. It's odd that it manages to have the difficulty in the spiciness and grains while also managing to be excessively watery. So, not a sipping beer, this. Will it be a swigging beer? I have to admit going into the next phase with more than a modicum of trepidation, …

Founders PC Pils Pilsner

Pilsners in general have done pretty well on my blog, and that surprises me, as I would never have picked pilsners as one of my favorite styles, but I guess this is one of the things I am learning as time moves on. After all, I thought the same about other kinds of beers only to be proven wrong then, too.

The beer is a bright yellow, and if it was slightly more thin, I might mistake it for a macro brew. Instead, I enjoy the rather scant head that disappears pretty quickly to a light cap of bubbles that leaves no lacing. The aroma is a bit of pine, grapefruit, and grains.

First sip is... simple, I guess, is the most descriptive term. It's grains, some citrus, and some pine, but - no - I think the best word is maybe "crisp." It is sharp and direct, but it has malt as a kind of a grainy bread (like a five grain) cushion for the whole thing, too. It's straight-forward and actually not bad for sipping. Gulping? Let's find out.

Tip-in is more bready than grainy. The ca…

Terrapin Single Origin Coffee Stout

I hesitate to even do this review. A man I fully trust to pick out a good beer (who runs the very helpful City Sliquors establishment I've spoken fondly about in the past) saved be a four pack of these and said how good it was. Even though I don't like coffee in general, I know he knows his stuff, so I figured I would try it out.

The beer is downright black. There's no ruby or deep brown that simply masquerades as black - it is black through and through. The tan head leaves a ghost of lacing as it boils down to an uneven head that rests atop a beer that smells of coffee grounds and nothing else. The coffee is overpowering, as I suspected it would be.

First sip is very bitter, cold coffee. I'm actually wondering to myself right now what it would taste like if I added sugar and milk to this. Would it taste better and make me tolerate it like I can tolerate coffee if I have to? It's clear this isn't the beverage for me, but I'm going to keep this going for sci…

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

I really liked the 60-minute IPA, and I loved the 90-minute IPA, so the ever-friendly Jeremy, proprietor of the much praised (in this blog) City Sliquors, gave me one of these as a gift, as he had pulled it aside for some of his regular customers. I thank him with all of my liver.

The ungodly pretty beer is a deep brownish amber color with a head that just doesn't want to be there, and it goes away in a huff soon after being poured, leaving the familiar ring and a slight layer that appears to be a single bubble deep across the top like a lilypad of joy.  The aroma is very, very faint, and it may have some malt and some hops, but I'm almost definitely projecting onto it.

First sip is more like a Belgian ale than anything. It's got all that sweet malt that has such a thick, bready taste to it that really makes me want to upend the glass and just say to hell with this review. But, that would be a disservice to you, my few and not impressively loyal readers, and to the stalwor…

Wiseacre Holy Candy Belgian-Style Dubbel

Honestly, this is probably the best label of all of the Wiseacre beers so far. This has a wacky couple of angels and... I don't know, leaves and stuff? I'm sure it looked better before it was applied to a bottle, but the curve of the bottle distorts it a bit and makes it pretty hard to read. But, like the others, this is not for reading - it's for drinking.

The deep mahogany-hued beer sports a head that fizzles to a bashful ring around the sides of the glass. The aroma is unusual spices on top of heavy malt. The nose gets some dark fruits and raisins behind the rest, and it is clear that this dark beverage has hidden depths.

First sip confirms those depths, as I can taste nuts, those dark fruits, oak, and quite a bit of other deliciousness. The heaviness and depth of the beer is very nice, and it's exactly what I would expect from a dubbel. But what should I expect from a swig?

Tip-in is oak and plums with a carbonation fizzle keeping things light. Figs and raisins add…

Urban Family Kriek Fruit Ale

This is a kind of beer that has sour cherries that compliment the rest of the beverage. I am told that hipsters enjoy the sour beers, and this may be targeted at them. If so, I may not like it. I certainly hope that the style, which traces its roots to the Belgians, has enough staying power that even I might enjoy it.

The raspberry colored beverage was captured in the picture with a bit of a head, but it was a head very similar to one you'd find on a soda or a wine cooler. As a result, it is ephemeral and disappears very quickly. The aroma is very light, but it has berries and flowers.

First sip is sour, sour, sour, and a bit of sour. I'm not a fan of sour beers, but I like sour candies (or I did like 20 years ago when I ate candy), so this has to walk a line between them. It doesn't. Instead, it's just overpowering sour on top of what might be a good beverage, but I may never know, as the sour is just way too much. A swig? That's how I roll.

Tip-in is sour cherrie…

Dansk Mjød Viking Blod Mead

Not the first mead that I've had. The last one was possibly too much of a surprise to me for me to really enjoy it as I should, despite Sloan's tenacious care and expertise. It's possible I just won't like mead, don't like this kind of wine, or am really just a beer guy at heart (which is what I expect). Let's find out.

The beverage is honey colored and quite nice looking. There's no head to speak of, as it is a honey wine, there shouldn't be, as I found out the last time I tried one. The aroma is once again very wine-like, and I think I've come to appreciate wine (in a limited way) so I can be a bit more objective (although, let's be honest, this blog is about my subjective opinion when you come down to it). The smell is of a very strong wine, indeed. Lots of alcohol happening here (19% ABV).

First sip is a strangely oaky wine. Once I hit the word "wine" there, I am pretty much not going to be able to be much more exact. I don't k…

Ballast Point Grunion Pale Ale

Another Ballast Point beer. It seems that when I get ahold of a brewer I've never had, I tend to get a few of their beers and try them in sequence. I like to see the direction a brewer is going to see if I want to follow them further. With some, the answer is no. With others, it's HECK YES!

The delightfully golden honey beverage holds up the sticky, sticky head that leaves such lacing on the side that I'm thinking this might actually be an IPA instead of a more pedestrian pale ale (mind you, the label has a subscript of "hoppy pale ale"). The aroma is hoppy, but the hops are musty and a mixture of citrus, pine, and I can even smell a bit of sweet malt there (but I might only be dreaming).

First sip is stronger than a regular pale ale, and it has a bit of funky mustiness from the hops that are just made of pollen or something with their mustiness. They are strong, but as the beer gets further from freezing cold and closer to nice and cool, the hops kind of relax, …

Wiseacre Ameliorator Doppelbock Lager

Wiseacre continues the series of pretty crappy looking labels. The other two beers showed promise, but they both failed in their own ways. I'm looking for these guys to start brewing truly spectacular beers sometime very soon - in fact, they may already brew the perfect beer, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet. Well, let's see if this is it.

The color is a deep red to the point of blackness. The head is pretty minimal, and the very thin cap left after a while is patchy, but it grips the sides well enough. It only grips at the rim, though. There's pretty much no lacing going on at all. The aroma is rich and deep. It has dark fruits and sweet malt just bubbling around (I notice quite a bit of sediment swirling around in there when I hold it up to the light).

First sip is firm. It's a heavy dark fruit and bread just all up in my face saying, "Yea, boy! This is how we do it in The Acre!" It's not unrefined, but it's bold and untamed. The carbona…

North Coast Pranqster Belgian Style Golden Ale

Is this a prank on me? It's the prank that they misspelled prankster, isn't it? Well, I can forgive them their peculiar name, as the other beer they gave me was very, very good. Will this be another to add to the list of excellent beers from tiny little brewers? Let's say yes.

As the name implies, the beer is a dusty golden color with a very light tan head. There's no evident lacing, and the cap of bubbles are very (almost suspiciously) evenly distributed across the top of the beer, but they do not restrain the quite potent aroma of barley, apricot, apple, and spices. It's intriguing more than it is familiar.

First sip is a LOT smoother than I had expected. Instead, it is sweet malt with assorted fruits (too quick past the tongue to identify them all) that definitely have a twang of grit and of tartness to them. Yes, I am saying that it has grit and is also smooth - if you have a problem with that, leave a comment. The grit is more like an earthiness, so it doesn&#…

Ballast Point Longfin Lager

Yet another beer from Ballast Point. What? I never did any Ballast Point before? That seems unimaginable; yet, a quick search of the blog (that search is at the right on the main page of my blog) proves out that I haven't reviewed a single one of their beers. Well, let's remedy that right now.

The pale yellow beer has a very white cap that is somewhat sticky. Lacing immediately above the top of the liquid is solid, but it follows the beer down. The aroma is a little bit funky, but it has the hallmark maltiness that I've come to expect from a good lager. The subtle yeast twang that is in there reminds me (and very few beers do) of the many, many nights spent enjoying beer at the Penn Brewery in Pittsburgh with my brother. That place absolutely dripped with the stuff.

First sip is quite mild. The malt is sweet and bready, and the spices keep the flavor going after it has long since left the mouth. The effect is very nice, and I could definitely see sipping this for quite som…

Sierra Nevada Hoptimum Whole-Cone Imperial IPA

Sierra Nevada's selection has been, succinctly, fantastic. I don't know if my local guy just stocks the good ones and doesn't bother with the bad ones, but this is in stock, so I have very, very high hopes. The fact that this is a "whole cone" IPA means that... I don't really know what to expect. I mean, I've never had a whole cone, and I don't know what makes that different than the regular IPAs.

The beer is a lot darker than your average IPA. It's a very attractive deep amber with a sticky-as-hell head that dies down to a fluffy pillow atop the attractive beverage. The aroma is pine hops and a smooth, creamy malt. It is one heck of a good smell, and I really want to drain this glass.

First sip is bitter. I mean, it comes across as the bitterness of a scorned lover. There is definitely sweet malt in there trying to do something, but the bitter pine hops are running the show, and they don't care what your mouth says about it. The fact that the…