Goose Island: Matilda

While Goose Island‘s regular rotating beers are pretty darn good, their special ones are absolutely spectacular. They are well worth the price if you can find them, and this Matilda is no exception. I actually first had this about 6 months ago or so on a trip to Peoria for the annual meeting of ASCLS-IL. A classmate of mine works at the original Goose Island brew pub and gave me a bottle of this to take home. Six months later I finally drank it.

and check out my fancy new staging thingy!

 

Style: Belgian Strong Ale. Similar to a Belgian Pale Ale but with a much higher alcohol content. A highly complex ale with a huge, billowy head. (I can attest to this—there was some spillage…) Fruit and hops flavors balance each other nicely.

Overall Impression: This is really, really good. Somewhat surprisingly, it went well with my spicy Thai peanut pasta. I would recommend sharing the bottle as the alcohol content (7%) is a tad high for a session brew.

Appearance: Beautiful coppery amber color with excellent head that receded into lots of lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Fruit aroma–it tastes more complex then it smells.

Taste: Fruity, tarty, with spicy yeast flavors as well. You taste something new almost every time you take a sip.

Mouthfeel: Light with good carbonation. Smooth as well. Goes down easily.

Try this if you like: Brooklyn Local 1, Dogfish Head’s Faithfull Ale (and any number of Belgian beers but those may take some effort to find)

4 pints

Leinenkugel’s: Lemon Berry Shandy

By popular request (meaning my dad asked me to) I present to you my review of Leinenkugel’s newest (and year-round!) shandy: Lemon Berry Shandy. As my regular readers know I am a HUGE fan of Summer Shandy. The beginning of Shandy Season is the highlight of my May. Or as was the case earlier this year, the highlight of my February 29th. Despite my love of that lemonade beer from Chippewa Falls, I hadn’t yet picked up some of this new brew. Possibly because I had only been able to find it in 12 packs and I’m just not that interested in 12 beers I may or may not like. But I found a six pack two weeks ago, and now I’ve finally gotten some time to drink one!

Style: Fruit/Vegetable Beer. This is really an unfortunate category because it lumps Sam Adams Cherry Wheat (not that great) with New Glarus Raspberry Tart (amazing.) And it includes everything in between. Basically, these beers taste like the fruit or veggie added to them and there isn’t much else in terms of malt or hops to speak of.

Overall Impression: Do you like lemon? Do you like berries? Do you like them even more together? This is like the Powerthirst (warning-video link) of berry lemonade. Honestly, I didn’t like it as much as Summer Shandy but it wasn’t bad. Definitely more of a summer beer than a fall. Also, it tasted like a Honey Bear (Berry Weiss + Summer Shandy) and while this, being in one bottle instead of two, is certainly cheaper, I wanted something new and a little more different.

Appearance: Ooo! It’s pink! Okay, well, it’s pink-amber but hey, close enough. Head dissipates very quickly. Cloudy–basically looks like you put Berry Weiss and Summer Shandy together. I think Leinie’s might be trying to capitalize on the Honey Bear phenomenon.

Aroma: Kinda smells like lemon cleaner–same as Summer Shandy. It’s VERY lemony. And then you are hit with BERRY! (See what I mean about this being like Powerthirst? Read my all caps type in the voiceover style.) It also kind of smells like an Astro Pop shot (Smirnoff Ice + grenadine, drop in a shot of UV blue–awesome.)

Taste: Berry! And lemon! And….not much else.

Mouthfeel: Light, lots of carbonation. It pretty much feels like it should.

Try this if you like: Summer Shandy (I mean, they’re basically the same), Leinie’s Berry Weiss, Naked Dove Berry Naked (hands-down the best fruit beer I’ve ever had), New Glarus Raspberry Tart (not quite a beer…but SO GOOD)

3 stars

New Glarus: Black Top

No, it’s not New Glarus Fest (although that would be AWESOME)…it’s just that it happens to be the majority of beer currently in my apartment. Black Top is a new brew from New Glarus Brewing Company. It’s a Black IPA, which intrigued me so much I had to pick up a bottle. (Side note: build-your-own sixpack at stores with huge selections is fantastic.) The staff over at New Glarus recommend you drink this with steak, Mexican food, or creme brulee. Quite the mixture there. And because this is a Wisconsin company, they also recommend this beer with Brie or Gouda cheese. I’m pretty sure I had it with a chicken patty….

Style: American Black Ale (Black IPA). ABAs, also called Black IPAs or Cascadian Dark Ales, range from dark brown to black in color. They have the hoppiness and citrus flavor of a traditional IPA but, unlike traditional IPAs, also have malty and roasted notes.

Overall Impression: Hello, hops. This has the initial taste of an IPA but it settles into those malty flavors I mentioned above. On the second taste I even got a hint of chocolate–what a nice surprise! This would be a great springtime beer because it is still quite light and has those citrus and hop flavors, but would also be good for early fall.

Appearance: Black with some brownish hints. Think dark coffee. Clear but so dark you can’t really see through it. Good head although the retention was not excellent.

Aroma: Hop hoppity hop hop hop.

Taste: Initially you get hops and citrus much like your standard IPA. As the taste hangs around though, the roasted and malt notes come through. Does NOT leave you with a bitter aftertaste–another pleasant development from this beer.

Mouthfeel: Difficult to describe. It had good carbonation and lingered long enough on my taste buds so that I could sense the complex flavors of this beer.

Try this if you like: War Horse American Black Lager, New Belgium Snow Day Winter Ale, Surly Damien

4 pints

 

New Glarus: Raspberry Tart

If I had to drink only one brewery’s beers for the rest of my life, hands down I would pick New Glarus. I’ve probably said this before, actually. Well it still holds true with this Raspberry Tart. This beer was a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law and it’s just been ageing in our pantry ever since. (By the way, I cannot decide which spelling of “ageing” I like better…or is it “aging”? Gah!)

This Raspberry Tart may just be The Fruit Beer. It’s that good.

apologies for the poor quality

Google a better image of this beer. You’ll be able to see just how beautifully red it is. It’s like shining like through a ruby. Also, this is meant to be served in a champagne flute but apparently I don’t have any of those….

Style: New Glarus claims this is a framboise, which basically means a Belgian lambic beer that’s brewed with raspberries. BeerAdvocate gives it the highly generic term “Fruit/Vegetable Beer.” I’ll go with New Glarus because it sounds fancier. Basically, in these beers the fruitiness dominates over the malt and hops. The boyfriend wasn’t even sure it was beer. But believe me, it is.

Overall Impression: RASPBERRIES!!! You know that meme “Clean ALL the things!!!”? Well this is “use ALL the raspberries!!!” But it’s good. It is damn good. I really, really hope you like raspberries though. If you do not enjoy fruity alcoholic drinks, stay away and leave some for the rest of us.

Appearance: Ruby-red and clear. You can see the carbonation. It resembles a sparkling wine, actually.

Aroma: RASPBERRIES!!

Taste: RASPBERRIES!! There is a slight hint of bitterness in the aftertaste (barely.)

Mouthfeel: Like sparkling wine. Goes down smooth though if you can handle all the fruit. I probably could have drank the entire bottle myself.

Try this if you like: Naked Dove’s Berry Naked, Wisconsin Belgian Red, Blackbeary Wheat, just about any true fruit beer. Shandies do not count.

5 Stars

You’re Making This Really Hard

This weekend I was asked by a visiting guest to provide recommendations for a beer that he would like. Specifically the boyfriend and I were planning on taking him out to dinner at one of Goose Island’s two brew pubs in Chicago. So, naturally, the first thing you ask in reply is “well, what do you like?”

The answer we got was not helpful for two self-proclaimed beer snobs. “Well, I like that one by Miller that comes in the clear bottle…oh but not Bud, that I don’t like.” To be fair, if I was asked to choose Miller over Bud I’d choose Miller every time. Bud tastes like piss water, whereas Miller tastes like it may have once been beer. He went on to say that Coors was okay and so was Michelob. But he didn’t want anything that was too bitter, or too dark, or too malty.

My conclusion, which the boyfriend brought up, was “Oh, so you like water flavored?”

So here I am, sitting here wondering what on earth he’d order at Goose Island. Unlike many craft breweries, Goose Island simply does not have generic American light lagers. 312, while fairly generic, is a wheat beer and tastes like it. Honkers Ale is too hoppy. The rest of the them weren’t even worth considering.

Why am I posting this? Because, friends and followers, there is a WORLD of beer out there for you to discover if you’re willing to try something new! Wait until you’ve actually tried a Bock, a Witbier, a summer ale, a stout, or a Scotch ale to say you don’t like them. Like me: I don’t like Hefeweizens, but I’ve tried at least 4 or 5 different ones. I also am not a huge fan of IPAs, but I will drink those.

For example, if I had never decided to branch out into the world of stouts, I would have missed things like Dogfish Head’s Worldwide Stout, or Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, or best of all, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout.

So, for the love of all that is tasty, if your friends think MGD 64 is the best the beer world has to offer (or even if you think so, though I doubt you’re reading this blog if you are) please convince them to try something new! That way when you’re asked for a recommendation, you’re not at a complete loss as to what to do.

The Guide Now on Untappd!

Yes, I’ve finally joined the 21st century and just got Untappd. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s an app that lets you track the beers you drink as well find good places to drink nearby. I’ve been aware of it for quite awhile but just never joined.

You can connect via Facebook if you happen to know me in real life, but in case you don’t and you want to connect anyway, my user name is BeerSnobette.

Look for a new post tomorrow and a new review next week Monday! And I’m on a TWO WEEK break from grad school this week, so hopefully I’ll have a bunch of new reviews to write as well.

Capital Brewery: Supper Club

I have a confession to make. I actually had a New Glarus Dancing Man Wheat before I drank this beer, but I cannot stand Hefeweizens. So there’s really no way I could have reviewed that beer objectively. According to BeerAdvocate it’s really good (averaging 96.5.) If someone wants to review it and send me the review I’d be happy to post it as a guest post!

But more about the beer I actually did drink. Today’s selection is from Capital Brewery in Madison, WI. Yes this is one of the beers I picked up on my latest trip to Wisconsin, why do you ask? Supper Club was recommended to me by my dad and just about everyone else I know in Wisconsin, but to be honest after drinking I don’t know why. Even the bottle claims it’s “not bad.” And it’s not BAD, it’s just not that great either.

I don’t know that I’d pay $2.29 for a bottle of this again.

Style: American Pale Lager. These are your standard American brews but they’re made without rice or corn like most American Light Lagers (think Bud Light or Miller Lite) are. They are sometimes called “all-malt” for this reason. They are usually still yellow and fizzy but are a bit more flavorful than the Macro Brew Lites are.

Overall Impression: “Meh” would be a good word to describe this beer. Would I drink this tailgating? Absolutely. Would I drink this at a reunion of the Monday Night Beer Club? Only if it were the best thing on tap. I’d still order this in a heartbeat over Macro Brew Lites; but I think that has more to do with it being a craft beer than the flavor. Don’t get me wrong: as I said above, this beer is not bad. But it’s nothing special and to be honest, Capital has MUCH better offerings. I’m giving this two pints though, because it is just a tad bit better than that Naked Lap Lager I reviewed many eons ago when I lived in New York.

Appearance: Dark yellow-gold, clear, very thin in appearance.

Aroma: Not much to speak of.

Taste: Somewhat malty–I can at least tell this is beer. There are no hop flavors to speak of.

Mouthfeel: Bubbly, very bubbly. This might give High Life a run for its money with the “Champagne of Beers” moniker.

Try this if you like: Miller, Bud, Coors, Michelob, etc. This has a bit more flavor though. Also try Longboard Island Lager or Yuengling. New Glarus’ Totally Naked also falls into this category but it’s much, much better.

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