Posts tagged ‘ale’

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

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

 

Leinenkugel’s: Big Eddy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale

So, I learned something new today. “Big Eddy” by Leinenkugel’s actually refers to two different beers: a Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, and a Russian Imperial Stout. Well, this review is on the Scotch Ale. Hopefully next winter I can locate the Russian Imperial Stout and give you faithful viewers a look-see at that.

sorry about my reflection in the glass

Style: Wee Heavy/Scotch Ale. The wort of these beers goes through a long boiling process, which carmelizes the wort, which gives this ale it’s deep brown/copper color.  These ales are sweeter and fuller-bodied than Scottish Ales, and have a more pronounced malt flavor.

Overall Impression: Yum! Honestly, this was a great beer for a cold and rainy night (even if it is May.) Light enough to drink right before bed but dark enough to be satisfying.

Appearance: Dark coppery brown color with minimal head. That may be because this beer was served at a little cooler than ideal temperature, though, so I won’t focus much on that.

Aroma: Chocolate, toffee, and caramel. My favorite things. This is the kind of beer that when you smell, you can’t wait to drink it.

Taste: Roasted malt flavor with caramel and chocolate notes. Big Eddy Wee Heavy pretty much tastes exactly how it smells. No surprises here.

Mouthfeel: Smooth but not too thick. It’s a little too alcoholic (9.5%!) to be a session beer but it is light enough that it won’t put you to sleep right away.

Try this if you like: Founders Dirty Bastard, Sam Adam’s Scotch Ale, Dark Horse Scotty Karate (I hesitate to say this last one because this is by far the best Scotch Ale I’ve ever had, and you might be disappointed if you compare the two.)

4 pints

Sam Adam’s: Mighty Oak Ale

Part of the Samuel Adam’s Spring sampler pack, the Mighty Oak Ale was new this year. As I’ve said before, I view Sam Adam’s as a sort of craft brew-macro-brew hybrid, so you’ll never see a review of Boston Lager on here. But I do like some of their more interesting, crafty brews. See: Black and Brew and Infinium. This one was pretty good.


Style: American Amber/Red Ale. This, like many “American” beer styles, is a catch-all for ales that aren’t dark. It usually focuses on the malt flavors but can also be quite hoppy. This category also includes those faux-Octoberfest beers that are actually ales (not lagers.)

Overall Impression: Pretty decent beer. Would be a good session ale. This should appeal to fans of beer and novices alike. I’d tailgate with this. It gets a lower rating than taste alone would suggest, mostly because it’s just not that interesting.

Appearance: Reddish brown color, fairly clear. Not much head to speak of.

Aroma: Mostly malt notes in the aroma.

Taste: Somewhat sweet with a mild hop background. The oak notes really came through on the second (and subsequent) tastes.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and light.

Try this if you like: Fat Tire Amber Ale, Bell’s Amber Ale, Cascazilla

Brooklyn Brewery: Local #2

I’ve had this beer for a while and finally cracked it open about a month ago. I’m so glad I did, because this was fantastic!

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Higher in alcohol than your standard Belgian Dark Ale. Usually fruity with a mild dark malt flavor. Light on the hops and somewhat spicy.

Overall Impression: Wow! Given what I thought of the Raison d’Etre I reviewed previously, I wasn’t expecting to like this beer. But I did!

Appearance: Burgundy brown color, clear.

Smell: Fruity and slightly malty aroma.

Taste: Mildly spicy, just a bit fruity, and not too bitter. The hops help balance the fruit and spices.

Mouthfeel: Smooth but just a bit tingly.

Try this if you like: Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre, Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue)Tröegs Mad Elf, Hell Hath No Fury Ale

4 stars

New Holland: Sundog Amber Ale

There is nothing like a good amber ale, especially when it’s also cheap. And you drink it while tailgating. In the rain. And then your team loses 58-0. Ugh. But anyway! The best part of my trip up to Ann Arbor this year was discovering New Holland‘s Sundog Amber Ale.


Style: American Amber/Red Ale. This style is really a catchall for something that isn’t really “dark” but isn’t “light” either. These beers have a well-balanced mix of malt and hops, with a potential light fruitiness.

Overall Impression: Mmmm. Sundog has a mild bitterness which translated to a nice bite. As I mentioned above, I did tailgate with this beer so it’s a decent session beer. I had 2 of these and one Goose Island Harvest Ale. (Don’t worry, the review is based off of another bottle of Sundog I had a week or so later.) And it was also pretty cheap, so it’s got that going for it too. All of that said, it wasn’t anything special: just your typical tasty amber ale.

Appearance: Clear coppery/amber color.

Smell: Not a very strong aroma, mostly hops.

Taste: Mildly bitter, decent balance between hops and malt.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and well-carbonated. The taste does not really hang around on your tongue.

Try this if you like: Fat Tire Amber Ale, Bell’s Amber Ale

Brooklyn Brewery: Summer Ale

Yes, yes, I know. It’s August, and that means the Oktoberfest brews are coming out…and here I am reviewing a summer ale. Well, it was 80 degrees in Chicago today so I feel justified. Plus…this beer was really good. But you all have to wait till next April to get it. 😛

Tonight’s selection comes from the Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, NY. This summer ale is available from April through July, and I definitely recommend picking one up when you can.



Style: English Pale Ale. I’m not convinced EPA is the best descriptor of the style of this beer, because it is not as bitter as one might imagine, but it works. These are characterized by good clarity, good head retention, and gold to reddish color.

Overall Impression: First thought: “Wow! This is really good!” And that impression continued throughout. It’s a great summer beer: refreshing and would be good in a session.

Appearance: Clear golden color, good head retention. The above picture was taken about 5 minutes after I poured it.

Smell: Very nice fruity/hoppy/spicy/malty aroma. Characteristic of EPAs.

Taste: Quite good! It is crisp but not overly bitter, and has a slight lemony taste. You can also taste the malt, and it is really quite excellent.

Mouthfeel: Smooth with an almost creamy texture.

Try this if you like: Boddington’s Pub Ale, Samuel Adam’s Summer Ale

4 stars