Saturday, May 26, 2012

Harpoon Catamount Maple Wheat (100 Barrel Series)

Harpoon Brewery
American Pale Wheat Ale
Alcohol by Volume: (ABV) 6.8%

My colleague recently visited the Harpoon brewery and was thoughtful enough to bring me back a fresh growler of Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series, Catamount Maple Wheat for me.

(Yum! Beer for breakfast?)

I did a little research to learn that this is Harpoon’s second attempt at this beer and it’s made with genuine Vermont maple syrup. Got to love local products using local products. The website reads:

“The balance of malts and hops allows the distinct flavor and aroma of real Vermont maple syrup to take the lead. The maple sweetness and body blankets this velvety amber beer showcasing one of New England’s most beloved traditions.”

Sounds awesome and different - let’s dive in.

The pour: A nice fluffy white head and the color of the beer, as to be expected it was an amber red, maple color

The nose: Not much going on. I am getting a little bit of sweet, bread notes, but it’s not overly sugary, or woody like I may have thought

The taste: A very bubbly brew with burnt caramel flavors and a strong bitter malt flavor. The finish is somewhat medicinal. It’s interesting because it doesn’t have that light crisp wheat flavor that I expected. It's more of a lager. Also, I hate to say it – but where’s the maple? Had it not been in the name I wouldn’t have been looking for it. I was expecting a sweet, grassy, wheat beer but got something much different instead.

It’s drinkable, but had I not had a growler and just ordered a pint at the pub, I would have grabbed the beer list and changed it up.

I always appreciate new recipes that bring together New England, but this was just ok for me. Grade: B

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Customize Your Brew

I hope you all are enjoying your American Craft Beer Week as much as I am. Monday, my friends and I did a vertical tasting of the Anchor Merry Xmas Happy New Year Ale from 2007, 2008 and 2009... Tuesday, I picked up my Hefeweizen home brew and hooked it up to my kegerator... then, we enjoyed some Hatch Plug Ale and Marauder IPA from Cavalry Brewing... and yesterday we kicked the night off up at Backstage up in Torrington. Yea, its been a good beer week.

Speaking of... I have to admit, there are a lot of cool things about this beverage. In case you haven't gathered the idea that I enjoy a beer from time to time. (Hint: I have a blog devoted to the suds!) And given my new found obsession, er... hobby, the important thing I've learned over the last few years is that you can NEVER stop learned new things. But here's the main thing: HAVE FUN. You might know more than someone else, but it's all in the name of beer. So compare notes, check your ego at the door and let's all drink some beer and have fun. Now between craft beer and home brewing (which I'm attempting to get into), there is SO much I need to learn and continue to pick up. Styles, hops, varieties, history, releases... What's an Ale? What's a Lager? Why is it called Witbier? What would this beer go with with...? What type of glass should I pour it in? It's all in the name of fun. So don't forget in the explosion that is been CRAFT BEER... to have fun with all of this.

And in the name of fun... I give you something that kinda, well... yeah, I'll say it - it BLEW my mind. Revolutionary. The first time I heard about this new found discovery the first thing I thought of was: How have I never thought of doing this?! I admittedly still have not attempted this... but with a little planning, you could really impress your friends or perhaps just surprise yourself!

If you know ANYTHING about craft beer, you must familiarize yourself with Dogfish Owner and Brewmaster, Sam Caligione. Since its inception, Sam has become one of the true pioneers of the craft beer movement. A few months ago, I started hearing about a new invention down at Dogfish called the RANDALL. It appears to be a somewhat simple filtering device. It's stuffed with some type of flavor enhancer (hops, coffee beans, nuts, etc) that'll change the profile of the beer you are drinking... then it's hooked up to a draft line... and the beer runs through... and BOOM... you have your very own infused beer!

The problem is... most people don't have a draft system... or the space... or even a RANDALL... Until, Sam and the Dogfish crew came out with the RANDALL JR !!! It's basically a 16 oz container with a screen at the top. Just like it's big brother, you stuff the Randall Jr with whatever floats your boat, add beer... place in the fridge for about 10 minutes... and VOILA!! An IPA could just be an IPA... but with this sucker, you could have a Sorachi Ace Hop Infused IPA... or a Hazelnut Coffee Infused Imperial Porter... the possibilities are ENDLESS!!

So let me guess... you're reading this blog... went right to the Dogfish website... and noticed that the Randall Jr is SOLD OUT. (Cue Price Is Right "Horns of Failure"). Yeah I did the same thing... When they get more on their site... I'll probably order one too... but in the meantime... take matters into your own hands!

All you REALLY need is a container with some type of straining setup like a loose leaf tea infuser... or do what our friends over at Relic Brewing did a few weeks ago at their Friday Open House. The Brewmaster, Mark, took his popular Fortnight IPA and poured it into a french press that was loaded with whole leaf hops (I forget exactly which type he used). After about 10 minutes, he pushed down the screen only far enough so that the hops would get strained out and BAM, there you had a hop infused Fortnight IPA.

With a little planning... a french press... tea infuser... or if you were lucky enough to snag a Randall Jr from Dogfish... you can really revolutionize the way you enjoy craft beer!! Remember... add your ingredients... add beer... put it in the fridge for 10 minutes... and there you have it.

Enjoy the rest of ACBW!!

For more information on any of the breweries mentioned above, check out their websites below:

Cavalry Brewing:

Relic Brewing:

Dogfish Brewing:

American Craft Beer Week:

Check out the DOGFISH commercial for the Randall Jr: