Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Name change suggestion: Happy Monk?

Grumpy Monk by Boston Beer Company | Samuel Adams
Belgian IPA
5.7% ABV

Have you worked your way through the Sam Adams IPA-Hop-Ology pack yet?
You should.

Unlike my co-blogger, I usually shy away from IPAs all together. Scratchy, tongue shredding hops are not something that I enjoy drinking. That said, I learned a ton about IPAs working through this sampler and… I LOVED THEM ALL!

The Hop-Ology Pack includes six limited release IPAs; The Third Voyage IPA, which takes its inspiration from Captain James Cook, whose titular third voyage took him from England to New Zealand to the Pacific Northwest. The double IPA contains hops from all three of those locations to give the brew a citrusy, earthy character.

The Dark Depths Baltic IPA is inspired by an English variety, the Baltic IPA transformed a mild ale into a dark and complex lager, with dark, roasted malts and a citrus hop character.

The Tasman Red IPA contains hops from Tasmania, the Australian island state. The beer has the grapefruit and pine flavors typical of IPAs, but the hops also have a flavor of roastiness with a hint of toffee to balance the normal IPA flavors. This is a strong bold red, more so than I was used to, but still enjoyable.

The Latitude 48 IPA contains a blend of five different hops, all originating from the titular 48th latitude line. The hops come from the Hallertau region of Germany (Hallertau Mittelfrueh), the East Kent region of southeastern England (East Kent Goldings) and Yakima County, Wash. (Ahtanum, Simcoe and Zeus).

The Whitewater IPA combines the white wheat, sweet citrus and spicy coriander of Belgian-style white ale with the grapefruit flavors of an IPA and last but not least the Grumpy Monk … (we’ll get back to this one)

I was weary with every pour, and to my surprise I enjoyed every brew. The sampler came to about $22 and was well worth it. The art overall with this sampler is awesome. Each bottle ties together the series with hand drawn chalk design on the case. It's unique and inviting. Well done BBC design team -- gotta love marketing!

My favorite of the sampler had to be the Grumpy Monk. The name on its own sells the beer.
I turn to the bottle for a description:

“The long held brewing traditions of Belgian monks aren’t meant to be broken. Yet, to the monk’s dismay, the distinctive character of Belgian yeast with its spicy clove and fruit notes can be reimagined when combined with the brazen hop character of an IPA. These hops impart a citrusy, piney, and earthy flavor that’s balanced by a roasted malt sweetness for a complex and playful brew."

Well, this monk has nothing to be grumpy about.

The Pour: Gorgeous amber color with a creamy two finger head. I also had some clingy lace to the side of my glass.

The Nose: It’s grainy and bisquity with dominant notes of clove

The Taste: light-to-medium bodied and well balanced with citrus, pine and earthy flavors that all meld together creating one of the best Belgians I’ve had in a while. It’s well carbonated, bready and delicious. My only negative comment – I only got two!

Do you know what else the Monk’s make that goes great with beer? Cheese!
This would pair up nicely with any stinky, gooey washed rind cheese you can get your hands on.

Well that’s my IPA lesson for today kids. Hop heads and those in training can get behind this variety pack, I promise. Keep an eye out!

What are some of your favorite IPAs? Tell us below:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice Out Shines other Seasonal Brews

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice
Style | ABV
Cream Ale | 5.60% ABV

This is my second time trying Anderson Valley’s offerings and I really enjoy their unique style. Would you ever think to put cream ale and summer together on one label? It sounds crazy, but man, it’s delicious and different!

I found a sixer of this beer in a can. (Is that a bear/moose on the front??) A lot of craft brewers are thinking about canning their products and I am all for it. It’s portable for beach and lake side excursions, lighter to carry and keeps the beer just as fresh. I always pour my beer into a glass anyway so it doesn’t take away from the drinking experience for me. There is also a lining inside each can that keeps the beer from touching the aluminum so don’t worry about that “metallic taste,” affecting your suds. Drop the stereotype and give craft in a can a chance!

Pour: A hazy amber color with a creamy, two finger fluffy head. A tiny ring of lacing hung out for good.

Nose: It’s sweet with toasty grains and caramel, followed by vanilla and ginger. It’s like a cream soda mixed with fresh baked brown bread. Fantastic.

Taste: Follows suit with the smell. It’s so unique. It’s a light to medium-bodied brew with a smooth velvet flavor that covers your tongue like a ginger-cream-soda. It actually reminded me of a ginger bread cookie. It’s biscuity and sweet, but balanced through the malts and just plain delicious. Despite the creaminess, it’s not overly filling and very drinkable. No bitterness to speak of.

Anyone that has ever had a Kilkenny and enjoyed it will like this beer.

Ok Anderson Valley, you have my attention. I’ll keep an eye out for some more of their craft-canned products in the future.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Up Otter's Creek with a Delicious Summer Bottle

Otter Creek Summer
Style | ABV
American Pale Wheat Ale | 4.90% ABV

What is up with the Bros from BA not liking any of my beers lately? Bummer!
Well like we always say, drink what YOU like, and this one I like.

Otter Creek is one of those great “under the radar” breweries. They put out some great stuff and I am never afraid to order their latest pour when I see it on the draught list. They are situated in Middlebury Vermont and it’s pretty easy to get to if you are thinking of touring some New England breweries this summer or fall.

Otter Creek summer is currently on tap at Five Horses in Davis Square and I have seen it at some other good beer bars in the area. Otter Creek Summer is a yummy bready brew that pairs easy with almost everything. I’ve had it with a bunch of different menu items; mussels, salad, a cheese plate, white bean hummus, chili – and it paired nicely every time.

Pour: Golden, with a little fluffy white head – it left a little lacing on the glass

Nose: Not overwhelming but it’s grassy with a lot of oats and wheat hanging out, smells like fresh baked bread to me

Taste: It’s light-bodied and drinkable with toasted malts, wheat and a slight sweetness. It finishes with a little bite of citrus and honey at the end. Overall very palatable. The brewery describes it as “crisp and clean” and I would have to agree. It’s a safe bet.

It’s a nice change from the heavy heffs and lemonade type beers that are normally floating around. No need for a wedge of lemon in this brew.

Cheers to summer!
What is everyone drinking? Tell us below:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I love Betty Weiss! (Not to be confused with Betty White)

Elder Betty by Magic Hat
Style | ABV
Hefeweizen | 5.50% ABV

It’s August – can you believe it?
Pretty soon the shelves will be full of October beers and pumpkin ales and while fall is my all time favorite beer drinking season, I am not ready. I am drinking in the last weeks of summer while I still can.

Some really great seasonal beers launched this summer including Magic Hat’s Elder Betty, and I have to say it’s my favorite this year.

I just can’t get enough of it. I would describe it as:
“The best blueberry beer you will ever have.”

The Elder Betty is a weiss-style ale with a bready malt flavor. It’s well carbonated, refreshing and a little tart. Betty got a beat down on beer advocate, ranking in the 70s … but I would say that if you like blueberry suds this will not disappoint you.

Bottle: The art is very cool and whimsy. It falls right in line with Vermont’s hippie vibe. Totally man.

Pour: Light golden orange color with a one finger, white fluffy head

Nose: Like you stuck your face in a field of blueberries, seriously. It’s a fresh, inviting, grassy- blueberry smell.


It’s a light mouth feel made for very easy drinking. The tart, crisp berry flavor is followed up by a nice wheat finish. What I love about this beer is that it’s not super sweet. I don’t feel like I am drinking jam or sucking on a jolly rancher. The flavor is there without making my cheeks pucker. The one drawback – like most fruity beers, it really wouldn’t pair with much other than desert.

I haven’t seen the Elder Betty listed at any bars in Boston and Magic Hat site says it’s only available through July 31, so if you are interested in giving it a-go I wouldn’t wait to snag a sixer at the liquor store if you see it.

Tried it and liked it? Tried it and hated it? Comment below: