Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Glarus Staghorn Octoberfest

Last weekend I had to drive up to Wisconsin and while I was there I was able to stock up on some Wisconsin craft beer. Up first is an Octoberfest from New Glarus. Available exclusively in the state of Wisconsin, New Glarus is well known for crafting excellent ales and lagers, especially those of German origin.

Crafted from Wisconsin malts and water and German hops and yeast Staghorn pours a crystal clear deep cooper color with a short white foam that quickly settles into a thin film. The Aroma is spot on for the style, toasted grain and biscuit with a dose of spice from the hops (probably Hallertau).

The flavor pretty much follows the aroma. A little bit of sweet bread flavors to start, followed by a mix of biscuit like flavors and some earthy spiciness from the hops. Everything is balanced towards the malt side but it is not overly sweet. The finish is clean with a slight herbal hop bite, maybe a slight metallic twang in there as well. Mouthfeel is creamy with excellent carbonation. I think this is my new favorite American made Octoberfest.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner

Today we'll sample one of my favorite seasonal beers, Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner. Brewed by the Boston Beer Company, it was created as a tribute to the noble hop Hallertau Mittelfrau which are grown in the Hallertau region of Bavaria in Germany. If Germans made hop bombs this is probably what they would make.

The beer pours a deep golden straw color with a bright white head. Its not crystal clear like a Pils should be, there is a slight haziness to it, maybe from all the hops? The aroma is dominated by the spicy floral aroma of the Hallertau hops, with a hint of honey and malt lurking underneath it all. A real treat for the nose.

The flavor starts out with a touch of caramel sweetness, this is quickly replaced by the spicy bitterness of the hops. There is some citrus notes mixed in there as well. The mouth feel is a little creamy and has a tendency to stick to the tongue. The finish is bitter and perfumey with a touch of heat form the alcohol. There is just enough malt in there to keep the beer slightly balanced but the Hops are definitely the main attraction.

This beer is very drinkable, if it wasn't for the 8.1% ABV I'd have a hard time stopping after just one. The bitter finish could be a drawback for some but I like it. I really enjoy how the Hallertau hops are so clearly put on display. Jim Koch should make this part of their regular line-up. This is not a beer to be missed. It is sold in four packs and they'll set you back about ten bucks.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Beware the Red Menace

The picture of Lenin on the bottle should have been enough warning to keep me away from this beer, but for some reason, I bought it anyway. Red Menace from Hale's Ales in Seattle, Washington is supposed to be a big amber ale with lots of hops in it. Like Lenin's theories of social order this beer is an epic fail.

Appearance is a cloudy iced tea color, an odd color for an amber ale, with a dingy white head. Aroma is a mix of grainy malts, a little bit of sweetness and some earthy spiciness from the hops, but there is also a bit of an off smell, metallic perhaps, that makes the aroma a bit unwelcoming.

Flavor is completely dominated by the off flavors, metallic or medicinal. I don't think I'm going to be able to finish this glass, the aftertaste is really terrible. This is a beer that is only fit for dirty, Lenin loving commies. All beer (and freedom) loving people should steer clear of this crap.