Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Category: Beer Reviews (Page 37 of 56)

Rogue – Younger’s Special Bitter

Rogue continues to put out so many quality brews that it’s a little tough to keep up sometimes. This one, Younger’s Special Bitter, is another that’s released in the 750 ml ceramic bottles (great for brewing, by the way, because of their sealable tops).

This one is a nice semi-transparent amber, with a bitter nose and a slight hops scent. The color is inviting, and the beer longs for a taste.
The taste itself does not disappoint. It is a classic ESB (extra special bitter). Its a bit nutty, a bit hoppy, and just the right level of bitterness to satisfy your taste buds. This is also only 7.4 % ABV so it isn’t a sting, but instead a nice tickle on the tongue.

A while ago I discovered something by accident. I was at a mexican restaurant in Kittery Maine, and I ordered flan for dessert. I had a little bit of Red Hook ESB in my bottle, and I took a bite of flan and then followed it with a swig of ESB. The combination brought out something phenomenal in the ESB. Something about the simple sugars with the bitterness made it taste like ecstasy. 

If you come across this, spend $3 more and buy yourself a bit of Ben & Jerry’s creme brulee ice cream. Let the ice cream melt on your tongue and then follow it with a big swig of the bitter. You’ll then discover the magic of a bitter and a simple sugar, and trust me, you’ll never taste an ESB the same way again.

Southern Tier – Jah-va Imperial Coffee Stout

For a long time, I’ve avoided coffee stouts because I don’t like coffee. I can’t drink it, don’t like the smell of it, and can’t get over its flavor even if its hidden in ice cream. But I was told that coffee stouts don’t really taste like coffee, they just take the best bits of it and support an already good beer. I’ve tried Red Hook’s Double Black, which is also a coffee stout, and I liked it a lot. So, I felt a little braver when I saw this bottle.

In the glass, this sits black with a ring of white head that rings the edge and never leaves as it is consumed. The aroma? Sweet alcohol with a roasty bitterness and a hint – a whisper – of coffee. I’m feeling pretty confident that this won’t swamp me with bitter coffee, so I decide its time to stop staring at the brew and actually drink it.
The taste is a beautiful, delicious stout with just a hint of that earthy dirty coffee that adds a bit of character to what would be a strong imperial stout without the coffee. The taste is complex and would delight any palate, whether you like coffee or not. I think they’ve done a wonderful job balancing bitter and sweet, alcohol and malt. This is a must-try if you like dark beer and you’re looking for something better than your typical Guinness. I am impressed, and the 12% ABV lends some serious weight to this well crafted drink. It would work well with a post dinner dessert (replacing coffee of course). 
The bottom line : if coffee tasted like this, I would drink coffee!!

He’Brew The Chosen Beer – Origin Pomegranate Ale (Schmaltz Brewing Co.)

Another one that I’ve picked up from Schmaltz Brewing Company, this has a beautiful label featuring a stylized pomegranate plant with great coloration and design. It also features a great rundown of the history and culture of the pomegranate not only in Jewish history but in other cultures as well:

In Jewish tradition, pomegranates symbolize righteousness, with seeds said to number 613, the total commandments in Torah. In deut. 8:8, pomegranates, barley and wheat prove the bounty of the Land of Milk and Honey. The calyx atop the fruit inspired the original Jewish crown. One Persian hero of myth consumed a pomegranate and became invincible. Mohammad instructed : “Eat the pomegranate, for it purges the system of envy and hatred.” Newlywed Greeks eager for a family crush one under heel for fertility. Buddha cured a child-devouring deomoness of her evil habit by instructing her to eat a pomegranate. Whether for knowledge or temptation, for virtue or valor, for art or for love, revel in the sumptuous pleasures of Origin.

I have to say that I didn’t know much about the pomegranate before writing this review, though I do enjoy the occasional glass of pomegranate cranberry juice. The pomegranate is something that adds a tartness without being sour, and is difficult to describe. I hope I can pick it up when I taste this.
The Origin pours a cloudy reddish mahogany. The smell is faint, but pleasant of a little bit of hops and some malts. I like that I’m not getting hit with strong bitterness or sourness from the pomegranates, because the last thing that I’d want is something that hits like a Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic. 
This is a nice one. Its a little tart, but not fruity, a little sour but not like a lambic. Its hard to pick out what it is about this beer’s taste that’s addicting. Its certainly drinkable, and they picked a good ale to pair with the pomegranate. Its mouth feel doesn’t have a ton of carbonation, but is instead thicker and smooth on the tongue. I like that it has a tiny bite of bubbles on the tongue at first tip, then yields to the luscious amber ale as you swish it around your mouth.
I like this, and I would order it to go with a nice meal with family, or at the start of a new job, a new year. I’d even venture that it would taste great with something salty, like fried pickles (hey, it’s my new favorite bar food). 
On another note, I wish I had another bottle so I could send it to Jon Stewart to drink. I have a feeling that he’d like it. 

Rock Art Brewery – Ridge Runner Barley Wine Ale

Coming home from my internship in Vermont, I was tired and hungry, so I stopped in a town market store somewhere in between Grafton and Bellows Falls. I was surprised to see a line of coolers in the back holding beer that I had never seen before, brewed by a company called “Rock Art Brewery” and featuring cave-drawing type art on their labels. So I picked up two, and this is the first that made it from the waiting shelf into my fridge and finally, tonight, into my glass.

I poured it and immediately noticed it was darker that I expected, and had a bit of sediment pouring into my glass. The smell was faint, and the first sip seemed empty of flavor. As I sipped further, though, I was able to pull out its flavors. It is certainly not the syrupy barleywine that I am used to, but it is instead earthier and maltier. I like that it isn’t terribly sweet, but in some ways that’s against what I know of the barleywine style. I think this one is a decent introduction, and is better than some other craft barleywines that I’ve had. 
I then visited their website to find that the Ridge Runner is a mild barleywine which would be a perfect description of this taste. Picture your favorite barleywine but toned down a little bit – the knob dialed down to let the low tones out to play. It is their flagship, so it was a good choice as an intro.
Rock Art Brewery itself has an extensive line of brews, including a stronger barleywine and several Belgian style beers. I am intrigued, at the very least by this beer, and might make another stop to get a few more bottles the next time I pass through the area. The brewery itself is in Morrisville, VT, about as far as I could drive away from where I live before hitting Canada. So, I probably will add them to the New England Brewery tour list, but the reality of my going there before the snow thaws is very unlikely.

Carolina Brewing Company – Cottonwood Endo IPA

On a trip back from Florida, Mike’s parents brought us a few offerings from the Carolina Brewing Company, and this is the first of them that I’ll be reviewing. The labels are colorful and boldly colored, and the endo features a bearded man holding an open stein in one hand, a bunch of wheat in the other, and wearing what appears to be a bicycle helmet. Why? In mountain biking terms, to “endo” means to crash in such a manner that you flip over the handlebars, and it became a metaphor for going “over the top” with their hops.

I poured this one out and was initially excited to see its cloudiness, and the color which suspiciously resembled a Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA. There is some sediment in the bottle, which I also like, and it smells like the warmth of hops pulling through a nice malty backbone. The hops smell wasn’t too strong, though, and I began to doubt that this would really taste like they’ve been “over the top” with their hops.
Tasting gave me an unexpected surprise. Not bitter but… sweet? It was yeasty and sweet, with a nice smooth hop taste. It was incredibly drinkable, and soft – not sharp. I could have several of these partying in the Carolinas with no complaints at all (anyone have a beach house they’d like to invite me over to?).
This is a fabulous introductory IPA for novices, actually. It isn’t lacking in flavor so it’s still completely worth tasting – and would be great to introduce someone to what a good IPA can taste like. I shall remember it the next time I venture below the Mason-Dixon line.

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