Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Category: Beer Reviews (Page 35 of 55)

Harpoon – Catamount Maple Wheat (signature series #26)

Though not born in New England, I’m forever ruined when it comes to maple syrup. Since I’ve had maple syrup fresh from the boil at my good friend’s farm, I can never go back to the “fake” stuff. So, suffice it to say I LOVE anything maple. (Doubt me? Check out my review of the Peak Maple Oat Ale…) So, when I saw that the next Harpoon Signature Series was maple beer, I got really excited.
Like all of the 100 barrel series, these are available in limited release, and in the large bottles only. This one is described as a “crisp wheat ale that is warming and delicious.” It contains real Vermont Maple Syrup – definitely a good thing. And I always appreciate brewers trying to use local ingredients.
It pours an orange/copper that’s fairly clear with a foamy tan head. The smell on this one is mostly wheat, not a lot of maple in the scent. I was happy to see that it was the color a wheat beer should be, and I eagerly took my first sips. 
The taste? A nice warming wheat flavor with thin malt undertones. The maple in this is subtle – and comes in at the very end. The maple flavor is not adding sweetness, however, and its almost like the taste that happens when you mix maple syrup with something savory (like bacon). Just a little tad of something interesting. 
It is very drinkable and I found myself at the bottom of my glass sooner than I might have thought. It isn’t heavy, but is very tasty. It also lacks the “wheaties” overkill that some wheat beers have. In general, though, it’s not a home run. The flavor is subtle, and I think that people going in expecting maple may feel a little slighted. That being said, it’s a very easy to drink brew, and I applaud their efforts here.  

Harpoon – Baltic Porter – Leviathan Series

I like the label for the leviathan series. It looks like a zoomed in, scary picture of a beastie lurking in the deep. Very scary. The brew, however, isn’t scary, and it only wields a 9.5% ABV, so it shouldn’t hammer your head to the sidewalk like something at 11 or 12%.

The label says that it contains “Dark fruit and bittersweet chocolate notes meld into a spicy finish of this hearty beer made with de-husked roasted malts and a lager yeast.” I wonder what a dark fruit is as I uncap and pour it.
It pours into the glass not opaque, but held up to light glows dark red, like the eyes of the beast on the label. The smell is an interesting one. Smells like roasted malts and, a hint of black cherry? Not sure what it is but there’s something not beery about the smell, and I like it. It has a nice head, too, and the aroma is addicting.
The taste is exceptional. A smooth blend of chocolaty, roasty porterness. Its complex, but really very smooth. No bitterness here at all, this is a beautiful example of a dark beer. Not coffee like, but slightly sweet and toasty. I’d drink this on a cold night, I’d drink it with a beef roast and potatoes. Well done, very well done.

Pennichuck – Backdraft Chocolate Porter

Still on my resolution list for 2009 is to visit Pennichuck in person, since they’re in a town no less than an hour away from me and I’ve never been there. But short of that, I can always get their beer one mile away at Smiley’s Beverage in Dover, so I get to live vicariously through them. 

This one has one of the nicest designed labels I’ve seen come from Pennichuck – a flame background and a simple black silhouette of a firefighter. Very nicely composed, and effective. 
I poured it out and got some nice creamy head, and a whiff of malts. It smelled light, not heavy, and I was eager to try it. 
I liked the taste of this a lot. It was a porter that was not thick or syrupy, but had the mouth feel of a brown ale. There was a very nice chocolate taste that followed the light maltiness, and I liked that it seemed to go very well with the taste of the whole brew. There are some chocolate stouts and porters that I’ve tried where the chocolate seems like an afterthought, and this was certainly not the case here. Additionally, I didn’t get that “instant hot cocoa mix” artificial taste that sometimes plagues these types of beer. 
Also, if you’re into chocolate stouts and chocolate porters, this is an incredibly affordable alternative to Sam Adam’s Chocolate Bock or Rogue’s Chocolate Stout. Again I am impressed by this small-ish New Hampshire brewery, and I think that this one in particular is a represenation of their quality. Great job guys!

Carolina Beer Company – Strawberry Ale

Strawberry beer. Let me say that again, slowly.


I am not sure if I’m ready for this. Somehow it seems wrong that I’m having this in February, and secondly, I’m all for blueberries (their tartness goes with the bitterness very well) and pumpkin (the spiciness goes well with fall ales) and even ginger (which brightens up a beer). But strawberry for the sake of strawberry, the sweetness… I dunno. But not one to be afraid of trying a brew, I will dive in for the sake of my readers. 
I poured it and was happy to see that it was a copper color, with a bit of head. The smell of it reminds me of the freeze-dried strawberries in Special-K cereal. Interesting.
The taste of this one is hard to describe. There are strawberries obviously. But the sweetness isn’t nauseating, as I feared it might be. Its the strawberry taste on the end of the taste, that lingers on my lips and reminds me of lip gloss. 

I’m not hating it, but I could almost see myself drinking this on a hot summer night during a fourth of July parade while eating one of those flag cakes that every mom in America seems to know how to make.
Not a lot of others do strawberry beers and its a risk as a brewery. But if you’re the only one that makes a good strawberry beer, you’ve won already. Perhaps it something of a southern taste (being a Carolina Brewing Company beer and all) to have the sweetness of strawberries with beer. Either way, its certainly a new taste for me. And not a bad one at that.

Legacy – Nor’easter Ale (Oatmeal Stout)

It has been snowing all day. Steadily, constantly, and with huge fat flakes. When it all wrapped up tonight, close to two feet of the white stuff has been added to our already heaping amounts that fell this winter. Seems the perfect still evening for a Nor’easter Ale from Legacy. 

The beer pours “wicked” dark, and smells of mocha, coffee and roasted malts. The head resembles strong chocolate milk in color, and the smell reaches your nose before you lean down to the glass. It is sharp and strong smelling, and hopefully a sign of good things to be. I don’t detect much of the oatmeal in this oatmeal stout, but I’m not put off by that.
The taste is certainly one to warm up a frozen New Englander. The taste is strongly of roasty malt and coffee. It is a tad more on the bitter scale than other stouts, and it has a bit of sharpness on the tongue. That being said, I still enjoyed the brew. This is one to end the night with, to cuddle up with by the fire (if only I had a fire…) and watch it snow. Aptly named, the Nor’easter is a good winter brewing. 
This isn’t one, though, for people who “don’t like dark beer.” It does have that familiar bitter taste that most people will find a little too much. But, if you’re a fan of nice oatmeal stouts with a little bite, this one is for you.

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