Archive for May, 2014

Spring is in the air…and my glass!

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I will admit that I don’t drink Karl Straus beer much, as it tends to be a bit pricey and many times I am unable to find anything but IPAs (though this second reason is not unique to Karl), but when I heard about the special at Karl Strauss for a $10 growler that included a fill… well, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Plus, I recently discovered that mosaic hops in a beer make for a great flavor profile.

This one comes from Karl’s Coastal Reserve series, which currently includes three others: Big Barrel Double IPA, Blackball Belgian IPA, and Boardwalk Black Rye. The one I tried was the Mosaic Session Ale. Session ales are essentially lower alcohol beers (no higher than 5%) that define themselves by their drinkability and allow the consumer to have multiple of them without putting them on the floor or knocking out their taste buds.

Much like its counterpart at Ninkasi, this one pours a clean, golden color with not much head. The aroma is grassy and a bit flowery, with some tart fruit like grapefruit, that can’t help but make me think of springtime. The taste quickly shows off the grassiness that shortly after it gives way to strong tart grapefruit flavors. At first I was reminded of a really hoppy IPA, but there was none of the hoppy bite, so it went down easily. The finish leaves mostly tart, slightly sour grapefruit. The only downside to this beer is a slightly sticky, sugary cotton mouth feeling; not tremendously off-putting, but just a little unexpected from so mild a beer.

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   I’m giving this beer a:

        4

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So Good It’s CRAZY!

IMG_1944I haven’t had any brews from Left Coast before, but this one set my mind a-spinnin’. This here is 1 pint, 6 fluid ounces of pure Belgian goodness. It pours a deep, dark orange, which reminds me of fall (even though we’re beginning our hot summer season where I live). The head is pretty fizzy and dissipates rather quickly, which is to be expected of somewhat effervescent Belgian-style beers. This helps give it a lively feel, not unlike that of a saison, in my opinion. The first whiff brought out the sourness characteristic of these beers, with strong yeast character and some sweetness. It actually reminds me a little of the “beer” I have attempted to make on the journey I talk about on here so much.

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The taste brought forward all the sourness this beer has to bear, which isn’t to say that it’s bad; some might find it off-putting, but I think it makes a beer more interesting and gives it more for the drinker to discover as they work their way through it. This beer, though, could hardly be called “work,” as it is surprisingly easy drinking, despite its 11.8% abv. After the sourness came the yeast. These little critters imbued this beer with so much taste, it was almost unexpected. Almost. It finished sour, with a touch of sweetness toward the end that was quite pleasant.

Overall, this beer is a fine example of a Belgian-style tripel.

I would rate this beer:

5

 

 

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Arts and Craft Beer

IMG_1930 Sort of like a Wheel of Fortune puzzle category, no?

Even though it’s only available between January and April, I was able to get my hands on this lovely concoction. Another from Ninkasi, Mosaic is an ale made with a single type of hop. In this case, that happens to be the mosaic hop. Primarily used for aroma, this little goody is said to impart “a complex array of tropical fruit, citrus, berry, herbal, earthy and pine characteristics.” (www.hopunion.com, 2014). But we’ll get to the smelly bit later. First, the pour.

As you can see, it pours the deep clear golden color of a pale ale, with bright white, loose foam at the top. Not much activity in the way of carbonation in this one. The aromas coming from this beer were a bit fruity and there was a hint of pine. I also detected a bit of fresh-cut grass in there, as well. I entered into the tasting with a bit of trepidation. Anyone who has read this blog knows hops and I are rarely on good terms. I must say, though, that I am becoming better able to stomach the good old fashioned IPA a bit more than I used to, so the tide may be turning for me.

IMG_1931On the first sip, I caught the fruit flavors coming through– mostly grapefruit, some orange-like flavors, and maybe a little lemon for good measure. Then came the herbal pine taste. This was not unpleasant and a little surprising. It is always good to keep things interesting. The smooth maltiness this beer offers helped tone that down to a pleasant mildness that followed. That same pine taste did creep through in the aftertaste, though it faded a bit to a pretty mellow finish.

I was pleasantly surprised by this and was left with an overall warm feeling from this beer.

I would rate this beer:

                       4

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Sowin’ Oatis

IMG_1928 Ninkasi is my favorite brewery. Oatmeal stout is my favorite kind of beer. Put the two together and you have one fine beer experience.

This one pours a rich, thick root beer color, with a tan frothy cap of foam on top. The aromas coming from the glass couldn’t have been more comforting: sweet vanilla and chocolate, with hints of bitter maltiness lurking just behind. The taste, per usual, was much the same. The richness of the vanilla and chocolate were the first to come through, followed by some bitterness and finished with a very mild aftertaste of the vanilla and a bit of the chocolate.

As this was an oatmeal stout, it lacked both the grainy taste and hop bitterness some regular, to contrast stouts can have. Simply said, this is a fantastic beer you can enjoy anytime of the year.

I also want to look for Ninkasi’sIMG_1929 German-style lager called Lux, it with this good, though heavier-by-nature beer. More on that later, if I can find it.

On a suggestion by one reader (whose suggestion came in offline), I will start giving the beers I put up here a rating on a scale of 1 to 5. I know I am hardly the first to do this, but you are here, so I want to share with you my overall impression.

I would give this beer a:

5

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