Archive for September, 2014
First of all, I have to say that I know this is not an Oktoberfest brew, but it is a seasonal pumpkin ale from a brewery that was relatively unknown to me, Salt Lake City-based Unita Brewing Co. They are focused on showcasing local Utah landmarks with beers such as Cutthroat Pale Ale and King’s Peak Porter. I found out about them by asking my local BevMo if there is in existence a pumpkin beer that is not flavored like pumpkin pie. To me, pumpkin- the squash (it is a squash; I looked it up) not the dessert made from it- should not be sweet. A particularly enthusiastic employee at BevMo knew exactly what I was talking about and recommended Unita’s Punk’n ale. I was equally as excited, so I went right home to try it.
It pours a very fizzy, clear amber with large bubbles and off white head that dissipates very quickly. The aromas were not particularly strong, but included earthiness, bitterness and a slight spiciness. The taste was somewhat creamy and mild, with almost no sweetness, much to my gleeful surprise. It was mostly bitter, not big on malts, but still gave the impression of a maltiness from both how mild it was and the overall smooth, somewhat starchy mouthfeel. This was broken up by the heavy-ish carbonation and a lingering bitterness.
Overall, I was very happy with this beer, as it avoided the overly-sweetened dessert drink I have typically had. Because of this, I am giving this beer a:
My personal celebration of Oktoberfest 2014 continues, this time with a beauty from Ballast Point.
Dead Ringer is their Oktoberfest offering (duh) and it’s a good one. It poured a dark red-brown, which surprised me a bit, as I usually think of these beers as a bit lighter. It had light fizzy head that dissipated quickly. It smelled very caramelly, with a light fruity sweetness and a little spicy undertone. I don’t mean that it smelled spicy, as if it were made with chili peppers, but more in the way a cider might be described as “spiced.”
The taste was heavy on the caramel up front and mild, with lots of malty flavor that didn’t overpower the other tastes that followed. The carbonation was enough to break that up a bit, even though the maltiness came back right after the tingle of the bubbles left my tongue. Then came the spice notes with a nice fizzy finish in the back of my throat.
I enjoyed this beer, as it was a great example of the many different takes on a beer style I thought I knew so well. While I expected the maltiness, the light-to-medium sweetness and carbonation were a bit of a surprise, but did not take away from the experience of this beer.
Overall, I would rate this beer:
Happy Oktoberfest! For those that don’t know, the title means Oktoberfest has “arrived”! For beer lovers, this is a wonderful time of year, during which our passion for this magical brew is celebrated in Munich, Germany and around the world. It runs for 16 joyous days, starting in the last couple of weeks of September through the fist weekend in October. It has been held every year since 1810 and I, for one, will happily support this tradition.
I started this year with a visit to my favorite local eatery/drinkery KnB. They were having a tapping party for Firestone’s 2014 release of Oaktoberfest. This is from one of my favorite breweries from which to have beers, as well as to visit. Oaktoberfest is from the Bavarian Märzenbier style, which typically has lower hop character and is higher in malty sweetness. This one certainly fit the bill. As you can see, it poured a rich, somewhat hazy golden color, with light carbonation and medium white head that really stuck to the glass– always a good sign for me.
The aromas were a little fruity, with some woodiness and prominent malt sweetness. The taste was right in line with the smell, with fruitiness right up front, and light, despite the maltiness that followed. Then it faded to a mild woody taste with a nice effervescence and a touch of sourness on the finish that really made this a refreshing experience.
I must say, I have had relatively little experience with the Märzen style, outside of the one that comes in the 18-pack of Gordon Biersch I used to pick up from Costco. While this was not a bad way to experience a new kind of beer, having Oaktoberfest strait from a keg is definitely a better way to go.
I also have to give props to the Firestone rep we met at KnB, Larry, who hooked us (and everyone at the event that night) up with some free merchandise.
Overall, I would rate this beer:
Stone Brewing Co. is a growing San Diego brewery that has lots of beers that use a ton of hops, which is one reason I haven’t really had a whole lot from them. They also don’t go for over-the-top alcohol content with most of their stuff, aside from certain special releases, which I appreciate. They are also willing to try new stuff, which includes a slew of collaborations throughout their history and upcoming.
I have had their Smoked Porter, which is great, but when I saw a smoked porter with chipotle peppers, I had to try it. It pours a clean, clear dark brown with thin tan head that doesn’t stick to the glass or hang around long. This isn’t all that uncommon among porters, but this seemed extra short-lived. The aromas coming from the glass were chocolaty and smoky, though the smoke was not overpowering. It also had hints of spice from the peppers and some light sweetness.
The first thing on the taste was the chocolate, which I expected from a porter. Working through was the peppery taste then some sweetness, sliding back to the peppers with some smoke on the finish. After swallowing, there was a spicy acidity that came back up that felt a little like heartburn, which was not particularly pleasant.
Overall, I would rate this beer:
I have finally committed to calling one brewery my favorite and it’s Ninkasi Brewing Company. That decided, I saw this and had to have it. Although I don’t know that much about the Kölsch style, I do know that it makes a refreshing summertime drink. Come to find out, it used to be made exclusively in the town of Cologne (“Köln” in German), Germany. Traditionally, they were all-barley pale ales, but this one was made with the ever-popular German spalt hop variety, giving it a nice mild, easy drinkability.
First, the pour: light and slightly hazy with very active carbonation. The bright head was very light and dissipated very quickly. The first smell to hit me was a sourness; not overpowering, but I didn’t really remember that from any other kölsch I had before. I got lemon, grass and a light flowery scent from this beer.
The taste first made me think I was drinking a wheat beer, with a faint dry, grainy character that is normally reserved for hefeweizen styles, though the large bubbles in the carbonation helped lighten it up quite a bit. After the wheat experience, I was greeted with very mild, fresh taste of lemon and grass. Afterward was a slight sourness, with reminders of the lemony grassiness.
A great summer refreshment overall, I would rate this beer: