Archive for November, 2015
If I haven’t mentioned it before, the cold weather holidays are my favorite time of year- if not for the pageantry, cooler temperatures and the time with family and friends, then for the seasonal beers released by breweries everywhere. Green Flash Brewing Company has come out with a beer that could not fail to get me into the holiday spirit: Green Flash Jolly Folly IPA (7.7% abv).
It poured deep golden with sudsy head sitting on top. Hoppy, spicy and piney aromas joined some fruity sweetness to remind me that the holiday season is upon us. As I moved my nose around the glass (something I have been experimenting with to get different aromas), the smell became somewhat malty. It tasted hoppy up front, with a hefty dose of strong floral flavors. A tropical frutiness came next, with a little spiciness. Moderate hoppiness took the drink into a middle that was medium-bodied and lightly carbonated. It finished happy, with only a little spice and some malts to smooth things out.
Overall a pretty dynamic holiday drink.
It’s that time of year, when the leaves are about done changing color, the heat of summer and fall has subsided and my favorite brewery of all time releases their star seasonal: Deschutes Jubelale Festive Winter Ale (6.7% abv).
This wonder in a bottle poured very dark amber in color, with a thick cap of sudsy tan head. Aromas were fruity sweet, with caramel, raisins, plums and a hint of spice. The taste was mild and malty at first. Then the fruitiness kicked in, a bit tart, but the warmth from the alcohol and the malts took over quickly to calm it down. The middle is just as mild, with medium-light body and light carbonation, which carried through to a malty finish, punctuated by some warm spice and dark fruit flavors. Simply put, this is a great beer from my favorite brewery and all I need to get in the mood for the winter holidays. I love this beer.
At a strip mall pretty typical of the Mira Mesa area of San Diego county, you will find a storefront. “No way! Seriously??” I hear you asking incredulously. Yes, it’s true. This storefront in particular, however, houses what appears to be a small pizza shop that was converted into a tap room. Legacy Brewing, based in Oceanside, is a brewery founded on the old-fashioned approach to brewing: make good beer. The tasting room is not much to look at: just a storefront among many other storefronts. Inside, the floor is made up of large, dirty-looking floor tile and a fancy wooden tasting bar, fronted by padded wooden bar stools. Half of the wall is made of brick, lending an old-world feel to at least that part of the motif. There is a large branded mirror at the back of the place, with long tasting tables and short small top tables strewn about. There is a patio in the back that overlooks the neighboring mall tenants, with a strange putting green behind a black iron fence.
Considering their focus on making good beer, I dove right in. I started with the Oak Aged Scotch Ale (8% abv): This beer poured dark brown, with thin white head. It smelled very malty, toasty and boozy. There was a bit of a sugary sweetness and a little spiciness, as well. It tasted malty sweet, with a boozy kick. The alcohol dominates a bit into the middle, though I still got a touch of sourness. Medium-heavy in body and medium carbonation do little to break up the malty booziness, but I still detected the same sourness as before. Were it not for the sour/tartness, this would have been too heavy on the alcohol. As it was, I appreciated how dynamic it was.
Next up, I went for the Chesty Red (5.5% abv): This one poured dark amber in color, with tiny bubbles and thin white head. It smelled malty, sour and slightly sweet. The taste was mostly malty, with some sourness and still only a little sweet. A touch of hops toward the middle helped differentiate it from its predecessor (the scotch ale from before). With medium body and light carbonation, there was not much to detract from the heavy malty sweetness. It finished exactly as it began. A bit too much, without much else to distinguish it.
The tasting room is pretty basic, but all you need in a tasting room outside the brewery.
With Halloween behind us, we welcome the holiday beers, which include lots of vanilla stouts, coffee porters and pumpkin beers. A lot of people bemoan this time of year for the beers it brings about, but I fully support it. Like the inexplicable excitement for Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, I happen to think it gets people more into the holiday spirit. So, it is with excitement and hope that I find some worthwhile seasonal flavors out there that I embark on another holiday beer season.
In my seemingly never-ending quest to find a non-pie tasting pumpkin beer, I happened across a good one at Mission Brewing. They were pouring a seasonal brew “creatively” called Mission Pumpkin Amber (5% abv): It poured rich amber in color, with tiny bubbles and creamy white head. It smelled mild, malty and slightly bitter. My hope was that this bitterness came from the pumpkin, of course. It tasted just as mild and malty as the smell led me to believe. A sort of vegetal bitterness came next (again hopes were for pumpkin). The middle was still mild and light-medium-bodied, with light carbonation. It finished light and was quite refreshing, with a bit of the vegetable-like bitterness trailing. Naturally, I was amazed that flavors like cinnamon, nutmeg and the like were not allowed to the party.