Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review: Weyerbacher Heresy

Since the last review, I've tried plenty of great craft brews from all over the country, so I thought I would dive into something a little closer to home for this one. Actually, very close to home. I've written about Weyerbacher before and the brewery tour at their Easton location so I figured it was about time to write a review on one of their offerings. Today, we are checking out this year's batch of Heresy, weighing in at 8%, and is their Old Heathen Imperial Stout aged in Whiskey barrels. I'll be interested to see how the Old Heathen holds up against the barrel treatment.

Heresy was poured out of a 12 oz. bottle into a snifter. The body was jet black with a tan, one finger head, that lasted only a couple of minutes before leaving a frothy ring around the edge of the glass in its place. 

The aroma consisted of huge whiskey and vanilla notes up front with the oak coming through on the back end. There is also a faint hint of roasted malts coming through as it starts to warm up a bit.

As the aroma suggested, the whiskey is very present at the moment, with vanilla and oak following up on the palate. As of this tasting, the bottle is relatively fresh, and the booze is still very noticeable. Heresy would benefit from sitting for a another few months. As it warmed up, I noticed some dark fruits and grape coming through along with some roasted malt. 

The mouthfeel of Heresy was of medium carbonation and a slightly thin body for the style. Because of the thinness, the alcohol comes through a little too much and leaves a slight warm feeling as it goes down. As it sits right now, this beer is good but not great. If you have a couple of  bottles sitting around, I would recommend saving one for the summer, and one for fall to see if the alcohol starts to take more of a backseat to the other flavors in the brew.  

Grade: 87

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic

To celebrate my birthday a couple weeks ago I decided to grab something from the cellar that had been aging for the past several months. I grabbed a Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic all the way from Brussels, Belgium. Cantillon's offerings are some of the most sought after across the globe and are famous for their lambics and gueuzes which are highly ranked in the craft beer community. Although the one I will reviewing today is one of the more accessible Cantillon selections, it is still highly praised and I am excited to try it for the first time. 

Cantillon bottles are capped and corked to preserve the beer since they can be aged for long periods of time, and I found out the hard way that they can be quite difficult to open. If you look closely at the picture you will notice I cracked the bottle while removing the cap and also fought with the cork as it was on the dry side and started falling apart as I attempted to remove it. The lambic poured a bright ruby red body with a thin, pink one finger head into a red wine glass. The head fades very quickly and and leaves only a slight bubbly ring of lace around the glass. It is quite a beautiful sight as not many beers have such a color and hue.

The benefit of a large wine glass is that you can take in all of the aroma that this brew has to offer. It starts off with tart cherries followed by a funky barnyard note. That sounds odd, but in a beer like this, it works very well and adds a layer of complexity. 

As with the nose, the taste of tart cherries is at the forefront of this lambic, which produce a nice sourness that is very present but not overwhelming. Once the sourness and cherry fades, the barnyard funk presents itself and lingers on the palate for a moment before dissipating. The carbonation dances on the palate perfectly for this style, and it is quite drinkable with a light body and only 5% ABV. 

Although I have tried several other Cantillon selections at tastings before, I quite enjoyed everything this brew offered. It is a great all around sour that is perfect for a beginning sour enthusiast or a veteran of all things tart and funky. I being the former, was very pleased with my experience and will be seeking out more of this style in the future.

Grade: 94

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: Bell's Hopslam

Last week I was lucky enough to score a bottle of one of my favorite seasonal brews: Bell's Hopslam out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. This is one of my favorite Imperial IPAs, and all I could think about when I got it was doing an official review. Let's dig in!

Hopslam was poured out of a 12oz bottle into a Great Divide Yeti snifter. It filled the glass perfectly with a one finger white head and a slightly opaque orange body. There was a medium carbonation that could be seen when held up to the light and complex lacing around the glass as well when swirled.

The aromas are mainly of citrus and pine with a little sweetness from the honey mixed in. The taste is exactly what the aroma would suggest with an over the top pine and citrus bite up front. This is followed up by a touch of sweetness that fades pretty quickly and a lingering bitterness. The bitterness on the back end is on the high side for a double IPA, but it works well in balancing with the other flavors.

Hopslam has a medium body and perfect carbonation for the style. The alcohol from the 10% ABV blends well and is only noticeable if it sits on the palate for an extended time. The addition of the sweetness provided by the honey is what really sets this apart from other quality Imperial IPAs. It balances so perfectly with the other elements and creates a very unique experience. Although this brew is harder to find and on the pricier side, it gets a two thumbs up from me. This is by far my favorite beer that Bell's produces and well worth the purchase if you happen to come across it.

Grade: 96/100

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: Spring House Beyond the Gates

It's about time I finally get to review one of my favorite styles of beer, which is of course the Imperial IPA. Today we are sampling Beyond the Gates, crafted by Spring House Brewing out of Lancaster, PA. Very rarely do bottles make it out of Spring House's taproom and into local bottle shops, so when I spotted this on the shelf I had no hesitation pulling the trigger on it.

Beyond the Gates poured an off-white, two finger head into a tulip. The beer itself gave off a hazy deep amber glow when held up to the light. As it swirled in my glass the head faded quickly and left just a hint of lacing behind. 

The nose brings up huge hints of citrus and pine. Tropical fruits and sweet caramel malts also made their way into the aroma of this brew. It is a very pungent aroma and I'm curious whether or not it will continue with a strong presence on the palate.

Right away you are bombarded with crazy amounts of pine and citrus just like the aroma would suggest. If I closed my eyes I could swear I was chewing on a pine cone, but that is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to IPAs. The intense bitterness from the hops lingers well after the beer is gone with a just a hint of the caramel malts sticking around for a bit. 

Beyond the Gates has a medium mouthfeel for the style with the bitterness almost overpowering the other elements of this brew. Although this brew is quite tasty, the balance between bitterness and flavor imparted by the hops is a little off with the bitterness overshadowing some of the lesser aspects. Having said that I would have no problem recommending this brew if you are lucky enough to find a bottle or on tap nearby.

Grade: 88/100

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: The Lost Abbey Red Poppy

Today I thought I would treat myself with a brew known for two things: being delicious and wildly expensive for the size. Most would agree that it is one of the best Flanders Red Ales around, but with a price point typically between $20-$25 this is not one I consider trying very often. This is none other than The Lost Abbey's Red Poppy weighing in at 5.5% ABV.

The 12.7 ounce corked and caged bottle poured mahogany brown into a Cigar City tulip. There was a little over two fingers worth of a creamy off white head that dissipated rather quickly.  As I swirled it around the glass to open it up a bit, a slight lacing was left around the rim of the glass.

The main aroma of Red Poppy is of sour cherries followed by a slight oak finish. The aging in oak barrels seems to add a subtle complexity to the overwhelming cherry tartness.

The first sip brings a huge vinegar sourness that makes you immediately pucker your lips and notice the subtle complexity contributed to the barrel aging. Once this sensation has passed, the cherries pull through followed by a woodiness from the oak barrels. There is also a high level of carbonation bringing to mind a slight champagne-like characteristic. Although the sourness does not linger, the cherries hang around for a bit leaving a dry finish almost like a good red wine. It has a medium mouthfeel that is very tart and slightly sweet.

While I am still a relative newcomer to the sours game, my experiences with them so far are very positive. Red Poppy is certainly a great example of the style, but at the current price/ounce, this is one that will only be purchased on rare occasions due to many other more affordable choices within the style.

Grade: 93/100