Homestretch of Summer new beers…..Part One
Good evening all,
as promised here is the long awaited Beer Club e-mail I gave you a heads up about yesterday. Again, sorry for the delay in getting this one out and I do hope that you’ll be able to absorb all the beers in this two part e-mail notice. There are two dozen of them, after all.
First up are a few Summer Seasonal brews for your consideration.
Saranac seems to be expanding their selection and producing more beers off their beaten path and they have another one from their High Peaks Series, Lemon Ginger Saison in 22oz bottles. It’s brand new, so only has 8 reviews thus far, but would average out to a respectable 84 rating and has a sneaky 8.5% ABV. I did try this one and it’s certainly sessionable (slowly at 8.5%) and good drinking for Summer days. It’s a decent Saison and has the characteristics of the style (wheat and bready malts and barnyard-like funk), but what I was really interested in was the combo of lemon and ginger. However, I found them to be more subtle than I was hoping for, but maybe my expectations were too high? Still, a good brew to either just sip away or to pair with BBQ, grilled meats and veggies or Asian cuisine.
Speaking of ginger, we did get back in Harpoon’s Ginger Wheat Ale, also in 22oz bottles. We had this last year and if you like ginger flavour then this one gives it to you. This is a good Wheat Ale with the added touch of ginger and makes it a great beer to pair with sushi (I know, I tried and it works perfectly). Don’t know if I’d called this one sessionable as I think it’s more to pair with foods, so if that’s your thing then grab a bottle of this and see what you can match it with. It does has a deceiving 7% ABV.
From MacTarnahan’s, who are part of the Pyramid Brewery, comes their take on a Czech Pilsener, Full Bloom. It’s also available in 22oz bottles and has an ABV of 6.3%. Again, we have another brand new beer with only a few reviews, though the guys who operate the BeerAdvocate site did give it an 89 rating. Czech Pilseners are usually crisp beers with a clean palate and with notable spicy and floral hops presence. Full Bloom has all that plus some cereal and biscuit malt with grassy notes. This beer can certainly be enjoyed in warmer weather and would pair well with cheeses and sandwiches along with any type of spicy cuisine.
We have another addition from Goose Island, part of their Belgian-style brews, Matilda. Matilda is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale and is available in 4pk bottles and singles and has an ABV of 7%. It has a rather impressive resume’ with an 89 rating approaching 1000 reviews. Matilda has flavours of biscuit malt and backed by Brett yeast with notes of citrus zest (lemon and orange), clove and a tangy spiciness. Sounds like another solid offering from the brewers of Goose Island and something you fans of Belgian (style) beers will want to check out.
Staying with the Belgian-style theme, we have yet another brew from the NY brewery Ommegang, Biere D’Hougoumont in 750ml bottles with an ABV of 7.3%. Hougoumont is a Biere de Garde, which are beers that often gold in colour and have aromas and flavours of baked bread and apples. Hougoumont, however, is aged in white oak barrels and on maple wood staves. I had this one on tap at Carolina Blue and it was not what I was expecting, which turned out to be a very good thing. This was a rich flavourful beer with lots of caramel and subtle fruity tastes like apricot and cherries lingering in the background. The hint of maple flavour added to it’s complexity and there was also a nice touch of vanilla from the oak. I was rather glad I ordered this one, so again, fans of Belgian (style) beers should give this one a go.
Our third Belgian-style brew is from Avery and it’s their 19th Anniversary Ale, a Tripel. It’s available in 22oz bottles, has an ABV of 8.2% and has an 87 rating with nearly 50 reviews. 19th Anniversary Tripel’s flavours are a myriad of fruits (pear, banana and apricot) and candi sugar with notes of clove, coriander and pepper and Belgian yeast. Sounds like a classic Tripel with an American twist.
OK, now we move from 3 Belgian-styles to 5 IPAs, so IPA and hopheads pay attention!
First up that’s new to our shelves is from the UK brewery St. Peter’s. Their IPA comes in 16.9oz bottles and has an ABV of 4.9%. This is an English-style IPA, a bit different than the American (West Coast) style we’re used to here. This style tends to use less malts in the brewing process, so less need of overpowering hops to balance it all out. It’s a softer more mellow style of IPA, so those of you just getting into the IPA style or thinking of it may want to start here. The flavours are a base of bready biscuit malt and caramel with notes of citrus and floral hops and a touch of honey and a slightly bitter finish.
Another English-style IPA comes from the brewery Meantime and theirs is available in 750ml bottles. This IPA rings in at a heartier 7.5% ABV, so almost like an English take on a Double IPA. Meantime IPA has an 89 rating with over 300 reviews. The Esoteric Beer Consultant (the guy who handles his distributor’s eclectic and unique beers, for you newbies) stopped by this week and sampled me on this one. It’s rather easy drinking for an IPA and I’d have never thought it was 7.5%. It is quite good, though a milder style than a typical US IPA. It’s flavours are a base of toasted bready malt with an underlying touch of caramel with grassy notes. Earthy hops round it out with a hint of floral notes and orange. Good stuff.
Back to the US, we start on the West Coast and are pleased to announce Sierra Nevada is now bottling their Hoptimum IPA in 4pks. This a 91 rated beer with nearly 1000 reviews and a whopping 10.4% ABV. Hoptimum starts out with big malt flavours of caramel and toasted malts. Then, the hops explode on your palate (100 IBUs). The hop profile is spicy, pine, resin, grapefruit, herbaceous and dank. The combo of big up front malt and taste bud bashing hops on the back end makes for a hopheads dream.
Turning locally/regionally, we have a couple IPAs to peak your interest.
First up is Weyerbacher’s Last Chance IPA, in 6pk bottles and singles. This beer took over for the now retired Hops Infusion. Last Chance has an ABV of 5.9% and has an 82 rating so far after a couple dozen reviews. It’s flavours are different than the normal IPA with a base of toasty grains and grassy straw instead of malty caramel. The hops are more tropical with notes of orange, tangerine and grapefruit with a touch of pine and herbal hints. So if you’re seeking something a little off center to test your taste buds, this may be the one to check out.
From Troegs finally comes their Perpetual IPA now available year-round in 6pk bottles (and singles). We had a couple of cases of this one last year, but in 22oz bottles and I really enjoyed this one and was quite happy to hear they were going to add this one to their year-round arsenal. Perpetual has an ABV of 7.5% and an impressive 92 rating with over 300 reviews. Heck, I’ve got one in my fridge right now (yeah, working from home) so let me crack it open and tell you what flavours I discern from this finely crafted brew. It’s base flavours are caramel and toasted cereal malts. The hops punch you right in the mouth after the initial taste and have notes of orange, grapefruit, pine and an Earthy herbal quality. There is a touch of tangy spice that tries to hide behind all the hoppy goodness, sort of like BBQ spices. It’s faint, but it’s there. This is just a very solid IPA that we now get to have ALL THE TIME! I know, you’re still pining away for Nugget Nectar, but this should make you happy until it comes ’round again.
Whew! That was just Part One. Hope you’re ready for Part Two, just give me some time to put that one together.