Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some Beer Reviews Before Labor Day

The days are starting to get shorter and we're heading into Labor Day Weekend, so let's go straight to beer reviews:

Full Sail Brewing Company has released a new beer in their Brewmaster Reserve series: Sanctuary Belgian-style Dubbel. I picked up a bottle a La Bodega last week and drank it over the weekend. It poured a dark amber with a small cream-colored head that dissipated into a collar fairly quickly. The aroma was of malt and a little caramel, no hops. On the palate the sweet malt definitely lead the way, with some notes of dark fruit and a few hints of spices from the Belgian yeast. There was a slight amount of alcohol heat and decent mouthfeel. Overall, it's a workman-like interpretation of the style, but nothing special, even compared to other American versions of this classic Belgian style, never mind the classic Trappist versions. To pick an easy example, I prefer Midnight Sun's Monk's Mistress (see my 3/30/2010 review); it's a much more interesting brew. Sanctuary weighs in at 7% ABV and 20 IBUs.

I wrote last week about Sam Smith's Yorkshire Stingo Ale, imported to the US by Merchant du Vin. Over the weekend I opened a bottle and poured it into a nice snifter glass. The beer poured a dark ruby color, very nice-looking, with a respectable head. The aroma was fairly clean, with some malt, toffee, and dark fruit notes. On the tongue, the beer is remarkably complex. First there is malt sweetness, then flavors of toffee, caramel, and dark fruits like raisins, giving way to woody, vinous notes. The long wood-aging is clearly evident in the oak flavors, creating a beer that harkens back to the British ales of two centuries ago, when wood-aging was essential to produce the flavors that drinkers expected. Stingo is a true rarity amongst the beers of today and if you are at all interested in beers and their history, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Look for it locally at Save-U-Mor and Country Liquors.

Friday, on the way home after a tough week at work, I stopped in at St. Elias Brewing Company to try their new Black Hole Cascadian Dark Ale (obviously Zach Henry is casting his vote for CDA as the correct term for the new Black IPAs that everyone seems to be making). In the pint glass, Black Hole is opaque with a nice tan head; by looks, your average porter or stout. The aroma gives the game away that you're dealing with a CDA: lots and lots of PNW hops. Once you take sip, there's a nice clean bitterness up front, followed by plenty of roasted, coffee flavors, finishing nice and dry, with none of the astringent bitterness you can sometimes get from heavily roasted malt. Exceptionally drinkable; after a couple, I felt much better about the weekend in front of me...

Zach also gave me a small sample of a rye bock he's been aging for about a year; it was very tasty, so hopefully he will be releasing it soon. He just brewed a Scottish 80 style beer, so keep you eye out for that to be released in the next few weeks.Here's something else to look at:
My terrible skills a photographer not withstanding, I'm trying to show you the huge new wall cooler which has just been installed at Three Beers. Looks like the have decided to get serious in the local beer store game.

I'm excited that more and more of our local stores seem to be getting the message about the growing local demand for craft beers. Now it's up to us to do our part and buy looks of good brews locally, so our selection can continue to grow! I'm doing my part; are you?

One final thought: there's a new scientific study out which shows that heavy drinking is actually better for you that being a teetotaler, and moderate drinking is best of all. Not that I would have changed my habits if it had shown the opposite, but it never hurts to find out that what you're going to do anyway is good for you...

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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