Reviews of craft beers, microbrews, breweries and brewpubs
Beer Reviews, Craft and Microbrews
This lens is devoted to reviews of craft beers and microbrews and brewpubs/breweries.
These reviews are my opinion only and are not intended to promote certain breweries over others. These reviews are provided for entertainment and educational purposes. I will review beers and pubs as I see them. If this offends anyone, oh well.
What this Lens will have and how it will be arranged
This lens will focus on beers and breweries. The first section will have descriptions of styles and then reviews of beers that fall under specific styles. The second section will have reviews of breweries and brewpubs that I have visited. I will include pictures of bottles and of beer in the glass and pictures of the breweries/brewpubs. Finding these beers and places is totally up to you. :)
I only drink beers that I like or might like so most of my reviews may tend to be positive. Please remember I am doing this for fun, it is not my occupation.
Absolutely no cats or other furry critters were harmed in the making of this Lens. Some yeast was consumed as an incidental to the consumption of the beverages. Some sacred oxen may be gored and some axes may be ground.
What, exactly, is beer?
Basically, beer is a fermented beverage where the fermented sugars are chiefly derived from grain. Fermentation can take place at different temperature ranges with yeasts that have been selected for the specific range. Ales, stouts and porters are fermented warm (65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, usually) and lagers are fermented at cooler temperatures (45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit) and then stored at a colder temperature to age (lagering).
A few words on beer styles.
There are several styles of beer. They range from pale yellow to black in color and from very light in texture (mouthfeel) to thick and almost chewy. The variations in mouthfeel are not connected to color. A dark beer can have a very light body where a pale beer can be thicker than it would appear. The most popular in the USA is the American Lager. This includes the mainstream beers you are familiar with. In the 1970's homebrewing was legalized on the federal level. This fueled a drive for different beers than the mainstream offerings. People who served overseas in the military also helped build the craft beer movement as they had been exposed to beers in other countries that they really liked and wanted to continue having them once they returned home. I am not going to detail every style here. There are several resources online where you can find this information and I will add some links below.
Some books about beer styles
Incubus Abbey Style Tripel
Brewed by Sly Fox Brewing Company Royersford. PA
Style: Abbey Style Tripel ( a tripel is a Belgian style beer once brewed exclusively at monasteries. It is usually light bodied and light colored with a warming alcohol feel)
Serving type: 750 ML Bottle poured into a Tulip glass.
Appearance: This beer pours a clear orange-amber with a thick white head that dissipates and leaves lacing around the glass. Constant streams of bubbles rise through the beer.
Smell: Slightly spicy, peppery, some fruit aromas, caramel and pale malt. The smells are subdued.
Taste: Sweet at first followed by citrus/tropical fruit flavors and spices that are present but subtle and hard to identify. There is an alcohol warming at the end.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing. No sting from the carbonation.
Overall: A good representation of the style. Refreshing, intriguing with the subtle spicing. A very satisfying beer.
Samuel Adams Tasman Red IPA
Brewed by: Boston Beer Company, Boston MA
Style: IPA An IPA or India Pale Ale is a mid strength beer with aggressive hopping. You should be able to taste the malt but the hops are the main focus. The color of an IPA can range from a gold to a deep amber. This style was first brewed to ship to British troops serving in India and other colonies in hot climates. The high level of hops helped to preserve the beer on long sea voyages.
Appearance: Pours a deep amber color which is the color of a polished garnet when held to the light. It has 1 finger thickness of foam that is long-lasting and comprised of small bubbles.
Smell: The first thing I could smell was roasty and caramel malts followed by a large aroma of citrus and pine from the hops. Very appealing.
Taste: There is a subtle flavor, almost candy like from the malt and the roast grains also make an appearance followed by hops. Lots and lots of hops flavor. The hops leave a lingering taste on the back of your mouth. Citrus, earthy and pine are the flavors I get from the hops. The flavor is well balanced with no flavors clashing.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing. You can feel the carbonation but no sting.
Overall: It is too bad this is a limited edition beer. It was very good, in my opinion and would go well with grilled burgers or steak.
Unfiltered Double Simcoe IPA
Weyerbacher Brewing Company Easton, PA
Style: Double (or Imperial) IPA. A DIPA is stronger and has a lot more hops that an IPA. This style originated in the USA and was born out of the extreme lifestyle movement. Bigger, bolder, stronger, that is what's going on here. This beer is made using a single variety of hops: Simcoe, which was developed in Yakima, Washington.
Appearance: Pours a cloudy copper color with a thick long-lasting head that leaves lacing.
Smell: Piney hops, some malt and caramel. Simple in a good way
Taste: Hops. In your face HOPS. A good clean pine-hops flavor with notes of bread and caramel with a lingering bitter aftertaste and some alcohol warming. Extreme without being unbalanced.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, not cloying but you know it is there. A slight sting from the carbonation which enhances the taste and feel.
Overall: A very likeable DIPA. Extreme use of a single hops is its main strength followed by great balance. This would go very will with sharp cheddar cheese.
Otter Creek Brewing, Middlebury VT
Style: A porter is an old style of beer that is the father of the stout style. It rode in on the industrial revolution. It was originally a mixture of 3 or 4 different beers and evolved into a dark beer that was very popular with the porters in London. It is dark, full bodied and satisfying. Generally, porters are not as roasty as a stout.
Appearance: Pours a deep dark brown with red highlights when held to the light. The head is thick, biege and very long lasting.
Smell: The smell is of caramel and bittersweet chocolate. There is a slight molasses smell along with a faint smokiness. There is a bit of an earthy aroma from the yeast.
Taste: Malty and sweet caramel and chocolate followed by slight smokiness and roast malt finishing off bitter and clean
Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied. A very creamy feel to the beer and the carbonation accents this. Almost silky. This is its best trait.
Overall: A good solid representation of the style. Good flavors combined with a great texture. This is a good beer to be sipping on a cold winter evening.
Derailed Black Cherry Ale
Erie Brewing Company, Erie PA
Style: Fruit beer. This is a catch-all category for beers brewed with or flavored with fruit. The specifications and flavors are flexible.
Appearance: Pours into the glass a slightly hazy orange with minimal head that dissipates quickly.
Smell: It smells sweet, almost like syrup with a strong cherry presence.
Taste: The same as the smell. No detectable bitterness. Just sweetness and black cherry
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing. No carbonation sting.
Overall: This is a good beer. Nothing great or spectacular about it. It would go down good on a warm summer day.
Franziskaner Dunkel Weissbier
Spaten-Brau, Munich Germany
Style: Dunkel is German for dark. A hefe-weissbier is a wheat beer, brewed with a significant portion of wheat and hefe means yeast. The yeast is a very important part of the whole flavor profile and is mixed into the beer when it is poured. Wheat beers are generally cloudy and very refreshing. This is the first style of beer I drank in Germany when I was stationed there in the Army.
Appearance: Pours a cloudy light brown with a thick tan head that subsides to a layer on top of the beer.
Smell: Malty, yeasty, a hint of clove and banana, some caramel and wheat.
Taste: The taste follows the smell very closely. Malty and caramel with the tangy flavor of yeast. No bitterness evident. Very well balanced.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing. No sting from carbonation.
Overall: A very satisfying beer. Slightly tangy and palate cleansing. This style of beer is great on a hot summer day. This is an excellent example of the style.
Don't just drink beer...learn how to really TASTE it!
60 Minute IPA
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton DE
Style: IPA (India Pale Ale); with a twist. Most of the beers brewed by Dogfish Head are a step away from the norm and this beer is no exception. The twist with this beer is that it is continuously hopped. In other words, for the entire 60 minutes of the boil, hops are continuously dropped into the kettle. The motto of Dogfish Head is "Off Centered Beers for Off Center People" and this beer holds up to that.
Appearance: Pours into the glass a nice deep gold that is clear with a constant stream of bubbles rising up to refresh the white head. The head is not thick but lasts a long time.
Smell: Hops. Citrus, slightly earthy, the hop aroma showcases the hops grown in the Northwestern US.
Taste: Very heavy on the hops with a background of malt that finishes dry. Lots of citrus hops flavor with a mellow level of bitterness.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and well carbonated without any sting.
Overall: A nice session beer. This would go well with grilled food and sharp cheese. Though it is a delivery system for hops, it does the job without being obnoxious.
Dogfish Head Brewery Milton, DE
This is a very unusual beer. The only category it could fit into would be "Specialty". It is brewed with Hazelnut flour, honey, heirloom wheat, myrrh, gentian root, raisins, pomegranate juice and pomegranates. They developed the recipe from an analysis of vessels found in ancient Etruscan tombs. 8.5% ABV
Appearance: Pours a nice clear orange-amber with a small head that goes away quickly.
Smell: As soon as I opened the bottle I could smell the raisins and pomegranates.Also present is the aroma of grain, spices and sweetness.
Taste: Fruity and wine-like. The spices are there and not readily identifiable with one exception: the gentian root. Having grown up in NH, I am familiar of the taste of gentian as that is the main ingredient in "Moxie", not to say this tastes anything like that but there is a hint of gentian flavor.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and satisfying. Warming without a sting from the alcohol.
Overall: An interesting beer. There is a lot to taste here but it is not crowded or overwhelming. It is complex and interesting. A great offering from the brewery that pushes the boundaries of imagination. I would try this again.
Black Raspberry Reserve
Sly Fox Brewing Company, Royersford PA
Style: Fruit Beer/Ale As I mentioned before, Fruit Beer/Ale can be based on any style. This particular beer is 8% ABV
Appearance: Pours a deep ruby red with a pinkish-beige head of tight knit bubbles that lasts a long time.
Smell: Raspberries. Both red and black raspberry scent is very evident. It has a sweet scent without being cloying.
Taste:Raspberry. Very powerful raspberry flavor, both red and black backed by a slight sweetness and some acidity to balance it.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied without being watery. Carbonation present. No alcohol warming or burn.
Overall: A good fruit beer. It would go well with a dessert such as chocolate cake.
St. Boisterous Hellerbock
Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown PA
Style: The Maibock/Hellerbock style is German in origin. These beers were brewed for the spring (associated with the month of May) and are a lighter (in color) version of a bock beer. They are malty with a ouch of hops and are brewed to be refreshing and clean. These are lagers, not ales.
Appearance: Pours a cloudy yellow/gold into the glass with a sparse white head that disappears quickly.
Smell: Malty and grainy. Slightly sweet. No evidence of hops aroma.
Taste: The taste follows the smell. Malty and grainy with a hint of biscuit flavor and a touch of sweetness.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied without being thin or watery. A slight carbonation sting which does not detract from the beer
Overall: A good refreshing beer. This is a beer you could enjoy any time of year.
Coronado Islander IPA
Coronado Brewing Company, Coronado CA
Style: IPA This is an American style IPA. It is more focused on hops than malt as a British IPA is.
Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy orange-gold with a thick, long-lasting fluffy off-white head.
Smell: Lemon, Grapefruit, piney hops. Slight caramel and malt
Taste: The taste follows the aroma very closely. Slightly sweet to start off then very intense citrus/pine hops flavor and a bitter follow up. Very much in style.
Mouthfeel: Light body which is bolstered by carbonation. Very smooth. The carbonation makes it feel almost creamy
Overall: A very good example of an American IPA. Basically a delivery system for hops. This would go great with sharp cheese such as aged cheddar or even Stilton.
Baltika Grade 9 Extra Lager
Baltika Breweries, St Petersburg Russia
Style: European Strong Lager ... this is the Euro equivalent of American Malt Liquor. It is basically a delivery system for alcohol. It is a strong beer without much character.
Appearance: Pours an extremely pale yellow into the glass. The head is thin and does not last long. It does leave a bit of lacing.
Smell: corn, cider, sweetness, a hint of alcohol
Taste :follows the smell. Corn and cider with an alcohol aftertaste.Not a whole lot of flavor.
Mouthfeel: Thin. Not quite watery but close. Not much carbonation.
Overall: It is what it is. It is interesting to try different styles of beer and to expand my experience by trying beers that I may not like. This is the case with this beer. I won't call this a bad beer but there is nothing outstanding about it. It is non-offensive and pretty bland. It would go down really well on a hot day after mowing the lawn or doing yard work.
Ayinger Weizen Bock
Brauerei Aying, Aying Germany
Style: Weizen Bock. A wheat beer with attitude. It is stronger than a dunkel weizen or a hefe weizen though it is in the same family. Made with at least 50% wheat malt, the weizen bock has more of everything to give you a wheat beer with a bit of kick.
Appearance: pours a deep cloudy yellow with a thick white long-lasting head.
Smell: Wheat and malt followed by a fruitiness and hints of clove and banana.
Taste: The taste follows the smell as being malty and wheat flavored with fruit notes and the hints of clove and banana but also has an aftertaste similar to candy or bubblegum.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a satisfactory level of carbonation.
Overall: a well balanced beer. The malt is not overpowering. You know you have had a beer but you are not bogged down or bloaed. Would go well with a chicken or fish dish or a light dessert.
Ft. Collins Chocolate Stout
Ft. Collins Brewery, Ft. Collins Colorado
Style: Stout. Stouts can come in many variations to include sweet, dry, coffee, chocolate and several more. They share the characteristics of color (very dark brown to black) and a certain amount of roast flavor from the dark malts used to make the beer.
Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with red highlights when held to the light. The head is sparse and does not last long.
Smell: The easiest way to describe the smell is that it smells like I dropped a chocolate lollipop into a cup of coffee.
Taste: bitter chocolate, roast malt and coffee, a taste of hops is present.
Mouthfeel: Nice and thick, as a stout should be. You can feel the carbonation but not as a major player.
Overall: A good stout for a cold evening. Would match well with a chocolate dessert.
Wolaver's Organic India Pale Ale
Otter Creek Brewing Company, Middlebury VT
Style: IPA This one is noteworthy in that it is certified as Organic. The Wolaver's brand is brewed by Otter Creek and is their Organic branch. All ingredients used are certified as organically produced.
Appearance: Pours a slightly cloudy light amber with a nice thick long lasting head.
Smell: The aroma of hops hits you, floral, citrus, pine, followed by a light caramel and malty smell
Taste: Citrus hops, a hint of orange, slightly grainy from the malt followed by a lingering hop bitterness that is present but not overpowering.
Mouthfeel: medium bodied with some carbonation sting.
Overall: Well balanced and is a good example of an American IPA; the emphasis is on the hops and is carried out well. Would go great with sharp cheese or any dessert with citrus.
Jolly Scot 80 Shilling Scottish Ale
Appalachian Brewing Company, Harrisburg PA
Style: Scottish Ale. Basically Scottish ales are broken down into 3 classifications based on strength and named from an old tax system. 60 shilling is the lightest followed by 70 shilling and 80 shilling. The only difference in the three is the amount of malt used in the brewing which determines the final strength. Scottish ales are more malty than British bitters and pale ales and a lot less hoppy due to the fact that hops do not grow well in Scotland.
Appearance: Pours a deep amber with a thin head that fades quickly.
Smell: Malty and a bit of smoke. No sign of hops in the aroma.
Taste: Malty and slightly smoky, similar to a good single malt scotch, just less intense.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing. Lightly carbonated.
Overall: A good representation of the style. I did try it on tap at the brewpub and thought the draft version was better, but the bottled ale is good on a chilly evening.
Stoudt's Brewing Company, Adamstown PA
Style: German Style Pilsner. This is the standard beer in Germany. Malty and refreshing with a balancing level of hops.
Appearance: Pours a pale gold with a white foamy head that lasts forever. A constant stream of slow bubbles rises through the glass.
Smell: Grainy and malty. Not much hops aroma.
Taste: Malty and clean. Some hops bitterness present but the focus is on malt.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with no sting from the carbonation.
Overall: A good representation of the style. The flavor brings back memories of sitting in clubs in Germany enjoying a well made Pils.
Excelsior White Gold
Ithaca Beer Company, Ithaca NY
Style: Specialty Beer This category covers anything that is out of the box when it comes to classification. This beer might be listed as a American Wheat Ale but due to the spices and wild yeast, it falls out of that category.
Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy gold with a thick white head. The head lasts a long time and there is a constant stream of small bubbles rising through the glass.
Smell: Spicy, citrus, wheat, slightly sour, some notes of candy, a bit of bubblegum, slight alcohol aroma.
Taste:Very wine-like. tart, sour, spicy, horsey. Interesting blend of flavors
Mouthfeel> Light bodied and refreshing.
Overall: Nice job on this one. Complex and interesting.
Duvel Moortgat NV, Puurs Belgium
Style: Saison- This style originated in Belgium near the French border. It is a beer that was strong enough to keep for a while but not too strong to be intoxicating. It was intended to be a refreshing brew for the farm hands working in the fields. It is generally dry and refreshing with subtle spicy flavors and a very subdued hops presence.
Appearance: Pours a slightly cloudy gold with a thick white head that lasts for a very long time.
Smell: Spicy, slighty fruity. Subdued malt aroma.
Taste: Hints of citrus and spices, not enough to identify anything in particular. There is a wold yeast flavor to this beer. No taste of hops at all. No flavor of alcohol.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and clean. Lots of carbonation but no sting
Overall: Light flavored and refreshing. Dry and quenching. This is a very good example of the style and would go down good on a hot summer day while working outside.
Java Head Stout
Troegs Brewing Company, Harrisburg PA
Style: Stout. A dark and roasty style with origins in Porter. This beer is a variation on an oatmeal stout as it is brewed with coffee beans.
Appearance: Pours into the glass a dark brown, almost black. The head is caramel colored and thick. It lasts a long time.
Smell: Cascade hops followed by roasted grain and coffee.
Taste: An interesting mixture of cascade hops ( very citrusy) and coffee/ roast flavors. Nice malt backbone.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied without being cloying or too heavy.
Overall: A really good beer. If you like coffee and you like stout, this is the beer for you. Very satisfying.
Lindemans Pomme Lambic
Brouwerji Lindemans, Vlezenbeek Belgium
Style: Lambic is one of the more unusual styles of beer to emerge from Belgium. It is a sour ale, fermented with wild yeast and aged for over a year. Often it has a fruit in it such as cherries, apples, peaches or raspberries.
Appearance: Pours a light gold with a long lasting white head that leaves plenty of lacing on the side of the glass
Smell: Tart and fruity apple aroma.
Taste: Very tart. Wine-like with an apple cider flavor
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing
Overall: This would be a very good beer on a warm day. It would go well with any dessert.
Lindemans Framboise Lambic
Brouwerji Lindemans, Vlezenbeek Belgium
Style: Lambic This beer is made with raspberries (framboise)
Appearance: Pours a ruby red into the glass and displays a pink foamy hed that leaves lacing on the glass when it finally subsides.
Smell: Raspberries. Slight sourness
Taste: Raspberries enhanced by the acidic tartness of the lambic. Almost tastes like raspberry ice cream.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing. Very clean, no cloying aftertaste
Overall: Interesting beer. Very likeable. It would go well with a salad.
Stone Brewing Company, Escondido CA
Style: India Black Ale ... a variation of IPA, India Black Ale is very hoppy but also is dark colored and has plenty of roasty flavor.
Appearance; Pours a black into the glass which has red highlights when held to the light. The tan head is long-lasting and thick.
Smell: Citrus hops, grapefruit, roast grains, slight caramel
Taste: The taste follows the smell closely. The hops are in the forefront. Like an IPA, this is a delivery system for hops
Mouthfeel: on the light side of medium bodied. Creamy.
Overall: A good example of an emerging style.
Bell's Amber Ale
Bell's Brewery, Comstock MI
Style: American Amber Ale: This style is a variation on pale ale. It tends to be more malt oriented that hoppy and also tends to have a pronounced caramel sweetness.
Appearance: Pours an orange-amber with 1 finger of white head that is long-lasting and compact
Smell: Malty and sweet with caramel undertones and a very slight hop aroma
Taste: The taste follows the smell, with a pleasant malt and caramel sweetness nicely balanced by a hop bitterness that is not too heavy.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. Not cloying, goes down easy.
Overall: A good representation of the style. Would go very well with a burger or steak or apple pie.
Family Brewery Huyghe, Belgium
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale. A higher alcohol light colored ale. Lightly hopped and usually fruity
Appearance: pours a rich gold with a very thick and long-lasting head that leaves lacing on the glass when it finally subsides.
Smell: Apples, pears, candy, very faint malt
Taste: Slightly sour, fruity, candy like.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied.
Overall: a good example of the style. Very drinkable. Warming.
Samuel Smith Imperial Stout
Samuel Smith Old Brewery, Tadcaster N. Yorkshire England
Style: In the days of Imperial Russia, they imported a stronger version of Stout from England. This Stout was a bigger version and was much loved at the Russian Court. Samuel Smith still brews this in a traditional manner.
Appearance: At first it appears an opaque black but when you hold it to the light you see a tint of deep red. The head is tan and lasts a long time.
Smell: Chocolate, coffee, sweet. Almost like a very intense mocha.
Taste: Roasted grains, chocolate, coffee and a slight sweet aftertaste with a bit of bitterness and then a slight alcohol flavor.
Mouthfeel: Heavy bodied and smooth. This is not a beer you could chug down nor should you want to. For those who think a dry Irish Stout is thick, this will blow your mind!
Overall: A great beer for sipping slowly on a cold evening. Would go great with chocolate cake or and rich dessert.
Fegley's Brewworks Monkey Wrench Saison Ale
Allentown Brew Works, Allentown PA
Style: Saison is actually a hard style to pin down. Brewed originally in the north of France and in the surrounding area of Flanders (now part of Belgium), Siason was a seasonal beer brewed for farmworkers. The concept was to have a beer that was tasty and refreshing without being intoxicating and that could be brought out to the fields with the workers. Saisons are usually dry and spicy.
Appearance: Pours a cloudy yellow with a compact white head that lasts for a long time and leaves lacing .
Smell: spicy, peppery, citrus, some clove and banana.
Taste: The taste pretty much follows the smell. The spices used are very subtle and hard to pinpoint.
Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing. Finishes dry. No carbonation sting though there is a lot of carbonation.
Overall: I could see this as a very refreshing beer on a hot summer day. I will buy this again.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton DE
Style: Pilsner. Pilsners are crisp and refreshing with a balance of malt and hops. This is the style that most mainstream American beers try to emulate. True Pilsners have a complex maltiness balanced by lots of hops flavor.
Appearance: Pours into the glass a deep orange-gold with a thick white head that lasts and lasts.
Smell: American hops (citrusy) and european hops (earthy and minty) with a sweet malt aroma
Taste: The complex maltiness is there followed by the hops. You can really taste the minty euro hops.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with carbonation present.
Overall: DFH is known for their ales but this lager is nice. Smooth, balanced and just different enough to be a true DFH beer. I will buy this one again.
Samuel Smith's Old Brewery, Tadcaster N. Yorkshire England
Style: Porter. A porter is the predecessor of stout. It is not quote as roasty as a stout but is full flavored and dark.
Appearance: Pours a dark brown which shows up as red when held to the light. The head is tan, thin and doesn't last long.
Smell: No hop aroma present. Smells of chocolate and malt.
Taste; The taste is similar to a chocolate lollipop with a bit of a coffee overtone.
Mouthfeel: Full bodied and rich. No bite from the carbonation.
Overall: Very drinkable. Surprisingly refreshing on a warm evening. Would pair well with roast beef.
Private Weissbier-Brauerei G. Schneider & Sohn, Kelheim Bavaria Germany
Style: Weisen Bock- A dark and strong variation of German Wheat beer.
Appearance: Pours a deep brown which shows as red when held to the light. The head is white and long lasting.
Smell: First sniff reminded me of banana bread. Very bready, carmely and strong hint of banana.
Taste: The tangy flavor of wheat beer followed by a caramel malt and then finishing with a slight taste of alcohol. Nice and warming
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a clean aspect
Overall: A good solid example of dark wheat beer. Would pair well with any sharp cheese or baked ham.