Tasting Notes: Front Row Golden Ale from Starr Hill Brewery

FrontRowbottle1000This installment of Tasting Notes provides us with a little mid-week beverage break supplied by Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, Virginia) and its newly released Front Row Golden Ale.

Debuting this month as Starr Hill’s newest Year-Round offering, Front Row is a light and refreshing Golden Ale that finds “the perfect balance of hop bitterness and a honey-like malt body.”  Coming in at a sessionable 4.9% ABV and 20 IBUs, this accessible ale promises to keep you in the front row when “savoring life’s moments in-person and sharing the experience with others.”  Front Row Golden Ale is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Virginia, and throughout the rest of Starr Hill’s distribution area.

Now that all that background information is out of the way, I do believe it is time to grab a few glasses, find a bottle opener and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Front Row Golden Ale from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance:  Front Row fills the glass with a honey-hued golden colored brew that is topped with a perfect finger of bright white head.  The beer is pristine in clarity and displays countless single file lines of carbonation streaming the length of the pour to feed the top cap.  As dutiful as that carbonation presence is, the head does dissipate down to a chunky ring that leaves behind sticky sheets of lace whenever the glass is jostled.

Aroma: A clean Pilsner presence greets the nose first with honey-filled, biscuity tones.  The malt character picks up some light caramel notes before the hops stealthily balance things out with a lovely floral presence that is laced with a tinge of citrus.

Taste:  Pils malt takes the lead again by laying down a firm base that is biscuity and lightly bready.  A light layer of caramel and a dollop of honey then work their way in to round off the malt profile.  The hops easily glide in to restrain that sweetness with a balancing presence of ruby red grapefruit and floral tones.

Mouthfeel:  Although it is light in body with a moderate carbonation level, this beer still establishes itself with a little weight and texture (no doubt thanks to the added oats).  The balance is on point, never tipping one way or the other toward sweet or hoppy.  This level of balance keeps the experience super refreshing and easy drinking.  The ABV is light and it never really efforts to make its presence known.  Overall, this beer cleans up nicely and quickly, but there is just a wisp of honey left behind in the aftertaste from time to time.

Final Thoughts:  All in all, Front Row achieves exactly what it set out to do: be an accessible, easy-drinking brew that can go anywhere and pair well with any moment.  Although it is accessible and balanced, the Cascade hops have just enough presence to give the beer a likable personality and add dimension to that light malt foundation supported by biscuity, caramel and honey notes.  It is non-distracting while still remaining memorable . . . it is coy.  It is an experience that just works in a seemingly effortless manner, and the aptly named Front Row is here to join you front and center whenever you are out enjoying all that means most in life.  Prost!


Rogue Spirits Releases Oregon Single Malt Whiskey

IMG_9744Rogue Ales & Spirits (Newport, Oregon) has officially announced the release of its first five-year aged product, Oregon Single Malt Whiskey.

Produced at the only farm-brewery-distillery-cooperage in the United States, Rogue’s Oregon Single Malt Whiskey has been “handcrafted from ingredients grown on Rogue Farms in the Willamette and Tygh Valleys, distilled on a 550-gallon still and aged in the air of the Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon.”  After five years of careful aging, this medium to full-bodied Single Malt has picked up “an attractive aroma of floral honey, peach and mango” that slowly transitions to notes of “lush, ripe fruit and brown spice.”

“Ocean aging is where a lot of the magic happens,” says Rogue Distiller Jake Holshue. “The Single Malt Whiskey breathes in the steady, cool, coastal air for five years, which influences its flavor profile, making the spirit truly unique, and proudly rooted in Newport.”

In addition to the release of Oregon Single Malt Whiskey, Rogue Ales & Spirits is also introducing a three-year aged Oregon Rye Malt Whiskey and a two-year aged Dead Guy Whiskey.  All of these offerings are available now as Year-Round offerings packaged in 750ml bottles.  You can expect to find these new whiskeys at select retailers located throughout the United States.  Prost!

Vital Information for Oregon Single Malt Whiskey from Rogue Ales & Spirits

Release – Year-Round, launching February 2018
Style – Single Malt Whiskey
ABV – 40% (80 Proof)
Ingredients – Rogue Farms Risk™ Malt, Free-Range Coastal Water & Rogue’s Proprietary Pacman Yeast
Availability – 750ml bottles 

TBBW 2018 Event: Angry Chair Brewing Announces Beer Week Bottle Releases

AngryChairBAFionnAngry Chair Brewing (Tampa, Florida) has officially announced that it will hit Tampa Bay Beer Week 2018 with four days of bottle releases spanning from Monday, March 5 to Thursday, March 8.

The crew at Angry Chair Brewing is breaking out the big guns for Tampa Bay Beer Week and they will come in the form of four extremely limited, barrel-aged bottle releases: Barrel-Aged Fionn, Barrel-Aged Rocky Road, Double Barrel Popinski and Barrel-Aged Imperial German Chocolate Cupcake Stout.  Each of these beers will have its own dedicated bottle release, and with that – like all Angry Chair happenings – comes with a lot to go over.  Let’s break it all down so that you are armed with all the information necessary to secure these brews.

Date, Time & Beer

  • Monday, March 5 at Noon: Barrel-Aged Fionn, an Imperial Hazelnut & Coffee Porter aged in Bourbon Barrels (10% ABV).  $30 per bottle
  • Tuesday, March 6 at Noon: Barrel-Aged Rocky Road, an Imperial Sweet Stout with Cacao Nibs, Marshmallow & Walnuts aged in Bourbon Barrels (10% ABV).  $35 per bottle
  • Wednesday, March 7 at Noon: Double Barrel Popinski, a Russian Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels & then Maple Rum Barrels (10% ABV).  $35 per bottle
  • Thursday, March 8 at Noon: Barrel Aged Imperial German Chocolate Cupcake Stout, an Imperial Sweet Stout with Cacao Nibs, Coconut & Vanilla Beans aged in Bourbon Barrels (11% ABV). $35 per bottle

Useful Info for ALL Releases

  • All of the bottle releases above will be held at Angry Chair Brewing | 6401 N Florida Ave | Tampa, Florida
  • The bottle releases will be for BOTTLE SALES ONLY
  • Bottle limits will be set day of & will be determined by how many people are in line
  • Please bring CASH.  This expedites the process & keeps the line moving
  • If the brewery hits capacity, Angry Chair will have no choice but to adjust accordingly.  They will potentially have to move to the “one in, one out” scenario.
  • Angry Chair will open for normal hours after the Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday releases.  The beer released that day will be put on tap when they open.  This does not apply to the Thursday release because the brewery will be hosting a private event later that day
  • Please be respectful of Angry Chair’s neighbors, staff & customers
  • DO NOT litter while in line
  • DO NOT block walkways or driveways while in line

Parking Info

  • Parking at Angry Chair is limited & the brewery asks that you respect the parking situation
  • DO NOT park on Fern
  • DO NOT park at Trip’s Diner
  • DO NOT park in the plaza that houses Rooster & the Till and Urban Bungalow
  • There is some street parking available throughout the neighborhoods (other than on Fern), but please be respectful of the people that live there by not blocking their driveways, mailboxes, sidewalks, etc.

If any more details surface before these releases, we will do our best to update you here with that information just as soon as we have it.  You can also follow Angry Chair’s Facebook page for up-to-date information.

Fair Warning: A massive crowd always seems to find its way to a bottle release at Angry Chair, and Tampa Bay Beer Week will most likely just add to that crowd’s numbers and increase the likelihood that these beers will sell out quickly.  With that in mind, if there is a beer or several beers on the list above that you are interested in, just make sure that you are on time, patient, respectful and have a good time.  Good luck out there, guys and gals.  Prost!

Highland Brewing Unveils Refreshed Look

unnamed (92)Highland Brewing (Asheville, North Carolina) announced today that it has officially launched a complete rebrand that includes a new logo, new-look packaging for all beers, an updated website, and a soon-to-be fully updated taproom aesthetic.

After spending the last few years refreshing their beer portfolio so that it is more aligned with the tastes of today’s craft beer drinker, the folks at Highland Brewing began to realize that the brewery’s look and imagery no longer matched their updated brews and vibe.  After much deliberation and extensive research and development work with the Austin, Texas firm Helms Workshop, the tough decision was made to rebrand and move on from the bagpipe-toting Scotsman who has served as the company’s iconic logo since 1994.

All “marketing, labeling, point of sale, packaging and merchandise” will still wear the Highland Brewing name, but these items will now sport a logo that consists a highly-stylized “H” set within a pioneer’s compass that is surrounded by “the clear messaging that Highland remains Asheville’s first craft beer.”  The Blue Ridge Mountains are now artfully depicted on all packaging, and the “Highland” name will continue to honor the area’s Scots-Irish heritage and the brewery’s setting “on high land – in the mountains and on a hilltop.”


“Highland Brewing has been a pioneer in beer since my father founded the company in 1994,” said Leah Wong Ashburn, President of Highland Brewing. “Over two decades, we led with beer, and in recent years, we developed our beer portfolio significantly with fresh new styles and our innovative spirit is firing. The result of the changes was that our beer and our brand were sharing different messages. I love that we are now aligning the message.  

What that means is we focused on the four things we know to be true about ourselves: authenticity, sense of place, consistently excellent beer and an inventive spirit.”

Fully committed to this rebrand, Highland Brewing will be closing its doors on February 19 so that it can update its taproom to match the rebrand.  After a four-day renovation, the taproom will officially reopen on February 23 with a launch celebration that will show off the new branding/packaging and “feature new small batch beers, including Highland’s very first Brett brew, as well as throw-back favorites including Little Hump, Razor Wit, and Vintage 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale.  The event will also boast live music, new merchandise available for purchase, and popular food trucks.  The launch celebration is free and open to the public.

For those of you that do not live within driving distance of Highland Brewing, the rebrand will reach you any day now as the new-look 12 oz. bottles, 12 oz. cans and tap handles hit craft beer establishments located within the brewery’s distribution footprint.  Just be sure to keep these changes in mind the next time you are out looking for your favorite Highland brew.  Prost!


Catawba Brewing to Re-Release Evening Joe Coffee Blonde Ale

Sticker-whitebgCVB-EJoeCatawba Brewing Co. (Morganton, North Carolina) has officially announced that it will begin the Limited Release of Evening Joe Coffee Blonde Ale on Friday, March 23.

After winning the People’s Choice Award for Catawba Brewing’s 2017 Passport Program, Passport Beer #16: Coffee Blonde will return in March under the name Evening Joe.  To create this fan-favorite Limited Release, the brewers at Catawba blend a light and crisp Cream Ale with cold-brewed Arabica coffee and natural vanilla flavor. This lovely combination results in a “liquid paradox [that looks] like your evening pint but drinks like your morning cup.”  Evening Joe clocks in at 5.7% ABV and 25 IBUs.

Evening Joe is scheduled to officially release on March 23 and will hang around through April.  You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Catawba Brewing Co.’s five state distribution footprint.  Prost!

Vital Information for Evening Joe Coffee Blonde Ale from Catawba Brewing Co. 

Release – Limited; March 23, 2017
Style – Blonde Ale
ABV – 5.7%
IBUs – 25
Malts – 2-Row Pale & Vienna
Hops – Magnum & Cascade
Added Ingredients – Arabica coffee, natural vanilla flavor & lactose sugar
Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Distribution – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama & Georgia
Beer Finder – http://catawbabrewing.com/beer-finder

Don Q Introduces Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish Rum

DonQDBVermouthBottleDestilería Serrallés Inc. (Ponce, Puerto Rico), the producers of Don Q Rum, recently announced the release of Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish Rum as the distillery’s latest Special Edition offering.

With the intention to expand upon Don Q’s “focus on unique barrel-aged expressions”, Jaiker Soto – the distillery’s Master Blender – developed Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish Rum by first carefully blending “rare rums” that have aged for five to eight years in American white oak casks.  Soto then sent that blend to “rest for 4 to 6 weeks in Mancino Vermouth Vecchio barrels” so that the rum could pick up “the distinct aromatics of the fortified wine [the casks] once carried, as well as the botanical flavors synonymous with vermouth.”  Now infused with “a dynamic mix of flavors and a rich, aromatic essence”, the completed Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish Rum emerges straight from the bottle with an “expression . . . reminiscent of a classic Manhattan, with the sweet vermouth-soaked wood barrel creating hints of cherry and raisins that interact nicely with the rare aged rum blend’s natural honey, dark chocolate and vanilla flavors.”  That being the case, Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish Rum is at its best when served neat or on the rocks.

“Blending innovation, art and science has always been characteristic in the way we have been crafting exceptional spirits for the last 153 years. This new expression has allowed us to collaborate with other high-quality artisans in the industry,” says Roberto Serrallés, Sixth-generation rum maker and Business Development Vice President. “We’ve been excited with the idea of creating unique spirits from unexpected pairings through barrel-aging in recent years, and felt it was the perfect time to enter the category. Our team had been planning this expression for several years, and are grateful to our friends at Mancino Vermouth for helping us bring this dream to fruition with their barrels.”

Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish Rum is available now in 750ml bottles for the suggested retail price of $49.99 each.  You can find this Special Release offering at select liquor stores located in Florida and all other states that normally see offerings from Don Q Rum.  Prost!

Vital Information for Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish Rum from Don Q Rum

Release – Special Edition, debuts February 2018
Style – Rum (blended)
ABV – 40% (80 Proof)
Treatment – “A blend of rare rums first aged for 5 to 8 years in American White oak casks, followed by 4 to 6 weeks in Mancino Vermouth Vecchio casks, crafted from Italian white oak”
Availability – 750ml bottles
Rum Finder – https://donq.com/where-to-buy/


Tasting Notes: Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) from Rogue Ales

RogueRollingThunder2018_editedAfter barreling through another awesome week of beer news, we close it out in proper fashion by jotting down some Tasting Notes on Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) from Rogue Ales (Newport, Oregon).

Just last week, we hit you with the news that Rogue Ales had officially begun the limited release of its Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018).  If you happened to miss that post, Rolling Thunder can basically be summed up as a massive Imperial Stout “brewed with ingredients grown at Rogue Farms, and then ocean aged for nine months in barrels made by hand at Rogue’s Rolling Thunder Barrel Works.”  The house-made Dead Guy Whiskey that once filled those barrels lends notes of whiskey and vanilla to complement the base beer’s dark roasted malts while raspberries – the special ingredient for 2018 – provide a unique thread of lightly tart sweetness.

Rolling Thunder is available now for a limited time in 16.9 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located throughout Rogue’s nationwide distribution footprint.

That should just about catch everyone up on this release, so let’s keep this thing rollin’ and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) from Rogue Ales

Appearance: From a bottle hand-numbered as Barrel #4 of 17 & Bottle #249 of 413, Rolling Thunder pours an inky black in color and has just over a finger of creamy, chocolate milk colored foam resting on top.  The beer is completely opaque and remains so when held directly against a light source.  Head retention is good, but the foam does eventually fall to a thin but lasting top cap.  The beer itself does leave a yellow-tinged slick on the glass after each sip, but some spots of lace are just stubborn enough to grab hold sporadically throughout the experience.

Aroma:  The aromatics begin with a defined sherry presence that is loaded with nutty and sweet dark fruit character. This elegant note gracefully transitions into a subtle raspberry tone that is quickly overtaken by a closing barrage of roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla and oak.

Taste:  The barrel grabs your attention first here with a big ol’ pop of vanilla and oaky whiskey.  This shifts into those sweet sherry notes of dark fruit (fig mostly) and molasses.  The raspberries are slightly jammy and pull double duty by bringing both complementary sweetness and a contrasting dose of tartness.  Those bright raspberries refresh the palate just as the beer stoutly settles in with satisfying, decadent notes of caramel, brown sugar, roasted grains, dark chocolate, and fudge studded with pecans.

Mouthfeel:  Full bodied with a moderate carbonation level, this enormous Imperial Stout has a chewy, viscous feel to it.  The beer takes its time on the palate, allowing the flavors to linger and fully develop at their own pace.  Sitting at 14.4%, the ABV certainly has a presence that establishes a building warmth in the throat and belly.  The aftertaste is all vanilla, chocolate and booze-soaked oak.

Final Thoughts:  From the first sip, it is quite evident that Rogue built this year’s Rolling Thunder to come out swingin’ and clear a place for itself among the highest echelon of barrel-aged Imperial Stouts.  It achieves this with an artful composition that sandwiches that raspberry addition between oaky whiskey notes and the base stout’s chocolaty, roasty goodness.  Simply put, this Imperial Stout is pretty much a whiskey-infused raspberry truffle . . . and it is heavenly.

Over the last 30 years, Rogue has amassed a long list of beers that have become standards in the industry, and we confidently predict that this year’s version will add Rolling Thunder to that list.  Yeah . . . it is that good, and you need to get your hands on a bottle or pour of Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) before this Limited Release dries up.  Make it happen.  Prost!

Maui Brewing and Crooked Stave Collaborate on Two Tickets to Paradise

Two-tickets-iconMaui Brewing Company (Kihei, Hawaii) has officially announced the limited release of Two Tickets to Paradise, a Tropical Saison brewed in collaboration with Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project (Denver, Colorado).

Not too long ago, members of the Crooked Stave brewing team agreed to take the arduous journey over to Hawaii so that they could collaborate with Maui Brewing on a beer that utilized the two breweries’ “like-minded, innovative, and independent” approaches to local ingredients and sour beer techniques.  Their combined efforts resulted in Two Tickets to Paradise, a tart, tropical Saison brewed with hibiscus and locally sourced limes.  Bright pink in color, the “super refreshing and crushable” Two Tickets to Paradise (4.8% ABV) is described as “having a very vibrant acidity from the hibiscus and lime.”

“We decided to brew a Saison that blended our love for sour fermentation and the use of local ingredients,” said Maui Brewing Company’s Brewmaster, Kim Brisson-Lutz. “We enjoy collaborating with breweries that are innovative and independent. We are huge fans of Crooked Stave and the beer they produce.”

Two Tickets to Paradise officially debuted in Maui Brewing’s new full-service restaurant and tasting room in Kihei on February 14 and will enter distribution any day now.  You can expect to find this new Limited Release available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Florida, Hawaii, Colorado and throughout the rest of Maui Brewing Company’s distribution network.  Prost!

Vital Information for Two Tickets to Paradise from Maui Brewing Company & Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project

Release – Limited, mid-February 2018
Style – Saison
ABV – 4.8%
IBUs – 20
Malts – Pilsner, Wheat, Flaked & Golden Naked Oats
Hops – Motueka, Huell Melon & Mandarina
Added Ingredients – Hibiscus & lime
Availability – 4-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder – http://mauibrewingco.com/find-our-beer/

Hi-Wire Brewing to Release 2018 Collaboration Mixed 12-Pack

Hi-Wire-BrewingHi-Wire Brewing (Asheville, North Carolina) has announced that it will officially release its 2018 Collaboration Mixed 12-Pack with Against The Grain Brewery (Louisville, Kentucky), Blackberry Farm Brewery (Walland, Tennessee) and Trophy Brewing Co. (Raleigh, North Carolina) in mid-February.

In the spirit of sharing their “craft with respected peers in the Southeast”, the folks at Hi-Wire Brewing recently brought in “longtime [friends] and connections” from Against the Grain, Blackberry Farm and Trophy Brewing Co. so that they could develop some creative offerings to be featured in the 2018 version of their annually released Collaboration Mixed 12-pack.  This year’s featured collaboration beers are as follows (descriptions provided by Hi-Wire Brewing):

  • Against the Grain Brewery Dark Coffee Lager: “We took special care to let the beautiful fruit notes from naturally processed Ethiopian coffee via Dynamite Roasting sing in this collaboration with our buddies from Against The Grain Brewery in Louisville, Kentucky. Aromatic notes of fresh ground coffee beans, hazelnut, cherry, and new leather meld perfectly with a soothing dark malt sweetness and hints of fresh baked bread with a clean, crisp finish.” (5.5% ABV)
  • Blackberry Farm Brewery – A Wee Bit More Hops Tropical Saison: “In our collaboration with Blackberry Farm Brewery we decided to celebrate Blackberry Farm’s world class house Saison yeast strain by pairing it with a plethora of tropically aggressive American hops, including a mid fermentation hop addition for added depth. Azacca, El Dorado, and Mosaic shine with magnificent aromas of mango, papaya, juicy fruit, and white grape while a slight bitterness and dry finish preps the palette for another sip.” (6.2% ABV)
  • Trophy Brewing Co. – Double Dry-Hopped IPA: “It’s no secret Trophy Brewing makes some of the best IPAs in the country. So after very little deliberation, we decided to brew the hoppiest beer Hi-Wire has ever created at 3.5 lbs per barrel. Starting with Simcoe and Centennial in the whirlpool before mid-fermentation and dry-hop additions of El Dorado and Simcoe, this hazy gold monstrosity screams of green mango, huge citrus, and piney resin with a slight sweetness on the finish. This one is for the truest of hop fiends.”  (7% ABV)

To complete this mixed 12-pack, Hi-Wire has also included three of its flagship brews: Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA, Lo-Pitch Juicy IPA, and Hi-Wire Gose.  Each Mixed 12-pack will contain two 12 oz. bottles/cans of each of the six beers mentioned above.

According to Hi-Wire’s Release Calendar, the 2018 Collaboration Mixed 12-pack is slated for release on February 16 and will be around as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this Limited Release mixed pack at select craft beer retailers located within Hi-Wire Brewing’s distribution footprint in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Ohio.  Prost!


Three Taverns Craft Brewery to Offer Lord Grey in Cans

3TavernsLordGrey2Three Taverns Craft Brewery (Decatur, Georgia) has announced that Lord Grey Sour Ale will officially hit cans for the first time in mid-February.

Arriving as the latest can offering from Three Taverns’ Sour Asylum Series, Lord Grey was actually conceptualized with the help of the folks at The Porter Beer Bar who “suggested the addition of tea leaves in a sour beer.”  That idea stuck with the brewers at Three Taverns and they eventually developed a recipe for a “refreshingly balanced 5% sour ale with Earl Grey tea.”  All those who sit down with a pour of Lord Grey will be treated to a “crisp and mildly tart” experience where “herbal flavors abound up front with a subtle bergamot orange in the background.”

“We can’t wait to get this beer into people’s hands, it’s been a favorite of our staff and the folks in The Parlour for quite some time. The can art really conveys the full experience we were going for with this beer and to see it all come together has been a really fun experience.”


– Brian Purcell, Founder and CEO of Three Taverns Craft Brewery

Cans of Lord Grey will debut at Three Taverns Craft Brewery on February 16 and enter distribution during the week of February 19.  You can expect to find this Sour Asylum offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Georgia.  Prost!

Vital Information for Lord Grey from Three Taverns Craft Brewery

Release – Sour Asylum Series, cans launch mid-February 2018
Style – American Sour Ale
ABV – 5%
Added Ingredients – Earl Grey tea
Recommended Glassware – Teku glass
Fun Fact – Lord Grey joins Rapturous and Enchantress as the third Sour Asylum Series offering to see availability in cans

Availability – 6-packs of 12 oz. cans & draft
Beer Finder – http://www.threetavernsbrewery.com/find-our-beer/