Tasting Notes – The Classics: Hefe-Weizen from Paulaner Brauerei

PaulanerHefePourX600For this special edition of Tasting Notes, we crack open a few pints of OG haze and get reacquainted with the highly respected classic that is Hefe-Weizen from Paulaner Brauerei (Munich, Germany).

Regarded as “the #1 wheat beer in Germany and one of the world’s favorites”, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen is a traditional, unfiltered Hefeweizen-style Wheat Beer that is “naturally cloudy and silky gold under a really strong head of foam.”  Proudly boasting a “perfectly balanced mix of aromas and refreshing taste”, this offering’s sensory profile features a “hint of banana aroma” and “[traces] of mango and pineapple” on the palate.  Coming in at just 5.5% ABV, Hefe-Weizen is a truly “superb biergarten or outdoor drinking bier.”

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen is available Year-Round in 4-packs of 16.9 oz. cans (newly released), 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 500ml bottles and on draft.  You can expect to find this iconic brew at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida and throughout the rest of Paulaner’s distribution network in the U.S.

Alrighty . . . now that we have those particulars out of the way, let’s put these new pint cans to good use and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Hefe-Weizen from Paulaner Brauerei

Appearance: The most careful of pours produced a stunning Hefeweizen that is a sunburst orange in color and capped with over three fingers of creamy, bright white foam.  When held to direct light, the beer has a solid dark orange core that radiates outward to the edges of the glass with brighter orange tones and a spectrum of yellows. The beer has that quintessential Hefeweizen cloudiness, but a slow and steady carbonation presence can still be seen swirling about in the haze.  Head retention is spot on for the style, falling ever so slowly to a lasting half finger that coats the glass with super creamy lace after each pull.

Aroma: The yeast is all over the aromatics, offering pronounced notes of banana and clove.  A bit of Noble hop spice and a touch of citrus surfaces alongside a clean, bready wheat presence, but . . . seriously . . . this profile is all about that Hefeweizen yeast.  Absolutely heavenly.

Taste: Lemon, orange and just a grace of tropical pineapple open the flavor profile in conjunction with a pure, clean note of toasted wheat.  Spicy and earthy Noble hop notes then carry the beer’s fruitiness into a dynamic yeast character filled with notes of banana, clove and bubblegum. The flavors are elegant in their complexity, but remain incredibly approachable.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a mid to high carbonation level, this Hefeweizen is wonderfully soft and easy-drinking.  Although it is lightly sweet on the palate, the beer still finds balance and dries out nicely.  The 5.5% ABV is completely hidden, further enhancing the beer’s overall drinkability.  The aftertaste is all bubblegum and banana.

Final Thoughts: Are you curious how Paulaner Hefe-Weizen has become the “#1 wheat beer in Germany” (a.k.a. THE country that most of us immediately associate with beer)? Just take one sip and you will have all the answers you need.  Across the board, from appearance to aroma to taste to mouthfeel, there is no denying that this beer is everything a Hefeweizen should be. Whether you are just a casual beer drinker who is interested in traditional beer styles or a top tier enthusiast studying for your BJCP or Cicerone certification, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen is absolutely a beer that you will need to cross to paths with once you get to the realm of Hefeweizen.

Beyond just being one of the legit standards for the style, it also does not hurt that a tall pour of Paulaner Hefe-Weizen just so happens to be a perfect answer for a hot day.  Do yourself a favor, grab yourself some Paulaner Hefe-Weizen this summer, and fall in love with the Hefeweizen style all over again.  Prost!

 

 

 

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Tasting Notes: Secret Agenda from Lagunitas Brewing Company & Moonlight Brewing

LagunitasSecretAgendaPourX600For this installment of Tasting Notes, we covertly slip into the weekend with a little help from Secret Agenda from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California) and Moonlight Brewing (Santa Rosa, California).

Carefully crafted in Joint Session by the folks at Lagunitas and Moonlight to satisfy “the unique thirsts of Springtime”, Secret Agenda is a Pale Bock Beer that brings “each [brewery’s] time-tested secrets to the table.” Weighing in at 7.1% ABV and 46 IBUs, Secret Agenda comes together to offer its drinker “something neither [brewery] could do alone.”

Secret Agenda officially released back in late March, but a good amount of this Limited Release can still be found floating around at some of your favorite beer retailers and bars.  You can expect to find this One Hitter available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Washington and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution network.

With that unclassified background information now out of the way, it is finally time to dig deep and get to the bottom of Lagunitas and Moonlight Brewing’s Secret Agenda with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Secret Agenda from Lagunitas Brewing Company & Moonlight Brewing

Appearance:  A careful pour produces a Bock that is a deep gold in color and capped with over two fingers of ridiculously creamy foam.  When held to direct light, the golden hue brightens a smidge as it takes on a bit of a lemony yellow hue.  The beer is perfectly clear and displays a swirling mass of tiny carbonation bubbles.  Head retention is absolutely fantastic, slowly falling to a lasting 1/4 finger of rocky foam that leaves sprawling patterns of lace behind on the glass.  This is easily the most gorgeous bottled lager we have encountered this year.

Aroma:  Lightly sweet bready malts greet the nose and are supported by the lightest amount of caramel and nuttiness.  The hops then take over with a dynamic presence that is spicy, herbal and floral.  The hop aromatics bloom further to offer notes of citrus, unripened strawberries, and tropical fruit.

Taste:  An herbal tea-like quality (distinct notes of mint and lemon balm) opens the flavor profile alongside a bit of peppery spice and rose water.  The herbal tones then back off a bit to allow the hops’ fruitier qualities to come through with soft notes of grapefruit, papaya and peach. All of this hop complexity rests upon a solid foundation of malt that is bready, biscuity and kissed with just a touch of caramel.

Mouthfeel:  On the lighter side of medium in body with a medium carbonation level, this Bock is slightly creamy on the palate and incredibly clean on the finish.  The balance is impeccable, but it does teeter a bit to the hoppy side at times (this is a Lagunitas influenced beer after all).  It drinks much lighter than 7.1% ABV, but it does offer a bit of warmth in the throat near the end of the experience.  Aftertaste is a lovely lingering flourish of floral and herbal hop notes.

Final Thoughts: Built with springtime drinking in mind, Secret Agenda hits that mark squarely by achieving maximum drinkability thanks to its phenomenal level of balance. It is malty, but not at all overly sweet.  It is hoppy, but the bitterness is intentionally dialed way down.  It is beautifully complex but somehow still an all-around easy-drinker.  If that were not enough, this beer’s herbal and floral qualities seem to mimic the changing of the seasons and capture the resplendent rebirth of spring.  Secret Agenda can only be described as an experience that actually tells a story.  It is literally a taste of spring, and you need to check it out while you still have the chance.  Make it happen.  Prost!

Tasting Notes – Cider Edition: Pineapple Rosé from Portland Cider Company

PortlandPineappleRosePourX600For this special edition of Tasting Notes, we ride a refreshing, tropical wave into the weekend thanks to a few cans of Pineapple Rosé from Portland Cider Company (Clackamas, Oregon).

Crafted to give cider fans the opportunity to “rosé all day” this summer, Pineapple Rosé is a Hard Cider “bursting with fresh juicy pineapples” and rocking “a pretty in pink hue from a splash of Northwest-grown blueberries.” This refreshing combo produces a “fruity, tropical cider [that comes] in at 5.2% ABV and, much like the rosé wine it’s modeled after, is versatile with a variety of foods.”

Pineapple Rosé is available now and scheduled to hang around through August 2019.  You can expect to find this new Seasonal offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 19.2 oz cans, and on draft at cider-friendly establishments located within Portland Cider Company’s distribution footprint in Oregon and Washington.

Now that we are all a bit more familiar with this cider’s background information, let’s crack open a can or two, raise a glass to the weekend and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Pineapple Rosé from Portland Cider Company

Appearance: Pineapple Rosé pours a peach-hued, light pink in color and is capped with a 1/4 finger of quickly dissolving fizzy bubbles.  When held to direct light, the peach color deepens and gains vibrancy, creating a natural sepia tone.  The cider is absolutely pristine in clarity and displays a highly energetic carbonation presence coursing within.

Aroma:  The top-billed pineapple opens the aromatic profile with a gentle breeze of tropical fruitiness.  The apples then settle in to support with a clean, semi-sweet cider character.  The profile closes with a musty, vinous note – which has to be the added blueberries – that does a fantastic job of selling the Rosé wine-like experience beyond just a pink appearance.

Taste:  The apples really assert themselves at the jump, setting a solid and balanced cider base.  The pineapple is subtle, rising out of the apple’s sweetness to add a bit of a tropical tanginess and sweetness.  This tropical quality is furthered by a welcomed grace of banana esters from the yeast.  The blueberries are quite muted here, but they do add just a touch of balancing tartness at the finish.

Mouthfeel:  On the lighter side of medium in body with a spritzy carbonation level, this cider comes across as super light and easy-drinking.  On the palate, its lightly sweet, tangy and tart character finds an elegant balance, allowing it to finish nice and dry.  At just 5.2%, the ABV is well hidden and does not surface at all in the profile.  Fittingly, the aftertaste is all apple and pineapple.

Final Thoughts:  Beautifully composed, Pineapple Rosé is one of the few mock Rosé offerings that we have encountered that actually lives up to its inspiration.  Sure, just like the wine, it has a soft pink color and is incredibly approachable, easy-drinking and refreshing.  It then goes a step further by playing with the wine’s sweet and dry characteristics and even somehow mimics vinous notes in the aroma to create a complete package that is ridiculously fresh and natural.  The overall experience basically reads as though you are chasing a bite of an apple slice soaked in pineapple juice with a sip of a drier Rosé to lift and cut that sweetness. It is just gorgeous.

All in all, Pineapple Rosé is a stellar summertime sipper that will fit in perfectly at the brunch table or at the poolside.  If you happen to run across it this summer, be sure to check out this tasty Seasonal cider while you have the chance.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes: Roxanne Raspberry American Sour from Starr Hill Brewery

StarrHillRoxannePour2x600For this edition of Tasting Notes, we close out the week with a berry burst supplied by Roxanne Raspberry American Sour from Starr Hill Brewery (Charlottesville, Virginia).

Available now as one of four current releases in Starr Hill’s newly-established Sour Series “inspired by the sweet songs that celebrate women with attitude”, Roxanne is “an extremely low-hopped, kettle-soured Wheat Ale” that has been dosed with “sweet and tart” red raspberry purée.  Not afraid to have the “carbonation turned up”, Roxanne (4.7% ABV) is here to treat its drinker to an “effervescent and refreshing” Sour Ale experience.

Roxanne is available now for a limited time in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, in the Say It Ain’t Sour Variety 12-pack of 12 oz. bottles, and on draft.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Virginia and throughout the rest of Starr Hill’s distribution footprint in the Southeast.

Alrighty . . . now that all the particulars are out of the way, what do you say we turn off that red light, keep things casual, and get to know Roxanne over some Tasting Notes?

Tasting Notes for Roxanne American Sour from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance:  Roxanne pours a pink-tinged, light orange in color and is capped with just under a finger of tight white foam.  When held to direct light, the vibrant pink tones shine bright as a softer orange tone holds fast at the core of the pour.  The beer is slightly cloudy, but a spritzy carbonation presence can still be seen streaming within.  Head retention is good, falling slowly to a thin ring of creamy foam that draws wide lines of lace after each pull.

Aroma:  Raspberries are all over the nose, supplying notes of fresh fruit straight for the carton and rich raspberry preserves from the jar.  Through all this fruitiness billowing from the glass, a sturdy presence of wheat and lactobacillus establishes itself and asserts that there is a solid Berliner-like base holding everything together.  The aromatics are simple, but they are just as billed.

Taste:  Raspberry takes point here as well, dishing out a jammy presence that is just as sweet as it is tart.  Fresh raspberries and a twist of lemon add to the beer’s tart side while a subtle undercurrent of melon and strawberry tinker with the sweetness levels.  The wheat base lingers in the background with some bready sweetness as the lacto is dialed in to maintain just the right amount of tartness to follow through the finish.

Mouthfeel:  Light in body with a bright carbonation, this Sour Ale is ridiculously light, refreshing and easy-drinking.  Although it does lean a bit toward the tart/sour side, the fruity sweet notes balance nicely and raise the beer’s already high level of drinkability.  The ABV is low at 4.7% and it reads as such by being completely devoid of booze/heat.  The aftertaste is all jammy raspberry goodness.

Final Thoughts:  Roxanne is an incredibly tasty, “take me as I am” kind of brew that offers all the raspberry and sour goodness it promises with little to no frill.  Sure, its tartness is dialed down a bit by the sweet side of the berries and malts, but that is just balance at work and it only adds to this beer’s crushable nature.  With its high level of drinkability and its fresh flavors and aromatics, there is no denying that this is a beer built for summer drinking.  If you are looking to fill your fridge or cooler with a stellar refresher capable of tackling the warm weather ahead, you really should consider picking up a sixer or two of Roxanne American Sour during your next beer run.  Prost!

Tasting Notes – Kombucha Edition: Ginger & Oak from Flying Embers

FlyingEmbersGOpourX600For this installment of Tasting Notes, we jump-start our workweek with a probiotic boost thanks to a few pours of Ginger & Oak Organic Hard Kombucha from Flying Embers (Ojai, California).

One of three Core offerings from Flying Embers, Ginger & Oak is an Organic Hard Kombucha fermented with “black tea, . . . kombucha culture with live probiotics” and “a unique botanical adaptogenic base of roots including ginger, turmeric, ashwagandha, and astragalus.”  This refreshing brew is “USDA-certified organic, gluten-free, vegan and has zero grams of sugar at a sessionable 4.5% abv.”

Ginger & Oak is available Year-Round in 16 oz. cans and 22 oz. bottles.  You can expect to find Ginger & Oak – along with Lemon Orchard and Ancient Berry – at kombucha-friendly retailers located within Flying Embers‘ distribution footprint in Southern California, “the San Francisco Bay Area, Oregon and Washington; southwestern states Arizona and Texas; and . . . the east coast via New York, Philadelphia and [the] New England area.”

Now that we are all a bit more familiar with this offering’s background information, let’s crack open a few cans and get into our first “Kombucha Edition” of Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Ginger & Oak from Flying Embers

Appearance:  Fresh off the pour, Ginger & Oak presents itself as a hazy lemonade-like yellow in color and is capped with loose bubbles that almost instantly dissipate (similar to that of a soda).  When held to direct light, the color intensifies to become more of a sunshiny yellow.  This kombucha is quite cloudy, but a peppy carbonation presence can still be seen streaming within.

Aroma:  Quick to grab your attention, the aromatics open with a pronounced herbal tea character that offers notes of bitterness, maltiness and smoke.  Ginger swiftly rushes in to brighten things with its zesty, spicy and citrus-like qualities. The added turmeric further reinforces the ginger and its citrus notes by adding a touch of orange.  The profile is rounded off with an incredibly pleasant woody earthiness.

Taste:  That herbal tea quality immediately asserts itself here as well by opening the experience with a punchy bitter note (we assume this is the ashwagandha making itself known).  That powerful note is rapidly tempered as the black tea base imparts soothing tones of caramel, leather and honey. Smoke and earth surface just before a bright burst of ginger and citrus (lemon and orange) takes over to close things out.

Mouthfeel:  On the lighter side of medium in body with a lively carbonation, this kombucha is light and easy-drinking.  Moving easily through the tart, herbal and sweet portions of the palate, it eventually finds a nice balance and finishes dry enough to keep you craving another sip.  Coming in at a low 4.5% ABV, there is no sign of heat or booziness. The aftertaste is all ginger and lemon-laced herbal tea.

Final Thoughts: If you do not drink kombucha very often, you might be taken aback a bit by the first sip of Ginger & Oak.  By the second sip, your mind and taste buds adjust, allowing everything to come together as the herbaceous, earthy and bitter notes are balanced by the black tea base and the ginger and citrus tones take things to the next level with a zesty brightness.  This makes for an incredibly enjoyable and invigorating experience that firmly engages your senses and seemingly wakes up your brain.  It is a unique but familiar experience that just leaves you feeling good and satisfied . . . and that is a winning result if you ask us.  If you are looking to mix up your libation lineup with something new/different or are already a big fan of kombucha, be sure to check out Ginger & Oak and other offerings from Flying Embers whenever you happen upon them.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Eight & Sand Blended Bourbon from MGP Ingredients

Eight&SandPourFor this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we turn the midweek corner with a little help from Eight & Sand Blended Bourbon Whiskey from MGP Ingredients (Atchison, Kansas).

Inspired by the amazing history of the American railroad, Eight & Sand’s name “refers to the eighth (and fastest) notch on a locomotive’s throttle and the sand used on the wheels to prevent slipping. To wish a train crew an ‘Eight & Sand’ is akin to ‘smooth sailing’.”

When it comes to the liquid itself, Eight & Sand is a “blend of bourbon and whiskies married together to create a smooth and satisfying experience in every sip.” Bourbon fans can expect this offering’s “nose and palate [to deliver] spicy rye and cinnamon notes, followed by a touch of caramel at the caboose.” Eight & Sand clocks in at 44% ABV/88 PROOF and contains “no additives or colors – just the good stuff.”

Eight & Sand Blended Bourbon Whiskey is on shelves now with availability in 750ml bottles (competitively priced at $29.99 each).  You can expect to find this new offering at fine liquor retailers located in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Wisconsin.

Now that we have properly covered the inspiration and details behind Eight & Sand, let’s pour a couple fingers and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Eight & Sand Blended Bourbon Whiskey from MGP Ingredients 

Appearance: Eight & Sand pours a yellow-tinged amber in color that is not too light, not too dark.  When held to direct light, the yellow tones gain vibrancy at the edges while the deeper amber color holds at the core.  The whiskey is crystal clear, no signs of cloud or haze.  A swirl of the glass leaves long, syrupy legs that slowly work their way back down into the liquid.

Aroma: A solid cinnamon presence greets the nose, but it is quickly tempered by a waft of earthy leather and spicy rye.  A tropical character then surfaces, adding tones of coconut, berries and exotic citrus.  The profile closes with a soothing combination of toasted oak, vanilla and caramel.

Taste:  Spice, rye and a sprinkle of cinnamon are the first notes to hit the palate.  The tropical fruit character that really asserted itself in the nose is far more reserved here, but a bit of berry and coconut does turn up at times.  Earthiness replaces that fruitiness nicely with notes of tobacco and leather.  Vanilla, caramel and soft oaky tones round everything out with a comforting sweetness.

Mouthfeel/Finish:  Light and little airy on the palate, this blended bourbon is clean, goes down easily and is considerably smooth (not at all harsh or overly aggressive).  The 44% ABV/88 PROOF does bring some warmth to the throat and chest, but it is more than reasonable for a bourbon.  The finish is a gentle blend of cinnamon, vanilla and tobacco.

Final Thoughts:  All in all, Eight & Sand is an incredibly intriguing offering (especially when you consider the super reasonable $30 price tag).  The aroma is absolutely mesmerizing, the flavors are more than solid enough to break the stigma that the blended bourbon category tends to carry, and the whiskey ultimately lives up to its name by being smooth and easy-drinking.  Beyond that, it has the ability to stand on its own (neat or on the rocks) or in an Old Fashioned or any other bourbon-based cocktail that could benefit from a punch of fruitiness.

Final tally: it is enjoyable, unique, versatile and comes at a price that will not break the bank.  Sounds like all of that amounts to a win.  Be sure to check out Eight & Sand the next time you hit the bottle shop in search of something new.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes – OG: Cascade DIPA from Wild Leap Brew Co.

WildLeapOGCascadePourx600For this edition of Tasting Notes, we kick it old school with a few cans of OG: Cascade Double IPA from Wild Leap Brew Co. (LaGrange, Georgia).

Serving as the inaugural release in Wild Leap’s newly-established OG Double IPA Series that explores “the original hops that played critical roles in the evolution of the American IPA”, OG: Cascade is a “lighter, dryer” Double India Pale Ale that showcases the “spicy citrus profile” of the Cascade hop.  Although its West Coast roots will make it a bit more floral than previously released DIPAs from Wild LeapOG: Cascade (8.1% ABV) does feature a couple modern touches such as a reduced level of bitterness (49 IBUs) and “a juicy haze.”

A limited amount of OG: Cascade hit the market in late February, but you should still be able to find some floating around out there.  Look for this Limited Release to be available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located within Wild Leap’s distribution footprint in Georgia.

Now that we are all caught up on the story behind OG: Cascade, let’s get into a pour and reminisce on the iconic Cascade hop over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for OG: Cascade Double IPA from Wild Leap Brew Co.

Appearance:  OG: Cascade pours a dandelion yellow in color and is capped with just under a finger of creamy white foam.  When held to direct light, the deep yellow color holds but some lemony tones do push through at the edges.  This DIPA is quite hazy, but a poised carbonation presence can still be seen working within.  The head falls rather quickly to a delicate ring that scatters thin lines of lace across the glass.

Aroma:  A grassy, floral hop presence is first to greet the nose, but it quickly succumbs to citrus notes of grapefruit and lemon.  Soft tones of pine add a cool, resiny spice quality to the profile.  The malts contribute just a touch of honey-like sweetness, but these aromatics are absolutely dominated by those classic Cascade hop characteristics.

Taste:  The Cascade hops flex their power as the flavor profile opens with resinous pine and a bright, lasting pop of grapefruit zest and juice.  Meyer lemon and key lime offer a sweeter citrus quality, taming the hop bitterness a bit. The malts surface just as the hops take on more of a floral character, creating a gorgeous honeysuckle-like note that beautifully ties everything together.

Mouthfeel:  Medium in body with a moderate carbonation level, this DIPA is incredibly pillowy and light on the palate.  It is impeccably balanced and dries out nicely, but that “OG” West Coast hop bite still slyly sneaks in at the finish.  The 8.1% ABV brings a touch of warmth to the throat and belly, but it is not at all out of hand.  The aftertaste is a nostalgic mix of resinous pine and grapefruit zest.

Final Thoughts:  In one tight, incredibly-composed package, OG: Cascade is simultaneously all that is good in old school West Coast IPAs and the new school breed of Hazy/Juicy IPAs.  It boasts a big, punchy Cascade hop aroma that warns of a beautifully assertive hop presence, but the newer hop techniques that were employed here tame the bitterness (avoiding the palate-wrecking days of old) while still thoroughly embracing hoppiness. To further satisfy today’s IPA fan, the grain bill adds that eye-catching haze and oh-so-soft feel that everyone seems to be after.  This clash of styles and techniques somehow yields the ultimate hop experience that possesses an unrivaled level of drinkability.

This is a beer that has an obvious appreciation for the past, but it still recognizes all that the present/future has to offer.  This forward-thinking sense of nostalgia has completely set OG: Cascade apart from any other IPA/DIPA being produced today.  It has something for any hophead out there, and it just might be the best “modern” IPA/DIPA that we have ever had. Seriously, you need to try this while you have the chance.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes: Schöfferhofer Pomegranate from Schöfferhofer

SchofferhoferPomPour2_editedFor this edition of Tasting Notes, we close the office down early and slip into the weekend with a little help from a bottle or two of Schöfferhofer Pomegranate Hefeweizen from Schöfferhofer and the Radeberger Gruppe, the leading German brewing group.

Created to be the latest line extension from Schöfferhofer and the sister brew to the incredibly popular Schöfferhofer Grapefruit, Schöfferhofer Pomegranate is “made of 50% authentic unfiltered German Hefeweizen and 50% pomegranate juice.” Coming in at an astonishingly low 2.5% ABV, Schöfferhofer Pomegranate promises to supply its drinker with “a refreshingly tart and tangy taste experience.”

After a successful limited launch in the Pacific Northwest and parts of Florida, Montana and Northern California in 2018, Schöfferhofer Pomegranate will now be more widely available throughout 2019 in areas that include Tampa, Orlando and Miami (Florida), Boston (Massachusetts), Southern California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Las Vegas and Reno (Nevada), New Mexico, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Alaska, Ohio and Wisconsin.  You can expect to find this new offering available in 6-packs of 11.2 oz bottles at craft beer-friendly establishments located in the previously mentioned areas.

Now that we have gotten all of that official background data out of the way, let’s pop a few bottles and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Schöfferhofer Pomegranate from Schöfferhofer 

Appearance:  A lively pour yields an orange-tinged pink brew that is capped with a solid finger of bubbly white foam.  When held to direct light, the color brightens to take on the appearance of a pithy pour of ruby red grapefruit juice. The beer is quite cloudy and nearly opaque (not at all surprising since the base is an unfiltered Hefeweizen), but steady streams of carbonation can be seen coursing within.  Head retention is quite good, slowly falling to a 1/4 finger of tight foam that lays wide, sticky tracks of lace down on the glass throughout the experience.

Aroma:  First impression – this smells like a super tropical mixed drink or fruit juice cocktail.  Pomegranate is incredibly pronounced and brings with it notes of dragonfruit, banana, orange and raspberry.  Clean wheat and a sprinkle of white sugar turns up at times to support, but the fruitiness completely dominates the aromatics . . . and I cannot get my nose out of this glass.  Smells. So. Good.

Taste:  The pomegranate juice is quick to rush the taste buds and is accompanied by a burst of raspberry and cranberry juice.  Not to be outdone, the Hefeweizen then asserts itself with notes of banana, bubble gum, apple and vanilla, bolstering the fruitiness with a healthy amount of added sweetness.  The juice does dominate the wheat a bit, but you do occasionally get a wisp of earthy grain. All tropical juiciness here as well.

Mouthfeel:  Light in body with a bright carbonation, this juicy brew is so wonderfully crisp that it practically dares you to gulp down the entire glass in one pull.  Although it is tart and tangy, the balance does tilt to the sweet side.  This is a good thing though because it forces you to slow down, sip, and enjoy each pour as a tropical treat.  At 2.5% ABV, the experience is remarkably light and easy-drinking.  The aftertaste is all tropical fruit punch.

Final Thoughts:  If you have been on the hunt for an infinitely crushable beer option that is full of tropical flavor but still low in ABV, look no further than Schöfferhofer Pomegranate.  The aromatics are heavenly, the tropical flavors are over-the-top tasty, and the overall experience is just extremely refreshing.  Sure . . . it does lean to the sweet side a bit, and I imagine that could make this a “love it or hate it” scenario for some folks . . . but, if you look at this as more of a Radler than Hefeweizen, expectations can be dialed in appropriately and that scenario can be trimmed to just “love it” (Pro Tip: If you are at all a fan of beer cocktails, a little added gin or vodka can probably work wonders here to cut that sweetness a bit).

All in all, Schöfferhofer Pomegranate is just a fun, easy-drinking option that is sure to come in handy now that the temperatures are beginning to rise here in Florida and around the country.  Be sure to check out Schöfferhofer Pomegranate whenever it hits your area.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes: Dark Swan from Lagunitas Brewing Company

LagunitasDarkSwanPour_edited_editedFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we enjoy an enchanted moment with the ever-elusive Dark Swan Sour Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

Developed to be Lagunitas’ take on the beer-wine hybrid, Dark Swan is a “uniquely deep and rich purple [hued]” American Sour Ale that has been “dry-hopped with some experimental Pekko hops from the Yakima Valley, then fermented with . . . house yeast on some of Sonoma County’s-own Petite Syrah grape juice from . . . Adobe Road Winery.” Swooping in at 7.9% ABV and 25 IBUs, Dark Swan promises to be “smooth, slightly sour, and superbly strange.”

Dark Swan officially released in mid-February, but there is still a good amount of it hanging around out there on shelves and taps.  You can look for this Limited Release offering to be available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution area.

Now that we are all a bit more familiar with Dark Swan’s background information, it appears that it is finally time to crack open a bottle and plunge into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Dark Swan Sour Ale (2019) from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance:  A somewhat vigorous pour produces a beer that is a beautiful deep purple in color and wearing nearly two fingers of rose-pink foam.  When held to direct light, red tones push through and blend with the purple to create a color that is similar to pure cranberry juice.  Although dark in color, it still reveals an incredible degree of clarity and a mellow amount of carbonation activity.  Head retention is decent, reducing slowly to a lasting, chunky ring that leaves spotty lacing on the glass at times.

Aroma:  A clean grape presence opens the aromatics with both sweet, fresh grape juice and a complex dark red wine/Shiraz-like character.  The complexity builds as the hops shuffle in to add floral notes, a pop of black currant, and a tinge of spicy herb.  Underneath all of this lies a faint sweetness similar to a hard fruit candy (think grape Jolly Rancher).

Taste:  The vinous qualities lead here as well, playfully weaving in notes of Concord grape juice, lightly tannic red wine, and just straight fresh dark-skinned grapes.  The hops add supporting notes of black currant, assorted berries, a twist of citrus, and soft floral tones.  The profile closes with a gentle dose of sour funk and nondescript malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel:  On the lighter side of medium in body with a medium carbonation, Dark Swan is wonderfully crisp and easy-drinking.  On the palate, it playfully bounces between sour, fruity and sweet. The 7.9% ABV is completely hidden, allowing this beer to drink much lighter than it is.  Aftertaste is all red wine and berries.

Final Thoughts: Dark Swan is a whimsical take on the beer/wine hybrid that somehow boasts both the approachability of the grape juice box and the complexity of a fine red wine.  The hops seem to be dialed back a bit for a Lagunitas offering, sacrificing in-your-face dankness for just the right amount of complementary fruity and floral notes.  This approach allows the grape/wine character to shine, but the beer is still able to assert itself as . . . you know . . . a beer by casually reminding you of the hop qualities and malt sweetness that would clearly be out of place in a wine.  This results in a ridiculously refreshing beer that basically drinks like a slightly less carbonated wine spritzer.  Overall, Dark Swan is wildly unique, a little weird, and extraordinarily tasty.  If you are at all a fan of red wines (or pilfering juice boxes from the children’s stash), be sure to grab some of this year’s batch of Dark Swan before it disappears from shelves.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Outta Line IPA from Rogue Ales

RogueOuttaLinePourx600For this installment of Tasting Notes, we continue to steer our recent IPA-fueled adventure westward as we get into a pour of Outta Line IPA from Rogue Ales (Newport, Oregon).

Brewed to be a celebration of “those who have the courage to do their own thing”, Outta Line is a West Coast-style India Pale Ale “that opens with tangerine and mango, balanced by malt sweetness and a crisp hop bite.” Clocking in at 6.9% ABV and 66 IBUs, Outta Line is a perfect go-to beer “for those who live outside the lines.”

Outta Line IPA is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft.  You can expect to find this new Year-Round offering at craft beer-friendly retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida, Oregon and throughout the rest of Rogue’s nationwide distribution area.

Ok . . . now that we are all caught up on this brew’s background info, what do say we get a little Outta Line in some Tasting Notes?

Tasting Notes for Outta Line IPA from Rogue Ales

Appearance: Outta Line is a deep, honey-like orange in color with bright yellow hues bursting at its sides and capped with two fingers of slightly off-white foam.  When held to direct light, the orange hues brighten and the yellows radiate with vibrancy.  The beer is pristine in clarity and displays a steady carbonation presence streaming within.  Head retention is decent, falling to a fine ring that scatters foamy patterns of sticky lace across the glass throughout the experience.

Aroma: Coy at the start, the hop presence builds slowly with notes of mango, orange, peach, blueberry and grapefruit. The hops gain confidence and open further to reveal a soft pine note, a firm floral character, and a super enticing presence of spicy dankness.  The malts hang back here, lurking in the background with notes of caramel and lightly toasted grain. The aromatics close with a gentle waft of alcohol. Nicely reserved but filled with complexity.

Taste: Tangerine peel gets the flavor profile off to a tangy, hoppy citrus start.  The fruitiness then blooms to offer tropical notes of mango, pineapple and grapefruit.  The hop presence then shifts as resinous pine and straight dank herb settle in to create that classic, in-your-face West Coast-style goodness.  The malts sneak in near the end to lend a touch of balance with some lightly sweet, crackery and earthy (wet grain) tones.

Mouthfeel: On the heavier side of medium in body with a medium carbonation level, this IPA has a soft, silken texture but still dries out nicely.  It leans to the hoppy/bitter side, but that is kept in check with a stealthy and balancing malt presence.  Only really present in the aroma at times, the ABV is well tempered and gives off very little heat.  Pine resin and citrus zest are left behind in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts:  Outta Line is a solid nod back to the good ol’ days when West Coast IPAs ruled the craft beer scene, but it is one that is still willing to adopt an aspect or two of the IPA trends of today.  Sure . . . it has a good deal of that resiny, ultra-dank hop bite, but the hops’ juicy characteristics get equal billing, the IBUs feel as though they have been dialed down a bit, and the bitterness does not come close to approaching anything that hit during the IBU wars of yore.  Is that a bad thing? No. This West Coast IPA avoids shock value and palate wrecking so that it can embrace supreme drinkability while still holding on to a satisfying amount of hop flavor, aroma and bitterness.  It aims to reach daily drinker/go-to status, and it hits that mark squarely.  Be sure to grab a sixer of Outta Line IPA the next time you find yourself roaming the beer aisle in search of something new and incredibly easy-drinking.  Prost!