Tasting Notes: Oktoberfest Bier from Paulaner Brauerei

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we do our part to keep Oktoberfest 2020 alive by getting into a pour of Oktoberfest Bier from Paulaner Brauerei (Munich, Germany).

Known as “Germany’s #1 Oktoberfest bier” and the “only bier served in Paulaner Oktoberfest tents,” Oktoberfest Bier is an Oktoberfest-style Lager that is “deep golden [in] color, full-bodied and wonderfully mellow, with a balanced harmonious taste and the pleasant fragrance of hops.” Coming in at 6% ABV, Oktoberfest Bier is “stronger and bolder than the usual lager” but still built for all day drinking during Oktoberfest festivities.

Oktoberfest Bier is available now and will hang around for as long as supplies last during Oktoberfest Season. You can expect to find this Seasonal Release available in 6-packs of 11.2 oz. bottles at select craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, New York and throughout the rest of Paulaner USA’s nationwide distribution network. 

Now that the particulars are out of the way, let’s crack open a few bottles, fill a proper stein and have our own private Oktoberfest over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Oktoberfest Bier from Paulaner Brauerei

Appearance: A quick, jubilant pour produces a Lager that is a rich gold in color and capped with over 2.5 fingers of fluffy white foam. When held to direct light, the beer glows as the golds brighten and take on some vibrantly rich straw yellow tones. The beer is pristine in clarity and shows off countless streams of carbonation bubbles dutifully rising to feed the top cap. Head retention is quite good, slowly falling to a lasting 1/4 finger that fills the mug’s dimples with pockets of lace after each pull.

Aroma: Noble hops are all over the nose, supplying an abundance of peppery, earthy and grassy notes. A grace of fruity melon eventually surfaces and then quickly gives way to a clean presence of pilsner malts.

Taste: That pilsner malt note carries over and sets the foundation of the flavor profile with some slightly sweet cereal notes alongside just a touch of toasted bread. The hops quickly balance those malty characteristics with a good deal of peppery and grassy notes that are tempered by a bit of melon and fresh pop of floral sweetness.

Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium in body with a healthy carbonation presence, this Oktoberfest is incredibly crisp, refreshing and easy-drinking. The balance is a damn near perfect mix of sweet maltiness and bright hoppiness, further raising the beer’s high level of drinkability. The 6% ABV is well-hidden and makes it far too easy to crush several mugs in a sitting. The aftertaste is just a whisper of grassy and floral hop notes.

Final Thoughts: After spending a little time with Paulaner’s Oktoberfest Bier, there is no doubt as to why this is a best-selling Oktoberfest offering in Germany. Thanks to its wonderfully enticing aromas and flavors and a level of drinkability that is off the charts, this Oktoberfest Bier is the perfect brew to drink liters at a time because it will not last long enough to warm up. If you are missing those Oktoberfest vibes right now, just go get a sixer of Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier and get your festive fix while it is still available. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Marvelroast from Founders Brewing Co.

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we settle into our Labor Day by relaxing with a couple bottles of Marvelroast from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Introduced earlier this summer as the newest Limited Release from Founders Brewing Co., Marvelroast is a Golden Strong Ale brewed with coffee, vanilla and cocoa nibs.  With milk sugar supplying “a smooth and sweet finish,” Marvelroast (8% ABV) comes together to be “a delicious treat reminiscent of your favorite iced coffee drink.”

Marvelroast debuted in July and is scheduled to hang around through September 2020. You can expect to find this Limited Release available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and throughout the rest of Founders Brewing Co.’s nationwide distribution network.

Tasting Notes for Marvelroast from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance: A slow, cautious pour produces a vibrant, golden-colored liquid capped with over two fingers of frothy, bright white foam. When held to direct light, the golden tones radiate while a soft orange hue emerges near the core of the glass. The beer is beautifully clear and holds an abundance of tiny, slow-moving carbonation bubbles. Head retention is good, falling to a lasting half finger that paints the glass with fluffy structures of lace.

Aroma: As soon as the beer is poured, a rush of high-quality vanilla is quick to engulf the nose. This is then consumed by a comforting presence that can only be described as a plate of freshly baked brownies served with an expertly prepared mochaccino. We are talking about big notes of roasted coffee, rich cream, dark chocolate and decadent cake. The profile ultimately closes with a lingering waft of freshly roasted coffee.

Taste: Each sip leads with notes of vanilla creme, marshmallow and graham crackers. The coffee then surfaces with some light roast and mocha notes consisting of sweetened coffee, cream and rich chocolate. A drizzle of caramel rounds everything off in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Leaning toward the medium side of full-bodied with a pillowy soft carbonation, this beer has a gorgeous sip that takes its time on the palate before it eventually cleans up and dissipates fully. All of the notes are on the sweet side, but they are tempered wonderfully and somehow avoid being cloying or overwhelming. The 8% ABV is well hidden and surprisingly provides very little warmth in the throat or belly. The aftertaste is a lasting dollop of vanilla creme.

Final Thoughts: After sampling many Stout-influenced Golden Strong Ales (a.k.a. White Stouts) over the years only to find them lacking in one area or another, everyone on today’s tasting panel was happy to discover that Marvelroast was able to pick up the slack and give us the hope that this style could be executed in a way that truly resembles a Stout. The coffee used in the beer supplied just enough roast to mimic the tones you normally get from the use of darker malts, and the added vanilla and cocoa nibs provide all the dessert-like goodness you expect from a Pastry Stout. Marvelroast truly is a marvel and a decadent delight that deserves your attention, so make sure that you track down a bottle or pour before its limited run comes to an end later this month. Prost!

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails

For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we comfortably ease into the second half of the workweek with the help of a few cans of Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails (Los Angeles, California).

Founded by Matthew Kaplan and Ethan Lazar – lifelong friends and LA natives – and inspired by their time studying abroad in Spain, Costa Brava Cocktails is a new lineup of craft cocktails packaged in “vibrant 12 fluid ounce [cans] that [capture] the spirit of Los Angeles’s sun, surf and sand lifestyle.” Crafted to be “a unique twist on a classic cocktail,” Lemon Drop is a delightful mix of premium vodka and “a light lemon kick” that comes in at just “6.7% ABV, [contains] only 130 calories, and [is] gluten-free, without sacrificing the great taste.”

Costa Brava Cocktails is currently self-distributing Lemon Drop in Los Angeles, California. You can expect to find this new offering available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans at “select West Los Angeles liquor stores and on-premise locations.” Costa Brava Cocktails are also available for direct purchase (in states where legal) from the company’s online store.

Alright . . . now that we are all a little more familiar with the background info on Costa Brava Cocktails and Lemon Drop, let’s pop the top on a can and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails

Appearance: A gentle pour from a slim 12 oz. can into a tall highball glass produces a pristine, colorless Lemon Drop that is completely devoid of any foam or froth on top. When held to direct light, nothing changes in the color department and the presentation remains the same. The liquid is perfectly clear and filled with large, fast-moving carbonation bubbles. If we had to sum up the look in a few words, it basically looks like a super clean sparkling water.

Aroma: The aromatics are a muted, but a note of fresh lemon and a bit of lemon-lime soda fill the nose with each inhale. A slight amount of vodka booziness settles into the background, but it is very reserved. All of the expected notes are accounted for.

Taste: The first thing to hit the palate is a gentle pop of high-quality vodka. Seriously, it is like straight-up, real deal vodka. This is mellowed out quickly as bright lemon notes bloom alongside a touch of sweetness to create an incredibly satisfying lemon soda-like quality. The experience closes with a refreshing wash of sparkling mineral water.

Mouthfeel: Extremely light in body with a wonderfully bright carbonation presence, this cocktail is exceedingly refreshing and easy-drinking. Crisp and clean, there is nothing aggressive, overwhelming or overly sweet about this offering. The 6.7% ABV is expertly tucked away and provides zero warmth or indication that this is an alcoholic beverage (well, other than the vodka presence in the flavor). Aftertaste is just a bit of lemon soda.

Final Thoughts: The most striking thing about Lemon Drop from Costa Brava Cocktails is the very real presence of vodka in both aroma and flavor. All too often when it comes to canned cocktails, they tend to taste like watered down offerings with no real hint of the advertised booze contained within. That is not at all the case here. Premium vodka is quick to make itself known in each sip and that really drives home an actual cocktail experience.

Combine that with Lemon Drop’s ridiculously refreshing citrus notes and high level of drinkability, and you have the perfect canned cocktail option for drinking around the pool, at the beach, on the back porch during a barbecue or gathering, or just when you want a quick cocktail without the hassle of having to mix something up on the fly. If you have been on the hunt for something different to add to the fridge or cooler, Lemon Drop and Costa Brava Cocktails really need to be on your radar. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Grapefruit Radler from Paulaner Brauerei

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we find refreshment and cool comfort on a hot summer’s day by getting into a few cans of Grapefruit Radler from  Paulaner Brauerei (Munich, Germany).

Developed to be the “perfect complement wherever you are during the warm summer months,” Paulaner Grapefruit Radler is a thirst-quenching Radler that “combines 50% Paulaner’s classic Münchner Lager and 50% naturally hazy, grapefruit infusion.” Coming in at a super sessionable 2.5% ABV, Paulaner Grapefruit Radler is “a fruity-tart refreshment that is 100% natural and not too sweet.”

Paulaner Grapefruit Radler officially hit the U.S. in June and will be available throughout the summer months. You can expect to find this new offering available in 4-packs of 16.9 oz. cans at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, New York and throughout the rest of Paulaner USA’s nationwide distribution network. 

Now that we know how Paulaner put together and packaged this offering for all of us to enjoy in the U.S., let’s crack open these cans and see how this Radler stacks up over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Grapefruit Radler from Paulaner Brauerei

Appearance: Poured from a 16.9 oz. can into a Spiegelau lager glass, this Radler presents itself as a blush pink in color and is capped with nearly two fingers of airy, bright white foam. When held to direct light, soft yellow and orange tones surface but the overall look remains a glowing pink. The beer is quite hazy, but a fast-moving carbonation presence can still be seen zipping around within. Head retention is short lived, quickly falling away to nothing and leaves no lace behind.

Aroma: Sweet grapefruit dominates the nose with a mix of grapefruit soda and grapefruit juice. Beer aromatics are muted, but there is a gentle malty sweetness lying underneath all of the grapefruit.

Taste: The grapefruit is quick to assert itself here as well. That grapefruit soda note is present, but its sweetness is tempered, balanced and elevated with added notes of grapefruit zest and fresh, tart grapefruit sprinkled with sugar. The base beer has more of a chance to make itself known by turning up in the finish with clean Pilsner notes and a lingering tinge of Noble hops.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied with a bright carbonation, this Radler is wonderfully light, refreshing and easy-drinking. It leans more to the sweet side, but there is enough tartness present from the grapefruit to balance and the base beer dries things out nicely in the finish. As one would assume, the 2.5% ABV is not at all noticeable and this further increases the crushable nature of the beer. The aftertaste is just a touch of grapefruit zest.

Final Thoughts: True to style, Paulaner Grapefruit Radler is ridiculously tasty, thirst-quenching and approachable. It definitely drinks more like a soda than a beer, and we view that as good thing (especially when the heat index pushes temps over the 100º mark . . . like it did today). With that said and for clarity, we are talking about a naturally sweetened soda because there is nothing artificial tasting about this beer. All flavors and aromas are clean, natural and incredibly enticing. All of this makes Paulaner Grapefruit Radler a perfect choice to pair with brunch, to cool you off after a long day of yard work, or to enjoy during just about any summertime activity. Make sure you keep an eye out for this one whenever you venture out on your next beer run. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA from Stone Brewing

For this edition of Tasting Notes, we step away from the realities of the world and ride the skies with Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA from Stone Brewing (Escondido, California).

Inspired by ” a side trip . . . a few of [Stone Brewing’s] brewers took . . . to the famous Tianshan Tea City market” in Shanghai, China, Stone Soaring Dragon is an Imperial India Pale Ale brewed with a blend of Citra and Loral hops and Peony White Tea. Coming in at 8% ABV and 38 IBUs, Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA boasts “a delicate complexity within an intense double IPA punch.”

Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA is available now and will hang around through the end of July 2020.  You can expect to find this Special Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 22 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia and throughout the rest of Stone Brewing’s nationwide distribution network. 

With all the background information now out of the way, let’s get into these Tasting Notes and see where Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA takes us!

Tasting Notes for Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA from Stone Brewing

Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz. can into a small, branded goblet, this IPA is a bright golden yellow in color and capped a perfect finger of frothy white foam. When held to direct light, the color remains the same golden yellow, but it does glow with some added vibrancy. The beer is clear and displays an abundance of tiny, highly active carbonation bubbles bouncing about within. Head retention is fantastic, falling gracefully to a lasting half finger that leaves chunky lace formations on the glass after each sip.

Aroma: A flourish of floral aromas quickly fill the air as notes of herbal tea and freshly cut grass rush to catch up. Peach and apricot then surface with just a touch citrus-laced cedar tagging along. Lightly sweet malt notes, accompanied by a bit of lychee and a twist of lemon, pull up late to close things out.

Taste: The herbaceousness of the added tea pops beautifully before it is smoothed out with a dollop of sweet honey. Blueberry, apricot and papaya (along with its peppery seeds) add a touch of fruity sweetness while a bit of cedar and pine balances with some tempered hoppiness. A soft whisper of grapefruit keeps the hop character alive and carries it through the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a medium level of carbonation, this beer is slick on the palate, but it dries out immediately after it has allowed the taste buds to adequately experience the full power of its flavorful complexity. Gently bitter on the palate, the mix of floral, herbal and sweet tones get equal attention and come together to make this an wonderfully balanced IPA. The 8% ABV is composed and reserved, but it does offer just the slightest bit of warmth to set in the throat at times. The aftertaste is a soft, lingering note of herbal tea with a squeeze of grapefruit.

Final Thoughts: Warning – the following statement is incredibly corny but that does not make it any less true: Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA not only meets the expectations one has when they get into an IPA from Stone Brewing, but it also soars well beyond them (we know . . . forgive us). Every little nuance of this beer was incredibly well thought out, accounted for and then placed just so that they would all complement and elevate the others. The added white tea is present but dialed in perfectly so that it can accentuate and meld effortlessly with the Loral and Citra hops. The malts take it a step further by added a honey-like note that feels at home with both the tea and the fruity character produced by the hops. All in all, this beer is simply gorgeous and easily one Stone Brewing’s most dynamic and balanced IPAs to date. If you have not already, make sure you get your hands on some Stone Soaring Dragon Imperial IPA before its limited run comes to end later this month. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Más Agave Grapefruit from Founders Brewing Co.

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we settle into the holiday weekend by getting into a pour of Más Agave Grapefruit from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Introduced back in May as the first variant of the brewery’s wildly popular margarita-inspired Más Agave, Más Agave Grapefruit is also an Imperial Gose “brewed with agave and sea salt before being aged in tequila barrels.” It then sets itself apart from its predecessor once it is removed from the barrels by dropping the lime addition and getting “a dose of fresh grapefruit juice to ramp up the tanginess and to pay homage to [Founders Brewing Co.’s] other favorite tequila-based cocktail, the Paloma.” Coming in at around 10% ABV, Más Agave Grapefruit is “sweet, salty, and mouth-puckeringly delicious.”

Más Agave Grapefruit is available now and will stick around through the end of July 2020.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and throughout the rest of Founders Brewing Co.’s nationwide distribution area.  

Now that we all know how a Paloma-inspired beer is made and how to get it, let’s pop the top on a bottle of Más Agave Grapefruit and combine beer and cocktail hour over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Más Agave Grapefruit from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance: A steady pour from a 12 oz. bottle fills the branded snifter with a beer that is a rich copper in color and topped with just under a finger of loose, slightly off-white foam. When held to direct light, bright orange tones push through to add some brilliance and shine to that copper. The beer is dark but clear, and a vibrant carbonation presence sparkles within. Head retention is minimal, receding quickly to the thinnest of rings that occasionally leaves some spotty lacing.

Aroma: Citrus bursts from the glass and greets the nose with sharp notes of grapefruit zest and juice alongside just a twist of lime. Agave then rolls in to consumes the profile with a wave of tropical sweetness. This note opens further to expose a light tequila note that is more sweet than earthy.

Taste: Things shift around a bit here as a bright, slightly bitter presence of grapefruit zest, juice and pith collides and marries with the sweet agave to strike a beautiful and enticing balance of flavors. The slightly sour Gose base and its wonderful level of salt combines with the pleasant tequila notes to fully capture the cocktail experience and absolutely nail the characteristics of a Paloma.

Mouthfeel: Leaning toward the medium side of full-bodied with a high carbonation, this Imperial Gose drinks lighter than expected and has a refreshing effervescence. Moderately sour and complemented with a nice mix of sweetness and bitterness, this offering is incredibly playful and zesty on the palate. The 9.7% ABV makes itself know with a gently building warmth in the throat, but it never gets out of control. The aftertaste is all grapefruit drizzled with just a bit of agave nectar.

Final Thoughts: Just like the original Más Agave, Más Agave Grapefruit is a massive Imperial Gose that tastes exactly like the intended cocktail it was modeled after while still somehow retaining a dangerously high level of drinkability uncommon for a beer of this ABV. The aromatics and flavors are spot on for a Paloma (besides a touch of added maltiness), but it gives you that full cocktail experience with the convenience of just popping open a bottle or pulling a tap. This level of convenience and its approachable/recognizable flavor makes Más Agave Grapefruit a great option to stock the cooler/beer fridge with this summer because it will easily appeal to non-beer-drinking cocktail fans, seasoned craft beer lovers and everyone in-between. Make sure you give it a try before its limited run comes to an end. Prost!

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits

For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we find the line where Vodka meets Whiskey by getting into a dram of Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits (Rigby, Idaho).

Developed to serve as a shining example of Zodiac’s “passion to go a step beyond,” Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka starts with a gluten-free, potato-based Vodka that is “first infused with natural Black Cherry extract and blended in Idaho, USA with water from the Snake River Aquifer.” Once distilled and blended, the Vodka is then sent to rest in American Oak barrels “to acquire the taste of an incredibly smooth and mellow whiskey with soft cherry and spice overtones.” Weighing in at 35% ABV (70 PROOF), Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka “can be enjoyed straight or mixed with your favorite cocktail.”

Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka is featured exclusively at Bigfire, a restaurant located in Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios Orlando, in its Oaked Cherry Manhattan” and “White Old Fashioned.” If you would like a bottle of your own, you can visit Cask Cartel to purchase a 750ml bottle of Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka.

Alrighty . . . now that we are all caught up on the story behind this offering, let’s see what a “Barrel Rested Vodka” is all about over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits

Appearance: Poured slightly chilled from a sample vial into a tasting glass, Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka presents itself as perfectly clear and the lightest of straw yellows in color. When held to direct light, most of the color washes out but a tinge of faint yellow is left to remain. When jostled about in the glass, this vodka leaves a slick arch behind which drops wide tears that retreat slowly down to the liquid level.

Aroma: The aromatics open with a sweet burst of candied black cherry. The barrel then pushes through with a solid rush of sweet vanilla. Alcohol rounds out the profile, but it is quite tame and reserved. The aroma reads almost exactly like the interior of a decadent cherry cordial.

Taste: Each sip opens with that neutral spirit you expect from a good vodka, but it slowly morphs to take on a new, more dynamic personality. Smooth vanilla emerges to offer a creamy, almost bourbon-like vanilla note. The black cherry is shy at first, but it gradually blooms to add a gently sweet fruitiness to the experience. The profile closes with incredibly sneaky, soft tones of cinnamon and spice. All expected flavors are present but not at all overly aggressive.

Mouthfeel: Slick in feel, this offering consumes and coats the palate before quickly evaporating (just as you would hope from a vodka). It does lean to the sweet side, but it is not at all cloying. The ABV offers a pleasant warmth in the throat. The finish is mostly clean but there is just a lingering kiss of black cherry left in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts: All too often, a flavored vodka in your glass means there is a good chance that it will be overly sweet, come across as unnaturally flavored, and not give you any indication that it is actually a vodka because it is completely dominated by the added flavoring. This is not at all the case with Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka.

Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka easily sets itself apart from its peers in the flavored vodka game in many ways. First, it tastes and smells like vodka. Sure, it is no longer purely neutral, but it does retain the spirit of the base vodka by providing that clean vodka finish in both aroma and flavor. Second, the black cherry flavoring was added with a deft hand so that it complements gracefully instead of bullishly consuming the entire experience. Finally, the barrel-resting process pulls natural, bourbon-like vanilla notes out of the wood, further reinforcing Zodiac’s subtly and intent to ensure that this offering indeed tastes like a fine spirit and not just an alcoholic flavored syrup.

By starting with a quality vodka, knowing when to say “when” with the black cherry extract, and venturing into a hybrid territory that falls somewhere between vodka and whiskey, Zodiac Spirits has carefully crafted something incredibly special with Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka. Thanks to its nuance and dynamic character, Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka can be thoroughly enjoyed straight up and also has nearly limitless potential when it comes to both vodka- and whiskey-centric cocktails (one sip of it neat and it becomes quite clear why Bigfire is having so much success in reinventing classic whiskey cocktails with this vodka). It is fun, it is playful, and it will make an incredible addition to anyone’s home bar. Head over to Cask Cartel and get yourself a bottle of this Limited Release while you still can. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Raspberry Gose from Bravus Brewing Co.

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we wander into the world of non-alcoholic beer and get acquainted with Raspberry Gose from Bravus Brewing Company (Newport Beach, California).

One of the six Year-Round offerings in Bravus Brewing Company’s non-alcoholic lineup, Raspberry Gose is Near Beer take on the Gose style – “a sour style with some salt added (or historically, derived from local water sources).” This example utilizes a “very, very small amount of salt added with the intention of balancing some of the sweetness of the raspberries.” Coming in at less than 0.5% ABV, Raspberry Gose is “a super light and refreshing summer crusher with a wonderful raspberry tartness.”

Raspberry Gose is available Year-Round in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans. You can purchase this non-alcoholic brew online or at select craft beer-friendly establishments located within Bravus Brewing Company’s distribution footprint in Southern California. 

Now that the background information is out of the way, let’s crack open a can and see how this non-alcoholic brew measures up over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Raspberry Gose from Bravus Brewing Co.

Appearance: A gentle pour from a 12 oz. can produces a hazy, straw yellow-colored beer capped with a tight finger of bright white foam. When held to direct light, the color holds for the most part but the faintest of red tones does push through to add a bit of vibrancy. The beer is lightly cloudy, but a steady stream of carbonation bubbles can still be seen cascading within. Head retention is good, eventually falling to a scattered top cap that occasionally leaves behind wispy strings of lace on the glass.

Aroma: The raspberry is super forward, supplying plenty of juicy fruit and gently tart notes. There is also a lactobacillus-like mustiness here supporting and complementing the berries. A touch of salinity lingers in the background but does not really assert itself.

Taste: The raspberries dominate here as well, but they are offering more of a sweet and fruity character than tart. A light layer of wheat malt adds to this sweetness, while the mustiness found in the aroma returns to add some more dimension and draw attention to the beer’s gentle tartness that surfaces more in the finish. The salt is quite muted and nearly undetectable.

Mouthfeel: Light in body with a medium carbonation level, this beer has a soft weight to it on the palate and dries out nicely in due time. Although it is more sweet than tart, the overall experience is still nicely balanced and high in drinkability. The lack of alcohol does not take away from this Gose since the style tends to hide the ABV well. The aftertaste is a good amount of lingering raspberry.

Final Thoughts: Since the Gose style is typically very low in ABV, this goes a long way to help sell the illusion that Raspberry Gose is the real deal and not just a Near Beer. As a fruited Gose, the flavors are pretty spot on and it even gives you a bit of that lactobacillus character. The only gripe we could come up with is that it could definitely use some more salt but, to be fair, we pretty much say that about each and every Gose we come across. All in all, Raspberry Gose has the same feel, flavor and easy drinking nature you expect from a good Gose, and it should definitely be on your radar whenever you are after a non-alcoholic brew. Prost!

Tasting Notes: RecreationAle from Terrapin Beer Co.

TerrapinRecreationAlePourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we escape the home office to find some outdoor, weekend serenity with a little help from RecreationAle LoCal IPA from Terrapin Beer Co. (Athens, Georgia).

Recently reformulated to be lightened up a bit in appearance, calories and carbs so that Terrapin Beer Co. can join in on the low-calorie beer movement, the new RecreationAle is a low-calorie Session India Pale Ale that “still packs in all the *dry hop* flavor and aroma of the original RecreationAle.” Weighing in at just 99 calories and 3.9 grams of carbs per 12 oz. serving, RecreationAle LoCal IPA is the perfect brew to “enjoy after a day on the trail.”

The new RecreationAle officially launched on February 19 and has now made it into full distribution.  You can expect to find this Year-Round offering available in 12-packs of 16 oz. cans, on draft, and in the brewery’s IPA Survival Kit Variety 12-pack of 12 oz. cans at craft beer-friendly retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and throughout the rest of Terrapin Beer Co.’s distribution area.

Now that we are all caught up on the changes RecreationAle has underwent, let’s crack open a few cans and see how the new version stacks up over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for RecreationAle LoCal IPA from Terrapin Beer Co.

Appearance: A gentle pour from a pint can produces a soft, golden yellow colored brew capped with a finger and a half of fizzy white foam.  When held to direct light, the color adjusts to more of a straw yellow hue.  This IPA is clear and displays a vibrant carbonation activity working within.  Head retention is good, falling to a foamy top cap that notches the glass with a line of lace after each pull.

Aroma:  The aromatics are straightforward and basically a proud showcase of Citra hops.  Big notes of sweet orange and grapefruit dominate while a subtle waft of earthy and floral notes provide support.  It is simple but it is absolutely lovely.

Taste:  Although the flavor is light (as expected from a low-calorie beer), the hops do take the lead here and are actually quite dynamic in range.  A gentle fruitiness offers notes of orange, lime, passionfruit, peach and tangerine while a pleasant floral character gives the hops some added depth.  The flavor profile closes with an almost Lager-like malt character that finishes super clean.

Mouthfeel:  Light in body with an effervescent carbonation presence, this LoCal IPA is incredibly refreshing and easy drinking.  Rocking a balance that is spot-on, this beer dries out nicely and is oh-so clean. The 4.2% ABV is well hidden, further elevating the overall drinkability of this offering.  Aftertaste is minimal, but there is a slight amount or sweet orange left to linger.

Final Thoughts:  This new version of RecreationAle has plenty of hop flavor and aroma for a low-calorie IPA, but it still has all the drinkability you seek from a lighter beer.  Flavorful and extremely crushable, this beer has everything you could want after a day on the trail or whenever you are after a super sessionable beer to enjoy while hanging out on the back porch.  Keep the new and improved RecreationAle LoCal IPA in mind for warm weather outings that require you to fill a cooler or whenever the beer fridge needs a restock of lawnmower beer.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: 1966 Coffee IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery & Peet’s Coffee

21stAmendment1966PourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we kick off another week of social distancing by multitasking our two favorite beverages – beer and coffee – thanks to a pour of 1966 Coffee IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery (San Leandro, California) and Peet’s Coffee (Berkeley, California).

Brewed to recognize the year when “Alfred Peet opened his coffeebar at the corner of Walnut and Vine in Berkeley and changed the way Americans, and the world, thought about coffee,” 1966 Coffee IPA (6.8% ABV) is a West Coast-style India Pale Ale featuring “aromas of fruity blueberries and bright citrus notes from Columbus, Citra, Amarillo, and Centennial hops.”  To cover the coffee side of this IPA, Ethiopian Super Natural Coffee from Peet’s Coffee was “incorporated several ways in the brew, including ‘dry-hopping’ with whole beans,” to provide “[accents] of rich coffee . . . balanced with malt structure and defined bitterness all giving this West Coast IPA a phenomenal flavor profile.”

1966 Coffee IPA debuted back in late January of this year and the brewery’s Beer Finder indicates that there is still a good amount of this brew floating around out there. You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Florida, California and throughout the rest of 21st Amendment’s 28 state distribution footprint.

Alright . . . now that we know why and how coffee came to meet up with this IPA, let’s see how it all comes together in a glass over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for 1966 Coffee IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery & Peet’s Coffee

Appearance:  A quick but careful pour – one you would expect from a somewhat caffeine-starved human being who has been spending way too much time indoors – produces a beer that is a deep golden yellow in color and capped with almost two fingers of frothy white foam.  When held to direct light, the golden tones hold and shine brightly.  This IPA is clear and shows off a casual carbonation presence bubbling away within.  Head retention is quite nice, falling slowly to a complete top cap that leaves the glass covered in sheets of lace.

Aroma:  Up front, the nose bursts with IPA goodness as the hops unleash incredibly fragrant notes of citrusy grapefruit, lime and orange alongside some soft floral tones.   The coffee complements the hops with a little added fruitiness that resembles mixed berries.  A gentle malt presence rounds everything out with a bit of honey and wheat.

Taste:  Almost a mirror of the nose, the flavor profile opens with juicy, citrusy hop notes of orange and grapefruit.  The added coffee supplies a balancing earthiness and a fruity pop of blueberry. Bitterness is subdued (just a touch of grapefruit zest and pine in here supplying some bite) and that is thanks to a gentle, closing layer of honey and caramel coming off the malts.

Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium in body with a medium carbonation level, this IPA is incredibly easy-drinking and dries out beautifully.  The balance is impeccable by being not too hoppy/bitter and not too sweet. The 6.8% ABV is surprisingly non-existent, further elevating the beer’s overall high level of drinkability.  The aftertaste is all citrusy hops.

Final Thoughts:  For those folks out there who have been on the fence about the idea of trying a “Coffee IPA,” 21st Amendment’s 1966 Coffee IPA is the one example you need to seek out.  The chosen beans from Peet’s Coffee meld perfectly with the hop bill to strike a gorgeously balanced experience that unites the worlds of coffee and beer in a cohesive way that just makes sense.  Hopheads will be happy to know that this is an IPA first as the hops shine brightly and boldly, but the coffee takes things a step further by complementing, accentuating and mimicking hop aromas and flavors with added floral, fruity and earthy notes.  The overall idea of coffee being an ingredient in this IPA is subtle, but its impact on the hops is powerful as it elevates the entire sensory profile with wonderfully placed layers of complexity.  If you are at all a fan of IPAs, do not let the word “coffee” in the name throw you.  Get yourself a 6-pack of 1966 Coffee IPA while you still can and see for yourself the amazing things that the right coffee can do with your beloved hops.  Prost!