Tasting Notes: Marshmallow Milk Stout from Garage Brewing Co.

garageMarshpour1000_editedWith Halloween lurking just around the corner, this week’s installment of Tasting Notes has us looking to satisfy some sweet treat cravings by getting into a bottle of Marshmallow Milk Stout from Garage Brewing Co. (Temecula, California).

Reigning as the sole dark beer in Garage Brewing’s Year-Round portfolio, Marshmallow Milk Stout was created to be “pure decadence with none of the gooey mess.” Roasty, smooth, and with just enough marshmallow sweetness, this medium-bodied Milk Stout will have you “[picturing] yourself nestled around a campfire” after just one sip.  Marshmallow Milk Stout (7.1% ABV) is available year-round in 22 oz. bottles, 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer establishments found within Garage Brewing Co.’s distribution footprint in SoCal.

So, yeah . . . I do believe liquid marshmallow time is finally upon us, so let’s fill these glasses and get to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Marshmallow Milk Stout from Garage Brewing Co.

Appearance: Marshmallow Milk Stout pours a glossy, reflective obsidian in color and wears a finger of caramel-tinted foam on top.  Held to direct light, the beer remains completely opaque but does show some garnet tones pushing through at its extreme edges.  Head retention is decent, but it does end up reducing down to a lasting, frothy top cap that leaves some lengthy brushstrokes of lace behind on the glass.

Aroma: Gorgeous notes of roasted malt are evident just as soon as you pop the cap on this one.  Some bittersweet chocolate character presents itself just before the lactose builds to take the aroma in more of a nostalgic chocolate milk direction.  Out of this rises marshmallow and French vanilla tones that eventually dominate and close out the profile.

Taste: In a bit of a surprise twist, we start here with a straight-up cola quality that eventually opens to take the shape of more distinguishing notes of lactose sugar and vanilla.  The marshmallow then comes forward alongside some light chocolate tones.  The flavor profile closes with roasty, moderately sweet dark malt notes and just a wisp of smoke.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a moderate carbonation level, this beer hits the palate with a soft, creamy texture.  As expected, it is mostly sweet on the palate but not at all cloying.  The ABV is well hidden and the beer is semi-dry on the finish.  The aftertaste leaves behind a bit of cola and some long-lasting marshmallow.

Final Thoughts:  Marshmallow Milk Stout has quite a bit going on and it pushes well beyond being just a one-dimensional marshmallow experience.  The marshmallow is definitely there, but it selflessly shares its stage with nicely developed notes of vanilla, chocolate and roasted malts.  The unexpected but familiar cola aspect is a nice addition that works well with the beer’s mouthfeel and boasts its overall drinkability.  Although it is sweet, it still retains an easy-drinking nature that allows for its drinker to enjoy one or several pours if desired.  Overall, Marshmallow Milk Stout is damn tasty and the perfect beer to have in hand while raiding the Halloween candy bowl.  Prost!

 

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Tasting Notes: TreasureFest from Heavy Seas Beer

HSTfestBottleOur week of Oktoberfest-fueled Tasting Notes continues as we get into some appropriately tall pours of TreasureFest Oktoberfest Lager from Heavy Seas Beer (Baltimore, Maryland).

Back for another year as the brewery’s late-summer/early-fall Seasonal, TreasureFest is Heavy Seas Beer’s “American spin” on the Oktoberfest Lager.  Beginning with a traditional base of imported German malts and hops, the brewers at Heavy Seas then put an American twist on TreasureFest by dry-hopping the beer with a hearty dose of American hops. At 6% ABV and 35 IBUs, TreasureFest promises to be “a fresh look at the old Oktober stand-by.”  TreasureFest is available now but nearing the end of its Seasonal run.  You can find this offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Maryland, and throughout the rest of Heavy Seas Beer’s distribution network.

With all that information now properly covered, I do believe it is time to fill these steins and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for TreasureFest Oktoberfest Lager from Heavy Seas Beer

Appearance: With two fingers of frothy, off-white eggshell-colored foam resting on top, TreasureFest presents itself as a ruddy, amber-colored brew that holds some deep red-orange tones at its core.  When held to the light, the beer brightens to expose more vibrant copper and orange hues.  The incredibly clear body displays a spirited carbonation presence streaming within.  Head retention is pretty spectacular, but it does eventually (over a great deal of time) fall to a dense, foamy half finger that coats the stein with elaborate, pencil-thin lace patterns.

Aroma:  Hops jump into the nose first with a flourish of floral and citrus tones.  Once certain that they have gained your attention, the hops back off a bit to allow the malts to come forward with notes of lightly-toasted bread, brown sugar and caramel.  The hops and malts eventually find equal ground to close with a lovely mix of floral hops and clean grains.

Taste:  The flavor profile begins with an alluring blend of German and American hops.  We are talking about some floral, lightly zesty tones that are matched by a bright pop of orange and grapefruit zest.  Acting quicker here than in the nose, the malts advance to assertively lay down some balancing bready, biscuity and caramel notes.  The hops ultimately win the final battle by closing out the profile with a parting strike of resiny goodness.

Mouthfeel: TreasureFest is medium in body with a medium carbonation presence.  This creates a feel that is not too thin and not too heavy, allowing the beer to move well across the palate.  Having a good mix of bitterness and sweetness, the beer finds a really nice balance.  At 6%, the ABV does bring a little warmth but nothing too crazy.  Aftertaste is just a little lingering tingle of citrus zest and a touch of hop resin.

Final Thoughts: Yeah, TreasureFest may be far from traditional but it is a really interesting take on the Oktoberfest-style Lager.  It may surprise many with that healthy pop of American hops, but it still retains that beautiful and wanted malt backbone we all look for during Oktoberfest season.  That building malt presence in both aroma and flavor strikes a finely tuned balance that keeps this beer in the Oktoberfest realm while the hops are just enough to allow it to stand out a bit from the crowd. This makes TreasureFest a great option for the hopheads out there that still want to get in the spirit of the season or for those who wish to just shock the palate a bit after a long day of more malt-driven Oktoberfests and Märzens.  All in all, TreasureFest comes together to be a unique and damn tasty riff on the style, and it is absolutely worth tracking down at some point during this year’s Oktoberfest celebration.  Be sure to check it out while you can.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Festie from Starr Hill Brewery

FestieStarr_editedNow that Oktoberfest season is in full swing, we shift the focus of Tasting Notes to the beers brewed to honor this great tradition.  First up, we take a look at Festie Oktoberfest Lager from Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, Virginia).

Staying true to their belief that “a great playlist is all about what’s new and what’s next”, the music lovin’ souls at Starr Hill Brewery established the Heavy Rotation Series as a means “to keep fresh styles of beer coming your way.”  Festie Oktoberfest Lager has arrived as the current release in this series, and it is Starr Hill’s “tribute to the great German lager.” At 4.8% ABV, this “rich and malty” offering is meant to “[invoke] the German tradition of Oktoberfest, while also paying homage to the end of the summer music festival season.”  As an added bonus, the intentions behind this beer are further echoed with a specially curated Spotify Playlist “featuring tunes that combine flavors of folk, funk, jam band, and rock to pair perfectly with a bottle of Festie” (click here to listen).

Festie Oktoberfest Lager is out now and available throughout Oktoberfest season.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, in the Fall Tour Variety 12-pack, and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Virginia, and throughout the rest of Starr Hill’s distribution area.

With all of those necessary background details now out of the way, I do believe it is time to fill a glass and get our Oktoberfest on with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Festie Oktoberfest Lager from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance: Festie fills the glass as a rich amber-colored brew that has chestnut tones.  When held to direct light, the amber notes brighten and the color softens.  The beer is crystal clear and shows a steady carbonation presence that is doing its best to feed the finger of off-white foam that was built during the pour.  That head fades with a quickness, reducing down to a thin ring that leaves minimal spots of lace behind on the glass.

Aroma: The aromatics begin with a light caramel malt character that slowly opens to take on a nutty quality – almonds and hazelnuts.  Bready notes eventually work their way forward to round the aroma off with a clean grain presence and just a grace of sweetness.

Taste: In an unexpected twist, the flavor profile actually leads with a faintly herbal, lightly sweetened tea-like quality. Caramelized nuts then surface to bring some sweetness before a hearty, bready malt note settles in.  The classic grain character establishes itself firmly thanks to the complementing German lager yeast. The flavor closes just as it started . . . with a light wash of that herbal/tea note.

Mouthfeel: This lager is on the lighter side of medium in body with a crisp carbonation level.  It is lightly sweet on the palate, but well balanced by that touch of herbal character.  The 4.8% ABV shows no interest in playing a factor here, and that just further adds to the offering’s easy-drinking nature.  The aftertaste is just a breath of lingering nuttiness.

Final Thoughts: Overall, Festie is a very clean, delightfully approachable, and refreshingly light representation of the Oktoberfest/Märzen, but still has all the flavor one expects to find from a beer of the style.  The beer’s light body and low ABV just aids in its high level of drinkability, making it a perfect candidate to fill massive steins at Oktoberfest celebrations taking place throughout the Southeast.  If you are looking to get festive without getting (too) sloppy this Oktoberfest season, Starr Hill Brewery’s Festie Oktoberfest Lager is certainly a beer that should be in your sights.  Be sure to check it out before its limited run comes to an end.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes: Torikumi from SweetWater Brewing and Telluride Brewing Co.

DankTankTorikumiPour_editedTasting Notes takes a bit of an unconventional turn this week as we sit down to examine a tall pour of Torikumi Wasabi Infused Blonde Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia) and Telluride Brewing Co. (Telluride, Colorado).

Torikumi, which translates to mean a “sumo bout”, comes to us as a special collaboration beer crafted by SweetWater Brewing’s Nick Nock and Brewmaster Chris Fish from Telluride Brewing Co.  After an excursion to Atlanta’s Buford Highway, a culinary playground of international cuisine, the two brewers returned to SweetWater Brewing Co. with inspiration to fill the Dank Tank with what would eventually be known as Torikumi Wasabi Infused Blonde Ale.  Dosed with some “serious heat” from the added wasabi, this 7.5% ABV American Blonde Ale can be enjoyed as a pairing for a wide variety of dishes or – for those more daring heat seekers – on its own.  Torikumi is nearing the end of its availability, but it can still be found in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans and on draft at select beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and throughout the rest of SweetWater Brewing Company’s distribution area.

Now that the background information has been handled, it’s time to face the wasabi and get to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Torikumi Wasabi Infused Blonde Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company & Telluride Brewing Co.

Appearance: Torikumi presents itself as a deep golden colored brew with burnt orange hues radiating within and a bright white finger of foam resting on top.  When held to direct light, the color steadfastly holds but the yellows and oranges do gain a bit more vibrancy.  The beer is a touch on the cloudy side, but you can still spot a steady carbonation presence swirling about some particulate within.  Head retention is good, but it eventually falls to a half finger of thick, creamy foam that coats the glass with wide lace patterns.

Aroma:  With citrus and juniper leading the way, the first impression of this beer is an interesting and memorable mix of fruit and earthy spice.  The beer then shifts into that recognizable, nose-tingling presence of wasabi before settling into a solid malt presence of rye and wheat.

Taste:  Citrus – orange and lemon zest – and wasabi rush the palate just before a lovely, gin-like juniper works its way in.  That earthiness is further supported by some spicy rye and some wheat breadiness that rounds everything off.  Wonderfully unique, surprisingly pleasant, and incredibly balanced here.

Mouthfeel:  Torikumi is medium in body with an effervescent carbonation level.  It moves across the palate with expert-level balance, giving off a good mix of bitterness, sweetness, and wasabi heat.  It is actually a bit shocking that this brew clocks in at 7.5% ABV because there is not even a hint of a trace of alcohol heat . . . or it just might be hiding cleverly behind that subtle sting of wasabi.  The aftertaste is a nice combo of earthy rye, sweet orange and wasabi.

Final Thoughts:  Going into this experience, I must admit that I was not expecting to use the word “balance” too often.  Well, here we are and I can emphatically declare that Torikumi – wasabi and all – is an incredibly balanced brew.  The planning behind this recipe was damn near genius because the wasabi comes across with a beautiful grace as it mingles with the earthy grains, citrusy hops, and distinct juniper berries.  Oh, those juniper berries . . . their addition was a great call because they make the rye and wasabi really pop while still somehow taming them at the same time.   This allows the beer to retain some bite, but not nearly as much heat as the brewery’s description leads you to believe.  It honestly creates a flavor experience that is similar to a lightly sweetened gin cocktail that has been laced with just a bit of heat. Torikumi has balance and drinkability, and it just might be the most unique beer I have tried all year.  If you have been avoiding this one simply because the can reads “Wasabi Infused”, believe me when I say this is a must try brew.  Get beyond those apprehensions and give Torikumi a try before it disappears forever.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Hobo Life Session IPA from Lord Hobo Brewing Company

hobolifepour1000_editedThis week’s Tasting Notes continues our exploration of the Session IPA by taking a look at Hobo Life Session IPA from Lord Hobo Brewing Company (Woburn, Massachusetts).

Typically, we start off each Tasting Notes post by citing the official brewery descriptions and technical data behind the featured beer, but that information just does not seem to exist for Hobo Life Session IPA.  This is probably the case because Lord Hobo Brewing Company reported that it “grew nearly 415% in 2016.”  With an impressive number like that coming from a brewery that just recently celebrated its 2nd Anniversary, we completely understand that the focus at the brewery needs to be on keeping up with demand and allowing the beer to speak for itself.  **UPDATE 9.2.17** Just a week after we published this post, Lord Hobo Brewing Company launched a beautiful new website filled with information about the brewery, Hobo Life Session IPA and their full lineup of brews.  Check it out by clicking here.  **UPDATE 9.2.17**

With that said, what we do know is that Lord Hobo Brewing Company and Hobo Life recently hit the Florida market along with Boomsauce Hoppy Ale and Consolation Prize Double India Pale Ale.  Weighing in as the smaller of the three offerings, Hobo Life is a 4.5% ABV Session IPA that has been dry-hopped with Citra hops.  This beer is available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Florida, Massachusetts and throughout the rest of Lord Hobo Brewing’s distribution area.

Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s keep this train rollin’ and get a little taste of the Hobo Life!

Tasting Notes for Hobo Life Session IPA from Lord Hobo Brewing Company

Appearance: Hobo Life presents itself as a hazy, orange juice-like, yellow orange in color with a finger and half of pure white foam resting on top.  Held to direct light, the yellows brighten greatly but an orange core holds steadfastly at the beer’s center.  Despite the haze and cloudiness, a lively carbonation presence can be seen streaming within.  Although it eventually falls to a thick, complete ring, the head lasts throughout the experience and leaves notching wisps of lace behind on the glass.

Aroma:  This brew is all hops on the nose. Composed but hinting at a nice and dank experience ahead, it opens with big, lovely pops of ruby red grapefruit, passionfruit and honeydew melon.  Those tropical, fruity tones take on a little grassy character before the profile closes with some bright lime zest and a bit of crackery malt.

Taste:  The flavor mirrors the aroma pretty closely, but with a bit more conviction when it comes its dank, resinous intentions.  We start here with a wonderfully pronounced presence of passionfruit and melon.  A bit of crackery sweetness then works its way in to wash over the palate for just a moment before the tropical fruit party continues with the development of some lychee and tangerine notes.  Just as you think the beer is done, it closes out with some lasting, bitter grapefruit.

Mouthfeel:  This Session IPA sits on the medium side of light in body and has a medium carbonation level.  The beer has a good weight to it, but still resides in the easy-drinking part of town.  Although quite fruity in the hop department, it still has some bite and brings just the right amount of bitterness to the palate.  Dries out well, and cleans up nicely.  At 4.5%, the ABV gives zero indication of its presence.  Aftertaste is light with a little grapefruit juice and zest left behind after each sip.

Final Thoughts: Hobo Life certainly has the look everyone seems to be after these days, but this beer is quick to point out that it is more than just another pretty face.  It is actually a pretty astute study of just how much the Citra hop has to offer.  Sure, this hop is a go-to these days, but I cannot remember a time that I have been able to distinguish this amount of passionfruit and melon from a Citra hopped beer.  Simply put, it’s just on another level in that regard.  Then you have to recognize the fact that this beer shows off some mighty big flavor dynamics, but it does so while maintaining an easy-drinking Session IPA experience.  All in all, the beer in this glass is damn impressive.  Yeah, Lord Hobo has a winner here and you should probably check out Hobo Life Session IPA just as soon as you get the chance.  Do it. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Lo-Res Sesher IPA from Sixpoint Brewery

LoResTasting Notes keeps the hop theme this week, but we adjust our focus a bit as we get into a few cans of Lo-Res Sesher IPA from Sixpoint Brewery (Brooklyn, New York).

Not too long ago, we provided you with the news that Sixpoint Brewery was fending off the heat of summer with the release of Lo-Res Sesher IPA.  Arriving as the smallest sibling in the Resin family of beers, Lo-Res is a Session India Pale Ale that changes the resolution to “focus on the juice.”  This easy-drinker has been heavily dosed with Mandarina Bavaria hops to “provide a huge citrusy blast, while a pale, dry body finishes super clean and easy.” Thanks to its 4.5% ABV, you can enjoy a couple Lo-Res Sesher IPAs “before things get pixelated.”  This Limited Release offering is available now in 8-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, New York and throughout the rest of Sixpoint’s distribution area.

Now that all the fine details are covered, let’s zoom out a bit and take in all that Lo-Res Sesher IPA has to offer by jotting down some Tasting Notes.

Tasting Notes for Lo-Res Sesher IPA from Sixpoint Brewery

Appearance:  Lo-Res pours up a slightly hazy, golden yellow-colored brew that holds some bright orange tones as well.  When held to direct light, the liquid radiates with bright, lemon yellow hues.  A meandering carbonation presence can be seen feeding the half finger of wispy white foam capping the beer.  Retention is decent, but it eventually fades to a bubbly ring that leaves thin, airy tracts of lace behind whenever the glass is jostled.

Aroma:  From the first whiff, it is abundantly clear that the brewers at Sixpoint were focused on coaxing out the fruity characteristics of the chosen hops.  I say that because the aroma is not translating as the expected dank hoppiness . . . no, what we got here is a whole lot of nice and clean citrus notes translating primarily as tangerine and orange.  A touch of sweetness creeps in along with just a breath of bitterness, but this profile is mostly concerned with juicy citrus fruit.  Smells of summer.

Taste:  There is no denying that Lo-Res is the lil’ bro to Resin because that hop bite is alive and well in the flavor department.  Aggressively dank, the bitterness impressively asserts itself before easing back a bit to allow notes of tangerine zest and juice a chance to get some attention.  That bite returns with some grapefruit bitterness just before a slight amount of nondescript, balancing sweetness arrives to close things out.

Mouthfeel:  This Session IPA is light in body with a moderate carbonation level to supply an easy-drinking and refreshing experience.  Although it is mostly bitter on the palate, it dries out nicely for a wonderfully clean finish.  As you would expect from the style, the ABV plays no part here.  The aftertaste is just a bit of grapefruit zest.

Final Thoughts:  Lo-Res Sesher IPA may be a great deal smaller in size, but it certainly maintains its familial ties to Resin IIPA and Hi-Res IIIPA.  This Session IPA mirrors its family’s hop-laden personality and edge, but it does so in a way that somehow keeps it easy-drinking and gulp-worthy to basically provide its drinker a big ol’ IPA experience that’s wrapped up in a 4.5% ABV package.  It may not be a 1-UP to the traditional IPA, but Lo-Res Sesher IPA is certainly here to provide us all with a cheat code that allows us to enjoy as many pours of hoppy goodness as we want.  That’s definitely something I can get behind.  Be sure to check out Lo-Res before it’s game over on this Limited Release offering.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes: TripleTail Tropical IPA from SweetWater Brewing Company

SWTripleTailThis week’s edition of Tasting Notes returns to the land of lupulin for a hop fix as we get into some TripleTail Tropical India Pale Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia).

Released back in June as SweetWater’s newest Catch n’ Release Seasonal, the summer-appropriate TripleTail “weaves juicy and bodacious hops with notes of papaya, pineapple and passionfruit into this lush hop-forward IPA.”  Clocking in at an incredibly reasonable 5.5% ABV, this easy-drinker promises to “refresh from sun up to sun down.”  TripleTail Tropical IPA is available now, and you can track it down in 12 oz. cans, 12 oz. bottles, Variety 12-packs and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and throughout the rest of SweetWater Brewing’s distribution footprint.

Now that we have all that background information out of the way, let’s find a place to lounge and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for TripleTail Tropical India Pale Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company

Appearance:  TripleTail fills the glass as a soft orange-colored brew wearing two fingers of fluffy, bright white foam.  Held to direct light, things change dramatically as the beer gains vibrancy and exposes a sunny golden yellow residing within.  The body has just a touch of haze to it, but you can still easily spot a gentle carbonation presence bubbling away.  Head retention is fantastic, falling only slightly to a lasting finger of chunky foam that effortlessly notches the glass with lace.

Aroma:  Tropical hop notes burst from the glass with papaya leading the way.  Ripe pineapple then takes control as things move in more of a dank hop direction.  A little lemon zest turns up just before the profile closes with some crackery malt sweetness.

Taste:  Although absent in the aroma, the passionfruit really asserts itself here alongside that papaya.  Pineapple plays more of a subtle role behind a developing citrus character of grapefruit zest and juice.  Just a grace of sweetness works its way in at the end, but it is only present for a bit of balance.  One thing is clear here: TripleTail is all about those fruity, juicy hops.

Mouthfeel:  This beer is leaning toward the lighter side of medium in body with a medium carbonation level.  Although quite hoppy in aroma and flavor, the bitterness is tame thanks to one hell of a balancing act.  The beer dries up almost immediately, leaving the drinker with an incredibly clean and refreshing experience.  Aftertaste is minimal, but a bit of papaya and grapefruit can be found lingering.

Final Thoughts:  If you are looking for a refreshing summertime brew that is still serious about its hops, TripleTail Tropical IPA has you covered.  The true highlight of this beer is the fact that is just so damn clean and easy-drinking.  Those juicy and fruity hop notes are big, but not at the expense of refreshment.  Thanks to a tame level of bitterness and a low ABV, this beer is completely chill and has no aggressive qualities at all.  Its main goal is to establish that tropical beach vibe and allow you the opportunity to escape the heat, kick back and relax. Goal achieved, yo . . . and I do believe it is time for another.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Sho’nuff from Against the Grain Brewery

AtGShoNuff1000This week we look to find out who’s the baddest mofo low down around this town by going toe to toe, glow to glow with Sho’nuff from Against the Grain Brewery (Louisville, Kentucky).

If you have not figured it out by now, Sho’nuff – and this entire post for that matter – has been inspired by the flawless, classic 80’s film known simply as The Last Dragon.  Not only did the brewers at Against the Grain craft Sho’nuff to be “a low down Golden Ale”, but they also wanted this offering to pull double duty as a Belgian Table Bier.  Basically the inspiration behind what we now call Session Beers, the low ABV Table Beer is an easy-drinking but full-flavored brew that “is meant to be consumed with food but also [stand] well on its own.”

At 4.9% ABV, Sho’nuff is “the beer for bad mo-fo’s” that can mercilessly handle anything you throw at it.  Need a beer that can stand up to just about any food coming at you?  Sho’nuff has got you covered.  Need a brew to crush after a long day in the heat?  No problem.  Looking to make a few mistakes and wish to shotgun the Shogun?  Just follow the “Puncture Here” instructions clearly marked on the can and do some work.  Sure, you may have to deal with some attitude and kiss some Converse from time to time, but Sho’nuff is here for you on draft and in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans.  Look for this brew to be available at craft beer-focused establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and throughout the rest of Against the Grain’s distribution area.

Alright, no more games.  Let’s face the Shogun and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Sho’nuff from Against the Grain Brewery

Appearance:  Sho’nuff presents itself as a shimmering bronze-colored brew wearing a finger of bubbly, slightly off-white foam.  When held to the light, the beer gains vibrancy and glows with deep gold and orange hues.  The body is clear and displays a dutiful carbonation presence streaming within.  Head retention is decent, but the foam eventually recedes to a chunky ring that lays down gobs of lace from time to time.  Sho’nuff asks, “Am I the prettiest?”  And we emphatically answer, “Sho’nuff.”

Aroma: With all the bready notes kickin’ around in here, you’d think you just walked into Daddy Green’s Pizza.  This beer is just billowing with fresh-baked, crusty bread goodness.  It has a nice crackery quality to it, but tones of heartier grains push through at times. An underlying spicy rye character closes out the nose by adding a bit of complexity.

Taste:  Those bready aromas translate beautifully into the flavor.  Mostly biscuity, a lovely but restrained rye note surfaces to add just enough depth with added grain character and a touch of spice.  Only here for balance, the hops are light and lend further support to the rye’s spicy character.  The yeast plays a much bigger role here by reinforcing the bready notes and also adding some fruity notes of apple and pear.

Mouthfeel:  Sho’nuff is on the medium side of light in body with a moderate carbonation level.  This allows this brew to come across as much more substantial than it is.  At an easy-drinking 4.9% ABV, the beer hits the palate with a beautiful balance that tips ever so slightly toward the sweet side.  Aftertaste is minimal, but a little biscuity malt lingers.

Final Thoughts: A wise man once said that “those who are bound by desire see only that which can be held in their hands”, and that’s kind of a perfect way of looking at the Table Beer’s place in craft beer these days.  In a world where over-the-top ABVs, dank hoppiness, and extreme flavors reign supreme, the Table Beer has no desire to be more that what it is.  Subtly confident, this low-ABV style is here to supply beer lovers with an easy-drinking experience meant to be enjoyed with food or on its own.  Its seemingly-simplistic and complementary character is meant to bring out the beauty that exists in the meal/world surrounding it.  In doing so, it transcends trends and shows its own beauty by proving that complexity can exist in simplicity.  Having learned this lesson, Sho’Nuff does just that but with a Shogun of Harlem level of personality.  If you get this beer to the designated place at the designated time, it will gladly designate your ass with a proper Table Beer experience.  Playtime is over, kids.  Step up, open your mind, and learn for yourself who’s the master of the Table Beer.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: The Love from Starr Hill Brewery

LoveCan1000This week’s Tasting Notes brings it in for the real thing as we experience The Love Wheat Beer from Starr Hill Brewery (Charlottesville, Virginia).

The Love comes to us by way of Starr Hill’s new Summer Jam Can Variety Pack, the brewery’s first ever mixed 16-pack of 12 oz. cans (click here for more details).  This established, Year-Round offering is a German Hefeweizen that “is distinguished by its extremely light body and fruity aroma, finished with spicy notes.”  At just 5.1% ABV and 9 IBUs, The Love is an easy-drinking, approachable beer that is a fantastic go-to for any occasion or season.  You can find The Love in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, in the Summer Jam Can Variety Pack and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Virginia and throughout the rest of Starr Hill Brewery’s distribution area.

Alright, let’s get into some Tasting Notes and see what The Love is all about!

Tasting Notes for The Love Wheat Beer from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance: The Love hits the glass as a hazy, golden rod-colored brew topped with nearly two fingers of pure white, pillowy foam.  Held to the light, a myriad of yellows, from light straw to deep gold, burst forth.  The body holds its haze, but a lively carbonation presence can be seen working hard within.  The head has fantastic retention, and that foam leaves behind some impressive, chunky lace patterns whenever the beer is jostled.

Aroma: Just as they should, banana and clove are the first notes to waft from the glass.  Hearty wheat provides a solid, grain-based backbone.  A grace of bubblegum develops before the profile closes with a refreshing breeze of lemon zest.

Taste:  The yeast is hard at work here as well with clove and other light phenols leading the way.  An earthy and floral character develops to work beautifully alongside the wheat malts and a light spice note.  Citrus tones brighten things up a bit before the beer settles in for a very satisfying finish filled with ripe banana.

Mouthfeel: This brew is medium in body with a bright carbonation level.  This provides an experience that is wonderfully light and crisp on the palate.  The ABV can be located if you go looking, but it has very little intention to make itself known.  Aftertaste is minimal, but a little bit of banana and bubblegum does hang around from time to time.

Final Thoughts:   Full disclosure – this is not my first experience with this beer and it certainly will not be my last.  The Love impressed me a long time ago when a first sip emphatically read as a German Hefeweizen.  I know what the label description says, but I have had a good amount of encounters with American takes on the style that left me disappointed or wanting more.  Not the case with The Love.  This beer proudly possesses that needed and showcased balance between the wheat foundation and the playful yeast character.  Then we have the citrus qualities that bring it all together to result in an approachable, refreshing offering that we all long for after a hot and humid summer day. The folks at Starr Hill did a fantastic job with this beer, and it is clear that they did their homework before placing the word “German” anywhere on the label.  That’s respect, and it shows in each and every pour of The Love.  Well done.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Blackbeard’s Breakfast from Heavy Seas Beer

HSBlackbeardbottleIn this latest installment of Tasting Notes, we start our day as pirates do by cracking an early bottle of Blackbeard’s Breakfast Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter Brewed with Coffee from Heavy Seas Beer (Baltimore, Maryland).

The folks at Heavy Seas Beer release Blackbeard’s Breakfast once a year as a part of their Uncharted Waters Series, a lineup of barrel/wood-aged limited releases that exhibits elevated levels of brewing prowess.  This offering is an Imperial Porter that has been brewed with English malts and Dark Sumatra coffee from Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company.  Once the brewing is completed, Blackbeard’s Breakfast is finished off with a long rest in Bourbon barrels so that it may pick up notes of vanilla, oak and whiskey.  Weighing in at a sizable 10% ABV, Blackbeard’s Breakfast promises to be an experience that “will please coffee and beer connoisseurs alike.”  Blackbeard’s Breakfast had an official release schedule set from May to June, but you can still find this limited release gracing shelves (22 oz. bottles) and taps at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Maryland and throughout the rest of Heavy Seas Beer’s distribution footprint.

With all that background information now covered, I do believe that means we can allow the day-drinking and Tasting Notes to commence!

Tasting Notes for Blackbeard’s Breakfast (2017) from Heavy Seas Beer

Appearance: Blackbeard’s Breakfast fills the glass as an inky black brew that wears a full finger of brown sugar-colored foam.  Held to direct light, the darkness holds and the beer remains opaque, glossy and reflective.  The creamy head eventually gives out and is reduced to a thin, but complete ring.  Since the beer is slick on the glass, any lace that grabs ahold ultimately slips back down into the dark depths below.

Aroma: Dark sugars and molasses grab the nose immediately with a deep, rich sweetness.  Chocolate and caramel easily build off of that base, and the aroma opens further to expose subtle notes cherry, coconut and toffee. All of this is enrobed in a warm, comforting bourbon note that is filled with oak and vanilla tones. Just a waft of coffee breezes through at the end to finish off the profile.

Taste: Although nearly lost in the aroma, the coffee really finds its home here in the flavor.  Pronounced with a beautiful roasted character, the coffee acts as the ideal note to introduce all the flavors that await their moment.  Those flavors include notes of dark chocolate-covered almonds, nearly burnt caramel, creamy vanilla, brown sugar, and sticky toffee.  Bourbon laces itself through all these notes to administer the perfect dose of booze and woodsy character.

Mouthfeel: This Imperial Porter falls on the lighter side of full-bodied with a soft carbonation presence.  This makes for a chewy experience that still remains a bit silken.  Mostly sweet on the palate, the coffee and hops do add a necessary level of bitterness to keep the beer from becoming cloying.  Although they do take their time to clear out, this beer’s flavors are more than welcomed to linger.  Noticeable but not overwhelming, the 10% ABV adds a building warmth in the belly and throat to the experience.  The aftertaste is all molasses and roasted coffee.

Final Thoughts: If you have been looking for a wildly consistent and affordable Bourbon barrel-aged brew to stock up on, look no further than Blackbeard’s Breakfast.  This beer is exactly as it should be.  To start, it avoids the pitfall that many barrel-aged beers fall into, and that is completely losing the base beer behind the barrel character.  Blackbeard’s Breakfast is a big ol’ Porter and it reads as such.  Its English malts retain their integrity to lay a firm and established base of nutty, roasty, chocolaty and toffee-filled notes.  The coffee then enters the picture to support the malts with added roastiness while also lending a touch of balancing bitterness to the equation.  The bourbon waits for that foundation to be properly set before it glides in with its tones of vanilla, oak and booze.  The bourbon has personality, but it is not brash.  It knows it place and that is as a piece of a whole.  The base beer benefits from the Bourbon just as the Bourbon benefits from the base beer.  Blackbeard’s Breakfast finds this harmony, and it truly is a beautiful thing to experience.  Be sure to check it out before this year’s release disappears from shelves and taps.  Prost!