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Our mission at The BeerFathers is to teach you to stop worrying and love the beer. Our secondary mission is to drink a lot of beer. Our tertiary mission is to give you ratings on those beers - objective, unbiased, opinionated, prejudiced ratings based on what we find good about beer. Take it with a grain of salt or preferably one of those big beer pretzels they sell in Munich. Those things are great.

And recently from the Beer Blog...

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Sam Adams Honey Porter

By John & Dad on April 7, 2011 (3 Comments)

The Sam Adams Honey Porter is a great example of the creativity of craft brewers. Take a regular English porter and add some Scottish heather honey to it and create a new porter experience. It pays homage to the traditional porter style, but Sam Adams makes it their own. That’s the mark of a good craft brewer – think of it as the same canvas, but a new paint combination.

Of course all Sam Adams beers come from the Boston Beer Company located in Los Angeles, CA. Kidding. Of course they’re in Boston. And in terms of the craft beer battle the Boston Beer Company is winning about as much as the Patriots (that’s a lot).

For our review of the Honey Porter we used a British pint glass and our 12 oz bottle yielded a 47.1 F starting temperature. The ABV has changed over time on this bad boy – for our review we were at 5.25% ABV, but on the Sam Adams web site it’s now officially listed at 5.5%. RateBeer and BeerAdvocate vary as well, coming in at 5.25% and 5.45%, respectively. Either way, it’s at the top end of a sessionable beer, but it still classifies as sessionable.

For our initial pour we got a large 2″ frothy light brown head that left a good amount of head lacing as it dissipated quickly. There’s a little bit of carbonation and the color comes in kind of a ruby brown that’s dark and translucent.

For our aromas we got a light chocolate, honey, roasted malts, alcohol, black licorice, light raisin and a light smokiness.

For our initial flavors we got a moderate sweet and a light bitter followed in the finish by a light sweet, light to moderate bitter and a light saltiness. For our tastes we got chocolate, honey, roasted malts, black licorice, soy sauce and a light smokiness. The smokey flavor rolls in at the end and adds just a little bit of that salty hint. Very nice.

The finish length is long, the mouthfeel is creamy, the tongue hit is front and middle. There’s not really any body lacing to note and on the malt to hop scale it comes in 1.5 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side.

Bottom line notes shape up pretty well: yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance and buy again. No to memorable and wow factor and a so-so to harmony. “So-so” is a highly quantitative scientific term so don’t bother looking that one up.

It’s very good as it warms, passing our 60 degree test with no issues. The finish is very interesting as well – there’s really two distinct finishes to it – an immediate finish that’s more sweet and less bitter, followed by a late finish where the sweetness wanes, the bitterness creeps up and the smokey notes roll in.

Overall, the Sam Adams Honey Porter is just a solid, nicely done beer. It would go great with BBQ – think more along the lines of brisket than pork though. It’s not a traditional porter by any means, as referenced in the beginning, but that’s what makes it unique. It’s actually quite understated as Sam Adams beers go, but it’s a treat nonetheless.

Sam Adams Honey Porter Rating: 6 out of 10 (?)

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Highland Oatmeal Porter

By John & Dad on April 4, 2011 (1 Comment)

Every now and then we get to try a beer from the very state we live in and that’s just a privilege. Today the beer comes from Son Beer Love’s adopted state of North Carolina (home for the last 7 years, so it’s common law now) and the city of Asheville, about 2 1/2 hours from Charlotte where the Beer Love Family (East) lives.

Highland Brewing Company is well-known and respected for their craft beers, and the city of Asheville itself is known for it’s respectable and quirky beer community. Today we’re hitting up the Highland Oatmeal Porter, one of our favorite brews from Highland.

The Oatmeal Porter comes in with a 5.8% ABV and 32 IBUs. It’s packaged up in a 12 oz bottle which we poured into a British pint glass for our review and got a starting beer temperature of 54.5 F.

Our initial pour gave us an average 1 1/2″ frothy light brown head that dissipated quickly and left a decent trail of head lacing. There was a little bit of carbonation to the almost black body. Upon closer inspection though it’s actually a dark ruby brown color that, though dark, is clear.

For our aromas we got chocolate, oatmeal, coffee, roasted malts, light toffee, black licorice, and smoke. A vigorous swirl gave us a new smell – some nondescript dark fruits hiding deep in the depths of the head.

For our initial flavors we got a moderate sweet, light bitter and light salty that evolve in the finish to a moderate sweet, moderate bitter and very light salty. The tastes come in with coffee, oatmeal, roasted malts, black licorice, smoke and some more of those dark fruits (still unidentifiable).

The finish length is average, the mouthfeel is creamy, the tongue hit is middle to back and there’s a fair amount of body lacing. On our patented malt to hop scale it comes in one click to the left of balanced on the malty side.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance, harmony and buy again. We got a no for memorable and wow factor – it’s very good but it’s not revolutionary.

Overall, the Highland Oatmeal Porter is well-crafted and a nice treat. Not the most complex beer we’ve had by any means, but very good. It’s got a rich mouthfeel to it – nice and creamy – a bit of a lip smacker. The oatmeal really complements the porter style well and gives it a wonderful texture. It gets really good as it warms too – even at room temperature – it enhances the character of the beer really well. In that regard it totally passes our 60 degree test.

If you can find it, it’s totally worth picking up a 6 pack. If you like the dark meat you won’t be disappointed!

Highland Oatmeal Porter Rating: 7 out of 10 (?)

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Our Beer Ratings Distribution Chart

By John on March 31, 2011 (No Comments)

Here at The BeerFathers headquarters we enjoy the finer things in life – a good beer, a nice meal, a well-written book. We’re sure you do too. But if you’re anything like us, and we know you are, you have an insatiable thirst for information. Not just any information though – infographics. Yes, like you, we can’t get enough charts and graphs to satiate our hunger for them. So we felt it was time to combine two of our favorite things – beer and charts.

We were curious how our beer ratings distribution looked when presented graphically – was it a bell-shaped curve? So we present you with The BeerFathers Official Beer Ratings Distribution Chart as of March 2011 – 137 beers in to this magnificent beer journey. It shows on the X axis the ratings from 0 to 10 and on the Y axis the number of beers for a particular rating.

The BeerFathers Ratings Distribution

Yeah – not exactly a bell-shaped curve. Well, maybe a drunk bell. Or a pretty awesome roller coaster. But it goes to show that the majority of our beers are somewhere near the middle of the pack. It also shows that perhaps we tend to seek out beers we think we’ll rate highly – something we’ve probably been more guilty of lately. Either way – it’s a chart about beer. And we’ll drink to that.

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Beer and Movie Pairings

By John & Dad on March 28, 2011 (No Comments)

We all know that beer and food go together. You’ll find tons of beer and food pairings on Google. But what about beer and movies? Do certain beers enhance certain movies and vice-versa? Obviously lots of beer can make a bad movie palatable, but that’s not what we’re talking about here – we’re talking about beers that fit the motif of the movie – that bring out the charm of the movie, that immerse you in the movie. That gets more tricky.

We’ve identified a handful of beer and movie pairings that make perfect sense. Some prominently feature the beer in the movie, others fit the theme of the movie, even if the movie doesn’t feature beer. You’ll probably want a six pack of whatever is listed to fully immerse yourself into these films:

  • Dazed and Confused – Natural Light
  • The Firm – Red Stripe
  • An American in Paris – Kronenbourg 1664
  • Urban Cowboy – Lone Star
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – Yuengling Black & Tan
  • Smokey and the Bandit – Coors

Are there any other beer and movie pairings you can think of that you’d like to add? Add you comments and help us build out the ultimate beer and movie pairings list!

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Kirkland Pale Ale

By John & Dad on March 24, 2011 (3 Comments)

The Kirkland Pale Ale (technically the Kirkland Signature Pale Ale if you’re of the technical type) is one of the four kinds of beer that you can get at Costco in special 24 pack cases. Just look for “Kirkland Signature Handcrafted Beer” when you’re there in the beer section. The 24 pack includes a 6 pack each of the pale ale, a German lager, a hefeweizen and an amber ale (for more background on Costco, Kirkland and their contract brewing situation, check out our previous post on Costco entering the craft beer business).

Our pale ale for this review comes from New Yorker Brewing, the East Coast spawning ground for the Kirkland beers. Our best by date was January 3, 2011, and the review commenced and finished on December 30, 2010, right before the New Year was rocked in by an early bed time.

The 12 oz bottle came in at 5.4% ABV and 35 IBUs – the most bitter of the bunch from the Kirkland series. For our review we used a British pint glass and got a starting beer temperature of 43.7 F.

For our initial pour we got an average 1 1/2″ frothy white head the left no head lacing as it dissipated quickly. There was a lively amount of carbonation and the clear body presented with a golden amber color. Quite nice.

For our aromas we got light caramel, light honey, generic citrus, light floral, grapefruit, light orange, pine, yeast, light butterscotch and some general spices. Not a bad bouquet – heavy on the hop aromas as you’d imagine given that it is a pale ale, specifically an American pale ale (put “American” in front of just about any beer and add 20% more hops, as a rule of thumb).

For our initial flavors we got a light sweet and a moderate bitter that shifts in the finish to a very light sweet, light acidic and a heavy bitter. The tastes came in fairly true to the aromas – light caramel, light honey, generic citrus, light floral, grapefruit, orange, pine, yeast and light spices. The orange and pine are the predominant tastes.

The finish length is long, the mouthfeel is oily, the tongue hit is in the front (surprisingly) and there’s virtually no body lacing. On our patented malt to hop scale it came in two clicks to the right of balanced on the hoppy side.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable and value. We got a no to balance, harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again (which is tricky – more details below). We got a maybe for repeatable.

Ultimately, the Kirkland Pale Ale is a little like green eggs and ham to us. We just don’t like it. It’s less about the beer and more about the style though – we’re not big American pale ale guys. It does get some good sweetness to it as it warms, but not enough for our tastes.

As for the buy again factor – it’s a paradox. You have to buy it again to get any of the other Kirkland beers. We’d love to see Costco take it a step further and start offering the beers individually as 6 packs, or single style 24 packs. That would really hit the spot for us.

Overall though, you just can’t go wrong with the whole Kirkland box set. It’s 4 pretty sessionable beers and it’s a wonderful way to get people trying new stuff. The four 6 packs concept is really nice. For us though, the Kirkland Pale Ale just doesn’t quite ring true. Remember though that the 24 pack comes in at $18.99, or 79 cents a bottle, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better pale ale at the price. If you like pale ales, give it a try. If you don’t buy the box set anyway and surprise a hophead friend with a surprise 6 pack of the stuff.

Kirkland Pale Ale Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)

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Kirkland Amber Ale

By John & Dad on March 21, 2011 (No Comments)

The Kirkland Amber Ale (technically the Kirkland Signature Amber Ale) is one of the four species of beer that ship in 24 pack cases of “Kirkland Signature Handcrafted Beer” at Costco. The 24 pack includes a 6 pack each of the amber ale, a German lager, a hefeweizen and a pale ale (for more background on Costco, Kirkland and their contract brewing situation, check out our previous post on Costco entering the craft beer business).

Our amber ale for this review comes from New Yorker Brewing, the East Coast home for the Kirkland beers. Our best by date was January 3, 2011, and we did this actual review on December 23, 2010, right before Santa Claus came to visit our houses and drop off even more beer.

The 12 oz bottle came in at 5.7% ABV and 25 IBUs. For our review we used a shaker glass and got a starting beer temperature of 44.4 F.

For our initial pour we got an average 1″ creamy off-white head that dissipated quickly and left virtually no head lacing. There was a soft amount of carbonation and a clear body that’s copper in color – like a 1994 penny.

For our aromas we got caramel, dark amber honey, toasted malts, grapefruit, light orange, light resin, dough, light clove and a light metallic. The metallic wasn’t off-putting, but it was there.

For our initial flavors we got a light to moderate sweet and a very light bitter that evolved in the finish to a light sweet and a light bitter. For our tastes we pulled out caramel, dark amber honey, toasted malts, light grapefruit, light orange, light resin and clove. There’s a slight metallic taste to the finish as well.

The finish length is average, the mouthfeel is oily, the tongue hit is in the front and there’s no noticeable body lacing. On The BeerFathers’ malt to hop scale it comes in one click to the left of balanced on the malty side – a good sweet spot.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance, value and buy again. We got a no to harmony, memorable and wow factor.

Overall, it’s a solid, well done beer. The dark amber honey is a very nice touch and gives a really great backbone to the brew. It definitely gets better as it warms though – the malts get stronger and it smooths out a bit. We’d recommend drinking it closer to 55 F than 45 F. It does pass our 60 degree test as well if you let it get that warm – our last taste came in at 65.5 F and it was delicious.

Overall, the Kirkland Amber Ale is one of the best in the bunch for us in the 24 pack. As with most of the Kirkland beers, the price is absolutely unbeatable for the quality of the beer you get. The most resounding “yes” we’ve ever put to value, based on the 79 cents a bottle you spend for the case. Even if you only like half the beers, it’s still a good value. We think you’ll be like us and really like two of them, and be okay with the other two. It really depends on what you like in a beer (hophead or malt madman?) to determine which of the two you’ll like. For us (malt madmen through and through), the Amber Ale and the German Lager are the best in the bunch.

Kirkland Amber Ale Rating: 5 out of 10 (?)

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Kirkland Hefeweizen

By John & Dad on March 10, 2011 (No Comments)

The Kirkland Hefeweizen (technically the Kirkland Signature Hefeweizen) is one of the four varieties of beer that come in the “Kirkland Signature Handcrafted Beer” 24 pack cases at Costco. The 24 pack includes a 6 pack each of the hefeweizen, a German lager, an amber ale and a pale ale (for more background on Costco, Kirkland and their contract brewing situation, check out our previous post on Costco entering the craft beer business).

Our hefeweizen for this review comes from New Yorker Brewing, the East Coast hub for the Kirkland beers. Our best by date was January 3, 2011, and this review was done on December 9, 2010, so we beat the clock. Of course drinking it after the best by date is okay too – these are well crafted beers (in case you were wondering).

Our 12 oz bottle of hefeliciousness came in at 5.5% ABV and 26 IBUs. For our review we used a Weizen glass (because that’s how you do hefes, our friends). Our starting beer temperature was 43.7 F.

For our initial pour we got a large 2″ rocky white head that left no head lacing as it dissipated slowly back into the glass. There was a lively amount of carbonation to the brew and the body was slightly hazy and a nice golden color. Good start.

For our aromas we got wheat, light floral, lemon, yeast, light bubble gum, banana, clove, light pepper and also a light metallic.

For our initial flavors we got a light sweet and very light bitter, followed in the finish by a very light sweet and a light bitter. For our tastes we got wheat, lemon, yeast, light bubble gum, banana, clove, light pepper and a touch of metallic on the finish. The predominant tastes in the profile are yeast, lemon and metallic.

The finish length is average, the mouthfeel is oily, the tongue hit is in the front and there’s no body lacing to speak of. On our malt to hop scale it comes in almost balanced – a half click to the right of balanced on the hoppy side.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance and value. We got a no to harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again.

The beer is much better colder than it is warm – the metallic edge ramps up quite a bit as it warms up. Alas, it did not pass the 60 degree test. We’d recommend drinking it around the lower 40’s rather than the upper 50’s in terms of temperature. We’d also recommend drinking it fast to ensure it doesn’t warm up.

The Kirkland Hefeweizen is a deceptive beer – the cooler profile in the 40’s is drastically different from the warmer profile. For grins we did a second one quickly that stayed cold (we didn’t spend 45 minutes analyzing it to death like we did the first beer) and it was a much better experience. We actually got some floral notes in the taste we didn’t get when it was warmer. If you kept it cold it could almost turn our rating up a notch or two to a 4 or even a 5. Alas, we rate the beers going from cold to warm as a test to see how well they are crafted. Good hefeweizens can hold in there around 60 F.

All the elements of a hefeweizen are in this – yeast, lemon, banana, pepper – but they just don’t sing to us. Overall it’s a bit thin and just not that refined. Of course, for the price it’s still a heck of a value – the Kirkland 24 pack comes in at $18.99, or 79 cents a bottle. You’ll likely spend $7 to $8 for a 6 pack of Pyramid or Widmer hefeweizen, and this is just as good as those. Bottom line – you can do better, but this really isn’t that bad.

Kirkland Hefeweizen Rating: 3 out of 10 (?)

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Kirkland German Lager

By John & Dad on March 7, 2011 (1 Comment)

Technically this is the Kirkland Signature German Style Lager, but we feel a little douchey saying the whole thing, so for this review we’ll call it the Kirkland German Lager.

It’s one of four beers that come in a 24 pack that you get at Costco of all places. The 24 pack includes a 6 pack each of the German lager, a hefeweizen, an amber ale and a pale ale (for more background on Costco, Kirkland and their contract brewing situation, check out our previous post on Costco entering the craft beer business).

For this review our bottles come from New Yorker Brewing. Our best before date was January 3, 2011, which was good as we actually did this review on December 2, 2010. Our 12 oz bottle of German lager has a 5.5% ABV and 22 IBUs. We used a shaker glass for our review and got a starting beer temperature of 46.4 F.

For our initial pour we got an average 1″ foamy white head that dissipated quickly. There was a medium amount of carbonation and the body was a clear sparkling amber golden color. Quite a good looking brew.

For our aromas we got a light biscuity short bread, light caramel, light cereal, light toasted malts, honey, floral, light grass, orange, light pine, light ginger and a little bit of soapiness.

For our initial flavors we got a light to moderate sweet and light bitter, followed in the finish by a very light to light sweet, a moderate bitter and a very light saltiness. For our tastes we got some more of that biscuity short bread, caramel, light cereal, light toasted malts, honey, floral, grass, orange, pine, light ginger, soap and some metallic. The taste is fairly true to the aroma, with some notes coming in a little more potent.

The finish length is average, the mouthfeel is oily and the tongue hit is in the middle. There’s no body lacing to speak of and on our patented malt to hop scale it comes in almost balanced – just a 1/2 click to the right of balanced on the hoppy side.

The bottom line notes are good – yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance, value and buy again. No to harmony, memorable and wow factor.

Overall the Kirkland German Lager is a nicely done beer. It’s well crafted and passes our 60 degree test. The sweetness edges up as it warms – what we thought was a light sweetness when it was cooler (under 50 F) we realized was really a moderate sweetness once the cold mask came off. It’s actually a very good beer to drink around 55 to 60 F. We were tasting ours around 57.7 F and it was spot on.

This may be the best example we have of value in a beer. Really – the price is ridiculous – $18.99 for a 24 pack, which comes out to 79 cents a bottle. You won’t find a better value anywhere for the quality of the beer.

Our final take: it’s a very good once-in-a-while beer, especially if your whiles aren’t too far apart. Perfect if you’re having some friends over and want to share something nice. The BeerFathers approve.

Kirkland German Lager Rating: 5 out of 10 (?)

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I Am Craft Beer Videos

By John on February 24, 2011 (No Comments)

If you haven’t seen the two best videos in the world on craft beer then look no further – here are the videos for “I Am A Craft Brewer” and “I Am A Craft Beer Drinker” that were done by and include some of the industry greats. Seriously, the best craft beer videos I’ve ever seen.

First, “I Am A Craft Brewer” by Greg Koch of Stone Brewing and Chris & Jared of Redtail Media:

(Watch I Am A Craft Brewer at Vimeo)

And secondly, “I Am A Craft Beer Drinker” by Stephen Johnson, John Holzer and New Brew Thursday:

(Watch I Am A Craft Beer Drinker at Vimeo)

Enjoy. Cheers to good beer!

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Kingfisher Premium Lager

By John & Dad on February 22, 2011 (1 Comment)

Kingfish is the well-known nickname for Huey P. Long, former Louisiana governor and senator. It has absolutely nothing to do with this review other than for us to say that maybe there’s some deep-rooted psychological sentimental attachment to the beer name we’re reviewing. See, we’re both from Louisiana, and we can tell you that everyone from Louisiana both loves and hates the wild state government history. Corruption, scandal, salaciousness, it’s got it all. Huey Long embodied all these qualities as well as any other governor (no slight to you in your jail cell Edwin Edwards), so though we’re supposed to hate him we all kind of love him. A guy you love to hate type thing. Like Bill Belichick. Or Alex Trebek.

Anyway, today we’re reviewing the Kingfisher Premium Lager that comes to us from the United Breweries Group in Bangalore, India. They say on their own web site they are the world’s no. 3 spirits company and we tend to believe them because their chairman looks a bit like The Most Interesting Man in the World. Kingfisher is reported to be the no. 1 selling Indian lager in the entire universe and is also reported to be the best selling lager in India.

Kingfisher comes in a green 12 oz bottle with an ABV of 4.8%. For our review we used a standard British pint glass and got a starting beer temperature of 41.4 F.

Our initial pour gave us an average 1 1/4″ fizzy white head that left no head lacing as it dissipated quickly. There’s a soft amount of carbonation and it’s a perfect yellow color and completely clear – no haze in this glass.

For our aromas we pulled out a generic grain, light honey, corn, light floral, light lemon and a hint of popcorn.

For our initial flavor we got a moderate sweet and for our finish flavors we got a light sweet and a very light bitter. For our tastes we got only light grain and honey – that’s pretty much it. Honey is the main taste, and though simple the taste is much better than the smell – there’s a surprising amount of sweetness in the taste we weren’t expecting.

The finish length is short, the mouthfeel is oily, the tongue hit is in the middle and there’s really no body lacing to speak of. On our patented malt to hop scale it comes in 2 clicks to the left of balanced on the malty side.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance, memorable and buy again. Our only no’s were for harmony and wow factor.

Is it a simple beer? Yes. Most pale lagers are. But there’s more to it than that. Compared to an American pale lager (think Bud, Coors, Miller) it isn’t dominated by a watery mouthfeel and taste. It’s more yeasty and malty with a really nice sweetness to it. The sweetness in it could work well with the curry in Indian food or even Tex Mex style Mexican food.

For a lager, as it warms, it keeps it’s chops about it without nastying out. We actually wouldn’t mind a few more of these. It could be a good change of pace beer, especially for us as we don’t do many lagers. Though it’s in a green bottle there’s no skunkiness and no soapiness to it.

Overall Kingfisher is just a nice lager with not much hoppiness – and The BeerFathers approve. At this point, we’re actually prepared to say this is our favorite pale lager.

Kingfisher Premium Lager Rating: 4 out of 10 (?)

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Widmer Drifter Pale Ale

By John & Dad on February 17, 2011 (No Comments)

When Widmer Brothers’ PR agency offered to send us some Drifter Pale Ale to try we couldn’t hit the reply button fast enough. We follow the old rule that if it’s cheap get one, if it’s free get two. So we gladly accepted their offer and got some free beers sent to both Father and Son Beer Love.

The Drifter Pale Ale comes from Widmer Brothers Brewing out in Oregon, the land of the Pacific Northwest hops. The 12 oz bottle sports a 5.7% ABV and 32 IBUs. We used a British pint glass for our test and got a starting beer temperature of 45.9 F.

For our pour we got a large 2 1/4″ foamy off-white head that left a fair amount of lacing as it dissipated slowly. There is a soft amount of carbonation to the clear amber body.

On the nose we pulled caramel, honey, floral, grapefruit, tangerine and ginger. A really strong nose dominated by the grapefruit that we’ve come to associate with Summit hops.

The initial flavors come in with a moderate sweet and a light bitter that evolve in the finish to a light sweet and a moderate to heavy bitter, along with a light tart. The taste comes in fairly true to the aroma with caramel, honey, grapefruit, tangerine and ginger. The floral notes don’t pop through in the taste for us – probably too delicate to overcome the grapefruit and tangerine flavors from those Summit hops. The grapefruit in the taste is strong, but not overpowering. Overall the taste is more subdued than the smell.

The finish length is average to long, the mouthfeel is oily and the tongue hit is in the middle, but also works up to the roof of the mouth. There’s a fair amount of body lacing and on our patented malt to hop scale it comes in 1.5 clicks to the right of balanced on the hoppy side.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance and memorable. We got a no to harmony, wow factor and buy again. We say we wouldn’t buy it again for ourselves because we don’t normally seek out pale ales, but we definitely would recommend it to someone who did like that style.

The Summit hops really jazz things up with this one. The press release that came with the beer reads “Most pale ales are brewed with Cascade hops. Ours is truly an original, made with Summit hops known for their delicate flavor and undertones of tangerine, mandarin orange and grapefruit.”

As unique as it is we fully expect others in the marketplace to try to copy the style. The hops don’t bite too hard, but they do hang around for a while on your cheeks and the roof of your mouth. For us, two well known malt madmen, we can say this – it’s a very good summer beer. As American pale ales go the Drifter Pale Ale is pretty unique. For a Widmer beer – we’re very impressed (we weren’t very keen on their hefeweizen). It should run around $9 or $10 for a 6-pack, so the price point is pretty spot on. If you’re a hophead you should feel right at home.

Widmer Drifter Pale Ale Rating: 5 out of 10 (?)

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Don’t Like the Taste of Beer?

By John & Dad on February 14, 2011 (4 Comments)

If you don’t like that taste of beer and therefore don’t want to try beer ever again, we’re here to help.

Tell us what you don’t like about beer in general or specifically about whatever beer someone gave you to try that turned you off beer forever.

What we’ll do is offer up two recommendations:

  1. One will be our best recommendation of a specialty craft beer from our experience of drinking hundreds and hundreds of craft beers.
  2. The other will be our best recommendation of a more common beer that is widely available mass market style that you should be able to find in most grocery stores.

Now for your part don’t hide behind “I don’t like the taste” – that’s not going to help us guide you anywhere. Tell us what beer(s) you’ve tried and be as specific as you can about why it didn’t take – “I didn’t like it because it was too sweet” or “It was too bitter” or “It tasted like corn” – statements like this will help us help you. Also if you can tell us what you do like in other drinks – if you like coffee or chocolate or mixed fruity drinks or sweet whiskey, etc. You can even tell us if there are certain foods you like better than others. That will help us get you to a beer that suits your tastes.

So if you don’t like the taste of beer, this is your chance – think of it as a “Stump the Chumps” ala Car Talk. We feel confident we can find you two beers you’ll like. Leave your comments below and we’ll take care of the rest.

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Bavaria Holland Beer

By John & Dad on February 10, 2011 (3 Comments)

Bavaria, for those not in the know, is a state of Germany located in the southeast corner of the country. It’s the largest German state by area accounting for about 20% of the total land of Germany (compare that to Alaska at 21% of the total land of the United States). Now forget all that. The most important fact you need to know about Bavaria is that Munich is there (it’s actually the capital). That’s where they make great beer. Unfortunately that has absolutely nothing to do with this review.

It is actually in Bavaria (this will shock you) that they established the Reinheitsgebot, or Bavarian Purity Law of 1516. This law states that the only ingredients that can be used in the production of beer are water, barley and hops. This was a particularly harsh law as the penalty for making impure beer was death. Not really, but the brewer who used other ingredients could have the questionable beer confiscated with no compensation. Let’s put it this way – Sam Calagione wouldn’t last 10 minutes over there. Again, this has nothing to do with this review.

The beer at hand today is Bavaria Holland Beer, also known as Bavaria Premium. It’s brewed by Bavaria Brouwerij in the Netherlands. I have no idea why it’s called Bavaria beer if it’s brewed in Holland, it’s just the company brand they put on the beer. A smart move no doubt – associating a stand out product (Bavaria beer) with a mediocre product (Holland beer). It would be like Chrysler calling themselves BMW Chrysler. Or tofu calling itself porterhouse tofu. Okay maybe it’s nothing like that. What we’re saying is don’t be fooled by the name – Bavaria Holland beer has little to do with Bavaria in terms of the beer – it’s more like your traditional Holland beer than the good stuff that comes out of Bavaria. And that just makes us sad in our hearts.

So, on to the review, eh? Bavaria Holland Beer (that would be like calling it Mexican United States Beer, no, wait…) comes in a 12 oz green bottle with an ABV of 5%. We got ours at Cost Plus World Market. For our test we used a British pint glass and got a starting beer temperate of 45.9 F.

You get an immediate bubbling carbonation when you open up the bottle. For our pour we got an average 2″ foamy white head that left a good amount of head lacing as it dissipated quickly. There was a medium amount of carbonation and the body was a clear sparkling yellow/gold color.

The aromas come in with barley, hay, lemon, pine, yeast, light ginger and a light skunkiness. It smells an awful lot like a Heineken and that’s not a compliment.

The initial flavor comes in with a light to moderate bitter that evolves in the finish to a light to moderate sweet and a light bitter. The tastes come in with grain, lemon, resin and some more of that skunkiness. We’re unsure how they get the whole skunk into the bottle with the small opening, but they do.

The finish length is average, the mouthfeel is watery and the tongue hit is in the middle. There’s a fair amount of body lacing left on the glass as you work through it. On the patented BeerFathers malt to hop scale it comes in one click to the right of balanced on the hoppy side.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable and balance. We got a no to harmony, memorable, wow factor and buy again.

Overall we’re not impressed. The taste goes hop-sweet-hop giving an odd 3 step taste to it. The malts are super thin. If you like pilsners (we notoriously aren’t huge pilsner fans) this is a mild example of one that makes you appreciate something like a Pilsner Urquell an awful lot. About the best thing we can say is its mild enough to be a textbook session beer, but there’s a lot of other beers we’d rather go to first in that category. This beer deserves to be on the shelf, so if you see it on the shelf at your local beer store just leave it there.

Bavaria Holland Beer Rating: 2 out of 10 (?)

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Shiner 99 Munich Style Helles Lager

By John & Dad on February 7, 2011 (No Comments)

Time for a review of a “legacy” beer – one that is no longer on the market. It’s the Shiner 99 Munich Style Helles Lager, sometimes written simply as the Shiner 99 or as the Shiner 99 Helles Lager. Whatever you call it, it was one of Shiner’s anniversary beers as they were working towards their 100th anniversary of brewing. This was the beer they come out with for their 99th year – 2008. We actually reviewed it in February of 2009.

The Helles (German for “bright”) style of beer has an interesting history going back to the 1800’s when the Czech pilsners were starting to become popular. The Munich brewers were worried that Germans would start favoring Czech beer over their own German beer so they created the Munich Helles Lager. The Helles shared some of the same spiced hop notes as the Czech beers but had more malt backbone to balance it out. Problem solved. The style lives on today with some great Helles beers coming from Paulaner, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Spaten, Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr and the usual cast of Munich greats.

But back to the beer at hand. The Shiner 99 Helles Lager comes in with an ABV of 4.99% (or “5”). It packs 18 IBUs into the 12 oz bottle. For our review we used a tumbler glass and got a starting beer temperature of 46.6 F. As always, all Shiner beer comes from the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX.

Our initial pour gave us an average 1 1/2″ foamy white head that left no head lacing as it dissipated quickly. It’s a got a lively amount of carbonation to it and the body was a clear sparkling golden color.

For our aromas we pulled out hay, lemon, yeast, pepper and spices. For our initial flavor we got only a moderate sweet that evolved in the finish to a light sweet, light bitter and light acidic. For our tastes we got a light biscuit, lemon, light pear, light pepper and a touch of corn as it warms.

The finish length is short, the mouthfeel is dry and the tongue hit is in the middle. There’s no body lacing as you drink it down and on the malt to hop scale it comes in one click to the left of balanced on the malty side.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance and buy again (though that would be impossible now that it’s not on the market anymore). We got a no to harmony, memorable and wow factor.

The hops are just right in this one – the Hallertau hops out of Germany are mild and nice. The taste is not too far off from an actual Munich style Helles (American beers tend to be more hopped up even if the style is the same as their European counterparts).

It’s a tasty gulper of a beer – a perfect session beer actually. We found as it warmed it was still good even at 60 degrees – it didn’t fall apart like a lot of American hefeweizens, for example. The hops do come out a bit more as it warms, a noticeable shift from the more malty edge we felt it had as it was colder. No matter, it’s a well crafted beer and a welcome treat from Shiner, who is known so well for their Shiner Bock.

Though the Shiner 99 is off the market now there’s always a chance they could bring it back – the Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager (their Schwarzbier) proved so popular that they made it a permanent part of their lineup. Keep your fingers crossed because this one is pretty good.

Shiner 99 Munich Style Helles Lager Rating: 5 out of 10 (?)

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Sam Adams Black Lager

By John & Dad on February 3, 2011 (No Comments)

We have an old saying in the Beer Love household: “Sometimes you really need a schwarzbier and may not even know it.” That’s why we now keep one behind glass for emergencies.

Nephew/Cousin Beer Love, after a 5 year residency and a 1 year fellowship way out west in the land of the Cowboys, Rangers and Mavericks, has returned “home” with his wife and amazing brood to the medical center as an Assistant Professor where he spent so many years. On this past Labor Day he had a cook out to celebrate his youngest daughters birthday. Father Beer Love had to work late so Dr. Nephew/Cousin Beer Love prescribed a late supper and even filled the prescription and sent it directly to the house. A perfectly grilled burger (bovine, not fowl), a perfect bratwurst (porcine, not fowl), a big slice of birthday cookie (nice touch) and a Samuel Adams Black Lager. As you can see he was raised with proper values.

Needless to say the Black Lager hit the spot. Interesting, because several years back while our beer palates were still maturing Father Beer Love tried it and didn’t think too highly of it. Now, it’s just perfect. My how times have changed.

On to the review. The Sam Adams Black Lager (which as you may have guessed is a schwarzbier) comes in with an ABV of 4.9% and an IBU of 20. Of course it’s one of the many beers that comes from the Boston Beer Company and it’s a part of their Brewmaster’s Collection. For our test we used a British pint glass and got a starting beer temperature of 43.9 F.

For our pour we got a large 2″ frothy medium brown head that left virtually no head lacing as it dissipated slowly. There’s a soft amount of carbonation and the body clarity is clear, but very dark. The color is pure black with some hints of ruby around the edges.

For our sniffy sniff we got some good notes – caramel, light chocolate, nutty, toasted malts, light leather, yeast, brown sugar and cream.

For our initial flavors we got a moderate sweet and a light bitter that moved over to a light to moderate sweet, light to moderate bitter and very light salty in the finish. For our tastes we got chocolate, coffee, toasted malts, grass, pine, yeast, light charcoal, cream, very light smoke and a light soy sauce. A good flavor profile for a schwarzbier. The chocolate really jumps at you in the taste. The light bit of smoke/salt on the finish is a nice touch and the coffee jumps out a bit on the finish as well to give it a slight bitterness, while still staying sweet.

The finish length is very short, the mouthfeel is creamy, the tongue hit is in the middle and there’s no body lacing as you work your way through the glass. On our patented malt to hop scale it comes in ever so slightly to the left of balanced on the malty side – just a 1/2 click away from balanced.

For our bottom line notes we got a yes to drinkable, repeatable, balance, harmony and buy again. We got a no for memorable and wow factor – it’s a good schwarzbier, but our socks were still on afterwards.

It’s worth noting that Father Beer Love was working with one that was within it’s enjoy by date while Son Beer Love was working off one that was a year and 4 months over. The notes remained the same with the slight difference that the older one Son Beer Love was working on had a slight metallic smell to it.

As the Sam Adams Black Lager warmed up into the 50s and beyond the taste was still good, but we thought this one might be better to drink a bit cooler – maybe around 45 F – which might make it slightly more refreshing. Shouldn’t be hard to do as you’ll find it’s a gulper. Don’t let the way we dissect beer and let it warm up 20 degrees during the process mean you have to do the same. You will want to knock this out quickly because it’s so tasty. And don’t be fooled by our statement – it does pass the 60 degree test and is a superbly crafted beer. It’s a moderately complex taste and it’s very good.

Overall we definitely recommend it. It’s got the lightness of a lager with some stout notes to it and it’s a very good marriage. We find the whole category of “dark lagers” a good place to go when you need something you know you’ll probably like. And as we like to say “May the schwarzbier be with you.”

Sam Adams Black Lager Rating: 7 out of 10 (?)

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