October 2007

Monthly Archive

Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale

Posted by on 31 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

Do you know what the phrase, “Once in a blue moon,” means? Well, yes, it means that it hardly ever happens. To some it means never.

Blue moons happen, though. According to which definitions you use, a “blue” moon is either when there’s a second full moon in a month, or a forth full moon in a quarter. In those cases the moon isn’t actually blue in color, it’s just a term.

Then there’s time where, after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, the moon actually appeared blue for two years straight due to all the volcanic ash floating around in the stratosphere.

That’s really rare.

This blue moon isn’t that rare — it happens once a year. Part of Blue Moon Brewing’s Seasonal Collection, their Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale smells of golden brown malts and caramel. Taking a sip, the first thing you taste is a glimpse of pumpkin pie, but that’s quickly overwhelmed with spices.

Seriously overwhelmed.

The spiciness fades to a green hoppy bitterness that remains strong, edged with more spice. Fans of a clove-infused Tripel Ale would really get into this. I, however, do not. I find it heavy-handed and most definitely not groovy.

But … it’s a good scary beer for Halloween. Boo!

Tiger Lager

Posted by on 26 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

I didn’t find this one at my local beer heaven. It was at a gas station.

I didn’t take that as a bad omen. A gas station is where I once discovered one of my favorite brews. This was sitting in the cold case, in a row of singles, flanked by Corona and Heineken.

Tiger Lager? Never heard of it. Curiosity and a spirit of adventure made me pick it up.

At home I put on my glasses and read the fine print on the label. “Brewed and bottled in Asia,” it states. Singapore, to be exact.

Hmm. Same general vicinity as Phuket. Interesting.

I popped the cap. Lifted it up and took a sniff. The smell hints of light malt, corn and grass.

Putting the heavy brown bottle to my lips I tip it back. It starts tangy but almost instantly fades to bland. Not bad, but not that good. It’s weak and boring, tasting primarily of a pale malt, grassy green hops, and ending quickly with a dry finish.

Sorry Tiger. Not groovy.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Posted by on 24 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

Nope, that’s not a typo. This is a “punkin” ale, meant to drink, no doubt, while you’re “punkin out.”

I have no idea why but this brew reminds me of the Ramones. It might have something to do with the word “Punk” at the top of the bottle. It seems like something you’d drink at Rock ‘n’ Roll High School during a Halloween Party.

RIP Joey Ramone, this beer is for you. I drink it in your honor. Thank you for all the wonderful music.

Popping the top, it smells of sweet golden malt wrapped around a sugary pumpkin core.

I love Dogfish Head‘s minimalistic labels, especially when they list the beer’s ingredients in big bold letters right up front. This one says, “A full-bodied brown ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon & nutmeg.” I mean, if this is accurate, they’ve already written my review for me.

I raise the bottle to my lips, and tip it back.

Interesting. Very interesting. There’s a lot going on here. At first sip it all seems well balanced, each flavor strong but in harmony with the one next to it. You can taste the brown sugar infused malt, but it’s well balanced with a hoppy bitterness, and that bitterness — though strong — is not overpowering, mainly due to it being so well balanced with the pumpkin flavor. The pumpkin in turn is balanced with the spices, mainly the cinnamon. It’s the cinnamon that dominates the aftertaste, bringing the whole package to a tidy close.

It’s good. I like it. I wouldn’t call it a Holy Beer but it definitely stands up well under the term “punk.”

Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale is definitely a punked out pumpkin brew, and I hereby officially declare it groovy.

Samuel Adams OctoberFest

Posted by on 21 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

Beer as poetry:

Deep whiff
Sweet hops and malt
Tastes like beer nirvana
Toasty malty lager flavor

If anyone can brew beer that inspires poetry it would be Samuel Adams.

If a beer does, indeed, inspire poetry, it belongs on the Holy Beer contender list.

I hereby put this one on the list, scoring a respectable 5.5 on the Holy Grail Scale.

It has a toffee bread taste stoked by a caramel malt, very easy on the tongue, and titillating anyone with a sweet tooth.

I could easily drink these one after another until I couldn’t walk anymore.

Bravo, Samuel Adams. Well done.

Goose Island Honker’s Ale

Posted by on 18 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

And here we have Goose Island Honker’s Ale from Chicago.

This review is dedicated to my good buddy Tim.

I met Tim while he was working at a local electronics store, and I at a computer store. We were just kids back then, barely out of diapers. Our bottles were full of pediatric beer, and woe to anyone who tried to pull the nipples out of our mouths.

Fast friends we were, and still are. He lives up in Chicagoland now, which is why I dedicate this to him.

The dedication has nothing to do with geese or honking.

So I pop the cap off this goose, and take a good long sniff before plugging the nipple onto the end. It’s a light sent, hard to quantify. A little watery perhaps, some hints of hops. Not much else.

Sucking hard on the nipple, I’m rewarded with a delicious golden malt, bitter up front and very hoppy, the malt rising then dropping under those hops to become a muted undertone. It has a medium body, and is not sweet at all. The bitter aftertaste not bad, and like a few other beers I’ve had recently it reminds me of a Henry Weinhards.

The only thing that bugs me is a statement on the label, boasting a “Perfect blend of hops and malt.” Hmm. Perfect according to whom? A goose?

Talking about honking your own horn.

To sum it up, this beer is mildly groovy, good for a dinner beer, and something I’d be happy to share with my friend Tim.

Saint Arnold Oktoberfest

Posted by on 15 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Holy Beer Contenders

First things first. I want to wish my older daughter, Danielle, happy birthday! She is 21 years old today.

That has nothing to do with this beer review other than the fact that she is now of legal age to drink it. She won’t, though, because she doesn’t like beer.

Which is fine. The last thing I need is someone drinking my beer when I’m not looking. Heh.

Anyway, this beer is from my good friends over at Kegs And Barrels, which I always refer to here as “my local beer heaven.” It was specifically suggested to me and I’m glad they did.

Pop the top of this Saint Arnold Oktoberfest and you’re welcomed with a sweet citrus smell over golden roasted malt. Not much hoppiness in the scent, but when you taste it, the hops are there.

The strong citrus taste is prevalent in the flavor as well. It rides like a Harley over the highway of golden malt, with a strong hoppy breeze blowing straight from the west. It’s smooth, rich, and damn good.

Damn good. Damn. Good.

Can you tell I like this beer? I mean, I really like it. It’s a winner, and I not only proclaim it as a groovy brew but place it in the ranks of a Holy Beer contender, weighing in at 6.1 on the Holy Grail Scale.

John’s Grocery Generations White Ale

Posted by on 13 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

I lost the picture of the bottle, hence the logo graphic.

I also lost this review, having saved the file in the wrong folder on my laptop. I happened upon tonight it by mistake.

Aha, I thought. That’s where that went.

My notes on this beer tells the tale of surprise, as in, I was surprised I liked it as much as I did. You see, I don’t generally go for spice beers. They force me to exercise my ability to suppress my gag reflex, and afterwards usually leave me with indigestion.

With John’s Grocery Generations White Ale, by Millstream Brewery, this was not the case. It’s actually a very enjoyable beer, with light wheat malt, serious hops and very well blended spices. The taste is at once both smooth and zesty, with an aftertaste that hints strongly of citrus.

I’ll rate this one as mildly groovy, good for a picnic or as a poolside refreshment. It would also be good as a marinade for barbecued steaks.

Shipyard Brewing’s Pumpkinhead Ale

Posted by on 11 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

Ah, yes! Now this beer’s label shows The Great Pumpkin in its true demonic form! Riding a vegetable horse and holding a beer.

At least, I think that’s a beer. Anyway…

I twist off the cap. Take that obligatory whiff. And, wow, it smells very strongly of pumpkin. Outrageously so. Way in the back, a dark malt and some spices compete furiously for second place.

When I started this month, I had only intended to try one pumpkin ale. However the sheer number of breweries coming out with these Halloween oriented brews has kind of forced a theme on me for this month. This is the third one I’ve had and I have two more in the fridge.

Unlike the others I’ve sampled, this one features a sweet pumpkin taste. It’s almost overwhelming. To me it seems like they’re going for a pumpkin candy flavor instead of pumpkin pie. It’s not bad, but there’s not much else going on with this beer.

You want pumpkin? Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Ale gives you pumpkin. And how.

After the pumpkin candy fades, you get a brief burst of hops, followed by a battle between weak malt and a mix of spices. This winds down to a mild spicy bitterness, and leaves you there.

Not bad, really. Not wonderful. Not even groovy.

It’s just … pumpkin. And if you like pumpkin, well… Here it is.

Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale

Posted by on 08 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

It’s Jack the Pumpkin Head, and he’s got beer.

My neighbor, who’s a total sweetheart, she likes pumpkin. So do I — especially pumpkin pie — and so one of the three beers she brought over was this “All malt seasonal brew limited edition Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale.” According to the label, it’s “Ale brewed with only the finest barley malt, the choicest hops, pumpkin and spices.”

Does anyone hear any familiar wording in that front label boast?

Searching around the bottle confirmed my suspicions. This brew is brought to us by the same people who are responsible for the beachwood-aged disaster which they proclaim as, “The King of Beers.”

I clear my thoughts. I try to forget this fact. I want to keep an open mind, and not pre-judge the brew.

I pop the twist-off cap and take a whiff. It smells like sour pumpkin over the top of some weak brown malt. Well, I think to myself, that doesn’t really mean anything. Let’s give it a try.

I take the first sip. It does not become a gulp. I take another, smaller sip.

Nope. No surprises. It’s fizzy, watery, and sour-bitter, tasting like Budweiser with a touch of pumpkin juice and some nutmeg. It rolls down the back of the throat like dry weeds. The aftertaste gives me the signature chemical tang of an Anheuser-Busch beer.

Not groovy. Not at all. If you want a good pumpkin beer, I recommend Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale.

In fact, I’m going to go over to my local Beer Heaven and buy a Buffalo Bill’s for my neighbor. She’ll love it.

Gouden Haven Premium Pils Lager

Posted by on 05 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews, Gulp Alert!

Bier uit Holland!

My neighbor, Hope, brought this one over for me to try. My daughters are over at her place now, having a girl’s movie night. The elder daughter was here long enough to grab something out of the kitchen while I was reading the this beer’s label. “Tonight it’s your turn to do dishes,” she said, and immediately left.

I checked the new chore chart she’d drawn up. Yes, indeed, it is in fact my turn to do dishes.

I’m going to drink a beer first, though.

It’s stubby topped bottle, that’s for sure. You can tell it’s an import. Something about the green glass and the label remind me of Heineken.

I pop the top, and take a sniff. Not much of a scent. I practically have to suck foam into my nostril to detect a hint of malts.

Raising the “Bier uit Holland!” to my lips, the initial sip turns into gulps, the first shock of taste being delicious. Savoring the after flavor, I discover this beer is a bit watery — but smooth — and features very delicate hoppy notes with a malt undertone that tastes almost crystalline. It fades to a light bitterness that reminds me of fog, the taste of which is an atmospheric mist on the tongue.

Good stuff. Not outstanding, but definitely groovy.

Beer done, I check the chore chart again. Hmm. Glancing through the days I discover … it’s always my turn to do dishes!

What’s up with that?!

Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale

Posted by on 02 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: Beer Reviews

Okay, first I turn up with banana bread beer, and now I’m confronted with a pumpkin ale.

Who came up with this? Linus van Pelt? After his 21st birthday he goes to the pumpkin patch and calls out, “O Great Pumpkin, I need a beer!”

The ground shakes under his Vans. The creepy, dark trees sway, branches cracking, and an eerie grinding sound grows from the shadows. Linus takes a few steps back, realizing he may have made a mistake … realizing the Great Pumpkin may actually be evil.

From the shadows comes an explosion of dirt and grass, and out jumps the Great Pumpkin. “Dude!” it yells. “You order some brewski?”

“Oh my God!” Linus exclaims. “The acid, it’s working!”

[To the dear departed soul of Charles M. Schulz, I apologize. I blame the beer.]

So, what do we have here, anyway? Not from the Great Pumpkin (though it may be made out of the Great Pumpkin) this is the product of Buffalo Bill’s Brewery.

Pumpkin Ale.

What the heck? It’s October, let’s go with it.

I pop the top of this strange mutant brew and am hit with the strong scent of … what else? Pumpkin pie. Seriously. That’s the exact smell. Pumpkin pie, with beer poured over the top of it.

The first sip is seriously carbonated, drowning out all flavor until it calms down. What follows next, in quick succession, is an out of control hayride of pumpkin, spices, mild hops, light malt, and hops again, leaving you at the end with a pumpkin pie and beer aftertaste. Every sip is kind of like a Halloween-themed thrill ride.

I am surprised but … I like it. It’s pretty good. Not quite as good as the banana bread beer, but I have to say it’s mildly groovy. I can see it served at a party, or a themed dinner. Or a haunted house.

Or maybe a pumpkin patch.

At midnight.