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31Dec/09Off

Review: Leviathan Imperial IPA

Leviathan Imperial IPA

Leviathan Imperial IPA

When I was a senior in college, a new restaurant and bar opened up right across the street from campus.  They had fifteen beers on tap, which at the time seemed like an astronomically high number.  And in a bold move, given their location, they did not carry any of the monster mega-brewery beers.  No Bud.  No Miller.  No Coors.  Just quality beers from small and medium breweries.

Among the brews on tap was Harpoon IPA.  As I became a semi-regular patron of the bar, Harpoon became my beer of choice.  And as you can imagine, being a senior in college, I drank enough of it that I think they owe me a plaque on the wall of their brewery.

After graduation, my patronage at that bar waned, and with it went my regular dose of Harpoon.  But when I saw the Leviathan series at my local beer store, I had to grab one.

The aroma of this beer is simply exquisite.  I was immediately met with the smell of Amarillo hops, which is always a good start.  Strong citrus and pine scents were balanced beautifully by a malty caramel sweetness.  This is definitely what I would expect an Imperial IPA to smell like.

A hard pour into a pint glass produced a tall head with plenty of lacing.  The brew was crystal clear, and a bit lighter in color than I would have expected.

The flavor was pretty good, but it did not quite live up to the aroma.  It was cool and crisp, a bit on the sweet side, with a bitter hoppy finish.  The mouth feel was a bit on the watery side, but not excessively so.

Overall, I found Leviathan Imperial IPA to be a reasonably good beer which triggered a fun trip down memory lane for me.  It does not really hold up to some of the other Imperial IPAs that have been hitting the market in recent years, but it is still worth picking up for the aroma, if nothing else.

Aroma:  8/10
Appearance:  4/5
Flavor:  7/10
Palate:  3/5

Brewery: Harpoon Brewery

What's your opinion of Leviathan Imperial IPA?  Comment below!

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30Dec/09Off

Review: Stoudt’s Fat Dog

Fat Dog

Fat Dog

Whenever I take my kids with me to the beer store, I seem to end up with a basket full of beers with animal pictures on them.  But honestly, can you really look at the dog on this label and not buy this beer?  Yeah, I am a sucker for puppy dog eyes, and a sucker for Imperial Oatmeal Stouts, so this one was an easy sale.

When I first popped this bad boy open, I was met with the delightful aroma of roasted barley malt.  Less obvious but still present were hints of chocolate and coffee.  And beneath it all was a clear undertone of alcohol.

The beer poured beautifully into a pint glass.  It was very dark, approaching pitch black, with a thick creamy head.  The color of the head was a bit more yellow than I would expect out of a stout, but it did not detract from the presentation of this beer.  The head disappeared rather quickly, and left almost no lacing on the glass.

I really enjoyed the flavor of this one.  It was a bit on the sweet side, which is generally not my preference, but the strong flavor of roasted malt made this one very pleasant to drink.  Thick and chewy like I would expect from an oatmeal stout, with a very porter-like flavor, this beer could be dangerous at 9% alcohol by volume.  I found myself immediately wishing I had bought more than one.

Fat Dog would be great to enjoy with a nice dessert after a delightful meal.  I will make a point to make sure that happens.

Aroma:  7/10
Appearance:  4/5
Flavor:  7/10
Palate:  3/5

Brewery: Stoudt's Brewing Company

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29Dec/09Off

Review: Totally Naked

Totally Naked

Totally Naked

Whenever I travel, I always seek out new beers that I am not able to get at home.  So this winter, as I was travelling through snowy Wisconsin, a display of brews from New Glarus Brewing Company caught my eye.  To my delight, they offered a mix-and-match six-pack option, so I made my own New Glarus sampler (or, more accurately, my awesome wife made me a New Glarus sampler while I was chasing the kids around the store).  I will be reviewing each of the beers in the coming weeks.

But today, we start with Totally Naked - New Glarus' version of the classic American Pale Lager.  I decided to start with this one, because my expectations were low, compared to the other selections.  It is not that I doubt the abilities of the fine folks at New Glarus, I am just not a huge fan of American lagers.

The aroma of this was pretty much what I would expect for this style.  It smelled a little sweet, a little grainy, with a minuscule hint of hops.  To be honest, the aroma of this one was not too far off that of the mass-produced American lagers available at every gas station in the country.

It poured crystal clear into a pint class, with a small, bubbly head.  The retention was nice and left a generous amount of lacing on the glass.  The color was a very pale yellowish-gold.

I actually enjoyed the flavor of this one, for the most part.  Despite the aroma, it certainly did not taste like its macro-brewed counterparts.  It was crisp, a bit aggressively carbonated, and had a nice mouth feel and finish.  This beer will not stand out in a crowd, but certainly one I could enjoy putting back on a hot summer day.

Aroma:  4/10
Appearance:  3/5
Flavor:  6/10
Palate:  4/5

BreweryNew Glarus Brewing Company

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28Dec/09Off

Review: St. Rogue Red Ale

St. Rogue Red Ale

St. Rogue Red Ale

Ever since the very early days of my beer drinking career, I have been a big fan of the beers that come from Rogue.  Such a fan, in fact, that I have asked my wife to make sure there is a keg of Dead Guy Ale at my funeral when that time comes.  I apologize if that offends anybody, but those of you who know me know that it fits my sense of humor and my love of beer perfectly.

Whenever I see a Rogue beer that I have not tried, I make a point to pick one up.  So when I saw a bottle of St. Rogue Red Ale at the local beer store, it went directly in my cart.  Even though amber ales are not my favorite, anything with the words "Rogue" and "Dry Hopped" on the label is good enough for me.

The aroma of this one was different than I expected.  Of course, it was very hoppy, but it was also a bit spicy with hints of basil and oregano.  I am not quite able to put my finger on it, but something about the smell of this beer left me wanting a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

I gave it a hard pour into a pint glass, and it produced a thick, frothy head.  The head went down slowly, and left a minimal amount of lacing on the glass.  The beer itself was a deep amber and was slightly hazy.

The flavor, again, was a bit spicy - almost peppery.  It was not as sweet as a lot of other amber ales, and was carbonated nicely.  I had a hard time determining whether or not I liked it, but I was definitely intrigued by all the different flavors that were filling my mouth.

This is definitely not a beer I would drink on a regular basis, and not my favorite to come out of Rogue.  But next time I cook spaghetti, I will surely pick up a bottle and see if it pairs as nicely as I think it will.

Aroma:  7/10
Appearance:  4/5
Flavor:  7/10
Palate:  3/5

BreweryRogue Ales Brewery

What's your opinion of St. Rogue Red Ale?  Comment below!

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27Dec/09Off

Review: Major Tom’s Pomegranate Wheat

Major Tom's Pomegranate Wheat

Major Tom's Pomegranate Wheat

I will admit, I have never been a big fan of beers made with fruit juice.  The occasional Christmas beer or winter lager with a hint of raspberry is generally acceptable, but it seems like every brewpub these days is brewing some sort of wheat beer with berries in it.  Blackberry Wheat, Blueberry Wheat, Snozzberry Wheat - I've seen them all.

So naturally, I was a bit skeptical when I saw Major Tom's Pomegranate Wheat on the shelf of my local beer store.  Pomegranates has become very trendy in the last few years, due to the fact that they are very healthy for you and are actually quite delicious.  You can now get every variety of pomegranate juice in your local grocery store, and a pomegranate martini at your local bar.

So I was intrigued to find out how pomegranate beer was going to taste.  Would this be the fruity beer that won me over to fruity beers?

The aroma was pretty much what I expected.  Not surprisingly, this pomegranate wheat smelled like wheat and pomegranates.  The pomegranate aroma was not too overwhelming, so my hopes were not yet completely dashed.

I poured it into a pint glass, and it looked about average.  Very yellow in color, a bit hazy, and barely any head to speak of.  What little head there was went away quickly and did not leave any lacing on the glass.

Luckily, my expectations for this beer were pretty low, so the flavor did not surprise me too much.  It was a bit sour and the pomegranate was not overwhelming.  But still, I did not find the flavor of this one very pleasurable.  Luckily, I only bought one bottle, which I ended up splitting with my lovely wife.  This is not one I will be going back for any time soon.

Aroma:  6/10
Appearance:  2/5
Flavor:  6/10
Palate:  3/5

BreweryThe Fort Collins Brewery

What's your opinion of Major Tom's Pomegranate Wheat?  Comment below!

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