Category Archives: Brew Review

Sam Adams Porch Rocker – Brew Review

As the voice of our generation Will Smith once said “Summer summer summertime, time to sit back and unwind”. The beauty of that simple prose is that “unwind” could mean anything: chilling out, maxing, even relaxing all cool. But I like to think that it signifies that glorious age-old pastime of drinking a crisp summer beer on a hot day. So I went and tried Sam Adams Porch Rocker, and boy did I get “Jiggy with It”.

Porch Rocker 1I am whiter than this guy

I’ve written about Sam Adams before; I’m a huge fan of their Cherry Wheat because  mixing grenadine in an IPA tastes like shit, and a Shirley Temple wont get me drunk. The Porch Rocker is a limited release beer, it’s described as a combination of “lager & tart lemonade”, and based on a mixed drink called the Bavarian Radler.

The Porch Rocker pours a light golden color with a dense, white head. The smell is all lemonade; any beer notes are overpowered by the sweet, lemony aroma. The taste follows suit, with tangy sweet citrus dominating the flavor, with just the slightest bit of a bready malt.

Porch Rocker 2

Should I Drink It?

I wasn’t a huge fan of this beer. I think the tartness of lemon can bring out a lot of great flavors in a brew, and a lot of great beers  balance the two flavors. The problem was Porch Rocker was all lemonade, and I missed the beer flavor. It is refreshing, so not a bad choice for a hot day,  but also not the best.

Good news though, the Huffington Post has a list of a couple of great summer beers you (and lets me honest, I) should try before the seasons over. Take a look, and try something new.


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Northern Lights IPA – Brew Review

Happy Friday internet! A few hours separate you from 2 days of rest, relaxation, coke binges, whatever floats your boat. To kick off the weekend, enjoy today’s Brew Review: Star Hill Brewery’s Northern Lights IPA.

Northern Lights IPA 1

Star Hill Brewery was founded in Charlottesville, VA in 1999 and their beers can be found throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states. Their Dark Starr Stout has won 6 awards, including 3 gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival. It’s like the Michael Phelps of beer, except with fewer Subway endorsement deals and bong hits.

Northern Lights IPA pours a orange-amber color with a tan head. The smell is a mixture of sweet malt, floral hops, and tangy citrus. Taste-wise, it has a decent amount of hop bitterness, a little citrus, and a malty finish. The beer smooth, crisp and refreshing.

Northern Lights 2

Should I Drink It?

Overall, Starr Hill’s Northern Lights is a decent IPA. I don’t know if it’s the number of robust beers I’ve been drinking lately, but this one was a little subdued for my taste. All the standard elements that make an IPA great were present and blended well together, but I wish it had just a little more “oomph”.

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Dominion Oak Barrel Stout – Brew Review

I believe it was the English playwright William Shakespeare who famously said, “Friday, Friday. Gotta get down on Friday”. It could be Keats. Either way today is Friday, and what better way to “get down” than with a good beer? Start your weekend off right with today’s Brew Review: Dominion Oak Barrel Stout.

Dominion Oak Stout 1

This stout is brewed by the Old Dominion Brewing Company of Dover, DE. Founded in 1989, the company is home to a great collection of year-round and seasonal beers, as well as a very popular root beer recipe made with locally sourced honey. The company’s Oak Barrel Stout was named “Best Beer in Delaware”  by the Delaware News Journal in 2011.

Dominion Oak Stout 2As a side note, the label looks like aged paper, as if it were an old map.
This made me feel like Lewis and Clark, but more “drunk” and less “dysentery”.

The Oak Barrel Stout pours a deep black with a thick porous head the color of toasted marshmallows. Has a rich, nutty aroma of roasted malts, with vanilla and cocoa notes. It’s smooth and light, with warm coffee and vanilla flavors upfront and sweet chocolate and caramel notes in the finish.

Should I Drink It?

This particular beer hits all the notes a good stout should; it’s smooth, dark, and lets the flavor of the roasted malt shine through. It doesn’t have a strong oak presence in the smell or the taste, which is a little disappointing, but overall it’s a good beer.

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Port City Optimal Wit – Brew Review

Today’s Brew Review is Port City’s Optimal Wit. As William Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit”, which doesn’t have anything to do with this beer, but now you have a quote that is guaranteed to get you laid at parties (results not typical: I have no idea if other people find Shakespeare quotes sexy).

Optimal Wit 1
Optimal Wit is a Witbeir from the Port City Brewing Company. Located in Alexandria, Virginia, the brewery opened in Feb of 2011, and brews 4 year-round beers and several seasonal varieties. Their Optimal Wit was named the 14th best beer of 2012 by Wine Enthusiast, which I think is a compliment, but made me skeptical because no one who drinks wine has been able to discern that is disgusting (And if you’re an “enthusiast” for something that is made by feet, you have a foot fetish. End of story).

Optimal Wit 2

The witbeir pours a golden straw color with a small white head. It has a strong blend of coriander, citrus, and yeast smells that shine through in the taste as well, along with some mild hop bitterness. The beer is smooth and crisp with a bready aftertaste.

Should I Drink It?

Port City’s Optimal Wit is a solid American witbeir that’s perfect for the summer months. The flavor is crisp and refreshing, without losing the beer’s mix of spices.

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Widmer Hefeweizen – Brew Review

Windmer Brothers Hefeweizen

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, a holiday that officially kicks off the summer season (sure you could argue that the solstice is the true beginning of summer, but that would make you a science nazi). This means it’s time for barbecues, pool parties, and some prime beer drinking. To kick off the festivities, I settled down with a Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen.

Widmer Brothers Brewing Company opened in 1984 in Portland, Oregon and today is one of the largest brewing companies in the US as part of the Craft Brew Alliance, Inc. The company is home to over 20 varieties of beer, and is committed to creating a great,  environmentally conscious brew.

Widmer Hefeweizen 2

The hefeweizen pours a cloudy golden orange with a minimal white head. The smell is very delicate; some mild doughy malt mixed with banana. It has a floral, malty flavor with some sweet banana and citrus notes in the finish. It is bright and bubbly, with very little bitterness.

Should I drink it?

This is a decent hefeweizen. It’s very refreshing for the summer; the sweet, bright beer is the perfect complement to a hot summer day. So go out and enjoy your long weekend, and don’t forget to thank a member of the Armed Forces for their service to the country.

Maybe even thank them with a beer.

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Sam Adams Cherry Wheat – Brew Review

Summer’s on its way, which means warmer weather, longer days, and the imminent threat of a cicada invasion. So to beat the heat and keep me company while I brainstorm ways to kill those fuckers (idea: cicada-sized shotgun), I sat down with a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat beer.

Sam Adams Cherry Wheat 3

Sam Adams Cherry Wheat is brewed by the Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts.  Founded in 1984, the company is one of the largest beer manufacturers in America, and their flagship Sam Adams Boston Lager was awarded the Grand Gold Medal in 2011 by Monde Selection. The Boston Beer Company is home to over 30 varieties of beer, and continues to push the boundaries of brewing by  creating exciting new flavors.

The Cherry Wheat pours a dark golden-yellow with a thin white head and some moderate lacing. It has a pronounced cherry smell, closer to a Cherry Coke than the real fruit, with subtle notes of yeast and wheat. The beer is sweet and malty, with plenty of cherry flavor and little to no hop bitterness. It is crisp and clean, with plenty of carbonation.

Sam Adams Cherry Wheat

Should I Drink It?

If you like your beer like you like your women (strong and bitter, with lots of head), than this isn’t the beer for you. It’s way more cherry than beer, closer to a Shirley Temple than a witbeir. However, if you like that sweet cherry taste, this will get you buzzed and no one will call you names because you ordered a dirty shirley at the bar.

The best part is you can break use the broken ends of the bottle to beat away the cicadas.

They’re coming.

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BBC Coffeehouse Porter – Brew Review

Sorry readers reader mom, posts have been pretty light this week because I’ve been traveling. I made a trip home to visit my brother, so I haven’t had a lot of time to dedicate to drinking.

ImageOn the plus side, I got to see my cat.

I finally went to grab a beer yesterday, and decided on trying the BBC Coffeehouse Porter. Brewed by the Berkshire Brewing Company of South Deerfield, MA, this porter is one of over 15 beers the microbrewery makes, along with Pale Ales, IPAs, and even a German Kolsch.

bbc coffeehouse porter

The Coffeehouse Porter is an oily brown/black with a dense ivory head. It has a bold roasted coffee and malt aroma, with some bittersweet chocolate notes. The flavor is very coffee-forward but not it’s not overwhelming, with the nuttiness of the roasted malts and some vanilla and chocolate notes balancing out the beer. It’s creamy and full-bodied, with just a bit of carbonation.

Should I Drink It?

This is a solid porter, with the coffee enhancing the natural flavor of the roasted malts without overpowering them. Unless you hate coffee, I say give this one a try.

Note: If you hate coffee you are probably a replicant.

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Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – Brew Review

We’re in the heart of  American Craft Beer Week, so I thought I should celebrate with the second best-selling craft beer in the US: Sierra Nevada Pale AleSierra Nevada Pale Ale 2

This beer is brewed by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California. Founded in 1979, it’s the 6th largest brewing company in the United States, and was named the “Green Business of the Year” in 2010 by the EPA for their sustainability practices. So if someone complains about you being too drunk at your sisters wedding, simply explain you are doing your part to save the environment, then take your face out of the uncut cake and return to your seat.

That’ll teach ’em.

IPAs vs. Pale Ales

I previously wrote about what makes an India Pale Ale (IPA), and considering that a Pale Ale is just the second two-thirds of that, the two should be fairly similar, right? Correct! Think of the difference between a Pale Ale and and IPA like the difference between a moped and a motorcycle: they have the same basic structure, but one is bolder, more extreme, some might say cooler (mopeds are pussy-magnets). Where a Pale Ale tends to be hoppy, IPAs (especially American IPAs) take that hoppy bitterness to the next level, creating a flavor explosion. But the good kind, not like Doritos Extreme.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 1

The beer pours a clear orange color with a decent head that settles on the surface. There’s an earthy hop quality to the smell, with some floral and citrus notes.  The taste is tangy, with obvious hop bitterness melding with the more delicate bready and floral notes. It’s smooth with a medium body, and a lingering hop finish.

Should I Drink It?

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is one of the quintessential US beers, and a great example of a quality American Pale Ale. The flavor is distinct and memorable, without being jarring to your casual beer drinker. I would definitely recommend giving this one a try.

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Maximus – Brew Review

Laguintas Maximus 3

Nerd alert: I’m huge Roman history buff. I have a Julius Caesar quote tattooed on my side, and I routinely talk about the pitfalls of emperor Nero to men at bars who are trying to get in my pants. So before I begin with the beer Maximus, I felt it necessary to share that Maximus Decimus Meridius from the movie Gladiator is not based on a real Roman, although Marcus Aurelius (emperor Dumbledore) and Joaquin Phoenix were real people in history. There was a different Maximus, Fabius Maximus, who is most famous for the Fabian strategy, an evasive military tactic used for centuries, including by George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

Now you know how the guys at the bar feel. At least you haven’t spent $26 pumping drinks into me.

Which brings me to my beer of the day: Maximus Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Company. Located in Petaluma, California, Lagunitas is one of the fastest growing breweries in the US. Their Maximus Ale was originally introduced in 1996 as a jacked-up version of their flagship IPA, and the company warns that the beer’s so hoppy it could remove the enamel from your teeth.

Laguintas Maximus 2

goodbye pearly whites

Maximus pours a dark amber color with a frothy off-white head that fades away into a thin film. The smell is hoppy upfront, with some clean citrus and caramel malt notes. The bitterness from the hops is grassier in the taste, almost like pine, but well-balanced with the milder orange peel and sweet malt flavors. It’s smooth and creamy with just a little bit of carbonation, and less of an astringent, alcohol finish then I would expect from an 8.2% ABV beer.

Should I Drink It?

Laguintas 1

Maximus definitely lives up to its name; it’s got a lot of bold flavors that will hit your palate in ways most beers don’t. It’s pretty hoppy, but I don’t think it’ll destroy your tooth enamel, at least no more than Coke does. So if you like standard IPAs and aren’t afraid of a brew that packs a punch, you should take on this beer.

Or, if you want to approach it like Fabius Maximus, refuse to meet in a pitched battle and hope to wear it out in a war of attrition.

I’ll shut up now.

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Trippel Belgian Style Ale – Brew Review

New Belgium Trippel 1

The weekend is here and the weather is awful, which I am using as an excuse to watch Say Yes to the Dress and drink beer all day. First on the list: Tripple Belgian Style Ale by New Belgium Brewing. Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, the brewery was founded in 1991 and as of 2010 had grown to the 3rd largest craft brewery in America. Their most popular beer is the amber ale Fat Tire, but the company also brews 8 other beers year-round as well as a handful of seasonal and special varieties.

New Belgium Trippel 2

What is a Trippel?

A trippel (or tripel) stems from the Trappist beers of Europe. This type of beer uses up to 3 times (or triple) the amount of malt in a standard Trappist beer. This particular style uses coriander, a spice most commonly found in Asian food and Indian curries. Before you start worrying that this stuff tastes like the #9 special at Taste of Bombay, you should also know coriander is also used in several types of Belgian beer, including the very popular Blue Moon.

The beer is a clear golden color with a solid white head that dissipated quickly to a thin sheet. There is a definite coriander bump in the smell, along with some nice floral and yeast notes. The taste is sweet and spicy, with malts balanced out by the bite of the coriander and a little bitterness from the hops. It is crisp and pretty carbonated, with a touch of alcohol in the finish.

New Belgium Trippel 3

Should I Drink It?

This is the first Trippel I can remember tasting, so I can’t speak to whether it’s a good representation of the style. I will say that the coriander gives it a unique flavor that might be a little jarring to people only familiar with the standard American lagers, but if you’re not afraid to take a risk then go for it. The carbonation and spices make the beer refreshing without being forgettable.

Don’t forget, next week is American Craft Beer Week!

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