Beer Reviews (116)

Bitter parting: Northern Oktoberfest Beers round out category

October is over, but our tasting of Oktoberfest beers lives! This week, we're tasting Oktoberfest beers from the Northeast – highlighting breweries in NY, VT and NH. After a solid month of sipping Oktoberfest beers, my palate is all malted out, and I'm ready to hang up my Lederhosen until next year. But before I move my attention to another style of beer, I'm reflecting on lessons learned in tasting Oktoberfest beers, namely: Potato totally…

Maine Oktoberfests to relish

In honor of October, I've dedicated an unreasonable share of my palate to sampling Oktoberfest beers. These malty beers have plenty of flavor, moderate levels of alcohol and hop bitterness. It was a challenge to find three Oktoberfest beers from Maine that I hadn't tasted before, or, at least, that had been reformulated since I had them last. Why? My theory is that, because Oktoberfest beers are a challenge to make, and are so distinctly…

Oktoberfest beers worth sampling

In honor of, well, October, we're sampling Oktoberfest beers from near and far. With bigger, malty flavors, this beer style has enough substance to stand up to the cooler weather and heartier food of fall. Chili, sausage, burgers – Oktoberfest is a friend to all of them. Oktoberfests aren't “big beers.” Their moderate alcohol and flavor impact are sufficiently thirst-quenching power through a warm fall day. What makes a beer an Oktoberfest? Oktoberfest beers must…

Head West, Oktoberfest!

It's October, and in my mind, that means only Oktoberfest. This seminal beer-holiday began as a local celebration of the marriage of a German king in 1810. The royal family invited the citizens of Munich to join in the fun, and the event gradually evolved into a public exhibition. The event certainly didn't begin as an exclusive celebration of beer. Perhaps it merely reflected German enthusiasm for beer, or perhaps it's become a pure and…

Autumn beers from the Northeast

Last week, we sipped some autumn beers from Maine. For me, autumn is the season with the most saturated, distinctive smells and flavors. There's the spicy scent of dried leaves, the savory, acrid smell of wood stoves, the pungent, vomitous flavor of ubiquitous “pumpkin spice” (blaaargh) and the sharp, indefinable aroma of the cooling air. It's a season that lends itself to richer beers, with spicy flavors that evoke the leaves, the smoke, and the…

Getting autumnal: These beers spice up fall

Late September is a liminal time, in terms of both weather and beer. Days are warm and nights are cool. The pumpkin beers have begun to soften on the vine and Oktoberfest beers are just around the corner. This brief interlude, before summer truly ends, before fall truly begins, calls for an autumn beer. This isn't a true “style” of beer like a stout or a trippel. Autumn beers embrace different flavors, styles and interpretations…

Pumpkin beers that don’t suck

Happy almost-fall, loyal reader. Apples are ripening, school has begun, and pumpkin-themed beers are metastasizing all over the shelves of your local liquor store. They may look like innocent beers, loyal reader, but ghastly, swollen orange spheroids cackle in silent agony on their labels, and they conceal untold chemical horrors within, borne in the Halloween laboratory of some sadistic flavor chemist. Perhaps you can sense my skepticism about pumpkin beers, loyal reader. Last week, we…

Gulping gorgeous gourds with pumpkin beers

Welcome fall, loyal reader! In September, leaves change, the air cools, and pumpkin beers emerge on the shelves like fetid orange toadstools after a cold rain, their bloated pumpkin-faces grimacing balefully at us like evil gourd orbs. You can almost hear them sneer, “Chug my over-sweetened contents, and prepare for a hangover to bloom in your skull like the candle in a jack-o-lantern.” Perhaps you can sense my disdain for pumpkin beers, loyal reader? As…

Joint effort in brewing: Pot beers exploit distinct flavors

Many beer enthusiasts augment a brew with the occasional joint. Perhaps it’s the people I hang out with, but I see more interest in this pairing than I do with wine and cheese, or even beer and bratwurst. It may be more than the desire for a good buzz that drives repeated interest in this classic pairing. Indeed, the humble hop, Humulus lupulus, is a member of the Family Cannabaceae, which is home to the…

Feel the burn with spicy beers.

After a summer-long binge on beers flavored with fruits, berries and even trees, I'm close to hitting bottom. I've tasted so many weird things that I'm nearly out of unusual beers to sample. There's been a significant omission in my explorations though: spicy beers! Hot, spicy flavors are surprisingly natural additions to beer, but like anything, they can be overdone. I've sampled a delightful green-chili pilsner that emphasized the floral character of the pepper, and…
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