Seth Levy

Seth Levy

Liquid Gold — Lemon beers to treasure

I'm still sipping beers that use fruits, berries and other adjuncts to achieve unusual flavors. This week, we'll try a few beers that incorporate the most familiar of the citrus fruits – the lemon! Much of the characteristic flavor of the lemon is due to the citric acid it contains, giving it a sour, biting flavor. Lemons also contain a significant quantity of vitamin C, and the peels are rich in essential oils that carry the majority of the fresh aroma of the lemon. Beers that incorporate lemon flavor tend to be quenching and refreshing. Their bright acidity pairs well with seafood, chicken, or just a nice hot day. Cheers!

 

Eviltwin Brewing Old Fashioned IPA
Format Sampled: 12 oz can

ABV: 7%

Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market and bakery

Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy greenish yellow with a skimpy white head. Aroma is comprehensively lemony, with hints of asphalt and dank, sticky hops. The initial flavor is filled with mouth-puckering, sour lemon. The taste sets off memories of sour lemon candies, glasses of lemonade on the porch, and gummy lemon wedge candies dipped in sugar. There are hints of bitter, bracing hops under the acid/sweet fusion of the lemonade. Swirled in with simple, white-sugar burn, is a hint a darker, more complex malt sweetness. This is an artful fusion of an IPA and a lemonade. So much more than a shandy, it brings a bright lemony ray of sunshine to a cool, rainy night.

 

Great Divide Brewing Company Nadia Kali Hibiscus Saison

Format Sampled: 12 oz can

ABV: 6.3%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP

Tasting Notes: Pours a rich, reddish amber with a moderate head of tan foam. Aroma is fresh and spicy with clove, lemon peel, and caramel. The initial flavor is tart and round, with notes of mulled wine, apple cider vinegar, and sour cherries. The woody, citrus flavor of the hibiscus provides an earthy counterpoint to the initial tartness. As the flavor develops, a lemony character drifts to center stage, bracingly acidic and refreshing. The body is quite light, and the tart, herbal flavors make this a tremendously refreshing beer. It is an amazing aperitif, and the ABV is low enough to make it a fascinating beer to sip over a long evening.

 

Samuel Adams Porch Rocker

Format Sampled: 12 oz capped bottle

ABV: 4.5%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP

Tasting Notes: Pours a sparkling gold with a thin whitish head. Aroma is lemony and pleasantly resembles a furniture polish. The initial flavor is oddly sweet and lemony – taking the furniture polish theme a bit too far for my enjoyment. Under the strangely clipped lemon flavor,  a chemically potent sweetness spreads rapidly over my palate and then disappears into whatever laboratory flask it came from. Underneath, a toasted malt flavor reminds me that this is, after all, a beer and not a soda. The aftertaste lingers, with a cloying, sickly sweet flavor that sticks to my tongue like rubber cement. This is an unfortunate beer, and a better result could have been obtained by simply adding a real lemon slice to any mass-market pilsner.

 

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Passionate about Passion Fruit Beers

Passion fruit is the fruit of a flowering vine, whose reportedly comes from the religious, rather than the sexual, meaning of the word passion. Apparently, Missionaries in South America named it in reference to Christ's suffering on the cross. The indigenous meaning of the word is less symbolic "nursery for flies." The flavor of this enigmatic fruit is somewhere between these definitions, both divine and earthy, with a profound flavor that mixes acid and sweetness. This week, we'll sample several beers that incorporate passion fruit flavors.

 

Green Flash Passion Fruit Kicker

ABV: 5.5%

Format Sampled: 12 fl oz capped bottle

Available: Purchased at Bow St Beverage Public Market House

Tasting Notes: Pours a light copper with almost no head. Aroma is reminiscent of liquefied sweet tart candies – a tropical pulpy, sweetness, offset by a sharp sourness. Initial flavor is smoothly sour, with a nondescript fruity sweetness that mellows it out. The sweetness isn't characteristic of passion fruit itself- most of the unique character of the fruit is in the aroma. The tart, fruity flavor continues, evenly sour, without becoming biting or scouring. Surprisingly, there's little kick to the “kicker.” Everything about it is mellow. Not too sweet, not too tropical, not too sour. It's an all-around pleasant sipper. Tasting partner Meghan says, “it's the perfect beer for California – light, fruity and waaay mellow.”

 

Almanac Beer Co Farm To Barrel Passion Project

ABV: 6.5%

Format Sampled: 12.68 fl oz capped bottle

Available: Purchased at Bow St Beverage Public Market House

Tasting Notes: Pours a sparkling pale yellow with an unstable white head. Aroma is sour, funky and mysteriously fruity at once, like an exotic fruit salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with hay. The initial flavor is revelatory, the creamy, sweet flesh of the fruit bursting through a curtain of refined sourness to play upon a stage of toasted wood, rich barrel character, and horsey funk. As the funk fades, the dry, woody characters predominate, shot through with brief flashes of fruit. The finish is powerfully dry and tannic – leaving my tongue parched for another sup.

 

Passion Fruit – Peach Berliner Weisse

ABV: 4.1%

Format Sampled: 22 fl oz capped bottle

Available: Purchased at Bow St Beverage Public Market House

Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy light amber with a durable, pure white head. The aroma reminds me of a peach iced tea – fruity with a faintly acid astringency. The initial sip blends lip-puckering sourness with the syrupy sweetness of peach pulp. It's a wild sensory ride, with my tongue yanked in different directions by the opposing flavors. The peach flavors add a punchy freshness to the flavor profile, the passion fruit lying beneath, adding an exotic floral flavor. The body is light, and the beer is filled with lifting carbonation, making the overall experience incredibly refreshing. This would be a tremendous palate cleanser between courses, and a marvelous aperitif as well.

 

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Sipping On Raspberry Sours

With the first day of fall already behind us but temperatures still in the seventies, I'm craving a return to summer. In acknowledgment of this brief spell of warm weather and the cold that's sure to come, I'm tasting some sour beers that incorporate raspberries. The sweetness of the raspberry heralds the warmest days of summer, and the tart sourness is a reminder of the six months of winter still to come. Hold one of these beers aloft in a tall, narrow glass, so the light makes them glow a deep red. Drink deep, loyal reader. There are many stronger beers to come this winter!

 

Fore River Brewing Preble Raspberry Kettle Sour

Format sampled: 16 oz. can

ABV: 4.0%

Availability: Purchased at Whole Foods

Tasting Notes: Pours a murky fuchsia with a volcanic purplish head. Aroma is filled with fresh, dew-covered raspberries. The initial flavor is both insistently sour and profoundly berry like. The acidity is clean, and augments (rather than overwhelms) the delicate berry flavor. As it diffuses around my palate, the sourness fades and is replaced by a warm, gentle malt sweetness. This beer incorporates the flavor of the raspberry so elegantly and with such fidelity to its original form, that I feel the need to pick the little seeds from between my teeth. Sip, savor and mourn summer!

 

Hidden Cove Bottino

Format sampled: 16 oz. capped and corked bottle

ABV: 6.0%

Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market

Tasting Notes: Pours a rich, glowing gold with no head at all. Aroma is fresh and acidic, with a distinct vinegar tang (a raspberry vinaigrette, perhaps?) The initial flavor is round and sour. It's the broad, refined acidity of an expensive vinegar, tempered by a faintly fruity sweetness. After the fruity, acidic opening, some barrel character starts to show. There is a toasted, nutty wooden flavor, polished with a fuzzy tannin. The restraint of the fruit flavor is surprising. The overall impression is closer to a refined sour or an unblended lambic than a “fruit beer.” Tasting partner Ivan says, “It's actually dry!” The dryness makes the Bottino a great aperitif or a companion to a rich pasta dish.

 

Banded Horn's Not If We Jam It

ABV: 4.5%

Format sampled: 16 oz. can

Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market

Tasting Notes: Pours a slightly cloudy amber with hints of purple. Raises an enduring, fine white head. Aroma has a tart freshness and a delicate raspberry character. Initial flavor is subtle, with a sweet berry flavor that quickly overtaken by a starchy, glutinous sweetness. A pleasant citrus acidity mingles with the starch, washing it off my palate, and leaving a pleasant tingle in its place. Everything about this beer is mild — the fruit, the sourness, the sweetness, and body. For a beer that's so gentle, it's a tremendous palate conundrum. How, specifically should I appreciate it? For the fruit? The sour tang? The unique combination of flavors? I may need to enjoy a few to answer this question. While I attend to this pressing matter, I'd urge you to buy a few cans to enjoy while the weather is still warm!

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Strawberry Beers Forever

In these waning days of summer, I'm tasting beers with added fruits, berries, and other unusual ingredients. Earlier, we tried three beers brewed with added strawberries. Two weeks ago, I reviewed a notice that two breweries I follow were releasing strawberry beers and I took it as a sign. Summer ain't over yet, and there's more strawberry to drink!

 

Hidden Cove Fragola

ABV: 6.0%

Format Sampled: 16 oz corked bottle

Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market

Tasting Notes: Pours a luminous orange/amber with no head at all. Aroma has fresh acidity, tempered with a fruity balsamic character. The fragile aroma of fresh strawberry is evident as well. The first sip is pleasantly tart, with a refreshing sourness that is almost immediately overtaken by the pulpy favor of strawberry. The berry is so fresh, especially over the sour backdrop, that it's like a scoop of fresh sorbet on my tongue. The addition of strawberry in this beer is so natural that it makes me appreciate the flavor of strawberry in ways I haven't before, noticing it's inherent, decadent creaminess, and profound sweetness. The berry flavor continues throughout, both bold and delicate. The body is quite thin and fluid, setting up no boundaries to drinking this lovely beer quickly. The bracing acid character lends itself to an aperitif, or perhaps a pairing with a fruit dessert

 

Samuel Smith's Organic Strawberry Ale

ABV: 5.1%

Format Sampled: 12 oz capped bottle

Availability: Provided by Merchant du Vin.

Tasting Notes: Pours a hazy copper with a short-lived off-white head. Aroma is powerfully berry-like, sharp and almost buttery in its concentration. The initial flavor is sweet, filled with sugary strawberry, oozing with jammy intensity. The berry flavor is so potent, it's like eating a tablespoon of strawberry jelly directly from the jar. This is not a “berry flavored beer,” or a “beer inspired by berries,” this is the result of a mad brewer, drunk on organic intoxicants, brazenly squeezing a kilogram of strawberries directly into the bottle. This may be too sweet for some, but it would be an amazing accompaniment to vanilla ice-cream, fruit salad, or perhaps the base of an interesting beer cocktail or shandy.

 

Lindemans Strawberry Lambic

ABV: 4.1%

Format Sampled: 12 oz capped and corked bottle

Availability: Provided by Merchant du Vin.

Tasting Notes: Pours a hazy pinkish, with a short-lived head of tan foam. Aroma is filled with meaty, stewed berries and mulled wine, much less sweet than the Sam Smiths. The initial flavor melds the essence of strawberry with a pleasant hint of balancing acidity. The sweetness is on par with the actual experience of eating a fresh strawberry, rather than a jammy distillation of the fruit. There is a pleasant fruit-like sourness, melding with the sweetness, and creating some level of balance. This, too, might be too sweet for some, and could also serve as a winning accompaniment to a vanilla dessert.

 

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Dreaming of tangerines — Respect the fruit

In the waning weeks of summer, I'm sipping beers that include fruits, berries and other unusual adjuncts. This week, we'll explore beers with tangerine flavors. Many citrus fruits are surprisingly natural additions to beers, because they contain chemicals that echo the flavors of popular hop varieties. Tangerines are no exception to this rule. In fact, this particular variety of citrus fruit contains a unique and varied mixture of essential oils, many of which are also found in hops. In addition to many others, your average tangerine contains: alpha-pinene (piney, herbal flavors), myrcene, citronellal (lemony, citrus flavors), thymol (herbal thyme flavors), and more! Happy sipping, loyal readers!

 

Long Trail Citrus Limbo IPA

Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottled

ABV: 7.6%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP

Tasting Notes: Pours a rich amber with a thin, off-white head. Aroma has citrus peel, and the warm scent of fresh baked bread. The initial flavor features the deep, complex flavors of hops. They are rich, smooth and deeply herbal — not sharp, almost as if they were stewed and mellowed over time. The citrus evolves naturally from the hop flavors, a rich, spicy, honeyed, almost oily flavor. As the citrus fades, a broad foundation of bitterness is evident, playing nicely with the smooth, sweet malt backbone. The body is moderate, tending towards syrupy. In combination with the heavy flavor impact, this beer merits some respect, contemplation and consideration. Delightful!

 

New Belgium Citradelic Tangerine IPA

Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 6.0%
Availability: Purchased at RSVP

Tasting Notes: Pours a rich gold, with a moderate off-white head. Aroma is redolent of spicy hops, and potent, oily citrus peel. The initial flavor marries the sharp astringency of a tangerine peel with the mellow, juicy sweetness of the fruit. Bitter hops, with plenty of citrus character themselves, brace the juicy flavor and give it depth and complexity. The sweet fruit flavor continues to evolve, becoming more and more mouthwatering as it develops. The aggressive carbonation keeps lifting and redistributing juicy clouds of citrus flavor around my palate. This beer balances lovely herbal, bitter complexity with a fruity sweetness that's shockingly easy to drink.

 

Stone Tangerine Express IPA

Format Sampled: 24 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 6.7%
Availability: Purchased at the Craft Beer Cellar

Tasting Notes: Pours a burnished copper with a thin white head. Aroma is pungently hoppy, with piney, herbal characters that waft feet away from the glass. The initial flavor is bracingly bitter — a full-on assault of deliciously dank hop flowers. The tannin, acid quality of the citrus joins the party, adding its own dimension of bitterness. After my tongue recovers, I perceive other aspects of the fruit that are sweeter and more subtle, but the bitter qualities dominate this potent brew. The finish is dry, with lingering notes of tangerine peel.

 

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Strawberry Sippers — Guzzling Fruit in the Waning Days of Summer

For the next few weeks, we're exploring delicious, quenching beers made with fruits, berries and more. This week, we'll be sipping a few beers brewed with strawberry. Fragaria × ananassa is technically a fruit, not a berry at all. Regardless of classification, its delicate, distinctive flavor is the essence of summer, distilled into a sweet bundle. Many brewers add strawberry to sour beers, using the sweetness to achieve a balanced flavor. When pairing these beers with food, it's the dominant sourness that dictates the pairing — not strawberry. Enjoy them alone, with fruit, with salad, or any other dish where the acid character doesn't clash. Cheers!

 

Black Hog Strawberry Gose
Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

ABV: 4.0%

Availability: Purchased at the Craft Beer Cellar

Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy, turbid yellow with a dense, bone-white head. Aroma is clean, and sharply acidic, with hints of strawberry leaf. The initial flavor has a brief, sour slap that rapidly evolves into the ephemeral, sunny flavor of a strawberry. The strawberry is distinct, but fades away so rapidly, it nearly gives my palate whiplash. It's as if I've awoken in a room full of strawberries and sunshine, blinked, and they were gone! After the brief berry flavor, the warm, bready malt kicks into height gear, joined by a savory, salty salinity. It's salty enough to induce involuntary lip-licking, and it's a delight! I'd pair this with chips and salsa in a heartbeat!

 

Eviltwin Brewing James Beer

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 3.5%

Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market House

Tasting Notes: Detonates an explosive foam shower immediately. What an opening! When it settles, the beer is a pale straw, with a towering head of white effervescence. Aroma is sour, berry like, and briny. The initial flavor is aggressively tart and salty, with a distinctly marine funk. It's like drinking a Berliner Weisse next to a berry patch, on a clam flat at low tide. In a good way! The palate cleansing acidity paves the way the briny, umami flavors of the olives to titillate my palate, shot through with surprising notes of berry flavor. For a beer designed to be paired with food, this is one of the most complicated, distinctive beverages I've had in months. Some drinkers may not appreciate the challenging acidity, and unexpected proteinaceous notes, but the beer geek in me can't help but appreciate the statement, and the artistry of packing so much flavor into a 3.5% beer!

 

Stowe Cider Strawberry Fields*

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

ABV: 6.5%

Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market and Bakery

Tasting Notes: Pours an absolutely clear pale yellow with no head. The aroma has honey, mint, and a gentle, nondescript fruitiness. The initial flavor has fresh strawberry character, not jammy, but still distinctive. Immediately after the fruit, a clean, subtle burst of mint acts as a built-in palate refresh. I can't remember the last time I've enjoyed mint flavor in a fermented beverage — but this works surprisingly well. The overall flavor profile tends toward sweet, but the body is on the thin side, and the overall drinkability is off-the-charts. Serve this with a fruit salad, and savor the last days of summer!

*I know. It's cider, not beer.

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The Citrusiest Summer — Gulping Down Orange Brews

The summer swelter is in full effect, and it's doing strange things to my palate. I'm tired of lagers, and have to venture into stranger and stranger beers to keep my palate engaged. So, I'm kicking off an extended jag of tasting beers with fruits. Last week, we sipped some blood orange beers, so this week we'll try a few different beers that incorporate regular orange. This marriage of flavors might appear unusual at first, but the addition of orange to beer has a solid chemical rationale. Myrcene, an essential oil found in many hop varieties, has a distinct citrus aroma! Here's to orange beers, loyal reader!

 

Otter Creek Brewing Orange Dream

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 5.5%
Availability: Purchased at Craft Beer Cellar

Tasting Notes: Pours a pale, fuzzy yellow with a thin white head. Aroma has sweet corn meal, some spicy hops and a faint orange-blossom tinge. Initial taste is sweet, flat, and grainy – the same sequence of flavors I remember from my days of consuming copious quantities of mass-market “Cream Ale.” The orange reveals itself slowly and subtly, so faint, in fact, that it's hard to identify as orange at all. It's more of an impression or an emotion of sweetness. The finish is a saving grace, dry, fuzzy and tannic, with a definite orange-peel character. The overall effect is intriguing. This would be a wonderful beer to sneak to a  mass-market beer aficionado!

 

Clown Shoes Clementine White Ale

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 6.0%
Availability: Purchased at Craft Beer Cellar

Tasting Notes: Pours a rich, glowing gold with a thick, white head. The aroma has clove, banana, warm yeast and orange peel. The initial flavor is crisp, fruity and sweet. It's the lovely, sharp, simple sweetness of an orange, so light and brief and tasteful. Immediately after this sweet salute, the complex, spicy flavor of a solid white ale presents itself. The hazy clove flavor that's characteristic of this style melds incredibly well with the orange, yielding a bright, mulled taste experience. This would be amazing paired with Thai, or Jamaican foods. It can imagine this annihilating some serious spices, but the sweet flavors would hold their own.

 

Collective Arts Saint of Circumstance Citrus Blonde

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

ABV: 4.75%
Availability: Purchased at Bow Street Beverage Public Market House

Tasting Notes: Pours a golden yellow with a moderate white head. The aroma has a tantalizing whiff of piney hops and preserved citrus peel. The initial flavor has is a gentle wash of citrus zest, juicy fruit, and prickly hops. The citrus fades first, leaving a durable hop bitterness, citric in it's own right, but with a slightly herbal character. A chewy, fun sweetness follows up the hops. It's the kind of slinky, slippery sweetness that brings an involuntary smile to my lips. It's characteristic of blonde beers, and is perfectly incorporated here.

 

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Flesh, Pulp, and Blood Orange Beers

The torrid heat of August is upon us, and it's given me a royal thirst. After a month of drinking lagers, my palate, brain and liver are crying out for  variety, so I'm launching into an exploration of fruited beers. This week, we'll explore beers brewed with the Citrus × sinensis, also known as the “blood orange.” This hybrid orange has a vivid, reddish flesh, rich in antioxidant chemicals known as anthocyanin. The unique combination of chemicals makes the blood orange a particularly good source of vitamins, and contributes to it's rich, tart flavor. To your health, loyal reader!

 

Dogfish Head Flesh and Blood IPA
Format Sampled: 12 can

Available: Purchased at the Craft Beer Cellar

ABV: 7.5%

Tasting Notes: Pours a reddish amber, with an orange tint, and raises a rocky off-white head. Aroma has candied orange, grapefruit and dank, resinous hops. The initial flavor has the warmth and spice of a  sun-ripened blood orange. Despite the cool liquid, the flavor is so evocative, I can almost feel the warm, juicy flesh of this exotic fruit, fresh from the tree. Every part of the fruit is represented, the sweet juice, the bitter pith, and the fragrant, oily peel. The experience is perfectly complimented by the citrus aromatics and subtle bitterness of a carefully selected range of hops, and a mild, understated malt foundation. This juicy, exotic treat is not to be missed. Drink one while the weather is still hot!

 

Peak Organic Crush

Format Sampled: 12 oz can

Available: Purchased at the Craft Beer Cellar

ABV: 7.0%

Tasting Notes: Pours an orange/gold with a fine head of off-white foam. Aroma is flagrantly hoppy, with piney resin, bitter orange peel, and sweet citrus blossom. The initial flavor is mouthwatering and bitter, with pine-forward hops setting the pace, and the sour, tangy flavors of the citrus following quickly behind. It's subtle, but the bloody, juicy quality of the blood orange sneaks in, adding some softness to the snappy citrus and pine bitterness. The malt structure is elegant and refined, supporting the herbal hops and bitter citrus peel without adding too much weight or body. This is an enticingly bitter, highly drinkable beer.

 

Eviltwin Brewing Sanguinem Aurantiaco

Format Sampled: 12 oz can

Available: Purchased at Bow St. Beverage Public Market House

ABV: 3.25%

Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy pale yellow, with almost no head at all. The aroma is strikingly sour and woody – almost nose-prickling. The first sip is both sour and savory, with a wholesome malty, woody quality swooping in after the initial sour blast. After the swirl of sour and savory, there's salute of citrus juice – more lemon than orange, to my tongue. After the initial lactic sourness, the citric acid flavor is almost mild in comparison, and fades away quickly, without much aftertaste. Highly chilled, this is a bracing and fascinating aperitif!

 

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Maine Lager Redux — Local Beers Are Worth Coming Back For

 

I'm a bad beer writer, loyal reader. Last week, I promised “No more lager.” I intended to keep my promise too! I thought I had enough lager for the summer and craved new flavors. That was before I chanced into a local establishment with a wide variety of Maine lagers that either slipped my mind, or recently entered the market. In seconds, I was drooling, my mind spinning, and my liver throbbing. I knew what I needed to do: taste some Maine lager and share my experiences with my loyal readership. Next week I promise we'll move on to something else, but this week, I'm tasting several delicious Maine lagers!

 

Peak Organic Fresh Cut

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 4.6%

Available: Purchased at Colucci's Hilltop Superette

Tasting Notes: Pours a fuzzy greenish-gold with a thin head of pure white foam. Aroma pops with citrus, dried hay, wet asphalt and dank, sticky herbs. Perhaps the hoppiest lager I've enjoyed this season? The initial flavor explodes with juicy hops. It's as if some grapefruit juice was dusted with citrus zest, and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice. Zing! The citrus has a nice, piquant bitterness underneath that ties it together and offsets any perceived sweetness. The bitterness fades, sliding effortlessly into a slinky smooth malt flavor. The Fresh Cut effortlessly melds the hoppy front end of a pale ale, with the mellow, refreshing simplicity of a pilsner. Delish!

 

Geary's OG Lager
Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

ABV: 4.75%

Available: Purchased at Colucci's Hilltop Superette

Tasting Notes: Pours an absolutely transparent yellow, with an ephemeral white head. Aroma has butterscotch, vinegar and honey — a peculiar blend of sweet and sour. The initial flavor is sweet and buttery, with the faintest suggestion of some European hop flavor to balance the sweetness. The body is quite thick, almost syrupy. As the beer warms, some hop bitterness tentatively pokes its head out and retreats under the sweet, concentrated malt character. This is a heavy lager, suited to those that like plenty of substance without the hoppy bitterness that typically characterizes more substantive beers. The OG would mix well with a hearty meal like baked beans, roast chicken, or a meat-heavy barbecue.

 

Sunday River Brewing Company Long Haul Lager
Format Sampled: 32 oz. can*

ABV: 4.0%

Available: Purchased at Colucci's Hilltop Superette

Tasting Notes: Pours a crystal clear yellow with a thin white head. Aroma is sweet, clean and piercing. The initial flavor has the sweet, grainy flavor of corn mash on the griddle. It's not at all cloying, and the accompanying subtle bitterness provides a nice offset. The flavor doesn't develop much, and that's just fine with me. It's a simple, uncomplicated American-style lager in a can big enough to boil a hog in. This is a beer to lie on the beach with, to drink in quantity during yard work, and to bathe in if necessary!

 

*Yes. You read correctly. This can is the size of my head.

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West Coast Lagers: Taking a Break From Maine Beers

It's been a mild ride this summer, loyal readers. We've been focusing on lagers, those even-tempered, highly quaff-able beers that are lower in alcohol and hops. We've sampled many lagers from Maine, and the Northeast in general, so it's time to broaden our horizons! This week, we're sampling lagers from the west coast. Next week, I'm taking some sorely-needed time-off. What will I sip when I return? I don't know! If you're so inclined, visit the Phoenix on Facebook, and tell me what style of beer you'd like me to sample in August!

 

Firestone Walker Pivo Hoppy Pils

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 5.3%

Availability: Purchased at Joe's Super Variety

Tasting Notes: Pours a pale, greenish gold with a short-lived white head. Aroma is fresh and crisp, with green apple and some sourness. Initial flavor is bright and brassy, the tip sharpened with a modest but punchy dose of hops. The hops have the restrained flavor of the European “Noble” variety, so this is still recognizable as pilsner. The body is light, thin and snappy — easy to drink, but certainly not routine. The malt structure is refined and understated, giving structure to the subtle hops but not contributing too much sweetness. This is an elegant, strait-ahead pilsner, with just enough hops to keep the geeks interested. I just wish it came in a larger can!

 

Sierra Nevada Summerfest

Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle

ABV: 5.0%

Availability: Purchased at Joe's Super Variety

Tasting Notes: Pours a completely clear yellow with a fine white head. Aroma is fresh, metallic and slightly skunky. The initial taste is a broad wash of mellow malt. It's faintly sweet, in a grainy, wholesome way — like fresh polenta. The hops provide a subtle, spicy bitterness, primarily perceptible at the edges of my tongue. This beer is stunning in its simplicity. Crisp, sweet malt, simple, spicy hops. That's it! No sour, no “hop hash.” Just a clean, pure, simple lager. For all their technical skill, Sierra Nevada has pulled of a masterpiece of elegant minimalism. Cheers!

 

Crux Pilz

Format Sampled: 12 oz. can

ABV: 5.2%

Availability: Purchased at Rosemont Market and Bakery

Tasting Notes: Pours a slightly opaque, brilliant yellow with an enduring pure white head. Aroma has citrus oils, apricot, and a bakery-fresh sweetness. The initial flavor jumps with unique, fruity sweetness. Continuing the initial aroma, it's reminiscent of fresh apricot essence, tempered by a bit of burnt butterscotch. The sweet flavor is slightly tempered by a mild, herbal bitterness, but the overall impression remains on the sweeter side. The creamy body and the sweetish flavor make this lager an ideal pairing for a fruit salad, or perhaps even ice cream!

 

  • Published in Drink
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