Abita Strawberry Harvest

I’m home from another day at the gym, and having another fruit beer. This time, it’s one that I’ve had before, but never reviewed: Abita Strawberry Harvest.

ABV: 4.2%

Style: Fruit/Vegetable Beer

Trivia: Abita has a new beer SOS (Save Our Shore, a charitable pils) with 75 cents/bottle going to a fund to help with the Gulf oil spill. They are also selling merchandise here where 100% of price is going to the fund. I think I may buy myself a shirt! I haven’t seen the beer yet, but when it makes its way up here, I’m getting that too!

Random: Abita is one of my favorite breweries (so far).

Upon first pour, there’s a one finger head that dissipates quickly with little to no lacing. Unlike the raspberry beers I’ve been having lately, there’s no pink or reddish color to it. It’s a slightly cloudy light golden yellow with visible, active, carbonation. On the nose is, you guessed it, strawberries, but also a little bit of wheat. On first sip, I remember how easy it is to put these away on a hot day. I was discussing today how I have a hard time drinking heavy beers in the summer, and it’s because of how easy these types of beers go down in the heat. There’s definite strawberries on the taste, but it’s not overwhelming. The carbonation is pleasant. It’s almost like the “beer taste” stands up to the strawberries. It’s not syrupy or sweet like some fruit beers. It’s what I would call “well balanced.” This is probably one of the most drinkable beers I’ve had. As I’m drinking it, I say how much I love this beer, to which the girlfriend asks what I’m drinking. I tell her Abita Strawberry Harvest. She then takes the glass for herself. I’m forced to go into the kitchen and get a bottle of Harpoon Leviathan Saison. Such is life.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Best Commercial Beers 2010 and other musings

A list was released today by Zymurgy listing the best commercial beers of the year. The list can be found here.

After reviewing the list, I have not had many (read: almost any of these beers). I think I have a new goal for the year…try these beers before the end of the year (or as many as I can find). Hmm…I sense a challenge a-brewing.

In other news, a bottle of Victory Helios exploded. No joke. Last time I was at the beer store with the other half, she picked out one bottle of beer. So, the bottle of beer that had to explode had to be hers. When I heard, I assumed that the cap popped off and beer was everywhere. I was very wrong. The bottle literally exploded with glass everywhere and dented the wall. I had never heard of this before.

I did some research and came up with this. “Occasionally, micro brewers and sometimes even larger brewers experience problems with exploding beer bottles. Many things can cause exploding bottles including the integrity of the glass bottle and secondary fermentation occurring in the bottle. To date, the cause of these recent incidents has not been determined. Non-pasteurized beers, often produced by micro brewers, are more susceptible to secondary or wild fermentation, which can be accelerated by exposure to heat and light. It’s probably not a coincidence that these incidents occurred in the summer months .”

Now, it was warm in my apartment, but not hot. Either way, I emailed Victory to let them know. I was surprised they took it so seriously. They wanted the name and location of where I bought the beer, so they could contact them. They’re also sending me a pint glass and a tee shirt. So, all-in-all, a bad situation turned into a good one. I just hope that I stop finding glass with my bare feet.

Harpoon Leviathan – Saison Royale

After a great day at the gym (did quads, hams and calves), what better way to end the day than a beer and some COD:MW2 (see a pattern). I did a full leg workout and did 45 minutes of cardio. In addition to loving beer, one of my other loves is weightlifting. Drinking and working out seem to be polar opposites, but the working out helps me keep off the pounds from the beer. So, without further ado…

ABV: 9% (BeerAdvocate says 9.5%)

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Trivia: According to wikipedia, “Leviathan is a sea monster referred to in the Tanakh and the Bible. In Demonology, Leviathan is one of the seven princes of Hell and its gatekeeper. The word leviathan has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature. In classical literature (such as the novel Moby-Dick) it refers to great whales and in Modern Hebrew, it means ‘whale.'”

Random: I hit a new PR on leg extensions, 150 lbs x 12 reps.

First of all, the head on this is crazy. I tried pouring really slowly (into a pint glass), but no matter how slow I poured, there was too much head. It ended up being 3 fingers (after I waited for some to dissipate) of fluffy head, like whipped egg whites. The head lasts pretty long and there’s a lot of lacing on the glass. The color was a slightly cloudy, yellow-orange.  On the nose, I got sour citrus and wheat. I later got some spice, coriander and cloves. When I asked the girlfriend what she got on the nose, she responded with “a lot of foam.” We later discuss the presence of apple in both the nose and the taste, and I get it after a few sips. There’s a lot going on here, to say the least. Tastewise, I get citrus and a lot of spice. The citrus is lemony, but pleasant. I also get a sweetness at the end that is kind of like honey.  There’s some other sort of flavor that I can’t really describe at the end. It tastes a little like the North Coast Pranqster. After some research, I assume that it’s the Belgian yeast that everyone is talking about that is the unknown flavor, the girlfriend disagrees and calls it “yumminess.” The last thing I get is a sort of earthiness, others have described it as “grassy.” Having not chewed on grass, I can’t attest to that, but definitely has an earthy quality. For one thing, this beer does not taste like 9%. But, I’m really digging it. There’s a decent amount of carbonation in it as well. As a fairly new craft beer drinker, I can say this is probably one of the more complex beers that I’ve had so far. I keep finding new scents and taste with every sip. But, it’s not a typical saison. I would definitely get this again. If you haven’t tried it, I would highly suggest it.

He’s not drunk…just sleepy.

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0

Harpoon UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen

After a long hot day at work and the gym, I decide to unwind with a nice bottle of Harpoon UFO Raspberry Hefeweizen and Call of Duty. I’ve had this before, and remembered liking it, although it’s been awhile. Let me get to writing before I’m completely sucked into my PS3.

ABV: 4.8%

Style: According to the bottle, it’s a hefeweizen. According to BeerAdvocate, it’s a fruit/vegetable beer.

Trivia: Harpoon has a plan in place of sustainable practices to help the environment including treating brewery wastewater onsite, recapturing condensate from kettle to save on heating hot water, selling spent grain to farms for animal feed and much more (more info can be found here). Very cool. This makes me like Harpoon even more.

Random: It seems as if a lot of people compare this with Abita Purple Haze (one of my all time favorite brews). Given a choice, I would still go with the Purple Haze, but this is still very good.

The first surprise is that it pours with more head than the other hefeweizens. I’ve had this before and usually drink it out of the bottle, so it’s something I haven’t noticed before. The head dissipates relatively quick with no lacing. It’s a nice cloudy reddish-orange color with visible carbonation. The scent is very strong raspberries, and I can’t get much else that I would expect in a hefeweizen. It’s almost overpowering. The mouthfeel is very carbonated, almost seltzer-y. The first sip really gets you with a lot of raspberry up front. I love raspberry, so it’s not an issue, but for those who don’t, it could be. It’s definitely a bit tart, but pleasant. As I continue drinking it, I think that it’s almost like a lighter lambic, not a hefeweizen. All I’m getting is raspberry, without any sort of coriander or clove. I guess I can see a little bit of wheat, but not much. So, I agree with BeerAdvocate calling it a fruit/vegetable beer, because the focus is definitely on the fruit. The finish is a little on the bitter side as well, but not abrasive. The taste doesn’t really change with time. If you’re looking for a fruit beer on a hot summer day, this is a good choice. I would say to serve it very cold and enjoy. But, if you’re not a fruit person, definitely NOT for you.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

North Coast Pranqster

This is the second beer of the night, North Coast Pranqster. Now, before anyone says anything, I don’t have a tulip glass. In retrospect, I’d probably have been better off pouring into a wine glass. So, I’m actually going to have two (saying I bought a 4 pack), pour the second into a wine glass and see if there is a difference.

ABV: 7.6%

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Trivia: Belgian strong ales were originally developed by the Moortgat brewery after WWII as a response to the growing popularity of Pilsner beers.

Random: I really need a tulip glass. I think it may be an early birthday gift to myself.

I’ve never (to my knowledge) had a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. So, I didn’t really know what to expect. Poured with less than one finger of head that dissipated even quicker than the Flying Dog. It was a nice golden color, not very cloudy, with visible active carbonation. The nose was less fruity than I expected and couldn’t really put my finger on it (I looked it up on the North Coast website and they say the nose is floral, and I could definitely believe that).  The finish is spicy (the other half chimes in with, ‘not hot, just spicy’). There is also some fruit notes, which still make it very crisp, but it has a lot more body than a hefeweizen or a saison. It goes down a lot easier than the 7.6%, the only time I even consider it is on the finish. As far as mouthfeel, it’s definitely carbonated and the more I’m drinking it, the more spiciness I get on the finish. All in all, it’s a solid beer with some complexities. I think I may have to have another to get all the different flavors.

Note: Just poured into a balloon red wine glass…and you do get a lot more on the nose. I completely forgot that I had these glasses, so these will do until I get a tulip glass.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Flying Dog In Heat Wheat

Well, it’s Sunday, and what’s better than watching baseball? Well, watching baseball and drinking beer, of course. Tonight, I’m going to be reviewing a few lighter beers, given the weather here (about 90 degrees). First one up is Flying Dog In Heat Wheat.

ABV: 4.7%

Style: Hefeweizen

Trivia: This won the 2003 Silver Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for a German Style Hefeweizen. It also won the 2006 Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival.

Random: I love Hefeweizens, especially in the summer. They’re pretty much my “go-to” beer. I haven’t met one that I didn’t like.

On the nose, there’s a lot of citrus. I get more lemon than anything else. There was barely a one finger head that dissipated very quickly. The usual cloudiness of a hefeweizen is present. It looks almost exactly like a Blue Moon. There’s also some coriander going on. I don’t really get the banana that is described on the website, until the aftertaste. The website also says clove should be mixed in. I can see that, although it’s more subtle than the coriander. Tastewise, it’s very nice. Still get the citrus taste, which makes it very crisp. A lot of carbonation on the mouthfeel, but pleasant and refreshing. It’s 4.7%, which means that I could easily put a lot of these away. This is a perfect summer beer. Absolutely awesome. On another note, on the bottle, it says not to put a lemon or orange in it. It definitely has enough flavor by itself. My girlfriend also expressed her pleasure with the beer, simply stating, “I like it.” On a final note, they also have a really informative website with beer information sheets and a tasting notes sheet you can print. Pretty cool.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Sly Fox Chester County Bitter

This was the other beer that I had at Brick House. It’s just listed on the menu as a “cask beer.” But, after some investigation (read: asking the waitress), I found out it was Sly Fox Chester County Bitter. I had tried Sly Fox before (not this particular type) during Philadelphia beer week and really liked their stuff, so I was excited to try this. I couldn’t get any decent pictures of the brew due to the low lighting in the restaurant.

ABV: 4.5%

Style: English Bitter

Trivia: Sly Fox runs a Bock fest and goat race annually in May.

Random: I don’t think that I’ve ever had an English Bitter, nor seen one. I was pretty excited to try it.

I received my Sly Fox Chester County Bitter served in a pint glass. The lighting was pretty poor, but from what I could see, this was a copper color that poured with two fingers of head. The head stayed throughout drinking it with some lacing on the pint glass. It had an earthy smell to it, and on first taste was definitely bitter, but pleasant. I put the ABV higher than it was (thought it would be about a 7). I got some hops on the taste. Mouthfeel was smooth. A decent brew, but nothing I’d rush back to. I’d like to try some traditional beers of that style before I come back to this.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Spaten Optimator

On Friday night, I went out to Brick House Tavern and Tap. It’s a chain restaurant that’s billed as a mancave. It has a bunch of flat screen televisions, decent food and a pretty good beer list (and the girls are dressed in daisy dukes and low-cut shirts). Not a bad place to go. If you’re in or around Piscataway, I’d recommend it. I got to try two beers (other review will be in next post), Spaten Optimator and Sly Fox Chester County Bitter. Once I ordered this, the waitress sat down with us and asked what it was. She said I was the second one today to order it, and so I spent a few minutes explaining that I try to order a new beer wherever I go. In turn, she was telling us how they keep going through Abita Purple Haze like crazy. They finally got it on tap that morning and expected it to kick by the next day (my girlfriend was happy as Purple Haze on tap is one of her favorites).

ABV: 7.2%

Style: Doppelbock

Trivia: Spaten means “spade” in German. The logo of Spaten is a malt shovel.

Random: I always find the history of the bottles so interesting. I didn’t even notice the shovel until I really started looking at the pictures today. There’s so much history, especially in German beers.

Billed as the classic German dark beer, I received the beer in a green bottle, which always seems to remind me of beers that my Dad drank in the 80s. But, anyways, the beer poured a beautiful brown, almost mahogany color. The head was a good two fingers, off-white in color. The beer had some caramel notes on the scent as well as malt. Other people have said some hints of metal came through, but I didn’t get any of that. On first taste, I got a lot of malt and hints of toffee. My girlfriend, who tried it as well, got the flavor of molasses. The mouthfeel was nice and not overly thick with moderate carbonation. I also got a bit of bitterness on the aftertaste. All in all, it was pleasant to drink, but I couldn’t drink more than two, due to the higher ABV.  If you’ve never had it, definitely try it. But, not an everyday beer for me.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Allagash White

ABV: 5.20%

Style: Witbier

Trivia: Until 1900, about 75% of beer produced in Belgium was witbier.

Random: Allagash is brewed in Portland…every time I think of Portland, I think of the Family Guy episode where Joe gets new friends and replaced Cleveland with Portland.

This is Allagash’s interpretation of a Belgian wheat beer, probably one of my favorite styles of beer, especially in the summer. Poured nicely with a little head (less than one finger). The picture was taken about 1 minute after pouring. Appearance is cloudy, but pleasant yellow. It looks like what I’d expect from a wheat beer. I got a lot of lemon and coriander when I first smelled it. On first sip, you definitely get the coriander. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s not overly simple either. It’s a nicely balanced beer. I’m also getting a little bit of clove, and the more that I drink it and the citrus flavors definitely come out. It’s got a nice carbonation to it and I could see easily putting away a bunch of these while sitting on a patio on a summer night. It’s mild enough to be a nice introductory witbier for someone whose afraid of straying away from Blue Moon. I’d be interested to try it on draft and see if there’s a significant difference. Definitely will be having this again.

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0