Nøgne Ø Underlig Jul

Today was a crazy day for me at work. I got a lot of stuff done, but I felt like I just didn’t stop. Then when I got home, I started doing things on my to-do list. After a few hours, I was just beat. Add to that, we’re supposed to get more snow. I HATE SNOW! I picked up this brew on the sale shelf at Joe Canal’s in Lawrenceville, which is not nearly as nice as the one in Woodbridge, but hey, I’m always up for trying new beer stores.

ABV: 6.5%

Style: Herbed/Spiced Beer

Trivia: According to wikipedia, “Nøgne Ø was founded late in 2002 by Gunnar Wiig and Kjetil Jikiun. The brewery name, Nøgne Ø, is old Danish for ‘Naked Isle.’ It was selected from a well-known 19th century Norwegian poem called Terje Vigen by Henrik Ibsen, who worked for a time as an apprentice pharmacist in Grimstad.”

Random: I’ve never had a Nøgne Ø brew before. I’ve always been intrigued by their bottles, but had a hard time finding them. It seems like now, they’re popping up everywhere. I wonder if they’ve increased the amount of brews they export to NJ.

This brew poured with a two finger thick tan head that lingers like crazy. It left lots of lacing on the glass. The body was a cloudy dark brown. Due to the color, I couldn’t see any visible carbonation. The nose was interesting. I got a lot of spice like nutmeg, cinnamon, pine and maybe even juniper? This is not like any type of beer that I’m used to. The taste was almost medicinal. My sister said that it tasted like cleaning fluid or Pine Sol. I also got pine, but not really hoppy, like licking a Christmas tree. I also got a lot of spice with moderate carbonation. I can’t really figure out if I like this beer or not. This is definitely an odd brew. I also got a little malt on the end. Although I’m glad I tried it, I wouldn’t rush back to have it again.

Untappd Rating: 1.0/5.0

Great Divide Old Ruffian Barley Wine

This was a brew that I was really looking forward to trying. I’m really starting to enjoy the barleywine style and I’m all about Great Divide brews. It’s also barleywine weather, which tends to help. So, without further ado…

ABV: 10.2%

Style: American Barleywine

Trivia: According to wikipedia, ‘Ruffian’ is not only the name of a great beer, but also a famous racehorse, “Ruffian (April 17, 1972 – July 7, 1975) was an American champion thoroughbred racehorse, considered to be among the greatest U.S. racehorses of all time. Her story was told in 2007 film Ruffian. Ruffian’s breakdown and death led to a public outcry for more humane treatment of racehorses. As it is natural for horses to thrash and kick when coming out of anesthesia, a ‘recovery pool’was developed so that they awake suspended in warm water and don’t re-injure themselves.”

Random: As usual, I didn’t take a picture of my weekend brew, so a stock photo will have to do.

This brew poured with a two finger off white head with a reddish-brown body. The head took awhile to dissipate and left a lot of lacing on the glass. The body was cloudy with moderate carbonation, which was way more than I expected. The nose had a definite hop profile to it and it reminded me a bit of a double IPA. I also got a bit of caramel sweetness and fruit. On the taste, the hops are definitely preset with the same caramel sweetness and some brown sugar. This reminds me a lot of Dogfish Head’s Olde School. The brew was a touch syrupy, but pleasant. The 10.2% alcohol was crazy well hidden. This could be reaaaallly dangerous. The finish was bitter from the hops and lingered. Overall, all the flavors worked really well together, like a tasty, beery symphony. I would definitely have this again. Great brew!

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Jolly Pumpkin Noel De Calabaza

I’m not a fan of snow, at all. We ended up getting about 14 to 16 inches here, and it was the wet snow that is an absolutely pain in the ass to shovel. Add to this, the driveway is about 100 feet. Luckily, one of the neighborhood kids offered to snowblow the entire thing for $50. Best money I think I ever spent. But, I think the whole thing is that I just hate being stuck in the house. I don’t mind being home persay, it’s just the idea that I can’t go anywhere. So, given the weather, I’m popping open the Jolly Pumpkin bomber that I picked up.

ABV: 9%

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Trivia: According to the Jolly Pumpkin website, this brew should have the following flavors: “Deep mahogany and malty, layered hops, figs, raisins, sugar plums, cashews betwixt rum laden truffles.”

Random: When I made my last beer store run, I found few Jolly Pumpkin beers hiding in a shelf. I’ve always heard good things about them, but really haven’t seen them around (especially in a beer store) in New Jersey. When I saw this brew, I had to grab it.

I poured the brew into my Duvel tulip glass and it presented with about two fingers of slightly off white fluffy head. It dissipated in about two minutes leaving some mild lacing on the glass. The body of the brew was a dark brown and I couldn’t see through it, so no visible carbonation. I took a sniff and damn, this nose was complex. I got definite spice with some booze and dark fruits. There was also a hint of funk and some sweetness. I didn’t get much of the oak on the nose. On the taste, wow, definitely not what I was expecting. The nose made me think I was getting a sweet beer and since I really didn’t read a lot about it prior to tasting it, it really comes from left field. I got a lot of sourness and a hint of funk with some of the spice. I really don’t find any of the oak that it advertises on the label. This is not what I expect from a Christmas brew, but it’s really enjoyable. The finish is a bit of spice and booze. The brew itself is pretty thin with mild carbonation. The alcohol isn’t all that noticeable. This was pretty enjoyable. I would look for this again next winter!

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Flying Dog Horn Dog Barley Wine Style Ale

I hate the snow. There is not one thing I like about snow. I love the cold, but the snow…not so much. New Jersey is now having its sixth storm of the season. Seriously? This is completely and totally unnecessary. I shoveled the entire driveway when I got home and I just went out and it doesn’t even look like I shoveled. Well, at least I have a brew to get me through.

ABV: 10.5%

Style: English Barleywine

Trivia: According to BeerAdvocate, “Despite its name, a Barleywine (or Barley Wine) is very much a beer, albeit a very strong and often intense beer! In fact, it’s one of the strongest of the beer styles. Lively and fruity, sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet, but always alcoholic. A brew of this strength and complexity can be a challenge to the palate. Expect anything from an amber to dark brown colored beer, with aromas ranging from intense fruits to intense hops. Body is typically thick, alcohol will definitely be perceived, and flavors can range from dominant fruits to palate smacking, resiny hops. English varieties are quite different from the American efforts, what sets them apart is usually the American versions are insanely hopped to make for a more bitter and hop flavored brew, typically using American high alpha oil hops. English version tend to be more rounded and balanced between malt and hops, with a slightly lower alcohol content, though this is not always the case. Most Barleywines can be cellared for years and typically age like wine.”

Random: I’ve never had an English Barleywine before. I’m interested in seeing the differences between an American and an English Barleywine.

This brew poured witha one finger pure white head that lingered for awhile, but left no significant lacing. The body of the brew was a cloudy mahogany color with mild carbonation.  I let the brew warm up for about 15 minutes since it was ice-cold from being in the beer fridge. On the nose, I got a lot of malt, some definite fruit notes (I’m thinking cherries) and some booze. On taste, I got some mild carbonation and a huge amount of malty goodness. I also got some fruit, like raisins. What I’m definitely surprised about is the lack of a significant alcohol burn. It should be really apparent, but it’s pretty subtle. Again, very mild carbonation and the finish lingered with malt. This is one of the best barleywines I’ve had, although I haven’t had enough to distinguish an American one from an English one. I would definitely have this again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Full Sail Wassail

After the Abita Christmas Ale, I’m hoping for another brew that impresses me a little more. I’m also trying to get through some of the winter brews I have before the spring thaw. This is also my first brew from Full Sail and I’m a big fan of the bottle. On the cap, it says naughty or nice and it has some other subtle aspects of wit on the label. Very cool. I’m all about the little details.

ABV: 7%

Style: Winter Warmer

Trivia: According to the Full Sail website, “Few unmistakable signs tell us when winter has arrived here in Hood River. The waterfalls in the Gorge start kicking out the jams. The snow report for the backcountry regains its hold over us. And the Wassail starts flowing once again. We’ve brewed Wassail every holiday season since 1988, and it’s now as much a part of the festivities as sharing a roaring fire with our closest family and friends. A deep mahogany color, Wassail is brewed with four different malts and a blend of Pacific Northwest hops, giving it a malty full body and a pleasantly hoppy finish that appeals to both hop and malt lovers alike. In other words, a Christmas miracle.”

Random: These guys also make the Session beers that I’ve started to see pop up around some beers stores.

This brew poured with a half finger of white head that dissipated almost instantly and left no lacing on the glass. The body of the beer was a dark, cloudy mahogany brown. On the nose, I got lots of happy winter smells: spice, caramel malty sweetness, nuttiness. This seems more like my style for a winter brew. On the taste, the first thing that comes out is some spices (cinnamon especially) and sweet caramel malt. The mild carbonation becomes apparent with a hint of bitterness at the end. This lingered on the tongue for a while. The body was really complementary to the flavors. I would put this as a medium bodied brew. The alcohol doesn’t really make an appearance on the brew and I could easily put a few away. I would definitely have this brew again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Abita Christmas Ale

I’ve been falling behind on my beer reviews. I hate when this happens. Tonight’s review is from one of the breweries that really got me into craft beers. I used to love Purple Haze and the Strawberry Harvest beer wasn’t bad either. I just haven’t picked any other varieties lately because I’ve gotten into so many other breweries. So, I decided to pick up their annual Christmas brew during my latest trip to the beer store.

ABV: 5.5%

Style: American Brown Ale

Trivia: According to the Abita website, “Christmas is coming early this week for some Louisiana fishermen.  More than 250 fishermen will receive a check from the Friends of the Fishermen Fund. The fund was created in July and has raised more than $127,000 for Louisiana Fishermen.  For the initial distribution, 257 fishermen will each receive $500.  Corporate and Individual donors were a part of this outpouring of support for Louisiana fishermen following the Gulf Oil Spill.  Friends of Louisiana fishermen include, Abita Beer; Rouses Markets and their customers; Hurricane Harley Davidson; Casa Argentina Social Club of New Orleans;  Sammy Kershaw’s Protect Our Coastline, New Orleans restaurants; artist Michael Israel; South Florida Foodies, SUGARCANE raw bar grill; the Miami International Wine Fair; and individual donors.”

Random: I really like the shape of Abita’s bottles. I prefer short, squat bottles to longnecks.

This brew poured with a one finger off white head that dissipated quickly, leaving no lacing to speak of on the glass. The body is a cloudy chestnut-brown color. On the nose, I got a lot of nuttiness and maltiness going on. It also had another scent, almost an unpleasant sweetness. Hmm, this is odd. On the taste, it’s not what I expected at all. It has some caramel malt and nuttiness, but it’s very watery. Medium carbonation also comes through on the brew. This brew was definitely underflavored, at least for me. The finish had nothing on it. I’m usually a big fan of Abita brews, but this is just not a pleasant brew for me. It’s also not what I would expect out of a Christmas beer. Definitely would not have this one again.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Allagash Curieux

This is a beer that I’ve been searching out for a long time. I used to see it all the time but then when I finally wanted to buy it, I couldn’t find it anywhere. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this brew and I’m all about aging in bourbon barrels.

ABV: 11%

Style: Tripel

Trivia: According to wiktionary, “curieux” translates to “curious, inquisitive, agog; possessing curiosity,unusual, interesting, quaint; inducing curiosity”

Random: I’ve been looking for this beer for a while. I finally found it when I was Christmas shopping for my father and my girlfriend at Joe Canal’s in Woodbridge. I decided that I should buy myself a Christmas gift and brought the bomber home with me.

The label on the brew said that this was from the October 2010 batch and 750 cases were bottled. The brew poured with a one finger white head into my Rogue chalice. Every time I use these glasses, I think that are darn heavy. Anyways, the head dissipated and didn’t leave any lacing on the glass. The color is a light yellow with a hint of orange and presents with moderate carbonation. The body is clear. On the nose, I got a lot of bready and yeasty notes. Then, I get some golden fruit and sugars. I don’t smell much of the oak that I thought I would from being aged in bourbon barrels. On the taste, the first thing I say is, “Damn, this is a good beer.” There is a lot going on with this. There is a definite wood/vanilla characteristic, then the fruit, then some breadiness and spices. The alcohol, which is hefty at 11%, really only makes itself known on the finish, when it really warms the throat. There is light carbonation on this brew, which is perfect. The brew itself is lighter than I thought and not really syrupy. I love this brew. I almost wish I waited to try it when I saw Chris next because it’s so good. Then, I remember the DFH Worldwide Stout she had without me and I don’t feel so bad.

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0

Stone/Ballast Point/Kelsey McNair San Diego County Session Ale

I pulled this bad boy out to watch the Jets game. After watching the first quarter, I’m thinking that I may need to switch to something stronger. I’m a diehard Eagles fan, but I like the Jets as well since my buddy Joe takes me to a lot of games.

ABV: 4.2%

Style: American Pale Ale

Trivia: According to the Stone website, this was the idea behind their collaboration beers: “Sure, we’re a bunch of Arrogant Bastards, but we humbly admit that we were inspired to start brewing by other fantastic breweries and homebrewers. There are a lot of fellow craft brewers who we respect and admire, and who we’ve wanted to collaborate with. So why just dream about it? Starting in 2008, we released a new series of collaboration beers. The goal was to get three brewers from three different breweries to put their heads together and have some fun with no regard for boundaries. No restrictions on fitting a beer into a lineup, using familiar ingredients, conforming to preconceived beer styles, using tested procedures in the brewing process or even affordability. Each of these beers is the result of three brewers coming together and doing what they love. Therefore, many of our collaborations include ridiculous amounts of decadent ingredients without regard for shelf price. And because our collaborations are usually only brewed once, they can be rather difficult to find, and once they run out—they run out. Consider yourself warned.”

Random: I loved their last collaboration, Saison DuBuff. So, when I saw this on the shelf, I had to pick it up.

This brew poured with a half finger of pure white head that dissipated quickly leaving very little lacing. The body of the beer teemed with carbonation and is a hazy orange color. On the nose, there was definitely hoppiness and some citrus notes (specifically grapefruit). This smells more like an IPA to me than a pale ale. On the taste, definitely a lot of carbonation came through. It followed with lots of hops and citrus flavors, then a hint of malt and finishes with the same citrusy hops. I’m surprised that the beer is so low in ABV. Very crisp and satisfying. I would definitely have this again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Terrapin Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout

It was a long day at work today. I’m still not used to my new schedule yet, so I’m giving myself until next Monday before I really start hitting the gym. I’ve been really tired too, for no apparent reason. Again, I think due to the schedule change. I just can’t wait to get back into the swing of things. Tonight’s selection is one that I’ve been looking forward to for a while.

ABV: 6%

Style: Milk/Sweet Stout

Trivia: According to the Terrapin website, “Our brand new seasonal selection! The Terrapin ‘Moo-Hoo’ Chocolate Milk Stout proudly uses cocoa nibs and shells from Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Company to give this beer its great taste! Uses the following HOPS: Nugget, Willamette MALT: 2 Row Pale, Flaked Oat, Chocolate, Crystal 85, Carafa III Special, Roasted Barley OTHER: Cocoa Nibs, Cocoa Shells & Lactose”

Random: This is my absolute favorite label on a beer. There is just something about a turtle in a cow suit that gets me.

This brew poured with a one finger tan head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The body is a very dark brown, almost black with no visible carbonation. On the nose, I got a lot of coffee notes and some chocolate with a hint of sweetness. Although, I have to say, it was more muted than I expected. I let it warm up for a few more minutes before tasting to see if there was a difference. The coffee notes become more apparent after warming. On the taste, I got a lot of carbonation with a lot of coffee tastes that follow-up. The chocolate is very muted on the taste. I then got a bit of sweetness, probably from the lactose added in a milk stout. The finish is sweet with the coffee notes taking a back seat. I really thought that there would be more coffee to this brew. But, I’m definitely not complaining. This is a pretty thin stout and the carbonation lightens it up. The sweetness also helps with this. My sister said that this brew tastes like a cup of coffee without sugar or milk. She also said that she didn’t hate it, which I’m gathering is progress from Corona Light. I definitely like this beer. It’s not really what I expected, but I definitely enjoy it. I would have this again in a second.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre

Today was not a fun day. Although it was my last “first” day of school, Rutgers decided not to salt or shovel at all. I guess I’m lucky I didn’t bust my ass. I had to wait about an hour total to get from one campus to another just to walk in and find out class was cancelled. I thought this was what email was for. Anyways, onto the brew.

ABV: 8%

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Trivia: According to the DFH website, “A deep, mahogany Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins, and Belgian-style yeast. We began brewing this one at our brewpub in 1996 (we began packaging and selling it sometime in 1998) as the answer to the question, ‘What beer should I enjoy with a wood-grilled steak?’ Raison D’Etre fits the bill, tasty and as complex as a fine, red wine.”

Random: Raison d’etre translates to “reason to be.” I guess that my sister’s high school French classes finally paid off.

This brew poured with a one finger white head that quickly dissipated and left a very minor line of white on the body of the beer with no lacing. The body was a cloudy burnt orange with some very subtle visible carbonation. On the nose, I got some prunes, definite booze and some caramel malt with a hint of roastiness at the end. On the taste, I got a definite burn from the booze. After I let it warm up, I got some raisins, which is the dominant flavor for me. I also got a definite malt characteristic. I then got some toffee notes and a hint of earthiness that lead into the finish. The final flavor I got was nuttiness. This is definitely a complex brew. There is only mild carbonation on this brew and it’s almost silky on the tongue. The finish lingers with nuttiness and booze. This was definitely an interesting brew that I enjoyed, although I couldn’t have it every day. Another great offering from DFH.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0