Climax India Pale Ale

Katie bought me this one awhile back. Before I go on, I have to point out…who the hell names a brewery Climax? Seriously? How do you not laugh constantly like a 12-year-old boy. “What are you having?” “Give me a Climax please.” “Excuse me?!?” And I’m giggling now because apparently I am akin to a 12-year-old boy. Now, onto the beer.

ABV: 6%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “This American-style, hop-driven beer starts with a citrus flavor, followed by two layers of caramel, and finishes on a hoppy note.”

Random: I used to work a town over from this brewery…never had a huge desire to visit. I’m not a huge fan of their labels either. They’re a bit on the dated side.

This one poured with almost no head. What was there was pure white and dissipated instantly, leaving no lacing behind. The body was a very cloudy dark orange color. Due to the cloudiness, there was no carbonation visible. The nose was grapefruit, lemon and the off putting astringency. The beer tasted like old grapefruit with a hint of biscuit. Does that sound pleasant? Well…it wasn’t for me. The beer was under carbonated. Perhaps it was a bit past it’s prime? The thickness was medium. The finish was quick with some bready malt. Overall, this brew does nothing for me. It’s got some flavor and it’s wet. Kate bought me a six-pack of this and it took awhile for me to get through it. I wouldn’t have this again, unless you’re from Jersey and want to drink a Jersey beer.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Cambridge Brewing Company Heather Ale

As usual, I’m backlogged on reviews. But, I’ve actually broken down and brought my computer to Kate’s. Since I’m technically going back and forth between two places, I was leaving the computer at my sister’s. But, I end up in Fair Haven more than Manalapan, so I moved the computer. I’m hoping that this leads to more regular updates, especially since Kate busts me that I never update.

ABV: 5%

Style: Scottish Gruit / Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “From out of the darkness of pre-recorded history, Heather Ale is an altogether unique brew. Originally crafted by the inhabitants of coastal Northern Europe, Scandinavia, and the Northern British Isles, fresh heather flowers and other herbs were used to balance and flavor the rustic yet sweet toasted character of the malted barley. Its brewing tradition existed long before the advent of hopped beers, and has continued, sporadically, in small rural communities for millennia. Brewed with imported Scottish floor-malted barley, fresh hand-harvested heather flowers were added to the kettle during the boil along with sweet gale and lavender, with a further addition of fresh heather and yarrow to the conditioning tanks. Each year the CBC brewstaff handpicks the fresh herbs for this beer from a field along the Atlantic Coast, and adds them into the brewkettle the very next day. The aroma and flavor are a surprising jog of ancient memory, with commingling subtle notes of heather and honey and an obscure wildflower spiciness complemented by the interplay of mild but assertive, toasty-sweet malt. Medium bodied, light amber-gold in color, with a dry finish that hints at tartness. Special thanks to our friends for their support with this year’s heather harvest. Slainte!”

Random: This is another one from the MA stash. Yes, I’m still whittling that down…one of the benefits of being in 2 different places.

This one poured with a one finger, pure white head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on my glass. It did leave a slight crown on top of the body that hung around forever. The body was a clear, dark amber color with lots of seltzery carbonation visible throughout. The nose was dominated by this sweet floral smell that I could only imagine were heather flowers. The taste was like liquified potpourri sachet. It reminded me of very floral soap. It also reminded me of lavender. Although I found it to be interesting, I couldn’t get anything else from the beer except it’s odd floral characteristic. Maybe at the end I got some malt? The body was pretty thick with lots of carbonation. The finish was long and floral. I’m glad I tried this one, but I won’t be searching this one out again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Thirsty Dog Hoppus Maximus

I love football Sundays. My sister walked in on the middle of the Eagles game with a bunch of food from the local Italian stores. We feasted on chicken parm stromboli for lunch. It was divine. It didn’t make the Eagles play any better. This was the brew I tasted during the game.

ABV: 5%

Style: American Amber/Red Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “This beer’s name will not disappoint! The complex character of American hops and amber colored caramel malts make this beer very crisp and refreshing. Silver Medal winner at the 2001 Great American Beer Festival.”

Random: I’m looking forward to watching the Ravens/Steelers game tonight.

First of all, the label on this brew is just not to my liking. I’m not a fan of throwing a picture of a GABF medal as one of the central images on the label. Anyways, the head was two fingers thick and dissipated slowly, yet left no lacing. It was slightly off white in color. The body was a clear, burnt orange color with heavy carbonation visible throughout. The nose was incredibly hoppy with lots of grapefruit shining through and grapefruit zest along for the ride. The taste was exactly the same as the nose: hoppy and citrusy. It had some grass as well. At the end of the sip, some malt came through, but make no mistake, this brew is hop dominant. The finish was lengthy with the same hops that were in the nose and taste. The body was on the heavier side with heavier carbonation. This is a great brew for the hop head: easy drinking and low booze, but big on flavor. I would definitely have this one again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Cigar City 110K + OT Batch #5

While I was at the Cigar City Tasting Room, which by the way, had tv screens that had a camera feed inside the brewery, I picked up this bomber. I was shocked that I only picked up one, but Kate was worried about bringing it home. Since she was so worried, I popped it open the following day before we flew out.

ABV: 11%

Style: American Double/Imperial IPA

Trivia: According to beerpulse.com, “Just bottled: 110K+OT Batch #5! This guy clocks in around 11% ABV and was brewed with bitter curacao peel. The result is an incredibly hoppy citrusy bomb, but warming in the finish. Double IPA? Hoppy barley wine? Whatever it is, it’s pretty awesome. Bottles and draft will be completely a tasting room exclusive, on sale in the coming days!”

Random: I think the Eagles need to draft a QB next year. They’re just terrible. It’s hard to even watch.

I didn’t use my new Cigar City snifter since it was already packed. This one poured with a two finger, thick, cream colored head. It dissipated slowly and left lots of lacing on the glass. The body was a cloudy brown-orange color with no visible carbonation due to the cloudiness. The nose was big with booze, orange and pineapple. It definitely had a tropical fruit feel, maybe from the curacao peel. The taste was different from the nose. I got a tart note, followed by huge citrus zest and buttery caramel. The booze was definitely present on this one. I could easily see why they argue that this could be considered a barleywine/IPA. The booze is in your face. The body was heavy (like a barleywine) with medium carbonation. Generally speaking, the body was borderline syrupy. The finish was long and hot. I really enjoyed this one, but it may improve with age.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Abita SOS (Save Our Shore)

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I usually record my review notes in one of three ways. Either I put it in the notes of my iphone, write it manually in my beer notebook or put it directly into wordpress. For this one, I wrote it manually. I left my beer notebook on the table and my five year old managed to draw all over the review notes. So, deciphering this one was a lot of fun.

ABV: 7%

Style: German Pilsener

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Abita Beer established ‘SOS – A Charitable Fund’ in 2010 to assist with rescue and restoration following the the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The centerpiece of the fundraising effort is a charitable beer created by Abita called SOS – A Charitable Pilsner. SOS is a message in a bottle…a distress signal for the troubled Gulf Coast. For every bottle sold Abita will donate 75¢ to the rescue and restoration of the Gulf Coast. In addition, SOS retail merchandise (hat, tee shirt and more) donates 100% of the net proceeds to the SOS Fund. How Abita is helping ‘Save Our Shore’ Over $350,000 has been raised by SOS. Donations from the fund have fed fishermen and their families, restored critical wetland habitats and made Christmas a little brighter for struggling families. In 2012, our focus turns to addressing the greatest threat facing the future of our state: coastal land loss. Abita has formed a partnership with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), our state’s longest-standing organization dedicated to coastal restoration. CRCL is a non-profit citizen’s organization with 24 years of experience leading efforts to restore coastal Louisiana. Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate. These wetlands provide habitat for hundreds of species of animals, protect us from devastating storms and serve as a cultural base for more than 2 million people who call Louisiana’s coast home. We are losing our wetlands at the rate of one football field of land every hour. 80% of the entire nation’s coastal land loss takes place right here in our state.”

Random: I really dislike Florida.

This brew poured with a huge, two finger, pure white head that dissipated very slowly and left some lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, light yellow color with heavy carbonation visible. The nose was very grainy with some grass. Usually I get some metallic notes with this style, but not in this one. The taste had a hint of sour apple and lemon with a touch of peppercorns. I also got some light bitterness at the end coupled with biscuit. The body was towards the thicker side with high carbonation. The booze was relatively well hidden as well. I found it generally to be non offensive and on the soft side, but I’m generally not a fan of the style. The finish was quick and left behind some biscuit on the tongue. I would have this again, but it’s not my favorite of the style. What I was a huge fan of is that this is a charitable beer and given all that’s happened in New Jersey lately, it seemed very appropriate to pop this one open.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Cigar City Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Stout

This was the last brew that I had at the Tasting Room and possibly the one I was most excited about. I’ve heard a lot about this brew and I am not one to refuse a good Imperial Stout.

ABV: 11%

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Trivia: According to wikipedia.com, “Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, was a Soviet career officer in the Red Army who, in the course of World War II, played a pivotal role in leading the Red Army drive through much of Eastern Europe to liberate the Soviet Union from the occupation of the Axis Powers and to conquer other nations, and ultimately, to conquer the capital of Germany itself, Berlin. He is the most decorated general officer in the history of the Soviet Union and Russia. Amongst many notable generals in the World War II, G. K. Zhukov was placed at the top in the respect of number and scale of victories and his talent in operational and strategic command was recognized by many people. Many famous military leaders in the world such as Bernard Law Montgomery, Dwight David Eisenhower and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny had already recognized Zhukov’s great contributions in many important victories in the Second World War. His combat achievements became valuable heritages in humanity’s military knowledge, exerted great influence on both the Soviet and the whole world’s military theory.”

Random: After this we ended up at the International Mall. Although we didn’t get to go in, it was a nice looking mall.

This brew poured with a half a finger of dark brown head on top of a deep, black body. The head dissipated very slowly and left lots of lacing on the glass. The nose was just divine. I got coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malts and vanilla. The taste was straight out amazeballs. I got a lot of dark chocolate with vanilla. The coffee was a bit muted in the taste. I got some bitterness as well. The mouthfeel was incredibly velvety with light carbonation. I just kept telling Katie how awesome this brew was. The finish was long with coffee. The booze was completed hidden. This would be the perfect beer to have outside a firepit with a cigar. Grab this now.

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0

Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale – Vanilla

This was the next brew that I had at the Tasting Room. I ordered this one for Kate since the service was taking so long. I was between this and the regular version, but I figured I could try the regular version at some point in the future. They also had a winter warmer that looked good, but I thought I should try to have something lower in ABV.

ABV: 5.5%

Style: English Brown Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Maduro is a Northern English-style brown ale with some American affectations. Maduro is higher in alcohol than the common English brown ale and features flaked oats in the malt bill which imparts a silky body and works to mesh the roasted, toasted and chocolate components together in Maduro’s complex malt profile. The end result is a remarkably full-flavored yet approachable and sessionable brown ale that pairs well with mild to medium cigars.”

Random: Cigar City had a really cool looking skateboard mounted over the bar. If only I still skateboarded…

This baby poured with a half a finger of off white head that dissipated at a moderate pace and left some lacing on the glass. The body was a dark brown color and I couldn’t see any carbonation due to the color. The nose was straight out awesome. I got lots of vanilla coupled with some roasted malts. I also got a tinge of nuttiness. The taste was just as good. I got huge notes of vanilla coupled with hazelnut. You really can’t get better than that. Everything was really balanced and worked off each other The body was on the thicker side with light carbonation. The finish was on the lengthy side with a nutty finish. This could be one of my top five brown ales that I’ve had. It was crazy flavorful and easy drinking and balanced. Get this now.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Cigar City Dry Hopped American Summer

This was the second brew that I ordered. I really only ordered it because it said that it was a limited release. When I asked the bartender how it was, he only said that it was better than the regular version. Well, that’s not saying much. I decided to try it anyways.

ABV: 4.8%

Style: American Pale Ale

Trivia: This one is available as a draft only offering.

Random: I was really torn as to which glass to buy from CC. I loved the snifter that they had, but the tulip was nice looking too. At the end? I came home with the snifter.

This one poured with a one finger, pure white head that took forever to dissipate. It left some lacing on the snifter. The body was a cloudy, light yellow color. The nose was hoppy with some hay and animal smells. It really threw me off. I expect that from other styles, but a pale ale shouldn’t smell like horses to me. The taste was exactly the same as the nose, which in this case, isn’t good. The horse blanket notes just took over everything. I also got some earthy and grassy hops, but they couldn’t overtake the other notes. The body was on the thicker side and had moderate carbonation. The finish was quick with some hay. If this was the better of the two beers, I can’t imagine what the other one tasted like. I wouldn’t have this again. This was a major disappointment. Hopefully the next one will be better.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Cigar City Florida Cracker White Ale

This was the beer that Kate ordered and she was nice enough to let me try. I was between this and a summer wheat beer on tap for her. Since Kate isn’t a beer fan, it’s very sweet that she lets me drag her around to all of these places. She even pretended to be interested in my discussion of the last beer and offered her own thoughts. Anyways, brew time.

ABV: 5%

Style: Witbier

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Pours cloudy straw in color with moderate notes of orange peel, coriander and hints of vanilla. Flavor has upfront citrus with coriander notes that lead into lemon/lime like notes and finishes with citrus and flowers. Incredibly refreshing and drinkable.”

Random: Next time I’m down here I’m going to hit the Tampa Tap Room and hopefully hit up some Spring Training games.

This one poured with a finger of white head on the snifter glass that dissipated slowly. It left no lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, light yellow with lots of carbonation visible throughout. The nose was very fruity with some sweet honey right behind it. The taste was much more sweet with some golden fruit peeking through as well. I didn’t get a lot of spice, but some lemon came through on the taste. I also got some wheat and Belgian yeast. The body was thicker than expected with lighter carbonation. The finish was long with yeast. This brew wasn’t what I expected. The fruit was a bit too heavy for the style. I wasn’t thrilled with this one at all. Neither was Kate.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Cigar City Dos Costas Oeste – Cedar Aged

I really have an amazing fiancee. She knew that I’m not a huge fan of Florida, so to reward me for coming, she put the kid to bed early and left her with her mother and took me to Cigar City. We got to the tasting room and it looks like an industrial park. I thought the tasting room was closed and almost cried, but it was just dark. Once we got in, we had random people from Atlanta talking to us, but onto the brews.

ABV: 9%

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Trivia: This was a collaboration brew with The Bruery.

Random: This tasting room really reminded me of Troegs when they were in Harrisburg. It was really low key and nice. The service could use a little work though.

This one poured with a half a finger of white head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the snifter glass. The body was a clear, golden color with light carbonation visible. The nose was really unique. It had some oak and some tobacco as well. It was like sticking my face into a humidor (no pun intended). The taste was very tart. Then, some oak came through with tobacco. I really didn’t know what to make of it. I got some lemon and pepper too. I think the saison qualities were masked by the wood aging. The body was shocking light with higher than expected carbonation. The finish was long and woody. I was shocked at how hidden the booze was on this one as well. This was probably one of the most unique brews that I’ve ever had. I couldn’t have a lot of them, but I was definitely glad that I tried it. If you see it, definitely give it a shot!

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0