Archive for the ‘American Strong Ale’ Category

Tonight’s selection is from Harpoon. I find their beers to be a bit hit or miss, so let’s see how this one was.


ABV: 13%

Style: American Strong Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “A beer designed explicitly for adventurers and explorers, Arctic Ale is steeped in lore and legend. Originally brewed by request of Queen Victoria of England in 1851, Arctic Ale was developed as ‘life sustaining support’ for sailors sent to search for lost expeditions charting the Northwest Passage. Drawing inspiration from these curious and intrepid voyagers, our brewers have created this rich, robust, deep-flavored ale. Despite its dark coffee-like hue and aromas of bourbon, dark fruit, and chocolate, this ale is deceivingly smooth with a rich malt character and subtly sweet finish. While our drinkers today may not have the same need to stave off scurvy, this hearty ale is one that can be enjoyed today, but also placed in the hold for years to come.”

Random: This comes in at 32 IBUs.

This beer poured with a half a finger of ecru colored head. It dissipated quickly and left some lacing on the glass. The body was a dark brown color with no visible carbonation due to the color. On the nose, the first thing that I picked up was booze. After I let it warm for another ten minutes or so, I got some maple and leather. The taste was sweet and malty up front. It also had maple, but some notes of leather and tobacco. The dark malts came through with booze next. The body was thick and chewy with light carbonation, making this a good winter sipping beer. It had a lengthy finish with cloying sweetness. I picked this bomber up for $7.99 ($.36 per ounce), which isn’t a bad price for this beer, except for the fact that it was way too sweet. I wouldn’t have this again.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Since my transfer, I spend a lot less time in the car. The only downside is that most days, I have to be in work by 4 or 5 AM. Val hates this. I usually get up around 2:30 AM or 3 AM and get in the shower. I try to be as quiet as possible and turn on as few lights as possible so as to not wake her. The cats, on the other hand, think I’m up specifically to play with them and want me to pet them. Eventually, it should feel normal to get up that early…I hope.


ABV: 9%

Style: American Strong Ale

Trivia: This is a winter seasonal.

Random: My office is freezing right now. It can’t ever be a comfortable temperature.

This beer poured with a one finger, cream-colored head. It dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the snifter. The body was a clear, cherry color. There was visible detritus in the body with no carbonation visible. The nose had raspberry extract and overripe raspberries. I couldn’t get anything else on this. The taste had syrupy raspberry extract with honey and light spice. It had a floral characteristic to it as well. This tasted nothing like a barleywine to me. The body was much lighter than a typical barleywine, although the sweetness was cloying. It had very little carbonation. The finish was lengthy and sweet with overripe raspberries. I have no idea what the price of the beer was since I got this as a gift, but I wouldn’t buy this one. It had no balance to it. At least the booze was hidden.

Untappd Rating: 2.5/5.0

While I was in California, there was a small beer store that I found that had a bunch of hidden gems in the cold case. When I saw this beer, I knew it was coming back to the room with me, since I never thought I’d get a chance to try it.


ABV: 10%

Style: American Strong Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Fred was created to honor beer writer and historian Fred Eckhardt. Fred is a big inspiration for me and many other brewers. Fred’s work in all-grain brewing and beer styles helped me become a better brewer. Fred the beer is a deep golden color. It is made with aromatic and rye malts and includes 10 different hop varieties in an effort to incorporate the whole world into this beer. It has 10% alcohol by volume and 65 IBUs. We hope that Fred will inspire you to share your knowledge with others as Fred has with us.”

Random: I know the beer is not meant to be consumed out of this glass, but it was either this or a plastic cup. The joys of traveling.

The brew poured with no head on top of a cloudy, golden-yellow body. There wasn’t any visible carbonation but lots of sediment floating throughout the body. The nose was boozy with a lot of heat. There was also a syrupy sweetness from a ton of candi sugar. The taste was also very boozy. It had a medicinal note that reminded me of a yellow cold medicine I took as a child and had to be bribed with chocolate to consume. It had the same thick, cloying sugar note. The body reminded me of an aged spirit. It was thick and syrupy with no carbonation and a significant burn on the throat. The finish was insanely long with the same medicinal sugar note. A bottle of this was expensive at $11.99 ($1 per ounce). Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to say that I tried this, but it just wasn’t my thing. I don’t know if it needed more age or it was a bad bottle, but I didn’t enjoy it.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

The other half and I went for Korean barbecue. I thought it was the same as Mongolian barbecue (which it obviously wasn’t) and the whole place smelled like meat. It wasn’t my favorite dining experience. But, I’m glad I got to try it.


ABV: 9.8%

Style: American Strong Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “‘Collaborating with Sierra Nevada on Terra Incognita the past three years has been a great experience,’ said Steven Pauwels, Boulevard’s Brewmaster. ‘We learn from each other, laugh a lot, and the beer we’ve made has impressed my taste buds every time. This year is no exception.’ Terra Incognita celebrates and merges strengths of Sierra Nevada (savvy use of whole-cone hops) and Boulevard (barrel aging prowess). The beer’s name means ‘land unknown’ and recalls the centuries old California Trail that connects the two breweries—an overland wagon trail across the western half of the US from Missouri river towns to what is now the state of California. This year’s final blend of Terra Incognita is a precise ratio: 55 percent wine barrel-aged ale, 32 percent bourbon barrel-aged ale, and 13 percent fresh ale. Sierra Nevada assertively hopped the brown ale before splitting it between red wine and bourbon barrels where it matured for 6 months, resulting in a 9.8% ABV blended beer whose earthy malt flavors are dressed in notes of tart fruit, vanilla and coconut.”

Random: I managed to get the flu on my business trip. I hate being sick away from home.

The beer poured with a half a finger of tan head. It went away quickly, but an eighth of an inch crown hung around on the body. The body was dark sienna and there was some carbonation that I could see. The nose started with light brown sugar and malt. It quickly went into a vinous quality with red grapes. It had a touch of vanilla and oak character from bourbon aging. The taste started with vanilla, coconut and oak. It then went into the same vinous quality with red grapes. It followed up with a slight sweetness and brown sugar. Some molasses came through too. The body was thin for the style and had light carbonation. It also had some booze warming at the end. The finish was shockingly quick with vanilla warming. The bottle was $15.99, which came to $.73 per ounce. I liked this beer a lot, although I thought the vinous quality took away from the other flavors, not added to it.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

This beer doesn’t need much of an introduction, especially since the website goes into such detail. Let’s crack it open.


ABV: 17%

Style: American Strong Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Way back in the early ’90s, a 20-something waiter in New York City named Sam got a taste for small American ‘microbrews.’ A do-er, Sam stopped by a homebrew store and embarked on the first batch of his very own beer. On the way home, he spotted a bag of cherries at his local bodega and thought they’d make his beer a little more interesting. He was right, and the day after he and his friends enjoyed that first batch, he started researching what it would take to open a brewery. The rest, as they say, is history. Higher Math is a tribute to that auspicious first beer and celebrates 20 off-centered years of Dogfish Head. It’s a golden strong ale fermented with sour cherry juice and cocoa nibs and clocks in a 17% ABV. Higher Math has forward notes of cherries, pineapple and stewed fruit, with late notes of cocoa. It has lingering sweetness and a notable warmth from the alcohol.”

Random: This comes in at 35 IBUs.

This beer poured with a half a finger of off-white head. It dissipated slowly, but left no lacing on the glass. It left a crown on top of the clear, dark brown body with high carbonation. The nose had significant sweetness up front with honey and bourbon. Molasses came through too. Booze was prevalent, although not nearly as much as I thought it would be. The taste was really sweet. Lots of malt came through with caramel, molasses and vanilla. Dark fruit came through too, specifically raisins and dates and dark cherries. I didn’t pick up any of the cocoa notes that they said would be in the beer. The booze was strong and made this beer a true sipper. It had a thick and syrupy body with light carbonation. The finish was lengthy with lots of sweetness and booze. This beer was expensive at $8.99 a bottle (and limited to one per person where Val got it for me). This came to $.75 per ounce. I thought I was going to love this beer, but it was just too sweet for my liking and to me, it wasn’t worth the pricetag. I won’t be having this one again.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

One of the cool things about going to a brewery is getting to pick up beers that I don’t normally see in Jersey. Although the Smuttlabs series has gotten to the NJ market, I don’t see every single release and some of them are “brewery only.” Since I could find very little information about this beer on the website, I don’t have much background about the beer, so let’s give it a try.


ABV: 12.7%

Style: American Strong Ale

Trivia: I didn’t find much on this beer, except that it is a hoppy brown ale that is aged in Berkshire rum barrels.

Random: I don’t really like rum. I never have. I’m more of a boubon/whiskey person.

This beer poured with a half a finger of tan head that dissipated quickly. It didn’t leave any lacing on the glass. but it did leave a crown. The body was a dark brown with no visible carbonation because of the color. The nose was really strong. I picked up a lot of vanilla followed by raw booze. Rum came through as well with molasses. The taste also had a lot of oak and rum characteristics. Vanilla, molasses and brown sugar were there with some nuttiness. I didn’t pick up a lot of hoppiness. Alcohol was warming and present on the back of the throat. It had a thick and silky mouthfeel with light carbonation. The finish was long with sweetness from the molasses and alcohol warming. I don’t remember how much we paid for this beer since we bought it from the brewery and the receipt has long since been thrown out. When I took my first sip, I wasn’t a big fan of the beer. As it warmed, the flavors really balanced out and made this an enjoyable beer.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Happy Halloween everyone! I’m not a big fan of the holiday. Normally, I’m stuck at work until late and we used to live in an apartment complex that didn’t have many kids. This is our first Halloween in the house and there seems to be a lot of kids in the neighborhood, so I assume we will get a decent turnout. The cats are also going to be dressed up. I’m sure they will not be thrilled at that.


ABV: 7%

Style: American Strong Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Horchata is based on the classic aguas frescas drink that is usually served in Mexican bodegas. The traditional storage vessel is heavy, ribbed glass jar filled with ice. The drink is ladled into glasses and served to thirsty patrons.”

Random: As I was drinking this and describing the flavors, Val kept giving me this weird look. Finally, she asked me if I ever had a horchata, and when I said ‘no,’ it made sense why I was so surprised at all of the flavors in it.

This beer poured with a one finger, thick, white head that dissipated slowly and left lots of lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, straw yellow color with moderate carbonation visible. The nose had notes of vanilla and cream soda with cinnamon as well. The taste was really creamy with vanilla and cinnamon. Having this beer on nitro was really nice. It had a medium, creamy body with moderate carbonation. The finish was lengthy with vanilla and cinnamon. This beer was really unique and really tasty. This is another standout from Cigar City.

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0