Friday, September 28, 2012

Brown-nosing Smuttynose

HAPPY NATIONAL DRINK BEER DAY EVERYONE! Every once in awhile in the quest to find one thing you discover something else. That discovery can be as good as the original goal in your journey. While I don't believe I found the biggest diamond in the rough, I'm pleasantly pleased what I discovered in this brew.

It's hard to read from the glare, and label, chosen but this time around we are trying Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale.  The label is a bit dated, but is decorative when it comes to beer labels. The beer label looked washed out, which may either be a label mistake, random bad label batch, or that's literally the way this label comes. It almost works for it, given it an authentic age look. I could be just extrapolating a little too much from just a label ;) Onwards!

It's hard to tell from this picture but the color of the beer is nearly orange with a solid frothy head that took a little time before it settled. Even the foam had the tiniest of color to it. When it came to flavor, the beer had what I'd describe as a raw-er pumpkin flavor. Ever accidentally licked your fingers after carving a pumpkin? Yea me neither, but that's what I'd liken this to. It's got a bit of alcohol strength, with strong caramel sweetness. I'd more accurately describe this as a blend of a fall beer with a pumpkin beer. I really enjoyed it for it's great balance as a pumpkin beer without actually hiding the pumpkin flavor. I give Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale a French PINTRS score as one of the best fall beers I've had. Bravo!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Dogfish Halloween

Evening all!

So many pumpkin beers to drink, so much time to drink it in! We've done 3 so far and while some are good beers, they're not what I would consider the penultimate pumpkin beer still. Our quest won't be stopped by a Fall mediocrity, we will press on! And with that, I introduce Dogfish Punkin Ale as our next tasting.

Being in Dogfish territory, I got pretty excited when I saw this on the shelf. Dogfish is known for it's high quality, consistent good beers. They're also known for going way out of bounds in the brewing department, coming up with modern day recipes to ancient brew or mixing the craziest flavors together to see what happens. The beer is so easy to recognize on your local liquor store shelf thanks to they're great and solid branding. What's behind the label?

That color is unexpected, right? No your eyes or my camera are not deceiving you. That beer has a distinguishable redness to it's ale. A dark amber beer with a ruby glint. It has a small beer head but brought quite a lot of carbonation to the table.

On taste, this is a 'spicy' beer. Allspice and nutmeg pack a powerful bunch in this beer. The brown sugar practically sticks to the glass. It even has the slightest hint of a mead-like sweetness. I let this beer sit a little while and was surprised how much the beer softened up and became a much lighter and balanced sweet beer than when it was first popped open. What about the pumpkin? On initial tasting, the nutmeg and allspice overpowered it completely. However, after letting it sit, the spices mellowed and among the brown sugar sat a medium-body pumpkin flavor. I'm not totally convinced this was successful as a PUMPKIN beer. It was definitely successful as a fall beer, and I'll definitely buy this before the season is over. I toast Dogfish to a UK PINTRS rating.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Halloween at the Shipyard

Evening readers!

Tonight's pumpkin beer hails from one of my favored breweries, Shipyard. I've reviewed their beers here before, but this will be the first time a embrace their pumpkin offering, Pumpkinhead, with my palate. Let's see where this ship sails.

I'm so use to the typical Shipyard label that this one throws me for a loop. Small point to critique them on, but I think they could embrace their navel history with a pumpkin twist. But what do I know. This is a very recognizable beer in your local store, and it has been for years.

It's a very frothy pour. lots of carbonation that quickly settles. It's a lighter color, definitely on the lighter side when compared to most pumpkin or Oktoberfest beers. I'd even say it's the color of a turned leaf, which is poignant considering the time of year we see this selection. The aroma is very light. So far, I'm not overly impressed. '

Whereas I've been harsh on beers that are light on pumpkin when they call themselves a pumpkin beer, Shipyard walks a very thin plank and manages to stay on. I'm reminded when I try, and fail, to bake. Were I to try and bake a pumpkin pie, I'm pretty sure I'd leave out several ingredients and come up with a flavor like this. It's a rawer pumpkin flavor, not incorporated with sugar but hinted at with sugar. There's the slightest copper aftertaste in a swallow that is light and bubbly. After several minutes I was surprised at the hidden sweetness in the beer. Halfway through the glass it was more noticeable. Shipyard Pumpkinhead is promoting pumpkin with spices that I thought were balanced in such a way to bring out a pumpkin flavor, not overpower it. For it's balancing act I give Shipyard Pumpkinhead a UK PINTRS score.

So far we've seen lots of average and decent beers, some fails, but nothing excelling. I'm still waiting to be wowed!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Silencing Buffalo Bill

Happy Labor Day Weekend readers!

We're on the hunt, stacking up this year's pumpkin beer selection for who reigns supreme in 2012! So far I've tasted two that I would consider misses, one more so than the other. It's time to introduce you to the 'more so' of the bunch.

I give you Buffalo Bill's Brewery. I've never had one of their beers because, to be honest, every time I have seen one of their selections in the store I have been unimpressed with their bottle art (with the exception of Alimony Ale; that's pretty sick looking). I'll be damned if I let any pumpkin beer I can get skip by just because of 'meh' box art.

It look's pretty solid, right? Not sure if it's just the lighting but the beer itself was much lighter than this picture suggests. It had a nice foamy head, and only a hint of spice or pumpkin aroma. So far, they've lost me on the scent and the look of the bottle. Two strikes before I've tasted it isn't a good sign, though in the glass was more uplifting.

The taste is what we care about, but that's where it missed the most. Yes, there is good spicing. Too much spicing for a pumpkin beer in my opinion. More of a pumpkin beer with Oktoberfest flavors. But where's the pumpkin? Somewhere in this batch there was a pumpkin I imagine but it didn't make it into my bottle. Think of pumpkin zest rather than any real sold pumpkin. This beer, though easy to drink, lacks anything to separate it from your normal fall brew offering. This deserves nothing more than a Flanders PINTRS rating. I'm happy to say it looks like Beer Advocate and it's readers tend to agree with my assessment. Our search continues, and so far we haven't found a positive step this fall yet!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Punk'n Punk'd

Wow so it's been awhile! I've been drinking plenty of homebrew, but just haven't taken the jump to reviewing my own stuff consistently yet. Time to get back on track!

It's pumpkin season...well, pumpkin season is on it's way. What does that mean? Well, it USUALLY means pumpkin beer in another month or so. But, pumpkin beer has already flooded my local liquor stores! It's my favorite variety of beer on the market. So, obviously I grabbed one of each of those that were available and set myself on the quest to find that elusive answer: which beer is the BEST pumpkin beer of 2012!

Punk'n from Uinta (who we've spoken highly of before) is a solid effort at pumpkin beer. Note I say effort, not success. Unfortunately I don't have the picture after its pour thanks to a phone backup but it looked solid out of the bottle. It had a nice dark orange, brass color with a small head. I could be imagining things, but even the foam had a nice tint.

The flavoring is where I have an issue. Granted, I'm looking for a big, bold pumpkin beer. A beer that stands on the shoulders on other pumpkins and squishes gourds for fun. This is not that. The aroma was little different than a sweet Oktoberfest brew. There was a decent spicing and a good mix of sweetness. Subtle but not amazing.

Small head. Im probably making it up, thought there was a orangey hue to the foam. Aroma wasnt pumpkin as much as it was caramel or spiced. Color of amber hue, clear and crisp. Crispy,slightly spicy, sweetness, hint of pumpkin. Subtle but not amazing. Beer Advocate rated this organic pumpkin beer (it does get props for it's organic nature) a 75 and I fully agree. This pumpkin beer won't be particularly memorable among the many fall options, and for that it gets a US PINTRS rating. Till next time!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pot Shot at Amber Ale

Happy Friday All!

Our first blog post on our first week of regularly updates is none other than my first home brew creation, .38 Amber!

.38 Amber is my first try with the Mr. Beer home brewing kit's Cowboy Golden Lager. On the scale of complex beers, this is your base. Nothing crazy is going on in the hops, the yeast, the malt. If you're looking for a home brew equivalent of a Budweiser, this is what I understood as what you're looking for.

After the pour, I noticed a few particularly things. The head on this isn't large, nor does it look like it was supposed to be. There is very little in aroma here either; the slightest hint of bitterness but mostly clean.  This picture above doesn't accurately portray the color. Rather than the very light tone the picture seems to suggest, the beer is much closer to amber. It's slightly lighter than I would want or expect so a darker malt might be the way to go. Or more fermentation time in the keg.  Clearly, this will take some experimenting.  But how does it hold up in flavoring?

The first taste is fairly unremarkable. However, I'd consider that a success.  If you're aiming for a simple and large target, and you hit it cleanly, you can't fault the target for being too easy. This really is a beginner's beer for both beer drinkers and beer makers.  It's a very clean beer, with the slightest hint of bitterness on the palate which aligns right with the slight scent. I do think we may have misfired on the carbonation. I'd say this particular bottle had a bit too much sugar at the start of the carbonation process and will be something to remember in the future. However, I'd certainly rather be on the side of slightly over-carbonated than risk a flat beer.

This beer also may need a bit more maturity. At the moment several bottles are still under cold conditioning and we'll maybe revisit this brew in a few more months to see if time adds (or subtracts) anything. I have to be honest with myself (and this recipe) and give it a US PINTRS score. Not quite a triumph but certainly not a failure, this caliber beer will get the job done.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Return of the Brews

Hello All!

It's been months since we've had any activity on the Good Brew Hunting. That doesn't mean we haven't been hard at work! Tonight we'll be posting a review of 1554, a black ale from New Belgium Brewing who have been pleasing beer enthusiasts with Fat Tire for some time now.

The exciting news is the first round of drinkable beers from my own line of personal brews brewed under the name Rayje Brewing.  Here's the first bottle of our first selection, Rayje Brewing's .22 Blonde!

Each selection will be based off a sized ammunition and while .22 Blonde is the lighter and simpler in our future planned lineup, a .22 can still do some damage.  It's got the flavor to perk up the taste buds with the drinkability of a summer-like beer (or at least we hope so!).

Our backlog of beer in the fridge has significantly decreased since the end of my beer of the month club subscription (sad).  But the reviews will keep on coming, with at least 1 a week, with various selections as well as the review of each Rayje Brewing beer as it is fully ready for drinking.  We'll also be going back to different beers at different times throughout it's life cycle to see how these home brews change with maturity.

Here's to a new chapter in Good Brew Hunting's story! Huzzah!