Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale Ale

Samuel Smith Old Brewery Pale AleHave you ever walked by the same beer in the aisle and thought to yourself “next time I’ll get that,” or were you always too timid to try? Be adventurous and try new beers! For the longest time I have always looked at the Samuel Smith beers with amazement and intrigue, and I finally decided to go for it and buy one of them, particularly the Old Brewery Pale Ale.

This beer is full bodied with a clean finish and nice aromas. The real lure of this beer is that it is from a very old brewery, as Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale is made at the Old Brewery Tadcaster. How old is the brewery? It was established in 1758, how cool is that!

On the back of the bottle is a quick write up about the brewery, and the water they use is from the same hard well that was used in 1758. They also use what are called “stone Yorkshire Squares” to ferment the beer, which creates a uniquely balanced ale.

In the glass it has a nice amber color which goes well with the changing of the season. It holds a nice head in the glass which shows that this is a well crafted beer. The taste starts with nice warm malty tones on the palate only to finish with a slight hoppy bite, that remains on the palate only to entice you to have another sip.

With the weather starting to get colder darker beers seem to work and as we are in autumn this Samuel Smith’s Old Brewery Pale Ale is a great choice. Also its pretty cool drinking a beer from a brewery that was established before the United States was formed. 4 Out Of 5 Pints

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.0 Pints out of 5

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Rogue Chipotle Ale

Rogue Chipotle AleRogue’s Chipotle Ale pours a deep clear amber, with orange and golden hues when held up to the light. It develops a modest white head which dissipates but sits on the surface of the beer until it is gone.

There are no overwhelming aromas in the nose. The most prevalent notes are bread, malt, yeast and smoked green pepper. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a Rauchbier, a German beer with a signature smoky flavor developed by drying the malted barley over an open fire. It’s not quite that intense, but one can’t help but draw a comparison.

The body of the beer is pretty thin, with a modest carbonation that lends it a rather creamy texture. As with the nose, the predominant flavors that come across the palate are the malty sweetness and breadiness typical of amber ales. This gives way to smoke and charcoal, with a hint of green pepper running throughout. I don’t pick up any heat from the peppers, so I’m guessing that the seeds were either removed before the peppers were added to the boil or that the capsaicin was somehow neutralized.

The smoked pepper makes what would otherwise be a rather unremarkable amber ale. The body’s a bit too thin for my liking, but the smoky taste of the beer combined with its drinkability make it interesting enough to try if the opportunity presents itself.3 out of 5 Pints

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Pints 


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Firestone Walker Union Jack

Firestone Walker Union JackOne could be forgiven for expecting perfection after purchasing a Firestone Walker beer. After all, the Paso Robles brewery has won the award for Best Mid-Size Brewery at four of the last five World Beer Cups. I, myself, have yet to be disappointed by a Firestone Walker beer, be it their 15th Anniversary blend, their barleywine Sucaba, or Union Jack’s big brother Double Jack. So, it can be safely assumed that my expectations were fairly high upon sitting down to drink this beer.

Union Jack pours with a moderately large, fluffy white head that recedes fairly quickly. It leaves a ring of foam clinging to the inside of the glass on the surface of the beer. It’s a crystal clear amber beer with orange and copper hues. Bubbles rise visibly from the center of the glass’s bottom.

There’s quite a bit of citric zest on the nose, oranges and lemon, with some apples and wood lingering in the background. The beer has a very clean, juicy nose, not at all over-powering.

I mean no slight by comparing this beer to fruit juice. It’s crisp, clean, bright and really just a beautiful beer. Fruit is the primary taste as the beer washes over the front of your palate, as you’re hit with orange, grapefruit, and tropical fruit. Its moderate carbonation only enhances the refreshing, thirst-quenching attributes of this beer. There’s a bit of underlying woodiness throughout, with the beer transitioning to pine and resinous bitterness on the back end, while maintaining some of the clean fruitiness from earlier. It finishes quite dry, with some lingering bitterness.

This is an incredibly drinkable beer, and very well-balanced. The malt bill and the hops bill play off each other quite well, with neither overpowering the other. One could easily drink this beer all the day with nary a complaint. It does not drink like the 7.5% alcohol beer that the label insists it is.

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Pints 4 out of 5 Pints

If You Liked This, Try: Port Brewing Wipeout, Firestone Walker Double Jack, 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die

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Flying Dog Wildeman Farmhouse IPA

Flying Dog Wildeman Farmhouse IPABeer drinkers who have had Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch IPA will be familiar with the Maryland brewery’s previous successful foray into brewing Belgian style IPAs. As Raging Bitch is one of the most well-crafted of Flying Dog’s impressive stable of beers, I had fairly high expectations upon hearing that they would be releasing another Belgian-style IPA. That this would be a combination of two of my favorite beer styles, India Pale Ale and Saison, only served to enhance my anticipation. Brewed as a normal IPA, the beer takes on a completely different character when Belgian Saison yeast is used to ferment the wort. If you’ve enjoyed Raging Bitch, I insist that you find this beer and try it.

The beer pours a hazy golden color, somewhere between straw and amber. It has a big, tight, white head. As you drink the beer, the head opens up a bit but it hangs around until you’ve consumed the last of the beer. It leaves an impressive amount of lacing clinging to the sides of the glass as you drink.

The primary aromas of the beer are the earthy, herbal notes typical of Saisons. The hops come across as some citric spiciness, but the Saison yeast is definitely the predominant aroma here. Pepper, clove and coriander are abound with some orange peel to make it interesting.

The beer is medium bodied, light enough to be refreshing but full enough to convey a variety of flavors and has a nice crisp carbonation. It hits the front of the palate with the grassy, barnyard taste that you expect of a Saison. The herbal notes stick with you as the hop character begins to assert itself on the mid and back palate before finishing with some bitterness and a hint of pepper.

Flying Dog’s Wildeman IPA is a fantastic combination of two of the best beer styles available. It’s interesting to consider that while the beer may have been brewed as a typical American IPA, the yeast has such an impact on the development of the beer that I thought of the beer more as a hoppy Saison, than an IPA with Saison qualities.

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Pints 4 Out Of 5 Pints

If You Liked This, Try: Piraat Belgian IPA, Houblon Chouffe, Flying Dog Raging Bitch

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Lost Abbey Inferno

Lost Abbey Inferno The Lost Abbey has only been distributing to New Jersey since January 1st of this year, and ours is only the seventh state to which they’ve expanded distribution. We should consider ourselves lucky, because I’ve been very impressed by each new beer that arrives. They are primarily focused on brewing Belgian styles with the inventiveness that has come to typify American breweries. Inferno is their take on a Belgian Strong Pale Ale.

The beer pours a hazy golden color, with a huge, tight white head that absolutely refuses to go away. If you’ve ever poured a Duvel, you’ll have a good idea of what kind of head to expect off of this beer.

The nose is a mélange of aromas. You can pick up fresh pear and green apple notes with lemon and spice coming through. Though prevalent, the fruity notes all play second fiddle to the earthy, peppery aroma of the Belgian yeast strain.

The beer is medium-bodied with prevalent carbonation. It’s quite dry, not quite as bone-dry as the back label may suggest, but the residual sweetness isn’t terribly noticeable. There’s a zesty lemon taste on the front of the palate with some mild tartness and some barnyard funkiness. It wouldn’t surprise me if some brettanomyces had found their way into this beer, but I could be mistaken. After the citrus and tart flavors have passed, you get the yeast and bready qualities on the mid-palate. It finishes very dry, and just a bit tart. The alcohol becomes more noticeable as the beer warms, but it’s negated well by the fizzy carbonation. Given the beer’s dryness and the high carbonation, it’s dangerously drinkable for its 8.5% ABV.

4 out of 5 PintsThe Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Pints

You Might Also Like: Duvel Belgian Golden Ale, Green Flash Le Freak, La Chouffe Belgian Golden Ale

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Stone Imperial Russian Stout

Stone Russian Imperian StoutStone’s Imperial Russian Stout is released annually around mid-late April. It’s something of a strange time to release a beer as dark and heavy as this one, but Stone has never been a brewery apt to abide by anyone’s preconceived notions. It is not called an Imperial Russian Stout because it originated in Russia, but rather because it was brewed for the Tsars of Russia by English brewers. The Russian court called for ever stronger and darker beers, likely to help ward off the brutal winters Russia is well known for, and American brewers have continued this escalation.

Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout, at 10.5% ABV, is almost certainly a much bigger beer than anything that ever graced Catherine the Great’s table. It pours absolutely opaque, more light escapes black holes than passes through this glass. It has a tan head which recedes in a few minutes, a common occurrence with higher alcohol beers. What head remains clings to the side of the glass with great conviction.

The aroma of the beer is very rich in itself, with notes of coffee, dark chocolate, fusel alcohol, molasses, dark fruit and anise. The beer itself is very full-bodied, almost viscous, it absolutely coats the palate as you drink it. There’s a modest amount to break up the heaviness of the beer. It’s fairly sweet on the front end, with the molasses and coffee flavors coming across strongest. As it moves across the palate it shifts to a more roasty, charred flavor. Dark chocolate is present throughout, almost like an easel off of which the other flavors play. It finishes dryer than it begins, with the bitter dark chocolate hanging around for a while after you’ve finished.

This is one of the original Imperial Russian Stouts brewed in the United States and the beer stands the test of time. A absolute hallmark of the style, this is a absolute must-try for stout-lovers. Buy a few bottles and save some for winter, you’ll be glad you did.

4 out of 5 PintsThe Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Pints

If you liked this try: Great Divide Yeti, Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, Victory Storm King, or Port Brewing Old Viscosity

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Brouwerij Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins

Brouwerij Bockor Cuvee des JacobinsBrouwerij Bockor’s Cuvee des Jacobins is an outstanding example of a Flemish Red, a type of Sour Ale that originated in Flanders. Brewing traditions in Belgium extend back before it was known that yeast was what allowed wort (unfermented beer) to develop into beer. They simply knew that if they brewed wort and allowed it to sit out, that eventually it would become beer. Modern brewers typically use only Brewer’s Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae for ales) in their beer and guard vigilantly against contamination by unwanted yeast strains or bacteria. With open-air fermentation, however, those wild yeast strains and bacteria are allowed to inoculate the wort, letting it to ferment into a brew quite unfamiliar to the vast majority of American beer drinkers.

Though called a Flemish Red, the beer pours a deep maroon, bordering on mahogany. The white head quickly disappears into the beer, due to its high acidity.

A fair amount of funky, barnyard aromas waft up from the beer, a common characteristic of ales brewed with wild yeast and, in this case, a bacterium called lactobacillus. You can also pick up sour apples, tart cherries and bit of bittersweet chocolate.

The first thing you’ll notice about the beer is its high acidity. It’s fairly light-bodied with a good amount of carbonation. It is an extremely tart beer, and quite sour. You can expect your mouth to pucker a little bit when drinking this one. Sour apple and cherry flavors are in abundance. The beer has something of a cider-like quality to it. The mouth-feel is similar to many hard ciders and the sour fruit flavor reinforces the connection. There are some lemony, citrus notes, as well, but they’re fairly subtle. The bittersweet chocolate, though not as noticeable as it was on the nose, gives just a hint of sweetness underneath the beers of overriding tartness. The oak barrels the beer was aged in give it a hint of vanilla that blends well with the bittersweet chocolate.

This is an extremely complex beer and one that any serious craft beer aficionado should seek out and enjoy. Those just starting to explore the world of craft beer may find it a little too extreme. If you try it and don’t like it, that’s fine, but cellar a bottle (sours age extremely well) and keep trying new and different craft beers. In a year or so, come back to it. I can almost guarantee that your efforts to expand your beer horizons will make you much more receptive to this brew. If you’re ready to enjoy this beer now, consider yourself lucky for this is a truly world-class beer and one to be appreciated. If you have friends who are predominantly wine-drinkers, have them try this and show them that beer can truly rival wine in complexity and depth.4.5 out of 5 Pints

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 Out Of 5 Pints


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