Stillwater Artisanal Tangerine Haze

Renowned electronica DJ producer turned craft brewer Brian Strumke started Stillwater Artisanal in 2004. Brewing in his backyard for years, he took a different approach using non-traditional ingredients and unconventional methods to create new interpretations of existing beer styles. This quickly earned him the title of “Best New Brewer” in 2011 by One of the original “gypsy brewers,” in one year he was able to brew 50 Stillwater beers in over 12 countries. Calling Baltimore home, Stillwater HQ serves as a gallery, restaurant, full service bar and even a bottle shop.

Tangerine Haze is a double dry hopped sour ale brewed with tangerines.

ABV: 7%  IBU’s: N/A

Head: Small off white head, less than finger and fades quickly. Good amount of carbonation.

Nose: Slightly hoppy with a faint hint of citrus notes, bit of a tart aroma in the background.

Palate: Tart right from the start with a sharpness to it. There hops and tangerine almost offset each other a little bit, some sips I get more hop notes and some shows more citrus fruits. Finish is clean, slightly acidic and leaves nice tart flavor on your tongue.

Overall: I wasn’t sure what to expect going to this one, was going to be more of a hoppy ale of more of a sour ale. I was surprised by the amount of tartness right out of the gate, personally I love a beer that comes on strong and Tangerine Haze does just that. May not be a beer for everyone but if you like a good sour with a little fruit this is for you, another stand out from Stillwater Artisanal.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.4 out of 5 Pints


Ommegang Pale Sour Ale

Cooperstown, New York is famously known for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but it’s also the perfect place to make beer.

In the early 19th Century, Cooperstown was the epicenter of hop production. Having deep wells with high quality water, Cooperstown is a brewer’s paradise. Ommegang, a Belgian Style brewery opened its doors in 1997 and has since been purchased by Duvel. They have continued to grow in popularity, while expanding the portfolio. Recently they have gained even more popularity with a line beers centered on HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones.

6.9% ABV  9 IBU

Pour: Pours a vivid golden orange. The head is white, about 1 finger and lingers.

Nose: Slightly wheaty and floral with a hint of sourness.

Palate: Funky with hints of apple and lemons light bodied and malty. The finish is clean crisp almost like a white wine whit a slight tartness.

Overall: Wasn’t really sure what to expect with this one. Some reviews said it leaned more towards a sour ale but I got more pale ale. There was some tartness to it, but more malty for sure. An interesting take on a classic style that was very enjoyable.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.5 Out Of 5 Pints

Firestone Walker Krieky Bones

Firestone-Walker-BarrelWorks-Krieky-BonesSince 1996, Adam Firestone and David Walker have been producing amazing beers in California’s Central Coast. The Paso Robles brewery has won Best Mid-Size Brewery at four of the last five World Beer Cups. Renowned for crafting iconic pale ales and pioneering barrel-aged beers, they have a portfolio of nearly two dozen year round & seasonal brews.

Krieky Bones is part of Firestone’s Barrel Works line and is sold in 375ml bottles. It begins as a Flanders Red, then aged in oak with sour cherries during the secondary fermentation.

Pour: A beautiful deep crimson color, slight hazy with lots of carbonation swirling up.

Head: A small cream colored head forms, stays thin and lingers for a bit.

Nose: Stacked with cherry notes, with hints of wheat in background. You can smell the tartness.

Palate: Tart, almost lip puckering. Light-bodied with candied berry notes and sour cherries. Almost no acidity on the finish keeps it clean and really lets the sourness take over.

Overall: Wow, this is great stuff. Sour Ales are everywhere, but not all have that deep tartness that coats your tongue. This brew was tart but still had great flavor and balance, the cherry notes really pulled it all together. This would play with a light summer salad, gumbo and of course cherry pie!

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Pints

O’Fallon Grape Escape

grape escapeThe O’Fallon Brewery was founded by Fran and Tony Caradonna, in 2000. In January they ordered their brewing equipment and sold their first keg on May 6, 2000. The Caradonnas did all the brewing and selling for the first two years, brewing only one style (O’Fallon Gold), selling only kegs and delivering locally. Over the next several years they continued to grow their brands and distribution area. In May 2011 they sold the brewery to Jim Gorczyca, but Fran continues to play a part of day to day operations as the Brewery’s General Manager. Their Grape Escape is a Berliner Weisse brewed with red wine grapes.

ABV: 4.1% IBU’s: 5

Pour: Light, almost rose gold color.

Head: An off-white two finger head forms with mild carbonation, while the head dissipates quickly.

Nose: Light, notes of wheat mostly. Hints of grapes and tart fruits fill out the back.

Palate: Slightly tart but not aggressive, stays light all the way through. Minor grape notes but wheat is the dominant flavor. No acidity on the finish.

Overall: Much lighter than expected, and not as sour as other Berliner Weisses we’ve had recently. As a fan of sour beers, I love that breweries have been pumping out gose, Berliner weisses and many other types of sour ales.  While this may not be beer for someone looking for a lip puckering gose, this would be great intro into the world of sour ales. A nice pairing with grilled peaches, spicy fish fillets or cheesecake.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.5 Out Of 5 Pints

Elysian’s Hawaiian Sunburn – Pineapple Habanero Sour

Elysian_Hawaiian_SunburnThe Elysian was founded in 1995 by Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca, and David Buhler. Since its founding, Elysian is sold coast to coast and is a household name in the beer community. With a portfolio of over a dozen year-round, seasonal and specialty brews, chances are Elysian is brewing up something that you’ll love. Their spring seasonal is a pineapple habanero sour…a little bit of sweet and a little bit of heat.

The beer pours a hazy golden yellow color. The half finger white head shows decent retention. Once the head dissipates, a light and sporadic lacing remains a top the beer.

On the nose, aromas of sweet pineapple fruit and malts come through balanced by lacto sour notes. A grainy wheatiness is also notable along with earthy and yeasty aromas that enhance the sour aspect. The habanero is barely detectable on the nose.

On the palate yeasty sour notes hit right off the bat. While the flavor profile is similar to that of a traditional sour beer, you won’t find that same pucker in this brew. Notes of sweet tropical fruits dominated by pineapple come on the heels of the sour notes. The habanero is much more evident on the palate than the nose but is still rather subdue and mild. The heat is more of a tongue tingling mouthfeel than the flavor.

Elysian’s Pineapple Habanero Sour is a great way to welcome the spring months. An interesting brew that is actually fairly mild, well-balanced and easy to drink. Try pairing this one with some Pepper Jack, Grilled Halibut with pineapple salsa or Citrus Granita. 3 out of 5 Pints

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.0 Out Of 5 Pints

Victory Sour Monkey

Victory Sour MonkeyVictory Brewing Company opened its doors in 1996, and what once was a Pepperidge Farm factory became home to a 142-seat restaurant, 70-foot-long bar and a full-scale brewery. In its first year, Victory brewed 2500 barrels. Since then, they have increased the size of the restaurant to 300 seats, and the brewery produces 125,713 barrels of beer (2014). As loyal craft beer drinkers continue to show their dedication to flavorful, quality beer, Victory plans to continue its growth. One of their seasonal offerings is a Sour Brett Tripel fittingly named Sour Monkey.

The beer pours a slightly hazy light gold color. The one finger soapy white head shows decent retention. Once the head dissipates completely a light lacing remains a top the beer. The carbonation is notable with a steady stream of champagne like bubbles rising to the top of the glass.

Sour, yeasty and earthy aromas hit first and hit hard. Fruit notes of apple, white grape and citrus (namely lemon) come on the heels of the sour and yeasty aromas. Spice notes of pepper and clove mingle with the fruit notes. Aromas of pale malt and biscuits complete the profile.

On the palate sour and tannic elements are immediately followed by fruit notes of tart cherries, apples, lemon zest and white grapes. Pale malt and cereal like grainy notes follow the fruit wave. Funky Brett notes arrive next along with the spices from the bouquet including white pepper and clove. A pleasantly sour beer.

Victory delivers what it promises here – a sour beer, and a great “spin off” of Victory’s famous Golden Monkey. Try this one with chevre, steamed mussels or lemon curd and berry tartlets. 4 out of 5 Pints

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.0 Out of 5 Pints