Ommegang Grains of Truth

Ommegang Grains of TruthCooperstown, New York is famously known for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but it’s also the perfect for location to make beer.

In the early 19th Century, Cooperstown was the epicenter of hop production. Having deep wells with high quality water, made this a brewer’s paradise. Ommegang, a Belgian Style brewery opened its doors in 1997 Ommegang, 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.

The Grains of Truth pours a bright amber color, with a thick foamy head and a fair amount of carbonation. The off-white head hangs around for a while before leaving some lacing on the glass.

On the nose, rye and spicy malts jump from the glass, followed by aromas of caramel, honey and bananas. Grainy and earthy but complex at the same time, the malty sweetness plays well with the hoppy finish.

The taste is sweeter than expected with caramel and toffee notes, but downplayed by the malts. The rye adds a nice spice that mixes with the light hops. Roasted grains add a nice medium bodied mouth feel that is extremely smooth. On the finish the alcohol shows, but does a great job of mellowing out the sweetness to really bring this brew together.

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed this beer. Ommegang did a great job of capturing fall into 12oz bottle.

A complex brew full of rich malts, some slightly sweet candied notes and a bitter hop quality that stands out and makes this a unique fall release. We would love to see Ommegang turn this into annual fall release, maybe another batch will come next harvest. Pairs nicely with pumpkin pie, turkey, and pad thai.

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 Out of 5 Pints

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Tasting Two Vintages of Troegs Mad Elf

Troegs Mad ElfTroegs is an American brewery originating in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. John and Chris Trogner founded the company in 1996 and they offer a wide variety of craft brews with something to appease just about every palate. The Mad Elf is their winter offering and is brewed with cherries and honey. One of the claims is that the beer gets better with age. To test this theory we tried both this year and last year’s batches.

The beer pours a ruby amber color. The 2012 was noticeably more amber/brick while the 2013 was a brighter ruby. Both showed a very thin head that was off white in color and dissipated almost immediately. Both showed a light lacing atop the beer.

On the nose both beers presented with an overwhelming aroma of malts. There were also notable cherry notes in both. The 2012 showed more of a candied cherry note while the 2013 presented with a fresh tart cherry note. The 2012 showed a deep spice note that was barely detectable in the 2013. Both displayed a Belgian yeast note as well. While both had a noteworthy boozy scent (like a barleywine) the 2012 was boozier than the 2013. The 2012 also displayed some dark dried fruit.

On the palate, both beers had a distinguished chocolate malt note highlighted by rich cherry flavors. The 2012 presented with a dark dried fruit note mainly of raisin and prune. The 2012 also displayed a richer honey note than the 2013. The 2013 had an unripened “green” note that was not detected in the 2012. Both showed a sour component in addition to a booziness that was, once again, more noticeable in the 2012.

Overall the Mad Elf is a solid beer. It definitely gets better with age! Regardless of the year, this is a great fireplace sipper for the inevitable colder weather.

2012 – 4 out of 5 Pints

2013 – 3.5 out of 5 Pints

Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory

River Horse Oatmeal Milk Stout

River Horse Oatmeal Milk StoutSitting directly on the banks of the Delaware River, River Horse Brewing Co. has been producing quality beer since 1996. This Lambertville, NJ craft brewery currently offers four year-round products and five seasonal offerings.

The River Horse Oatmeal Milk Stout is a beer built for the winter. It pours a dark chocolate color with a milk chocolate colored head. The head is thin, but the viscosity of the beer itself is anything but.

On the nose you will first notice aromas of roasted coffee. The coffee transitions to mocha as it is greeted with notes of chocolate liqueur. Notes of dried dark fruits like raisins and figs complement the mocha and help to create a balanced bouquet.

The palate is dominated with chocolate. The chocolate notes in this beer are unlike any other as they transform continuously. On the entry it seems to be dark chocolate. The midpalate greets you with a bitter unsweetened chocolate and on the finish the final evolution occurs where the chocolate notes are met with a creamy note that creates the flavor of milk chocolate. The slightly bitter midpalate of unsweetened chocolate is highlighted by an espresso note. The finish is velvety smooth with a silky oat note that is perfectly integrated with the milk chocolate. Delicious!

This is a great beer for those that love heavier beers as well as those that are willing to experiment with something new. Well balanced and not too over the top. A great selection from River Horse! 4.5 out of 5 Pints

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 Pints out of 5

Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory

Anchor Steam Christmas Ale

Anchor Steam Christmas AleThe rich history of Anchor Brewing can be traced all the way back to the California gold rush, when German brewer Gottlieb Brekle arrived in San Francisco with his family. Gottlieb Brekle bought an old beer-and-billiards saloon, transforming it into the brewery that, twenty-five years later, would be renamed Anchor. Each year since 1975, Anchor Brewing creates a distinctive Christmas Ale. The secret recipe is different every year, as is the tree on the label, but the intent remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life.

This year’s Anchor Christmas Ale poured a dark, almost black, color with dark and rich black cherry hues. The head is brown and thick, similar to Guinness with impressive staying power. This beer shows good density and is very viscous.

On the nose the first aroma that hits you is a note of sweet, roasted caramel malts intermingled with black cherry. On the second sniff you pick up a hint of piney hops that fades quickly and return you to roasted malt notes. Only this time there is a hint of chocolate in there!

On the palate it explodes with notes of roasted nuts and chocolate. The midpalate displays a bitterness that carries a tradition piney hop note. The finish lingers slightly bitter but is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the roasted caramel malt notes. This beer has great body and a super creamy mouthfeel that is extenuated by its thick carbonation.

This beer has been a seasonal standard for at least the past 12 years. NEVER have they tasted the same and NEVER was there any disappointment. A great seasonal selection that is heavy and satisfying, yet not overdone. Already looking forward to what next year has to offer!4 Out Of 5 Pints

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.0 Pints out of 5

Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory

Harpoon Winter Warmer

Harpoon Winter WarmerHarpoon was officially born on June 19, 1986 when the Mass Bay Brewing Co. was incorporated, though its origins precede the actual date. Rich Doyle wrote the business plan for the Harpoon Brewery during his second year at Harvard Business School. At that time, he was unable to find the variety of beers that were available in Europe, nor the rich beer culture he had enjoyed there. Harpoon Winter Warmer has been brewed since 1988. Since then, this beer has become a New England seasonal classic.

The beer pours a light brown color with red highlights. As the beer enters the glass is seems to be light bodied. The head is thin, sandy in color and dissipates rather quickly.

The initial whiff knocks you over with sweet spice notes. The spices are reminiscent of those used in mulling but sweeter, like mulling spices coated in sugar. There is a fruity note that blankets a more subtle malt note. When the two aromas combine together it resembles that of a fresh baked fruit cake.

On the palate the sweet dried fruit notes enter first. Think dried candied cranberries laced with a hint of candied orange peel. The fruit notes mingle on the midpalate with a spice bouquet, which is dominated by nutmeg. Amidst the nutmeg there is a hint of cinnamon which is all that is needed to accentuate but not over power the fruit. The finish echoes the midpalate with no particular component lingering. Although the beer is light bodied, the carbonation carries the flavors well and it still possesses a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel.

This is beer is not one that is over – the- top or super complex. It is simply everything a winter warmer should be. It tastes like a traditional New England Holiday in liquid form and conjures up all kinds of happy memories. 4.5 out of 5 Pints

The Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 Pints out of 5

Please check with your local Bottle King store for current inventory