Firestone Walker Mocha Merlin Oatmeal Stout

Since 1996, Adam Firestone and David Walker have been producing amazing beers in California’s Central Coast. The Paso Robles brewery has won the award for 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 now have a portfolio of nearly two dozen year round & seasonal brews.

ABV: 5.5%     IBU’s: 23

Pour: A deep dark brown, almost black, with Mahogany highlights when viewed in the light. It is surprisingly opaque for the style. The one finger cappuccino colored head dissipates quickly but does leave a light lacing behind.

Nose: Offers up notes of oatmeal and roasted malts. Coffee and chocolate notes are plentiful and intertwine with a slightly smoky note. Sweet notes of molasses can be detected along with some earthy hop notes.

Palate: Tons of roasted malts. First you get the coffee, then the oats and chocolate flood the palate. There is a molasses like sweetness that hits at just about the same time that the smokiness does. A hint of vanilla is also discernible.

Overall: Mocha Merlin is a great coffee oatmeal stout from the folks at Firestone Walker. Has loads of coffee notes on the nose and palate making it an excellent winter beer that with a lower than average ABV can be drunk (instead of sipped) by the fireplace. Try pairing it with aged cheddar, pork mole or chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Pints

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Magic Hat Belgo Sutra

The Magic Hat Brewing Companybelgosutra was founded in 1994 by Alan Newman and Bob Johnson in Burlington, Vermont. Twenty years later, Magic Hat is known the world over for their craft brews.

The latest release from their Humdinger Collection, Belgo Sutra is a strong, dark ale brewed with figs, dates, and dark candied syrup.

Inspired by the Trappists of Belgium, this Quadrupel will warm your soul as you throw out inhibitions and lose yourself in intense pleasure!

ABV: 8.2%

Pour: Dark Amber/Brown with Mahogany hues.

Head: Thick off-white.

Nose: Sweet malty/fruit notes. Toffee and caramel.

Palate: Full bodied, mouth coating with loads of dark fruits. Hints of sweet chocolate and cane sugar.

Finish: Well smooth finish. Sweet, yet well balanced.

Overall: A solid pour from Magic Hat. A perfect pair for the changing weather.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3.5 Out Of 5 Pints

AleSmith Sublime Mexican Lager

San Diego’s craft beer scene is one of the best in the country. Standing out is no easy task, but AleSmith has managed to do just that for over 20 years.

They made a name in late 1990’s and have been awarded Small Brewing Company of the Year, Brewer of the Year as well as #1 Best Brewery in the world by RateBeer.com.

In recent years they’ve moved to a new state of the art facility, boasting the largest tasting room in San Diego. This Mexican Style Lager is brewed by AleSmith with Southern California natives Sublime to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album “40oz. to Freedom.”

ABV: 5.2%

Pour: Golden in color with a slight haze to it and mild carbonation. Slim white head forms and fades leaving some lacing on the glass.

Nose: Not much going on, some light hop notes and aromas of caramel give it a sweet twist.

Pallet: Light bodied, there’s a hint of hops but very mild. This is an easy drinker with a slight malt background and great balance. Finish is clean and crisp with no acidity.

Overall: Balanced is the best way to describe this one, it has a feel of a traditional Vienna-style lager with a SoCal twist. Alesmith suggests this as a go to beer for hot days on the beach or tailgating and I think they nailed that feel. A great pairing with burgers, grilled sausages or some spicy pulled pork.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Pints

Dugges Tropic Punch Ale

Just off the western coast of Sweden, Dugges Brewing is an idea turned reality for Mikael Dugge Engström, who is not only the founder but head brewmaster.

Dugges is known for lots of hops, strong flavors, and experimenting with new styles of beer. They often release small test batches like Tropic Punch Ale, a sour fruit beer brewed with mangos and passion fruit. It’s a collaboration with nomadic brewer Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal.

ABV: 4.5%          

Pour: A hazy golden color, like tropical fruit punch. A very small head forms but fades quickly.  

Nose: Fruit, fruit and more fruit with a slight tartness on the end.

Pallet: On the lighter side with a slight sparkle. Super juicy with plenty of peach, mango and passion fruit to go around. The finish is clean with no acidity and mild tartness brings it all together.

Overall: Wow! I wasn’t really sure what to expect when opening this one, I’ve had plenty of sour ales that are brewed with tropical fruits but you can really taste them in this one. One sip is full with sweet peaches and the next with more of a passion fruit feel, the back and forth is delicious and refreshing.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4.5 Out Of 5 Pints

Ballast Point Brewing Fathom IPA

Ballast Point was founded in 1996 by Jack White, a home brewer who opened Home Brew Mart just 4 years earlier. 20 years later, Ballast Point has 6 locations in California and one in Virginia with tasting rooms where beer lovers can take a tour of the facility, have a few pints or take a growler to go. Over the years they have won countless medals at numerous beer competitions and were named “Small Brewery Champion” at the World Beer Cup.

Fathom IPA is brewed to showcase what a west-coast style IPA has to offer, made to be a clean easy drinking IPA.

ABV: 6%               IBU’s: 50

Pour: A rich golden color with plenty or carbonation. The head is white and frothy, fades slowly sticking to the side of the glass.

Nose: Classic west-coast nose, lots of pine needles with some orange peel in the background.

Palate: Light-bodied with good amount of citrus. Really nice hop presence that has almost resin like feel but isn’t sticky, just stays for a minute before a clean finish with moderate acidity.

Overall: A really good brew, highlights a lot of the characteristics you would expect in a west-coast IPA but super sessionable. Great to take along on your weekend trips or to enjoy with a nice burger and fries.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 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

Knee Deep Brewing Breaking Bud

Based in Auburn California, Knee Deep Brewing has been around since mid-2010. They started contract brewing out of another facility, and only sold their beers in kegs. 7 years later, they now operate a 28,000 square foot facility and produce 16 year round offerings, along with seasonal releases and small batches only available in their tasting room.

Breaking Bud is a West Coast IPA brewed with 3 different hop varieties and won a Bronze Medal for American IPA’s at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival.

ABV: 6.5% IBU’s: 50

Head: A small off white head forms and leaves some lacing as it fades away.

Pour: A golden honey color, slightly hazy with light carbonation.

Nose: A big hop presence. Hints of fruit but mostly notes of lemon and a little tangerine.

Palate: Very mild considering the amount of pine on the nose. Medium bodied with a sharp but quick hop flavor before a smooth finish. There’s almost no acidity on the finish giving it a very airy feel.

Overall: Really enjoyable, I was expecting a very hop forward IPA from the nose but this was surprisingly mellow. A solid IPA that was very easy to drink. Fans of super hoppy IPA’s may want a little more, but the combination of a hoppy start and airy finish make a great combination.

Beer Buyer Overall Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Pints