Will- You know me well enough to know that irreverence is inevitable. Besides, I wanted to find a way to work in "yuck bad dump sink" after having said that such a review wouldn't be worthwhile
Kurzyk- You were a lucky man indeed to live so close to that brewery; plus, Woodchuck Hard Ciders are also made in Vermont, and they're pretty damned good as well.
Noelle- Thanks! I'll definitely look those up at my local stores. I've had Lindemans Framboise Lambic, Lindemans Lambic PÍche (peach, obviously, though I didn't like it much), and Lindemans Cassis Lambic (the one made with Black Currants) because my girlfriend generally tends to dislike the taste of actual beer, so I sometimes seek out Lambics and Ciders for her. They're relatively okay, but compared to other fruit lambics they fall short, partly because they're sweetened with Acesulfame potassium (a calorie-free artificial sweetener often used in diet sodas), and because they have low ABV levels; for instance, the raspberry Framboise you mentioned only has 2.5% ABV. Still, that particular Framboise makes for a damned good Ice Cream Float with a scoop or two of Vanilla. If you ever have a chance, I recommend trying Cantillon Rosť De Gambrinus
for an iconic example of the Fruit Lambic style.
Now then, tonight's three beers are Magic Hat's #9
, a fairly light fruit beer that breaks the fruit beer mold, Magic Hat's Wacko
, an even lighter fruit beer, and Terrapin's Gamma Ray
, a monstrous 11% ABV Wheatwine.
Brewed by:Terrapin Beer Company
Athens, Georgia, United States
Wheatwine is a fairly new style of beer that has become increasingly prevalent in the past decade from ballsy American brewers who have a habit of taking older varieties of beers and making high-alcohol versions of them. In this case, American brewers took the English Barleywine and replaced the barley with wheat, thus making a novel American Strong Ale. Anytime you see a beer that has the word "Imperial" in it, it's likely a result of bold American brewers tampering with an old style to create a powerful new product. They don't always turn out well, but Wheatwine is a style that works. Disregard the word "wine" in the name; it's definitely a beer. They use at least, and often over, 50% wheat malt, which provides a strong alcohol content countered by a velvety, fluffy texture and surprisingly light flavor. Wheatwines typically have an alcohol content between 9% to 14%.
Poured into a snifter from a 12oz bottle with an awesome beer and lightning-wielding superhero turtle on the label and a notched freshness date that strangely gives the month and day but not the year; however, given the alcohol content, this one could easily hold up for a few years.Appearance-
4 out of 5. Gamma Ray definitely looks somewhat radioactive with its somewhat hazy yet intense rosy-orange inner color and golden-yellow exterior as bubbles skyrocket to the top of the glass. The small head quickly fades and doesn't leave much lacing at all.Smell-
4.5 out of 5. Oh my god, this smells good. Really good. I initially detect vanilla, banana, and a wickedly wonderful waft of wheat. Slightly spicy undertone with a bit of hops as well. I want to stick my nose farther into the snifter to soak up more of the delicious scent.Taste-
4.5 out of 5. This is stuff tastes good as well. It starts with a creamy taste of lightly-toasted vanilla, caramel malt, and dark honey, then deepens to mildly spicy cloves, banana (almost like a banana liqueur but without the disgustingly overly-sweet aspect) , and finishes with tingly hops. Wheat and honey may be the main ingredients of this beer, but it has a definite complexity all its own; moreover, the alcohol isn't that strong considering this beer's high ABV. I can't stop sipping it.Mouthfeel-
4 out of 5. The body is somewhat thick (but not syrupy) and fairly dry, without much carbonation. The warmth from the alcohol spreads through your mouth, down your throat, and settles pleasantly in your stomach.Drinkability-
4 out of 5. This is another one of those dangerous beers. At 11% ABV, it's easily finished in a few quaffs or a number of sips, so be careful. The sweetness may dissuade some, but it's not overly sweet; rather, it's just the right level for what it was trying to accomplish. It could be a session beer if you can afford it and are willing to take it slower than the normal pound 'em down rate of most sessions. Definitely recommended; even now that I'm finished with it, I can lick my lips and still taste the honey.
Overall, an A.
Wheatwine is still an up-and-coming style, so check it out if you have the chance! Your tongue will thank you.
Next up is the another beer from my Magic Hat Summer Sampler, Magic Hat's #9
Brewed by:Magic Hat Brewing Company
Vermont, United States
Style- Debatable (see below)
#9 is probably Magic Hat's most well-known beer. The brewery labels it as a "Not-Quite-Pale-Ale". Most beer reviewers label it as a Fruit Beer, but don't let the name fool you: this isn't one of those syrupy-sweet/girly beers, though its flavor is such that girls with petite palates can indeed enjoy it too. "Fruit beer" isn't really a style; instead, it's a broad designation that really doesn't say much other than that a beer has been brewed with some sort of fruit ingredient in addition to the other ingredients of its style. Some can be atrocious; some can be delicious. #9 is brewed with yeast that is typically used in English Ale, and its use of Cascade hops gives it a floral trait that's most often associated with Pale Ales, so those are the styles this beer is closest to. Given the broad range, no ABV range for Fruit Beers can be established since I've seen them from 4.1% all the way up to 18%.
Poured into a standard glass from a 12oz bottle with freshness date notched onto the label. "Find a Cure in the Soup du Jour" under the cap; if the soup du jour is beer, then I'm happy to search!Appearance-
4 out of 5. This beer has a bright but hazy golden yellow with hints of orange in the center and pours with a decent one finger head that is extremely fizzy, matching the carbonation bubbling up from the bottom of the glass. The head fades fairly quickly but leaves a bit of thin lacing.Smell-
3.5 out of 5. The smell is rather weak, with hints of apricot, buttery bread (fresh buttery biscuits, to be descriptive), and a bit of mildly spicy yeast.Taste-
4 out of 5. The first sip is a bit of a pleasant surprise. The first upfront taste is of apricots, light malt, and bready yeast. For something that's almost a Pale Ale, I expected a lot more citrus, but this beer tastes good without it. There are undertones of spice, but this beer isn't very complex. Delicious, but not complex. It finishes with crisp, tingly hops on the back of the tongue.Mouthfeel-
4 out of 5. I reiterate what I said about it being crisp and tingly; that feeling lingers for a little while after swallowing. The overall body is light and smooth.Drinkability-
4 out of 5. Overall, this is a well-rounded beer. The hint of apricot in the taste is actually pretty good. It's not particularly deep or complex, but it hits the spot on a hot Summer day and goes down so easily that one could consume a lot of these in a short amount of time. If you want a Pale Ale-esque beer without the heavy citrus and hops, give this a shot.
Overall, a B.
Last up is another offering from Magic Hat called Wacko
Brewed by:Magic Hat Brewing Company
Vermont, United States
Style- Fruit Beer
Why yes, that beer is
a bit pink. Like #9, it is classified as a Fruit Beer, but some people also classify it as a Vegetable beer because it uses a bit of beet coloring. You might think that beets and beer wouldn't go together, but beet sugar is actually commonly used in beer. Most sucrose-sugar you buy in the U.S. is also beet sugar unless marked otherwise (Pure Cane Sugar, for instance). Wacko is a seasonal beer sold only during the summer.
Poured from a 12oz bottle into a standard glass, freshness date notched on label.Appearance-
3.5 out of 5. The color is a strong, hazy orange with an almost pinkish hue in the center that looks appealing, but the less than one-finger head fizzles out extremely fast, leaving little lacing around the sides and only a phantom in the middle, like the last lingering bubbles from a recently-submerged continent.Smell-
3 out of 5. The smell is confusing and not entirely appealing. I can detect the light grain from the malt, which is rather sweet, and a bit of hops, but nothing particularly strong aside from a trace of some kind of fruit, like grapefruit without the tang.Taste-
3 out of 5. For a beer that's brewed with beet coloring, which sounds rather unappealing, this is pretty good. I'm a little disappointed in Magic Hat for using what tastes like adjunct grains, but the corn holds up better than in most macros that use it. Finishes with a combination of grass, faintly bitter hops, and a metallic undertone. Not bad.Mouthfeel-
3.5 out of 5. Starts off with a sharp bite that quickly recedes into a carbonated tingle. Slightly wet, slightly crisp, slightly smooth.Drinkability-
3.5 out of 5. Depends on the situation. I had this at a pool party and drank at least 4 that I can remember; however, based on the more rigorous tasting I'm giving it now, I wouldn't want more than two. It's okay, but Magic Hat offers much better beers than this. If you're at a party where drinking in quantity is more important than complexity, this would be ideal.
Overall, a C+. I'm only giving it that + for its easy drinkability.Definition Explanation-
"Lacing". Sounds like the frilly part of a fancy dress, right? That's probably where it came from. Imagine ripping a frilly dress off of a beautiful woman and ravaging her to the point where the only remnant left is the lacy frill that had surrounded the dress; the same thing applies to beer. After the head has died down, what's left of it is called the "lacing". It's the light whitish sticky stuff that adheres to the side of the glass and floats on the top of the beer. From what I've heard, it results from the hop oils combining with the proteins in beer and thus forming chain-like structures; therefore, beers with a sizable amount of hops, protein, or both will probably have considerable lacing.
You may have noticed that American commercial lagers from macrobreweries lack that characteristic lacing? That's a result of the fact that use lots of corn which significantly lessens the amount of protein in the beer. On the other hand, oats are chock full of protein, so a solid hoppy Oatmeal Stout often has so much lacing left on the side of the class that you need a blowtorch and an adamantine trowel to pry it off. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you.
Now, I have a question for anyone reading this: Are these blogs too long? Do you actually read all of them (Please be honest; my ego will be fine if you don't read it all)? Should I break them up into one beer per post? Any other feedback? Thanks for your time.