Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 in the Rearview

I hope everyone made it through the New Year with minimal damage.  I want to take some time to thank everyone for following me this year.  My posts were pretty sparse but I’m looking forward to picking it up in 2013.  Go big or go home, right?  I was perusing my tasting notebook and there are several brews that I failed to post about in 2012.  There were a few good ones so I wanted to take the time to give props to those that stood out.  Here we go, all the missed opportunities in 2012 in one epic blog post.  Fasten up.
Sam Adams Grumpy Monk:
Poured with a decent rocky head.  The nose is dominated by musty Belgian yeast character.  Mouthfeel is fairly thin.  Your palate is immediately hit with yeast character of the sulphury mediciney variety.  It’s hard to tell what sort of finish there is and whether there is any hop character because the yeast character is so overwhelming.  Overall I didn’t really care for this brew due to the overpowering yeast character.

Sam Adams Verloren:
This brew interested me from the get go.  It was being advertised as a Gose being brewed with coriander and salt which sounded really “unique”.  At first glance, this brew garnered visions of  vile witches brew.  My curiosity got the best of me and I had to try it.  There were strong aromas of wheat spice dancing around with a bit of coriander in the background.  My initial impression was that it was strange but nice and very refreshing.  The main player is a spice character that is delicate but makes the entire brew what it is.  There was a very slight tart fruit that hides behind the spice.  There is a very nice robust “soft” wheat character that is well rounded and fills your mouth.  The spice, wheat, and fruity tart character make this brew exceptional.  At the point I tried this brew I was still experimenting between using my beloved Sam Adams Perfect Pint glass and my new fangled Spiegelau Stemmed Pilsner glass.  The Verloren turns out to be the perfect brew to showcase the virtues of the Spiegelau glass.  It was amazing the difference of the taste of this brew in the two different vessels.  The Verloren is one of the brews that stands out in my mind even months later.

Sam Adams Cinder Bock:
This brew is a Rauch Bock (smoked beer) weighing in at 9.4% ABV.  The nose is subtle smokiness with a hint of bacon.  There is immediate smoke character when you take a drink but surprisingly it’s not overpowering.  The character is smooth overall with good malt sweetness to support smoke.  A hint of caramel on the finish but the smoke persists throughout the entire palate.  Not a bad brew at all.

Sam Adams Norse Legend:
The Norse Legend is a Sahti brewed with Juniper clocking in 7% ABV.  The nose is unique with very dull spice character much like anise and touches of pepper.  The taste is kind of peppery with an almost coriander quality.  There is a slight tart character on the finish.  Some juniper/fruitiness comes through but it’s more in the background.

Stiegl Radler:
I first became interested in lemonade infused brew with Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.  There is another more traditional radler on the market and that is Stiegl.  It is a 50/50 blend of beer and lemon soda.  The nose is an almost acidic lemony character.  Mouthfeel is thin for the most part.  The radler is pretty sweet through the entire palate but it is balanced by a seltzer water crispness.  It is very soda-poppy but does hit the spot on a hot summer day.

Sam Adams Porch Rocker:
I compared this head to head with the Stiegl.  The Porch Rocker had much less lemon in the nose and had some grainy malt aromas.  This brew was much drier than the Stiegel and had a more beer quality to it.  Both were refreshing.

Weston 1842 Porter:
This is yet another different brew coming out of Weston Brewing Company.  They continue to try different stuff and I applaud them.  Keep up the good work.  The nose is beautiful roasted malt aromas with chocolate and hints of vanilla.  Very inviting.  The flavor starts with a dull malt character that transitions into a very coffee-like roastiness.  To further the coffee-like quality a faint roasted malt bitterness peaks through before a fairly dry finish.  This brew was really good and I was quite impressed.  This is like a diet version of some of the bigger coffee stouts that are out now.  Good job Weston!

Weston Rip Van Winkle:
This is another one of the brews that came to my mind when I think about the past year.  I really liked this brew.  The Rip Van Winkle poured with a huge fluffy head.  The nose was predominately musty German yeast aroma.  There was good malt character that was well rounded.  A bit of caramel peaked through but overall the character of the brew was not too sweet.  The yeast spiciness is the main player in the finish but was subtle.  Hints of cinnamon began showing up on the finish as the brew warmed.    

Boulevard Stingo:
I was excited to try this one from the time it was announced.  I love trying beer styles that I’ve never even heard of before and this was definitely one of them.  A stingo?  It didn’t sound the most appetizing but again my curiosity got the best of me.  I noticed that people didn’t really have the same curiosity as I did because I noticed the Stingo on the liquor store shelves for some time.  Initially I was impressed by the beautiful red complexion.  The nose was a dull sweet malt character with hints of straw/grass.  The mouthfeel was on the thin side.  The first observation was that this brew was very sharp on the palate.  There was a very brief malt sweetness up front with characteristics of molasses.  It reminded me of a brown ale for a fraction of a second and then I was confronted with the sourness.  The sourness is well done and is not overdone.  The drying “stinging” character follows and lasts into the finish.  The malt character is subtle but present throughout.  If you let your palate rest for a few minutes before taking another drink, you get an almost smoky character.

Boulevard Reverb Imperial Pilsner:
I am generally not a fan of the imperial pilsner or double pale ale styles.  For whatever reason these styles always seem WAY too dry for my taste.  I was anxious to try the new Boulevard offering nonetheless.  The nose on the Reverb had a dry grain quality similar to bread but drier.  There was no sweetness to speak of in this brew and it had a sharpness on the palate.  There was some dry grain character, almost a straw character, that makes up the body of this brew.  The “dry” character that I’m normally not a fan of was nicely done in the Reverb.  It was there but it was not overwhelming.

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