Thursday, October 29, 2009

Victory Vista Harvest Ale

While on our way to a fantastic wedding in the Downingtown, PA area, Alex, Jimmy and I stopped in for lunch and a few brews at Victory Brewery. First off, if you haven't been and you live even remotely close, I highly recommend it. They had 4 beers on cask and a whole bunch more on tap, along with an awesome menu. Secondly, if you have about half an hour to get to a wedding that's ten minutes away, and its on a busy Saturday both at Victory and on the roads, we don't recommend filling up your growlers. Chances are, you'll have to break a few driving laws in order to make it to the church just before the bride gets out of the limo. Totally unrelated, I have a growler of the Vista Harvest Ale that I would like to review for you all now.

Appearance: This has been sitting in the fridge for a while, but I am still shocked at how much carbonation there still is, with a good couple fingers of head, however it recedes fairly quickly. There is a light golden color, very clean and clear.

Smell: Mmmmm, great grassy, herbal, and floral hop aroma, but that is pretty much it, maybe a little sweetness. Not necessarily a bad thing, it is a very pleasant smelling beer.

Taste: What an interesting mix of flavors, with your grassy and herbal hops and definitely more noticeable yet still light nutty malts. It is as crisp as the appearance suggests, and has good balance for a seemingly lighter brew.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied (more towards light), a tiny bit thin, but a great oiliness texture that coats your mouth, followed by a gentle bitterness aftertaste.

Drinkability: I could drink this all day out on the porch one summer day. It is extremely easy drinking, and even though I don't have an exact abv on this, I have to imagine it falls below 6%. I would rate this comparable to a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but with a little bit cleaner finish and a little bigger bitterness bite. I wish this was released in bottles so I wouldn't have to lug my growler down to Downingtown, but I guess that's what makes it special. Like I said before, if you have the chance to go to Victory, do so, because you will find great stuff you can't get in stores, along with their entire selection of craft brews. For this style, it is very close to being the gold standard, and in my humble opinion, that is not an exaggeration. 9/10

Serving type: Tap/Growler
Glass type: Sam Adams glass

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sierra Nevada Estate

Unstoppable: Eli Manning is. So is his Sierra Nevada Estate Brewers Harvest Ale, fueled by hops and barley, it never needs a recall, just like the people...who drink it.

Ah yes, the first release of the new Estate Harvest Ale (not to be confused with Chico Estate Wet Hop Harvest), Sierra Nevada's experiment of brewing with completely their own ingredients grown at their brewery in Chico. I've been waiting to get my hands on this ever since I heard of the concept a little while back, since I have been such a huge fan of the other brews in the Harvest lineup. Of course, our friends at State Line Liquors in Elkton, MD pull through and had some available.

Appearance: A deep amber color with alive and kicking carbonation that produces greater than a finger of fluffy head, topping off a crisp, clean beer.

Smell: Tremendous hop scent, a combination of citrus, floral, and juicy (a first for me in describing a scent like that, but it does remind me of a juice box smell, in a good way) hops, along with a hint of sweetness from the malts.

Taste: Fantastic taste, resiny and citrus hops with some light biscuit malts as backup, and finishes with that juiciness and fruit taste, very light on the spice, only subtle hints until it warms up, with the hop bitterness giving way to the malts.

Mouthfeel: Oily and resiny, not too thin, perfectly carbonated, which I was afraid of overcarbonation given the amount of head on the pour, light to medium body, almost no alcoholic aftertaste or bite that you might get from an IPA (which it technically is).

Drinkability: Maybe I'm biased towards Sierra Nevada's brews, specifically the Harvest ales, but for a 1st release (technically the Chico Estate used only its own hops, this went a step further) this is a great beer, albeit a tad overpriced. I've heard prices everywhere from $8-$11 for a 24 oz. bottle, which is a little steep in my opinion. If money is no object, you could easily put back a few at only 6.7% abv and still be game for more. I would give this beer a 9+, but I'll have to ding them a bit for the price. 8.5/10

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams glass

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dogfish Head Theobroma

Man, it's been a while since I've done this, but I've been dying to do one. I moved, so maybe my pictures will have different backgrounds now instead of the same monitor/desk/dresser that's usually there. Anyways, on a recent trip to State Line Liquors, Jimmy, Alex, and I went on a spending spree to match all spending sprees, picking up everything from the old standards to the rare and exotic. This one falls more towards the latter in the exotic category with its extensive flavor profile described on the bottle.

Appearance: A light lively golden color with about a half finger to full finger of growing head, a tiny bit opaque.

Smell: Lots of fruity smells, some apricot, citrus, honey, a little pine, barely any sweetness, some spiciness, just a little hint of chili (maybe?)

Taste: Very interesting mixture and timing of the flavors as it starts like a tripel with light citrus, but then a mix of honey and chili coat the tongue on its way down, leaving you with that mellow spice on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: A little watery, but perfectly carbonated for the style I feel. Thin body with not much bite for such a high alcoholic brew.

Drinkability: Easily drinkable at 9% abv, this beer will sneak up on you before you are done with your bomber bottle. The one thing that may slow you down is the chili/spicey aftertaste, it's not completely overpowering, but it lingers and is definitely noticeable. The chili is a good idea to have in the taste, but I feel like I'm missing out on the rest of the possibilities like cocoa that's used. Overall though, it's another inventive brew from one of the most creative breweries in the country that, for the most part, delivers. 7.5/10

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Duvel tulip glass