Night Shift Brewing, Bennington Oatmeal Stout, Everett, MA
7% abv. Canned 1/27/17 so this is 7 days old. Pours jet black with a tan head that dissipates quickly. Wonderful coffee and tiramisu aroma. Great full-bodied mouthfeel. Rich chocolate covered espresso bean flavor upfront with just a touch of bourbon vanilla. Oatmeal, cocoa, and very faint maple notes give it a kind of chocolate chip pancakes flavor! Nice hop bite at finish helps to balance it. Some astringency at finish from big malt billing, but it is smooth and drinkable. Wonderful aromas jump out with every sip, this really is a great smelling beer. This is a limited seasonal offering, so if you see it, grab it.
Dugges Bryggeri, Tropical Sunrise Swedish Sour Ale (Collaboration with Stillwater Artisanal), Dugges, Sweden
Gift from either my brother Tim or Tom, I can’t remember! 4.5% abv. Sour beer brewed with lactobacillus, pineapple, mango, and raspberry. No hops in this one, just fermented with actual fruit.
Pours a pinkish peach gold color with a thin white head that quickly dissipates. Lacto funk aroma with strong mango, papaya, pineapple, berries and spiced apple tart notes. Fruity, sour, and thirst quenching. Goes down easily and very quickly. Some natural carbonation with a light to moderate body and a touch of buttery slipperiness, but then it gets drier toward the finish. Strong dried mango, pineapple, and apricot flavors as well as lemon ball candy (think Lemonheads). Would pair well with light desserts and would be incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day.
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, Hop Savant Brettanomyces IPA, Denver, CO
7% abv. Gift from my brother Tom and my sister-in-law Kristen. Pours a murky gold orange color with a massive marshmallow head.Lots of yeast sediment. This one smells amazing with an interesting mix of cloves, banana and pepper from the wild yeast, but citrus, tropical fruit and floral notes from the hops. Thick Belgian lace all around the glass. Smooth, almost buttery mouthfeel and moderate carbonation. Brettanomyces funk with first sip followed by ripe mango, mild white pepper, raisins, apricot, peach and pear skin. Peach flavor becomes more dominant as you move through it. Damn this beer is delicious and I wish it was a larger bottle. Amazingly juicy, but finishes a touch dry.Sad that I just quaffed the last sip.
Pours a murky yellow gold color with an enormous frothy cauliflower head that tries to climb right out of the glass. Ridiculous Belgian lace. Beautiful aroma of cloves, cardamom, white pepper, citrus, and fresh banana bread. First sip is cloves and pepper, but some fruity pear, golden raisin, and apple skin notes as well. Pretty clean, ridiculously drinkable, and smooth, but it finishes with a great tart funk and a citrusy hop bite. I am plowing through this 750ml bottle pretty quickly, thankfully it is relatively low abv.This is a beer that you could drink all night long. I am a sucker for a good saison and this one is very solid.
Saint-Sylvestre Brewery, Trois Monts Grande Reserve, Saint Sylvestre, France
A wedding favor gift from Tom and Kristen’s wedding this fall. It took some sleuthing to figure out exactly which beer this was since their wedding label was stuck to the original label. 8.3% abc 750ml bottle.
Pours a goldish amber color with an active thin white head that persists. Wonderful Belgian lace. White pepper, golden raisin, cloves, and roasted pine nuts on the nose. Light-to-medium bodied with great carbonation and slightly dry. Fruity pear and raisin flavors. Paired incredibly well with some freshly made sweet and spicy hazelnuts. Herbal and citrusy hop flavors balance a dry cracker and toasted bread sweetness. Mild pepper, clove, and ripe banana flavors at finish from the yeast strain. Pretty smooth and drinkable. Second and third pours activate the yeast and create a beautiful frothy head and more carbonation. All kinds of subtle flavors pop up…from white grapes to mild oak to buttery and woody chardonnay. Every time I have any kind of Flanders style ale I think of a great night spent at a wonderful beer bar called Staminee De Garre in Bruges, Belgium. This brewery is only about an hour away from Bruges. I can’t wait to go back.
Banded Horn Brewing Company, The Jolly Woodsman, Biddeford, ME
7.5% abv. 16oz tall boy can. A special blend of two of the breweries stouts, Norweald and Mountain. Steeped with Kenyan espresso from Speckled Ax.Pours jet black with a thin tan head. Rich espresso bean aroma jumps out of the can. Super thick, chewy, and viscous mouthfeel with absolutely no alcohol presence. Bittersweet dark chocolate, fresh roasted nuts, chocolate milk, and espresso flavors dominate, but there is a subtle citrus undertone that helps balance it off nicely. This goes high up on my list of dessert beers. Excessively drinkable even thought it is full bodied. Some mild astringency at the finish due to the heavy malt billing. Damn this is a delicious beer. Cocoa nibs and floral and bright citrus hop flavors combine at finish in the most interesting way. I love this one. I could not help but include the Pete Seeger book I am currently reading in the picture. The similarities in the color palate of the beer can and the book are pretty remarkable.
Ruhstaller Farm & Yard Brewery, The Kenyan Ale, Sacramento, CA.
A gift from the amazing Jamie Okuma. 6.2% abv. 46 IBUs. Made with cold brewed Camellia Coffee Roasters Kenyan beans. Pours a dark amber, almost garnet color. Rich dark roasted coffee aroma jumps right out of the bottle with an amazing combination of espresso and dark chocolate notes. This beer smells awesome. First sip has a smooth mocha flavor to it followed by a quick hop tingle and then stronger coffee notes. Each sip presents a unique milk chocolate, caramel, and coffee flavor that I have never experienced in a beer before. The hops are right there at finish, perhaps a bit subdued because I didn’t drink it as soon as I received it. Overall it is a pretty well-balanced beer. Each sip finishes with a creamy smoothness, almost like coffee ice cream.Hops, coffee, and malt profile get a touch astringent at the end, but by no means in a bad way. This brewery does not disappoint.
Bissell Brothers Brewing Company, Lux Rye Ale, Portland, ME
5.1% abv. Picked up two 4 packs of this at the brewery on my way to Camden, ME. Pours a murky orangish gold with a fluffy white head. Wonderful tropical fruit aroma with mango, pineapple, apricot, and grapefruit. Dank hop notes as well. First sip is sugar coated grapefruit with great mix of tropical fruit and a mildly spicy rye bite. Dry cracker and toasted bread malt helps balance it. Thirst quenching and ridiculously drinkable. It one of those beers that you just cannot stop drinking. Touches of white pepper at finish.This is one of the best session beers I have ever tried. I am impressed at how much flavor is packed into a beer that is only 5.1% abv. I am sad that I only have one can left!
Bissell Brothers Brewing Company, Substance, Portland, ME
6.6% abv. At Empire Chinese Kitchen in Portland, ME. I tried this just before I headed to the brewery to pick up two 4-packs of it and some Lux Rye Ale (which is amazing – review forthcoming). Pours murky goldish-orange with a huge white head. Citrusy and flowery aroma. Grapefruit, pine, and maybe a flowery hibiscus flavor. Super smooth and drinkable. This is pretty well balanced, with a light caramel malt finish.I am surprised that the hop flavors don’t linger too long. Some orange zest, ripe mango, and apricot as well. Wonderful mouthfeel.These guys know what they are doing. I can’t wait to get my hands on more of their beers.
Ruhstaller Farm & Yard, Dixon Cascade IPA, Sacramento, CA
6% abv. 52 IBU Cascade Hops with California Metcalf and Copeland barley – A gift from my friend, the amazing designer Jamie Okuma. Pours gold with a touch of copper and a white head. I love the smell of this beer. It has a wonderful flowery cascade hops aroma with light citrus notes, but the sweet caramel and bready malt scents are right there as well to help balance it. I swear you can smell the freshness of the ingredients. The hops were grown, dried, and baled, and stored on the farm.
First sip is pine resin with distinct floral notes. Just a touch spicy, but citrusy as well. The flavors are subtle, complex, and delicious. I really love the delicate spiciness and mild citrus bite. With a relatively low abv, this beer is excessively drinkable and flavorful throughout.
This isn’t a typical west coast style IPA, but it is a delicious old school take on the style that I could drink every single day.