A fresh take on ale?

March 12, 2009

While waiting at my kids’ dance studio this evening, I read through (pretty much cover to cover) my latest issue of BeerAdvocate Magazine (vol. 3 issue 2, for those keeping count). On the back inside cover is an advertisement for Budweiser American Ale. Most of the ad, as expected, was an image but the text caught my eye:

Carefully brewed with caramel-malted barley and Cascade hops for a full-bodied flavor and bright, hoppy finish. Now that’s a fresh take on ale.

It’s the last sentence that caught me. A fresh take on ale? Perhaps it’s a fresh take for Budweiser, but I see nothing fresh (as in new, trendy, bold) about using caramel (or Crystal) malt and Cascade hops; it’s a fairly ordinary recipe for ale.

I’m sure Budweiser’s marketing machine was simply going for a play on words, but the play for the audience of the very magazine they’re advertising in is flawed. At least it is in this beer nut’s opinion.

I haven’t tried American Ale, and to be honest I’m not running out to try it either. It’s not new to me, and doesn’t excite me, mainly because it comes from a macro brewer whose products I’ve learned to avoid. It might be good, or it might not. I’m not going to question its appeal. I’m just questioning its advertising.

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Erie Brewing Company’s Drake’s Crude Oatmeal Stout

March 12, 2009

Drake’s Crude oatmeal stout
6.9% ABV

Appearance
Poured thick, deep opaque brownish black and sludgy. Crude is a good term for it. Not much in the way of a head at all.

Smell
Sweet sticky oatmeal stout aroma with some tartness to it that would indicate this could be a sour beer.

Taste
Massive oatmeal and roasted grains, with some kind of an earthy funk to it, like soggy peat.

Mouthfeel
Very thick but surprisingly silky.

Drinkability
Too thick to call this one very drinkable, but it was certainly enjoyable going down.

Overall
Not overly impressed but not unimpressed. Seems like they really wanted to go with a massive oatmeal stout, and they succeeded. This definitely earns the name “crude” oatmeal stout. Like unrefined oil.


Clipper City Brewery’s Holy Sheet

March 12, 2009

Heavy Seas: Holy Sheet “Über Abbey Ale”
9% ABV

Of note, I’ve been impressed with all of the “Heavy Seas” beers I’ve tried from Clipper City. Definitely check them out!

I had this one on tap about a month ago. The tasting below is from a bottle I had about two weeks ago after trying it on tap and loving it. As good as it is out of the bottle, you absolutely must find this one on tap!

I’d tried to order something else (Ommegang something-or-other) but the bartender – without saying a word – shook his head, made a level-handed “time out” gesture, and poured me this instead. Of course he knows my tastes very well so this, while unexpected, was not surprising. I am extremely happy he poured me this beer, and so were about 5 others who stepped up to try it after my reaction.

OK, enough about the draught experience. Here’s the bottle review:

Appearance
Poured a clear, clean dark crimson with very little head.

Smell
Faint malty sweetness and nuts.

Taste
Very sweet and nutty, with an almost hazelnut character to it. Some good lemony citrus coming through as well.

Mouthfeel
Thick, clean, and wet. Sounds dirty, but there you have it.

Drinkability
Very drinkable. In fact, I drank it faster than I should have. Between the sweetness and lemon notes, and the very wet mouthfeel, this one can go down quick!

Overall
Extremely pleased with this one.


Atwater Block Brewery’s Voodoo Vator

March 12, 2009

Voodoo Vator doppelbock
9.5% ABV

Appearance
Very dark amber/brown though see-through clear. Very little head to speak of.

Smell
Not much of anything going on in the nose. Faint traces of malts and hops with a tiny bit of citrus but honestly this was not a “nosy” beer at all.

Taste
Very sweet and malty with a light sour taste to it. A lot of roasted grains coming through in the flavor.

Mouthfeel
This is a very thick-feeling beer. It’s not thick like an old ale, but feels thick and almost milky.

Drinkability
I’m a sucker for a thick beer so this one worked well for me, though others migh find it too thick or syrupy to enjoy.

Overall
This one’s about average for me. I was hoping for more up front in the nose but given it’s a doppelbock there’s not going to be too much there compared to a stronger ale. The slight sourness was a pleasant surprised but other than that I was relatively ambivalent about it.


Left Hand Brewing Company’s Warrior IPA

March 12, 2009

Warrior IPA
6.6% ABV
(sorry about the root link but their site is flash-based, which would explain why it was also poorly indexed in Google)

Appearance
Clear and light amber in color, pours clean with a good two fingers of head.

Smell
Nothing but floral hops on the nose. Very hoppy.

Taste
Again, very hoppy with both florals and bitters coming through. Very odd finish of Bazooka bubble gum. Hoppy bubble gum.

Mouthfeel
Refreshing and clean.

Drinkability
Highly drinkable. The florals up front are delightful and the weird sweet bubble gum-like finish clears the path for another mouthfull of hoppy goodness.

Overall
The bubble gum flavor was noticed not just by me during this session. It’s an odd flavor to find in a beer, but it works well with the almost intense floral hoppiness. Hoppy bubble gum it is, though definitely not chewy.


River Horse Brewing Company’s Tripel Horse

March 12, 2009

Tripel Horse Belgian-style tripel
10% ABV

Appearance
Pours with minimal head. Light golden color with a ton of trub in suspension. Looks like a snow globe, only the particles are not falling out of suspension. Not an appetizing looking beer.

Smell
Strong citrus (lemon) and caramel notes with minor presence of Belgian spices.

Taste
Extremely malty with strong honey flavors coming through. Very sweet, almost like candy.

Mouthfeel
Somewhat thick though clean-feeling despite the suspended particles in there.

Drinkability
Somewhat thicker than the style (tripel) would suggest, though the sweetness does make it somewhat easy to drink. No dry feeling at all.

Overall
I’d give this one another go, though I wouldn’t place it at the top of my preferences. It’s not the most beautiful-looking beer, though interesting to look at. Perhaps a mystic could use it to read fortunes in the suspended matter.