Beers 1 - 20 of 23:
|Anchor Brewing, Anchor Steam Beer (USA) |
Anchor Steam (from bottle) was one of my favourite beers when I first came across it in San Francisco in the early 1990s. It is an amber ale with a creamy head, that has a fresh, hoppy aroma with a hint of caramel. On the palate it is quite light and refreshing and has a fruity mid-palate with a clean, dry finish with a bit of bite. Still a lovely beer, and very good quality indeed. Is it a touch less complex than I remember from 15 years ago, or is that just nostalgia? 4.9% ABV, 35cl, £1.59, Luvians, Oddbins, Selfridge's, Surf4beer.
|Black Mountain, Crazy Ed's Chili Beer (USA) |
"Crazy Ed's Original Cave Creek Chili Beer", to give it its full name, is a gimmicky beer with a whole Jalapeno in the bottle. It pours a pale yellow colour with almost no head. On the nose there's a strong aroma of bell pepper / capiscum that is pungently green and vegetal. On the palate it basically just like drinking a jug of water, whilst being blasted by chili heat that burns as much as you'd expect. I can detect no hops, malt or fermentation character; just chili. I wasn't sure what to expect from this - how subtle or otherwise the chili might be - but if there's a good base beer in there, the chili has destroyed it. A novelty. 4.5% ABV, 33cl, £1.79, Beersofeurope, Peckhams, Pierhead.
|Blue Moon Brewing, Blue Moon (USA) |
(RP) Blue Moon brewery is based in Denver, Colorado, but the beer makes a deep, long bow in the direction of the spiced “white beers” of Belgium, of which Hoegaarden is the best-known brand. As well as barley malt and hops, Blue Moon has the added attractions of oats for creaminess and orange peel and coriander for fruity and spicy notes. The brewery recommends serving the beer with an orange slice or wedge to bring out the subtle flavours of the fruit and spice. It is a good companion for grilled prawns, lemon chicken, dressed crab and white fish.
The beer is exceptionally spicy and tart with pronounced hop bitterness for the style. Creamy oats fill the mouth but are well balanced by orange fruit and spices. The finish is long, quenching, spicy and fruity with a good hop attack.
Malt: high. Fruit: high. Hops: moderate.
5.4% ABV, 35.5cl, £1.99, Sainsbury's.
|Boston Beer Co, Samuel Adams Lager (USA) |
This lager has quite a dark golden/amber colour and a cream-coloured head. It is aromatic and estery, with floral and vivid citrus notes over lots of caramel-coated malt and a nice, nettly hop quality. On the palate it is quite resinous, with lots of wax and bitter hop flavours dominating. There is plenty of tang to this beer, with the creamy texture and dark, malt and biscuity character submerged by pithy acidity. My first taste of this, and I am really quite impressed - a world removed from Bud and Miller. 4.8% ABV, 35.5cl, £1.39, Luvians, Surf4beer.
|Brooklyn Brewery, Black Chocolate Stout (USA) |
Weighing in with a hefty 8.7 ABV, this is brewed seasonally in winter only each year: this is the 03/04 release, imported by friends from the US. I have to say it is a sensational beer, displaying much better balance than the Thornton's bottling also reviewed. The colour is jet black with a hint of ruby, and the head is a dark tan. On the nose it has a beautiful fruity quality layered with more predictable chocolate, dark-roasted espresso and burnt grain notes. That fine fruity and hoppy aroma manages to hold its own. On the palate it is delightfully bitter and chocolaty, with burnt toast and sweet black cherry playing against a lovely hoppy undertow and lots of solid plum and blackcurrant skin tang. Very long too, this is a must taste beer if you can track it down. 8.7% ABV, 35.5.
|Brooklyn Brewery, Lager (USA) |
New York's brooklyn brewery has over 100 years of brewing history, and this Vienna-style amber lager is its biggest selling beer. Made with German Hallertauer, Vanguard and Cascade hops, and late hopped for extra bitterness, it is a fabulous beer. The colour is deep amber with a thinnish off-white head. The nose overflows with hoppy, herbal aromas, a eucalyptus note and a pillow of sweet malt. On the palate it is full and rich, but is all about bittering hops and masses of savoury depth of flavour. Serve this a little less chilled than most lagers, and it is an absolute treat. 5.1% ABV, 35.5cl, £1.39, Euro-beer, Luvians, Onlyfinebeer, Peckhams.
|Dixie Brewing, Blackened Voodoo Lager (USA) |
Dixie brewery in New Orleans has some interesting brews, not least this "schwartzbier", or black beer. It pours a very dark garnet/dark brown, almost black, with a very quickly dissipating cream-coloured head. The nose has an acrid, smoky tang, with a touch of burnt rubber, then a leafy hop quality and some citrus fruit. On the palate it has some Irish stout-like dryness, but then a much sweeter and less bitter core opens out. In truth this is a bit of a sheep in wolf's clothing, ending as an easy drinking lager with a twist, but it is good beer, and well worth trying. 5.3% ABV, 35.5cl, £1.69, Onlyfinebeer, Peckhams, Pierhead, Surf4beer.
|Dixie Brewing, Slow Brewed Beer (USA) |
This New Orleans beer is aged in Louisiana Cypress wooden barrels. The nose is certainly very distinctive, with a slightly burnt plastic note that is intriguing, and a certain grassy, herbal quality too. There's also a bit of caramel and some citrus, zesty character. On the palate that slightly odd plasticity appears fleetingly, but the beer then settles down in a dry, lightly-flavoured style with a moderately long, tangy finish. Crisp and certainly unusual, with a definite style all of its own. 4.5% ABV, 35cl, £28.99 X 24, Peckhams, Surf4beer.
|Genesee, Cream Ale (USA) |
Genesee is actually a brand of the upstate New York High Falls brewing company, and is a creamy lager-like beer that is 'krauesened' - a brewing process in which an additional touch of fermenting beer is added to the storage tank. It pours a medium gold colour with plenty of carbonation, and has a fluffy white head that dissipates fairly quickly. The nose offers malty aromas with a touch of toffee and brown bread, and some fruitiness. On the palate this does have a certain creaminess to the texture, and although the flavours are fairly innocuous and straightforward, there's a nip of hoppy bitterness as well as the cushioning malt to make for a pleasing drink. 5.1% ABV, 35.5cl, £1.59, Onlyfinebeer, Pierhead.
|Goose Island, Honker's Ale (USA) |
This Pale Ale style beer from Chicago pours quite a deep orangy/gold, with a cream-coloured, moderate head. On the nose there is a distinct note of dried apricot, and some aromatic, herb and floral qualities. There's a touch of lavender hand soap that is swept away by a toffeeish quality, and a hint of caramelised orange. On the palate the beer has a nice hoppy, spicy, bitter core, more of that dried apricot fruit and a weight of caramel malt. This is quite a full-bodied beer, and whilst some may find it a touch too sweet and perfumed, it has good length and a shed-load of interesting stuff going on in the glass. 5.0% ABV, 35.5cl, £1.39, Beersofeurope, Euro-beer, The Offie, Onlyfinebeer, Peckhams.
|Lone Star, Pure Texan Beer (USA) |
"The national beer of Texas" according to the label, and I can see that this refreshing, but essentially bland beer would be better in the searing dry heat of the Southwest dust than in other conditions. It pours a medium gold with a fast dissipating white head. The nose has a little bit of toasted bread aroma and a certain "skunky" light-struck character. On the palate it tastes of corn and malt, with a little hoppy bitterness. It is perhaps a step up from the blandest American lagers, but that's not saying an awful lot. 4.7% ABV, 35.5cl, £1.25, Beersofeurope, Onlyfinebeer, Peckhams, Surf4beer.
|Rogue Ales, American Amber Ale (USA) |
This beer, like all the beers in Rogue's range, is strikingly packaged in a screen-printed large brown bottle. It is an ale made with a combination of various malts and hops that must help give it some of its complexity. It pours a dark amber/red colour with a moderate off-white head. The nose is immediately dark, sweet and figgy, like stewed fruit compote with notes of caramel and roasted fruits and nuts. On the palate there is more sweet caramel and lovely chewy red fruit mid-palate. The bitterness of the hops really kicks in, with a leafy, endive and chicory bite, and that underlying malt sweetness just hovers around the edges in a very satisfying drink. A fine beer this. 5.3% ABV, 65cl.
|Rogue Ales, Dead Guy Ale (USA) |
Brewed to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead (otherwise known as All Souls Day), this is a German-style "Maibock". It pours a slightly hazy light orange/gold, with quite a thick off-white head. On the nose it is not unlike the company's Amber Ale, with a rich, figgy and malty caramel character, that seems smooth and quite luxurious. On the palate it is quite full and thick, but has a clarity about it with crisp, fresh fruit flavours before a battle commences between sweet, quite syrupy malt and bittering hops. It is powerful, heady stuff, with a big, quite alcoholic finish. 6.5% ABV, 65cl.
|Rogue Ales, Mocha Porter (USA) |
Brewed with a touch of chocolate, this beer pours a very dark, almost black tan colour with a moderate cappuccino-coloured head. The nose has a subtle hint of cooking chocolate, with softly malty, nutty tones that are smooth but not very distinctive. On the palate this is most un-Porter-like, with a foaming, quite crisp character that is fruity and bright, with just that little hint of chocolate, but in a breezy surprisingly foamy and light style. This is a very nice beer, but it somehow doesn't live up to the richness and depth suggested by its name. 5.1% ABV, 65cl, £2.99, Sainsbury's.
|Rogue Ales, Santa's Private Reserve (USA) |
Rogue's festive offering is a dark ruby beer with a fluffy off white head that is based on their 'Saint Rogue Red', but with double the hops, including Chinook, Centennial and a 'mystery hop' nicknamed Rudolph by head brewer John Maier. It has a sweet and intensely fruity nose, with bright, slightly floral rose-hip and cherry notes and a caramelly, rich suggestion of sweetness. The hops are there, lending a citrus and grassy edge. On the palate this beer has a full, quite creamy texture, but the hops really take a bite, with very bitter liquorice and chicory notes, some spices and even clove character, and a clean, pepper and spice finish. Available for a limited period each winter, this is an unusual and successful style, and a suitably warming winter drop. 6.0% ABV, 65cl, £2.99, independents.
|Rogue Ales, Smoke Ale (USA) |
In the style of a German Rauchbier, Alder wood and Beech is used to smoke the malt, giving this mid-gold beer a distinctively smoky bacon and charry, toasty nose. There are nice leafy hop notes, and a touch of clove too. On the palate the smokiness is quite subdued - more so than in a beer like the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier from Heller-Trum in Germany - but it still has than lingering smoky bacon flavour with a nutty, chestnut and herbal core. There isn't huge length here, with a clean-finishing, crisp end to the beer, but it has lots of personality. 6.0% ABV, 65cl, £2.99, Sainsbury's.
|Rogue Ales, XS Imperial Stout (USA) |
According to the label this is brewed in the style of a "Russian Imperial Stout", and, given it's 11.0% ABV, thankfully it comes in 35.5cls - about half the size of Rogue's usual giant bottles. Pouring pitch black with a moderate coffee-coloured head, this is extremely aromatic, with something vividly sweet and floral, like Parma violet, and masses of chicory, liquorice and bitumen-like tarry darkness. Dark-roasted espressso beans add a smoky depth. On the palate the fireworks continue, with a searingly sweet component that initially dominates, quickly butting up to those dark, roasted, dramatically bitter malts and a huge hit of bittering hops that together are pretty immovable. This finishes slightly short given the hurricane force aromas and initial flavours, with a lingering sweetness and soy-sauce, salty, bitter character. A singular beer that you will probably love or loathe with an equal passion. 11.0% ABV, 35.5cl, £1.99, Sainsbury's.
|Rogue Ales, Younger's Special Bitter (USA) |
An hommage to English bitter, this beer is named after Bill Younger of the Horse Brass Pub in Oregon, rather than the old William Younger of Edinburgh. It pours a nice medium-deep gold, with a moderate off-white head. The nose has a very appealing biscuitty richness, with some grass and nettle aromas (Kent Golding hops are used). There's a little hint of honey and dried apricot in a very attractive aromatic profile. On the palate this is smooth and quite full-bodied, with rich, rounded, biscuitty and golden, oaty flavours, before a crisp, citruss and nettly hop finish. Long and beautifully balanced, this is a superb beer from Rogue. 4.8% ABV, 65cl, £2.99, Sainsbury's.
|Sierra Nevada, Celebration Ale 2004 (USA) |
Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale is one of my favourite US beers, so the chance to taste their Celebration Ale - on sale from November to Spring each year - was very welcome. The beer pours a heart-warming rich, ruby colour with a creamy, off-white head. It has a wonderfully aromatic nose, crammed with spices, glacé fruits and deep, baked-plum pie aromas. On the palate this luxurious, dark, bitter-chocolate-tinged beer is a stunner, filled with exotic spice and nut flavours, a huge, hoppy streak of bitterness and all sorts of ebbing and flowing nuances of grapefruit, juniper berries and treacle: it is like fireworks in a glass. By no means a session beer, but what a sensational brew. 6.8% ABV, 35cl, £1.69, Sainsbury's.
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|Sierra Nevada, IPA (USA) |
(RP) Sierra Nevada has built an international reputation on the quality of its Pale Ale and Big Foot barley wine. The Pale Ale in particular is considered to be the benchmark for the style in the U.S and has encouraged many other craft brewers to emulate the beer.
IPA is brewed from pale malt, of which 50% is comprised of Maris Otter imported from England while all the hops are English varieties. The bottle-conditioned beer has a pale bronze colour with a spicy hop, biscuity malt and marmalade fruit aroma. Bitter hops burst across the tongue, but juicy malt and tart fruit balance the bitterness. The long, complex finish is dominated by hop bitterness so intense that it has an iodine-like note but, again, ripe malt and tangy fruit provide a fine balance. A stunning and superb beer. Malt: moderate. Fruit: high. Hop bitterness: extremely high. Call Sierra Nevada's importer, Vertical Drinks, on +44 (0)7831 581171 for stockists. 6.9% ABV, 33cl, £1.89, Vertical Drinks.