Redband by Great River BreweryI acquired a can of Redband by Great River Brewery in a trade for a section of beers from the mid-west. It’s a stout brewed by the Davenport, Iowa based brewery flavored with coffee from the neighboring Redband Coffee Company.

It poured a dark brown/black, just like the stuff that comes out of my car at Jiffy Lube. The head was a nice tan color but only came up about a half-inch in my pint glass and was gone before I knew it.

The aroma was easy to pick up. Coffee, plain and simple. Just like a cup of Joe down at the local coffee chain.

At first sip you notice its silky, creamy texture and the lack of carbonation. The coffee taste hits the tongue right away and is there right through the end. I know this is a “coffee stout” but it was just like taking a sip of espresso, except it was cold and 6% abv.

If you’re an iced coffee lover, you’ll love this beer.

Stone Enjoy By 12-21-12BREAKING NEWS: The Mayans couldn't foresee their own demise let alone ours. Friday, December 21, was the well-hyped apocalyptic day, and in case you're just now emerging from your underground bunker, the end-of-the-world-paranoia was all for naught. Whoever the Mayans hired to create their calendar probably got bored, started drinking some beer (likely a brew similar to Clown Shoe's Chocolate Sombrero), and passed out before finishing the rest of the calendar. Regardless, life has continued and we've all been graced with more time on this earth! So enjoy it, my friends. Life is good.

Following Stone's instructions, I cracked this bottle open last night to avoid the bottle's expiration date of 12.21.12. Stone made it very clear that this is meant to be enjoyed immediately and one should not plan to cellar any for later. As soon as I popped the top, I understood where Stone is coming from. The scents immediately escape the bottle as if it had literally just been brewed and bottled. Indeed, this is one you NEED to enjoy fresh.

This double IPA pours a slightly hazy amber color, which is quite beautiful. There are some amazingly fresh and citrus scents on the nose--very green. Not so much piny as it is citrusy, and I also catch a scent similar to fresh-cut grass.

The earthy, grass-like, scents come through on the flavor, though there's a sweetness that is very unexpected. I am reminded of sugar-covered grapefruits. The flavors are pretty complex. The body is surprisingly heavy with an almost syrup-like mouthfeel that coats the tongue, letting the flavors hang around and linger awhile until you take the next sip.

The front of the palate is hit hard with the freshness of the hops, but then there is an intense wave of sugar, citrus, and malt that complete the taste. It should also be noted that I tasted this with a buddy homebrewer who immediately picked out the Amarillo hops that dominate this beer's flavor profile. This also explains why this is not nearly as bitter as one would expect from a DIPA coming from Stone.

This is a really solid beer. I recommend sharing this with any friends who are turned off by IPAs that are "too bitter." This one is a crowd pleaser. It's also 9.4% which pleases the crowd even more!

So, here's to Stone's Enjoy By and to the world not ending.

Review by @beerapostle www.thebeerapostle.com

It pours a light, bright orange. There's a nice steady stream of carbonation feeding what was initially a 3/4 inch head.

This thing smells sweet, like candy sweet, but not in a bad way. The honey and cinnamon mix so well together, like the honey makes the cinnamon seem more like cinnamon sugar than pure cinnamon. I don't get a ton of the ginger on the nose, but no worries it comes in later. The signature Great Lakes malt backbone only comes in light and late. It smells like the holidays.
Great Lakes Christmas Ale

The ginger really comes on strong in the flavor, and really works well with the honey. They balance each other out, and kind of reminds me of a ginger snap. Really sharp ginger and honey keep going. The honey gives it a latent sweetness that rounds out the spices. The cinnamon is more of an afterthought in the taste, but thats really not a bad thing. The signature malt bill from Great Lakes (to me it feels really grainy--I love it) comes in in the perfect amount. I kind of feel like theres a hint of sweet cranberries as well--I got the same type of flavor from Highland Cold Mountain.

The lingering flavors are glorious. It's just as balanced as the original flavors. Latent dry honey sweetness with a hint of spicy ginger. Like most other Great Lakes beers, the grainy malt feels amazing through the finish. The earthy, grainy malt is the last thing you get as it fights with the spicy ginger until both fade away.

The hype for this beer knows no bounds in Ohio, and I have started that hype here in North Carolina. If any of you have the chance to try this beer, do it. It tastes like the holidays. Oh and good luck trying to actually saving this beer for Christmas. I know that I'm struggling to.

Cheers guys!

Review by Tim Campbell @vncentlife
BeerAdvocate - VncentLIFE

This seasonal Oktoberfest Lager is brewed by Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery. I'm really wishing I had made it by there when I was in Milwaukee a couple of years ago but we only had time to hit one brewery and we decided to go to Sprecher (which was a great time & I highly recommend it).

The label has a playful traditional German feel to it and identifies this brew as "A Malty and Full-Bodied Amber Lager Brewed to Celebrate a Successful Harvest." Not that you probably care but it also says that you can get a nickel if you return it in NY, OR, VT or a couple of other states.

It has a amber / caramel color and pours with a tan colored head that's short lived. Sorry I couldn't post a picture but the foam coffee cups that I have available in my hotel aren't that photogenic. There is a sweetness to the malt taste and not much hoppiness at all. The carbonation level isn't that strong. It's not flat but I wouldn't call it "bubbly" either.

Overall, I'd rate this as a solidly decent beer that I could see myself sitting around drinking while watching football on TV.

White Oak Jai Alai – Cigar City I must start off by saying that hype does play a part here. This is white whale of smaller proportions. People go nuts, and I was lucky enough to land a 4-pack thanks to a friend in Boca Raton.

It’s just a monster of a beer. But it’s not super high ABV nor overly flavor-laden, but hear me out here. It’s a pretty standard looking IPA—a bit darker leaning toward amber with a creamy white head.

I have had Hitachino Nest Beer before and thought it was quite good. But I stumbled across a unique beer of theirs in a market while on a business trip – 3 Days. After reading the story, I couldn’t pass it up.

On March 11, 2011 at 14:46, an earthquake rocked Japan as the Kiuchi Brewery was in the mash phase of brewing a batch of beer. Parts of the brewery were damaged, the fermenters were tilted at an angle, and they were unable to get electricity to complete the mash for three days. During this time, the mash began to ferment naturally from a lactic acid cultured in their brewery. The result was a one-of-a-kind batch of 8,000 bottles with about as much history as a batch of beer is ever likely to have (one must hope).

The beer is 8% and is honey-brown in color. The batch appears to be unfiltered as it has a distinct haziness. The smell is one of syrupy maltiness and the taste is a very sweet malted honey taste – almost no hoppiness. The look of it very much reminds me of unfermented wort from my homebrew days. Carbonation was low although it did produce a bit of head. But who couldn’t like a beer that is this unique – a true one-of-a-kind batch?

All in all, it was a good beer – more malty than almost anything I have had before as I don’t think they really got to hop it the way they probably otherwise would have. But it also one I really enjoyed. I will likely be returning to where I bought soon, and I fully plan on getting another bottle to put in my fridge for a special event. Its history makes it quite a special beer – and besides – its already been cellared, even while it was still in production.

Ok, so by now you are probably thinking of the Fukushima Nuclear incident and wondering whether I now glow in the dark. I can assure you that I don’t. But out of curiosity (and while drinking it), I decided to look up where the brewery was located relative to the epicenter of the earthquake. Perhaps I should have done that BEFORE I drank the beer, but nonetheless…. They are about 200 miles from Honshu, and the epicenter was 80 miles off the coast of Honshu. But the brewery is actually only about 77 miles southwest of the reactor that had the problem, according to Google Maps. In looking up the location of brewery, I found an interesting item on their website... Apparently they have had their beers tested for radiation. They even post the April 1, 2011 inspection report on their site. Thankfully they found no radiation in the beer, which was a good thing as I only had about 4 ounces left when I came across it.

So, if you like malty beer and happen across a bottle of Hiatchino 3 Days, I would recommend grabbing a bottle for when you want to impress some friends with a truly unusual beer.

I was recently having a conversation with a bar manager while having a beer and he asked if I had ever had Haand’s Barrel-Aged Porter. I had never had it and am always up for trying different beers so I ordered one.

His big selling point was that it was aged in Akevitt barrels. I bet you’re wondering what the heck is Akevitt, right? I sure was. I wonder if we can get it locally? Might need to check into that.

I did a little research and found this on the HaandBryggeriet website – “Akevitt is said to be Norway's best kept secret. Akevitt was probably first made around 1500 and the Linie Akevitt first appeared 200 years ago. This spirit is aged in ex sherry barrels and undergo during aging a long sea voyage. Its supposed to cross the line (equator) twice on this voyage. It is customary for the ships to sail to Australia and back.”

The label art on the front of the bottle has some finger prints as if someone was holding the bottle and their hand wrapped around along with an ornate dragon that looks like something off of a Viking flag.

The back of the bottle has this short paragraph discussing the particular beer and the brewery:
“Once, all farmers in Norway made beer. Some also made Akevitt, a spirit flavored with herbs or spices. A shot of Akevitt was traditionally chased with a shot of beer. In a brilliant turn of one-stop-shopping ingenuity, the Haand brewers – four guys making beer in their spare time, on an absurdly small scale – have aged this traditional dark, hearty farm Porter in Akevitt barrels. 8% Batch 356 Total bottles 1080 Barrel-Aged Porter from HaandBryggeriet from Drammen, Norway members of the Scandinavian Craft Brewers Guild 1pt, 9 oz. 500 ml”

This is a BIG, bold beer. I was Surprised that it is only 8%. It has a traditional porter aroma. It poured with virtually no head at all and left a good bit of yeast sludge at bottom of the glass when I was done. This is a very smooth beer with low carbonation levels. There were heavy chocolate flavors notes. Little bit of spice finish on tongue, probably from the aquavit barrels.

This is a beer that will definitely find its way into my cart if I ever come across it in a store.

Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter is “proudly made in small batches” by The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville, North Carolina.

It pours a very dark brown, almost black and the tan head dissipates rather quickly. Any lacing that you might get is short lived and minimal at best.

On first sip, you notice the strong malt flavors along with some black licorice and some sort of fruits, maybe figs or prunes. The carbonation level is fairly light. The flavor profile changes as it warms up a bit lessening the bite of the fruit tastes, giving way to a more mellow and smooth malty flavor with a little bit of prune and nut tossed in.

It’s a very easy to drink beer and it goes down smooth. You can sense the 9% alcohol at the end of the sip along with a malty aftertaste with a little tobacco mixed in.

The label identifies the brewery as being “The Dark Beer Specialist.” It’s a pretty big claim but these guys walk the talk. If you come across this beer, don’t hesitate to give it a try.

 

I was sitting at a hotel bar and didn’t recognize any of the beers other than the yellow fizzy ones that I see advertised on TV. The bartender recommended Zatec. This being my first beer out of the Czech Republic, I didn’t know what to expect.

The 500 ml bottle has “Since 1004” on the label which led me to believe that these guys had to really know what they were doing, having been brewing for over 1000 years. Turns out, according to their website, they’ve “only” been brewing since 1801. That’s still longer than any of our U.S. breweries can claim. They say that the 1004 refers to when they started growing hops in the Zatec region.

The beer pours a dark brown and has a very creamy tan head. Lots of foam. The lacing was very apparent. The beer gave off a toasted malt aroma.

The malt flavor on the front of the sip turns into chocolate with a touch of toffee. There was little bitterness and I didn’t sense any hopiness at all. This beer has a medium body and was relatively dry. It has a moderate alcohol level at 5.7%.

If you like Guiness, you'll love Zatec.

We picked up a six pack of Bell's Porter on a recent trip to Georgia. Bell's Brewery is located in Comstock, MI. I've seen their Oberon in South Florida so I know that they have a presence in the state but I've never come across their porter until now.

The first thing I noticed upon pouring was its rich, dark brown color and a light tan head. It has a malty aroma with some coffee mixed it.

Not too heavy or thick. Slightly sweet. Taste starts with a strong malt taste which transcends to smoky and then coffee. The coffee aftertaste is slightly bitter but not in a bad way. Very smooth. I would rate the carbonation as mild-plus, not quite medium. The 5.6% alcohol doesn't stand out much, if any.

Not an overpowering beer at all. Bell's Porter falls into the category of beers that you can drink all night. I'd definitely buy this one again and will start keeping an eye out for it in my travels.

Sion BeerI came across Sion Beer at a local festival in South Florida. The beer booth had the usual macros on tap plus one beer that I had never heard of. Sion by Brauhaus, from Cologne, Germany. Figuring that it couldn't be any worse than the other taps of yellow fizzy water, I gave it a shot. It was a gamble that paid off.

The cup I was handed had very little head. The beer had a golden color and didn't give off much of a smell.

I immediately noticed that this beer has a medium body with a crisp, slightly hoppy taste and a medium carbonation level.

My wife's initial comment was that she thought that it was "similar to Bud but with something extra, more body, more umpfh."

I tried to do a little research on this beer to see if there was some sort of an interesting story behind it but their website was completely in German. Since Hogan's Heroes is no longer in syndication like it used to be, my chances of learning enough German to pass something along to you are pretty slim so you're on your own.

I did learn that it packs 5% alcohol but this is an easy drinking beer so there is no discernable alcohol taste or feeling. This is definitely a sessionable beer that would be great for the beach, a party, a ball game or any other venue where a red Solo cup could be found. This is one I'd buy again if I came across it again.

This is beer is brewed by Swamp Head Brewery in Gainesville, Florida. As the name suggests, it's a cream ale with honey added to it. Swamp Head uses Florida Tupelo Honey from the swamps of Northwest Florida because of it's taste and purity.

This beer was very pale yellow in color and had very little head.The aroma had a little sweetness to it with a slight honey scent.
Wild Night is a very drinkable brew with a light taste. It's pretty mild and there is a bit of honey sweetness surround by a grass-like flavor. This is not a really hoppy beer and the carbonation is in the mild to medium range. While the alcohol level is a tad high at 5.9% it was not noticable at all.

Wild Night is a beer that you can sit and drink all afternoon on a hot day. I could imagine myself drinking this out by the pool on a July afternoon or while cutting the lawn.

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