Friday, February 12, 2016

Lucky Buddha Beer



DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP styles. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Humboldt Brown Hemp Ale


DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP styles. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Lagunitas Born Yesterday Pale Ale



DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP scoring. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Budweiser ups the anti-craft ante; Celebrities shill for ABI; I roll my eyes

notafruitcup


Last year, Budweiser went on the offense against the craft segment of the beer industry with their obtuse "Brewed the hard way" Super Bowl commercial. This year, they did more or less the same thing with their new "Not backing down" ad. Of course, there were a few other Bud-centric moments and ads that also deserve discussion, so let's break them down:


The Amy Schumer/Seth Rogen "So Totally Not Independence Day"* Bud Light ad:
 
 
*my name for it


I had heard about this a while ago and had seen stills from the ad, so I knew it was coming. First of all, it's a bit disappointing to see these "It" comedians of the moment shilling for a product as banal as Bud Light and a corporation as wily as Anheuser-Busch/InBev (ABI). Schumer is related to New York senator Chuck Schumer, and much like him is also a progressive liberal, so it's very bizarre that she would hawk such a product. That immediately makes her opinion irrelevant if she ever tries to talk about "The 1%" and "evil corporations" or anything in that Bernie Sanders genre. Though it just goes to show that anyone will bow down to the almighty dollar.


As for Rogen, well, I can't say I'm entirely surprised because he definitely has mainstream appeal and I can buy him doing this kind of commercial. Everybody seems to like him. But on the other hand, I'm a little surprised ABI hired him as a pitchman since he has been one of the faces of the "420 Movement" of the last few years. A stoner pitching light beer? I suppose it goes hand in hand.


The commercial itself was fine; kinda cute, somewhat funny, but not especially memorable or original. As bad a beer as Bud Light is, I do enjoy their adverts more than those of Budweiser proper since they're more about people having fun and acting zany while they drink Bud Light. But like I said last year, Bud Light and Budweiser ads never make much of an effort to talk about the quality or appeal of their product. Rather, they're just 15-30 second sketch comedy routines that happen to revolve around fizzy yellow beer.


Helen Mirren's anti-drunk driving PSA


The Schumer/Rogen commercial was a bit of an odd choice, but it's completely and totally logical when compared to the choice of using 70-year-old British actress Helen Mirren in an anti-drunk driving PSA-ish spot.
 
 
Umm... what?


Okay, it's nice ABI is putting out a kinda/sorta public service announcement about drunk driving being bad, but it raises so many questions:
  • Why Helen Mirren? I can't think of someone more completely removed from Budweiser's core demographic than her. I'd imagine the average Budweiser chugger has no idea who she is. I assume it's suppose to be funny since it's an older lady with a classy British accent doling out a passive-aggressive scolding. Sure, the concept of it all is interesting, but the actual execution comes across kind of creepy, and, IMHO - not funny at all.
  • If ABI is really so concerned about drunk drivers, why haven't they been putting out PSAs like this for decades?! I'm not buying it, ABI. I'm also not buying that Helen Mirren is a Budweiser drinker.
  • Also, did you notice the label is not even facing the camera? That's just lousy direction. I can't believe they went with this for a Super Bowl spot.
mirren3f-2-web
"Eh, they know what the label looks like by now." - probably what the director said when seeing this shot
Budweiser repeats itself with the "Not Backing Down" campaign


Last year, Bud's "Brewed the Hard Way" ad was so in-your-face and so obviously mocking and attacking the craft segment, there was no way to ignore it. This year, they did more or less the same thing with "Not Backing Down".
 
 
I saw this and just rolled my eyes. My initial reaction was, "That's all you got, ABI?" There's nothing in there nearly as creative as last year's ad and certainly nothing in the way of a clever dig like the hipster-looking dude sniffing the pumpkin peach ale. The closest it comes is with the "Not a fruit cup" part with the old dude flicking a lemon out of the beer. Though that's not so much a burn on craft beer drinkers as it is on restaurants and bars that don't know how to serve it properly. Ask any brewer worth his salt and he'll tell you to save the lemon or orange garnish (usually for a hefeweizen or a witbier) for a lesser beer. Or maybe it was a jab at Blue Moon? Though I don't know any bartender that would garnish Budweiser with a fruit wedge in the first place.


One thing I did like about this ad was toward the end where they admit this:
notforeveryone


Well, I actually find myself agreeing with a Budweiser ad! This stuff definitely is not for everyone. It's for people whose definition of beer starts and ends with Budweiser and whose definition of fine dining includes McDonald's and Wendy's. For anyone else who has refined their palate just a bit, there's a million other beers worth drinking.


But, paradoxically enough, I think this "not for everyone" notion is backwards and hypocritical. Isn't the whole basis and success of Budweiser and its related brands based on the fact that it appeals to the lowest common denominator? If I described a beer as being "not for everyone" you'd think I was talking about some kind of obscure style or eccentric/novelty brew. Full-flavored beers, whether they're traditional styles or experimental recipes, don't tend to be for everyone. For example: Stone's Arrogant Bastard or Ruination or one of those Rogue Voodoo Donut brews, or a gose, or a Flanders Red, or a rauch beer, or most any spice/herb/vegetable brew, etc. I think we can all agree, those are beers that aren't for everyone. Where does Budweiser get off implying it's an acquired taste?


Peyton Manning says he's going to celebrate his victory by drinking a bunch of Budweiser
 
 
I was walking out of the room when I heard this. I actually had to turn around and walk back in and ask my girlfriend if I had heard that properly. She confirmed that he did indeed say that. I sighed and figured it was simply a product placement, like the classic "I'm going to Disney World" line. But according to Market Watch, it was simply a free plug on Peyton's behalf. Budweiser didn't pay him to say that.


Ugh.


A quick research online reveals this isn't the first time he said he'll celebrate with an ABI product. The reason for that might be due to the fact Peyton actually owns shares in an ABI-owned wholesaler in Louisiana.


Okay, so is Peyton simply plugging a product he has invested in or does he genuinely like Budweiser? I'm hoping for the former, but I wouldn't be surprised if both are true.


Hey Peyton, why not plug a Denver-based craft brewery like, say, Breckenridge? Oh wait, nevermind.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale




DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP scoring. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Chimay White (2015 BJCP scoresheet re-review)

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this.

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP scoring. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Is this the end of Chad'z Beer Reviews?

After 8 years and a couple thousand beer reviews, it seems like the time is right to walk away... at least from the way I've been doing the beer reviews. I want to get BJCP qualified and become as much of an expert in beer as I can be. Maybe I'll come back with a different perspective once that happens... but I make no promises.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me all these years, I really do appreciate it! You can still follow my drinking on Untappd and Twitter (links below).

Buy THE HANDBOOK OF PORTERS AND STOUTS here: http://amzn.com/1604334770

CHECK ME OUT ON THE WEB HERE:
http://blog.timesunion.com/beer
http://blog.timesunion.com/comicbooks
http://ChadzBeerReviews.com
http://ChadzAdventures.com
http://Facebook.com/ChadzBeerReviews
http://Twitter.com/ChadPolenz
http://Untappd.com/user/ChadPolenz
http://YouTube.com/ChadzBeerReviews
http://YouTube.com/Chad9976

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout


DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP styles. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Yuengling Traditional Lager (2015 BJCP scoresheet re-review)


DISCLAIMER: The author is not a certified BJCP judge; therefore, this score sheet is not necessarily indicative of proper BJCP styles. The author is grading to 2015 BJCP Guidelines in order to prepare for examination.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Stiegl Pils

4.2
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20Chad9976 (1538) - Orlando, Florida, USA - JAN 16, 2016
Hidden gems at the beer store are some of the best things about being a beer connoisseur. I picked up a can of Stiegl Pils because it was fairly cheap and I just wanted something to review. Little did I know that it would be a great example of the pilsner style.

I poured a 500ml can into a tulip glass. It seems to have been bottled in either August or November of 2015 and cost $3.79 ($0.21 per ounce).

Appearance: Beautiful white gold hue with total clarity. Carbonation visible at first. Pours to a very large, white, foamy head which retains and laces wonderfully.

Smell: Plenty of pilsner malt sweetness with a hint of graham cracker. A faint trace of lemon, too.

Taste: A good pilsner doesn’t have to be a massive bouillabaisse of flavors; simple pilsner malt and some Noble hop character is really all you need and this is a great example of that. Lightly bready with a mild sweetness up front, which is nice. Some spicy hop zestiness on the finish along with just a notion of [graham] cracker in the aftertaste. There seems to be some lemonpeel lurking in the background as well. It’s not ridiculously delicious, but it certainly is impressive and enjoyable to say the least.

Drinkability: I’m quite surprised that Stiegl Pils drinks this well since it’s rather light at only 4.9% ABV. I didn’t expect it to hold up this well (since imports like this tend to sit on shelves forever). The body seems a little beefier than you’d expect for a pilsner. Crisp to be sure, but in no way watery or overtly light-bodied. Refreshing while in the mouth with just a bit of a bitterness in the aftertaste. That it comes in cans makes it ideal for warm weather situations and for on-the-go.

RATING: 9/10

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Duck-Rabbit Wee Heavy Scotch Style Ale

3.9
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1537) - Orlando, Florida, USA - JAN 13, 2016
A big sweet beer can be a nice treat sometimes and The Duck-Rabbit Wee Heavy Scotch Style Ale is a good example of that. Big and sweet are the dominate adjectives, though it’s also nuanced and very drinkability for such a hefty brew.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It had a best before date of 9/2016 and cost $2.49 ($0.21 per ounce).

Appearance: Seemingly magenta, but actually caramel brown/dark copper. Body is crystal clear, though carbonation is visible. Pours to a fairly large, off-white, foamy head which retains and laces quite well.

Smell: Strong aroma of sweet malt and dark fruit. Alcohol is present as well.

Taste: There’s a lot of sweetness in this beer, but there’s also a significant amount of smoke or astringency as well. Though no smoked and/or peat malt is used in the brew (as far as I can tell), there seems to be some present. Of course that might also be the raw alcohol, which contributes a fair amount towards the palette. Sweet toffee flavor on the finish along with a dark fruit taste of maraschino cherry or raspberry puree. Not much in the way of hops, though I would not consider this beer to be imbalanced per se. All in all, it’s delectable and impressive.

Drinkability: The first few sips of The Duck-Rabbit Wee Heavy Scotch Style Ale seemed strong and sticky, but it quickly seemed to be much lighter as I continued. In fact, the mouthfeel seemed to be actually quite thin. The 8% ABV certainly comes through in both the taste and as a warming sensation. This is satisfying and drinkable for sure.

RATING: 8/10

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ommegang Rosetta

4.3
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20Chad9976 (1536) - Orlando, Florida, USA - JAN 12, 2016
Now that Duvel owns an international conglomerate of craft breweries, they’re starting to brew beers for multiple brands at multiple breweries. Boulevard has made Ommegang beers and now Liefmans has too. Though in this case I’d say it’s not a bad thing at all. Ommegang Rosetta is quite similar to Liefmans Fruitese or Kriek, but not as overly sweet or sour as either of those beers, respectively. Big cherry flavor with plenty of authentic fruit flavor, sweetness and a nice tartness as well. This is a fun beer.

I pour an 11.2oz bottle into a tulip glass. It had a best before date of 10/2020 and cost $3.99 ($0.36 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark maroon/burgundy color with bright red highlights. Pours to a fairly large, off-white, soapy head which mostly dissipates but does leave some nice lacing.

Smell: Essentially cherry puree. Sweet and tart. Seems authentic, though.

Taste: Fruit beers are an interesting bunch: they’re sweet, tart and sometimes sour. One thing they don’t tend to taste like is traditional beer and yet most beer purists are okay with that. I’d include myself among that group, especially in the case of this beer. There’s plenty of authentic cherry flavor from beginning to end. Up front it’s like a sundae topping, through the middle there’s just a touch of bitterness and it finishes with a short, sharp tart bite. The tartness lingers and there’s perhaps a hint of sourness in there somewhere, but this is most definitely not a traditional lambic or any kind of lacto/brett wild ale. Of course, I could see barrel-aging it making it even better (if done correctly). The palette is pretty simplistic and repetitive, yet I enjoy it as much at the end as the beginning. It’s a liquid dessert.

Drinkability: At 5.6% ABV, Ommegang Rosetta is actually quite efficient for its body. The mouthfeel is rather light and thin; not crisp like a lager but far from any kind of cloying, sticky sensation. In fact, I’d criticize it for finishing too clean, in fact. Still, it’s a liquid dessert and quite tempting to throw back several of these in a row.

RATING: 9/10

Monday, January 11, 2016

Kirin Ichiban

2.8
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20Chad9976 (1535) - Orlando, Florida, USA - JAN 11, 2016
I’ve tried several Japanese macro lagers and they’re all very similar to other countries’ popular pale lagers. I’ve actually had Kirin Ichiban several times over the years (at hibachi and sushi restaurants) and I’ve never really been impressed. This particular edition is brewed in the United States by Anheuser-Busch, though trying to find a fresh bottle is a challenge. Despite it being all-malt, it’s a pretty boring lager.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 8/22/15 and cost $1.29 ($0.11 per ounce).

Appearance: Beautiful golden hue; crystal clear with visible carbonation. Pours to a large, white, foamy head which retains and laces remarkably well.

Smell: Lightly sweet pale malt blend. Faint touch of floral hops, otherwise quite mild in the nose.

Taste: As I said, I’ve drank this beer many times, and one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s consistently inconsistent. Some bottles are much sweeter than others; some are tinny and dirty-tasting. This particular bottle was somewhere in the middle, in that it was more mild and bland than anything else. I will say I notice a bit of light malt, but it’s not especially delectable or particularly sweet. This is interesting, because I recently drank a year-old bomber of this beer at a sushi restaurant that was very sweet due to its age. Light-bodied pale lagers aren’t the types of beers you usually associate with aging well, but I can honestly say that year-old bottle was better than this remotely fresh one. To its credit, I don’t really find it repugnant at all. Just a touch of metallic sensation and maybe even a faint spicy hop presence. Its only crime is being not just dull, but extremely so.

Drinkability: At only 5% ABV, Kirin Ichiban is equivalent to Budweiser in potency, though it is not a complete fizz bomb. Mouthfeel is quite light and there’s a watery sensation to each swig. Slightly refreshing while in the mouth, which is nice, along with an almost completely clean aftertaste which is also nice. Though I use that term in a relative way.

RATING: 4/10

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Tampa Bay Old Elephant Foot IPA

3.7
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20Chad9976 (1534) - Orlando, Florida, USA - JAN 10, 2016
There’s a certain sub-style of IPAs that don’t have a name, but they have common characteristics. Malt-forward but also plenty piney and bitter. It’s similar to the classic East Coast style, but sweeter. Whatever that genre is, Tampa Bay Old Elephant Foot IPA is part of it. It’s a familiar, safe-bet IPA, but a decent one at least.

I poured a 16oz can into a tulip glass. There was no freshness date and it cost $2.49 ($0.16 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark, almost dirty-looking shade of orange/copper/light brown. Clear at first but becomes more and more cloudy. Pours to an average-sized, white, frothy head which retains and laces pretty well.

Smell: An interesting combination of pine sap, light lemonpeel, and amber malts (all the makings of Centennial hops).

Taste: This beer is definitely malty for the style, and it’s the first thing I notice. Classic amber ale selections of grain to give it mild candy-like sweetness, but intensely syrupy or confectionery-like. At the same time it’s also noticeably bitter. A consistent, strong dry bitterness from beginning to end. Actual hop flavor doesn’t really come through until the second half when there’s a strong burst of pine and resin. I also get some lemon taste as well, though it’s fairly short-lived. This combination of flavors is one of my least favorite for an IPA to have, yet I will say this palette is still enjoyable.

Drinkability: The delivery to Tampa Bay Old Elephant Foot IPA is a bit of a mixed bag. Though it’s a sweet, malty beer; the mouthfeel seems to have a slightly watery texture to it. It seems like it should be more viscous. But then again, this is technically just a single IPA, so it’s actually appropriate for the style. It’s also nice that there’s no discernible alcohol presence despite the 7% ABV. One can definitely is satisfying enough, and this would stand up to flavorful food quite well.

RATING: 7/10

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Barley Mow Maven

3.4
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20Chad9976 (1533) - Orlando, Florida, USA - JAN 5, 2016
Whenever I see the words chocolate and stout on a beer label I tend to get pretty excited since some of my all-time favorite beers have been chocolate stouts. But there’s no guarantee a stout brewed with chocolate is an automatic success as Barley Mow Maven proves. Not that it’s a bad beer; in fact, it’s a fine milk stout (stylistically speaking) but I’d like it to be more than just fine.

I poured a 12oz can into a tulip glass. There was no freshness date. It cost $2.39 ($0.20 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark brown/black hue with mahogany edges. Pours to a small, tan, foamy head which mostly dissipates and leaves a trace amount of lacing.

Smell: Familiar milk stout aroma of lactose sugar and dark malt. No chocolate or candy notes, though.

Taste: If this beer hadn’t been marketed as a “chocolate milk stout” I’d probably peg it as just a milk stout and that’s it. And as far as the style goes it’s pretty much to spec. That lactose sugar comes through in the form of mouthfeel as well as additional sweetness. Dark maltiness for sure, but not much in the way of intense deeply roasted and bitter flavor. Sure there’s some coffee notes right on the finish, but that’s about it. As for chocolate, well, it does have a slight dark chocolate flavor – which probably accounts for the bitterness at the end – but nothing in the way of sweet candy of confectionery taste. That’s because “chocolate” as we know it is actually vanilla; an ingredient not present here. Still, the cocoa nibs provide for a light spicy sensation, which is nice, but not especially delicious.

Drinkability: I figured Barley Mow Maven would be a relatively light, sessionable beer, as many milk stouts tend to be. But it’s actually rather strong at 6.5% ABV, but does not have the body to support it. The mouthfeel is thin and low in carbonation; reminiscent of soda going flat. It is at least very smooth going down and it finishes almost completely clean… but should it?

RATING: 6/10

Monday, January 4, 2016

Lazy Magnolia Jeff Stout

3.1
   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20Chad9976 (1532) - Orlando, Florida, USA - JAN 4, 2016
Brewing beer with sweet potatoes is definitely an interesting premise, and I’ve had a really excellent beer that utilized that ingredient. In the case of Lazy Magnolia Jeff Stout it’s a much different experience. This is a light milk stout base that includes sweet potato presumably for flavor rather than as an adjunct. As a milk stout it’s only average and it really doesn’t work as a novelty beer at all. 


I poured a 12oz bottle into a wine glass. It was bottled on 10/6/15 and cost $2.59 ($0.22 per ounce).

Appearance: Dark brown/black proper hue. No visible carbonation. Pours to a fairly large, dark tan, foamy head which retains and laces well enough.

Smell: The lactose sugar is prominent, as is the bottle’s age with a noticeable tangy/metallic scent. Some chocolate notes, but as if the chocolate had expired.

Taste: This was actually my second time trying this beer. Someone sent me a bottle a while ago but it was well over a year old at the time and it was undrinkable. This bottle is less than three months old but it has all the signs of a much older beer. Much like the nose, there’s a noticeable and distracting tanginess. Not quite sour or tart lacto presence; just something all old stouts seem to have. I will say that there’s some nice chocolate flavors on the finish along with deeply roasted malt. I also detect a slight cola flavor as well. The sweet potatoes seem to be completely absent, though. I doubt anyone could pick them out in a blind tasting. So this beer fails to deliver on its marketing.

Drinkability: It doesn’t say on the bottle, but apparently Lazy Magnolia Jeff Stout is only 4.65% ABV, which is much lighter than you’d think it’d be. Though it does have a light body and thin mouthfeel to match. The texture is akin to tepid soda. Still, it is smooth and finishes mostly clean. Despite the low gravity, I wouldn’t see any point in sessioning it.

RATING: 5/10

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Top 10 Worst Beers of 2015


Normally, compiling my “worst beers of the year” list is pretty fun. But as I mentioned in the Best Beers of 2015 list, I’ve reviewed pretty much every macro beer by now – so there really aren’t a lot of purposely bad beers out there left for me to review. In fact, most of the stuff on this list is here probably because the bottle or can I happened to be drinking at the time was old (but if the brewery doesn’t fresh date their products I say it’s fair game for a review). Though there are still plenty of up-and-coming craft breweries that still haven’t mastered the art of quality control. If they’re going to put a bad batch on the market, then they deserve any and all negative reviews it’s met with. But anyway, this list isn’t nearly as heinous as years past. Most of the beers are just below average rather than truly bad (though there definitely are some stinkers on the list).

Mountain Brew Ice 002
 Not technically eligible for this list, but man was this a bad one!!


As per usual, the standard rules apply:
  • It must be a beer that I reviewed for the first time in 2015.
    • It doesn’t matter if it’s been around for years or debuted in 2015, just as long as this was the first calendar year in which I reviewed it.
    • It doesn’t matter if I’ve sampled or drank it before, just that I never have reviewed it until now.
  • Re-reviews don’t count (for better or worse).
  • Reviews of a different vintage or different edition of a previously-reviewed beer are ineligible.
  • Only one entry per brewery.
NOTE: These are all excerpts from my review of the beer. Click the link to read the full review and/or watch the video review.

    Heineken Light 002
  1. Heineken Light
The first word that came to mind upon taking my first sip was “clean.” It’s usually not a good sign when that is the predominate adjective to describe a beer, but in this case it’s not only apt, but practically a compliment. Obviously, this is a beer intended to be mild so it’s understandable. The first sip or two has a bit of a sour tang from the light strike, but it dissipates quickly. Eventually I start to taste a genuine malt sweetness – faint to be sure, but noticeable at least. Hops are practically non-existent, but I get a touch of rye-like spice. The finish and aftertaste is remarkably clean compared to so many foul examples of the style – no metallic or dirty sensation here (maybe just a trace amount of cooking oil, though).

  1. Super BockSuper Bock 003
There’s not much to describe about the palette of this brew. It’s quite similar to every other adjunct lager. Flavor isn’t feather-light, but there’s definitely not a lot to speak of. Slight corn taste, but not especially sweet. The skunky aroma does not translate to the palette. The corn taste seems a bit syrupy, but is in no way cloying. Some spicy hops would be nice. The only attribute this beer really has going for it is the fact it could have been much worse. This is tolerable but not enjoyable.

    Ballast Point Dead Ringer 003
  1. Ballast Point Dead Ringer
Ballast Point is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries. Up until recently, they’ve seemed incapable of error. But with “Dead Ringer,” their entry into the Oktoberfest/Marzen style, they finally dropped the ball. When my friends and I reviewed this in a blind taste test in September it was awful. This particular bottle is much better than that one, though it’s still not that good. It’s possible something may have happened to this beer in transit to my area, but whatever the case may be, it’s just a disappointing experience.

There’s definitely a familiar Marzen character here with the presence of slightly sweet darker malt and just a hint of fruity flavor (maybe some toffee, too). Unfortunately, it’s completely obscured by a sour tanginess to the palette. Much like the nose, there’s a presence akin to cranberry in here: tart and a little astringent. No hop character that I can detect. The flavor seems to worsen as it warms. I don’t know what the deal is with this beer, but I do not like it.

    Narragansett Allie’s Double Chocolate Porter 002
  1. Narragansett Allie’s Double Chocolate Porter
Reading over the reviews of this beer, it sounds as though there’s an either a contaminated batch of it going around, or perhaps this beer just does not age well at all. This can is less than four months old, but it seems to have lost all its genuine flavor already. There’s a sharp tang right away; a flavor not too far removed from vinegar. I do notice some chocolate-like flavor lurking in the background, but not to the extent that I would consider this a chocolate beer. It has a slight cola taste, though that’s not necessarily an attribute. Otherwise, there’s really no genuine porter character to be found. Either this was very poorly brewed, or the brewers’ definition of chocolate differs greatly from mine.

Another 2015 dud from this brewery: Narragansett Lovecraft Honey Ale

    St. Pauli Girl 002
  1. St. Pauli Girl Lager
I think I have a pretty high tolerance for bad macro beers. I can recall drinking other brews much worse than this, but I’m still scoring St. Pauli Girl Lager low because it’s a lousy beer overall. The palette is pretty bland and boring; no malt or hop characteristics whatsoever. Initially, there’s a tang or spoiled flavor from the light strike, but I seem to build a tolerance to that quickly. Other beers of the general style tend to have a modicum of sweetness, but there’s none to be found here. Kind of ironic considering how it touts its ingredients. There are much better examples of mediocre pale lagers and they’re as readily available and cheaper than this. Avoid.

    Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner Beer 002
  1. Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner Beer
Knowing what I do about beer, I’ve reached a point where I’m actually surprised when a beer tastes bad and not from brewing flaws like diacetyl, dimethyl sulfide or acetaldehyde. A beer like this is deliberately designed to taste this way – why? It’s just a mildly sweet malty slurry flavor with a noticeable corn water taste (maybe it is DMS after all). No metallic character, though I notice a tanginess on the finish and a bit of a bile-like flavor right as it goes down. To be fair, there is a faint amount of sweetness, but it’s not enough to salvage the rest of the palette. Perhaps if it were fresh (and I’ll readily admit this bottle is rather old), it might make a difference; but for now this is just plain bad. Ick.

    River Horse Hopalotamus 002
  1. River Horse Hopalotamus
I hate getting burned by unknowingly old beer. The only thing I can do to “get back” at the brewery for not fresh dating their bottles is to review the beer as it is. I’m inclined to believe that River Horse Hopalotamus is a decent beer when it’s fresh, but I probably won’t know as we don’t get their beers here in Albany (I got this bottle downstate). This has all the makings of an old IPA: a lack of hops, pronounced malts, tangy astringency, and general off-flavors and aromas.

The malt base has held in rather well and creates for a peanut brittle and toffee flavor along with lemon lollipops (oxidation). Hops are pretty much gone except for light piney flavor up front and a touch of earthy resin on the finish. Otherwise, it’s mostly a sharp, dry astringent flavor and a tangy sourness on the finish and aftertaste. I can’t imagine this is how the beer was supposed to taste.

    Broken Bow Broken Auger Lager 003
  1. Broken Bow Broken Auger Lager
I have a feeling when this beer is fresh it’s at least drinkable, maybe even good. I don’t know if this brewery has a problem with their actual brewing and/or their canning process, or if their wholesaler just sits on product and old cans end up on the shelf of my local bottle shop. Whatever the case may be, the two times I’ve drank this beer it’s been clearly infected with lacto and thus makes it impossible to review the palette as its meant to be tasted. I do detect a little nutty character, maybe even some sweet maltiness often found in amber and Vienna lagers. Unfortunately, the off-flavors are too distracting and grow more cloying as the beer warms. I could actually see this sourness working well if done intentional via barrel-aging, but there’s really no excuse for it in an ordinary canned lager. Pfft. Amateurs.

Another 2015 dud from this brewery: Broken Bow Red Ale

  1. Mountain Brew LightMountain Brew Light 001
As perplexed as I am by the existence of Stewart’s “Mountain Brew Ice,” I’m even more captivated by the fact there’s a light version. That would seem to imply that the original was so popular that there’s enough demand for another product (but without much difference). Mountain Brew Light is a tad better than its forbearer, but still a pretty lousy beer anyway.

While I don’t think Mountain Brew Light is vastly superior to its bigger brother, I do notice quite a difference in taste. Mostly due to the fact I can actually drink more than a few ounces of this at a time. Not that there’s a lot (or anything) to taste here. Only a faint Corn Flakes-like sweetness. No malt or hop character at all. Thankfully, not much metallic or starch or tangy off-flavors (there is a bit of a dirty taste, but it’s faint and probably due to the fact the can is so old). It actually quite watery-tasting. Not terrible, but this would be doubly good if it were merely mediocre.

Another 2015 dud from this brewery: Mountain Brew Ice

    Twisted Pine Ghost Face Killah 002
  1. Twisted Pine Ghost Face Killah
Twisted Pine’s “Ghost Face Killah” is not a beer, it is an alcoholic gag gift. A beer would imply it’s drinkable and has elements of malts and hops. This is essentially just carbonated hot sauce. It really has no redeeming qualities since it’s extremely difficult to drink more than an ounce of it because it is so ridiculously hot.
I’m no stranger to peppers. I’ve grown my own jalapenos, habaneros and Trinidad Scorpion peppers and eaten them raw. I’ve even brewed with these peppers and was able to use them to impart gentle warmth. Twisted Pine’s “Ghost Face Killah” is most definitely not gentle, nor is it warm. In fact, “hot” doesn’t really describe it. As soon as it touches the tongue and lips it sets those body parts on fire. It has the taste of raw peppers as it goes down – a nasty earthy/soil-like flavor. After a while, there’s a slight smokey aftertaste, not unlike that of a Chipotle pepper, but by that point it’s too late. I can’t imagine anyone other than a pepper enthusiast being able to get through more than 4oz of this. There’s nothing to taste, it’s just liquid fire. Screw this.

See also:
Top 10 Worst Beers of 2014
Top 10 Worst Beers of 2013
Top 10 Worst Beers of 2012
Top 10 Worst Beers of 2011
Top 10 Worst Beers of 2010
Top 10 Worst Beers of 2009

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot

3.4
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20Chad9976 (1531) - Orlando, Florida, USA - JAN 2, 2016
Barleywine is a fairly idiot-proof style (pun intended). In fact, big beers in general tend to be good because they’ve got so much malt and hops that they create for big flavors which more often than not are pretty delectable. That’s why Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot is a little disappointing as it’s not quite the robust, complex example so many of the style tend to be. It’s big and pretty tasty, but it’s lacking in certain areas.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a tulip glass. It was bottled on 4/29/2015 and cost $4.39 ($0.37 per ounce).

Appearance: Sangria or fruit punch-like burgundy red. Dark in color, though somewhat transparent with particulates floating in suspension. Pours to a nominal, off-white, foamy head which evaporates quickly and completely (disappointing).

Smell: Plenty of sweet British-style maltiness which in turn creates for fruity notes. Though, oddly enough, the nose is rather restrained. Alcohol is present, but not distracting.

Taste: I would not use the term “mild” to describe the palette of this beer – at least not as a whole. Sure some of the individual flavors are more reserved than others, but the beer in and of itself is not mild. However, that’s not to say it’s exploding with [great] taste. Not surprisingly, there’s a strong surge of malty sweetness; plenty of treacle and toffee (which mostly emerge on the backend), but that’s about it. Perhaps a slight dark fruit and vinous character to the palette, but nothing that really stands out and is impressive. The alcohol also plays a prominent role and gives it a rather harsh, liquor-like sensation. Hops are reserved and may have faded already. Not that this is the kind of beer you drink for balance anyway. Overall it’s tasty and satisfying, but it could and should be much better.

Drinkability: I knew what I was getting into with Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot when I saw the 11.1% ABV on the label. It definitely has the body of something that big. The mouthfeel is noticeably thick, syrupy, and low in carbonation. Alcohol comes through in a strong warming sensation. In fact, it’s pretty hot and slick at first, but seems to homogenize eventually. It also hits me pretty quickly which is surprising considering how much relative age the bottle had on it at the time.

RATING: 6/10

Friday, January 1, 2016

Cigar City Hotter Than Helles Lager

3.6
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20Chad9976 (1530) - Orlando, Florida, USA - JAN 1, 2016
If a beer isn’t reflective of its marketed style, but still tastes pretty good – can you really fault it? That’s the case with Cigar City Hotter Than Helles Lager as it really isn’t “to spec” as far as traditional guidelines go, however, it does the job it’s supposed to. This is indeed a clean, refreshing, drinker-friendly lager than pairs with warm weather perfectly. That’s not something I get to say about a beer reviewed in January until I moved to Florida. 


I poured a 12oz can into a tulip glass. It was canned on 10/22/15 and a six-pack cost $8.99 ($1.50 per can or $0.12 per ounce).

Appearance: Pale, lemony yellow hue with a slightly cloudy body. Initially pours to a large, white, soapy head but it fizzles away quickly and completely leaving no lacing.

Smell: Pretty standard lager aroma with a hint of lemon, though very mild overall. Nothing off-putting at all.

Taste: I’d imagine if this beer were judged against other Dortmunders and Helles brews it probably wouldn’t fair well as it’s missing that distinct pilsner grain and spicy noble hop character. However, as a generic pale lager it works quite well. I have a feeling they’re using American hops in here since there’s a noticeably citrusy taste, especially of lemon and maybe grapefruit. There’s even a faint trace of tartness to be found, in fact it might even be lacto. That being said, I don’t find it distracting as it complements the citrusy components just fine. This would be a great transition brew for macro drinkers.

Drinkability: Considering that Cigar City is a Florida-based brewery and the majority of their market is in warm-weather climates, it makes sense that Hotter Than Helles would be marketed as a liquid refresher. And it definitely works as such: the mouthfeel is thin and crisp, but quite refreshing across the tongue. It finishes completely clean. At 5% ABV it’s arguably sessionable, especially considering it’s affordably priced and comes in cans. I found it difficult to drink just one.

RATING: 7/10