Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Samuel Adams Coffee Black Lager

Best before date: 5/2018

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 30A Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer (base style: 8B Schwarzbier)

AROMA: Dark malt but not especially roasty. Coffee is quite subtle. There's a mild sweet component to the nose. No hops (none needed). Clean lager fermentation. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Extremely deep ruby/black hue (34-44 SRM). Clear body. Large tan foam. 3/3

FLAVOR: Moderate coffee taste throughout. Flavor is akin to a coffee-and-creamer as there is a dairy-like sweetness. Dark malt base is prominent; neutral, not bready. No roasted malt or burnt flavors. Medium-low bitterness; little actual hop flavor (coffee is overriding the hops). Clean lager fermentation. Works well as an SHV brew. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body and carbonation. Smooth and highly quaffable. Coffee lingers momentarily for a somewhat bitter aftertaste, otherwise it finishes clean. Plenty of flavor for only 4.9% ABV, but not exactly sessionable . 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Works well as a Schwarzbier with a bonus coffee flavor. Not amazing, but enjoyable for what it is. 7/10


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout (2018 re-review to BJCP specs)

Canning code: G1515QC 15:05

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 16B Oatmeal Stout

AROMA: Sweet nose of oats; akin to coffee-and-cream or milk chocolate. Roasted malt is quite prominent with a slight smokey character. Slight fruity yeast esters. No hops (none needed). 10/12

APPEARANCE: Opaque black hue (44+ SRM). Very large, dark brown, frothy foam retains and laces wonderfully. 3/3

FLAVOR: Fairly robust and complex palette with roasted malt being the most prominent flavor. It creates for a coffee-like flavor and bitterness and has a slightly smokey aftertaste. Oatmeal is also quite prominent with a mild nutty/grainy flavor and adds sweetness to balance the roasted malt. Subtle fruity yeast esters and chocolate notes can be found in the background. Palette is well-balanced, but actual hop presence is rather low (likely due to age of can). 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-full body; medium carbonation. Creamy texture and high drinkability; though filling. Quite efficient at only 5% ABV. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Fantastic example of the style; it'd be perfect if it were fresh (sweetness is a little too low, IMHO). 9/10


NOTE: See my 2009 original review here:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Budweiser 1933 Repeal Reserve Amber Lager

Best before date: 2/4/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 2B International Amber Lager

AROMA: Quite sweet malty nose with caramel character. Honey is also evident, though likely from oxidation. Faint floral hops. Clean lager fermentation. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Clear reddish-brown hue (17-22 SRM). Large, light tan, rocky froth retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Fairly sweet caramel malt with a strong honey flavor due to oxidation. Sweetness seems a bit faux. If it were authentically malty it could pass as a helles bock. Bitterness is low with a scant spicy hop flavor. Fermentation is clean, but doesn't seem fully attenuated. Minor alcohol presence. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; medium-low carbonation. Slightly malty aftertaste. Stronger than average at 6.1% ABV, but not stronger in flavor. Easy drinkability, though. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Interesting product considering the brewery. Difficult to judge to style, though. Not bad, but unimpressive. 6/10


Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout (2018 re-review)

Best before date: 4/2018

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 16A Sweet Stout

AROMA: Dark malt but without strong roasted or coffee notes. Lactose sugar is fairly prominent. Faint piney/floral hops. Clean fermentation. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Very dark brown to black proper (39-44 SRM). Clear with brown highlights. Small tan creamy head mostly dissipates. 3/3

FLAVOR: Begins with a mix of dark malt and lactose sugar but without intense roastiness or cloying sweetness. At the apex comes brief hop bitterness. Faint piney/floral hop flavor lurks in the background as well. Finish is quite delectable with a sweet milk chocolate candy-like flavor along with subtle fruitiness. Aftertaste is akin to bittersweet chocolate, albeit mild. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; low carbonation (seems  under-carbonated and a bit watery). Texture is smooth, but not creamy per se. Highly drinkable, but rather inefficient at 5.7% ABV as this feels more like a pub-style session stout. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Not perfect, but probably one of the better American examples of the style. 8/10


NOTE: See my 2016 original review here:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Piwo z Grodziska

LOT number: 21.12.2018 09:33

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 27 Historical Style - Piwo Grodziskie

AROMA: Fairly strong smoke character. Smokiness is clean and light; not phenolic. Subtle floral/spicy hops are present as is a light pear-like fruity character. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Pale yellow hue (1-2 SRM). Mostly clear body with champagne-like effervescence. Large white fluffy foam retains and laces extremely well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Smoke is the dominate flavor and is strong to start and finish each swig. The smoke is clean; not acrid or meaty. The malted wheat base is clean graininess, but not bready. Highly attenuated with no residual sweetness. Hops are rather mild with just a touch of floral/spicy flavor and dry bitterness. Subtle fruity character can be found in the background. 16/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light body; high carbonation. Quaffable and sessionable. Smoke flavor lingers briefly in aftertaste, but is not cloying. Very efficient for only 3.1% ABV. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: I know nothing about this style, but I can tell this beer is a great example of it. 9/10


Friday, January 12, 2018

Belhaven Scottish Ale

Bottling code: T1 17080

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 14C Scottish Export

AROMA: Brown malt with slight caramel/nutty character. Not especially sweet overall. Slight fruity esters. Very low earthy hops. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Mostly clear shade of nut brown mahogany (17-22 SRM). Moderate off-white foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Malt-forward palette, but not sweet or rich. Taste is of brown malt without any roasty or smoke character. Some caramel flavor in the background and a bit of a nutty taste on the finish (though this could also be an earthy taste from the hops). Bitterness is low and dry. Fruity apple-like esters emerge on the aftertaste. No peat character. 18/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body with moderate carbonation. Crisp, but smooth and not spastic. Somewhat refreshing; temptingly sessionable at 5.2% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This is what a true Scottish Ale should be. Maybe not the most delicious beer in the world, but to-spec for the style for sure. 9/10


Thursday, January 11, 2018

DuClaw Sweet Baby Java

Fill date: 10/23/17

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 30A Spice, Herb, or Vegetable beer (base style: 20A American Porter)

AROMA: Fairly strong peanut butter candy character. Generic dark malt base with no fruity or roasty notes (no coffee for that matter, either). 8/12

APPEARANCE: Black body with brown highlights (44+ SRM). Moderate tan creamy foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Dark malt to start with an underlying roasted flavor. Sweet, authentic, chocolate and peanut butter taste emerges at the apex and lasts into the finish. Minor earthy/floral hops with fairly low bitterness (roasted malt provides most of the balancing bitterness). Espresso is extremely subtle and adds little to the original brew other than offering slightly more balance. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-full[ish] body; medium carbonation. Smooth, comfortable texture. Quite efficient at 6.2% ABV with no alcohol taste or warmth. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Not a bad beer at all (it's actually quite enjoyable); but it doesn't seem to deliver as marketed and thus doesn't score well as a 30A. 6/10


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Samuel Adams Noble Pils (2018 re-review to BJCP specs)

Best before date: 5/2018

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 3B Czech Premium Pale Lager

AROMA: Moderate grainy pale malt base. Medium floral hop aroma; slightly spicy. Clean lager fermentation. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Clear golden hue (4-5 SRM). Effervescent body. A moderate amount of white froth retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Somewhat sweet pale malt base. Malt flavor is grainy-sweet with a slight honey character (nothing rich or bready). Hops are mostly floral with a mild spiciness on the backend. Bitterness is a bit low for the style, though balance is fairly even. Clean lager fermentation. 13/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; medium-high carbonation. Smooth and crisp. Somewhat refreshing. Clean aftertaste. Sessionable at 4.9% ABV. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Mis-marketed as "Bohemian Pilsner", this is closer to a German pils. Tasty beer, but not to spec for the style. 6/10


NOTE: Read my 2010 original review here:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Motorworks Intellectual Property Ale

Fill date: 10/18/17

2015 BJCP Category: 21A American IPA

AROMA: Strong American hop presence with an orange juice concentrate character (general fruity/floral bouquet). Seems almost sweet. Nondescript malt base. Slightly grassy. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Hazy shade of amber/orange (7-9 SRM). Large white creamy foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Hoppy with an orange candy-like flavor at first. Citrus pith is also present. Mild spicy/grassy sensation on the backend. Malt base is simple, but attenuation is a bit low which accounts for the sweetness. Bitterness is fairly strong, but is neither astringent nor dank. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body and carbonation. Texture is quite smooth. Beer is quite quaffable at 6.9% ABV with no alcohol taste or warmth. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Has everything you expect and want in an American IPA. Satisfying and drinkable for sure. 8/10


Monday, January 8, 2018

Big Storm "The Lightning Twenty-Five" Craft Lager

Fill date: 11/17/17

2015 BJCP Category: 2A International Pale Lager

AROMA: Moderate pale malt character; slightly sweet corn cereal presence. Subtle earthy/floral hops. Mostly clean lager fermentation though I do detect a faint fruity note (acetaldehyde). 9/12

APPEARANCE: Banana yellow hue (2-3 SRM); slightly hazy body. Large white soapy foam mostly dissipates but leaves some lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Lightly sweet corn cereal-like flavor up front. Back end is akin to a German lager with authentic pilsner malt character and a slight graham cracker taste. Bitterness is low with a mild spicy/peppery hop flavor. Faint fruity flavor in the aftertaste, otherwise clean. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light body; medium-high carbonation. Refreshing and sessionable at 4% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Better-tasting than the average macro lager; just a bit flawed in technical merit. 8/10


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fuller's London Porter (2018 re-review to BJCP specs)

Best before date: 1/4/18

2015 BJCP Category: 13C English Porter

AROMA: Dark malty base with slight roasted character. Almost no confectionery notes. Low earthy/floral hops. Moderate fruity yeast esters. Faint diacetyl. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Mostly clear shade of deep ruby/mahogany (34 SRM). Moderate tan creamy head retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Malt-forward palette with a browned/roasted malt base. Palette is fairly sweet with dark fruity flavors from the yeast esters (also with a licorice taste). Chocolate is evident throughout, though subtle. Coffee emerges briefly on the finish and lingers briefly in the aftertaste. Bitterness is low with a mild floral hop character. Faint diacetyl lurks in the background, but is not distracting (acceptable for the style). 18/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; medium-low carbonation. Texture is extremely smooth. Feels like more of an overt session beer than the actual 5.4% ABV. Highly drinkable, regardless. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This is what an English Porter should be: malty, fruity, delectable and highly drinkable. 10/10


NOTE: Read my 2012 original review here:

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale (2018 re-review to BJCP specs)

DOB: 6/20/17 (SF20Q1)

2015 BJCP Category: 13B British Brown Ale

AROMA: Brown malt with slight toasty component. Subtle confectionery notes. Hops are moderate with a floral/earthy character. Slight fruity yeast esters. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Mostly clear reddish-brown hue (17-22 SRM). Large tan froth retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Moderate brown malt flavor with mild sweetness with toffee and caramel notes. Background nutty/toasty character. Bitterness is fairly low, with a moderate earthy/floral taste. Subtle fruit flavor from the yeast esters can be found in the background, especially on the finish. Aftertaste is briefly sweet, but then dries out quickly. Quite dry for the style. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; medium-high carbonation. Very smooth and high drinkable. Spot-on for 5% ABV and probably sessionable. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: World Class when fresh, but still to-spec and drinkable with some age. 8/10


NOTE: See my 2009 original review here:

Friday, January 5, 2018

Samuel Adams Oatmeal Stout

BBD: 4/2018

2015 BJCP Category: 16B Oatmeal Stout

AROMA: Lightly sweet authentic oat aroma with a slight dairy-like quality. Moderate roasted malt. Low earthy/floral hops. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Black, but clear with ruby highlights (27-44 SRM). Large tan frothy foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Malt-forward palette with fairly strong roasted flavor throughout but also quite sweet. Absolutely no burnt taste. Oats impart a coffee-and-cream flavor and chocolaty sweetness which is apparent up front and in the aftertaste. Strong roasted malt flavor on the backend. Hops are present throughout to impart a mild earthy/floral flavor and dry bitterness. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; medium-high carbonation. Smooth, but not velvety or silky (may be a bit over-carbonated for the body). Efficient and easily drinkable at 5.5% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Not quite as sweet as most oatmeal stouts (or as I prefer), but certainly to-spec for the style. 9/10


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Southern Tier Cinnamon Roll

Fill date: 10/10/17

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 34C Experimental Beer

AROMA: Strong authentic cinnamon aroma with a sweet confectionery note (smells like a cinnamon roll). Slight alcohol presence. No distinct malt or hop characteristics. Nice nose, but simple. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Very hazy ruby/brown hue (22-27 SRM). Small tan foam mostly dissipates and leaves no lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Cinnamon is clearly the dominate flavor from beginning to end. Begins with a spice rack-like flavor and morphs into the marketed cinnamon roll taste when sweet caramel flavoring emerges. Balance between these flavors is tight so as to prevent the palette from being cloying or a spice bomb. The base malt is a nondescript brown, though brew seems to be well attenuated. Hops are extremely low in both flavor and bitterness (cinnamon spice does all the work). Alcohol is also noticeable, but works with palette. Overall, it's quite tasty though simplistic. 16/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body and carbonation (feels a bit lighter than it should be). Cinnamon lingers in the aftertaste. Mild warmth from the 8.6% ABV, though it is not a sipper. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Unique, interesting, and enjoyable to be sure. This could almost be considered an FMB because it's such a novelty and there's no base style (which is why 34C was exists). 7/10


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Green Man IPA

BBD: 4/27/18

2015 BJCP Category: 12C English IPA

AROMA: Hop-forward nose of European varietals (piney/floral/spicy). Malt is fairly prominent with a caramel and slight toasty note akin to that found in classic strong bitters. Slight orange fruity character from yeast esters (and hops?). No overt sulfur or minerals. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Hazy shade of rusty copper (7-9 SRM). Moderate off-white foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Malts and hops are fairly even for an IPA, though the hops are a tad stronger with a piney/spicy/floral flavor. Bitterness is firm, but not aggressive with a dry peppery sensation and matching aftertaste. Malts create for a lightly sweet toffee/caramel flavor. Some orange marmalade-like fruitiness can be found in the background. No sulfur or mineral character. 15/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; medium-high carbonation. Smooth and crisp. Neither refreshing nor sessionable, but quite easy to drink. Feels a little light for 6.2% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: To-spec for the style but could also pass as an AIPA. 7/10


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Coopers Sparkling Ale

Best After Date: 7/9/14

2015 BJCP Category: 12B Australian Sparkling Ale

AROMA: Strong caramel/honey/lemon presence due to 3.5 years of oxidation. Slight apple/pear character. No hops. Yeasty/brothy. 4/12

APPEARANCE: Ugly rusty copper hue (4-7 SRM). Yeast particles float in suspension. Small white foam mostly dissipates and leaves little lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Interesting palette in that it's both sweet and dry simultaneously. Oxidation has given the bottle a strong caramel taste along with honey/lemon notes. Faint fruity character from yeast, though also a brothy sensation (probably not Butryic acid). Bitterness comes from carbonation rather than hops. Difficult to detect any authentic hop character. Slightly sweet aftertaste. 8/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; medium-high carbonation. Feels like a much lighter brew than 5.8% ABV. Neither refreshing nor quaffable. 2/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Nearly impossible to find fresh in the USA; a bad experience like this is not uncommon. 3/10


Monday, January 1, 2018

Morland Old Golden Hen

DOB: ? (T717066)

2015 BJCP Category: 12A British Golden Ale

AROMA: Moderately-strong tropical fruit scent from the hops. Malt base is fairly generic with slight biscuit character. Touch of diacetyl (acceptable for the style). 10/12

APPEARANCE: Deep golden hue (5-7 SRM). Clear body. Large white frothy foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Reminiscent of an American pale ale with tropical/citrusy hop flavor (actual bitterness is low). The malt base is lightly sweet with a subtle biscuit character. English yeast esters are present. Low enough so as not to be a driving force for the palette, but strong enough to give it a classic English character. Faint diacetyl imparts a buttery flavor which actually seems to work with the hop and malt selection here. Clean, dry aftertaste. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light body; medium-low carbonation. Smooth but crisp. Very refreshing, crushable and sessionable at only 4.1% ABV.  5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Definitely one of the best commercial examples of the style. If the beer were packaged in cans it'd be a World Class example. 9/10


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top 10 Best Beers of 2017

Welcome to the 9th annual installment of the Top 10 Best Beers of year! Really, this should be the 10th annual Top 10 list, but I didn’t do one in 2008, which was my first year of doing beer reviews.
If you’re watching this on YouTube you know this was the year I made my return to video beer reviewing after a year-and-a-half absence. I decided that if I was going to return to YouTube I was going to change up my reviewing style completely and review beers to the BJCP guidelines instead of my own personal preferences. Not everyone seems to be crazy about this new approach, but I like it. I kinda wish I had been doing my beer reviews like this since the beginning. But that’s a subject for another sermon.

Just like every other year, the rule that I go by for compiling this list that only beers that I reviewed for the first time in calendar year 2017 were eligible. Even though I scored a lot of beers pretty highly this year (especially the ones I reviewed for YouTube), many of them were re-reviews to BJCP specs so they weren’t even eligible to make this list. Which is kind of a bummer because there were a lot of re-review beers that I scored a 46 or higher. In fact, I gave two beers a perfect 50 score, but they were both re-reviews so they don’t count (Samuel Adams Hefeweizen and Cigar City Good Gourd). 

That being said, there were still plenty of excellent beers I reviewed for the first time this year. Pretty much all of them were text-only reviews. In previous years I would read excerpts from my reviews, but I don’t think that method really conveys why I liked the beer as much as I did. So this year I’m just going to summarize my thoughts on each beer and why I put it on this list. I’ll have a link to the text version of this list in the description box below, so check that out and you’ll be able to read my full in-depth reviews of each of these beers to understand why I rated them so highly.

This is the year that I officially became tired of IPAs. I wouldn’t say I’m sick of them, I mean I’ll obviously still buy and drink them, but they just don’t wow me the way they used to. So if I’m putting a standard IPA on this list you know it’s gotta be good. There’s not much to say beyond the fact it’s citrusy and piney and tastes great. If you like a good IPA you’ll like this beer.

Man, I love a good witbier. It’s hard to find authentic Belgian Whites even remotely fresh here in the States, and American breweries tend to make their brews a little too Americanized for my tastes. But this one is legit Belgian style all the way. A perfect blend of the fruity yeast esters and coriander and orange peel spices; plus it’s really refreshing and totally sessionable. Plus it’s probably available in your local supermarket. That they didn’t dumb-down the recipe for a mainstream audience is impressive.

I used to hate the Kolsch style, but in the past few years I’ve really come to appreciate. It’s one of those weird hybrid ale/lager styles and the recipe is pretty similar to a pilsner, but it’s got these little nuances to it that once you really develop your palate and you learn about zymurgy and brewing history, you realize how great a beer of this style can be. What’s really interesting about this particular review was that I first reviewed a really old bottle of it and it was alright, but then I found out the local craft beer bar had it on tap and I rushed over there and got a growler fill of it and the difference was amazing. Full of flavor, delicious and really drinkable. Your beer store probably doesn’t have this fresh, but a legit craft beer bar might – so try it if you can find it fresh (or any authentic German kolsch for that matter).

I’ve never really considered Sapporo that great of a brewery. They’re kind of the Budweiser of Japan, and if you go to a Japanese or Chinese restaurant here in America you’ll probably find their flagship lager. But this year they reached out to me and sent me a few fresh cans of their beers, and this one is their take on the German Schwarzbier style and I was amazed how well it conformed the style guidelines. In fact, all three beers they sent me scored well over 40 but I liked this one the best. 

IPA isn’t the only style I’m kind of over; sour/wild beers don’t really do it for me as much anymore either. The idea behind this beer was to take a standard American pale ale and do it wild. It doesn’t sound like that would work at all, but in the hands of the right brewer anything can be done and this is proof of that.

I don’t know how to pronounce this beer, but I do know that it’s awesome. I had never had a 3A Czech Pale Lager before, but this is one of the most popular examples of the style in the Czech Republic and I can see why. It’s very similar to Pilsner Urquell (which I also love), but it’s a little lighter, and damn if it’s not delicious and really drinkable. I got this sent to me straight from Prague, so thanks to Max Bahnson for sending it to me for my BJCP video beer reviews.

If you know me you know I love a good German wheat beer. Usually I prefer a regular hefe over a dunkelweizen, but this one was fantastic (you know – banana bread, clove, smooth, refreshing – all that stuff). I can’t believe I’ve never had a Tucher beer before. I’m sorry I waited so long. 

Okay, so I’m not completely sick of IPAs if I put two of them on my Top 10 list. And I’m kind of playing hometown favorite here because this beer is brewed only a few miles from my house and literally right around the corner from my work. It really impressed me because Brew Hub is a contract brewery and they only have a few beers they make under their own label and none of them have been all that great. So I didn’t have high expectations for this beer, but as soon I tasted it I was amazed. I mean, it’s on par with an IPA that would come out of those major San Diego breweries. In fact, it actually won a gold medal at this year’s GABF for “Best Session IPA.” I disagree that this should be considered a session IPA at 5.8% ABV, but I do agree that it’s a medal-winning beer.

A friend of mine who works in the beer industry gave me this bottle just to see what I’d think of it. I’m not sure if he thought this was just another run-of-the-mill beer I could use for a standard review, or if he thought it was great and wanted to see if I agreed. Either way, it turned out to be a World Class imperial stout.
It seems like I don’t get too many standard imperial stouts anymore. I mean there are obviously plenty of stouts that have chocolate, coffee and all that stuff in them. Or they’re barrel aged (or both). But this beer is just straight, to-spec, imperial stout; so it’s big and bold with a lot of roasted malt and hops and alcohol and everything is just perfectly balanced and the beer is really drinkable. I almost gave this a perfect 50, actually.

So this might be a really controversial pick for the best beer of the year. If you don’t live in Florida you’ve probably never seen or heard of Central 28 Brewing (they’re about halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach). Hopefully that’ll change soon because if they can make all their beers this good they’ll be going places.

So this is technically more of a “grisette” than a traditional saison, and it seems to be overtly Americanized with the hop character, but when I was judging it I found that it conformed to the style guides for a saison really really well. What I really love about it is the wicked estery yeast character. Lots of banana and spice and some citrusy hops make it smell and taste delicious. 

This is a perfect beer for Florida and warm weather beer nerds. It’s only 4.5% ABV so it’s definitely sessionable, and it comes in cans instead of bottles so it’s portable and durable. Definitely the kind of beer you want to take to the beach, or the park, or camping or wherever. It kinda reminds me of a Stillwater beer, but if Stillwater made a beer that actually conformed to a style guideline.

I find myself picking up a six pack of this to keep in the fridge. Everyone I’ve given it to seems to like it. If you can find it definitely buy it. It’s fairly cheap, too. So with all these factors in mind, you can probably tell why I’m ranking this my number one beer of 2017. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS (anything that scored over a 40):
Australian Saison D’Hérétique
Ayinger Weizenbock
Cigar City Guayabera Citra Pale Ale
Coors Original Banquet Beer
Coppertail Independent Pilsner
Czech Rebel Beer
Destihl Synchopathic
Destihl Wild Sour Series: Syncopathic Apricot
Full Sail Session Dark Lager
Hourglass Morlock Milk Stout
JDub’s Poolside Kölsch
Kulmbacher Edelherb Premium Pils
Mikkeller California Dream
Oskar Blues G'Knight Imperial Red IPA
Pair O’ Dice Clearwater Honey Cream
Perrin The Hypocrite
Prairie Flare
Prairie Prairie Hop
Samuel Adams Session IPA
Samuel Adams Tropic of Yuzu
Sapporo Premium Black
Sapporo Reserve Beer
Toppling Goliath Pseudo Sue
Toppling Goliath Tsunami Pale Ale
Victory Home Grown New American Lager
Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel

Magic Hat Jinx (2017 re-review to BJCP specs)

DOB: 7/5/17

2015 BJCP Category: 32A Classic Style Smoked Beer (base style: 17C Wee Heavy)

AROMA: Moderate presence of fruit, caramel/maltiness and smoke; though none are intense. Aromas are well-balanced as no one seems to dominate. No hops (none needed). 9/12

APPEARANCE: Deep garnet/brown hue (17-22 SRM). Very hazy body (should be clear). Moderate white foam mostly dissipates and leaves only trace lacing. 2/3

FLAVOR: Malt-forward palette to be sure, though it is far from cloying or even rich. Confectionery flavors are present, albeit subtle. Various dark fruits can be found in the background akin to those found in British or Belgian esters (but are also subtle). Peat smoke emerges briefly on the finish and offers an interesting contrast, but all the flavors quickly homogenize so it becomes difficult to detect. Hops are the most subtle ingredient with minor earthy character and dry bitterness. Aftertaste is quite clean. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; medium-low carbonation. Smooth and easily drinkable with no alcohol warmth or taste for 6.9% ABV. Feels like a much smaller brew; I'd expect a more robust, bigger-bodied brew for that potency. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: It's an okay Wee Heavy, but a rather weak smoked beer. Considering the brewery and their target audience I can't say I'm surprised. 6/10


NOTE: See my 2008 original review here:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Motorworks Pulp Friction

DOC: 11/22/17

2015 BJCP Category: 29A Fruit Beer (base style: 21A American IPA)

AROMA: Very strong grapefruit presence akin to juice or powdered drink mix. Difficult to distinguish hops from grapefruit. No malt character. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Hazy copper hue (7-9 SRM). Large eggshell foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Grapefruit flavor is present throughout; dry and tart at first, but sweet and juicy-like on the finish. Flavor seems to be authentic; taste is close to peel and pith rather than syrupy extract. Bitterness is fairly strong with a consistent dry sensation. Hops seem to match the grapefruit perfectly and offer little flavor of their own aside from a subtle resin. Base malt is standard pale variety with light sweetness to offer balance. Clean fermentation. 16/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; medium-high carbonation. Smooth and crisp. Refreshing while in the mouth, but aftertaste is dry and starchy. Seems a little light for 6.3% ABV. Ideal warm weather beverage. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A little simplistic, but works well as a tasty, easy-drinking grapefruit IPA. 8/10