Saturday, May 26, 2018

Leffe Blonde (2018 re-review to BJCP specs)

Best before: 5/8/19

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 25A Belgian Blond Ale

AROMA: Moderately-strong yeast character with classic Belgian signature of banana and slight clove. Malt base has a slight bready character, but with no wheat presence. Hops are difficult to distinguish from yeast products but may add or enhance the spicy/earthy/floral quality. Slight alcohol presence. Nose may actually be a bit too strong for the style. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Clear shade of amber/pale copper (4-7 SRM). Large white creamy froth retains and laces extremely well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Robust palette with yeast esters and phenols being the primary flavor contributors. Somewhat sweet banana bread taste throughout the first half, though well-attenuated so as not to be rich or cloying. There is a consistent phenolic taste of clove and black pepper which becomes rather strong on the second half. Actual hop flavor is a faint earthy/spicy/floral taste. Bitterness is firm and balances palette well, with a drying sensation as it finishes. Alcohol enhances the sweetness of the malt, but also helps lead to a dry finish. While delectable and on-point for the style, the intensity of these characteristics may be strong for the style. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium+ body; fairly high carbonation. Texture is soft, smooth and creamy. Alcohol is gentle, but noticeable at 6.6% ABV. Overall drinkability is high.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This is one of the most popular Belgian blonds on the planet for a reason. It's surprisingly robust for a mainstream product. 9/10


NOTE: See my 2011 original review here:

Friday, May 25, 2018

Anchor San Franpsycho IPA

Fill date: 3/22/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 29A Fruit Beer (base style: 21A American IPA)

AROMA: Moderate stone fruit character with plenty of American citrusy hops as well. Would not consider it juicy, per se. Malt base is standard pale with a slight wheaty character. No Belgian yeast esters; fermentation is quite clean. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Hazy shade of amber/orange (5-7 SRM). Large fluffy white head retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Moderate citrusy hop flavor throughout, but actual bitterness is low for the style. The use of peach and apricot add only a trace amount of fruit flavor to the palette (falls well short of the "juicy" adjective on the label). Malt and wheat provide balance and minor sweetness, but no specialty character. Hops linger briefly with a citrusy pith flavor. No yeast esters of phenolics; clean fermentation. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; moderate carbonation. Smooth texture thanks to the wheat. Feels much lighter than 6.3% ABV, but is not particularly refreshing. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Lacking both the overt fruitiness and hop bite of a "juicy IPA." Would be better viewed as a standard pale ale. 5/10


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Two Brothers Bare Tree (2013 vintage)

Fill date: 2013

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 22D Wheatwine

AROMA: Moderately-high malty presence. Noticeable baked bread character (nothing toasty or roasted). A moderate amount of English barleywine dried fruit character and a faint spicy or phenolic note. No weizen-like yeast esters. Some sweet caramel and honey-like scents from oxidation. No discernible hops. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Hazy shade of rusty copper (9-13 SRM). Large particulates float in suspension. Moderate off-white, creamy froth retains and laces fairly well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Malt-dominated palette, but is not especially sweet. Taste is bready up front with a lovely dried fruit flavor on the backend which lingers briefly into the aftertaste. Subtle caramel and honey flavors from the alcohol; though some of this is clearly oxidation. A faint trace of spice could be from yeast phenols or hops. Bitterness is low, though brew seems well attenuated so as not to be syrupy or cloying. Seems to be to-spec, but mild. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; moderately-low carbonation. Texture is soft and smooth with a gentle warming sensation. Drinks like a much lighter beer than 11% ABV. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Exemplifies the style well enough, but is remarkably tame for what should be a bold brew. 7/10


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Trappist Achel 8° Bruin

Best before date: 7/20/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 26B Belgian Dubbel

AROMA: Moderate malty/estery nose with notes of dark and dried fruits. Subtle phenolic spicy character. Mild alcohol presence, though clean. No discernible hops (none needed). 9/12

APPEARANCE: Dark, slightly cloudy burgundy/light brown hue (17-22 SRM). Large foamy head retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Fairly complex palette with a constant interplay between genuine malt base and fruity/spicy yeast character. Almost perfume-like at first with a tingling spicy, slightly soapy sensation. Malt base is fairly bready with a rich sweetness on the finish. Notes of dark fruit and a touch of banana are present throughout. Alcohol is a significant component as well imparting just a bit of vanilla. Phenols seem to account for the bitterness; actual hop presence is rather low in terms of both taste and bitterness. Lingering fruitcake flavor in the aftertaste. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-full body; moderately-high carbonation. Texture is quite soft and smooth. Alcohol warmth is present, but gentle at 8% ABV. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Classic Belgian Dubbel in virtually all aspects. One of the lesser-known and underrated Trappist brews. 9/10


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tampa Bay/Cigar City Hop Silo #1: Imperial Pilsner

Fill date: 3/9/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 34B Mixed-Style Beer (base styles: 3B Czech Premium Pale Lager; 5D Czech Pils)

AROMA: Moderate spicy/floral hop presence Moderate bready/biscuity malt with a slight graham cracker component. All components seem rather low for an "imperial" brew. Seemingly clean fermentation; no alcohol presence. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Clear golden hue (2-4 SRM). Moderate white foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Moderate bready maltiness with a slight graham cracker taste. Not especially sweet, but attenuation seems a little low for a so-called pilsner (which makes it feel more like an ale than a lager). Hops are subtle at first, but break through with a strong spicy flavor at the apex which linger into the aftertaste. Actual bitterness is moderate with a drying sensation from the spiciness of the hops. There may be a trace amount of diacetyl, but it is not distracting (though this could be the alcohol). 13/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; moderate carbonation. Smooth and easily drinkable. Supposedly 8% ABV, this feels closer to sub-6% as there is no alcohol presence and it's lacking the crispness of a lager. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Palette is rather simplistic, but the hops are nice. Interesting brew, but difficult to truly judge to traditional styles. 6/10


Monday, May 21, 2018

Anchor Brewer's Pale Ale

Fill date: 2/26/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 18B American Pale Ale

AROMA: Strong American & New World hop aroma of citrus and tropical fruits. Intense to the point of being juicy. There is a slight spice or grassy note in the background. Moderately-low malt presence is noticeable, but no specialty character (none needed, really). Clean fermentation; no alcohol presence. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Amber/pale orange (4-7 SRM). Moderate white foam retains and laces well. Body is quite hazy. 3/3

FLAVOR: Fairly strong grapefruit hop flavor throughout. Taste is quite authentic, almost with a bit of pith or peel. Other citrusy fruit flavors are present, but taste is much drier and more bitter than the nose would indicate. Bitterness seems closer to that of a typical IPA rather than a standard pale ale. Malt base is fairly nondescript and just a tad wheaty, but in no way bready or caramelly. Slight grassy/piney sensation on the finish. Hops linger briefly in the aftertaste with a dry, slightly grassy taste. Clean fermentation; no alcohol presence. 13/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light[ish] body; medium-high carbonation. Smooth, yet crisp. Nice drinkability at only 5.3% ABV. If it were refreshing it'd be tempting to session. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Tasty and fun to drink. But it's yet another pale ale that'd be better marketed and judged as an IPA. 7/10


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Brasserie La Choulette Les Sans Culottes

Fill date: ?

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 24C Bière de Garde

AROMA: Farmhouse terroir character of hay, horse blanket and a general countryside bouquet. Slightly bready-malty, yet still seems highly-attenuated. There is a light spicy/peppery phenolic character, though the hops may have something to do with this. Strong, skunky, light-strike odor from the green bottle. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Mostly clear shade of golden/pale copper (4-7 SRM). Large yeast particulates float in suspension. Moderate white fluffy foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Remarkably malty-tasting compared to the nose. Sweet to be sure with bready component reminiscent of a Helles Bock. There is a recognizable farmhouse terroir character and perhaps the faintest trace of wild yeast. Though malty and sweet up front, the back end is rather dry (but lacking overt tartness). The yeast and the hops account for a spicy/peppery phenolic character, though it is tame. Bitterness is low as well, though attenuation seems to be high anyway. Aftertaste is lightly malty, though it eventually fades away cleanly. Alcohol is practically invisible here. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; high carbonation. Champagne-like effervescence at first, though it eventually becomes rather smooth and crisp. Drinkability is quite high, though this brew does seem a bit lighter than 7% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Probably world class when fresh, but it proves the style name is accurate because it ages well. 8/10


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale

Fill date: 2/16/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 18B American Pale Ale

AROMA: Strong American/New World hop aroma of citrus, stone, and tropical fruits. There is also a somewhat sweet candy-like component. Malt is present and firm enough to offer balance with just a touch of caramel. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Amber/pale orange hue (4-7 SRM) with a cloudy body. Fairly large white froth retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Robust hop flavor throughout. Delectable, almost luscious juicy flavors of citrus and tropical fruits. Bitterness is a consistent throughout, with a strong hop bite on the back end. Moderate pale malt base is also evident throughout with just a slight caramel-like flavor, though actual sweetness is rather low (palette does not seem wildly unbalanced, however). Hops linger in the aftertaste, but are not astringent. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body and carbonation with a smooth texture. Refreshing while in the mouth, though the aftertaste is a bit hoppy and dry for the style. Easy drinkability at 5.2% ABV, though it is filling. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Delicious to be sure, but beer would be better marketed (and judged) as a standard IPA. This is too hoppy for an APA. 7/10


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Moosehead Lager

Fill date: 2/20/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 2A International Pale Lager

AROMA: Lightly sweet pale malt aroma. Despite being in a can, it seems to have a skunky character (possibly acetaldehyde and/or DMS). No discernible hops. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Clear pale golden hue (2-3 SRM). Large white foam mostly dissipates, but still leaves lacing. 3/3

FLAVOR: Generic macro lager flavor of pale malt with a noticeably adjunct-like taste of corn and metal. Interesting enough, there is a lightly sweet cereal-like aftertaste (albeit brief). Hops are extremely faint with a spicy/floral character and low bitterness. Beer is well-attenuated so there is little sweetness for the hops to balance. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; moderately high carbonation. Easily drinkable; somewhat refreshing. Seems a little lighter than 5% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Only an above-average example of a cheap, easy-drinking, fizzy yellow lager. 6/10


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

St. Feuillien Blond

Fill date: 2/22/15

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 25A Belgian Blond Ale

AROMA: Fairly malty-sweet nose with slight caramel note (this is due to oxidation). Some light-colored fruit aromas from yeast esters; no spicy phenolics however. Slight perfume, honey, and floral quality from alcohol and hops. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Amber/pale orange hue (5-7 SRM). Mostly clear body. Large white foam mostly dissipates. 3/3

FLAVOR: Sweet pale malt presence throughout. Though well-attenuated, there is a honey-like taste from oxidation. Esters impart some orange/tangerine citrusy flavors. There is a slight perfumey or flowery character from the yeast and/or alcohol. Actual bitterness is rather low, as is any spicy phenolic character. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; medium-high carbonation with a smooth texture and easy drinkability. Gentle warmth from the 7.5% ABV. Finishes dry, but is not refreshing. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Straddles the line between a Belgian Blond and a Golden Strong, but probably better considered a blond. If only I could review it when fresh. 7/10


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Fuller's Vintage Ale (2008 edition)

Fill date: 2008

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 17D English Barleywine

AROMA: Malty sweet with prominent dark fruit aromas of plum and cherry. There is a subtle orange scent as well possibly from the hops. Noticeable confectionery component (toffee, caramel, vanilla) as well due to the high malt content and alcohol. Surprisingly no overt or distracting oxidation. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Murky, opaque garnet/brown hue (27-34 SRM). Small, off-white suds mostly dissipate. 2/3

FLAVOR: Luscious malt complexity creates for an almost cloyingly sweet palette. Very strong confectionery flavors of caramel, butterscotch, and toffee make for a liquid candy bar experience. There is a firm fruity presence as well in the form of prunes, raisins, cherry and a bit of orange. Bitterness is quite low due to the age of the bottle, but hop presence is still noticeable to the trained palate. Though complex and delectable, actual robustness is a bit tame compared to a fresh barleywine. Oxidation is remarkably subtle and blends with the natural flavors of the brew well. 18/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; moderately-low carbonation (both characteristics have likely declined with age). Soft, smooth texture. Malty-sweet aftertaste. Alcohol is smooth with a gentle warming sensation at 8.5% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Amazing how well this bottle has held up after a decade. It likely peaked a few years ago, but was probably perfect at one point. 9/10


NOTE: See my review of a 2014 vintage here:

NOTE: Here's a video review Jay and I did of this beer back in 2009!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Anchor Liberty Ale

Fill date: 1/19/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 18B American Pale Ale

AROMA: Moderately-strong American citrusy/piney hops. Moderate malty base with slight caramel and bready notes. Clean fermentation. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Honey amber/flame orange hue (4-7 SRM). Slightly hazy body. Fairly large, eggshell froth; retains and laces extremely well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Evenly balanced palette with surprisingly strong malt and hop presence throughout. Malt base is somewhat bready with a light caramel or toffee note with sweetness to match. Hops are fairly strong with citrus flavors up front and resiny/piney flavors on the back end. There is a subtle grassy/spicy sensation as well. Hops linger in the aftertaste (without astringency) along with a mild starchy flavor. Clean fermentation. No alcohol presence. 18/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; moderate carbonation. Smooth, soft texture and comfortable mouthfeel. Rather strong at 5.9% ABV, but is highly drinkable. 5/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A true American pale ale in every sense. Iconic beer for its liberal use of hops in an otherwise pedestrian style. 10/10


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Palm Spéciale (2018 re-review to BJCP specs)

Fill date: 10/2/17

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 24B Belgian Pale Ale

AROMA: Moderate toasty/caramel/biscuity malt base. Also has a significant honey/lemon character (though this is likely due to oxidation). Hops are quite low with just a floral/fruity character, nothing spicy. No yeast esters or phenols. Slight lightstrike character. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Beautiful, clear copper hue (9-13 SRM). Moderate off-white foam never completely dissipates and leaves some lacing. 3/3

FLAVOR: Overall palette is similar to a British strong bitter with similar toasty/biscuity/caramelly malt profile. Sweetness is moderate with a honey/lemon flavor in the background (likely due to oxidation). Hops are rather subtle. I detect a low dry bitterness throughout and a general floral character. The Belgian yeast is quite subtle with just a touch of fruity and peppery esters and phenols respectfully. Though more malt-balanced, it is far from cloying and finishes clean and dry. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body and carbonation. Smooth and comfortable whilst slightly refreshing. Highly drinkable and tempting to session at 5.2% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Definitely one of the prime examples of the style. Even an old bottle exemplifies it well. 9/10


NOTE: See my 2011 original review here:

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Sugar Creek Pale Ale

Fill date: 3/1/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 18B American Pale Ale

AROMA: Moderately-strong citrusy hop aroma; almost juicy. Subtle candy-like presence (likely due to yeast esters). Slightly toasted or caramelly malt base, but nothing indicative of bready character or overt sweetness. Seems well-balanced. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Deep amber/copper/flame orange hue (5-9 SRM). Body is a bit hazy. Moderate off-white foam retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Hops are quite prominent throughout with a mostly citrusy flavor (especially orange). Bitterness is moderate, though it balances the Continental base malt well. There appears to be mild caramel and toasty malt flavors and accompanying sweetness. Hops linger briefly in the aftertaste; finish is clean and dry otherwise. Candy-like yeast esters are quite subtle. 17/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body and carbonation. Smooth texture; good drinkability. Just a tad too heavy to session at 5.2% ABV.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Interesting, impressive, and delectable brew that combines New and Old World ingredients and stays well within spec. 9/10


Old Rasputin vertical vs. horizontal aging experiment | Round 3: 1 year

I've had two 4-packs of Old Rasputin aging in my fridge for a year now. One of them was laid down horizontally, the other other was stood up straight (as you would normally store beer). I've tasted the beer at 3 months, 6 months and now one year later to see if there's a difference between aging beer horizontally verus vertically. My original thesis was that a horizontal bottle would be extremely oxidized and just seem old compared to a vertical bottle. Watch this round to see how much difference a year makes.

Round 1: 3 months:
Round 2: 6 months:

Friday, May 11, 2018

Brasserie des Rocs Blonde

Best before date: 3/19/19

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 25A Belgian Blond Ale

AROMA: Moderate spicy/fruity nose from yeast esters and phenols. Hops are relatively low and earthy/floral. Slight vanilla/caramel presence from strong malt content (and oxidation). Slight lightstrike presence. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Very hazy amber/orange hue (4-7 SRM). Moderate white foam mostly dissipates. 2/3

FLAVOR: Combination of lightly sweet caramel maltiness and dry, peppery spicy phenolics. Slight lemon pith character in the backend. Very low hop flavor; bitterness is also rather low. Seems to be highly attenuated as there is a dry finish and clean aftertaste. Overall palette is remarkably mild. No alcohol presence. 11/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; moderately-high carbonation. Smooth with no alcohol warmth. Feels much lighter than 7.5% ABV. Clean aftertaste is nice, though. 3/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This is probably a good example of the style when fresh, but it doesn't age well. 5/10


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Foothills Torch Pilsner

Fill date: 2/1/18

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

AROMA: Medium-high spicy/herbal hop aroma. Moderate malt presence akin to baked bread with a touch of honey. Clean lager fermentation. 10/12

APPEARANCE: Gold/light amber hue (4-5 SRM). Slightly cloudy body. Moderate white creamy froth retains and laces well. 3/3

FLAVOR: Bready malt presence throughout. Moderately-strong intensity, but not rich and sweet. Hops are quite strong throughout with a spicy/herbal flavor; almost peppery (especially on the finish). Bitterness is prominent; palette seems well-balanced. Hops linger in the aftertaste, though there is subtle malty sensation as well. Clean lager fermentation. 16/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body; moderately-high carbonation. Soft, smooth texture. Somewhat refreshing; easily drinkable at 5.3% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A great emulation of the Czech pilsner style; something few American breweries can pull off. 9/10


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Record Street Stylus Lager

Fill date: 4/17/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 2A International Pale Lager

AROMA: Medium-low grainy-sweet/bready malt aroma. Low spicy/floral hop presence. Clean lager fermentation. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Clear golden hue (2-4 SRM). Large white foam never completely dissipates and leaves a little lacing. 3/3

FLAVOR: Moderately-low bready malt base, with a subtle honey/graham cracker note. Highly-attenuated, there is little residual sweetness. Hops are quite faint with floral/spicy flavor and restained bitterness. Overall palette is mild, but balanced and clean. 14/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; medium carbonation. Smooth with a crisp, dry finish. Highly drinkable and sessionable at only 4.5% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Not the most exciting pale lager in the world, but has what the drinker wants and expects from the style. 7/10


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Burial Billows Hoppy Kölsch-Style Ale

Fill date: 4/5/18

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 5B Kölsch

AROMA: Moderately-high grassy/citrusy hop aroma (inappropriate hops for the style). Slight wheat and pale malt base with extremely subtle fruity esters. Clean fermentation. 8/12

APPEARANCE: Golden hue (2-4 SRM); slightly cloudy body (should be clear). Small white foam mostly dissipates. 2/3

FLAVOR: Definitely a hoppy "Kölsch-style" ale as advertised. Hops are grassy and spicy up front with a citrusy flavor on the backend. Bitterness is moderate, though a bit strong for the style. Base malt and wheat are firm enough for balance. They offer little specialty flavor and virtually no sweetness. Very faint fruity esters, otherwise clean fermentation. 10/20

MOUTHFEEL: Light body; medium-high carbonation. Smooth, crisp and well-attenuated with a dry aftertaste (hops do linger a tad). Highly drinkable and sessionable at 4.9% ABV.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Just because it's fermented with Kölsch yeast doesn't make it a Kölsch. This is more of a blonde (and would score much better if marketed as such). 5/10


Monday, May 7, 2018

Lenny Boy Life in the South Lager

Fill date: 12/21/17

Judged to 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for: 34B Mixed-Style Beer (base styles: 4A Munich Helles; 27 Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Lager)

AROMA: Lightly sweet corn and pale malt aroma. Akin to cornbread. Slight fruity character, though it does not seem to be due to the hops. Actual hop presence is fairly low with a general floral/earthy character. Clean fermentation. 9/12

APPEARANCE: Typical golden lager hue (2-4 SRM). Slightly cloudy. Small white foam mostly dissipates. 2/3

FLAVOR: Classic pale malt base and overt corn adjunct presence. However, the corn character is rather sweet, almost [corn]bready. Light spicy hop flavor on the backend with low bitterness as well. Attenuation seems to be quite high. Fermentation is clean as well. Neutral finish. 12/20

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-light body; moderate carbonation. Smooth and refreshing; highly drinkable and session at only 4.5% ABV. 4/5

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Closer to a cream ale than a PPL or Munich Helles. Much tastier and funner to drink than an adjunct macro lager, though. 6/10