Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Otter Creek Copper Ale, Summer Ale, and Wildflower Wheat


It's time for another 3-in-1 review. This time we're looking at three beers from Otter Creek out of Vermont. There was an amazing coincidence that occurred when I shot these reviews - it turns out that I had written a text review of Otter Creek Copper Ale exactly 3 years ago TO THE DAY! That was probably the last time I had it so we'll see how my palate, or the beer, has changed in the last three years.

OTTER CREEK COPPER ALE
3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
Chad9976 (643) - Albany, USA - MAR 28, 2010
I poured a 12oz bottle into a tumbler.

Appearance: Dark copper color, very hazy. Forms a small, off-white, frothy head - but it leaves outstanding lacing on the glass and retains very well.

Smell: Extremely mild nose of malty sweetness and nuts.

Taste: Bland beers are the most difficult to review since there’s little to describe. Otter Creek Copper Ale is an altbier, and although my my experience with the style is limited, I do know an altbier should be way more robust than this. The beer isn’t so much watery as it is bland. To be fair there is some light malty sweetness with faint hints of caramel and toffee and a general nutty backbone to it all. The problem is it’s just so weak on the palate it barely exists. And yet there’s nothing off-putting about the taste either (aside from a hint of tang, although I think my bottle may be old - it’s difficult to read the freshness code).

Mouthfeel: cold, wet, tepid, lower end of medium thickness.

Drinkability: The best thing about this beer is that it is extremely quaffable. In fact, it’s quite refreshing on a hot summer’s night. It does leave a slightly bitter aftertaste, but it’s easily tolerable. That it weighs in at 5.4% ABV is almost shocking to me as this drinks like a British mild in flavor and density.

Overall, Otter Creek Copper Ale is a fine starter craft beer for newbies, and even though there’s nothing really repulsive about it, I still can’t give it an honest recommendation.

Grade: 5/10
OTTER CREEK SUMMER ALE
2.8
   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
Chad9976 (643) - Albany, USA - AUG 8, 2011 
I poured a 12oz bottle into a wheat beer glass.

Appearance: Light golden hue, slight cloudiness, otherwise clear with plenty of carbonation. Forms a large, bright white, fluffy head which laces and retains very well.

Smell: Slight lemonpeel and cheap grain aroma, otherwise mild in the nose.

Taste: Bland beers are bad enough but when a beer’s main palate is bland and it finishes with a slightly tangy taste that’s even worse. Otter Summer is the prototypical American summer ale - bland as hell with light lemony notes and a hint of spice. Newer drinkers with undeveloped palates might actually pick up more citrus here than veterans. Clean, crisp body that borders on a lager-like taste and drinking experience. Aside from a subtle flavor of stale spice, the palate it’s bad per se, just lacking basic appeal.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness and carbonation. Watery texture, slightly dry aftertaste.

Drinkability: If it were 90+ degrees on a sunny July day this would be an ideal liquid refresher. Otherwise, it’s just a bland, soft beer to slug down arbitrarily. Refreshing to be sure, but not satisfying. Much lighter in body than the 4.9% ABV would indicate.

Overall, Otter Summer Ale is as generic as summer ales get and why these types of beers are so damn boring.

Grade: 4/10

WOLAVER'S WILDFLOWER WHEAT

3.9
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (643) - Albany, New York, USA - AUG 8, 2011 
I poured a 12oz bottle into a wheat beer glass.
Appearance: Dark gold/light orange shade. Very hazy with no carbonation visible. Forms a large, white, foamy head which quickly and completely dissipates.

Smell: Very sweet, almost bakery-like aroma of honey, flowers and apple pie.

Taste: The label indicates this beer is brewed with honey and chamomile. I’ve never had chamomile before, but I was assume it’s what accounts for the unique flavor of this beer. Usually, I’m not a fan of honey, but combined with the chamomile and the natural banana-bread flavor of the wheat, it makes for a great combination. The flavor and aroma go hand-in-hand in creating for a sweet, pie-like palate - similar to the syrup and crust of an apple pie rather than the apples themselves. Slight cinnamon notes provide the palate with some zip, but the honey sweetness dominates. There’s a slight citrus taste in the finish, but next to no bitterness to speak of. A very delectable palate all around. With a little more energy this would be amazing.

Mouthfeel: Soft, tepid, slightly wet, very clean aftertaste.

Drinkability: While not a refreshing beer per se, WWW is certainly a drinkable one - and how! The sweet palate doesn’t overwhelm and the relatively flat, thinner body makes for a very comfortable mouthfeel and super smooth finish. I think the sweetness might get overwhelming after 2 servings though (like having 2 pieces of homemade apple pie).

Overall, Wolaver’s Wildflower Wheat is a diamond in the rough of summer seasonals. I’m really glad I stumbled across this one.

Grade: 8/10

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