Saturday, September 3, 2011

Adirondack Brewery Headwater Hefe, Dirty Blonde Ale, and Bear Naked Ale

Adirondack Pub & Brewery out of Lake George, NY (about an hour north of me) is a brewery I've seen at every beer fest I've been to over the last few years. They just recently started bottling their beer and even put out a mix pack that's only $16 for four bottles of three different beers - how could I pass it up?

Adirondack Headwater Hefe Beer

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (642) - Albany, New York, USA - SEP 2, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into a wheat beer glass.

Appearance: Bright yellow hue, mostly clear but slightly cloudy. Plenty of carbonation visible at first, but dies down quickly. Forms a large, bright white, frothy head which retains and laces very well.

Smell: Banana fruit, light clove and floral notes and earthy lemonpeel. Not very strong overall, but inviting.

Taste: The beer claims to be brewed in the "classic Bavarian style," and upon first impression Headwater Hefe definitely has a lot of German characteristics to it. Up front is the banana fruit with a lightly sweet, almost candy taste following. The second half ends with mild clove spice and distinct tobacco and smoke flavor. It’s sharp, like an extra sharp cheddar cheese, and the aftertaste is short and clean. These flavors keep repeating until the end making for a tasty, satisfying beer - but nothing that goes above and beyond.

Mouthfeel: Medium thickness with slight fizziness across the tongue.

Drinkability: Drank cool to cold, Headwater Hefe is a very refreshing beer on a summer’s day or night. The mild palate makes it quite refreshing, although I’m not sure it would stand up to any real food pairings other than salad or finger food. The ABV is not listed on the bottle, nor on the brewery’s website, but I’m estimating it’s less than 5% due to the light palate and accompanying body.

Overall, Headwater Hefe is a good attempt at an authentic German style hefeweizen, but just isn’t the same thing in the end. Certainly a commendable effort and a very drinkable beer.

Grade: 7/10

Adidondack Dirty Blonde Ale

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (642) - Albany, New York, USA - JUN 20, 2011
 I poured a 12oz bottle into an authentic hefeweizen glass.

Appearance: Orange hue with slightly hazy complexion. Lots of carbonation bubbles present. Forms a fairly large, white, frothy head which retains and laces very well.

Smell: Very hoppy for a wheat beer. Lemon zest, peel and pith are very prominent in the nose along with a general citrusy aroma. Faint traces of wet wheat and spices are present too, but otherwise it’s not a nose I’d assimilate with a wheat-forward beer.

Taste: Generic "pale wheat ales" tend to disappoint me, and I have a feeling Adirondack Brewery feels the same so they decided to throw a bunch of hops in to change things up. I’m not against arbitrary hopping of beers if the result is a tasty palate, but in the case of Dirty Blonde Ale it really helps out the palate. Hop bitterness is present from beginning to end with a distinct grapefruit flavor that dominates the middle and end. It’s so citrusy and tart it has a lemonade-like feel. It’s refreshing while it’s in the mouth, but hops linger momentarily but are not only tolerable, but pleasant. The wheat beer backbone is exactly that - there all along propping up the palate. There is a malty, slight grainy flavor of wheat wet and a mélange of mild, non-peppery spice in the body. Without the hop presence, it’d probably be just an okay beer, but the net result is a very good one.

Mouthfeel: Slightly thin, but not watery. Very crisp with minor tart aftertaste.

Drinkability: For such a hop-forward beer, Dirty Blonde Ale is quite quaffable and very refreshing. An ideal beer to bring to a BBQ as it’s good enough on its own, but strong enough to stand up to typical picnic fare. Very sessionable as well, considering its potency of only 4.6% ABV.

Overall, a nice change from the usual boring pale wheat ale, as the hoppiness really helps inject some excitement into what would’ve been an otherwise generic pale wheat ale.

Grade: 8/10

Adirondack Bear Naked Ale

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (642) - Albany, New York, USA - SEP 2, 2011
I poured a 12oz bottle into a dimpled mug.

Appearance: Pretty shade of dark copper/brick orange-red. Very hazy, but some carbonation visible. Forms a small, yellowish, soapy head that mostly fizzles away and leaves trace lacing.

Smell: Light perfumey flowers with sweet malty undertones. Slight confectionary notes of caramel, toffee and nuts.

Taste: This is a by-the-book amber ale. The flavors are akin to an Oktoberfest with the Midway flavors of candy apple, fried dough and roasted nuts - only with the intensity turned way down. Lightly bitter up front which gives way to sweet, confectionary notes of toffee and hints of red apple. The only problem the volume is set on low. Sure, there’s plenty of maltiness to carry the palate, but not enough hops to give it some bite. The complex, but mild palate is very drinker-friendly, though and Bear Naked Ale would make an ideal starter amber for the craft beer neophyte.

Mouthfeel: Lower end of medium-bodied, but not thin or watery per se. Seems a little tepid, but bitterness gives it some intensity on the tongue. Slight malty, sweet aftertaste.

Drinkability: Bear Naked Ale is one of those beers that’s easy to drink because it’s not a beast of a beer. The tenable palate and low ABV of approximately 5% makes it quite light even for the style. Good as drink on its own or with bar fare or a stew or gamey meat.

Overall, this is a pretty standard American amber ale - not bad at all, but not all that impressive.

Grade: 7/10

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