376. Smuttynose Farmhouse Ale

376. Smuttynose Farmhouse Ale (Big Beer Series)

I picked this up at Trader Joe's about two weeks ago. I chilled it and served it in one of my Duvel tulips. Farmhouse Ale is a Saison. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a lightly hazy copper topped by a thick fluffy/creamy head that thins to a persistent half-inch layer, leaving lace all over the glass. The clarity is very good.

Smell (4.5): Sweet dried fruit aromas, pepper, musty yeast and light hops.

Taste (4.0): Fruity upfront with an orangey tartness, toasty malts and a significant bitterness in the finish. This beer might be a little sweet for the style, but the flavors make up for it.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Moderate-carbonation, medium-bodied, silky with a dry finish.

Drinkability (4.0): Nice flavors and refreshingly dry and bitter.

Overall (4.1): I like saisons because they're a nice balnce of fruity and spicy and hoppy. This beer was no exception.

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375. Rodenbach Classic

375. Rodenbach Classic

I purchased a 750 mL bottle of Rodenbach several months ago. It's been sitting in my "cellar" ever since (note: my cellar is a cabinet in the living room). After having the Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek at The Belgian Room in NY this weekend I was in the mood for another sour beer. I lightly chilled this and served it in one of my New Belgium snifters. Rodenbach is a Flanders Red Ale. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a lightly hazy dark ruby, with a very persistent foamy beige head that leaves patchy lace around the glass.

Smell (4.0): Aroma is fruity and sharp. Notes of sour cherries are evident above a sharp vinegary base. Upon swirling the sharp aromas give way to sweeter fruity aromas.

Taste (4.0): A sharp sour flavor greets the taste buds, which mellows to an acidic fruitiness in the center. The finish is sour with light residual sweetness poking through, along with a light bitterness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Light carbonation, light-bodied with a refreshing dryness.

Drinkability (4.5): Surprisingly drinkable for the style, the dryness is very refreshing.

Overall (4.05): My only complaint is that this beer could be a little more sour.

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369-374. Weekend in New York

I went down to New York for David's birthday and a long weekend. I saw friends, had some new beers and did a little home-brewing. All in all a good weekend.

On Friday night David, Dave and I went bar hopping in the East Village. Dave was at Lotus Lounge when I got into town, so after a brief layover at The Bear to drop off my bags David and I set off to meet him.

369. B.B. Bürgerbräu

I sampled this on tap at the Lotus Lounge in New York City. It was served in a standard pint glass.

Appearance (3.5): Pours a lightly hazy golden with a thin white head.

Smell (3.5): Light hops with toffee and caramel malt aromas.

Taste (2.5): Sweet and toasty malts. Hop flavors are light and the beer lacks any real bitterness.

Mouthfeel (2.0): Light carbonation, light-bodied and watery.

Drinkability (3.0): Light and easy to drink, but there aren't really any great flavors to make you want to drink it.

Overall (2.9): Simple and lacking in flavor and depth in the palate.

370. Sixpoint Sweet Action

I sampled this on tap at the Lotus Lounge in New York City. It was served in a standard pint glass. Dave and David gave me comments on this one.

Appearance (4.5): Hazy orange-amber with a thin creamy white head that leaves nice lace.
Dave: Pretty Sexy
David: Copper and cloudy

Smell (4.5): Sweet and peppery, with fruitiness and citric hops.
Dave: Berry.
David: Beer & boisenberry.

Taste (3.5): Mild malts upfront, with a peppery finish with citric hops. Nicely balanced in the finish. bu the malts could be more pronounced upfront.
Dave: I can't do taste. Closer to sweet scintilating saltiness (peppery).
David: Colorado Grolsch. A draft beer taste with flavor and body.

Mouthfeel (3.0): Light-bodied, slightly oily and a little watery.
Dave: Carbonation a bit much. Leaves harsh taste of void.
David: Dry mouth, overly carbonated.

Drinkability (4.5): Easy to drink with a nice refreshing hoppiness.
Dave: Mine's already gone so it must get a 5.
David: I could drink it but I don't want to.

Overall (3.95): Very drinkable, the only thing holding this beer back is the lack of malt character upfront.

371. Radeberger Pilsner

I sampled this on tap at the Lotus Lounge in New York City. It was served in a standard pint glass.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a clear golden with a fluffy white head that thins to a persistent layer.

Smell (2.0): There's a sweet smell and that's about it.

Taste (2.5): Slight sweetness upfront with a decent hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel (3.0): Tingly carbonation and clean mouthfeel.

Drinkability (3.0): Light and easy to drink.

Overall (2.8): Drinkable, but not a lot of flavor that makes you want to drink it.

Next we headed out to look for a place to eat. We ended going to an Italian restaurant whose name I don't remember. I had the ricotta and spinach ravioli tossed in olive oil and sage, which was quite nice. We finished up our meals with port: Dow's 10 Year Tawny for Dave and I, and Dow's for David.

Pictures of us enjoying port:





Next we headed to Happy Ending where we had Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Before we left we had the candle priviledges revoked at our table, surprisingly not my fault.

After a trip out to a bar in Brooklyn we ended up back in the East Village around 3 AM. We were wandering around looking for a bar when I spotted a place called The Belgian Room. We started off with a round of De Dolle Oerbiers, found a table and started playing poker with cards we'd borrowed from the bartender.

372. Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek - 2001

We split a 750 mL bottle of this at the Belgian Room. It was served in Cantillon wine glasses.

Appearance: Hazy dark-red. The only evidence of a head are thin wispy patches of bubbles.

Smell: Nose of cherries, a light funkiness and an acidic sour smell. Very lambic.

Taste: Sweet and sour notes of cherries up front. An intense sourness takes hold in the center and maintains its dominance through the finish.

Mouthfeel: Mildly carbonated, with a very dry finish.

Drinkability: This is something to drink slowly and savor.

Overall: This is a very nice cherry lambic.

373. Bink Blonde

I sampled this from a 12 (or maybe 11.2 oz) bottle at The Belgian Room, it was served in a Leffe Class.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy golden with a thin white head.

Smell: Sweet and peppery with some fruity notes that may have been banana.

Taste: Sweet upfront with peppery notes, fruit (again bananas?) and a surprising hop profile for the style.

Mouthfeel: Moderate carbonation, smooth with a lightly dry finish.

Drinkability: A little tough to tell this late in the night, but the hoppiness was pleasant.

Saturday Dave, David, Bennett and I went for a late brunch at Kitchenette in Morningside Heights. We walked around Central Park for awhile then saw Art School Confidential in Times Square. David, Bennett and I then headed to Megan's house in Pelham. We had pizza at the always excellent Johnny's. David, Bennett and I then played pool and poker and had a few beers: Harpoon Summer Beer, Sam Adams Summer Ale and Guinness Extra Stout.

Sunday was David's birthday party. Megan had purchased a beginner homebrew kit for his birthday. The kit was an extract stout recipe with a small batch of milled grain, a package of extract syrup, and some Perle hop pellets. I had several Sam Adams Summer Ales as well as one new beer.

374. Sam Adams Cherry Wheat

I poured half a bottle into a half-pint weisse glass.

Appearance (3.5): Pours a slightly-hazy copper with a white foamy head that thins to a persitent layer. Large bubbles stream from the bottom of the glass.

Smell (2.0): Very strong and overpowering candy-like cherry aromas.

Taste (2.5): Light cherry flavor upfront, that fades into an American-style-wheat-beer flavor in the finish. The cherry flavor is present throughout and while not overpowering is a little cough-syrupy. The finish is grainy with little bitterness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Light to moderate carbonation, smooth with a lightly dry finish.

Drinkability (3.5): Refreshing aside from the slight cough syrup flavor.

Overall (2.85): This isn't a great fruit beer. The cherry comes off candy-like and overpowering in the smell, and a bit cough-syrupy in the finish.

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368. Oro De Calabaza

368. Oro De Calabaza

I purchased this at Downtown Wine & Spirits a week or two ago. The Jolly Pumpkin bottles have always caught my eye because of the attractive labels. I let this warm to around 50ºF and served it in one of my Duvel Tulips. This is a Bière de Garde, a style I have limited experience with. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (5.0): When I opened the bottle foam started bubbling out. This occured for at least two minutes until I started pouring. Pours a hazy golden color, the clarity improves after the carbonation has diminished leaving a sparkling brew. The beer is topped with a thick merengue-like head that is persistent, and leaves nice lace. Absolutely beautiful.

Smell (4.0): Peppery with a citric tartness. There's a musty yeasty smell that emerges upon swirling, and the slightest hint of hops.

Taste (4.0): Sweet upfront with strong citrus flavors in the center. Powdery yeast flavors appear in the finish followed by pepper and a light bitterness and alcoholic warmth.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Strong carbonation, smooth, lightly oily with a dry finish.

Drinkability (4.0): Very nice flavors, not overpowering, the alcohol is detectable but not overpowering.

Overall (4.2): A delicious beer, sweet, spicy and very drinkable.

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367. Bush Ambrée (Scaldis)

367. Bush Ambrée (Scaldis)

I've had this in my fridge for several months, I decided to give it a try tonight. The bottle I have is labeled Scaldis Belgian Ale, however elsewhere this is marketed as Bush. The difference, I assume, is because of AB's Busch beer. I let this warm for half an hour, before serving it in one of my Chimay Chalices. This is a quadrupel. BJCP Style Guide. The abv for this one is a massive 12%.

Appearance (3.5): Pours a hazy amber with a thin white head that recedes to a thin layer quickly. Little bits of yeast float around.

Smell (4.0): The aroma is peppery with notes of caramel and a cherry fruitiness.

Taste (4.0): Sweet caramel malt flavors upfront, as well as some notes of fruit. The finish is lightly bitter with a strong alcoholic warmth.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Smooth and creamy with tingly carbonation.

Drinkability (3.5): Tasty, but the alcohol is very noticable.

Overall (3.85): Not much to say here, pretty good.

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366. Ridgeway Bitter

366. Ridgeway Bitter

I was in the mood for a milder beer so I picked up a bottle of Ridgeway Bitter at Downtown Wine & Spirits last night. I let this warm up a bit and served it in my NERAX pint glass. This is an English Bitter. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (3.5): Pours a clear copper with excellent clarity. It has a foamy white head that thins to a patchy layer and eventually disappears.

Smell (4.5): Sweet fruity aroma with notes of malt and hops.

Taste (4.0): An initial sweetness fades into toasty malt flavors. This finish is tart and fruity with moderate bitterness.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Moderate carbonation, smooth and light-bodied with a light dryness in the finish.

Drinkability (4.0): Really easy to drink. The flavors are good but not overpowering and the alcohol content is low.

Overall (3.95): This is just what I was wanting tonight, a flavorful beer that's not overpowering and not high in alcohol.

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365. Lindeman's Pomme Lambic

365. Lindeman's Pomme Lambic

I purchased this at Downtown Wine & Spirits tonight. I chilled this in the fridge for half an hour and served in one of my New Belgium snifters. Lindeman's Pomme is a fruit lambic, though apples aren't a traditional fruit. Lindeman's fruit lambics also tend to be sweeter than traditional lambics. They also lack the tartness and dry finish of traditional lambics. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a hazy golden-orange with a white foamy half-inch head that recedes to a persistent thin layer with nice lacing.

Smell (2.5): Very strong candy-like sour apple aroma, that overpowers everything else.

Taste (2.5): As with the smell the palate is dominated by a candy-like sour apple flavor. There's a faint hint of wheat in the finish, but it's mostly sweet.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Smooth and full-bodied with mild carbonation and a slight dryness in the finish.

Drinkability (2.5): The sweetness of this beer is too much for me.

Overall (2.9): Given that this is a Lindeman's fruit lambic I expected it to be on the sweet side, but this was too much. I definitely prefer Lindeman's other fruit lambics to this. It's like drinking a sour apple Jolly Rancher. It almost seems like it could be a girly mixed drink that Ward orders at Cricket's.

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195. Orval Trappist Ale

195. Orval Trappist Ale

I purchased a bottle of Orval a month or so ago at none other than Downtown Wine & Spirits. I let this warm and served it in my Westvleteren chalice. Orval is a Belgian Pale Ale. BJCP Style Guide.

I think the packaging of this beer is very attractive. The bottle has an elegant shape, and the logo consists of a trout carrying a gold ring in its mouth. The story behind the logo is summed up well on Wikipedia:

There is a legend of the abbey's foundation, purporting to explain the name '"Orval" and the coat of arms. According to this, the widowed Mathilda of Tuscany was visiting the site, when she lost her wedding ring in a spring, to her great distress. After praying for the return of the ring, a trout appeared on the surface of the water with the ring in its mouth. She exclaimed "Truly this place is a Val d'Or", from which the name "Orval" is derived, and in gratitude made available the funds for the foundation of the monastery here. The abbey arms show the trout and ring. The spring still supplies water to the monastery and its brewery.

Appearance (4.0): Pours a very lightly hazy copper color with a fluffy white head that thins to a persistent thin layer.

Smell (5.0): Wonderfully fruity with notes of citrus and a hint of berries. Additionally floral hops and medicinal phenols are also present.

Taste (4.5): Toasty malts with very little residual sweetness. Lemon is evident in the center. The finish has a nice pronounced bitterness with the characteristic Goût d'Orval from the wild Brettanomyces yeasts used.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Tingly carbonation, light-bodied with a slight oiliness. The finish is very dry.

Drinkability (4.5): Very tasty and easy to drink. The dryness is very refreshing.

Overall (4.5): Well balanced, flavorful and complex.

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298. St Bernardus Abt 12

298. St Bernardus Abt 12

I picked up an 11.2 oz bottle of St Bernardus Abt 12 at Downtown Wine & Spirits last night. I let it warm a little and served it in one of my Ommegang chalices. This is a Quadrupel. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (4.5): Pours a hazy dark brown with a thick beige head that persists as a thin quarter inch layer that reemerges on swirling. Moderate lacing.

Smell (5.0): Raisins and other dark fruit, rich malts, caramel, spicy alcohol and a bit of Belgian yeast.

Taste (5.0): Like the aroma, the flavors are dominated by dark fruit and rich malts. Flavors of raisins and caramel are obvious. The finish is lightly bitter, with noticeable, but not overpowering alcoholic spice.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Tingly carbonation, smooth and medium-bodied.

Drinkability (5.0): Very tasty, the alcohol is noticeable, but not overpowering. Delicious and dangerous.

Overall (4.85): A really fantastic beer. Easily one of the best I've had.

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364. Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Ale

364. Hitachino Nest Real Ginger Ale

I went to Downtown Wine & Spirits tonight to pick up some new beers to try. I noticed that they had a new offering from Hitachino Nest so I picked up a bottle. I stuck this in the fridge while I showered and it was slightly chilled by the time I was done. I served this in one of my New Belgium snifters. Beer Advocate places this in the catch-all Herbed/Spiced Beer category.

Appearance (3.5): Pours a slightly hazy ruby color, with a thin beige head that thins to a persistent thin layer with nice lacing. The little chunks of ginger floating about were a bit disconcerting.

Smell (4.0): Sharp acidic nose, sweet malts, and spicy ginger.

Taste (4.5): Toasty malt flavors greet the palate upfront. Spicy ginger predominates in the center. Fruity sweetness appears in the finish followed by mild bitterness and spicy alcohol.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Mild carbonation, smooth, oily.

Drinkability (3.5): The flavors are nice, but the alcohol and spiciness in the finish can be harsh.

Overall (4.05): I was worried that the ginger in this beer would be overpowering (like a Ginger Altoid), but they did a really good job of allowing the ginger to be the focus of the beer without letting it overpower the other flavors.

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358 - 363. The New England Real Ale Exhibition

Last night I went to the final session of the 10th Annual New England Real Ale Exhibition (NERAX) at the George Dilboy V.F.W. Post in Somerville, MA (only a few blocks from my apartment). All beer served at NERAX is Real Ale, meaning it is cask-conditioned. The NERAX site has a good brief description of what Real Ales are all about.

I've heard that NERAX is one of the best Real Ale events in the country. Unfortunately the final session probably wasn't the best one to go to. Many of the casks had already been emptied during previous sessions, and several were emptied during the session. Still, I had several excellent beers and I walked away with a nifty NERAX Imperial Pint glass.

Full-pints (20 oz.), half-pints (10 oz.) and quarter-pints (5 oz.) were available at the cash bar. I stuck to half-pints and quarter pints to maximize the number of different beers that I could sample. I also tried to cut down on the length of my tasting notes since it's hard to write and drink when standing.

358. Young's Bitter - England

Appearance: Clear copper, with a thin white head.

Smell: Malty with resiny hops.

Taste: Light toasty malts with a pleasing hop bitterness that isn't overpowering. The flavor of hops is more pronounced than the hop aromas.

Mouthfeel: Low-carbonation, smooth and light-bodied.

Drinkability: Very easy to drink, nice bitterness that isn't overpowering.

359. Dark Star American Pale Ale - England

Appearance: Pours a clear golden with a frothy thin head.

Smell: Very pronounced hops.

Taste: Sweet bready malts with a strong hop finish with notes of citrus.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, low-carbonation, oily.

Drinkability: Nice interplay of flavors, but the hops might be too much for some.

360. Milly's Brown-noser - New Hampshire

Appearance: Pours an almost opaque dark brown with ruby edges. The only sign of a head is a thin ring of bubbles.

Smell: Roasted malts and dark fruit.

Taste: Sweet malts and fruit upfront, fading into light roasted flavors of chocolate and maybe a hint of coffee.

Mouthfeel: Smooth with very low carbonation.

Drinkability: Nice subdued sweet and roasted flavors.

361. Coniston Bluebird Bitter XB - England

Appearance: Clear copper with a thin bubbly head.

Smell: Damp cloth, nutty, hops.

Taste: Toasty malts, fruitiness, not a lot of hop presence.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, and light to medium-bodied.

Drinkability: Not huge on flavors, but easy to drink.

362. Milly's 4th Anniversary Ale
- New Hampshire

Appearance: Pours a clear reddish copper with a thin bubbly head.

Smell: Piney hops with a light citrus.

Taste: Light sweetness with a piney hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied and oily.

Drinkability: Hard to tell, I'm full of beer.

363. Sam Adams Nut Brown Ale - Massachusetts

Appearance: Opaque black with a thin bubbly head.

Smell: Nutty toffee, caramel and roasted malts.

Taste: Sweet caramel, dark fruits. The finish is sweet and candy-like with hints of roasted malts.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium-bodied with a sweet syrupy finish.

Drinkability: Tasty, but a little heavy.

Overall I had a good time at NERAX. Of the beers I tried I think Dark Star APA is the winner, followed by Sam Adams Nut Brown Ale.

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357. Caracole Ambrée

357. Caracole Ambrée

I purchased a 750 mL bottle of Caracole Ambrée a few weeks ago at Downtown Wine & Spirits. I let this warm a little bit, and served it in one of my Duvel tulips. Caracole Ambrée is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (4.5): The cork shot out of the bottle when I removed the cage. Pours a hazy ruby-amber with a thick creamy beige head that thins to a persistent half-inch layer. The head readily reemerges upon swirling.

Smell (4.0): The nose is yeasty with spicy pepper and a sweet fruitiness.

Taste (4.0): Sweet fruitiness upfront spreads into toasty malt flavors in the center. The finish has hints of oranges, with peppery spices, light bitterness and alcoholic warmth.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Creamy and medium-bodied with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Drinkability (4.0): Pleasant flavors and a refreshing dryness, with well hidden alcohol.

Overall (4.15): This is the second beer from Caracole that I've had, I've been impressed with both.

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29. Red Stripe Jamaican Lager

29. Red Stripe Jamaican Lager

We picked up a twelve-pack of Red Stripe, a six-pack of Heineken, a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a six-pack of Harpoon Munich Dark for a lab pizza lunch. I pocketed a couple bottles of Red Stripe and brought them home. Given that my other beers were of higher quality and I wasn't in the mood for savoring an Orval or Westvleteren 8, I decided to go with Red Stripe. I served this right out of the fridge in a Post Road Pumpkin Ale pint glass. Red Stripe is an American Macro Lager. BJCP Style Guide.

Appearance (2.5): Pours a clear pale (almost sickly) straw color with a thin white head that diminishes to a thin layer and eventually disappears.

Smell (3.0): Predominantly sweet in the nose with a bit of graininess. Typical average American Macro Lager smell.

Taste (2.0): There's a sweetness up front, but not much else. Maybe a light tartness, and very mild hops. The flavor reminds me of seltzer.

Mouthfeel (2.5): Light and watery, but not as bad as some. The finish is grainy.

Drinkability (3.5): Pretty easy to drink.

Overall (2.5): Decent for the style, on par with PBR or the High Life.

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