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Beer Club 25: Scotch Ale

September 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Scotch Ale Beer Club

This month’s Beer Club is brought to you by the rich, malty, sweet beer known as the Scotch Ale. Admittedly not a favorite style of mine. These beers are generally quite sweet, full-bodied, and usually not shy with the alcohol. They often have a long boil which creates some caramelization. That adds sweetness, body, and probably a little color.
We had the same format as the last Beer Club. The brews were ordered by ABV and everyone wrote their top 3. 5 points for a first place vote, 3 for second, and 1 for third. We had 14 beers all together. Two of them are not pictured because other folks brought them. Let’s get started!

14th: Pelican MacPelican’s Scottish Style Ale, Big Sky Heavy Horse, Hale’s Barrel Aged Wee Heavy, Orkney Skull Splitter, Silver City Fat Woody

These beers received no votes. The Big Sky Heavy Horse was actually a favorite of mine, but just couldn’t quite make it on my top 3. Most found the oaking of the Hale’s and Silver City to be over-the-top. Of course, in a tasting like this, it sticks out like a sore thumb. The Pelican was the only beer not technically a Scotch ale, but an export style Scottish ale, and was light and pretty unspectacular. The Skull Splitter had the most noticeable alcohol and was off putting to some.

9th: McEwan’s Scotch Ale, Silver City Fat Scotch Ale

The unoaked Silver City was donated and got a third place vote from me. Someone enjoyed the McEwan’s, which also got a third place vote.

7th: Boundary Bay Scotch Style Ale

A Bellingham classic got 3 votes. 2 third place and a second place vote. It was a go-to beer when I lived up there, and held up well in the tasting.

6th: Pike Kilt Lifter

Another local brew and another classic. This beer actually received a first place vote and a third place vote. It’s always interesting to see a standard hold up well.

5th: Oskar Blues Old Chub

Old Chub was on my ballot, as well as 4 others. I particularly like the balance of this beer. It’s not too sweet and cloying, and the alcohol is well hidden.

4th: Bellevue Brewing Scotch Ale

A growler of this was generously donated, and it’s a good thing, too! Fourth place is not too shabby for a new little brewery in our backyard. This beer got 2 first place votes and 2 third place votes.

3rd: Traquair Jacobite

It’s not considered “world class” for nothing. This coriander infused Scotch ale received 2 first place votes, and a second and third place vote.

2nd: AleSmith Wee Heavy

The AleSmith is our second place beer, but it actually received more first place votes than our overall winner. This was my first place. The balance on this beer is remarkable. It really was the show stopper for me. Delicious.

1st: Traquair House Ale

And our winner is the Traquair House Ale! This is their flagship beer and really is the classic example of the style. 2 first place votes and 4 second place votes.

This was one of the most challenging tastings that we’ve done. The beers really do become cloying after awhile and considering the ABV, we had all palate fatigue. It was a great night, and we got to try a few beers that the host brought out after the tasting. Lots of great beer! Next month we will be diving into Oktoberfest beers.

Beer Club 24: American Amber/Red Ale

August 19, 2013 Leave a comment

Amber/Red Beer Club

This month’s Beer Club is brought to you by the American Amber/Red Ale. It’s a bit of a catch-all category, and a fairly widely brewed style. I usually have a hard time finding enough beer for a lot of styles, but this one I had to settle on 14 examples.

We did something a little different this time. Everyone had to pick their top 3 favorites of the tasting. A first place vote was worth 5 points, second for 3 points, and third for one point. Here are the results:

14th: Anderson Valley Boont, Hale’s Red Menace, Rogue St. Rogue Red, Rogue Northwestern

These are the four beers that received no votes and hence are tied in last place. The Anderson Valley Boont tasted off to us. It was vegetal and a bit sour, so something went wrong there. The Hale’s Red Menace wasn’t too bad, but pretty thin and forgettable. The two Rogue beers were too hoppy for most of the palates involved, but the St. Rogue Red was on my top 3 until near the end of the tasting.

10th: New Belgium Fat Tire

This beer had the lowest point total, but still had some fans. Not a bad beer at all.

7th: Port Shark Attack, Laurelwood Free Range Red, Elysian Men’s Room

The Laurelwood is just a solid beer and ranked well. Some palates really liked the big, hoppy Port Shark Attack. And even the Elysian Men’s Room was fairly well-liked. I’m a big fan of this beer and happen to get it often when I’m at the bar.

6th: Full Sail Amber

I’m glad to see this one do so well. It’s been around forever, and it’s an overlooked classic in my book.

4th: Lagunitas Lucky 13, Rogue American Amber

The Lagunitas was so hoppy, it probably shouldn’t have been in the tasting, and it’s probably also why it was on my top 3. The Rogue American was a good example of the Amber style, and placed accordingly in this tasting.

3rd: Iron Horse Double Rainbow

I love this beer, I really do. I love the dark, richness of it, and I also love the bottle. This was on my number 2 beer and I’m glad the other folks were enjoying it, too.

2nd: Silver City Ridgetop Red

How about Washington placing 2 and 3 in this tasting? I wasn’t a big fan of the Ridgetop when I first had it, but every time I taste it now, I’m surprised by just how good it is.

1st: Ninkasi Believer

I’ve said this more than once: If I had say what my favorite beer in the world is, I’d be hard-pressed not to choose this one. That’s how highly I regard this beer. Personally, I think it’s a perfect beer. That may have given some weight to the voting, but I don’t think I was the only one who really liked this beer.

So there you have it. This was an awesome tasting and a favorite style of at least two people involved. It was also the 2-year anniversary of Beer Club. The night couldn’t have been better. Gorgeous day on the lake, with great friends and delicious beer. I think the top 3 voting is a lot of fun, and I’m going to continue that for future tastings. We’ve got some malt-forward beers coming up, starting with Scotch Ales next month. Cheers!

New Belgium Fat Tire

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How classic is this beer? We’ve all had this one many, many times. Yet, I’ve somehow never reviewed it. Here we go! This amber features Pale, C-80, Munich, and Victory malts with Willamette, Goldings, and Target hops. Let’s give this flagship a try.

Stats:
American Amber Ale. 5.2% ABV. 19 IBUs. Colorado.

Amber color. Shocking, right? Sticky lacing, which is nice to see.

Toasted nuts and biscuit on the nose. Floral hops. Hint of sweetness.

Light-medium body. Medium carbonation. Highly drinkable.

Floral hops followed by that biscuit and toast malt flavor. Slightly dusty on the finish with a hint of chocolate. Just enough bitterness to balance the little bit of sweetness.

Nothing wrong with this brew. 89 points.

New Belgium Hoppy Bock

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This is apart of their (new?) Hop Kitchen series. The lager features Rye, Melanoidin, Munich, and Goldpils Vienna malts with Nugget, Hallertauer, Perle, and Fuggle hops.

Stats:
Helles Bock. 6.9% ABV. 70 IBUs. Colorado. Limited Release.

Golden color. Really fluffy head when first poured and quite a bit of lacing.

Interesting nose. It’s pretty hoppy but not citrusy. It’s more peppery to earthy. Hint of honey shows up there, too.

Mouthfeel is alright. Body is pretty light. Carbonation is medium-ish.

Some black pepper and earthy flavors up front, hint of honey and strawberry on the mid and ends on a fairly bitter finish.

It’s alright. Doesn’t blow me away, can’t say I hate it. Just a meh. 84 points.

Beer Club 20: Witbier

Witbier Beer Club

Yes, this is a cellphone pic, and yes, that’s my girlfriend hiding behind a pillow. Moving on…

This month was all about Witbiers, those spiced Belgian wheats so popular these days.

You can’t talk about Wits, unless you talk about Hoegaarden. It’s a nice, light beer, but has more complexity and finesse than many of the others after it. Still a classic.

Blue Moon was next in line. I think it’s an important beer because it really helped to popularize the style being from a big brewery. Everyone has had this beer and it was certainly a “gateway” beer for me. I still think it’s a solid beer.

Might as well try the other big brand version, Shock Top. Blue Moon is considerably better.

Another mass market beer was after that with the R.J. King WingWalker. Some liked this beer, but I personally think it’s garbage.

The Lost Coast Great White is the first American craft beer for us to try. It was also bad.

Luckily, the Alaskan White was pretty damn good. It was my favorite of the night with the possible exception of Hoegaarden, and was liked all around.

Unibroue Blanche De Chambly had great flavor, but for some reason this bottle wasn’t very carbonated. Not sure what the deal was there.

For something a little different, I threw in the Chainbreaker from Deschutes. They call it a White IPA. Basically, it’s a hopped up Wit. I’m not a huge fan of this beer, and others didn’t enjoy the added hops.

The tasting ended with a non-Witbier. The Snoqualmie Spring Fever was a darker Belgian beer with coriander added. It was a nice way to finish the tasting with another look at how coriander comes through in a different style.

This was one of the most unimpressive Beer Clubs we’ve had. It’s a bit unfortunate as it doesn’t do the style justice. But I do think it’s important to taste what the rest of America is drinking. Hybrid Styles next month!

Third Shift Amber Lager

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This is Coors newest “crafty” lager. As usual, the website spews nothing but marketing mumbo-jumbo and says very little about the beer itself.

Stats:
Vienna Lager. 5.3% ABV. Colorado.

Amber golden color. Nice fluffy head, not much lacing.

Some sweet malts on the nose with a bit of honey and toasted nuts.

The mouthfeel is ridiculously refreshing. Lots of carbonation, but has some body, not much but enough.

Sweet malts with a honey flavor, slightly papery and toasty after that. Just a little bit of bitterness and ends on a nice grainy note.

It’s really not too bad of a beer. There are far better choices, but I wouldn’t turn this down. 83 points.

Beer Club 19: Barleywines

Barleywine Beer Club

This is a tasting that was long requested by a club member and she finally got her wish.

We started the evening off by tasting the last two vintages of Stone Old Guardian. Some liked the rounded flavor of last years, while others preferred the more aggressive and sweet tasting fresh version.

Avery’s Hog Heaven was decent, but relatively forgettable.

The Bridgeport Old Knucklehead was a favorite. It has a nice bit of oak, but not overwhelming. I personally thought the oak in this beer was perfect and had better balance than some of the others.

I was really excited to try the 2011 Ninkasi Critical Hit. I love Ninkasi and this was no exception.

The 2012 Rogue Old Crustacean was next and was one of my favorites. It was well-rounded and balanced, lacking the aggression of some.

The clear favorite of the night was the Firestone Walker Sucaba. One club member said it may be his favorite beer ever. I personally found the oak to be a bit too over-the-top, but otherwise an amazing beer.

We ended on the biggest beer of the night. The Midnight Sun Arctic Devil weighs in close to 14%. It was definitely on the aggressive side, but delicious none-the-less.

Thanks to the happy couple for hosting our loud-asses.

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