Beer Club Offering #11 (Orkney – Skull Splitter, Dragonhead, Dark Island, and Dark Island Reserve) and a couple seasonals (Les Trois Mousquetaires Oktoberfest and Muskoka Harvest Ale 2014) from NLC, now safely nestled in my cellar. (For $28, that Dark Island Reserve had better be something else!)
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) Octoberfest Märzen / Oktoberfest at 5.3% ABV
Pours a clear deep amber with a short finger of white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. Nose is toffee and bread toasted malt with just a very little nuttiness and spice. Taste is similar, starting sweet and finishing mild bitter. Medium to full body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a dry-ish finish.
Nothing too thrilling. Good for a mass-market beer, not bad for a Märzen, and certainly not a terrible lager – but ultimately a lager. At the end of the day, there’s not a lot here to challenge or excite.
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) Harvest Saison Saison at 6.0% ABV
Pours a cloudy pale amber with a short finger of white head diminishing gradually to a thin skim, moderate patchy lacing. Nose is banana, light malt, yeast and spice. Taste is mildly spicy pepper, banana, bready yeast, ending mildly bitter. Medium body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a semi-dry finish.
Well, it ain’t no Hennepin – but it’s a darn sight better than I was expecting it to be. Surprisingly good for a fairly large-market beer. I’d like it a bit more peppery, but all things considered, it’s probably the best Sam Adams I’ve ever had.
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) Harvest Pumpkin Ale Spice/Herb/Vegetable at 5.7% ABV
Pours a clear medium-to-deep amber with a short finger of white head diminishing rapidly to nothing, no lacing. Nose is pumpkin and spice, brown sugar. Taste is sweet and spicy pumpkin, brown sugar, mild bitter. Medium to full body, moderate to high sustained carbonation, and a somewhat sticky finish.
Well, I’ll be: a pumpkin ale that isn’t terrible – will wonders never cease? This just might be the best pumpkin ale I’ve ever tried! (Not that that bar was set all that high, mind you, but still…) Decently spicy, with a fairly good pumpkin flavour. It’s a bit too sweet, and that adversely affects the finish, but not bad at all. Ultimately, I wouldn’t say no to another – and I think that’s the first time I’ve said that about a pumpkin ale.
Royal Unibrew A/S Faxe Red American Amber/Red Lager at 5.0% ABV
Pours clear ruby red with a short pinkish head diminishing rapidly to a thin skim, no lacing. Nose is adjunct lager, sweet, thin, grainy, minimal hops. Taste is sweet malt and a somewhat artificial red berry flavour with a slightly metallic aftertaste. Light body, moderate sustained carbonation, and an abrupt dry finish.
Well, it’s not as horrible as I feared. In some ways it’s slightly superior to your basic adjunct lager, and in others less so. Call it a wash, and put it in the “cold and wet” category.
Omnipollo Nebuchadnezzar Imperial/Double IPA at 8.5% ABV
Pours slightly hazy pale to deep gold with three fingers of loose, foamy white head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, spotty lacing. Nose is grapefruit, mango, caramel malt, slight floral. Taste is mild to moderate sweet rapidly overtaken by intense pine resin bitter. Relatively light body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a dry bitter finish.
Really good IIPA – almost splits the difference between English and American hops as flavour goes, but the intensity is everything you’d expect from a 100 IBU brew. The high ABV is completely integrated and very, very sneaky. Definitely more-ish.
Meantime Brewing Company Limited London Porter English Porter at 6.5% ABV
Pours deep ruby brown with hints of amber brown around the margins, two fluffy fingers of loose tan head diminishing gradually to a thin cap, spotty lacing. Nose is roast malts, toffee, chocolate, coffee. Taste is sweet toffee malt and chocolate giving way to bitter coffee, faint smoky molasses. Medium body and a creamy mouth feel, with a long bitter finish.
Definitely not to be drunk cold – the flavour opens up considerably as it warms to room temperature. A much-better-than-average porter. This one was well past its best-by date of February 2014, but I wouldn’t expect that to be an issue at all for this style, particularly given the moderately high ABV. I detected no adverse signs of age, and if anything would expect some cellaring time to be beneficial. I keep waffling back and forth on my overall opinion of porters and stouts, and this one is definitely one in the “pro” column.
My 110th from the 2010 Edition of 1001 Beers, 104th by the 2013 Edition, and 113th overall.
YellowBelly Brewery & Public House. Yellow Mellow Apple Cider at 5.5% ABV
Pours clear straw with a short-lived fizzy head diminishing immediately to nothing, no lacing. Nose is apple with a very slight musty funk. Taste is sweet apple with a tart edge. Light body, sustained prickly carbonation, and a dry tart finish.
Decent enough cider – sweet, but not to the point of being sickly. That being said, I’d be happier if it were dryer, and I’d like a bit more cellar mustiness.
Black Oak Brewing Co. Black Oak Ten Bitter Years Imperial IPA at 8.0% ABV
Pours clear pale to medium amber with two fat fingers of frothy tan head diminishing gradually to a thick cap, chunky lacing. Nose is caramel malt, pine, grapefruit, mango and pineapple. Taste follows suit, moderate sweet and emphatic peppery bitter. Medium sticky and chewy body, moderate sustained carbonation, and a long dry bitter finish.
An excellent American D/I IPA with loads of body and character. It’s hop-forward and aggressive, with very well integrated higher ABV. However, either the hop selection or the water chemistry are acting to dull the edge slightly – the hops aren’t as bright as they might be. (The bottle is only six weeks old, so I don’t see age as the issue.) That being said, it’s still a bit of a hop bomb (83 IBU) so it’s kind of like being hit in the mouth with a dull axe, instead of a sharp one.
Bellwoods Brewery Boogie Monster American Double/Imperial IPA at 8% ABV
Pours a clear pale gold with one finger of tight white head, good retention, and moderate lacing. Nose is pine and floral hops, pineapple, pale biscuity malt. Taste follows suit, mildly sweet malt with pine resin, grapefruit, and tropical fruit. Medium body and sticky, with moderate sustain carbonation and a long, intensely bitter finish.
Surprisingly light in colour and body for a DIPA, with the moderately high ABV very well integrated – could easily pass for a hop bomb-ish single IPA. The hop presence definitely handily beats out the malt backbone (which is, regardless, sufficient to the task) but the bitterness is a little over-emphasized – more sustain on the floral notes would have been nice. All in all, a very nice DIPA, but one that could stand a little polishing.