Monday, November 22, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 92

Beer Roundup Part 1

I've again been doing some serious slacking here at beverage HQ, but I'm going to try and do a quick rundown so we can get some newer and exciting beverages in this piece. Here we have some beers I had over the past little while...

Weyerbacher "Fifteen" Smoked Imperial Stout

Every year on their anniversary the Weyerbacher brewing company releases a new beer to celebrate another year in the industry. I actually don't know this for certain, but I did see a "14" on the shelf next to this one. Of course, maybe that means they've only done it for two years. I don't know, whatever. Anyway, after loving Weyerbacher's "Heresy" oak aged imperial stout, I would expect nothing else but another solid effort from this beer and I certainly got it. The base of this beer is imperial stout all the way. Dark, rich, and bitter. Then the smokiness sets in. "Smoke" flavor can certainly go either way, but this wasn't too much or too little. Another really good one from Weyerbacher.

Southern Tier Mokah Stout

I've run through many of these Southern Tier imperial series. Not sure if it's every single one yet, but I feel like I'm getting there. At first I thought I already had this one considering they make both a "chocolate" and "jah-va" stout, but I suppose this is the fusion of both of these. And just like those other one's, this one is extremely tasty. Combining both the sweet chocolate notes and the rich coffee flavors into a super dark beer, this is a mighty tasty beer. A basic combination for a strong stout that rarely fails for me.

Dragon Stout

This one was purchased slightly on a whim at a convenience store before heading into a BYOB restaurant. I wasn't sure where it was from before I just checked on the internet but this is an import from Jamaica. Unfortunately I wasn't super into this one. I found it a bit sweet and malty, and not quite as thick as I come to expect from a stout. I was pretty surprised that it weighed in at about 7.5% alcohol considering that it was pretty easy to drink down. However, there wasn't much in terms of the chocolate or coffee notes that I've come to expect. Not a bad stout, but non necessarily my favorite kind of flavors.

Evolution Rise Up Stout

Here's another one from the new brewer in town from Delaware that's been on my radar recently. I hadn't seen this particular style anywhere in the stores in the area, so I was excited to see that this was on draft at a local bar. This was advertised as a coffee stout (hence the "rise up" title) and it definitely delivered. It poured very dark with a nice tan head and the smell had me thinking about my morning cup of coffee. The taste did as well. Nice roasted malts, but the coffee especially hit you hard in a good way. Many times "coffee beers" don't live up to their proclamations, but this one did. Another great stout in this update, and another really good one from Evolution.

Dogfish Head Aprihop

Here is the more famous brewery from Delaware. I believe I had tasted this one before a while back but it had been a while. Being that the base of this beer is an IPA, there's pretty much no way I wasn't going to enjoy this one considering how good Dogfish's 60 Minute and 90 Minute offerings are there. This beer starts from that base but adds a nice tart frutiness to go along with the piney citrus notes of the hops. Basically this is a very well executed twist to Dogfish's regular IPA offerings and I don't think that the apricot flavor is very overwhelming in anyway. Very nice for the Spring seasonal that it is.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 91

Dunkin' Pumpkin

This will be just a brief revisiting here. I've already given a thorough review on the base Dunkin Donuts iced coffee and I've also taken a stab at their "Dunkin Dark" variety as well. Anyway, this is just their coffee with some sweetened pumpkin flavor. Though I don't normally like my coffees sweetened, I actually thinks that this makes the coffee taste better. I'm obviously into pumpkin flavored things, and this one tasted pretty good to me. Again, not great coffee, but the pumpkin flavoring made it fairly tolerable for the day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 90

Cherry Cola Hookah

So can smoke be counted as a beverage? I suppose only if the tobacco is beverage related and that happened to be the case that very day. We had to add the cherry to create another soda flavor. I'm not much of a smoker at all, so I wasn't sure what to expect going into my first hookah experience, but it was actually kind of relaxing. The flavor wasn't exactly spot on, but I could tell what they were going for. I'm thinking that you could probably combine a few other flavors and maybe make some other soda flavors, but I'd have to take a look at the list again. Anyway, this was a fun experience and I'm glad I could tangentially relate it to this beverage blog!

Monday, November 1, 2010

This Is What I Drink: 89

The Great Pumpkin Rankings 2010.

So this may be a day late and a dollar short, but oh well. I'm going to rank my favorite pumpkin beers of this past season. Unfortunately most of these are starting to be yanked from the shelves in favor of winter seasonals, but it may be a good guide for buying next year...

1. Southern Tier Pumking:

When I'm looking for a pumpkin beer, I really want those flavors to hit me hard and Pumking does just that. Most of Southern Tier's Imperial series are super flavorful, so it's not big surprise that this one follows suit. When you take a whiff of this guy, it reall smells like a pumpkin pie and the flavor follows suit. At 9% alcohol, it's a pretty hearty beer, but perfect for a 22 oz bomber size. Some say this one's a bit too intense, but I think it's exactly what I look for in a pumpkin beer.

2. Dogfish Head's Punkin' Ale

Not a surprise to see Dogfish's offering here as it's been a favorite of mine since first having it back in 2005 or so. This beer has a delicious brown ale base mixed with all of the classic pumpkin spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin that you would expect. At 7%, this also is heavier, but I think that's fine for this season. Probably more drinkable on a regular basis then the Pumking, so it was very close to taking the top ranking.

3. Heavy Seas The Greater Pumpkin

This one was new to me this year, but I'm glad I picked it up. They also offer their regular "Great Pumpkin" but I didn't get a chance to try it this year. This one is an Imperial strength beer that is aged in bourbon barrels, already a bonus for me. So not only do get the bourbon flavor, but you also get adequate pumpkin spices mixed in there in this dark and rich brew. Again, it's a strong one at 9%, but super flavorful and definitely a new favorite for the season.

4. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

I guess you probably see a pattern in the strength of some of these, but I guess that's just my style. This one packs a lot of nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and pumpking flavor. All of the greats! It's perhaps a bit spicier than some of the others, and I taste the 8% alcohol a little more here than the above, but it's definitely one of the superior pumpkin beers I've had.

5. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

To be honest there isn't a whole lot that separates this and the Weyerbacher offering. I believe they have a similar alcohol percentage, and all of the same flavors are there. This was the first season that I've had this one and I definitely look forward to getting more of it next year. A darn good pumpkin beer.

6. River Horse's Hipp-O-Lantern

Another new one for the season, and another pretty good one. This one didn't quite stack up the other's above, but I don't want that number 6 ranking to give the impression that it's a bad beer, because it was pretty tasty. I think again the higher alcohol wasn't hidden quite as well as some of the other offerings and that brings it down a notch, but otherwise the flavor was what I like in a pumpkin beer.

7. Blue Point Brewery Pumpkin Ale

This one kinda falls to the middle of the pack as a lot of other pumpkin beers do. It's not bad by any means, just kind of average. I feel like a lot of breweries just put out pumpkin beers because they know they'll sell some for the season, but don't necessarily think about making them potentially great beers. That's what this feels like to me.

8. Fisherman's Imperial Pumpkin Stout

Imperial Pumpkin Stout? This had all the makings to be my favorite beer of all time. Perhaps that it wasn't is the reason that's much lower on my rankings. This is a 11% strong, dark stout that initially seemed like it would be a reall winner. It hid the alcohol well, and it tasted like a pretty decent stout, but where was the pumpkin flavor? I understand that stouts have a certain flavor, and perhaps it was difficult to inject the pumpkin spice amongst all of that. It's actually a pretty good beer, but the pumpkin part doesn't live up to the advertising unfortunately.

9. Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider

Okay, so this isn't a beer, but it's pumpkin flavored, so it's going in the list. Unfortunately, it kinda sucked. This tasted like normal woodchuck cider to me, which I'm not a huge fan of anyway. If this had attempted to inject just a bit of pumpkin spice in there, the rating probably wouldn't be this low. This really just tasted like their regular hard cider. Another pumpkin-less disappointment.

10. Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

Kinda yucky. The flavor here just tastes super fake. All of this spicy cinnamon hits you, which is okay, but the beer base of this just tastes completely off. You basically taste two contrasting flavors at different times and they don't work together well at all. Not super super horrible, but pretty bad compared to most of these pretty good pumpkin offerings. Probably won't buy it again.

There you have it...Remember these were just personal rankings of things I had this season. I know there are a bunch of others out there that would maybe fit in somewhere in these rankings if I tried them, but I attempted to have some new stuff this year.