Abita Lemon Wheat

photo(242)Summer in nigh upon us and as such the beer cooler is full of beverages that try to quench thirst and squash heat of your local blast furnace of a neighborhood.  The latest (and newest) offering from the good people of Abita beer is Lemon Wheat, a wheat beer that uses that quintessential summer fruit.  The beer pours a hazy golden color with a thin white head of foam that leaves some lacing and a nose of lemon, wheat, and grass notes.  The beer’s taste is like a nice light wheat flavored beer but it suffers from a lemon flavor that tastes very artificial and kind of soapy.  Some reviews on-line say the flavor is like the lemon flavoring in lemon hard candy but really, it doesn’t come across as much of anything but artificial and a touch creamy.  The beer is decent and a good one for a hot and humid southern afternoon since it should it’s taste shouldn’t conflict with a meal’s flavor or weight one down.   Add it to the rotation, despite the flavor of the beer it is worth trying and keeping on hand for those hot afternoons.

No Label Mint IPA

photo(241)In a world of craft beer, IPAs are the one of, if not the only, true bench mark to judge a brewer’s catalog.  There have been some bold steps out of the traditional IPA box but nothing really amazing outside a handful from the coastal breweries but leave it to a Texas brewery to make an IPA that shakes off the vines of hops.  No Label brewing has made a mint IPA that balances the flavors of hops and mint in ways that any respectable beer coinsurer can enjoy.  The beer pours a nice hazy orange color with a thick white head of foam that leaves decent lacing and a nose of sour fruits and hops with a subtle hint of mint.  The beer’s taste is very similar to a good imperial IPA with a thick mouth feel and strong grapefruit taste.  The mint doesn’t come into the beers taste profile till the back-end and aftertaste and it’s not a powerful taste, but noticeable and helps cut the skunk taste usually found with an IPA.  A very enjoyable beer that is, unfortunately, in a limited run right now though hopes are high that this becomes a seasonal release.  It’s worth the hunt if you’re local (North Texas) and if you’re not, perhaps it’s time to reach out to a friend and see if you can sweet talk them into getting you a bottle of this delicious beer.

Southern Star Blind Ambition

photo(177)Howdy beer drinkers and welcome back to the enviable task of filing reviews of beer from around the world (it’s a tough job but someone has to do it).  The beer that has stepped up to center stage today is one from the growing Texas brewery of Southern Star and their biere de garde: Blind Ambition.  Served in a ceramic bottle that is screen printed with art from the artist C.F.  it could be used for a vase or other purposes if one can get past the narrow opening and short neck on the bottle.  The beer pours a orangeish red with a thick foamy head and a bready nose with slight floral and fruit undertones.  The beer’s taste starts with a rather familiar lager malt taste the seems to vanish on the mid tongue where the typical notes of a biere de garde come in with wheat, bready malts, and subtle fruit notes take over through the back-end of the beer.  The aftertaste retains the fruitiness of the beer though it is not a sweet fruit taste but a mild blend of fruits that is difficult to nail down though I caught some hints of plums and strawberries on most sips.  This is a good beer but as far as a biere de garde’s go, it’s fairly safe and doesn’t seem to break new ground in the taste department.  The obvious draw is, of course, the bottle but beer is worth the time to drink and enjoyed though I don’t think it’s worth repeating.

Rouge XS Imperial Red Ale

photo(160)Hello one and all and welcome back to another chapter in the big book of beer.  Today we look at another entry in the short-lived small bottle line from Rouge, XS Imperial Red, which appeared in 2009 as a 7 oz. bottle.  These tiny bottles of beer pack a ton of flavor into a very small bottle that has the potential to impress almost any beer drinker.  The beer pours a cloud brown with a red tint, a nearly non-existent head of foam that leaves no lacing, and a nose of malts, dark fruits, and some vanilla notes.  The beer’s taste starts with a very bready initial note that blends to a berry flavor on the mid tongue which allows a subtle but still noticeable alcohol notes on the back-end.   This beer is one of those beers that uses it’s malt flavor for good and not evil (there are “evil” beers out there that do over do it on the malts, honest) and it’s a shame that this small bottle idea seemed to be a fad since the XS line has now made it’s way to ceramic bottles.  If you happen to run across any of the XS line-up, grab it- large or small – and start sipping, because it’s worth the hunt and the find.

Leinenkugel’s Lemon Berry Shandy

photo(159)Welcome, welcome one and all to another chapter in the annals of beer drinking.  Today we look at another entry into the seemingly ever-growing catalog of Leinenkugel’s beers.  Today we look at their only year round shandy: Lemon Berry Shandy which is a take on the beer mix that usually uses a lemonade or citrus flavored soda to give the a more appeasing taste to a larger audience of alcohol drinkers.  This particular Leinenkugel beer uses blackberry juice and lemonade flavor to give this beer a dangerously easy to drink, even for a hop head.  The beer pours a cloudy amber color with a fizzy white head of foam that leaves a bit of lacing and a nose of sweet lemon and berry notes in the nose.  The beer’s taste starts off like most shandy beers with a noticeable lemonade taste that stays on the palate while a strawberry taste grows on the tongue and back-end where the two flavors combine to a taste that is similar to strawberry-lemonade with a subtle malt undertone.  For those who love sweet alcohol drinks, this maybe the beer you’re looking for, but it’s sweetness can be off-putting to a traditional beer drinker.  In hotter climates, a beer like this could possibly go over very well with anyone looking for a refreshing drink that’s easy to get and doesn’t weigh one down like one of those fruity umbrella drinks.

Brewery Ommegang Iron Throne

photo(158)Hello beer lovers and welcome to a beer review that not only has beer in it but a strong popular culture reference as well.  It’s not that uncommon to have a beer tie in with a TV show, movie, or musician (or music group).   Today’s beer is Brewery Ommegang’s Iron Throne, an homage to HBO and George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” TV series.  The brew is a blonde ale which doesn’t seem that fitting considering the name of the beer and the nature of the show (an Imperial stout or IPA seems more appropriate).  The beer pours a hazy blonde color with a thick white head of foam and a nose citrus notes and with a peppery undertone.  The beer’s initial taste is a creamy lemon flavor that moves to the mid tongue where a slight sweetness comes aboard but nothing to overpowering.  The back-end of the beer becomes more like the nose with the pepper flavor coming through the sweetness while the aftertaste is a mild spice with some grassy notes.  Not a bad little beer, nothing to outstanding about it though, it tastes like other Saisons or Belgian Wits that I’ve had in the past.  Being able to say you’re drinking a beer from a HBO show is nice but the up-charge for having a beer like this doesn’t seem worth it.

Highland Brewing Gaelic Ale

photo(156)Greetings fellow beer drinkers and welcome back to another entry in the ongoing saga of beer drinking.  Today we look at a North Carolina brew from Highland Brewing Company and their first ever beer, Gaelic Ale.  The brew was originally named Celtic Ale but as those pesky lawyers and copyright laws interfered with that plan so the beer came to be called Gaelic Ale but whatever you want to call it just make sure it has the words “enjoyable” and  “beer“.  The beer pours a nice reddish amber color with a thin white head of foam that leaves some lacing and a nose of tea notes and some malts.  The beer’s taste is pretty uniform with the taste copying the notes found in the nose of the beer which is a surprisingly interesting and a welcome change from most Scottish Ales that I’ve had in the past.  If there is any issue to be found with a Scottish ale, it’s the fact they are heavy beers with high ABV but this beer is a nice hybrid blend of domestic amber and a Scottish Ale with  5.6% ABV allow this beer to find a good middle ground of styles.  A very enjoyable beer, it’s mellow malt flavor and the tea taste make this a very smooth drinking beer Scottish beer that can be enjoyed year-round.

Birra Moretti La Rossa

photo(155)Greetings fellow beer drinkers and welcome back to further attempts to explain what’s going on inside the beer cooler.  Today the beer in question is one from across the pond (that’s the Atlantic for those uninformed of you) and land of Florence, Birra Moretti and their La Rossa beer.  The beer, a double malt style, pours a nice deep brown color with a thin head of light tan foam and a nose of caramelized malts.  The beer’s taste starts off with a clean malted taste that isn’t too heavy and grows to a mild caramelized malt flavor that really doesn’t overpower the beer nor does it sidle to the background as the beer moves to a medium bodied finish on the back-end.  This beer’s strength is how it maintains an even taste profile despite the potentially overpowering flavor notes, even while enjoying a good Italian meal.  I’ll admit that I was rather taken aback about how good this beer was especially since most of my table mates were having wine and I thought I might have screwed up by getting a beer.  If you’re ever in doubt about what to drink when you’re at next Italian orientated dish, give this beer a try, I think you’ll find that it complements your meal in ways you’d never expected.

Stone Cali-Belgique IPA

photo(141)Hello one and all and welcome back to another beer review for a new day.  Today let’s scratch that IPA itch with a beer that combines the west coast and Belgian IPAs styles.  Both of these styles- moderate in their hop content – allows the hops in the beer develop on their own and give the beer a mild taste profile which is a good  entry point to the IPA realm for a new comers.  The good people over at Stone Brewing have joined both styles to create the Cali-Belgique IPA and the succeed in perfectly bringing both mild IPAs to a level of taste that can compete with almost any IPA on the market.  Pouring from a tap, the beer arrives a clear golden color with a white bubbly head of foam that leaves good lacing and a nose of floral and citrus notes.  The beer’s initial taste is very similar to a good pale ale with a dominate dry sour hops that move towards the mid tongue and back-end with a mild grapefruit taste that never dominates the palate like most American IPAs with their over hopping.  West coast IPAs are a divisive style of beer with it’s toned down hop flavor that can put off some hop-heads but it’s easy to imagine that whatever hop lovers that maybe turned off by this beer, there are newcomers to take their place.  This is another example of a good beer from Stone and it becomes easier and easier to see how whatever they brew, turns to gold (and really good beer).

Baltika No. 6 Porter

photo(139)Well friends, we once again are back to the motherland of Russia and their numbered beers which started with the fifth entry into the Baltika line-up and now we move onto the sixth beer which is a porter and I have a bit more faith in this one.  Why?  Three words: Russian Imperial Stout, which is one of the best beers in the world so a dark stout beer from Russia has some potential.  The beer pours a midnight black with a thick creamy head of foam that leaves a nice head foam that leaves good lacing and a nose of subtle coffee notes.  The beer’s taste is rather uniform and subdue with the initial cleanliness of most porters and adds a boozy coffee note on the mid tongue and back-end where it should and a smooth and subtle aftertaste that has hints of cocoa.  The beer isn’t nearly as disagreeable as number five was but still it’s not something I’d rush to if given the choice.  If you insist on a beer from the motherland of Russia, this might be a good one to try out.