Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Beer Reviews

I have been sampling beer for my personal curiosity for a long time. I can't handle wine, but I like beer. And I didn't like beer until about my mid-30's. Go figure. A few years back I subscribed to a "beer of the month club" from World Beer Direct. I recommend it. The international/domestic full-case plan was a little pricey, but it was really great. The only problem with World Beer is the delivery - not because they didn't ship (because they do, faithfully, every month) - but because the box of beer would somehow never get to my house. After three lost shipments, I had them ship it to my place of work instead - and I had no more problems! (It generated a lot of jokes - a box of beer with my name on it delivered to the front lobby of the bank!) A few years after the BOMC subscription expired I discovered the BottleWorks store in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. A great place, though small.

While the subscription to World Beer was in active, I decided to keep the bottles of those beers that I liked. And then I started keeping bottles from good microbrews that I was able buy locally. And in my old blog, I documented and reviewed brews that crossed my taste buds. So with that, here's a list of the bottles taking up room on my shelves, listed by brewery, location, and name:

Spaten Fransriskaner, Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest Ur-Marzen
Chesapeake Bay Brewing, Maryland, Chesbay Lagers
Harbor City Brewing, Wisconsin, Mile Rock Amber Ale
New Belgium Brewing, Colorado, Fat Tire Amber Ale
Whistler Brewing, British Columbia, Canada, Black Tusk (label even lists gravity!)
Left Hand Brewing, Colorado, Jackman's American Pale Ale
Pietra Brewing, Corsica, France, Biera Corsa Amber Ale
Hofbrau, Munich, Germany, Oktoberfest
Fire Station 5 Brewing, Oregon, Fire Boat Amber
Ruddles Brewing, Oxforshire, England, Ruddle County Premium Ale
Greenshields Brewing, North Carolina, Nut Brown Ale
Samuel Smith Old Brewing, Yorkshire, England, Winter Welcome Ale
Samuel Smith Old Brewing, Yorkshire, England, Pure Brewed Lager
Kloster Brewing, Germany, Weltenburger Kloster Barock-Dunkel
Der Hirsch-Brau Brewing, Sonthofen, Germany, Bavarian Weissbier Hefeweisse
Blitz-Weinhard Brewing, Washington, Henry Weinhard's Hefeweizen
Red Hook Ale Brewing, Washington, ESB Amber Ale
Okanagan Spring Brewing, British Columbia, Canada, Honey Blonde Ale
Okanagan Spring Brewing, British Columbia, Canada, Bavarian Lager
Thomas Kemper Brewing, Washington, Big Fat Tuba Oktoberfest
Anhueser-Busch Brewing, Missouri, Michelob Honey Lager
Anhueser-Busch Brewing, Missouri, Michelob Marzen
Widmer Brothers Brewing, Orgon, Oktoberfest Amber
Guinness Brewing, New Brunswick, Canada, Harp Lager
Granville Island Brewing, British Columbia, Canada, Kitslano Maple Cream Ale
Granville Island Brewing, British Columbia, Canada, Gastown Amber Ale
Boston Beer Co., Massachussetts, Sam Adams' October Fest
MacTarnahan's Brewing, Oregon, Uncle Otto's Oktoberfest
Greene King Brewing, Suffolk, England, Olde Suffolk English Ale
Gordon Biersch Brewing, California, Marzen
Georg Schneider & Sons Brewing, Munich, Germany, Aventinus Wheat Dopple-bock
Molson Brewing, Ontario, Canada, Asahi Super Dry
Pike Brewery, Washington, Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale
Unibev Ltd, Colorado, Killian's Irish Red

Other beer that I've enjoyed but can't get here:
San Miguel Brewery, Philippines, Super Dry
Foster Brewery, Australia, Foster's (Ale, I presume)

Yes, I know - I can buy them here. But the export product doesn't taste the same as the local batch.

I've been adding to the collection as I find something worthy of shelf space. I will slowly copy the reviews from my old blog to this page.

What are your favorites?

From 4 February 2004

Mike, one of the techs that works in our [Pacific Northwest Bank] Seattle office, had to make a trip to Portland the other day. In Oregon, it seems to me, supermarkets stock a much larger selection of local [microbrew] and imported beer than we see here in Washington. Anyhow, he stopped by a local Safeway and brought back some samples. Understand that Mike was stationed in Germany while in the Army, so his palate is more educated and refined than mine. So I trusted his judgement.

On 10 January I listed some of the beers that have tickled my taste buds in a favorable manner. Here's another: Czechvar Lager from the B.B.N.P. Brewery in The Czech Republic has the light taste of a lager, not too hoppy, light yellow in color. Good beer.

I've got three more in the reefer to evaluate, so I'll do that later. I seldom have more than one beer in a single day ... unless I'm parked in a good pub with great beer!

From 7 February 2004

Today I had the pleasure of imbibing in König Ludwig Weiss, a Bavarian hefeweizen from the König Ludwig Schlossbrauerrei in Kaltenburg, Bavaria, Germany. Mike found this for me in Portland. A good hefeweizen with the background flavor of that uniquely German beer (Pilsen?). Recommended

From February 8 2004

Another import from Mike's trip to Portland. This one is Pinkus Organic Original Münster Alt from the Brauerei Pinkus Müller of Münster, Germany. A light yellow beer with corresponding light flavor. Because it is so easy on my taste buds, I won't make an effort to purchase this again. For those that like a lighter flavor, this beer is for you.

From February 10 2004

I found at the local Safeway a bottle of Chimay Trappist Ale. This is brewed by S.A. Bieres de Chimay in Belgium. As I understand it, the Trappist beers are brewed by Trappist monks in Belgium. There's only about a half dozen Trappist abbeys that do this. What makes their beers different is that they put a little yeast in the bottle before adding the beer. In this particular beer the yeast flavor stands out as well as the malt; hops are subdued. Very good beer. Highly recommended.

From February 13 2004

Today I had the pleasure of tasting
Ayinger's Altbairisch Dunkel, the label for which declares the contents to be an authentic Bavarian dark lager. It's brewed by Privatbrauereu Franz Inselkammer in Aying, Germany. I was expecting to dislike this because I specifically disliked a different brew from the same brewery (but I forgot which one it was). I was pleasantly surprised. This has a smooth flavor, not hoppy but not malty or sweet. Very nice, highly recommended.

I also tried a few weeks ago
Van den Vern Grand Cru Flemish Ale brewed by Andelot Proef Brouwerrij in Lochristi, Belgium. This recipe was put together specifically for the good folks at BottleWorks because BottleWorks sells so much of the brewery's products in Seattle! This is a great marketing idea - the label includes BottleWorks' logo. Unfortunately, I did not like the final results! The Grand Cru is too hoppy for me and I just couldn't handle it. Of course, that doesn't mean you won't like it. Drop by BottleWorks and pick up a bottle to try. And pick up some other products as well. Tell them World Phamous sent you. That ought to impress them!

From February 14 2004

Tonight's brew is McNally's Irish Style Ale, brewed by the Big Rock Brewery in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This is another amber ale and very different. It's not like your typical amber ale and it's hard to describe. The carbonation is less than expected, almost giving it a "flat" effect and the flavor doesn't get me excited.

Tonight I start grading the beers I review, scoring them one through five, using Hedstrom's Scale.

Hedstrom's Scale for McNally's Irish Style Ale: 3

From March 21:

Another brew from Europe via BottleWorks is Abbaye de Leffe's Blonde brewed by Interbrew of Belgium in Brussels. This tasty brew. It's slightly heavy on the malt and the pronounced background of hops makes for an interesting flavor. Highly recommended.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Abbaye de Leffe's Blonde: 4 of 5.

From March 24:

I spent yesterday in Seattle. After work Don and I visited the Pike Brew Pub. I had a bottle of Westmalle Dubbel Trappist Ale. This is apparently one of the true traditional Trappist brewerys in Belgium. And they produce an excellent ale. Highly recommended.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Westmalle Dubbel Trappist Ale: 5 of 5.

Today I tried a brew created by the Stone Brewing Company of San Marcos, California. The Arrogant Bastard Ale is advertised on the bottle as a brew for only the most adventurous beer drinkers. On the label: "This is an aggressive beer. You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth." And it continues downhill from there. So I bought one. It's dark, approaching the color of porter - a good first impression. Then I tasted it. It's heavy on the hops, but it's not an IPA. The label has a large element of truth. I did't like it. One sip was all I could handle. The remainder when down the drain of the kitchen sink. A few minutes later the septic tank belched. Not recommended.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Stone Brewing Company's Arrogant Bastard Ale: 1 of 5.

From March 28:

The last time I visited BottleWorks I picked up a bottle of Transatlantique Kriek Ales From 2 Continents from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado. From the label : "New Belgium Ale blended with Brouwerij Frank Boon Lambic. Fermented with real cherries." I somehow missed the last line when buying it. Indeed, it has the flavor of cherries and is more red than any amber beer I've tried. But the fruit flavor doesn't overwhelm. It's not my idea of a good beer, but I didn't pour it down the drain, either. I've often wondered what a "fruit beer" was like; now I know. While I won't buy it again, I can understand why some people would like it.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Ales From 2 Continents: 3 of 5.

From March 30:

Tennent's of Scotland is what the label says. It also claims to be Scotland's finest lager. And that claim may be true. This is a lager that is gentle on the tongue with a pleasant flavor. If you like a lager brew, this one is for you. Highly recommended.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Tennent's of Scotland: 4 of 5.

From 12 April:

Another brew found recently at BottleWorks is Freising, Germany's Bayer Staats Brauerei Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier. This tastes to me like a cross between a lager and a hefe weissen with just a touch of sweet somewhere in there. No single element is overpowering; a very nice brew. Highly recommended.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier: 4 of 5.

From 18 April:

Today's selection is from the Port Townsend Brewery in our very own town of Port Townsend, Washington. Port Townsend is on the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula. I found this 22 fluid ounce bottle of Scotch Ale at a local grocery store in Port Townsend several weeks back. Yes, I have about a half-dozen bottles of different brews in my reefer that I haven't yet tried. So I broke open the PT Scotch Ale. It's appearance is dark brown in color with a medium head. The flavor doesn't appeal to me, however. The predominant taste I've experienced before. I don't know the source influence, but it doesn't appeal to me. It's not the hops; that much I know. But there's an ingredient used in this recipe that causes a poor reaction from my taste buds.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Port Townsend Brewery's Scotch Style Ale: 2 of 5.

From 24 April:

Earlier this week when Don and I went to the Pike Brewery, I tried another one from the Ayinger Brewery in Aying, Germany. The Oktober Fest-Marzen was very tasty. Not strong, but tasty. I expected a light brown or red color, but it's pale gold with a small head. The bartender there served it in a tall Ayinger glass (21 Fl. Oz.) that I couldn't keep. Don and I have tried many of their different beers, some 30 or 40 in total. Our original goal was to try them all, but the description of some just did not appeal to us. IPAs and stouts, for instance, don't like my taste buds. But Ayinger's Oktober Fest was very good. Highly recommended.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Ayinger Brewery's Oktober Fest-Marzen: 4 of 5.

From 30 April:

Last Thursday after work, Don and I went to the Pike Brewery where I tried another brew from the Westmalle Trappist Brewery in Belgium. This time it was the Tripel Trappist Ale. This has a stronger flavor than the double, earlier reviewed. I suspected I would not like it, but I tried it only because it was a Trappist Ale from the Westmalle Brewery. The flavor is very good. It's strong, but not so much that it bites the tongue. But you can definitely taste the alcohol. At 9.5%, it's no wonder. And it's got an aftertaste that's very good. But beware: beer this strong, like Schmidt Brothers' dobble bock, it will sneak up on you quickly. Make sure you have extra support within reach the first time you stand up after drinking this excellent brew. I like this one very much - with the attendant caveat stated above.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Westmalle Trappist Monastery's Tripel Trappist Ale: 4 of 5.

Mike, a guy with whom I used to work at Pacific Northwest Bank, was stationed in Germany while in the Army. The local neighborhood brewery was the Bitburger Brewery, of which he spoke very highly. Apparently, the Germans hold their brews in such high regard that they have it routinely delivered to their home doorstep like we used to have milk delivered here in the States. So while visiting BottleWorks I ran across the bottle of Bitburger Premium Beer from Bitburger Privatbraueri. I'm glad I paid the extra money for it. This is an excellent lager. The influence of hops is controlled with the malt coming through for a full but not heavy flavor. Although not listed on the label, I suspect the alcohol content isn't more than 5%. I really like this beer. Grab it if you can find it. Highly recommended.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Bitburger Privatbraueri's Bitburger Premium Beer: 4.5 of 5.

From 4 April 2004

Today's tasty choice is McEwan's Scotch Ale. I've sampled four or five Scotch ales in the past and this one may be the best. It's dark like porter but without porter's aroma. It's got a higher alcohol content at 8% and the aging required to create that alcophol imparts a flavor that is stronger than that of other Scotch ales. It's brewed by Scottish Courage, Ltd. in Edinburgh, Scotland. It's worth the extra moolah.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for McEwan's Scotch Ale by Scottish Courage, Ltd: 4 of 5.

30 December 2004

Over the past few weeks I've tried these brews.

The Golden Ale from the Port Townsend (Washington) Brewing Company is delivered in a 22 fluid ounce bottle. This ale has an unremarkable flavor. Nothing stands out. Medium flavor, golden color, expected head.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Golden Ale by the Port Townsend Brewing Company: 2.5 of 5.

The Spaten-Br
äu in Munich, Germany produces the Spaten Premium with the white label on a 25 fluid ounce bottle. This has the unique Spaten flavor, but in a mild form. Other than the Spaten recipe, it bears an average flavor.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Spaten Premium by the Spaten-Bräu in Munich, Germany: 3 of 5.

As I apply fingers to keyboard, I am sipping Warsteiner's Premium Varnum. This brew comes from Warstein, Germany. My uneducated palate is unable to distinguish this from an American ale. The color is a pale gold, a medium head, and nothing to distinguish the flavor from a raft of other ales I've tasted.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Premium Varnum from the Warstein Brewery, Germany: 3 of 5

1 Feb 2005

The Duvel Brewery (Duvel Moortgat) in Belgium produces Duvel, a top-fermented ale. The brew is fermented in the bottle. If poured carefully, the yeast will remain in the bottle and if left undisturbed, will produce colorful spores in the bottom of the bottle. This is a special type of ale for me simply because there's so few of them here in the States and it appears they're all imported. I suspect it may stay that way for a long time because the Duvel brewery takes pride in a product without chemical additives or preservatives. Excellent and unique flavor.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Duvel from Belgium: 4.5 of 5.

5 Feb 2005

Fire Station 5 Brewing Company's ESB is very nice. I've always liked ESB ales and I like Fire Station 5's amber brew. Then the local Fred Meyer had it on sale. So I snagged a six-pack. Then I went back and bough a half-case! It pours a fine red color with a head that's not too tall. This if an excellent example of the combination of malt and hops that makes for an ESB. Not overly sweet, not overly bitter, very good flavor. Highly recommended.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Fire Station 5 Brewing Company's ESB: 4.5 of 5.

15 Feb 2005

The family and I had the pleasure of dining at the Silver City Restaurant and Brewery this evening. The Andouille was so-so, Eric's smoked salmon fettuccine acceptable for his (un)refined palate, and Linda's clam chowder was nothing to brag about.

But the beer was a little different. The in-house brewery has about eight or ten different brews on tap at any time. So I tried their sampler. I got four ounces each of their hefeweizen, pale ale, amber ale, porter, and two different Scotch ales.

The Bavarian Style Hefeweizen was the tastiest for me. Subtle wheat, high carbonation, pilsner background. Very tasty. Highly recommended. 4.5 of 5.

The Clear Creek Pale Ale (named after a long creek that meanders nearby) has subdued hops and nicer malts. Highly recommended. 4 of 5.

Ridgetop Red (named after the neighborhood up the hill from the restaurant) has a generally suppressed flavor. They call it "mild." Nice, but I think the brewmaster ignored something. 3.5 of 5.

Panther Lake Porter (yes, named after a lake some 20 miles south of Silverdale) is an undistinguished porter. Good flavor, just like a lot of others found on the Supermarket shelf. 3.5 of 5.

MacFarlane's Scotch Ale was a surprise for me. A very strong and biting flavor - not bitter from hops, but an abundance of condensed ingredients with 8.3% alcohol. I could only handle two sips. 3 of 5.

Fat Bastard Scotch Ale is slightly less surprising than MacFarlane's but is higher in alcohol at 7.8%. Again, I could only handle two sips.

I've seen their bottled brews in the local Silverdale Market on Silverdale Way. I'll just pick up bottles of the Hefeweizen there.

6 Mar 2005

Yesterday at the Silverdale Red Apple Market I found another brew I hadn't previously tasted. The Red Apple Market (at least in Silverdale) is stocking more micro and foreign brews, much to my delight. Readers in the Central Kitsap area of Washington State may wish to visit.

Young's Dirty Dick's Ale today receives a lukewarm review. 25 ounces of dark ale in a dark brown and heavy bottle made for a good first impression. Lack of a large head reinforced the positive impression. But a very light aroma hinted at something less: lack of flavor. Oh, there's a little bit of an ale flavor with the hint of ingredients that make for a porter. And the statement of 4.8% alcohol on the bottle label (paper, by the way) confirms there's something there. But if it weren't for the carbonation, I'd almost say it was flat! Lotsa sipping for a little tickle on the old taste buds.

Hedstrom's Palate Selecte Scale™ for Dirty Dick's Ale by Young's Ram Brewery in London: 2.5 of 5.

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