Alright, this is going to be quite the post. I haven’t been writing about every beer I’ve been drinking lately. In part, it’s because I was sick last week, preventing me from drinking some of the more “special” beers I have here. It’s also been because I’ve been lazy. Work has been busier than it had been because of the beginning of the semester and hiring new staff and all that goes along with Septembers for me. So I’m going to write a few lines about most of the beers I’ve had recently. This is in no particular order. I’m just writing.
I’ll start off with tonight because it’s fresh in my mind. I’m currently drinking an Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale. This one was bottled in January. That means it’s about 10 months old. This is the reason I clicked the “cellaring” category. I opened this one because I needed a nice little nightcap. At 9.4%, it fits that bill just right. The beer is sweet and malty. It’s got a seriously strong fruitiness to it, which is really nice. It’s not like drinking a fruity beer, it’s just a fruity maltiness. It’s perfect. It’s got just enough hops in it to give it some balance. Unfortunately, I have never had this beer fresh. For whatever reason, I can’t get it in RI. I picked this up at Julio’s over the summer. Get it if you see it. It’s awesome.
I also had Stone Coast (RIP) Jamaica Style Stout tonight. Susan and I tried to split it, but she wasn’t crazy about it. I thought it was fantastic. This one has probably also been aged, though in the store, not my cellar. Stone Coast Brewing closed on August 1. I bought this, along with some others, while I could still find it. It has a very roasty flavor to it. It’s got a nice medium-full body. It’s a very drinkable stout. If you can still find it, get some. It’s good.
How about some Double IPA’s next? I’ll continue with Stone Coast. If you can find some 840 IIPA, get it while it lasts. This is a great double IPA (their regular IPA is 420 IPA, also excellent). It’s quite different for a double IPA in that it’s got a strong caramel malt presence. This doesn’t ruin the beer, however. It actually enhances it a bit. It’s not overly hoppy like a west coast IPA, but it’s definitely got a good bit to it. It is actually not a double of the 420, which tastes almost like a west coast IPA. They also made a 1260, which I was lucky to be given a bottle. I’m kind of saving that one.
Rogue Imperial IPA is also a good one if you can get past the cost of the ceramic bottle. At $15 for the bottle, it’s a bit pricey, and honestly, not worth the price. However, it’s a great double IPA. The beer is nice and hoppy, but has a great malt backbone to it. You might be best trying to find this on tap somewhere (Doherty’s East Ave in the Bucket had it on tap for a while).
The last, but certainly not least, of the recent double IPAs is Smuttynose Big A. Holy crap! This is probably the single best double IPA I have had. I enjoyed this far better than Ruination, Hercules, and even YuleSmith (though I haven’t had the summer YuleSmith, meaning I haven’t had a fresh YuleSmith). This one has all the hops the west coast DIPAs wish they had, and it came from 2 states north of here. This one is a must have, though it sells out fast when they do release it.
Being October, I have had a bunch of Oktoberfests, Harvest Ales, and Pumpkin Ales lately. I’ll mention some of those. Nikki’s just did 3 weeks of Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales. Here’s the best of those, some of which I bought. I’ll start with Pumpkin Ales because I tend not to like them. The only one at the Nikki’s tasting I really liked was Wolaver’s Will Stevens’ Pumpkin Ale, which seems to be sold out now. It wasn’t overly spiced and had a nice hops flavor to it. It was just right. The best Pumpkin Ale I have ever had was Schlafly from St. Louis. Susan was nice enough to bring back a bunch of beer for me from her trip out there. Schlafly Pumpkin Ale is the single best Pumpkin Ale I have ever had. It was all around perfect.
Now, the Oktoberfests… The best is still Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen. This beer is a perfect German Oktoberfest. Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr also have great Oktoberfests that are actually German. I don’t even know how to describe the flavor. It’s crisp, clean, and flavorful. Of the Americans, the best I’ve had are Brooklyn Oktoberfest, Clipper City Marz-Hon, and Wachusett Octoberfest. They’re all similar in style, though the order I listed is the order of my preference.
Of the autumn/harvest ales, my favorite is Gritty’s Halloween Ale. It’s an ESB and absolutely fantastic (go figure, their Best Bitter is also awesome). It’s got that perfect flavor for the fall weather. It just goes with the fall foliage for some reason. Long Trail Harvest Ale is another good one. This is a nice brown ale. It’s easy drinking and has a good flavor to it. It’s supposedly made from all Vermont ingredients, though I don’t know if they actually got the hops from up there. Finally, there’s the Woodstock Inn Autumn Brew. This one is brewed with cinnamon and nutmeg. I don’t normally like beers with a lot of cinnamon in them (like Harpoon’s Winter Warmer). However, this one is actually quite tasty for a beer with those spices. It’s also worth a try.
And now some one off’s. Continuing with the Schlafly thing, Susan was nice enough to get me 2 bottles of their Dry Hopped American Pale Ale. This one is fantastic. The dry hopping gave it a nice floral aroma. It has a nice floral hop flavor to it as well and then goes into the pine and grapefruit flavors as it warms up a bit. It’s a fantastic APA.
I decided to open my bottle of Russian River Damnation while watching and helping some friends brew an ESB. I’m not normally a big Belgian Golden Ale fan. However, this beer is probably my favorite of the bunch. It’s absolutely perfect in my opinion. It has a good amount of carbonation, but not too much. It has a nice malt flavor with just the right amount of hops. It’s sweet, dry, and crisp all at once. I wish I could get their beers on this side of the country.
And finally, last but not least, probably the single most talked about new pale/amber ale on the market. I got to try the Budweiser American Ale, and I have to say that I’m very impressed. It’s nothing special, but it’s solid. It’s a good pale/amber ale. It has a nice body, which isn’t thin. It has a good flavor of hops and malt. And the best part it, it’s very accessible by people new to craft beer, while having a brand that’s familiar to them. I think this will be the next gateway beer for many people. I can see myself buying it for friends and family who prefer lighter beers. I see myself giving it to people new to the craft beer scene. I see myself drinking it when I want something cheap or if it’s the only thing a bar has (I drink other stuff if they don’t have any craft beer).
Thus concludes my recent beer thoughts. I’ll try to keep up from now on, though you never know what might happen. I apologize for the long post, but this had to get written. I have even more that I didn’t write about. If I added those, it would be about 3 times as long.