Beers in Review: I'm Drinking It Right Now!

Way back when, I used to do the occasional “live to print” beer review, and I have one sitting in front of me. So, let’s going ahead an check out this offering from Westbrook Brewing Company. The Low and Slow Helles looks to be a new/limited offering (this is the first I’ve seen it, anyway) and their version of the classic German-style lager. Highly sessionable at 4.8% ABV, the beer pours a crystal clear pale yellow color with a white, pillowy head. Flavors are light, with cereal notes and a grainy sweetness that comes fairly standard in the style. Basically, think of your “preferred” mass-produced pale macrolager, but with quality ingredients and the flavors turned up to about 15. THAT is this beer. Tasty, crisp, perfect for the upcoming South Carolina summer.

Moving to the non-live portion of the post, we’re gonna stick with a German style in Brooklyn Brewery’s Unfiltered Pilsner. This beer checks in at 4.3% ABV (I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed 2 sub-5% beers in one review before) and pours a yellow straw or hay color with just a little bit of haze—really, it wasn’t as hazy as I expected it to be, given the name. Floral (early in the tasting experience) and grainy (late) notes make up most of the flavor profile, along with some peppery notes in the back side, as well. Solid, but not spectacular, and a little bit different offering out of the Pilsner category.

Finally, I didn’t intend on doing 3 different German styles, but here we are.

We recently passed the celebration of Mardi Gras, so no better beer to review than Louisiana-based Abita Brewing Company’s Mardi Gras Bock. 6.5% ABV, has a fairly light body, pours a clear light caramel color. Plenty of malt, floral notes, and sweetness present at the front, though the sweetness level was not too much for me. The back of the drinking experience was more grainy and bready, and there was something a tad wonky towards the very end and into the aftertaste. Not a bad beer, at all. Just a little bitter thing that stops it from being terrific.

Beers in Review: Holiday Rapid Fire

Christmas is fast-approaching, with the official start of Winter approaching even faster. With that in mind, I thought I’d throw down some quick thoughts on a handful of recent seasonal beers that I’ve had.

Highland Cold Mountain Spiced Ale-Highly enjoyable. As someone who does not necessarily care for many of this season’s beers, which can be overly sweet, I find Cold Mountain had a terrific balance of sweetness, spice, and other usual notes (like vanilla and dark fruits).

River Rat Winter Warmer-Not bad overall, though I felt like I was drinking the can a little bit in the one I had. Nice sweet and spice levels, though.

Abita Office Party-Abita’s limited-release Holiday Stout—they also have. Again, not bad overall (better than my River Rat experience). Quite mild overall. Not a lot of sweetness, and spices are present but not overpowering. That puts it right in my wheelhouse, hypothetically. It just needs…something…to be great.

I also had the Sweetwater Festive Ale, but that was a while ago, and it made so little impression that I can’t really recall anything, other than I wasn’t overly impressed. Take that for what you will.

Beers in Review: Making their PRB Debut... the farmhouse brewers Blackberry Farm Brewery from Walland, Tennessee! I had their Noble Cuvee Dry Hop 2017, a take on their base Saison that includes dry-hopped Czech Saaz hops. Coming in at 6.25% ABV and 25 IBU, this Saison pours a fairly clear pale gold color. It features a slight Belgian/Saison yeast sweetness, along with a nice herbal note and perhaps a bit of apricot. There was also a little bit of funkiness in there, too, and the beer featured a carbonated, effervescent mouthfeel and a dry finish. An enjoyable Saison, though I found the more Belgian aspects of it to be a little bit muted in favor of what could be called more traditional flavor notes. Still, really nice.

Finally today, a bourbon barrel-aged Pale Ale from Louisiana's Abita Brewing Company called Old Fashioned Pale Ale. Clocking in at 9.25% ABV and just 22 IBU, this Pale Ale is brewed with orange peel, cherries, and aromatic bitters, all elements of the classic Old Fashioned drink which was popular decades ago and resurfaced thanks to the television show "Mad Men". In fact, in this beer, I got a great deal of the "Old Fashioned" portion and almost none of the "Pale Ale" portion. This is perfectly, but you need to prepare yourself, because what you get is probably not what you're expecting. The beer pours a solid amber color, and the fruit sensations are very prominent, and include the maraschino cherries used in the brewing process, along with raisins and grapes, the latter of which blended with a cane sugar to evoke a grape lollipop sensation. Again, the beer is quite sweet, though not overpowering with some fruitcake vanilla notes and an early bit of booziness that ramps up as the beer warms up. I find Abita to be hit-and-miss, but I really enjoyed this offering. Just know it's not a traditional Pale Ale.

Beers in Review: Abita, Highland, Stone

There are some very interesting beers coming up on the blog this week, via both the written and visual mediums. Let's get to it!

A local watering hole I visited on Saturday looked to have an Abita Brewing Company tap takeover this past week. I don't know if that stemmed from Mardi Gras earlier in the month or what, but the Abita Amber was still on tap, so I decided that would be a good opener. Pretty straight forward with good flavor for an amber ale. I detected a bit of a grainy note early on, but this quickly resolved into maltiness. There were also some very mild sweet and caramel notes throughout. Pretty crisp and, again, fairly straight forward overall.

Next up is Highland Brewing Company's St. Terese's Pale Ale. It's a little milder, hop-wise, compared to their Kashmir and the seasonal Devil's Britches IPAs. Mild dank hops were present throughout when taking a sip. Eventually, the malts come forward a bit, and there are some fruity or sweet notes towards the end, making a decent balance as you take a sip. Maybe something grainy or toasty there, as well, but it's very faint.

The final beer for this entry is Xocoveza, originally another collaboration by Stone Brewing, along with their Homebrew Competition winner Chris Banker and Mexico's Cerveceria Insurgente in late 2014. Xocoveza (which is fun to say, but a pain to type) proved so popular that Stone brought it back late last year. It's popularity is well-founded--this was an incredibly complex beer. A Mocha Stout, I found Xocoveza on Nitrogen locally. The result was a beer that poured pitch black with a creamy head. The mix was beautiful. The aromas were incredibly powerful coming off of this stout: a bit of cocoa, lots of coffee, and the coffee note played heavily in the flavor, where it came off as a very dark roast, almost to the point of burnt bitterness. It toed this line very carefully, but was partially saved by quite sweet vanilla and especially chocolate notes. When combined with the super-fine foamy head caused by the Nitrogen, the end result was this almost drinking like a milkshake! Very tasty with tons of flavor.

Coming up in this week's video review: Westbrook's 5th Anniversary Stout! Coming early this week!