Beers in Review: A Local Duo

In today's BiR, I check out a couple more beers from right here in Columbia, including a collaboration with one of my favorite bottle shops.

But first up is a Dunkel, or dark lager, from traditional German-style brewer Bierkeller Columbia. Their Fastenbier is what they call a "Franconian Dunkel", referring to a Dunkel style from a specific region in central Germany (as opposed to the more common, at least in America, Munich Dunkel, named after the city in southern Germany). In their preparation of this Franconian Dunkel, Bierkeller uses smoked malts, and I'm not sure if this contributed to what I interpreted as a bit of an odd flavor note. The Fastenbier pours a cola brown, comes in at 5.1% ABV, and I found it to be quite roasty, almost to the point of char, but not crossing the line. Presumably, that is the first indication of these smoked malts. I got a little bit of chocolate maltiness and perhaps a hint of cola, but the beer is not very sweet at all. There are also some roasted grain notes, but the flavor note that surprised me was green olives, which I found throughout the drinking experience. I'm not sure if my palate was interpreting some combination in an odd way, or the smoked malts influenced me in this flavor direction, but it was a distracting note that I found it very difficult to overlook. I have always found Bierkeller's beers to be well-executed, even if they aren't to my particular liking (mostly, I'm looking at the Rauchbier on this one), but this odd olive note seemed out of place to me. Otherwise, I found it to be fairly light and sessionable beer that didn't hang around too long, which made it easy to move on to the next beer.

Next up is a collaboration between River Rat Brewery and Craft and Draft bottle shop. I found Nah Mean? Peaches and Cream to be a very well-executed Cream Ale. Clocking in at 5% ABV, and pouring a hazy yellow-gold color, this Cream Ale brings a whole bunch of corn and grain notes with a perfectly mild amount of sweetness and a slight bitterness. Add a medium-light body and a fairly refreshing finish, and this adds up to a very nice, if simple, Cream Ale.

Beers in Review: Crossing Beer and Ice Cream

First up in BiR is a collaboration from New Belgium Brewing Company. This isn't a collab with another brewery, but the latest New Belgium beer to incorporate Ben and Jerry's ice cream! This Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale utilizes a blonde ale base and incorporates the key ingredients from the ice cream into the ale. Those ingredients, the chocolate chip pieces and cookie dough, are very much present as flavor notes, but they generate a surprisingly low amount of sweetness. To be frank, I expected a beer bordering on the sickly-sweet side, and was pleasantly surprised to find such a low level of sweetness present. The chocolate did become more prevalent and just a hint sweeter as the beer warmed, but still nowhere near the point of intolerance. The beer pours a mostly clear, pale yellow color, and has an ABV of 6%. In addition to the ice cream flavor notes, the beer is fairly grainy and light, and thanks to the low sweetness, I found it to be an easy drinker.

Next up is a Rauchbier, or smoked beer, from the local German-style brewers, Bierkeller Columbia. The beer had a deep red hue, and the smoke note ("smoked beer" IS literal) was quite prominent, and got a tad overpowering for me over the course of the glass. Toasty malt notes are also present, along with a mesquite/grilled meat feeling generated by the smoke. Sadly, this beer is not for me. I have greatly enjoyed some of Bierkeller's other offerings, and despite past experiences, I occasionally give Rauchbiers another try. But I just couldn't get into this. I can respect Bierkeller's efforts--I'm sure they nailed exactly for what they were aiming. That target is just not for me. I look forward to my next Bierkeller Braunbier or Kellerbier.

Beers in Review: Under the Weather

I had strongly hoped to do a video review today, but I'm feeling a bit under the weather. My fingers are working perfectly fine, and I have a handful of beers from earlier in the weekend to cover, so let's cover them!

Last month, I had my first offering from a new brewery in Columbia, Bierkeller Columbia, who are dedicated to making high quality German-style beers using simply core ingredients. I found their Braunbier, a dark lager, to be terrific. I was similarly impressed with their Kellerbier, which poured a delightful, slightly hazy gold color. This is supposed to be a little on the hoppy side, but as with the Braunbier, I found the malty side spoke to me more. The beer did open with some mild dank hop notes that quickly gave way to caramel malts. Regardless, I found this beer to be delicious. No matter what Bierkeller was going for, this was another tasty offering from that team.

Next is Mad Hatter, an IPA from Mad Hatter Brewing Company. This beer pushes hard towards becoming a "hop bomb", staying just on this side of overpowering. The bright, citrusy hop notes are accompanied by delightful floral aromatics and a moderate bitterness that just sort of lays on top of the overall drinking experience--very much present throughout, but, again, it's not an overwhelming presence. A solid IPA.

Up next, I try the next installment in Shmaltz Brewery's second offering in their 50th Anniversary of Star Trek series, called the Trouble with Tribbles Golden Anniversary Ale. Now, I enjoyed the first offering, which was a Red Session IPA. I recall being a fan of the beer, which had an impressive malt/hop balance and delicious malt flavors. Unfortunately, I was less impressed with this entry. This beer played like a mild Pilsner, as it was a bit peppery with a mild grainy sweetness. I also got an overall bitter note that just wasn't jiving with me. To me, this beer was just okay.

Finally, from Wooden Skiff Brewing Company, a Kolsch called The Tourist. Pouring a nice, light gold color, this beer was grainy-sweet and, quite simply, beer-like. It had a mild malt presence and was quite smooth and fairly refreshing. Really solid, a highly drinkable beer.

Beers in Review: Including a new local brew

Some pretty terrific beers in today's rundown. Let's get running!

First up is Palmetto Brewing Company's Island Wit, which pours a very pale yellow. While officially listed as a "pale wheat ale", the wheat characteristics play through much more than the pale ale side--I wasn't getting a lot of personality out of the hop profile. In fact, the beer was very light overall, with some mild grain notes, as well as some coriander and other spices. I also detected a mild Belgian yeast-style sweet characteristic--very mild, but certainly present. This beer will play very well in the summer with its quite mild overall characteristics.

Next is Queen Bohemian Lager from the England-based RnR Brew. Inspired by the legendary rock band and their hit "Bohemian Rhapsody", this beer is listed as a lager but is actually a Pilsner. It pours a nice gold color, and hits all the Pilsner notes pretty well. Crisp and pretty clean with a biting carbonation (though not much in terms of head--agitation is need to bring out that carbonation), the flavor notes are straight forward: crackery and peppery, with maybe a faint apricot note. Nothing extraordinary in this beer, but it is a solid execution of the Pilsner style.

Next is a beer mentioned in a recent Six-Pack of News: Stone Brewing's 2016 version of their W00tstout, developed by Greg Koch (Stone Co-Founder & CEO), Drew Curtis (creator of news aggregation and commentary site, and Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, web series TableTop). The beer pours pitch black, and clocks in at a massive 13% ABV. Rich chocolate are integrated into powerful boozy notes. There are also some dark fruit notes, and maybe some black licorice, as well. This is a super tasty and very strong Imperial Stout.

Finally, a beer from Columbia's newest brewers, Bierkeller Columbia. As you might guess from the name, they are trying to do beers in more traditional German styles. Their Braunbier pours a deep reddish-brown with ruby highlights. I'm big on malt brown and red ales, so this was right up my alley, with a mighty toasted malt backbone that nearly invokes the malted milk ball flavor. This sensation is aided by moderate cocoa notes. There also are some faint bready notes. This is a terrific beer from Columbia's newest brewers! My congratulations to Bierkeller Columbia!