Beers in Review: Back to a Threesome

I'm going back to doing three beers in this review, mostly because I had a really good beer today that I want to share. That will be the last one up.

But first up, a couple from the weekend. First up is an offering from one of A-B InBev's latest High End acquisitions, Virginia's Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Their core IPA, Eight Point IPA, clocks in a 6.2% ABV and 70 IBU. The particular watering hole where I had this beer was pretty dimly lit, so I called it a "roughly gold" color,but your actual mileage may vary. I also noted a highly carbonated mouthfeel. Overall, the flavor profile brought varied flavors to the tasting experience, but all were mild to medium in intensity, with no one flavor standing out or overpowering the others. I got a little bit of citrus, mild to moderate pine notes, some sweetness in the front half of the tasting experience, and a moderate (constant, but not overpowering) hop bite that carried into the aftertaste. This hop bite, really, was the most prominent flavor note of them all, so I wasn't a big fan of that. A decent, drinkable, if unremarkable, IPA.

Next up is the final beer from the Shiner Family Reunion variety pack from Spoetzl Brewery near Austin, Texas. The Bohemian Black Lager poured like a very dark cola to near black color, with 4.9% ABV, 18 IBU, and a medium-to-heavy body. It's a fairly basic schwarzbier (black beer). I got toasty and roasty malt notes with a slight graininess at the start of the drinking experience, and a very slight grainy note throughout. I also noticed that the beer had a fairly high amount of carbonation, but was a quite smooth and gentle drinker. Basic but good enough.

Finally, from Alpine, California's Alpine Beer Company is their Session IPA, Hoppy Birthday. Coming in at 5.25% ABV and 69 IBU, this beer pours a crystal clear gold color. Six different hops are used in this Session IPA, resulting in a bit of pine and lots of grassy field notes. I think I also got some hop candy flavors, fueled by a mild sweetness throughout the tasting experience. I probably need to track down some hop candy, just to be sure. It had a dank aftertaste, and the mouthfeel brought some interesting carbonation. It was a prickly sensation in my mouth, almost to the point of being a tad rough. This was a very minor note, as the flavors of Hoppy Birthday were truly outstanding.

Video Review: Shiner Kosmos Reserve

The latest video review is Kosmos Reserve from Spoetzl Brewery, aka Shiner. Check it out!

I'm looking to get into a more regular posting schedule. My goal is to have videos Tuesdays, Thursdays, and once on the weekend, likely Sundays. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday (and, frankly any video day, as well) will be dedicated to Beers in Review, Six-Packs of News, and more. The end goal is at least 5-6 posts per week, making PRB a location worth visiting daily.




That's the plan, anyway.

Beers in Review: I am Gruit

Hello, everyone! I am back, and mostly better from the bug that sidelined me for part of the holiday weekend. I even have a couple of beers to write about, including two collaborations, one of which is a largely long-forgotten style that I had never heard of before.

That beer, you may have guessed, is known as a Gruit. It's a style of hopless, herbal drink that goes back into medieval times and further, gradually getting phased out throughout Europe between the 11th and 16th centuries. Gruit uses bittering herbs instead of hops in the brewing process. This particular Gruit, called This Is How We Gruit, is a collaboration between Tradesman Brewing Company in Charleston, SC and the owners of the bottle shop Craft and Draft here in Columbia. Pouring a muddy gold, this particular Gruit was brewed with ginger, mugwort, juniper berries, rosemary, and several other spices. This beer is very straight-forward--ginger and massive herbal notes come through unabated. It is not sweet, and possesses a very slight bitter note, and a somewhat odd herbal aftertaste. I regret to say that I only finished about 3/4 of a pint. I didn't dislike the beer, by any stretch, but it was drastically different from anything I had ever had before, and by about the halfway point of the pint, I found it to be quite taxing to drink. I pushed through a few more ounces before tapping out. Still, no regrets in having this beer; it was a neat drinking experience.

Second is an offering from Revelry Brewing Company and Octohops Homebrew, both in Charleston, SC. The Octohops guys have been competitively homebrewing for awhile, and they teamed with Revelry to brew a version of their Wise One Hefeweizen which will be entered in next month's Great American Beer Festival Pro-Am competition. The beer pours hazy gold, and has a nice depth of flavor. Mild grain notes blend well with nice spice notes. I detected a hint of citrus as well, I think. The beer is bright and crisp. A nice hefe for the ongoing hot weather here in South Carolina.

Finally, I have Shiner Strawberry Blonde from Spoetzel Brewery in Shiner, Texas. The beer pours a nice golden color, and while my nose is still a bit stuffed up, I had no trouble whatsoever picking up a mighty and pleasing strawberry aroma coming from the beer. The taste has less of the strawberries, but they are still a notable presence in the flavor profile. The beer is quite carbonated, so that the overall effect is very much like that of an unsweetened strawberry soda. A cool effect is that you can pretty well taste all the parts of the strawberry, as in the fruit AND the seeds--there is also a bit of a green plant note, almost as if the stems were also added during the fruit add for this beer. There may also be a slight grainy note, as well, though that just may be me interpreting the greenery notes. The aftertaste is slight but not off-putting, as it almost totally evokes the strawberries. 

Beers in Review: A pair of Shiners/Spoetzls and a revisit

Today's review features two beers from the Shiner family of beers from the Spoetzl Brewery, along with a revisit of one of my very first reviews on this site. More on that later.

Shiner's holiday seasonal, known as Shiner Cheer, is delightfully different from your standard winter seasonals. Cheer is a Dunkelweisen, or dark wheat beer, and utilizes some very specific flavoring options from its home state of Texas: peaches and pecans. Feels more Georgia to me, but the flavors are a great addition to this beer, especially the peaches. They are prevalent in the aroma and the taste, though the peach sweetness was not too overwhelming. There is a nice level of maltiness, and just a low-to-moderate amount of body. Overall, a very nice beer, even if it might evoke more summer than winter.

Wicked Ram is a new Shiner beer for 2015, and the first attempt at an IPA in their history. The result is an incredibly balanced beer. The malts and hops complimented each other nicely, and some earthy notes were present in the taste. There was some hop bitterness, mostly on the back end, though that bitterness did increase throughout the taste as it warmed up. Overall, a good 1st IPA from a crew of experienced brewers.

As a policy, I don't want to repeat beers very often. Seasonals will likely come around every year (I wouldn't expect multiple reviews in one seasonal's production cycle), and I typically want to allow at least six months (and ideally longer) in between year-round-produced beers. That said, Boulder Hazed was one of my very first reviews, so I thought it might be fun to see what I said about that beer, and see if my writing AND my palate have improved after 3+ months of beer reviewing. Let's see what I wrote about Hazed on September 22nd:

This session pale ale has some evident hop notes, but puts a lot of the focus on a fresh, clean beer that combines with a peach or apricot sweetness...not much of the normally-accompanying bitterness.

The use of the awful phrase "normally-accompanying" notwithstanding, and allowing for a bit of stiffness that comes from a novice writer (hell, I probably still have that stiffness), I didn't do too bad on talking about Hazed. My new beer this weekend was also very crisp and clean, with piney hop flavors (something I missed the first time around). The fruity sweetness was there, though not as prevalent and not as easy to identify the first time around. I found the maltiness to be more evident this time around. I think this may be a legitimate result of more critical thinking around the beers I drink. That was a fun little exercise. Probably not something I'll do often; there are WAY too many beers to taste to get into repeats. But fun to revisit.