Beers in Review: 2016 Finale

Hello, friends! As indicated yesterday, I'm back from Christmas family time, which included a whole lot of high quality beer! I will be talking about that in a video this weekend, and writing about for probably the next couple of weeks, but I still have a few pre-Christmas reviews on which to catch up. So let's look at a couple of them now!

First up is the 14th Anniversary Ale from Terrapin Beer Company in Athens, Georgia. In addition to the anniversary celebration, this Tart Belgian Red is also Terrapin's "100th brew crafted in house". This ale utilizes U.S. Goldings hops and a multitude of malts, especially Crystal malts that generate this ale's pretty reddish-copper color. Coming in a 7.5% ABV, flavors include a great deal of tart cherry, along with berries and dark fruit. I also detected wine and wine barrels, as well as fruit rinds--perhaps peach, among others?--that bring a unique bitter note into the fold. A bit of funkiness is also present later in the drinking experience. Despite some lackluster reviews, I found this to be a nice beer, though I tend to be bigger on Flemish Reds and the like.

Next up is Grains of Truth Harvest Ale, a Biere de Garde from Brewery Ommegang. With an ABV of 5.8%, this ale is intended to utilize grains (barley, oats, wheat, rye) to honor the practice of farming and the harvest. The outcome is supposed to be balanced, smooth, and creamy. Grains of Truth nails the mouthfeel traits, but otherwise mainly holds a lot of typical Belgian traits. It pours a nice gold-to-orange color, and flavor notes include green/white grapes, apricot, and bit of banana and peach. Bubblegum is also pretty prevalent (I feel like this is a flavor quality I've just started to pick up in the last few months), along with a bit of funk and some spices, including black pepper and cloves. This was a terrifically deep beer, though if I had read the description that talks about things like "balance" before drinking, I would have been greatly surprised and possibly disappointed. Excellent beer, though.

Beers in Review: Plus a programming note for next week

Three very different beers to discuss today. Let's get to it.

Vienna Lagers are not necessarily the most diverse of beer styles, but Devils Backbone Brewing Company is delivering on the style in a big way, having won multiple awards over the last several years. Their Vienna Lager pours a deep gold, and doesn't have a whole lot of body. Mild grain notes are accompanied by a great malt sweetness and some toasted notes. As expected, it is also very crisp on the palate and in the finish.

Next up, we try the Medusa Stout from Columbia's own Conquest Brewing Company. Pouring pitch black and having a good amount of body, you find many of the typical stout notes present: mild amounts of chocolate, some roasted coffee, some dark maltiness. There was also some bitterness present, but that tended to dissipate as it warmed. It had a pretty clean finish, but a bit of a smoky aftertaste or breathiness after drinking.

Finally, Terrapin Beer Company's session IPA, RecreationAle (not a typo). It's a pale gold color, has a moderate amount of body, and I find the flavors to be largely pretty mild. Citrus hops and a good amount of hop bitterness lead the way in sipping this beer. There is a bit of a fruity bite later on, along with something grainy as well. As a Session IPA, it's a relatively low ABV beer that would be best enjoyed quite cold on a summer day.

So, St. Patrick's Day is a big deal here in Columbia, South Carolina. We have a festival that draws 40,000 or more downtown to enjoy a big street fair, including 4 big stages of music, a parade, kids' carnival, and more. In the spirit of St. Pat's, check out 4 different Irish beer reviews next week, from Monday the 13th through St. Patrick's Day on Thursday. At least one of these will be a video review. That will all start Monday!

Beers in Review, weekend of 8/28: 4 and 1/3 beers

I've been a long-time fan of Brooklyn Brewery (Brooklyn, NY). The availability ebbs and flows here in South Carolina. I find the Lager to be solid, and have heard very good things about Sorachi Ace, but the home run hitter for me was the Pennant Ale. I discovered one summer about 4 or 5 years ago, and literally couldn't stop buying it.

It had been a while since my last Brooklyn beer, but I found the Brooklyn Brown Ale at Pinch a few weekends ago, and remembered why I was a fan. I'm starting to move out of the brown/red ale phase a bit, but I found the Brooklyn Brown to be quite enjoyable. It contained a good amount of maltiness, which I enjoy (especially the roasted variety). Also a mild hoppyness which, for me, combined with a caramel sweetness. A nice balance and pretty smooth.

I call Boulder's Hazed and Infused (which is now simply known as "Hazed", no doubt a result of some cease-and-desist letter from Hollywood) a gateway beer for one wanted to start their journey towards the hoppyness of IPAs. 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. With those evident hop notes, but not much of the normally-accompanying bitterness, this "Hoppy Session Ale" was one of the first hoppy beers I tried and legitimately enjoyed. Hazed served to be a first step to my enjoyment of stronger and more bitter pale ales and IPAs.

The goal of this blog is not to diss the pale lager crowd, despite certain producers' disses of the craft beer industry (Pumpkin Peach Ales, anyone?). Regardless, the Miller Lite rep was in a local bar and bought everybody an aluminum bottle. I drank about a third of it. It was about what you'd expect.

Terrapin's Liquid Bliss is a damn tasty beer. Liquid Bliss is their chocolate peanut butter porter, with a good combination of both. I found the peanut butter to be prevalent in the aroma and the aftertaste, while the chocolate side seemed to dominate the in-mouth taste. Very tasty, but can be a bit overpowering if drank quickly--enjoy as a sipping beer, and you will be well-rewarded.

Swamp Cabbage is one of the newest breweries in Columbia's quickly-emerging local craft beer scene. Just over a year old, their ESB is one of the more commonly-found beers in Columbia's bars and restaurants. It's pretty clean, with a small amount of bitterness. Overall, a pretty solid ESB.