The Blog has been dry but I haven’t

Posted by Jim on Jun 25th, 2010
Jun 25

It’s been a while since I posted any beer reviews.  I’ve been writing, but not sharing.  Here are a couple impressions I had this evening, sampling a couple of beers I’ve never had before.

Manchester Brewing Conspiracy Theory Oatmeal Stout

B+ / 3.85
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4

I picked up this bottle at Smiley’s in Dover, NH on my way home from Kate Day 2010. I’m opening it tonight, I hope it is ok with a few months of age on it. The bottle has been kept in my cellar since I bought it, I’m pouring it into my Smuttynose Big Beer Series Tulip. This is a loud hiss as I pop the cap. I can feel the air escaping the bottle. I pour into the center of my glass. The liquid is very dark brown and entirely opaque. The head is made of brown bubbles and foam, but isn’t very large. In the time it took me to type these last few sentences, it has receded to a tiny skim that doesn’t even cover all of the liquid. Swirling the beer about brings back the head to a degree, but not as much as I’d like to see. It does leave a good coat on the sides of the glass. I stick my nose into the glass and inhale. I can smell roasted oats and semi-sweet chocolate. There also seems to be a bit of alcohol in the nose. I take a taste. It is a reasonable decent stout. I can taste the oatmeal, some toasted malts, and a bit of dark chocolate sweetness. It isn’t too thick. The carbonation isn’t too high, but I can feel it on my tongue. The mouthfeel reminds me of the Harpoon 100 bbl series Oyster Stout, but it has been a while since I had that beer, so I could be mistaken in their similarity. It is very drinkable. I am going to finish this 22oz bottle myself, but it could very easily be split by two beer fans over an appropriate meal. I don’t think I’d seek this one out again, just because it isn’t available in my area and if I found myself in Manchester Brewing’s distribution area, I would want to try another of the brewery’s offerings.

Clipper City Heavy Seas Below Decks Barley Wine Style Ale

B+ / 4
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 4

Poured from a cellar temperature bottle into a tulip glass. There is no date on the bottle, but I believe this is from the winter of 2009-2010. It has a tawny red/brown color that is very pretty. It looks a lot like port. The head is a thin layer of tan foam that has settled quickly to a skim. As a swirl the glass around, a good coat is left behind. The beer is translucent and I can make out a healthy amount of carbonation rising within. The aroma also reminds of a glass of port. There is warming quality. It smells alcoholic, but also of plums, raisins and oak. The beer has a strong English malt flavor. It is slightly bready, but also full of toffee, plum and caramel. Of course, there is also a lot of alcohol. The sweet coat that is left behind burns off of my mouth like the residue rubbing alcohol leaves behind. It turns into a detectable vapor that is strong but not off-putting. It doesn’t have as heavy of a body as I expected; in fact, it is slightly watery. This surprising lightness is tempered by the strong alcohol burn. I like this sensation, but I can see if affecting the drinkabilty of this beer for many consumers. I’m glad I have a couple bottles still left in my cellar; I will left them sit for a while before opening them. This beer is pretty enjoyable now, but I think some age will really improve it.