A few Beer Reviews

Posted by Jim on Aug 18th, 2010
Aug 18

Tomorrow I’m headed up to Lovell for Ebenezer’s Belgian Beer Fest and to take my seat at the Sean Z. Paxton beer dinner.  I’m sure I’ll return with a bunch of tasting notes in my Moleskine, so I wanted to clean out a few reviews that needed to be translated from my notes.  I posted a bunch of them to BA, but here are the four best written ones.

Sebago Roundabout Red Ale

B+ / 3.95
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4

Reviewed from my notes. Served in a big 23oz glass at the Great Lost Bear.

Roundabout Red has, appropriately enough, a reddish brown color. The head is foamy and off-white. Some large bubbles are rising within the glass. The liquid is impressively clear.

It has a nice toffee malt aroma. There is a hint of grassy hops. The smells aren’t very strong, but the are pleasing.

I can taste toffee malts and grassy hops. The finish has a kiss of bitterness along with dry, fresh malts–two row perhaps? [The brewery’s website confirms that it is American 2-row and Caramel malts]

There isn’t much physical coat, but a lot of flavor is left behind. The body is of medium intensity. There are above average levels of carbonation. This 23oz pour was served pretty cold, so that may affect some aspects of this beer.

I find this to be a very drinkable offering. There is nothing too strong about this beer (the ABV does put it at the upper levels of being sessionable). If you like this style, it is worth trying, especially if you can visit one of Sebago’s brewpubs. I certainly don’t mind that I got a 23oz pour pour instead of a 16oz one. I did try to get this beer on cask, but it had sold out. I think the Roundabout Red would really shine when poured from a cask.

Sheepscot Valley Tinky Winky Double IPA

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

Reviewed from my notes. This is a one time only experimental beer from Sheepscot that tasted good enough to be sent to the Great Lost Bear to be offered to the public. It is described as a double IPA brewed with all Northwestern hops: Centennial, Cascade, Willamette and Mt. Hood. It was served to me in a pint glass.

The beer has a big, tan foamy head. The liquid is reddish copper colored. There is some visible carbonation rising within, but not too much.

The nose has some citrus and grass hop aroma. There are also tones of graham cracker that provide a touch of sweetness.

Each taste begins with some caramel malts. Soon, big hop flavors come in. They are sharp and bitter at first. Alcohol can be tasted, as well as some pine. Lots of oily hops throughout the finish; these linger on after swallowing.

This beer feels like a big beer. It leaves me with sticky lips and a long last coat all over my mouth. I can move my tongue around and taste hops and alcohol. There isn’t much carbonation to be felt, but the head is nice and creamy.

Considering the style, I find this beer to be drinkable. If you could get this beer by the growler, it would be a good companion for an evening…if you weren’t expected to drive. As it sounds like this will not be brewed again, it is worth getting a glass or two at the Great Lost Bear while it is still available.

It is great to see this brewery experimenting with some different styles. This is not style I ever expected them to produce.


A / 4.45
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | drink: 4.5
rDev: +3.1%
Reviewed from my notes. A corked and caged 750ml bottle, best before 21/11/2012, poured into my Smuttynose Big Beer Series goblet.

The bottle opened with a loud pop. Visible vapors could be seen escaping from the chilled bottle. Pouring into my glass produces a huge white foam head. It settles into soap bubbles strung across and around the glass, like regular lacing, by in three dimensions. Lots of rising carbonation is visible in the clear straw liquid. Not too much film is left behind when I swirl the glass around, but some good lace remains.

Duvel has, to me, a great sweet Belgian aroma. It’s a great mixture of candi sugar, Belgian yeast, bready malts, orange peel and coriander.

The flavor begins with some pale malts that provide a small amount of sweetness. Each sip finishes with some alcohol and a peppery bite. It’s a great strong Belgian pale flavor.

You can feel a lot of carbonation in each mouthful, but it works well. The coat is slick and a little buttery (but without any butter flavors). It has a medium/ful body and a quick dry finish.

This beer is very drinkable. In a single glass, each sip goes down well. It also works over a longer session–I’ll finish off this 750ml bottle myself without issue. Duvel is worthy of the praise it receives and worth seeking out.

Mikkeller It’s Alive!

A- / 4.25
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4
rDev: +12%
Reviewed from my notes. The first thing I notice about this beer is high amount of carbonation clinging to the sides of my glass. It’s more than I expected. The liquid itself has a rusty orange color. On top was a thin tan head that settled to a skim.

There is a lot of funk in the nose, like a stinky cheese. I can also detect a slight sweetness and a bit of grass.

The flavor starts out big and malty. There is a good amount of sweetness–all of the carbonation helps it feel airy, like ginger ale without the ginger. It is a bit sour in the finish, but not as Brett heavy as some US uses of this yeast. The end is also a little bit bready. Both the sourness and bready flavors linger on after I swallow.

The beer is full bodied and has lots of carbonation. It leaves a noticeable coat, but it isn’t very sticky. I was afraid the level of carbonation would be too much, but it works. I’m curious to know how it felt when poured from a bottle.

It’s Alive is pretty drinkable. Its a filling beer. I wouldn’t want more than one, I think it would sit too heavy. There is a good amount of funk–it isn’t limiting at all.

Some Beers are Even Whiter than Me

Posted by Jim on Aug 5th, 2010
Aug 5

Allagash White

A+ / 4.65
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 5

I can’t believe I’ve never reviewed this beer. Allagash White was my gateway beer. I can still remember the Allagash night I went to at my college’s pub, where I got a pint of White in a logo pint glass I got to keep. It started my beer glass collection. Anyway, I’m reviewing a fridge chilled 12oz bottle poured into a different Allagash logo glass (a 25cl flute). I can only fit about 2/3 of the bottle into this glass, so the appearance may change after I pour in the yeast. The liquid is a slighty tarnished yellow, with a small white head. There is a lot of rising carbonation and a bit that clings to the sides. [After emptying the bottle, I bumped this category up from a 4 to a 5. There is a huge pure white head now, great lacing, and a beautiful opaque body. It looks as a wit should.] This beer has a great aroma. It is dry and sweet, with lots of Belgian sugar and yeast. I can also smell wheat, grass and a bit of pepper spice. The beer tastes of wheat and Belgian candi sugar. It has some champagne-like flavors up front, but I wouldn’t say I can taste white grapes specifically. The finish has more spices; black pepper and coriander. The wheat and yeast wrap things up in the aftertaste that lingers slightly. The white has a medium body and plenty of carbonation. There isn’t much coating after I swallow, but it feels like it covers every corner of my mouth white I’m drinking each sip. And oh does each sip come easily. This is such a drinkable beer. On a warm, humid day like today, I could easily drink a number of these beers. No aspect of this beer every gets tiring. Unfortunately, I think this beer gets a slightly bad rap in its hometown. I know that a number of us Portland beer nerds (aka beer snobs) occasionally look down at people who order an Allagash White when there are more adventurous beers available. A lot of us see this beer as Portland’s training wheels craft beer; its fine if your scared, but real beer drinkers will get a strong, more intense beer. Is this a side-effect of the demand for extreme, barrel-aged everything? Perhaps. Either way, White deserve all the respect it can get. This is an incredible beer and a wonderful flagship for one of the best breweries in the country. It is worth ordering, no matter what the other folks at the bar think; just don’t ask for a slice of lemon with it…[Just try asking the wrong bartender at Novare for a piece of lemon; I’ve seen reactions from the sarcastic to all-out death stares]

A Productive Afternoon

Posted by Jim on Aug 5th, 2010
Aug 5

On Tuesday afternoon, I headed over to the Great Lost Bear to try a limited release beer I’ve had my eye on, Allagash Blonde.  Luckily, there were a couple other fine drafts that I’ve been meaning to review also available.  As far as I know, all of these are still being poured at 540 Forrest Ave, so head down there and order yourself a round!

Allagash Blonde

A / 4.35
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 5

This special limited Allagash released was served in a tulip glass at the Great Lost Bear. The beer is a translucent golden yellow with a good sized white foam head. The head settled down to a skim, but left a bit of lacing on my glass. It looks like there is plenty of rising carbonation in the glass. I’d like to see a bit better head retention, but otherwise, this beer looks outstanding. It has a very nice aroma. For the most part, it is a slightly sweet nose, made up of Belgian candi sugar. I can also pick up some grassy hops and the mustiness that is common to Allagash’s house Belgian yeast. The flavor is very interesting. It’s like a combination of a strong Belgian Pale and an American Blonde. It has the sweetness of Belgian sugars and an estery, bitter finish. There are light grassy hops throughout each sip. It is very refreshing; I like that it is served fairly cold. I notice that I’ve used the descriptor “sweet” a few times in this review. The sweetness is intentional and very well done. It does not feel like excess malts left over from the fermenting process. This tastes like an exceptionally well-crafted beverage. The beer is full-bodied, but also very smooth and not too sticky, despite the sweetness of the flavor. There is a lot of carbonation that plays on my tongue. Considering the strength and full-bodied characteristics of this beer, I find it incredibly drinkable. I could easily drink a 750ml bottle of this, if it were ever released that way. For now, I’ll just have to hope that there are a number of kegs in circulation in the area. If you see this available in your area, don’t pass it up!

Victory Storm King Stout

A+ / 4.65
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 5

Served cask’d, in a tulip glass, at the Great Lost Bear. It’s an opaque dark brown liquid, with a big tan foam head. There is lots of rising carbonation in the glass, that slowed and finally disappeared. Some clinging carbonation remains on the sides of the glass. The aroma isn’t as strong as I expected it to be. It can detect some roasted malts and some chocolate. Perhaps the cask format has limited it’s aroma? Wow, what a stout! I can see why this used to the top ranked beer here. It starts out creamy and slightly sweet, with a kiss of chocolate. I swallow, and the bitter malt flavors come out. It’s not a coffee bitterness, per se, but more of a roasted whole grain flavor. After swallowing, there is a coat that has a dark chocolate combination of sweet and bitter that lingers on for a long time. This is a very smooth medium bodied beer. Not too much carbonation; at least it isn’t overbearing. There is a lot of coat left behind, which can sometimes be a problem if it is sticky or too sweet, but this really works well. Overall, this is a very drinkable beer. The high ABV is completely hidden, as is the sweetness put off but the amount of malt in this beer. This really is a great beer, and I’m very glad I could try it on cask. I’ve passed over the Storm King bottles for other stouts a number of times, but no longer. This is a great, readily available beer. It’s worth reconsidering if you haven’t had any in a while.

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary – Charlie, Fred and Ken’s Bock

A- / 4.1
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 4

Served from a just-tapped keg at the Great Lost Bear; poured into a tulip glass. The liquid is a golden orange/copper color, kind of like a sunrise. There is a good white foam head that is slowly settling. Very little carbonation is rising. It i surprisingly still inside the glass. The bock has a flowery nose, lots of hops and grain. This is a rather cold glass of beer, so I imagine that a bottle pulled from my cellar would have a more impressive nose. This has an interesting flavor. It’s hard to classify. There is a slight alcoholic vinegar blast in the finish that is it’s most striking quality. I use the descriptor vinegar, but I don’t mean it in a bad way. The rest of the flavor has a strong floral taste, lots of pale grain and whole hops. The aftertaste is a bit sweet. It’s pretty interesting. I haven’t had too many bocks, so I don’t really have a frame of reference for this beer, but I am enjoying what I’m tasting. It has a medium body and a thin mouth coat. Carbonation is average. This si a pretty drinkable beer, but the alcohol does come through a bit, which would limit consumption. I think I could finish an entire 750ml bottle myself, but I wouldn’t want more than that. All in all, a great beer to celebrate Sierra Nevada’s anniversary.