31 July 2007

Ithaca Pils (NY)

Ithaca introduced its pilsener in March of this year, and as far as I can tell it's only available on tap and in the summer 12-pack. Here's the brewer's blog post from February 2nd. "It’s a German-style Pils, brewed strictly with ingredients from Germany."

I think every pilsener rating at either ratebeer or Beer Advocate includes the words "this isn't my favorite style." I won't even bother to say that. The Ithaca certainly looks like a proper pilsener: straw colored and clear with bubbles ascending. The texture is sort of that fine grain sandpaper, with all the small bubbles scraping your throat on the way down. I mean that as a compliment. I might have liked to taste a bit more here. It's moderately hoppy and sort of grassy (mulchy?) and has a hint of grapefruit juice in its finish. Give this a try if you're a pilsener fan or thirsty Cornell grad student.

30 July 2007

Ithaca Apricot Wheat (NY)

This is the second bottle from my Ithaca Summer Variety Pack. The website description uses the words "light," "easy drinking" and "fun," so it's pretty clear what they're aiming for. It pours clear and straw-colored with little foam. As promised, it smells and tastes like apricot. I don't find it to be soda pop sweet, which is the problem I've had with other fruit beers. Instead, it just doesn't have enough going on. I'd like to have tasted something more than apricot; after the sweetness passes, there isn't much there. I don't think this is a bad beer -- it is easy-drinking -- but I prefer Partly Sunny.

29 July 2007

Paulaner Hefe-Weizen (Germany)

The link I have to About.com is for an article entitled Top 10 Top Ten Beers Every Beer Lover Should Know by Bryce Eddings. This is one of them. The list isn't supposed to be the 10 best beers ever, but is meant to show classic beers of various styles. I think few would argue against the inclusion of this Bavarian unfiltered wheat ale, and if you're just developing an interest in beer, you should try this.

This is a style I like (admittedly, a fair number doesn't seem to). I had tried the Paulaner earlier this summer but got a bad bottle: overly fizzed, no taste. Giving it another shot, I paid $2.50 for this 500 ml bottle dated 11/06. Not exactly new, but as best I can tell, there's nothing bottled in '07 available in the US.

Anyway, this is a great beer. Nearly opaque orange-yellow with a head your pet mouse could fall asleep on. The creamy body blows me away. The taste is fruity, but not too much so. Hefeweizens are described as good summer beers, but it would be wrong to consider this insubstantial. The combination of the rich body, slightly high alcohol (5.6%) and larger size would keep me from drinking too many of these in one sitting.

Note: this site has a nice tasting of several German hefes, but doesn't include the Paulaner. For the record, I didn't put a lemon slice in my beer, and I know that's not a proper hefeweizen glass.

27 July 2007

Ithaca Partly Sunny (NY)

I bought a summer variety 12-pack from Ithaca Beer Company ($12.85) containing three bottles each of this, Flower Power IPA, Pilsener and Apricot Wheat. I believe the last of these is the only year-round offering among them. If you must try one brew from Ithaca, it should be Cascazilla Red, but we'll see how this goes.

This is described as a "classic Belgian Wit," which might be a bit flattering. It pours a partly cloudy (heh) yellow with a head that doesn't last. I like that it's not too fizzy. The taste is somewhat fruity, but really not all that sweet. It's kind of malty. According to the website, Partly Sunny is "spiced with coriander, orange peel, lemon peel, ginger, nutmeg, mace." I couldn't quite identify all that, but I'll admit to being the type of beer drinker who probably wouldn't. This finish seemed a little off as well, as though it belonged to a different beer. Still, all things considered, this is a pretty good summer ale. But it's up to one of the other three beers to dazzle me.

24 July 2007

Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale (NH)

This is a better pale ale, IMO. I drink this fairly often (never had it on tap, though). It's a bit more copper-colored than the Ellicottville, and seems to have more going on in taste -- maybe oranges. It still has a grapefruit juice aftertaste. I don't homebrew, but I understand that's a sign of Cascade hops.

According to their website, this was originally thought to be a pretty hoppy beer, but the hopheads ascended and demanded more. Shoals Pale Ale is listed at 30 IBUs, their IPA at 65, and Big A IPA at 120. That sounds overbearing to me, but those numbers can be misleading. I've got a Stone Ruination IPA in my cellar, and that's over 100. We'll see how that goes.

beer smuttynose ellicottville pale ale

22 July 2007

Ellicottville Pale Ale (NY)

"Brewed & bottled by Southern Tier Brewing Co., Lakewood, NY." Contract brewing is fine, but this beer isn't. Yellow/orange color looks nice, though the head doesn't last. It's kind of thin. My main problem is that it tastes too much like grapefruit. I don't dislike grapefruit, but it needs to be balanced with something else. I hate to slag off on a small brewer from my neck of the woods, but I wouldn't drink this again (although the raters at Ratebeer and Beer Advocate seem to like it.)

Note: apparently, this used to be called Two Brothers Pale Ale.

Rock Art Brown Bear (VT)

beer rock art brown bear ale I wasn't familiar with this. I paid $4.75 for 22 ounces at my expensive local retailer. I needed beer to put in my chili, and figured I'd buy a bomber of something, pour in a cup, and drink the rest. The Vermont based brewery calls it:

A malty, lightly hopped English style ale inspired by the browns from across the "great pond" Brewed with pale, crystal, carapils, mild, chocolate malts; and East Kent Golding hops to balance this delicious beverage.

Allaboutbeer.com notes that East Kent Goldings are "widely considered to be the cream of the crop. They are complex and earthy without being overbearing." But there isn't much hoppiness to the Brown Bear. It looks like flat cola in the glass, with a small head that dissipates quickly. The body is a bit thin and moderately carbonated. The taste has, I don't know, a bit of molasses, maybe. Back of the roof of my mouth mostly. This is only around 4.5% ABV, and it goes down easy. I have never been conscious of being a brown ale fan (Newkie Brown I could take or leave), and this doesn't seem like a profound beer, but I'd buy this again.


Beer reviews coming soon.