Archive for the ‘Fresh’ Category

Well, I’ve taken yet another hiatus from blogging beers. I currently have the next nine days off so I should be able to at the very least finish off the beers from my California trip this summer. The next up on the sampler tray is the Pliny the Elder. At 8% it’s quite the hefty brew, though it’s younger half, Pliny the Younger, rings in at 11%. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any of the younger available to do a taste comparison.

Pliny the Elder pours a golden-yellow with a head that laces very well as you can see from the photo. The aroma is a hop explosion of pine, grapefruit, orange, and pineapple. Don’t get me wrong though, there are malts in this brew too. The sweet honey malts are also being picked out in the nose. The taste is extremely well-balanced, the pine, citrus and honey all co-mingle on the palate like a happy family. This well carbonated beer is an excellent example of how a high alcohol content IPA should be. I’d never know that this beer was 8% from just tasting it. Cheers to you Russian River!



The next stop on our journey was Russian River Brewing. Honestly, I hadn’t heard of it before but it came highly recommended by a several of my beer acquaintances. This brewery was founded in 1997 by Korbel Champagne Cellers. He then chose to hire on Vinnie Cilurzo as the Brewmaster. Just two short years later, at the Great American Beer Festival, they won “Small Brewing Company of the Year” and “Small Brewing Company Brewmaster of the Year.” Three years later in ’02, Korbel decided to leave the beer business and sold the brewery to Vinnie and his wife, Natalie. Since then, they’ve moved the brewery to Santa Rosa, California, and have continued to be quite successful.

Now, for the beer, inside their establishment they have what they call a sample paddle. The idea is quite common but their presentation was very cool. The two ounce shots were lined up down the paddle in a proper tasting order with some of the slotted spots having the particular beers cap next to the slot. I highly recommend this to anyone whom might visit. Now, there was honestly too much for my palate to review properly, so I picked out a few to blog about and made notes on those. The first of which being their Blind Pig IPA.

This bad boy is crystal clear, honey yellow coloring. With a small taster there isn’t much room for head but there was a touch of white lacing on the edge of the glass as you can see. The aroma is thick with citrus hops. The taste is extreme, bitter orange zest, grapefruit and pineapple hops right up front with a hint of caramel playing in the background. The tail end is quite bitter and peppery with the hops. This is an amazingly, delicious example of an IPA!

6% IPA

My second choice was to tryout Lost Coast’s Alleycat Amber. I have spotted it on the rare occasion in Alberta, but few and far between. So, I thought to myself, when better to give this a try then right from the brewery.

This Alleycat pours out a reddish bronze color with a finger of off white head. The head seems quite thick with decent retention and leaves some lacing along the edges of the glass. The aroma wafts with a roasted caramel malt hint with a very subtle hop undertone. The flavoring is extremely well-balanced in my opinion. Initially the caramel malts dominate the flavors but the subtle bitter and citrus hops soon swoop in to balance out the flavors. The carbonation was most certainly noticeable in the beer, but it wasn’t as prominent as I would have thought with the head that came during the pouring.

5.5% Amber

North Coast Brewing: PranQster

Posted: November 2, 2011 in California, Fresh, Tap, U.S.A.

The last beer I enjoyed at North Coast was their Strong Belgian Pale which they have called PranQster. Yes, they themselves capitalize the Q and it is not an error on my part. In this Belgian they’ve continued the tradition of mixing cultures of antique style yeast strains. This usually results in an aromatic floral nose, fruity flavoring and a crisp, clean finish. Alright, enough talk, let’s get to the tasting notes.

From the tap this Belgian Strong Pale pours a foggy copper color with a flat white head. There is a light floral aroma mingling with traditional banana esters which is quite pleasant. The taste follows the aroma with a few additions. There is definitely traces of coriander from the brewing process and citrus hints through out. The higher rating of alcohol is perfectly subdued by flavors. The only way you can tell it’s a higher alcohol content is the warming in your belly. Very well done in my opinion.

7.6% Belgian Pale

The next day we started our beer road trip through Napa Valley. Yes, we were in wine country and didn’t stop for a single drop of wine. Our purpose you ask? Well, as stated earlier, Beer! Our first stop was in Fort Bragg at North Coast Brewing. They offered all of their beers on tap and had 4 oz sample glasses available and a mix and match option with 4 – 4 oz glasses. I had five, starting off with their Old Stock Ale. This ale has won multiple awards including three gold medals and a platinum medal.

The Old Stock Ale pours a dark, copper brown with a small ring of white head. The aroma is rich with caramel malts, hazelnuts, and dates. The flavors dance along my taste buds with caramel, sweet bourbon, dates or figs, and a smooth, roasted, malty finish. The caramel taste sticks around or the whole ride from start to finish. This is a style of beer that usually ages extremely well. With this being the case I made sure to pick up a four pack to bring home to let age. To be honest, I am giddy with anticipation of how delicious this will be once it’s aged a few years.

Old Ale 12.5%

Our first actual bar stop in San Francisco was a little hole in the wall place in which I can not remember the name… I can’t believe I didn’t add that fact into my notes but oh well. Our friend said they had a nice selection of beers and I’d probably find one to fit my fancy there. I was delighted to find several brews which I haven’t had the chance to try yet here on tap. The first one I dived into was the Duvel Green Label. For those of you who aren’t aware, Duvel classic goes through two fermentation cycles when being brewed. These two cycles take a total of 90 days. At the 30 day make the brew master and his staff taste the beer after the first fermentation and if deemed correct it moves along to the second fermentation. This is where the Green label come in. Instead of being sent off to have a second fermentation, the Green label is packed into kegs and shipped around the world. This beer, being only fermented once, has a lighter, crisper taste. As well as a lower alcohol percentage. Well these beers are made with the exactly same ingredients, they are also completely different.

The Green Duvel poured a light golden-yellow with three fingers of white fluffy head. The aroma reminded me of the classic Duvel just with less spices. Wafting with banana esters and sweet biscuit malts this Belgian well “young” is still tantalizing. The taste is dominated my the banana esters and cloves but it still remains crisp and clean. There is a bit of a surprising peppery kick in there too. In all honesty I’d love to have this again with the classic so I could have a side by side comparison on the taste and feel.

6.8% Belgian

Later that afternoon we finally meet up with our friends whom now live in San Francisco. Almost every time we discussed our coming to visit they mentioned this watermelon beer I absolutely had to try. Later on I was to discovered that this beer was made by 21st Amendment in San Francisco. When we arrived I was somewhat disappointed to see that they only sold them in cans. Yes, I am one of those people whom believe beer should come out of a glass or ceramic bottle, not a tin can. Though, I must say, my friends were in shock seeing them for sale in a store believing it was only available on tap in pubs. Needless to say we cracked open a couple of these cans to give them a shot. Later on during our trip we actually got to try it on tap as well, but I’ll get into that more later.

21st Amendment was founded in 2000 by Nico Freccia, a former writer/actor/restaurant professional and avid home brewer, and Shaun O’Sullivan, a former photographer and paralegal turned assistant brewer. These previous jobs were back when the two of them first meet back in 1995. They chose the breweries name because of the historical significance it has to the city. Back in 1900 there were a total of 40 breweries in operation within the city limits, now, San Francisco is down to a dwindled amount of 8. That is not even mentioning the fact that the population has more than doubled from then tell now. They must have a lot of thirsty people walking in those doors.

The beer pours a golden-yellow with a white frothy head. The head quickly dissipated and left no lacing. This, I find, can be quite typical for a good quality beer when it comes out of a can. The aroma wafts with the aroma of a freshly baked loaf of French bread. Honestly I was expecting a little watermelon on the aroma but let us continue on to the tasting. The initial taste is all in the bread. When I rolled the beer over my tongue I got subtle hints of the watermelon. When poured out of a can the point where I could taste the most watermelon was in the aftertaste. After this somewhat disappointing experience I was happy to get to try this brew fresh on tap in the brewery itself. They garnished it with a wedge of watermelon, which was fresh and crisp. The watermelon was more noticeable in the smell and had a large jab in the initial taste. I found this quite unique and if I spotted it on tap again I’d love to have another pint.

4.9% Fruit