Dogfish Head – Hellhound on my Ale

I have only been doing this blog since March or April, and I have already done two reviews of different Dogfish Head beers.  The very first beer I ever reviewed on this site was Dogfish Head – Red and White.  So, if you haven’t figured it out, I really like Dogfish Head.  I think they put out a lot of really good products, and they just always seem to be doing something really interesting.  This bottle is just another one of Dogfish’s wonderful additions to their already bountiful line-up.

For those of you who don’t know, Dogfish Head started doing a series a little while back to honor some of the greats of the music industry.  Their last special release was an imperial stout for Miles Davis release of “Bitches Brew”.  This time they went a little different route.  This release is to honor Robert Johnson’s 100th birthday.  Robert Johnson supposedly wanted to be a famous blues musician; therefore, one night he went down to the crossroads where he met a mysterious man who tuned and played his guitar.  Upon returning it, Johnson was enabled with the ability to become the musician he wanted to be.  This, however, also symbolized him selling his soul to the devil.  Using one of Johnson’s most famous songs, “Hellhound on my Trail”, as wordplay for the naming of this ale, Dogfish has created a really hoppy ale to honor the memory of Johnson.

The notes on the release from Dogfish confuse me a little.  The site states that this bottle reaches 100 IBU in the brew house; however, it also says on the site that the bottle is 58 IBUs.  Can anyone explain to me the discrepancy here in numbers?  Is it different in the brew house than it is in the bottle?  I want to learn.  Either way, this is intended to be a super hoppy beer.  It has been dry-hopped with 100% centennial hops, and it reaches 10.0% Abv.  So this is a pretty significant release.

After consuming, and being rather disappointed by the Smuttynose – Maibock release, John and I decided to break into this bottle for a second round of reviewing.  Therefore, once again, this one will feature two opinions; however, I can start by telling you we were quite pleased.

The most interesting thing about the pour was the considerable head that develops when you first pour it out.  I am always interested in seeing the amount of head that builds, so there is no real tipping of the glass to prevent head; however, I had to transfer to a slight tilt to avoid it becoming all head.  This is a very deep, rich copper color beer.  A little darker than most hop heavy beers I have; although, this isn’t exactly billed as an IPA.  It is basically billed as an Ale with a lot of hops.  (which is still an IPA to me). The lacy white head does have really good sticking power to the sides of the glass.

The smell of this been is very overwhelming on the hops.  That really isn’t too surprising, but it is almost the only thing that you can pull out of the smell.   I think it is still due to the hops; however, I also pull out some floral and organic smell as well.  Hops obviously have that floral quality to them anyway, so it really isn’t all that surprising that the light floral smells are present as well.

There is one really big thing that sticks out to me when tasting, this beer smells a lot more hoppy than it actually tastes.  I thought this one was going to be an absolute hop bomb; however, the bitterness of the hops is actually more muted than I was thinking they would be.  A while back I had Avery – DungA, which is billed as being around 94 IBUs.  This one at some point is supposed to be 100 IBUs, and I found the Avery one far more hoppy than this one.  This point is also really important though because I actually really like this one more than the Avery one.  It was actually a little difficult to get through the Avery bottle.  This one seems to be slightly closer to an Imperial IPA.  It has a very full hops flavor without being overwhelming. There is mostly the hop flavor throughout the entire beer; however, it does have a very earthy after taste.  The high point is that the finish is very smooth.  It has just the right amount of hops to not leave you with a terribly bitter finish.

The mouth feel is a well-balanced carbonation.  I thought from the amount of head that developed that it might be overwhelming on the carbonation.  I was pretty glad when it wasn’t too carbonated.  The moderate carbonation combines well with the bitterness to help move the flavors along.  Another nice thing in the mouth feel is that it isn’t terribly boozy.  There is a definite booze feel, but the booziness doesn’t linger too long.  It definitely comes across as more earthy than it does boozy.

Overall this is an excellent beer.  If there is one thing that Dogfish rarely does wrong is hops.  They have once again created a beer that manages to please someone, like myself, that loves a lot of hops, but doesn’t want the really bitter aftertaste.  I am not sure you can still find this one anywhere; however, if you do happen to see this one on the self of your local store, I would definitely recommend grabbing it. It is definitely around for only a limited time, so if you snooze you lose.

Teacher Grade: A

Smuttynose – Maibock

There are some types of beers I definitely am not well versed in.  I think that is one of my favorite reasons for writing this blog.  My goals when looking for beers is to find something I’ve never seen before, trying things I’ve wanted to try for a really long time, or learning the finer points of different styles of beer. This is basically one of those instances.  Of course, I do have to give credit to my source for this particular bottle: John.  If you have been a reader of Lyrics, Libations, and Life for a while, then you know John did some reviewing on the past Battle of the Trippels.  He saw this one and new it would be perfect for a “Triple L” review. (Man I’m a loser)

There isn’t a whole lot of information I have found about Smuttynose.  They seem to be a pretty low-key brewery.  They are a brewery out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Having only been around a little over 25 years, they have really developed a pretty strong catalog of beers.  They brew 5 beers all year-round, they have a big bottle series (of which this bottle is a member of), and they also have a pretty good seasonal selection as well.  Although I have only ever really had their Old Brown Dog Ale, I know these guys brew some pretty good beer.

Bock is a style of beer unto itself.  There are many different variations on that initial style.  Bocks by themselves are a strong lager of German origin.  Being German myself, I am always supportive of all things German. Well, all present things things German anyway. Variations of the bock style are maibock, doppelbock, and eisbock.  Maibock is similar to the traditional bock in that it is still a strong German lager; however, it is lighter in color and has a higher hop presence.  This essentially is the summer version of the traditional bock.

As for this particular bock, we were surprised to see a cloudy and sandy pour more similar to a hefewieson.  There is minimal white head even with a strong pour.  We knew going into this one that it would be lighter than a bock, but I think we were expecting a color that might look a little less like it deserved an orange slice.  The minimal head that develops isn’t of immediate concern as it does have a slight sticky residue that develops on a nice little swirl.  This created a little hope that we didn’t end up with a bad bottle.

The nose has a blend of cinnamon and caramel which you’d expect from a malty beer and the citrus and herb you’d expect from a hoppy beer.  The complex nose doesn’t give any hints to the flavor; however, it was surprising to pull some hops out of the nose since most bocks are not heavy on the hops.  Since the description only says a higher hop presence, we figured it would be more mellow on the nose. It does leave you with a slight feeling of summer; however, it is clear that is has to be a German summer because an American summer has a much different lighter feel to it.  Something that is a little more hops and a little less malt. I think that’s why I hate America in the summer.  Well at least the part of America where we live.

Tasting wise, it starts with a very earthy malty feel.  This has a a very interesting spicy clove flavor in there for the start as well.  It is a really good start to the beer; however, unfortunately it doesn’t all stay that way.  Halfway through you do get that more American summer feel.  You get that quick citrus hint in there before the hops come in.  The hops are a lot stronger than we were expecting.  The hops however begin fade into a very bitter taste that is hard to shake.  I am not certain if it is the particular hops they use, or if it happens to be something else that is in the recipe, but bitterness lasts for a really long time before finally dissipating into the finish.

The mouth feel of this one is a pretty moderate helping of carbonation.  The carbonation isn’t really at the forefront of the taste; however, midway through, about the same time you get the hops, the carbonation is pretty noticeable.   The other very noticeable thing is that it has a rather boozy feel.  In the end it becomes a battle between the booze and the bitters.  I think the bitter may win, which really isn’t a big compliment.

Ultimately we had really high hopes for this one, but it just didn’t seem to pan out the way we thought it would. We saw that Beer Advocate had this one rated between an A and A-, but I don’t think either of us thought it lived up to those standards.  I would really like to try another maibock pretty soon to see if I’m not a huge fan of maibocks or if I’m not a huge fan of the Smuttynose version.

John Rating – It’s like when you order Chinese food when your drunk. It seems like a good idea, but in the end, it’s not.

Gary Rating – C

Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys

This is almost a scary album for me to review.  Stepping out here and reviewing a band with the history in the underground music scene like Death Cab isn’t always the easiest.  It’s always a lot easier to review bands that most people have never really heard of, but reviewing a band that pretty much everyone, at this point, is familiar with is a little bit different.  People either love or hate the direction they have taken, and most people tend to feel very strongly about whether this band was better back in the day, or if they are continuing to develop into an even better band.

I was introduced to Death Cab for Cutie my freshman year of college.  In those years they had a much more quiet and reserved sound to what they were doing.  That is saying something since most Death Cab material is still rather subdued.  However, the record prior to being signed to Atlantic records, Transatlanticism, finally had them really begin to develop their sound.

As part of my research for reviewing this album, I went back and gave all of the past Death Cab albums a listen.  There is a striking difference between the albums that precede Transatlanticism and the second half of their catalog.   Blame it on more money for better recording, blame it on the band beginning to mature, or go the sell-out route.  Either way, it is clear they began to really come into their own.  Before Transatlanticism the vocals seemed much quieter and almost sad.  The guitars were a little grungy, and those earlier albums seem almost depressed.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love just about every album that Death Cab has put out; however, now a days, I’m not blasting “Something about Airplanes” while driving down the road. (which is pretty much where I do most of my listening) In college these albums got me through a lot of paper writing, but, just like the band, I feel like my tastes are developing.  Therefore, I really like the direction that Death Cab has taken over the recent years.  On the last album, Narrow Stairs, they even ventured back here and there to their old sound.  Now, it would seem they are almost completely done with that old sound.

What could be the reason for the change in overall sound?  Isn’t Ben Gibbard sad anymore?  The answer seems to be not really.  Probably the biggest contributor to Ben’s emotional turn around is his new-found sobriety.  In an interview with Spin Magazine Ben states, “It got bad enough that I thought that if I didn’t stop, somebody was going to tell me I needed to.”  Evidently, his drinking problems got pretty bad.  It also probably helps that he met, dated, and married Zooey Deschanel.  (Yeah she is on my list) Either way, this album comes across as another turning point for a band that has already made a few changes over their career.

Codes and Keys does have an overall light-hearted feel to the album.  My favorite song on the album, “Monday Morning”, comes through with a bass and drum line that are the driving backbone of the song.  The organ sounding key board caries the melody provided by Ben Gibbard’s voice.  It all comes together with a very full sound that some Death Cab material used to lack.  The song lyrically references a female going through, and looking back at, her life.  Lyrics like, “She may be young but she only likes old things, the modern music it ain’t to her taste,” seem to give hope to a girl finding herself in the world.  Gibbord’s chorus, “The night is gonna fall and the vultures will surround you, when you’re looking in the mirror what you see is gonna astound you, but all these lines and greys refine, they are the maps of our design, of what began on Monday morning”, seems to be looking on the bright side of getting old.  This is quite a bit different topically from what Gibbard’s outlook used to be.  All in all though, it really creates a great song.

There are quite a few other pop-forward songs on this album as well. The first single off the album, “You are a Tourist”, has some incredibly poppy sounds to it.  It sort of reminds me of when “The Sound of Settling” came out on Transatlanticism.  Gibbard’s guitar sounds are so clean and poppy, and his vocals are so light and happy sounding, that you almost think you’re listening to a different band.  “Stay Young, Go Dancing” has a minstrel quality to it that make you think someone should almost be doing a little jig to it.  Lines like, “When she sings I hear a symphony,” really lead you to believe Ben has found legitimate happiness in his life.

There are some slower songs on the album as well.  It really wouldn’t be a Death Cab album without a little slow stuff.  “Unobstructed Views” is one of the longer songs on the album.  It has a long musical intro that clocks in at a little over 3 minutes.  The interesting thing about even the slower songs is that they all still sound more full, and Ben’s voice sounds more powerful than it ever used to.  There is also some really nice harmonizing that goes on in the middle of this song that is pretty uncharacteristic of Death Cab; although, very welcomed as well. “St. Peter’s Cathedral” is another slow one on the album.  This one is a bit more stripped down and definitely my favorite of all the slow ones.

“Underneath the Sycamore” is probably the most interesting lyrically.  It paints a lovely picture of waking up having survived a gruesome car crash.  The opening lines are, “Lying in a field of glass underneath the overpass, mangled in the shards of a metal frame, woken from a dream by my own name”, which help to show you they haven’t completely lost all of that good old-fashioned emo they started out with.

I have read a lot of views that seem to think a happier Ben makes a crappier Death Cab.  I really can not bring myself to do that.  Sure some of his new-found happiness has come across on the recording, but I think this really isn’t too much different from some of the stuff we heard on “Plans” and “Transantlanticism”.  I’m sure some people are still pining for the days of “Something about Airplanes” and “We have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes”, but I think it’s pretty clear those days are behind us.  This is still a really good album that I think a lot of Death Cab fans will enjoy.

Teacher Grade: B+

Flying Fish – Exit 4

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I am originally from Jersey and even at times have Jersey pride.  It does pain me to see my already picked on state become an even bigger joke as Italian idiots become the biggest celebrities ever produced in the Garden State.  However, I have hopes that the state where I learned to love pizza, bagels, and jug handles will one day regain some semblance of respect.  That much needed rant of course brings me to my latest beer for reviewing.

Flying Fish is out of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and their Exit series deals with one of the two biggest roads in all of NJ: The New Jersey Turnpike.  This particular exit has a little more meaning for me, as it is the same one I took every time I went to visit my now wife in Pennsylvania.  That is before I found a better route taking exit 6.  Fortunately for me there is an Exit 6 that I guess I’ll be trying one of these days.  The Exit Series is used to brew unique beers that are as different and interesting as those people who live off those exits.  They have a website where you can make suggestions for future beers in the Exit Series.  Now that I live in Washington DC, I am holding out for an Exit 10 since that is the one I take every time I go visit my parents.

Flying Fish has one of the more interesting stories of origin I’ve come across.  Gene Mueller decided in 1995 to use a then, and maybe now, unconventional tool to start his business: the internet.  He allowed people to see the inner workings of his brewery.  He gave people the chance to help name beers, design labels and tee-shirts, sign up for tasting, and even apply for potential brewing jobs.  It was a gigantic cyber leap in that day and age.

Aside from this beer being from my home state, it also has one of the more interesting qualifiers.  It states that it is an American Trippel.  Now I’ve had plenty of American beer, and I have also enjoyed quite a few Belgian Trippels; however, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed the combo.

Pouring this one out results in a light copper hue.  It really doesn’t create a whole lot of head; however, a little swirl of the glass results in a little sticky residue that lasts on the side of the glass.  Swirling doesn’t result in a whole lot of head, but just enough to get a feel that this one may be somewhat carbonated, although, not heavily.  The smell of it is a little hoppy and earthy at the same time.  There is some citrus scent there, and yet, being that it is called an American Trippel, I really don’t pull out the same type of heavy citrus notes you get from the Belgian trippel. There is a very earthy feel to the smell of it as well.

Tasting wise, there is a slight little citrus taste that comes through at the start.  This quickly dissipates and leads to some very strong hops taste right in the middle.  This is fairly shocking as most trippels don’t have a heavy taste of hops in them.  However, the hops are definitely huge in the middle of this beer.  The beer finishes with a rather earthy and malty feel to it.  There is a huge lingering hop taste to the end of the beer as well.  It is hard for me to buy this as a trippel at all.  This really finishes far too bitter for it to be considered a true trippel.  Looking at what the Flying Fish site says, this beer has been brewed in the traditional Belgian Trippel style, but has been hopped with American hops.  So essentially this creates a pretty interesting trippel and IPA crossbreed.

Mouth feel, doesn’t really have a lot of carbonation to start off.  There is some carbonation that lingers on the tongue after tasting.  There is a definite alcohol feel to this one.  It doesn’t come off terribly boozy, but there is a pretty significant feel of alcohol that come through.  I think it has a very nice balance to it.  It leaves a slightly bitter hoppy taste in the mouth, but if you love IPA’s you’ll actually be pretty happy.

I’m torn on how to ultimately describe this beer.  They call it an American Trippel which I suppose means that it is a trippel and American IPA cross.  However, I think this maybe should have just called a Belgian IPA.  Naming aside, I think this is a really good beer.  I love hoppy beers and Belgian beers, so this beer makes me pretty happy.  If you’re looking to try something a little unexpected, but great, give this one a try.  You won’t be disappointed you ventured into this fine beer from the Garden State.

Teacher Grade: B

Mumford and Sons @ Merriweather

Last night I headed out to the infamous Merriweather Post Pavilion for a fantastic line-up of Matthew and the Atlas, The Low Anthem, and Mumford & Sons.  All through out the day I had one major concern about this show: the heat.  Over the past two days temperatures had reached 100 degrees or above.  Therefore, having lawn seats, I was a little concerned about sitting under the hot afternoon sun for a few hours.  Little did I know I would be shivering and hiding under a blanket half-way through Matthew and the Atlas’s set.

We arrived early to stake our claim on the back lawn.  Apparently, not really early enough as there were already plenty of quality spots taken.  It was sold out, so this really isn’t all that surprising. Sitting down, we awaited the started of the concert and commented on the fact that it really wasn’t quite as hot and unbearable as we had all feared.  All the while, scary dark clouds began to come in from the right side of the venue.  I made a ridiculous comment that the first little sighting of lightning was only heat lightning.  However, shortly there after, the thunder, lightnings, and dark clouds came in even closer.

I would like to really explain whether I enjoyed Matthew and the Atlas or not, but it all kind of turns into a blur as the rains came down.  I’m not talking about a slight drizzle either.  The sky opened up and let everyone on the lawn regret saving ten bucks by not buying under the pavilion.  We huddled close together and pulled the blanket over our heads; however, the rain soon became so heavy it quickly soaked through both blanket and clothing.  Some concert goers decided to treat this as a perfect opportunity for dancing in the rain and mud slidding; however, all quickly ducked and covered as the thunder and lightning centered itself firmly over the venue.  Then, to make matters worse, it began to hail as well.  Finally, after about half an hour, it finally subsided.

At this point we started to walk out and count this one as a loss; however, the sky was clearing up, and we began to think about how much we had paid to be here.  While debating what we should do, The Low Anthem took the stage.  I noticed they sounded way better than the two albums I had listened to from them.  Finally, despite being rather cold, we decided to climb the lawn back up to our very wet and muddy seats.  Finally able to pay attention, I was rather impressed by this band that had failed to impress me on their recordings.  I was fully expecting to be bored during this band, and they did have a few boring moments.  But, overall, they managed to have far more energy than they do on their album.  They even have one member play the saw on one of their songs.   As pictured, they had one song where they all congregate around one microphone to harmonize on one of their more subdued tunes. It definitely made me want to give their albums another chance.

Waiting for Mumford & Sons to take the stage, the sold out venue began to fill up even more.  There were clear indicators that Mumford had made it big.  It almost made me sad I had never seen them in a smaller venue in England before they managed to hit it big.  Mumford took the stage and opened with the first song off their album: “Sigh no More”.  They played it to album perfection; however, this was one of the more frustrating things about the songs they played from their album.  They played them almost all identical to the way in which they were recorded. It was of course great to see them play them live, I suppose it was just my hope to see them do a little something more unexpected.  Some of the songs had a few different intros, but ultimately, they were all played exactly as they were recorded.

One of the highlights was the addition of new unrecorded material to the show.  They stated that after this tour they would head home to record a new album, and therefore, wanted to try out some new material.  These songs did follow the Mumford and Sons formula for song writing; however, they all got me excited for their next album to come out.  Additionally, it was awesome to see just how musically talented they all are.  All four main members moved about the stage transferring to different instruments for different songs.  Marcus Mumford played guitar, mandolin, and drums in various songs.  Country Winston stuck with his banjo most of the time, but moved to various other types of guitars including slide guitar as well.  Ben Lovett played both keyboard and accordion, and Ted Dwane played stand-up bass, regular bass, and drums.  They never seemed to stay with all the same instruments for any one song. My personal favorite songs to see them play live were “Roll Away Your Stone”, “Thistle and Weed”, and “White Blank Page”.

In the end, aside from becoming fairly frustrated with the type of people surrounding us, I really enjoyed the entire experience.  It seemed like most people on the lawn were there to hear their two radio hits.  They talked through all of the new material, and one man wearing a Megadeth T-shirt and flag bandana even yelled “America Rules!” and “Obama Sucks!” at unnecessary times.  However, attempting to shut all of that out, I was quite happy we didn’t head home despite spending the rest of the show completely soaked.  If you have the opportunity to catch this show somewhere, be sure to do it.  Just let me know what Matthew and the Atlas sound like because I thought they seemed pretty good.

The Head and the Heart – The Head and the Heart

If you couldn’t tell as of late, I have been sort of on a little bit of a folk music kick.  A lot of my previous reviews (Civil Wars, O’death, Dodos) all have either a very heavy or slight folk feel to them.  I tend to get into ruts and just stay there for a little bit.  I’ll go through a period where I listen to a lot of metal, then a lot of classic rock, and then ambient indie music.  Apparently right now it is folk. So, I went in search of some new folk style music I had never really heard of or listened to.  For me, that doesn’t mean it is all that underground or unheard of, but it is something that will feed my need for folk style music at the moment.

This is the first release from The Head and the Heart.  They actually have quite an interesting history on how they became a band.  First of all, they have not existed all that long.  They first got together in 2009.  From there, they self-recorded and released their album.  They managed to sell 10,000 copies through local record stores, concerts, and simply word of mouth before ever signing to a major record label.  DIY indeed!  In November of 2010 they were picked up by Sub Pop Records, which remastered and once again released this album as their debut release.  They did manage to pick up some fairly major shows along the way as well.  They have openned for the likes of Vampire Weekend, Deathcab for Cutie, The Decemberists, and (uh oh) Dave Matthews Band.  With a history like that already, it’ll be a wonder if they stay underground very long.  Of course, if you read pitchfork’s review of the album, they already have them tagged as the sellout folk band of the year.  I, however, would like to think I’m slightly more open-minded.  Therefore, I sat down to give this album a listen.

The Head and the Heart have a good folk type of sound; however, it seems very well polished with a slightly more pop feel.  I can’t help but think this is one thing that keeps some people from really enjoying this album.  They do manage to have a very full sound to their music.  One of the ways they accomplish this is through utilizing harmonizing. The harmonizing is really nice and thick sounding because it is a three part harmony most of the time.  Josiah Johnson, Jon Russell, and Charity Rose Thielen all handle the harmonizing jobs.  I think having the two guy tone combined with the single girl vocal really comes together nicely in the end.

Another thing this band does really well is keep you guessing.  Songs like “Sounds like Halllelujah” change a lot through out their progression.  It starts off almost as a singer songwriter feel.  Then, the song goes through a transition that almost sounds like a song off the Beatles.  It, however, then goes through one more transition that is almost like a folk gang sing-a-long.  The entire band comes in singing, “For the first time, sounds like hallelujah for the first time”.  This is all before it ends quietly.  The entire song is just a great journey that almost leaves you feeling like you listened to three different songs.

The song “Coeur D’Alene” is one of my favorite songs on the album.  It has a really fun tone to the entire song.  The vocals are a little more low-key and muted, but the piano and drums are up beat.  Therefore it has a light pop feel without being overwhelming.  It’s a nice little dichotomy.  There is some harmonizing that helps the song seem really smooth.  This is especially present on the chorus.  Another song like this that I really enjoy is “Lost in My Mind”.  The chorus of this one once again feels a little like a folk sing-a-long; however, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.  This is once again heavy on the harmonies, piano, drums, and bass; however, they all blend together quite nicely.  This song has a little more of a folk anthemn feel to it.

One of my least favorite songs on the album is “Winter Song”.  It is a slower song on the album which really doesn’t bother me; however, as I said earlier, I like that a lot of their songs have a lot of interesting transitions in them.  This song stays at a pretty similar pace throughout its entirety, then the final vocals are handled by Charity on her own.  I really like her vocals when they are blended in with the other two male vocals; however, I really don’t think she has a strong enough vocal ability for it to stand on its own.  They don’t really venture out into having her sing alone too often, which I think is the right route to take.

In the end, I think The Head and the Heart have created a really good album.  Keeping in mind that this band has been together for less than two years, I am quite impressed with the album they have produced.  I think they could have a very strong future together.  This has a little bit more of a pop sound to it than some of the other folk focused bands out there right now, but I think it is a nice addition to this prospering sub-genre.  I would definitely recommend picking this one up for something light and enjoyable to listen to while you drive or sit by the pool this summer.

Teacher Grade: B+

Review: Brooklyn – Sorachi Ace

Continuing with my theme of summer beers, the next beer I have chosen to review is this Brooklyn Sorachi Ace that has been sitting in my fridge since Easter.  I have a very limited experience with the beers from Brooklyn.  It isn’t that I haven’t had any of their beers, but looking at the catalog of beers available, I have really only had a few of their standard beers.  The restaurant that I work at has their pilsner and brown ale on tap.  Personally, it is just something about their pilsner I don’t like.  Perhaps I have had it too often, but there is just some flavor in there that I can’t stand.  The brown on the other hand is pretty good. (side story) Some people see we have a dark beer and a light beer and ask us to mix them together.  I try to explain that it isn’t like a black and tan, but they don’t really care.  So I have to frequently give people a pilsner/brown ale mix.

There were two big factors that attracted me to picking up this bottle in the first place.  First of all, this beer contains a sort of rare type of hops known as Sorachi Ace.  I say sort of rare because people just don’t normally use them. This is a type of hop that was discovered in Japan in 1988.  This hop variety is a cross between British Brewers Gold and Czech Saaz varieties of hops.  The most important aspect of it to a brewer is that it has a very lemony aroma and flavor to it.  Sorachi hops have been passed up by many other breweries because of this lemon aroma and flavoring.

The second big reason I decided to pick up this bottle was that it is listed as being a classic saison.  Saisons are a light Belgian style ale from the french speaking area of Belgium. They are also known as farmhouse ales because they were primarily brewed on farms in the late autumn months to be later consumed in late summer.  They were specifically brewed during this time period because there was no refrigeration.  Therefore, in order for it to remain cold during the fermentation, they had to wait for the winter months.  Despite this bottle coming at 7.2% Abv, they were originally brewed to be closer to 3% Abv.  This is because they were used to hydrate and refresh farmhands during the late summer harvests.  This was due to the lack of drinkable water available at that time.

The appearance of this beer as it is poured is visually extremely appealing.  It comes out a very light copper color.  I think lemon is a huge theme for this whole beer because the color even has a little darker lemony feel to it.  There is quite a bit of head that develops as you pour as well, which of course, is indicative of how much carbonation is in this beer.  Smell wise, it has a very summery feel once again.  It definitely relies again on the lemon backbone; however, you can pull out a little wheat feel in there as well.  I wouldn’t say a whole lot of maltiness comes through, but there is some hops on the end as well.

The taste once again head back to that lemon flavor on the nose.  I think that carries it throughout the full on taste of the beer.  However, midway through, there is a little bit of a heavier citrus flavor that kicks in.  I think that this is then finished off quite nicely by the hops, which of course, are also reliant on the fact that they have a lemon flavor as well.  To me there is an almost buttery feel that takes place in the taste as well.  For me, it comes right before the end of the flavor profile.  You get a slight butter flavor right before it hits the lemony hop flavor.  The hops are not as powerful as some hops tend to be with hop heavy ipa beers.  Here there is a nice little kick that adds to the flavor and doesn’t overwhelm the drinker.  I think this is good for those who are sort of venturing out of their comfort zone.  I think if you’re favorite beer is bud lite lime (you know who you are) then you might like to try this out.  It has a really good light summer feel.

One thing about the actual mouth feel is that your first sip will make you feel like you just took a sip of a highly carbonated alcoholic sprite soda.  The carbonation is almost a little overwhelming, but settles down nicely.  I think the only thing that I have bad to say about this beer is that it sort of feels like someone put some alcohol on a lemon and then had you suck on that lemon.  I think Brooklyn decided to just go all the way with the lemon taste on this beer; however, it is possible they went too far.  I can’t imagine drinking this beer in any different season.  It’s like drinking a corona in the middle of winter.  It just doesn’t fit the timing.  But, since we are in the right season, if you want a great summer drink, and you’re a big fan of citrus flavored beers, I would have to recommend this one.

Teacher Grade: B