A Little Sweet with a Touch of Heat

 

I know it’s been a little while since I wrote on here, and I was planning on talking about my latest brown I have in bottles; however, instead I’ve decided to seek out a little advice on my next brew.  As with other homebrewers I know, the second you get your beer brewed you start thinking of what you want to produce next.  For weeks now I’ve been thinking about getting an IPA going.  I may have been a little overzealous attempting to produce a double IPA before ever producing a regular IPA.  Therefore, I was thinking I need to make a good regular hoppy beer.  Then my wife through an idea into the mix that really threw me for a mental loop.

 

 

I was looking around for recipes that I could use a pound of honey a fellow teacher gave me.  I was thinking I should use it in the IPA I had in mind.  Of course the big honey IPA that comes to mind is Hopslam.  I love Hopslam, but I wasn’t really looking to create a clone of it.  Then my wife said “Why don’t you make a honey chipotle beer?”  That really set the wheels turning.  It sounded like the perfect blend of sweet and spice.  Why not produce something like that?  I started looking for recipes I could use to produce it.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard of a beer that combines both of these ingredients, but I know of ones that have the individual flavors in them.  I started to try to focus mostly on the Chipotle aspect.  Rogue’s chipotle uses and amber base, and Stone just added chipotle to their smoked porter.  Using both of those beers as inspiration, I’ve decided to try to produce a honey chipotle porter.  This of course only brings a whole multitude of questions.  Hence, I have taken to the blog to find out what my readers think I should do to produce this next brew.

 

On to the questions!  The first questions deal with the chipotle peppers.  What would be the best way to get a nice medium to light burn on my beer?  I want it to be a little sweet and a little heat, so I really don’t want to overpower too much with one of those aspects.  From what I’ve read, you can add a pepper per gallon to the brew.  I’ve read about some people who add the peppers in the last 20 minutes of the boil, and I’ve read about others who have added them to the secondary.  So where would you put the peppers?  The final question involving the peppers deals with how I “sanitize them”.  I read about some who allowed them to soak in vodka for days and then added the entire solution to the brew.  I’ve also read about others who roasted them and deseeded them before hand.  Is there a particular method you would take to prepare the peppers?

 

I also have questions on the honey.  I’ve never used honey in my brew, and I want to make sure you can taste a little bit of sweetness to counterbalance the slight burn of the chipotle.  Of course I don’t think I would add the honey at the start of the boil, but I’m not sure if I wait to the last 5 minutes or put it in earlier?  I also believe I can add it straight to the brew without making a solution, but I’m not entirely sure about that.  Could I infect my beer if I don’t create a solution out of the honey?  Do I make a solution in order to add it in?

As always, I’m getting pretty psyched for this beer, but I want to make sure to produce a good beer and not something that goes down the drain like my imperial IPA.  So I come to you, my faithful and helpful readers.  Help me plan and plot how to best produce my first ever porter!

 

 

 

 

 

Great Divide Brewing Co – 18th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA

Some of you may have noticed a little drop off in my posting in the past week.  There is certainly a reason for that, and I can’t help but say I don’t see things changing any time soon.  The Elysian review was my only post from last week.  It’s not that I ran out of ideas, but I just felt like I had invested far too much in this blog.  Attempting to post every single day does sometimes stretch the quality of the blogs that I was posting, and I felt like I had sacrificed quality for quantity.  Therefore, last week I kind of took a step back and decided to really take a look at the material I was posting.  I felt like I wasn’t posting things that I actually liked, I was just trying to get out something every single day.  I’m going to now limit myself to 2-3 posts a week.  I’ll focus on beer and music reviews, and I’ll definitely still do my homebrew posts as well.  Those are quickly becoming my favorite.

Anyway, I’m still drinking craft brew often, so I better review some of those every once in a while.  Friday I cracked open this bottle from Great Divide. I had seen this one offered online, and I almost jumped at the opportunity to buy it, but I ultimately waited.  Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed because my local hunting ground eventually got it in.  I honestly haven’t ventured into the beers from Great Divide too much, but in picking this one up, I’m actually not all that sure why I haven’t.  Looking at their line-up online, I’m extremely enticed by quite a few of their offerings.  I guess when you’re already purchasing lots of stuff, you don’t really always get everything.  Anyway, I think there are some fairly clear explanations of why I got this bottle.  It’s a big beer, it’s a special release, and it looks really delicious.

The description on the side of the bottle told me it was something I would certainly be looking forward to.  They describe it as having sweet malts, floral American and English hops, and French and American oak.  When I read that something is wood aged from a big company like this, I assume they aged the beer in barrels.  They seem to have taken a different route with this one.  They used oak chips for the aging process.  There is certainly nothing wrong with that, and I think it helped wood age the beer with out adding in a bourbon or whiskey component as well.  Ultimately I guess I just associate the use of oak chips with homebrewing.  Either way, I was really excited to see how it turned out.

This one poured out a dark reddish-brown color.  There is some moderate tan head that develops on top, but it only results in some fair lacing with a very small amount of sticky residue.  I thought the residue might be more plentiful with 10% abv.  There is some very nice clarity on it, and you can see some light carbonation on the surface of the beer as well.

The smell immediately reveals a nice blend of both sweet malts and hefty hops.  The malts come across as being quite sweet and having a slight sticky aroma to it as well.  The hops are more pine than floral, and they have a lot of tang to them as well.  Mixing with the hops and malts is the smell of grapefruit and tropical fruit.  The oaky wood aroma is there as well; however it isn’t coming across as bold as I’ve had in a few other wood aged beers.  Finally, you can certainly smell a big hit of booze in there as well.

The sweet malts dominate the start of the taste.  They have a very sticky quality to them which combine very nicely with the big hit of hops that come in.  The hops quickly go from pine to tang, which I personally really enjoy in a good imperial IPA.  The pine does manage to come back towards the end of the tang.  The hop flavors are complimented by some big grapefruit and tropical fruit flavors.  The back half of the flavor profile introduces the nice mellow oak wood flavor and a little surprising smokey flavor as well.  The beer ends with some very big residual booze that had me wondering if I should have saved it to share with someone else.

The mouth here has lots of syrup and some very light carbonation.  The carbonation helps to introduce the beer.  This is certainly helpful in balancing the ample malts that start the brew.  The beer becomes quite syrupy to match up with the very tangy hops.  The oak is surprisingly dominant here.  Overall the mouth is great although I would have liked a little more carbonation.

I’ve had quite a few different imperial ipas, but I don’t think I’ve had all that many that have been aged in oak.  I really like how dominant the smoke and oak are in here; however, now I’m wondering if I should try and find another bottle to age a little bit.  I have a feeling this one would age quite well.  If you happen to find a bottle, put in your cellar for a while.

Teacher Grade: B

Elysian Brewing Co – Rapture Heather Ale

Living within 10 miles or so of three different states presents some interesting beer hunting for sure.  Most of my beer purchasing takes place in two of the states.  I live in DC; therefore, it makes total sense that I purchase some of my beer in my own city.  However, it may surprise some of you that most of what I actually purchase comes from Virginia.  This is mostly due to the way the system has started to work with a few stores.  I have a store out in Va that I call to try to reserve their special stuff.  Things have kind of changed since I started going there, so now it’s harder to get their rare stuff, but I get lucky every once in a while.

Last Tuesday I ran into a problem with their system. I had a friend give me a heads up they got in one case of Founder’s Franglic Mountain Brown.  He told me to call right away and reserve a bottle.  I called, but they said it wasn’t in the system, so I had to call back when they put it on Facebook.  As I’m sure you can see where this is going, I missed out on the bottle.  I was frustrated, so on my way home we stopped in Maryland to see if a bottle was at Corridor.  Maryland of course doesn’t get Founders.  So I was forced to get some other things.  That’s how I happened across this bottle.

I’ve seen some things from Elysian online, but I figured they weren’t available in my area.  I was looking around Corridor, built my own six pack and doubled back to find a big bottle or two.  This one stuck out to me cause I didn’t know Maryland got it.  Elysian is a brewery out of Seattle Washington, and they started this particular idea this year to coincide with the Mayan idea that the world would end this year.  So they are releasing a beer every single month that they think would be something someone would want to drink if it was their last beer ever.  According to their schedule, this is actually from February, but I’m glad I found it.

This beer is called a Heather ale which Beer Advocate says is another name for a Scottish Gruit or Ancient Herbed Ale.  According to the style analysis on beer advocate, “Gruit is mainly a concoction of : sweet gale (Myrica gale), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and wild rosemary (Ledum palustre). Other herbs, spices, and berries might be used to create interesting and pleasant aroma and flavor of green- and herbal-tea.”  I’m not sure if that is what Elysian did here.  But the bottle wasn’t too descriptive of what was on the inside and the website has no description either, so I’m going with that.  I was still excited to try it for the concept and a different style of beer.

The beer pours a orangey reddish hue.  There is certainly very little head that develops as well.  It’s a very light white head to it, but it does manage to garner pretty good lacing and sticky residue as well.  Interestingly, the beer was certainly cloudy, and I actually think I located a floater of something left over from the brewing.  It didn’t indicate it was bottle conditioned, so I’m guessing something just got through a filter.  You could see a little visual carbonation, but it really wasn’t too much.

The beer hard a lot of very light citrusy aroma to it.  It’s kind of hard to nail down some of the scents I get out of it.  I am kind of just comparing it to things I think of when I smell it.  I get some sweet apple cider aroma here.  There seems to be some berry sweetness to the aroma.  This is the kind of beer that helps me realize my sense of smell really sucks.  Anyway, I get a some herbs and floral notes going on as well.

The flavors of the beer were a little easier to nail down, but I think I’m just talking about what it tastes like and not what it actually is.  Anyway, it starts with your typical sweet malts; however, it get pretty herbal and floral after that.  The herbal quality is certainly more like the stuff you find in your spice cabinet.  I feel like I’m getting some rosemary and thyme type of flavoring.  From there you get some nice bitter hop quality.  The hops lead into some interesting tea quality tastes near the finish.  I almost get a little sweet honey quality on the finish as well.  Certainly one of the more interesting beers I’ve had in a while.

The mouthfeel has a bit of a syrupy quality to it, but it has some good carbonation especially in the middle portion of the beer.  This helps it certainly have a very crisp and clean feel to it .  The herbal and floral quality is really nice and easy, but I was surprised how much it came through.  Really I thought it was very interesting and pretty different.

I would really like to find the rest of this series, and I know where to get it, but I don’t want to spend a ton of money having to get it all.  It’s a really interesting series, and I’m surprised it took me this long to find it out about it.  Maybe some of you are more privy to it than I was, but I think it’s a great idea.  Now I’m wondering their regular beers are good too?

Teacher Grade: B

Anchor Brewing Co – Brekle’s Brown

This is the second brown ale of the week for me.  Like I said with the first one, I like to drink the style of beer I’m going to be brewing before I brew it.  I liked the offering from Flying Fish, but it was really dark and malty.  I was hoping for something a little more light and refreshing.  Delving into the area of brown ales has shown me just how very different the style can be.  You know what you’re drinking when you get an IPA, Stout, or Porter.  It would seem the brown ale is a little different from those particular styles.  You can make a brown ale dark and malty like the last beer I tried, or you can make one light and refreshing like this offering from Anchor.

It’s interesting that this is the first time I’ve ever reviewed and Anchor beer on here.  They claim to be the oldest craft brewery in America.  Evidently they got started in 1849 when German brewer Gottlieb Brekle arrived in San Francisco for the California gold rush.  Brekle started the brewery, ran, and operated it for 25 years before it was purchased by its next owners.  Anchor hasn’t forgotten its roots though.  If you haven’t made the connection as of yet, this particular brown has been brewed in honor of its founder and creator.

This particular brown stuck out to me at the store for a few different reasons.  First it’s a brown ale, and I’ve already explained how I wanted drink a few brown ales.  Secondly, I thought the description sounded interesting.  The bottle stated it was a single hopped beer with an all malt base.  The all malt base doesn’t exactly seem all that rare, but I was curious how the single hop characteristic nature affected the flavor of the beer.  As far as I can tell, this isn’t an original Brekle’s recipe, but it is their homage to their founder.

This one pours out a very dark brown color that I would once again refer to more black than brown.  I was hopping this beer was going to end up a little less sweet and malty than Exit 8, but the color had me a little concerned.  It seems pretty similar to the deep dark color I got out of the last brown.  There is an ample dark brown and tan head that develops on top of the beer.  This results in some great lacing and excellent sticky residue as well.  You can see some very light visible carbonation despite the dark color, but you can’t really get a feel for the clarity at all.

The aroma has two very dominant smells to it.  First you can pull out some of the sweet chocolate notes, but you can also get a ton of the hops as well.  I immediately looked up the hops to see what I was dealing with here.  The single hop that is used in the brew is citra, and it’s quite obvious how much these hops come out.  There is a very big lemony citrus aroma that comes out to combine with some big herbal piney smell.  While the sweet malts and chocolate are very prevalent, the big hop aroma manages to win out in the battle of odor.  There is a little bit of the roasted notes in the aroma as well.

The flavor starts with some very rich and well-balanced malt flavors.  They aren’t too sweet which helped me realize I would already enjoy this beer for summer more than Exit 8.  The hints of citrus come in with the very herbal hops.  As the hops continue to develop, they give off a large quantity of lemon flavors.  For a brown ale, it is overwhelmingly lemony and citrusy; however, it makes it perfect for a summer interpretation of a brown ale.  The hops finish with a little light pine.  The lingering citrus combines with some chocolatey notes to give it a rich and light finish.

The beer has a really well balanced carbonation to syrup ratio.  I wouldn’t say it’s too strong on either end of the spectrum.  The malty flavors are certainly there, but it is dominated by a lot of citrusy hops and lemon flavors.  The feel is a great brown ale for summer.

I’ve now had two very different brown ales on different ends of the spectrum.  I think they are both good brown ales, but I like this one for summer and Exit 8 for fall and winter.  If you like a good summery brown ale, or you really like citra hops, I would definitely pick this one up.  I would have to rather this one above Exit 8 for right now!

Teacher Grade: A

DC Brau Brewing Co – On the Wings of Armageddon

I’m hoping every city has local boys they like to support in the craft beer scene.  I ‘m sure it’s tougher to do in smaller country towns, but there has to be something close enough that you would want to support.  The beer scene here in DC is only continuing to grow.  DC Brau has taken the obvious reigns, but they have some other breweries that are also joining the craft beer boom as well.  Port City Brewery in Virginia is another big player in the area right now.  I don’t think they have quite the same notoriety, but they are certainly right up there.  Some of the smaller breweries that are starting to make a splash are Chocolate City and 3 Stars Brewing.  Chocolate City has been around for a little while, but they are still expanding.  3 Stars is pretty much just starting, but they have opened up a homebrew store in DC which is awesome.  So they may quickly win my hearts.

I’ve talked about DC Brau on here, but I’ve never actually sat down and done a full review of one of their beers here.  For a little while now they have started to can and bottle their beers in bombers.  The bombers are pretty new to their line-up, but the beers that are in them are some of the specialty ones they have been making for their growler hours.  Some of the beers I’ve seen in bombers are Penn Quarter Porter, El Hefe Speaks Hefeweizen, The Stone of Arbroath Scotch Ale, and this bottle of On the Wings of Armageddon Imperial IPA.  While the porter is one of my favorite beers from them, I decided I wanted to get this bottle of imperial IPA first because I’ve never had it before.  Plus, I went and bought the shirt for it before I ever even tasted it.  Not the first time I’ve gone and done that.

The concept for On the Wings revolves around the impending doom the Mayans predicted that is supposedly going to happen later this year.   While I’m not exactly a big believer in this particular thought, I am an extremely big believer in awesome imperial IPAs and great graphics.  That of course is why I had to buy a shirt for it before ever tasting it.  The brewers only use a single type of hop in the brew: Falconer’s Flight.  I wasn’t familiar with the flavor or qualities of this hop before tasting this beer, but I was extremely happy to try it out.

This one pours out a rich copper color.  It has a dominant orangey hue with some hints of both brown and red.  The beer pours with a very plentiful head. Despite all the head, the beer doesn’t result in a whole lot of lacing or sticky residue.  The beer is probably one of the more hazy beers I’ve had in a little while which may be another reason why you can’t really see much of any carbonation in the beer as well.

The aroma coming off the beer is very herbal and floral for sure.  I wasn’t really all that sure what Falconer’s Flight hops were like, but I can immediately tell they have a very potent quality for sure.  The beer has some ample citrus and grapefruit notes that accompany the hops.  There is a slight amount of malts here, but you can tell the beer is loaded with far more hops than malts.  The overall aroma is very earthy and herbal for sure.

The beer lets you know it’s an imperial IPA right from the start.  There is no hiding it here.  I’ve reviewed a few of those beers that have such a high quantity of sweet malts that you can’t really be blown away by the amount of hops that are in there.  This beer starts with some slightly sweet maltiness.  Some very bountiful citrus and grapefruit comes in to help introduce the very herbal and floral hops.  The hops don’t manage to be very piney, but they have a very earthy and plant like feel to them.  There are some slight malts that help to mellow out some of the big hop flavoring.  The beer finishes with some very well-balanced hops, as well as being quite herbal and earthy feeling.

The mouthfeel starts a little syrup which helps with the slight lack of malt sweetness to balance out the heavy hop hand. The beer turns carbonated and ends syrupy.  I like the way the herbal floral hops play off the citrus and earthiness of the whole composition.  You won’t be buying this beer if you’re not into hops, but you’ll love the mouth of this one if you love a good amount of hops in your beer.

I think their porter may still be my favorite beer from them, but this one is right up there.  I love a good IPA and this is a very good IPA.  If you choose to open a bottle of this beer, you may want to save it for the end of your night.  It is sure to wreck your palate and ability to taste anything other than hops.  I’m okay with that though!

Teacher Grade: A

Bar Review – The Big Hunt

A little over a week ago I went to NYC.  If you read any of my posts from last week you certainly know that, but I actually started a little bit of my beer journey before I even left DC.  We decided to leave for my parents’ house after I finished working a lunch shift at the restaurant that day.  Plans were all set to leave after we thought traffic had died down, but I got a call at work that we were going out with some friends before we left for NJ.  So, instead of leaving DC, we jumped on a crowded rush hour metro to Dupont Circle.

It was this little experience that gave me another idea for some new types of posts for my site.  There are plenty of bars in the DC area that are considered beer bars; therefore, I figured why not tell people about a few of them on here.  It’ll also give me an excuse to visit a few of these bars in the area.  I’ve been to Church Key which is the biggest beer bar in the area, but I haven’t been to nearly enough of the good beer bars in the area.  I think it’s time to check them out.

Anyway, we were first invited out to start at Hank’s Oyster house for happy hour.  I’d never heard of this place, but they had 21st Amendment Bitter American on their happy hour special.  I hadn’t had it since the winter, and I said at that time that I thought it would be better in the spring or summer months.  I also had consumed it during a time when I was heavily into darker stouts and porters.  I was glad to see I was exactly right on this beer.  It was nearly 100 degrees out that day, and a session beer with a heavy hand in fresh hops was great.  We didn’t stay long at Hank’s because we wanted to get some food and I honestly don’t like oysters or seafood in general.

We discussed a few different places to go next, but we ended up heading over to The Big Hunt.  There are plenty of bars that are really well-known in the craft beer scene of Washington DC, and there are others that make smaller waves in the scene.  I would say The Big Hunt is one of those bars that is getting pretty well-known in the craft beer bar scene, but having been to a few of the other bars, you would certainly call it a dive bar.

We walked in and were very lucky to have four seats open up at the bar right away.  Not ideal for four people looking to hang out and talk, but it is ideal for sitting down and having a beer real quick.  The place kind of reminds you of a bar where they just don’t turn the lights up so you don’t realize what a dive you’re actually drinking in.  The decor all seems like it came from different garage sales and second hand stores.  With that being said, I actually really like these types of bars.  You end up paying for fancy places to drink.  Sure it’s nice to put on some fancy clothes and have a nice drink at some places, but give me a place where I feel comfortable showing up in whatever I’m wearing at the moment.  I like to feel relaxed.

Anyway, since it was so hot out, I wanted to get a beer that was still light and refreshing.  Therefore, the first beer I went with was Hop Syndrome from Epic Brewing.  I picked it pretty quickly, but I was happy with what I went with.  It was hoppy and refreshing for the hot weather.  After I got my first beer, I really had a chance to start looking around at the different taps.  I found that I had consumed most of the stuff on their taps, but I liked that they were offering a good amount of different beers.  I didn’t see a bottle list, but I was pretty content with the taps.

I wanted to have a sample of DC Brau’s Hell’s Bottom before I went with my second beer.  I would have just gotten a full glass of it, but it’s an oatmeal stout, and I wasn’t really looking for anything that heavy on a really hot day.  It was good, but it was pretty thick and creamy.  I’m just trying to keep up with all that DC Brau is doing.  The last brew I had at The Big Hunt was Oxbow farmhouse pale ale.  I had a really good chance to think about what I wanted to get for my next beer, and I was really interested to see what this beer was like.  Once again, perfect for a really hot day, and it started me thinking of how I could alter my saison.

The biggest downside to me about this place was their food.  Like I said, we were looking for a place we could also get a bite to eat.  I went with the buffalo chicken sandwich, and it was really overcooked and hard to chew.  Maybe I just had a bad experience, but the chips and dip were uninteresting as well.  That certainly wouldn’t stop me from going back there again, but I wouldn’t be ordering food.

The Big Hunt probably isn’t the bar you want to seek out if you are coming to the DC area, but if you happen to be in the area it is a good place to go for a good beer.  It’s really low key and no frills, which is just the way I like it.

Flying Fish Brewing Co – Exit 8 Chestnut Brown Ale

I’m thinking this will be the week for me to go pick up the ingredients for my next brew.  As I’ve already said before, I plan to brew some type of brown ale.  I’m not 100% on what little tweaks I’ll do to it, but I’ll know pretty soon.  One of the things I like to do before I end up brewing a style is drink a few different kinds of beers that are somewhat close to what I’m attempting to create.  I did it with the Imperial IPA (which didn’t turn out so well) and I did it with the saison.  The saison worked out great, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it another try.

I have reviewed one other Flying Fish brew on here before.  Somehow I’ve only managed to drink beers on their exit series.  The exit series is actually a project I’m really interested in.  I grew up in NJ, but I never really needed to use the NJ Turnpike all that much growing up.  We never really traveled that road.  Now that I live in Washington DC, this is the major road I have to use to get up to my parents place.  Flying Fish has gone about creating a beer series that uses that road to create different types of beers.  They say that they’re trying to create beers that have diverse flavors to coincide with the diverse people and cultures that live off those exits.  It’s a really interesting concept.  None of the exits they’ve done so far mean a whole lot to me.  I take a few of those exits now and then, but I really want them to do the one for exit 10.  That is the exit I use to get home.  I’m not sure what they could make for it.  It leads to even more highways, but I want them to make it.

Anyway, a few days after deciding to brew a brown ale, I found this bottle at a local store.  I had never even considered using chestnuts as the nuts for my beer, but it was an interesting thought.  Flying Fish states they went with a beer that used both chestnuts and honey to emphasize the farming communities that can be found off this exit.  They combine these accenting flavors with roasted barley, oat flakes, and an ample amount of hops to get a really well-balanced malty and hoppy beer.

This beer pours an extremely dark brown color.  I would honestly just go ahead and call it black.  Not surprisingly, there is an ample tan head that develops on top of the beer.  The head manages to linger for an extended period of time.  The lacing that develops on the side of the beer is quite significant.  It really manages to linger on the side of the glass and only slowly dissipates.  Even with the all the lacing, you really don’t get much of a sticky residue once it’s finally gone.  The beer is far too dark to really get a sense of the clarity.  You can see a little carbonation activity around the edges when you agitate the liquid.

The beer has a very big malty character that dominates the aroma.  The roasted barley they use does manage to come out, but the hops don’t back down either.  Aroma wise, they certainly can’t stand up too strong against the big malts, but you can still certainly smell them.  The nut aroma isn’t too huge.  I don’t really think of chestnuts as being the most potent of all the nuts.  We eat them sometimes in the winter, but I wasn’t honestly sure what chestnuts would do to a brown ale. They definitely don’t manage to dominate the smell too much.  There is a little sweetness I think you get from the honey and a little chocolate aroma from the malts as well.  Overall, it has a definite earthy feel to it.

The malts certainly run the show here.  The big sweetness from the malts and honey dominate, but there is a very light hit of hops in there as well.  Some of the nice nutty flavor comes out; however, I wouldn’t say you can really define the flavor as chestnut.  I’ve had some beers that feature pecans or hazelnuts where you can really tell that is the type of nut that has been used.  Chestnuts don’t have enough of a defined flavor to comes through on their own.  The big malts manage to swallow up some of the sweetness of the honey, but you can taste some of it in there as well.  There is a lot of chocolate and roasted flavors due to the malts.  These are balanced out by some of the nice hit of hops near the end.  The beer finishes with some pleasant sweetness, nutty flavoring, and slight pine.  Since it says this is a Belgian style, I thought I might get some yeast or something throughout, but I think the sweetness swallows that up too.

The beer is quite syrupy overall with some light carbonation here and there to help balance out the sweet syrupy nature.  I would have liked slightly more hops here, but I’m just a big fan of hops.  Also, I wish I could taste more of the nut flavoring.  Overall, in the end, the flavors all play really well off each other.  I’m just not sure this stands out as a brown ale.  I almost think of this more as a stout or porter.

This isn’t my favorite beer off the exit series, but it is still a good solid beer.  I certainly know I won’t be going with chestnuts in my beer, but I could have told you that already.  Hopefully I can create a beer that is this well-balanced, but I want to have a little more noticeable nut flavor in the end.  If you’re looking for a good brown ale, you really can’t go wrong with this one.  Just be ready for something that is a little maltier than expected.

Teacher Grade: B