AleSmith Brewing Co – Horny Devil

I’ve written numerous times about the unfair three tiered system for the distribution of beer in America.  Breweries can’t always distribute their beers all over the country, so it makes it difficult for consumers in other areas to get a hold of certain beers.  There is, however, sometimes when I walk into a store and get a big surprise despite the system.  At the start of the summer I did a little bottle shopping in NYC.  I wanted to find beers that weren’t available in my area.  For the most part I accomplished that; however, I walked into a local store the other day and found some AleSmith.  While in Brooklyn, I grabbed a bottle of Alesmith Speedway Stout thinking I would never see one again.  I still haven’t opened it out of a desire to save it for a special situation; however, I found three different bottles of AleSmith in a local store the other day.  I’m not sure if they are starting to come into the area, but after dragging that big bottle all around NYC, I’m kind of upset I didn’t need to lug it all over the five boroughs.

Walking into the store, I was quite surprised to look up on an upper shelf and see three different bottles of AleSmith looking back at me.  I had gone there to buy a change of pace beer for brewing this past Saturday.  It would seem I’ve amassed mostly stouts and IPAs in my supply right now; therefore, I really wanted something lighter and more Belgian to be a different change of pace amongst the beers we were consuming while brewing.  The three different Alesmith beers were Old Numbskull, Grand Cru, and their Horny Devil.  While interested in the other two, they were both kind of heavy for what I was looking for.  Don’t worry, I’ll head back to pick another one or two up at some point.  Ultimately I needed to get something a little more light and refreshing.  I suppose a Belgian Strong Ale isn’t really light and refreshing, but I thought it was a better change of pace since it was brewed with coriander.

AleSmith states this beer is a Belgian Strong Ale that has been brewed with Belgian candied sugar and a Belgian yeast from a Trappist monastery. They also let you know that this beer has won multiple awards, including Gold in its category at the California and Colorado State Fairs, Silver medal at the World Beer Championships, and People’s Choice at the San Diego Strong Ale Festival. Coming in at 11.0% ABV, I couldn’t help but think this is going to be a great beer, even if I don’t think it’s the beer that put AleSmith on the map.

This one poured out a bright yellow straw color with some orange tint here and there.  There is some moderate white head that develops on top of the beer with some fairly decent lacing and pretty substantial sticky residue.  The beer is super hazy for sure which adds to the fact that you can see basically no carbonation in the glass.  The appearance of the beer is slightly more surprising when you hear that the beer is up to 11% ABV.  It looks like a much lighter beer.

The big lemony citrus aroma dominates the smell of the beer.  There are some very pleasant pineapple notes that combine with the lemon scent to give the beer a little bit of a tropical smell as well.  There is a light scent of apples that gives the beer a slightly cider feel; however, you also get some light spiciness as well.  You do smell some of the sweet malts in here, but they aren’t too overpowering.  You certainly have no sign of the hops on the nose, so I was hoping they would show up a little more in the flavor profile.  Surprisingly, it’s a Belgian strong ale that somewhat smells like a hefeweizen.

The flavors start with some light sweet malts.  These mix with some tropical fruit flavors like pineapple and mango.  Interestingly, although they hype the Belgian Trappist yeast they use in the brew, I really don’t get the big significant yeast flavor I typically get out of most Belgian beers.  The yeast flavor is lightly there, but it just doesn’t steal the show like it normally does.  The coriander steals the show in the second half of the beer.  You have a transition from tropical to lemony flavors.  They of course compliment each other quite well.  There is some light tartness that comes in towards the end of the brew.  The tartness combines with the cider taste that came through on the nose; however, I still don’t really spot the hops in the flavor profile at all.  The beer ends with a little bit of a light sour apple taste and some very slight spiciness.

The mouthfeel features a medium body beer.  It doesn’t land too much on the syrupy side, but it does have some light syrup quality throughout.  The moderate syrup and medium carbonation level help keep a big alcohol beer tasting fairly light and not too heavy.  The beer also finishes a little drier as well.

This is basically the first experience I’ve had with AleSmith, and I’m a big fan.  I’m not sure this is the number one beer on their roster, but I do have a bottle of Speedway Stout sitting around which may be an even better example of their top notch brewing.  I’m really looking forward to picking up a few other bottles from them; however, I would certainly revisit this one sometime in the future if I had the chance.  I would recommend you do the same.

Teacher Grade: B


Hunting Beer Bottles & Yo-Ho Brewing Co – Aooni Review

I decided to use my beer bottle hunting in NYC post to also do a review of one of these beers I found in NYC.  As I said earlier this week, I found a bottle shop in Grand Central Station within an hour or two of being in NYC.  It had some interesting looking beers, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the pricing.  Thus, I decided I would wait and see what else I could find.  There were two other bottle shops I really wasnted to get to while I was in NY, but after dragging my wife to a brewery and a few bars, I couldn’t convince her to spend a lot of extra time trying to find these two stores.  The first store I really wanted to get to is called Good Beer.  The pictures I saw online led me to believe they had a pretty good selection.  The second one we almost got to was an interesting place called the Growler Station.  I don’t think I would have brought anything home from this place, but it sounded like a really interesting concept I would have wanted to check out.  Unfortunately the gay pride parade was going right by the store the day I wanted to go, so we got about a block away but didn’t see anything.

The store we did manage to find was a place called the Breukelen Bier Merchants.  We happened upon it not long after leaving Brooklyn Brewery.  It wasn’t a very big place, but they had a lot of stuff on tap and a fairly good selection of bottles as well.  Since I hadn’t been capable of finding too many good bottle options yet, I decided to do my shopping right here.  Browsing around a little, I decided to go with a few bottles I couldn’t find back home or a few I had never seen before.  I ended up picking up Speedway Stout from Alesmith, Dubhe from Unita Brewing Co, and Aooni from Yo-Ho Brewing Co in Japan.  This combined with a bottle of AMA Bionda from Amarcord Brewing Co I bought at Brooklyn Brewery were the only bottles I came home with.  I’ve had Unita before, but I love Black IPAs.  I’ve never had anything from Alesmith, and I’ve never seen anything from Yo-Ho or Amarcord before.  Like I said, I would have loved to do a little more bottle shopping, but I had already put my wife through enough.  Plus, I had to walk around for another few hours with all of these bottles in a backpack!

This can of Aooni really stuck out to me.  It was written all in Japanese and the English on it were just stickers over Japanese.  I guess you need to still put English warnings on things when you import them to the U.S.  At first I didn’t notice where it said it was an IPA, but I still decided to go with it anyway.  It seemed way to bizarre not to get.  I’ll tell you the small details I’ve been able to find; however, most of this is second-hand from other sites, so I’m not sure how accurate it is.  They are out of Karuizawa, Nagano Japan and their brewmaster COO Toshiyuki evidently interned at Stone Brewing co from 1998-2001.  He took what he learned there and went home to apply his knowledge to Yo-Ho.  Regardless of any information I was going to find on the brew, I was really excited to try it.

This one poured out a healthy orangey amber color.  There was some moderate head; however, while it wasn’t exactly plentiful, it lasted quite a while.  The lacing on the sides of the glass was huge, and it left a seemingly unending amount of long lasting residue as well.  The beer was extremely hazy and it had absolutely no visible carbonation either.

There was some very citrusy aroma that was most prominent on the nose.  The most obvious citrus smell was grapefruit, but I could pull out some orange and pineapple as well.  There is almost an apple cider aroma here as well.  A little bit of the floral hop aroma is present, but I wouldn’t say it is overpowering.  It certainly relies more on a citrus aroma than a hop aroma.  A little light pine can be pulled out.  I really couldn’t get much of any malts out of the aroma either.

The beer has an obvious malty intro that combines with some very light piney hops right at the start.  I was a little surprised that the hops came in so fast, but as an IPA fan, I certainly like it.  As the hops start to mellow, you get a very light vanilla taste that leads you into some hefty citrus flavors.  You get a little pineapple that is the gateway to a very heavy dose of grapefruit.  The harsher citrus notes of the grapefruit seems like the perfect lead into the bigger pine notes of the hops for the ending.  There are some light malts to help balance out the ending, but it is certainly quite hoppy.

The mouthfeel has some ample carbonation at the start, but that dissipates pretty quickly if you let it sit for any small period of time.  It really ends up being quite syrupy especially after sitting for a few minutes.  The malts and hops attempt to do battle here, but the hops are the clear victor.  The citrus and grapefruit notes are very complementary.

I have a feeling I would make this beer a regular at my house if I could find it.  I personally have never seen a can of this in my area before.  Perhaps you have an area they distribute too.  If you are able to get this, I would recommend you do just that.  I personally really enjoy it!

Teacher Grade: A