Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sierra Nevada 1999 Bigfoot Barleywine

I ordered a glass of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine from 1999 at Max's Taphouse in Baltimore. The beer pours a copper color with a thin white filmy head. The aroma consists of caramel, toffee, and light pine. The taste is huge on caramel with excellent pine, lemon, and grapefruit accents. There is a hint of grape and raisin on the finish and the after taste has oak accents. The alcohol content is 9.6% ABV. I thought that the hops have subsided over time in the Bigfoot but provide excellent balance to the sweetness of the caramel. While the hops mellow over time, the beer becomes a wonderfully sweet tasting beer.

Cape Ann Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout

On my first visit to Max's Taphouse, I ordered a Cape Ann Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout. The beer pours a dark brown color with red hues and a thin filmy tan head. The aroma is sweet has a lot of pumpkin flavors, cinnamon and chocolate. The taste is big on toasted malts and chocolate with a good sweet pumpkin accent. The beer finishes dry with alcohol, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The alcohol content is 6.7% ABV. I was surprised at how the big the toasted malt flavor was in the beer, especially after the aroma hinted so much at the pumpkin flavor. However, the Pumpkin Stout was a completely enjoyable beer with a wonderful balance of malts and pumpkin, all with a great spice accent.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Westvleteren 12

I secured a bottle of Westvleteren 12 in a beer trade with Lee from Hoptopia and I decided to share it with my buddy Ed who brought over a bottle of Westvleteren 8 to share with me. The beer pours a dark brown color with hints of amber and a frothy tan head that laces nicely on the glass. The aroma consists of sweet Belgian yeast, malts, pear, and grapes. The taste is smooth and creamy with a light bubbly mouth feel. There are bits of raisin, Belgian yeast, sweet malts, pear, grapes, a light toasted malt accent, caramel, and a good breadiness that keeps the beer on the tongue. The finish is smooth yet warming with a light alcohol bite and an earthy hop accent. The alcohol content is 10.2% ABV. Not all beers live up to the hype that is attached to them, but the Westvleteren 12 certainly does. It hides the alcohol content well while letting you know that it is there, it provides a sweet treat with a well balanced earthy hop finish.

Stillwater Artisanal Ales Cellar Door

My girlfriend ordered a glass of Stillwater Artisanal Ales Cellar Door while we were at Max's Taphouse in Baltimore. The Cellar Door is a saison/farmhouse ale brewed with sage. The beer pours a golden color with a frothy white head. The aroma is big on sage with wheat and lemongrass. The taste is sweet and has a big lemon profile with earthy tones and wheat. There is a drying and bubbly sage finish. The alcohol content is 6.5% ABV. The Cellar Door was a perfect example of the farmhouse style, and the sage accents really pushed the beer over the top.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Westvleteren 8

My buddy Ed brought over a bottle of Westvleteren 8 to share with me. The beer pours a brown-amber color with floating flakes of yeast and a frothy tan head. The aroma consists of grape juice, bread, and Belgian yeast. The taste is smooth and sweet with a lot of breadiness on the tongue, some raisin, and the grape juice flavor that was in the aroma. The finish has a nice hop bite on the sides of the mouth that leaves earthy flavors lingering. The after taste is quite warming on the back of the throat. The alcohol content is 8.0% ABV. The Westvleteren 8 was a wonderful drinking beer that provide a wide range of flavors ranging from the sweet malts and yeast to the dry earthy hops.

Jay's Pumpkin Ale

My girlfriend's boss Jay gave her a bottle of his home brewed pumpkin ale for me to try. The beer pours a brown color with a frothy tan head. The aroma consists of lots of cinnamon and nutmeg with a background of pumpkin. The taste is dry and malty with a healthy dose of cinnamon that dries out the tongue. The finish kicks in with some pumpkin and caramel and the after taste dries out again with nutmeg. No alcohol content is available but I would assume it to be around 7.0% ABV. This was a very good pumpkin beer that focused on the spices with the pumpkin accenting the rest of the beer.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Shmaltz He'brew Vertical Jewbelation

The final beer in the Shmaltz Brewing He'brew Jewbelation pack was the Vertical Jewbelation. This beer is a blend of all seven Jewbelation beers (8,9,10,11,12,13, and 14) and then aged in Sazerac 6 Year Rye Whiskey Barrels. The beer pours a black color with an extremely lofty tan head, much more so than any of the other beers in the series. The aroma consists of sweet chocolate, both dark and milk, with some rye, toasted malts, and coffee. The taste is sweet and smooth with a large helping of chocolate, bits of coffee, molasses, and licorice before some alcohol and rye kick in. The after taste is a little dry but some chocolate manages to linger and mixes in a light whiskey flavor. The alcohol content is 10.5%. The entire time drinking this beer I thought what a wonderful blend Shmaltz has created. There is a great mix of dark and milk chocolate with some alcohol and rye mixed in there, leaving a sweet and dry flavor.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shmaltz He'brew Jewbelation 14 (14th Anniversary Ale)

The final anniversary beer (but not the final beer) of the He'brew Jewbelation pack from Shmaltz Brewing was the He'brew Jewbelation 14 (14th Anniversary Ale). This beer has 14 malts and 14 hops in it in celebration of the 14th Anniversary. The beer pours a thick black color with a frothy tan head. The aroma consists of lots of chocolate and an alcohol tingle on the nose. The taste is big and malty with tons of silky smooth chocolate, a toasted malts flavor, and a light hop bite. The finish is chocolaty as well, but brings in an accent of coffee with a milk cream finish. The alcohol content is 14.0% ABV, matching the anniversary number. I really enjoyed the amount of chocolate in this beer which was relatively sweet but not overpoweringly so. The alcohol is present on the tongue, but doesn't not overwhelm any of the flavors.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Shmaltz He'brew Jewbelation 13 (Bar Mitzvah)

Continuing my celebration of Hanukkah, I opened a bottle Shmaltz Brewing He'brew Jewbelation 13 (Bar Mitzvah). The beer pours a black color with a thin filmy tan head. The aroma consists of milk chocolate, coffee, toasted malts, and a light alcohol bite. The taste is smooth with a lot of milk chocolate up front, in comparison to the dark chocolate flavors of the other Jewbelation beers. The toasted malts peek through on the finish before the alcohol bite kicks in to attack the tongue. The after taste allows the chocolate to linger and then the coffee flavors dries out the mouth. The alcohol content is 13.0% ABV that matches the number of the beer in the series. The Jewbelation 13 (Bar Mitzvah) had a wonderful milk chocolate flavor that was well balanced with the alcohol content, and at 13 percent, this beer is sure to get the party started for Hanukkah.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Shmaltz He'brew Jewbelation 12

The Shmaltz He'brew Jewbelation pack led me to the Jewbelation 12. The beer pours a black color with a filmy tan head. The aroma consists of toasted malts, chocolate, molasses, and coffee. The taste is big on chocolate just before the alcohol kicks in and really packs a punch. Following the alcohol, some molasses, coffee, and toasted malts peek through. The after taste keeps the dry coffee and brings back the chocolate. The alcohol content matches the number in the series at 12.0% ABV. Wow, this beer was the perfect beer that was somewhat balanced in flavors but not afraid to kick in the teeth with some alcohol. I enjoyed the chocolaty goodness with the touch of coffee that is both sweet and dry.