Sunday, May 18, 2014

Terrapin Maggie's Peach Farmhouse Ale Beer Review

A new season means a fresh seasonal beer from Terrapin Beer in Athens, GA. The latest arrival as we close in on summer is Maggie’s Peach Farmhouse Ale – a saison with a thousand pounds of peaches (probably just the juice) for every hundred-barrel batch.

Saisons are traditionally brewed in winter, and often spiced, for drinking in the hot summer sun. Maggie's pour is a bright straw color – dare I say “peachy?” The aroma is very full of fresh fruit, maybe even a little perfume.

None of that “perfume” is there on the drinking though – and that’s good. What you get is true fresh peach flavor that isn’t cloying, or in truth, very sweet at all. It’s a bit sharp and wheaty on the finish, but that’ll make it a nice way to end a day of  summer sun. Some might find it a bit thin, but I’d much rather have a couple Maggie’s Peaches in July than a sugary shandy.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sam Adams Longshot American Homebrew Beer Review

Sam Adams started out as a homebrew, so it only makes sense for the company to have an annual contest for homebrewers and see what’s out there. The 2013 Longshot six-pack (cuz Sam Adams picked the beers last year) includes two each of three beers from amateur beer makers -- American Stout, Grätzer, and Pineapple IPA.

American Stout – No light gets through this cola-colored pour with a light tan head. The aroma is chocolate and coffee, maybe a little licorice. The dark chocolate and coffee flavors are there too with an herbal chicory pushing through. It’s a very malty stout with that soy sauce/umami thing going on. Not a thick mouthfeel, and a surprisingly clean bitter finish. I’m not a big fan of malty stouts, but American Stour does a good job of being what it wants to be.

Grätzer – This is a Polish beer brewed with smoked wheat. It’s a pale and hazy yellow with a sharp aroma and just the faintest tease of hint of ash and smoke. In fact, it took me two or three sips before I started picking up the smoke in the aftertaste. A little sour and a little smoky - t’s an interesting revival of a beer varitety you don’t seen much anymore. Interesting, but not worth repeating.

Pineapple IPA – I’ve always through a hoppy India Pale Ale  would match well with pineapple … but this isn’t it. Pineapple IPA is rusty orange in the glass, but surprisingly light on hoppy aroma with just the barest hints of malt and fruit. The flavor isn’t hoppy either, just bitterness and tinny sweetness that I assume is the pineapple. Not a good IPA and the pineapple isn’t helping. I’ve had more tropical-tasting IPAs with nothing but the right blend of hops varieties. I had high hopes, but this is the easiest one of the trio to skip.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Coronado Brewing Frog’s Breath IPA Beer Review

I wasn’t going to review two IPAs in a row, but after seeing these bottles with a good inch of sediment at the bottom, I figured there’s not to be something interesting here. Turns out Coronado Brewing Company's Frog's Breath IPA is filled with bits o' lemon zest, orange zest and kaffir lime leaf -- which is used a lot in Southeast Asian cooking.

Unlike wine, you drink the sediment, so I fished out my biggest glass to hold the 22 ounces of beer. It pours a cloudy (duh) gold just turning to orange with a sturdy, lasting head. The aroma is hoppy, but not as strong as you’d expect.

For an India Pale Ale, Frog’s Breath is surprisingly bready. It’s a balance between hops and malt that you don’t see in a lot of IPAs, and would either be interesting or disappointing – depending on your tastes. The malt adds a sweetness that cuts some of the bitter hops. It’s still green and piney, but mellower.

For all that sediment, it’s not the citrus blast I expected. The kaffir lime leaf shows up mostly at the end of a sip, cutting through the malt with a bit of bitter and floral (almost rosy) brightness.

Coronado Brewing originally designed Frog’s Breath with a couple home brewers that were also Navy SEALs (Get it? Frogmen?) With a relatively-low alcohol content of 6.5%, Frog’s Breath is maybe mellow enough for drinkers who find most IPAs too harsh.  Wonder how it would go with lamb curry?