Monday, November 14, 2011

Fight Night Beers

This past Saturday was Fight Night, which means its a good night to sit down and have a couple of beers. Unknowlingy there was a theme to the beers I had on Saturday.
Sam Adams Griffon's Bow: The second beer I've had from Sam Adams small batch series, this one is an oaked blonde barleywine. Notice that its oaked and not barrel aged. It weighs in at a hefty 11.5% and pours an orangish golden color with a quarter inch of just off white head. The nose is perfumey, notes of honeysuckle, pineapple, toasted malts, and maybe just a hint of oak. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, a good level of carbonation, slightly sweet up front, almost but not quite cloyingly so. Honeysuckle, melon, but finishes dry. Some alcohol, white grape juice flavors, an oaked white wine characteristic. There is a lack of depth to these flavors though that keep it from being really really good. Instead its ok, something worth picking up, but not one I would go out of my way for again.
North Coast Grand Cru: A new beer to the Texas market from a brewery that we've had in the state for a long time and one that makes some outstanding beers. This is a bourbon barrel aged beer made with agave nectar and weighs in at an even heftier 12.9%. It pours a hazy pale golden color with a thin white head. The nose again is perfumey with notes of honey, melon, pale malts, more oak on this one then the last. There are more phenolic notes of alcohol in this beer than the last as well. Great level of carbonation and again sweet up front, melons, honeysuckle. A rich beer, but its very bright, nothing is lost in its richness. Effervescent almost. This has an almost ice wine character to it. It finishes very dry. As it warms notes of peaches, vanilla, nectarines, even a slight tartness that rounds its character out. There is so much depth to this beer its unbelievable. I really enjoyed this one, and I think this is what the Sam Adams beer was trying to be. They are both very similar styles in certain respects, Sam Adams version was almost there, North Coast's was there and then some.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Sam Adams Third Voyage

Sam Adams is an interesting brewery. They are a brewery that has done great things for the craft beer movement, but many craft beer nerds, turn their nose up at Sam Adams, and don't really consider them a craft brewery. Sure their flagship Boston Lager is not a mind blowingly complex beer, but is a great alternative in hotels and airports when there isn't much other options. Plus they make a great many other beers than just their Lager. Their Imperial Pilsner they brewed a few years back is one of the best beers I've ever had. They really helped create the whole extreme beer movement with Utopias and their Imperial series is damn solid (although I don't care of the Imp White at all). Sure they have their misses (Triple Bock I'm looking at you), but for the most part they make beers ranging from good and solid, to outstandingly complex.
They continue to release special beers, first it was their Barrel Room collection that we unfortunately don't get in Texas (damn label laws) and now its a collection of Small Batch beers, that luckily we do get. The first one I have had the opportunity to try is their Double IPA, Third Voyage. The beer is brewed with simcoe hops and Cascade hops from England, New Zealand, and the US which is where the name for the beer comes from. The name is based off of Captain James Cook third voyage that took him from England, to New Zealand before completing his journey in the Pacific Northwest of the US. But enough of the history lesson, how does the beer taste?
The Beer: The Beer weighs in at 8.0% (not sure of the IBU's) and pours a crystal clear ruby color capped with a dense foamy slightly off white head. The nose is full of hops, citrus, along with some earthy mustiness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a comforting level of carbonation. Massively hoppy, citrus peel, and pitch. Caramel malts, buttered bread, help give balance to the beer. There is a quality to the beer that I equate to hop marmalade on toast points. There is a slight sweetness to this brew that counters the over the top hops of the beer. However after the third or fourth sip, all I get is hops, hops and more hops. The tongue becomes saturated and its all I get. I like the white pepper spice impression that the resiny hops leave on my tongue. This is a fine beer, and makes me want to go out and try the other ones from this series. This one gets a strong B+ from me.