Monthly Archives: September 2011

45. Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin

This is Shipyard’s “other” pumpkin beer as most everyone has tried Pumpkinhead but few people have tried their Smashed Pumpkin. Probably partially due to the fact it is only available in the 22 oz bomber not in your typical 12 oz bottle 6-packs. It is really too bad as I prefer this over Pumpkinhead. Not nearly as much spice, but still has great color, aroma and a much higher alcohol content. One has to be a bit careful when opening a 22 oz bottle with 9% ABV especially when it is as smooth as this beer is. Pumpkin flavor is there but not overwhelming, if you open this beer right out of the fridge it may be too cold as the taste was a bit milder as the beer warmed slightly. My suggestion would be to open the bottle, pour your first glass and let it sit for a 3-4 minutes before drinking, leave the bottle open and not refrigerated so the second glass is as good as the first. Very good and worth trying to find this at your local convenience or grocery store.
Pros: Nice pumpkin flavor – great color and aroma
Cons: Only available in 22 oz bottles
Alcohol Content: 9.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: ★★★½☆
Brewers Website: Shipyard
Brewers Description: Smashed Pumpkin is a big-bodied beer with a light coppery orange color and pleasing aromas of pumpkin and nutmeg. The Pale Ale, Wheat and Light Munich malts combine with the natural tannin in pumpkin and the delicate spiciness of hops to balance the sweetness of fruit.
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44. Widmer Brothers Hefeweizen

I remember the first time I had this beer at a restaurant in Portsmouth NH after a day of golf. On that day it was one of the best beers I had ever tried and different than anything I had before. This was the first Hefeweizen and still is the best in my mind. When compared with the others I have reviewed this has a much more cloudy appearance as an unfiltered beer should have. Overall the aroma is great – taste is smooth and it is very easy to drink more than one. I was fortunate to find a 12-pack in a local grocery store and I would be surprised if they made it through the weekend. Be sure to drink this from a glass, add a slice of lemon and I am sure you will enjoy. Check out this video on how to properly pour a Hefeweizen (video link)- because it is unfiltered it is important to drink from a glass and swirl to get anything that settled to the bottom of the bottle.
Pros: Easy to drink – great cloudy look and aroma
Cons:  Hard to find in Maine
Alcohol Content: 4.9% ABV
Calories: 156
IBU (Bitterness): 30
Rating: ★★★½☆
Brewers Website: Widmer Brothers
Brewers Description: Meet the beer that started it all. Our naturally cloudy flagship brew starts with the highest quality wheat. It’s bold, clean flavor and pronounced citrus and floral aromas are what define American style hefeweizen. So pour yourself a cool, cloudy glass, finish with a lemon and enjoy the original.
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43. Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard Ale

This is my first 22 ounce bottle beer review and I bought this after seeing Stone Brewing on Drinking Made Easy. The description on the bottle and the brewers website is very accurate as this beer is full of flavor and very close to being barley wine. Very little carbonation, lots of complex flavors (not all of which I enjoyed) – too much hop flavor for my taste. The beer does have great color, pours well with a great head that lasts. It is a quality beer just not my style.
Pros: Color
Cons: Too hoppy
Alcohol Content: 7.2% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): Lots
Rating: ★★½☆☆
Brewers Website: Stone Brewing
Brewers Description: This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory–maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beverage will give you more sex appeal. Perhaps you think multi-million dollar ad campaigns make things taste better. Perhaps you’re mouthing your words as you read this.

At Stone Brewing, we believe that pandering to the lowest common denominator represents the height of tyranny – a virtual form of keeping the consumer barefoot and stupid. Brought forth upon an unsuspecting public in 1997, Arrogant Bastard Ale openly challenged the tyrannical overlords who were brazenly attempting to keep Americans chained in the shackles of poor taste. As the progenitor of its style, Arrogant Bastard Ale has reveled in its unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity. There have been many nods to Arrogant Bastard Ale…even outright attempts to copy it… but only one can ever embody the true nature of liquid Arrogance!

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42. Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

According to Dogfish’s website this is a blend of a Scotch Ale, IPA and Brown Ale and it certainly makes for an interesting combination. Seems closer to a brown ale but does have a fair amount of hoppiness to it.  Pours to a nice deep brown color with a tan head. The head disappeared very quickly and there was not a lot of carbonation. Very smooth to drink with complex flavors.
Pros: Very flavorful, easy to drink
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 7.2% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 50
Rating: ★★★½☆
Brewers Website: Dogfish Head
Brewers Description: Forget about the car companies, this is the original hybrid, a cross between a Scotch Ale, an India Pale Ale, and an American Brown. Our Indian Brown Ale is well-hopped and malty at the same time (magical). The beer has characteristics of each style that inspired it; the color of an American Brown, the caramel notes of a Scotch Ale, and the hopping regiment of an India Pale Ale. We dry-hop the Indian Brown Ale in a similar fashion as our 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPAs. This beer is brewed with Aromatic barley and organic brown sugar.

Food Pairing Recommendations: Balsamic vinaigrette salads, smoked meats, duck confit, braised ribs, venison, prosciutto, stews
Tasting Notes: molasses, coffee, ginger, raisinettes, chocolate

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41. Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA

This is another solid beer from Harpoon. I was a bit skeptical as an IPA with a 120 IBU rating and 10% alcohol is not usually something I would enjoy but this one had a nice white head that stayed throughout the entire beer leaving a nice lace on the glass. The brewer does a nice job offsetting the bitter hops with some sweat malt flavoring. At 10% ABV you can taste it and it is a beer that should be enjoyed slowly.
Pros: Lots of hops but still not overpowering
Cons:  Strong (that could be a pro or a con depending)
Alcohol Content: 10%
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 120
Rating: ★★★½☆
Brewers Website: Harpoon
Brewers Description: Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA will challenge your senses and your palate. As the vibrant aroma rushes out of your glass you will notice the blend of piney and tropical fruit notes.  At first sip, this big beer starts with a powerful hop bitterness up front and an aggressive hop flavor and character throughout.

Leviathan Imperial IPA is brewed with tons of pale malt and just enough caramel malt to provide a sweet malt body to balance the hop intensity. We used copious amounts of a variety of hops including Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, and Amarillo at various points during the boil to create a complex hop flavor and clean lingering bitter finish. We then fermented the beer with Harpoon’s own versatile proprietary yeast.   Finally, we dry hopped at a rate of over 1 lb a barrel to produce this beer’s massive aroma.

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40. Gritty McDuff’s Halloween Ale

If you enjoy your fall beer offering without a lot of spice or pumpkin flavor than this would be a good choice for you. Really there is nothing in this one that makes it a “fall” beer other than the very cool label and Halloween Ale name. Gritty’s makes quality beer that is best enjoyed in their brew pubs but the bottled offerings are not bad either.
Pros: Nice malt flavor – no strong aftertaste – great art on the label
Cons: Not sure what makes it a fall special – no pumpkin, spice or other special flavoring.
Alcohol Content: 6.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Brewers Website: Gritty McDuff’s
Brewers Description: Every fall marks the return of our legendary Extra Special Bitter for the season, Halloween Ale – the beer so good, it’s scary! From its humble beginnings in 1990 as a small-batch seasonal in our Portland Brew Pub, Halloween Ale has grown to be one of the year’s most anticipated beer releases. This robust brew has a deep amber color, a bold, malty palate and a well-rounded hop finish. The perfect beer for a crisp autumn day!

Halloween Ale is available in ominous six-packs, and on draft at frightening establishments all over the terrifying state of Maine. Be afraid, be very afraid…of running out!

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39. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

This one is like many of the other beers I have reviewed. A quality beer, something you will enjoy, would not refuse if offered, but not sure it would make you want to run out and buy more. Not nearly as good as the Smuttynose (review #38). Dogfish’s website describes this as a full-bodied brown ale but it certainly does not have the color of the previous brown ales, here. The first drink you can certainly taste the pumpkin but after that it gets lost in the other flavors. Color is what you would expect but nothing spectacular. It does have a good head when poured which lasts and leaves a nice lace on the glass. I like Dogfish Head and this  lives up to their usual standards.
Pros: Ample flavor, good flavor
Cons: Very similar to other pumpkin ales
Alcohol Content: 7.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 28
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Brewers Website: Dogfish Head
Brewers Description: A full-bodied brown ale with smooth hints of pumpkin and brown sugar. We brew our Punkin Ale with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and spices. This is the perfect beer to warm-up with, as the season cools.

Punkin Ale is named after a locally-famous and seriously off-centered event here in southern Delaware – Punkin Chunkin (check out some of these Discovery Channel videos of Punkin Chunkin, you gotta see it to believe it!). In fact, Punkin Ale made it’s debut as it claimed First Prize in the 1994 Punkin Chunkin Recipe Conest – yes, that was a full 6 months before we even opened our doors for business. Punkin Chunkin has grown in size and scale with pumpkins now being hurled more than 4,000 feet through the air! If you come down to see if for yourself – come by and visit us.
Since then, we’ve brewed Punkin Ale each and every fall. It is released right around September first each year. When you find it, grab some extra because it’s usually gone by Thanksgiving.
Food Pairing Recommendations:
Turkey, roasted duck, lamb, stuffing, dessert dumplings
Tasting Notes:
Malty, pumpkin, caramel, brown sugar
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38. Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

This is definitely the best pumpkin ale I have tried and probably the best color beer. It truly is the color in the photo, a nice bright orange. Has a light spice and pumpkin smell but not overpowering, excellent flavor with a fair amount of hops. Even if you usually do not like pumpkin beer you may want to give this one a try. Smuttynose usually does a nice job with their beer and you will be seeing more from them in the coming months.
Pros: Great color, perfect amount of hops and pumpkin
Cons: Bad picture on their site. Check it out – guess that is not too bad if that is the only bad thing I can say about this beer.
Alcohol Content: 5.6% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ???
Rating: ★★★★☆
Brewers Website: Smuttynose Brewing
Brewers Description: Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale is our homage to the craft and heritage of America’s brewers. Recipes calling for the use of pumpkins in beer date back to early colonial times, when brewers sought to extend their supply of costly imported malt with locally grown ingredients, such as squash and “pompions.”
In that spirit, we brew our ale with the addition of pumpkin to the mash, along with traditional spices to create a delicious American original.
Available in sixpacks and on draft from mid-August through October.
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37. Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre

The first Dogfish Head review and it is not their best but certainly better than the last beer I had. This is the first in a series of high alcohol content beers made for sipping and not chugging. Having a full 8% alcohol content you can certainly taste the alcohol more than in the typical 4-5% ABV beers. There is a lot of flavor in this one and sip seems to bring something different. It has a great dark color, nice aroma and could be enjoyed with a meal or all by itself. I happened to enjoy this one in the evening after supper and I’m thinking it will be my last beer of the night.
Pros: Complex flavor, color, aroma
Cons: Strong alcohol taste
Alcohol Content: 8.0%
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 25
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Brewers Website: Dogfish Head
Brewers Description: A deep, mahogany Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins, and Belgian-style yeast.
We began brewing this one at our brewpub in 1996 (we began packaging and selling it sometime in 1998) as the answer to the question, “What beer should I enjoy with a wood-grilled steak?” Raison D’Etre fits the bill, tasty and as complex as a fine, red wine.

Food Pairing Recommendations: Steak, duck, game, wine-reduction sauces, Blue cheese, goat cheese, ham, mussels

Tasting Notes:
pit fruit, decadent, winey, raisiney, malty
Wine Comparable:
Bordeaux
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36. R.J. King Wingwalker Pale Ale

This one was a big disappointment. Not sure what I was expecting but it was certainly something better than this. I should have known when it was a twist top that the quality was not going to be good but the label made it appear to be a small brewer which apparently does not mean it is a quality beer. The smell was about the only good thing about this one as it did have a slight citrus smell after pour but the taste was mediocre at best, lots of carbonation and an aftertaste that 5 minutes after I am done is still lingering. I would not recommend this beer and am not looking forward to the Wingwalker Lager that I have in the fridge. Glad I only bought a single and not entire 6 or 12 pack.
Pros: Aroma
Cons: Bad flavor, aftertaste, overly carbonated
Alcohol Content: 5.4% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: ★½☆☆☆
Brewers Website: R.J. Wingwalker
Brewers Description: Ah…the master showmen of aviation acrobatics. Performing in an era when flight was freedom, these competitive daredevils performed breathtaking feats as they “one upped” each other with their signature tricks. Wingwalkers brought excitement to the County Fairs of the 1920’s as they whet the appetites of those spectators yearning for adventure!
“Wet” your appetite for adventure with one of the trailblazing beer styles in the R. J. King Wingwalker portfolio.
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