Tag Archives: beer

Beer Review: Bay State Brewing Co’s Becky Likes the Smell

Hello,

I can’t stay away from IPAs. There was a time when I did not like IPAs at all, but, because I’m stubborn, I kept drinking them, over and over again. Now I kind of like them.

I really don’t know how I feel about the name of this one: Becky Likes the Smell.

I dig what they’re referring to, as the can promo woman is holding a hop (one hop?) in her hand, but man, I dunno.

The IPA does smell good. Smells like a fruitier IPA. Sweeter, maybe.

Love the can art.

No credit for the can art though. Not sure how I feel about, Bay State Brewing Co..

Anyway, it’s late and I need to write this blog entry and drink this beer.

And not sure how I feel about this one. I feel like the can over-promised on this one. Supposedly I can taste notes of: tropical fruit, pear, spice, melon, pine and citrus.

I feel like you’d be hard pressed NOT to taste pine and citrus in an IPA. That’s just what hops taste like.

It’s just a little empty, especially considering that this is a double IPA. I expect a little more oomph from a double IPA, and I don’t just mean with the alcohol. Other double IPAs really pack in the flavor, sometimes to an overwhelming degree.

I’d say that if you want a lighter, more refreshing double IPA, than this one is a good bet. Not too much backbite with the bitterness, but when they say subtle notes on the can, they mean subtle. It’s definitely not as sticky as some IPAs can get.

Feeling let down.

Great can art. Ok beer. Upsetting name.

Six robots that transform into cassette tapes out of eight.

-D-

Leave a comment

Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It

Beer Review: Collective Arts’ Life in the Clouds

Hello,

I decided to take another crack at a Collective Arts Brewing IPA tonight because I enjoyed last night’s so much. The initial smell is definitely not as intense as it was last night, but this is not a Double IPA.

I will say that IPAs are a devil of a thing to review because unless a company is actually trying to make a distinctive flavor, mostly all you get is the in-your-face flavor of hops. This one smells a little citrus.

The one last night reminded me a great deal of a Ballast Point IPA and I’m getting the same vibe here.

Oh and the art on the can is by Annabelle Popa. She does some pretty cool comics that you can read through her site as well.

Sorry, forgot about the beer for a moment.

It’s another solid IPA, but there’s nothing that particularly stands out to me about this one, unlike last night’s offering.

Again, it doesn’t aggressively overwhelm me with bitterness and again it’s very pleasant. There’s no point where I feel let down, where it’s too airy, or too light. It’s ticking the boxes for everything I want in an IPA.

I just realized I’m coming across as disappointed and there’s nothing to be disappointed about. I think this is a good IPA starter, if you’re not a huge fan of IPAs or you’ve never had one, you won’t go wrong trying this one. It’s still bitter, but it doesn’t linger like in some craft IPAs. It’s complex enough to not be boring, but not overly heavy and it has a decent kick, in terms of alcohol content.

I give it five IPAs out of four t-rex pepper shakers.

-D-

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It

Beer Review: Collective Arts’ IPA No. 8

Hello,

The first thing I have to say about this beer is that the moment I popped it open, all I smelled were hops. Keep in mind, I didn’t have my face right in the beer. My nose was a good two or three feet away from the can when I opened it.

Bam.

Hops.

And I mean, the actual physical hops. Like when you go on the Sam Adams brewery tour and they make you rub hops between your hands so your hands smell like hops for the rest of the day. Like that. Not hoppy or essence of hops.

Just. Hops.

I still haven’t even tried it. It’s..astonishing. I don’t even know if I want to try it.

I love their can art though. Is that a term? A real term? Can art? I prefer the art on Stranger than Fiction, their porter, but this just pops. According to Collective Arts’s website, they use their beer to promote artists and muscians, so that’s pretty cool.

Still haven’t tried it.

I waved the beer at my wife and she said it smells like a brewery floor.

It smells like its calmed down a bit, much more muted, more tame. Before it was a hops djinn that had been released from some thousand year slumber. Now it’s…an IPA.

Whoa, that’s pretty pleasant actually. Not aggressively bitter, it’s not one of those craft beers going for the IBUs. It’s…a really good, really solid IPA. It’s a little sweet, barely any back-of-the-throat bitterness biting at you.

Wow.

I don’t think I’ve had such a positive turnaround on a beer from beginning to end.

If you like IPAs, but you’re sick of some bearded, flannel wearer cramming bitterness down your throat like a craft beers are a contest to see who can get the highest IBUs, definitely try this out. Little sweet, very solid and a strong IPA.

I give it six happy, floaty clouds.

CORRECTION: It’s a double IPA, so at 8%, it might put you down, if you’re not used to that.

-D-

Leave a comment

Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It

Beer Review: Wormtown Brewery’s Sweet Tats

Hello Again,

So I have a weird relationship with porters and stouts.

A lot of the time, I’ll try, say, one of the many variations of Guinness and it’s…empty. There’s some flavor at the front and some bitterness at the back and there’s just nothing holding up in the middle.

But! With Imperial Stouts, there is something in the middle. There’s a little more oomph. Now, a lot of that is probably the higher alcohol content, but usually they’re richer, fuller and more flavorful and you’re drunker much faster.

And Wormtown Brewery‘s Sweet Tats is no exception.

Unlike a lot of imperial stouts I’ve had, which can be almost viscous and overpowering, Sweet Tats is less dense, less heavy, but still flavorful with a bit of a punch.

I will say that the label says it’s been flavored with coffee beans, cacao nibs and vanilla beans, but I’m not really picking any of those out. Sometimes I’ll hit a glimmer of coffee or maybe a hint of vanilla, but that’s about it.

However, if the alternative is aggressive vanilla flavor hitting me in the face like a wet sock soaked in vanilla extract, I think I’d rather have this. I swear to god, there are some brewery’s that don’t think people can taste something unless the beer is saturated with spice. I’m looking at you, Shipyard and your cinnamon obsession.

Anyway, if you want a lighter Imperial Stout that’s not too aggressive, but also isn’t like drinking bitter air, Sweet Tats is the way to go. It’s smooth, nice and doesn’t reek of vanilla beans.

I give it five out of five dinosaur pepper shakers.

Also, they have really nice glassware, so if you’re ever in Worcester go buy some. I think I’m using the “wrong” glass, but my one rule for glassware is: does it hold a pint of beer?

I don’t need to be told that I should use tulip glasses for IPAs or shot glasses for stouts or martini glasses for Coors Light.

-D-

Leave a comment

Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It

Spoooky Beer Review: Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin

image

Harpoon makes some of my favorite beers, from their UFO White to Leviathon, you’re generally going to get a solid, complex beer with a lot to offer. So I had high hopes when I picked up UFO Pumpkin.

And those hopes were resoundingly rewarded. This if the kind of pumpkin ale that I want to be drinking; when there’s more pumpkin than spices and I feel like I’m in the middle of Halloween instead of the middle of some over-saturated, over-spiced pumpkin pie being served up for someone’s Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s unfiltered, so it has a deep, cloudy orange, making it look heavier than it actually tastes. It’s a deep, rich orange. It’s a satisfying color, letting you know exactly what you’re in for.

There is cinnamon and spice up front, which gives way to a solid and hearty pumpkin flavor. Much like Pumpkinhead, it’s very crisp and ultimately very refreshing.

For day to day drinking, both Pumpkinhead and UFO Pumpkin are good beers. They both have a relatively low alcohol content and don’t overwhelm you with unnecessary flavor. It honestly depends on what you’re looking for in a pumpkin ale. If you’re looking for a more spice heavy beer, I’d go with Pumpkinhead. If you want something a little more pumpkiny (that’s a technical term), UFO Pumpkin should be your go-to this season.  The spices and the pumpkin flavoring go hand-in-hand.

For me, UFO Pumpkin is the way to go and I give it seven cheerful Jack O’ Lanterns and a scowling black cat.

-D-

1 Comment

Filed under Halloween: Rock and Shock, 31 Days of Spooktacular, Spoooky Beer Reviews and More

Spoooky Beer Review: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Pumpkinhead

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

In spite of the fact that I have now reviewed it twice on my blog, I am really not a huge fan of Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin. There is a LOT of flavor in there, but’s mostly spice, with the minute amounts of pumpkin being overwhelmed by cinnamon and nutmeg.

Now, you may be asking, why am I talking about Smashed Pumpkin for the third time? Well, because I have, somehow, never tried Shipyard’s main Halloween offering: Pumpkinhead Ale.  Smashed Pumpkin is a fancy beer that you can only purchase in those oversized pint-and-a-half bottles with a gold foil cover; Pumpkinhead is more like Smashed Pumpkin‘s little brother. It has a lower alcohol content and is sold in six packs and even in…cans.

It is a big seller round these parts and a symbol that Halloween is barreling down the highway like some lunatic truck.

And I have never reviewed it.

So I’m going to rectify that…right now.

image

As far as pumpkin ales go, Pumpkinhead is a nice golden color. Not really that deep, orange I expect form pumpkin ales, but it’s rich and reminds me of Fall. And really, that’s all you can ask for in a Fall themed beer.

The first thing I notice when I poke my nose in the glass is cinnamon. Lots and lots of cinnamon. And maybe nutmeg. And I know that I’m not going to be thrilled. It’s a sweet and heavily spiced aroma that promises little in the way of pumpkins and a lot in the way of spice.

And drinking confirms it.

It’s more spice than pumpkin, much like with Smashed Pumpkin. However, unlike Smashed Pumpkin, it’s much lighter: lighter flavor and lighter alcohol content. It’s more refreshing and less overwhelming. Smashed Pumpkin can put you on your ass and leave you there gagging on spices. Pumpkinhead is gentler and a better beer for it, though still not quite what I’m looking for in a pumpkin beer.

It’s the perfect middle-of-the-week beer. You need something to remind you that Halloween is coming and forget the eight hours of work you just endured. You grab a Pumpkinhead. You don’t swirl it in your pilsner glass and comment on the aromas, like some asshole with a blog. You sit on the couch, turn on a baseball game and wonder what in God’s name happened to the Red Sox this season and let Pumpkinhead take you away.

I give it a handful of cinnamon sticks. And a ginger root. Because I bought a ginger root a few weeks ago thinking that Emily and I were going to make dumplings, but that didn’t really happen and now it’s getting a little shriveled.

-D-

Leave a comment

Filed under Halloween: Rock and Shock, 31 Days of Spooktacular, Spoooky Beer Reviews and More

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Third Voyage

image

 

For a long time, I had a love/hate relationship with IPAs. They were too bitter, too strong tasting, too hoppy. Now I feel like I could go the rest of my life never drinking anything else. So when I saw a new Sam Adams Double IPA, (Third Voyage) I ran and grabbed my specially designed, high tech Sam Adams guzzlin’ glass and filled it to the brim with hoppy.

And I’m underwhelmed. I’m never happy with an ordinary IPA. I want to be sandblasted with flavor. I want to have trouble finishing the whole glass because the flavor is punching me in the uvula with a ferocity that could only be equaled by Jake LaMotta roid ragin’. I want my taste buds to be knocked out so hard that the only thing they’ll be able to handle is watered down PBR.

The problem with Third Voyage is that it’s too….nice. There’s no bold flavor at the front and there’s no bold flavor at the back. It’s smooth, almost downright mellow and it’s ticking me off. It hits all the right notes, but not with the right intensity. It has a sharp bark, but no bite. It has that bitter finisher, but not that throat puckering grab that some IPAs have.

It’s a perfectly good Double IPA, sweet and grapey and strong, but it’s just not the IPA for me. I recommend it if you’re not into ultra-hoppy IPAs like Harpoon’s Rye Ipa.

I give it half a hop and a skip.

-D-

Leave a comment

Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It

A Place of Our Own

Emily introduced me to sushi a few years ago and, since then, we’ve gone to about six or seven places in the Boston area and never more than once. None of the places we went to were necessarily bad (except for the one in Somerville where the waitress corrected Emily in the most condescending manner possible. Good fish though.), but there was just nothing there to make us come back.

But now I think we’ve finally found a place that’s worth revisiting a second time. We went to Cafe Sushi in Cambridge tonight and it was one of the better sushi places I’ve been to, either in Boston or anywhere else. It’s a middle-sized place, definitely larger than some of the hole-in-the-walls we’ve been to recently, but nowhere near as large as Fins. The waitstaff were friendly and helpful and it’s convenient to get to, especially for the car-less.

Now, the fish was good and I enjoyed the rolls, but that’s not what sold me. They have craft beers! From Japan. Of course, I managed to go through almost their entire selection of Japanese beers, but not all, so I still have a reason to go back again. They serve beer brewed by Hitachino Nest, which has the most adorable owl mascot. I tried the Sweet Stout, the White Ale and the Red Rice Ale, all of which were uniquely flavored and delicious in their own ways.

The White Ale is crisp, sweet and refreshing. The sweet stout, very smooth, mellow and also very refreshing. The Red Rice Ale was extremely fruity and sweet. Emily said it tasted like gummy bears and I think that’s the best possible description. It was a great trio of beers and if I can find them outside of Cafe Sushi, I’ll definitely pick them up.

If you want great sushi, great beer and without a hefty price tag, I recommend checking out Cafe Sushi.

I give it four owls. In their nests. Eek! They even have a little owl icon for the Chrome tab.

-D-

2 Comments

Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It

Brewing an Education: Porters and Stouts (Part IV)

image

 

The only way to gain an education in anything food related is with a lot of practical experience. If you want to know how to make bouillabaisse, you need to make bouillabaisse. If you want to know how rabbits taste, you need to taste rabbits (poorly worded, will fix later).

Similarly, with beer, you need to get out and drink a lot of beer. You can’t just read in a book about the flavor of hops and the intensity of aromas. That only teaches you the vocabulary and the techniques. But, after that, you’re on your own.

So I’m drinking more beer is what I’m saying.

I’m trying another porter, this one Samuel Smith‘s Taddy Porter, an import from Yorkshire. Seeing as how both porters and stouts are a British invention, a lot of what you’re going to find in your local grocery or liquor store are going to be imported from across the way.

I’ve had a few porters and a few stouts since I’ve started this project and this porter is little less flavorful and a little complex than some of the other porters I’ve had. It had a fruity aroma, again bringing to mind cherries. The flavor is more chocolate than coffee, a little more hoppy than I’d expect.

It’s very crisp and smooth, with a small bitter flourish at the end. It’s refreshing, a good beer for summer and spring.

All in all, I can see myself ducking in a bar on a the tail end of a summer day and ordering this to cool down, but it’s far from the complex intensity of Zwiec’s offering.

A handful of cherries and a glass of lemonade for this porter.

-D-

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It

Brewing an Education: Porters and Stouts (Part III)

image

Continuing on along our education of stouts and porters, we have come across our first porter. Now, from everything I have read, porters are a bit of a mystery. Once, a long time ago, porters were an extremely popular form of beer of which stouts a type. But, along the way, porters fell by the wayside and, eventually, people stopped making them entirely. The last porter brewed was by Guinness and they stopped in the mid-seventies. Then, after a good twenty years, people decided to bring back porters based on half-forgotten recipes and old myths of what porters were supposed to be.

As a result, there’s not a lot of consensus of what a porter should taste like, because, in truth, no one knows what one should taste like. Different breweries try their hand at porters and they all come up with different answers to the question: what is a porter?

Today, I tried Zywiec‘s Porter and if all porter’s taste like this, I would drink them more often. It has a very hearty, fruity aroma out of the bottle and the taste followed suit. It tasted like dark cherries, sweet and heady and full of flavor. It had a very smooth and full mouthfeel without being thick and syrupy.

For a type of beer with close ties to stouts, I was surprised to find how refreshing it was. It was clear and strong and wasn’t overwhelming in either texture or taste.

It was very decadent, sweet without a lot of bitterness. I would serve it with a dessert, but a less rich dessert like a white cake or  some vanilla ice cream  It was a great beer, maybe not one that you would all the time or one after the other, but definitely a beer that you would have every once in a while as a way to remind yourself of how different beers can be from one another and how good those differences can be.

I would give this one three chocolate covered cherries and two scoops of vanilla ice cream.

This rating system might prove to be prophetic considering an entry I have planned down the line.

-D-

2 Comments

Filed under Food: Cooking It, Eating It and Drinking It