Saturday, May 25, 2013

Beer: Oaken Barrel, Budweiser, Bell's Brewing

More beer reviews, this time from a wide array of breweries. Keep in mind, my ratings run from a 1 (awful) to 5 (awesome). Any beer scored a 3 or more should be considered worthy. Without further adeiu:

Based near Indianapolis, Oaken Barrel has quietly produced some fine beers for some 14 years now. Epiphany really impressed me.

Poured a cloudy golden upon pouring into my Viking glass. Nicely carbonated, but lace is thin. Nose is toasty at first impression, with some candied or dried fruit coming in behind. I don't get any spice in the nose, though, oddly. Taste is rich and malty. Definitely a big flavor here. I get candied fruit (figs, berries, fruitcake) along with a mildly spiced note. The finish is dry with a balanced fruit-spice melding. The bottle doesn't note the heavy-duy 9.4% ABV at all, but it's evident 2/3 through the bottle!

Overall, this is a solid brew, and certainly a faithful interpretation of the big Belgian tripel style. Enjoyable.


Not much introduction needed here. Corporate attempt to make a "heavier" and more alcoholic junk lager, No surprises as this one's very mediocre and hard to get down.

Pours a clean, clear golden amber, as promised on the bottle. Solid head of fine off-white carbonation, which subsides quickly, leaving no lace. Nose is yeasty and grainy. Not bad, just pretty well generic. Taste is sweet and mild, with almost no hop bite whatsoever. There are some toasty caramel and toffee tones, and even a hint of fruit. I get a really sweet finish, too, which kind of kills my enjoyment. 

I've had much worse beers before, but this isn't one I'd return to, given the choices. 

Bell's is a Midwestern craft beer giant, and this is their classic pale ale, reformulated and re-designed. It's a superb addition to their already-solid lineup of premium craft beers.

Pours a cloudy golden with a superlative white head and attractive tree-line lace. Lovely! Nose is crisp malts and a snappy citrus hops presence. Seems balanced and enticing. Taste is nicely hopped, but not overly so given the style. I get a complementary malt bill alongside the hops. 

Overall, a perfectly balanced and exemplary pale ale. Top marks for the style.

A new seasonal from the respected Bell's, Smitten combines rye and plenty of hops into a highly enjoyable pale ale with a twist.

Pours golden and semi-cloudy due to massive chunks of sediment. My bottle is dated only a month ago, so I have no explanation for this. Regardless, there's a wealth of lovely and attractive lace. Nose is malty and appealing, with a hint of hops. Not bad. Taste is pleasantly hopped, with nice citrus notes and a slight bitterness. Didn't get a lot of the rye in the mix (which is fine with me), just a well-hopped pale ale. 

Tasty, well-done, and very enjoyable!

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