Saturday, May 18, 2013

Beer: Anchorage Brewing - Whiteout Wit Bier (With Brettanomyces)

Anchorage Brewing is a 2-year old operation that bottles only a handful of beers. However, most all of them have received rave reviews from beer advocates everywhere. Thanks to a friend's recent trip to Alaska, I was able to taste one of these exquisite and unique brews.

Whiteout Wit Bier (with Brettanomyces) pours a clear color, with little color. Thick, white, fine foam. In fact, this is very highly-carbonated. Lace is thin and insubstantial, though. Nose is fruity and yeasty. I get a kind of champagne crispness more than a beer kind of experience so far. Taste encompasses more lighter notes, and a brisk mix of fruit, spice (coriander), orange peel, and wheat sharpness...really a complex flavor profile, and highly drinkable.

A surprisingly delicious and enjoyable brew, and a unique experience.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sake: SAKEMOTO - Premium Junmai Sake

Always wanted to try some really good sake, and thanks to SakeOne (an American sake importer and brewer), I can say I've had something really delicious from the sake realm.

SakeMoto is a sake imported from Japan and crafted with rice from the Yamaguchi region, and brewed with mountain-sourced water from the Nada region. Not being much of a Japan-o-phile, this all means "nada" to me, but it sounds good, anyway, being all pure and natural.

Getting down to the tasting, SakeMoto pours, naturally, clean and clear. The aroma is slightly fruity and even wine-like. The taste is also light, with a hint of sweet fruitiness (again, wine comparisons abound). It all concludes with a dry, warming finish. 
SakeMoto is a subtle and very tasty sake, easy to sip and enjoy. It's a modest (and wine-caliber) 14.7% ABV, and retails in the USA for about $11 per 720mL bottle. I say, pick this one up (it's available in all states, as well as Canada, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean). I will definitely be having SakeMoto again!

Thanx to Skye Morgan and Charles Communications for the opportunity to try this one!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Nails - "Abandon All Life" CD

 "Abandon All Life", the second album from American black/death/doom/grindcore merchants Nails, certainly economizes. It's 10 songs in a meager 17 minutes, but I swear there's at least an hour's worth of hate in those brief 17 minutes. Recorded by Kurt Ballou (Converge), who ably handles the ear-splitting highs and grisly lows, this is a seriously intense recording.

"Abandon All Life" sounds like a family being violently hacked to bits, crushing bones and explosive blows alongside blood-curdling screams and thuds. Track titles aren't too important, as this flows together as one extended piece of evil audio carnage. Devastating and riveting, Nails make most metal acts sound like kindergardeners. This is the most violent, aggressive recording I've heard in some time. All hail Nails.

Beer: Brooklyn, Victory, and Widmer Brothers

And more beer yet to come. This is just skimming off the top. This installment, some fine brews from some respected breweries. Read on, and have a craft beer today (reject the watery corporate toilet-water)!

Brooklyn is known for making some of the best American-made craft lager (Brooklyn Lager), as well as the superlative Black Chocolate Stout. This is their heavyweight barleywine.

This is a vintage 2010 bottle, so over 2, nearly 3 years aged.
Pours a murky red-amber, with only a small amount of carbonation and almost no lace whatsoever. Nose is big and syrupy-rich, with notes of dried fruit (figs, plums, raisins) and a sharp grain-malt tone. Taste is big and heavy, as to be expected. There's more of the rich maltiness and dried fruit. The intense hops are dialed way back here, and what results is a complex, rich, and rather smooth drinking experience. 

The alcohol kick is definitely there, but this beast gets friendlier with age.

Victory is also known for making one of America's finest lagers, Prima Pils. This is a new saison that's got some mixed reviews elsewhere, but I liked it.

Pours a pale golden, with a vibrant, robust white head. Extravagant lace! Nose is spicy, herbal, and fruity. I get some definite citrus and clove. Very nice! Taste is zesty and spicy, with a tangy twist of sour citrus hops at the finish. 

A very enjoyable ale.

Widmer is one of my trustworthy favorites, despite being partially owned by corporate interests (AB owns 32% of the Craft Brew Alliance, which also includes Kona and Redhook). This is their take on "steam beer" (aka California Common).

Pours a lovely, rich amber, with fine a tri-finger head. Lovely spoke-style lace, as well. Nose is crisp grains and grassy hops. Perfect aroma for a proper lager, so points here, too! Taste is very palate-pleasing, with a light body but full of flavor. I get enough citrus hops and bready malts to be an ideal balance for a session-style spring lager. 

Very enjoyable and well-done!

Part of Widmer's Rotator series of rotating, seasonal IPAs, all of which have been enjoyable thus far.

Pours a clean amber, with a frothy tan head. Superlative lace. Nose is grapefruit, pine, and lemon hops. Very nice. Taste? Pleasantly hopped, with more of the citrus/grapefruit tones. I get a hint of bitterness at the finish. 

Not a hop bomb, but still pretty well enjoyable.

Another part of the Rotator series, this one with the addition of rye malts.

Pours a rich amber, with nice head. Thick, detailed lace. Nose is crisp citrus and floral hops. Very appealing.Taste is nicely hopped, but with enough malts to prevent any acidic or bitter followthrough. The rye shines through with a sharpness, but it's subtle.

Overall, a drinkable and enjoyable IPA -- not overly memorable, but certainly solid.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Beer: Samuel Adams, Dogfish Head, Smuttynose, and Tyranena

More beer reviews, here from some major players in the national craft scene. And plenty of fine tastings here, too. I shan't explain the scorings -- every post around here breaks it down. Suffice to say, all of these 5 brews are worth your time. Enjoy a craft beer today, and down with corporate beer!

This one is from "Traveler Beer Co." - actually a pseudonym of Samuel Adams. Why, I don't know. It is a solid and highly drinkable mix of lemonade and wheat beer, this one with a ginger infusion.

Pours a cloudy orange, like a ruddy hefeweizen (the wheat beer foundation shines through), and with substantial off-white carbonation. No lace, though. Nose is spicy ginger, with a touch of lemon citrus. Not extravagant, but appealing. Flavor is dominated by the ginger infusion, but with touches of smooth and sweet honey and some lemony citrus. 

Not a terrible shandy, and surely quite refreshing on a hot day.

Dogfish Head is among the elite American craft brewers, and one of the most experimental in the craft scene. This seasonal stout uses such ingredients as roasted chicory, Mexican coffee, St. John's Wort, and licorice root. 

Pitch black, with a full head of tan bubbles. Nice spoke lacing. Nose says coffee, and rich chocolate. On the right track. Taste is rich and flavorful, with coffee and chicory coming out pretty forthright. I also get a hint of cocoa in there.

A smooth and balanced stout with plenty of character. This one's a winner.

Another unusual concoction from Dogfish. This is an American IPA (Dogfish 60 Minute IPA), with added Syrah grape must. So, in effect, this is a sort of beer/wine crossover! And a successful one.

Pours a rich and semi-opaque ruby. Thick head of fine white bubbles -- with a definite purple tinge. Big loopy, but not particularly attractive lace. Nose is appealing and fruity, with grapes and dark berries dominating. The hops seem quite dialed down, or else just submerged/obscured. Taste is a brilliant blend of sour fruit (the Syrah grape must) and some crisp citrus hoppiness. 

Very tasty, refreshing, and certainly not a taste I've experienced before in my 1200+ beer-ticking career! Another fruit beer that does not suck!

New Hampshire's Smuttynose is a major East coast player in the craft scene, with some well-regarded offerings. I'd never had a chance to enjoy one, until now, thanks to Hometown Liquors in Henderson, KY.

Pours a murky golden-amber, with a lush and extravagant head of white suds. Lace is thick and extensive. Nose is citrus and floral/herbal hops. Flavor is bitter on the acidic citrus/grapefruit hops, with a nice dose of sweet and sticky malts to balance it out a bit. 

Finestkind isn't a hop-bomb by any means, but it is a solid American IPA. 

Wisconsin's Tyranena is a kind of wild-card. They don't seem to get much notice or notoriety, but they've quietly been making some seriously worthy beers over the past few years. This is a big, big world class beer.

Pours nearly black, w ith ruby highlights. Head is thick and sudsy, and tan in color. Lace is loopy and erratic. Aroma? I get spicy pepper and cocoa. There's a little smoke in there, too, somehow. Very nice! Body is silky smooth, and very nice. Plenty of cocoa and smoke in the taste. The chipotle pepper comes in later near the finish, but remains subtle, and only adds to the distinctive and unique flavor profile.

A very delicious and complex porter with nuance and high drinkability. Recommended!

Bourbon: Angel's Envy

Angel's Envy is a new small-batch Kentucky straight bourbon, and it's finished in Port barrels, so expect something a bit different from your usual oak barrel-aged whiskey. Crafted by master distiller Lincoln Henderson (himself a legend in the bourbon world as creator of Woodford Reserve and Old Forester) in Lexington, KY, Angel's Envy is available in finer spirit shops nationally.  It's 86.6 proof (or 43.3% ABV) and retails for around $44.99 per 750mL bottle. Thanx to Aaron at Ro-Bro for the sampling consideration!

I tasted this one under a couple of conditions, noted below. First, the appearance of Angel's Envy is quite light, being a sandy tan/brown/amber.

First, I tasted this one straight, at room temperature. The aroma was warm and spicy, with notes of oak and a hint of fruit. Tasted smooth going down, with tones of spice, wood, and some dark fruit (albeit so very subtle). Finish was a typical whiskey burn, and more of that subtle fruit. Very nice!

Next tasting I did was with some ice cubes. Again, straight with no additional water or mixer. The chill brought out the bourbon's dryness, and muted some of the complexities. I got sweeter tones, and even a touch of honey in this tasting.

It's easy to see that this is a premium bourbon with texture and nuance, and it's certainly worth a try for any serious bourbon fan. Highly recommended!

Beer: Left Hand, Schlafly, People's, and Boatswain

So we here at Goatsden World HQ are way behind on beer reviews. Apologies to those still waiting. It's a gradual process, but it's coming together. 

Here are some more assorted craft beer reviews, submitted for your approval. Ratings are from 1 (awful) to 5 (awesome). Anything over a 3.0 is considered a perfectly drinkable brew, so cheers, and enjoy a craft beer (not a corporate lager) today!

Colorado's Left Hand Brewing has been a favorite of mine for years. Their original milk stout is among the standards for the style. This is a new version of that brew, and it's just as successful.

Pours black, with ruby highlights. Pretty well opaque. Head is slight but smooth with fine, tan bubbles. Next to no lace here. Nose is chocolate, roasty, and lactic. A little char there, too, but overall nice! Taste is delicious! It's a creamy, smooth mix of bittersweet cocoa, milk, and some roasty char. 

An easy-to-enjoy treat, and here's to hoping this brew isn't limited.

St. Louis' largest craft brewery has always garnered praise and respect. This Belgian-styled ale doesn't disappoint, either.

Pours a pale gold, with moderate carbonation and attractive tree-line lace. Nose is sweet and spiced. Definite tones of Belgian candy sugar. Taste is strong on the spice up front, with a touch of citrus and darker fruit near the finish. There's also a slight warmth at the end, as well.

Overall, a superb Belgian-style ale, and this one is packed with rich flavor. Superb and faithful to the style.

People's Brewing is a recent addition to Indiana's growing craft beer lineup, and their past beers have been received reasonably well here at Goatsden. This is one of the best we've tried yet.

Pours black with ruby highlights, and nice, tan foam. Thick walls of lace. Attractive. Aroma is fruity and herbal. Hops seem muted here. Not sure what to make of it. Taste is sharply hopped, with plenty of roasty chocolate-toned malts underneath. Citric hop finish. 

Comes around with a well-balanced taste and easy finish. Solid.

Brewed by Wisconsin's Minhas Craft Brewery (responsible for some really awful beers), and sold exclusively through Trader Joe's markets, this one isn't bad at all.

Pours a black with tawny brown highlights. Rich head of foamy suds. Thick tree-line lace. Nose is cocoa. Simply put, cocoa. Not bad at all. Taste is definitely overwhelmingly chocolate. I get a silky milk chocolate character more as this brew warms up. 

Not a complex nor multi-dimensional ale, but decent enough.