Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Name- Mackeson Triple Stout
Brewer- Inbev
Country- UK
Type- Milk Stout
Alcohol Content- 4.9%
Summary - Subtle, yet complex stout. All the expected characteristics of a good stout without overdoing it. Equal amounts of a little chocolate and a little coffee with an overall blanket of roasted malt flavor. Not overbearing nor too heavy. A creamy stout but a brownish, non-creamy head. Wonderful roasted malt aroma. Is that hint of caramel/molasses I detect?

After my negative critique of Old Rasputin I was eager to showcase a stout that I feel delivers. Too often stouts lean on their thickness or high ABV. Not Mackeson. In fact, I have often drank stouts that I feel I had to work through, thinking, "At least with the higher alcohol content I won't have to drink so many of these." But with Mackeson, I can slowly savor the taste and almost forget I'm drinking a "stout" and yet there is no mistaking it is one. It is a creamy and subtle brew that lets you discover it's character rather than hitting you in the face with it. If I had to get really artsy about the description, I'd say that the roasted maltiness anchors the beer while it's flanked equally by coffee and chocolate flavor.

Brewed in the UK, Caribbean, and the US by InBev, it has an exceptionally high quality normally found at a smaller singular brewery like Samuel Smith's line. If you are looking to try a stout for the first time (for real, not like having a Guinness because you're at an Irish pub or your friends are egging you on), this is your stout. Drink it slowly, not because it's heavy, but because the flavor will attach itself to your tongue and linger in a good way until that next sip. I liken it to good chocolate- if you gobble it down you'll miss out on how wonderful it is. I've read others' reviews that make note of the sweetness- I don't find it sweet at all.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Old Rasputin

Name- Old Rasputin
Brewer- North Coast Brewing Company
Country- United States
Type- Imperial Stout
Alcohol Content- 9%
Summary - Strong, even for an Imperial Stout. A little too strong, in terms of taste and character. Head is thick like a well-poured pub draught of Guinness. However, it needs refinement, lots more complexity, and in that sense, it lacks character.

Pouring this beer got me excited- I remember when I had my first properly poured Guinness at a pub in Gainesville (not the one I worked at, hehe) years ago, and I was impatient with the bartender because it took forever. But I remember seeing (as I would many times again) the head on the beer- echelons of cascading layers of foam, slowly falling until it was at a proper point to either pour more or serve and consume. The head on Old Rasputin quickly brought me back to that moment in time (and any experience that can bring you back to a sweet memory is worth mentioning.) I had recently been recommended Old Rasputin, so I thought that I was in for a real treat. I felt that I would be plunged into a beer that would satisfy my cravings for complexity that are sometimes missing in some Imperial Stouts.

I was wrong. It's bold, very bold, and you can almost taste the alcohol in it. This is in spite of it (here we go) only being 9% ABV. That's right, 9% and I said "only." Normally I would expect the hint of actual taste of alcohol for a stronger beer (not that this is weak by any means), but for some reason, I can almost taste it here. The temperament of roasted malts isn't missing, but considerably weak, IMHO. And any complexity of fruit flavors is all but missing for me.

It's not that I enjoy being harsh when commenting on beers that I try and feel do not hit the mark, but I suppose that Old Rasputin was a bit of a disappointment for me. It's not bad, but to be frank, it's not as good as I expected. Before you get the wrong idea, I realize that Imperial Stouts (and any Stouts or Porters for that matter) have a longer ladder to climb in terms of "ease of drinkability" (I just coined that term, thank-you) but I've had better. It's not a standard-bearer.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Penn Gold

Name- Penn Gold
Brewer- Pennsylvania Brewing Company
Country- United States
Type- Lager
Alcohol Content- 4%
Summary - Moderately carbonated, and with a light golden hue. Taste firmly on the center of the tongue, but smooth and not punctuated. Not very hoppy at all, and with good barley accent. A good example of a decent American Lager, despite the it's own billing as a chip off the old Munich Helles Biergarten style.

While the bottle suggests it's inspiration is modeled after the "beer you'll find at the Biergartens in Munich" I feel that it can stand on it's own, with it's own unique character- strong, but certainly nowhere near overpowering. To me, a decent lager will retain remnants of frothiness at the top long after the head has dissipated, and this one distinctly shows that characteristic. The interesting thing to note is that they have only been in the business since 1986, a relative newcomer- that's great that they can produce a beer as fine as this in that period of time. The bad thing is that it's 2008, and my bottles still read "Celebrating 20 Years"... hmmm... it still tastes good, regardless. While this seems like a good candidate to drink after a long day's toil, I personally find it most enjoyable after dinner, over a good book.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Samuel Smith's Pure Brewed Lager

Name- Pure Brewed Lager
Brewer- Samuel Smith
Country- Great Britain
Type- Lager
Alcohol Content- 5%
Summary - Lightly Carbonated with a clear golden hue. Taste is spread across the palette evenly with a nice floral bouquet, but not fruity in any way. A hoppy character is emphasized for sure, but not overly hoppy... just right.

This is perhaps the finest lager I've ever had. It clearly sets the standard. I feel any description I give for this beer is inadequate and will not do it justice. I first came across it in college during my days working at a restaurant and a brew pub, having a single pint between shifts. Nothing made the long hours or the heat bearable like this beer. I've always felt that having more than two of these in a sitting would be a waste, as it's smooth, mellow taste would be lost on those becoming inebriated. This beer is truly a reward at the end of a long day.

Because I did this review at the end of the day, I have not taken a photo... I will update this post with one... for now, the picture you see is from the Merchant du Vin site, American importer of Samuel Smith's line. On the linked page, they give meal suggestions to compliment this brew, but I personally suggest you not taint your taste buds with anything when enjoying this lager.

Organization of this fine beer blog

In planning to create this blog I realized it would need some format. I thought that perhaps there would be many other blogs that had already blazed this trail, and while there are many beer blogs, I was quite surprised to find that, in fact, few were doing what I wanted to do.

So what do I want to do?

For the most part, I just want to review the beers I drink in an organized fashion. To that end, I've put together the common points that should appear with each review of a beer that passes these undeserved lips-

Each review post will have -

Picture of beer in glass
Picture of beer in bottle (if from bottle.)
Alcohol Content
Notes, ancillary information about how I came upon it, etc.

As time goes on, there may be things added to my review process, but for the most part, I think this will be it. There will be times that my blog posts aren't reviews at all, but may address other areas of the beer world, such as ingredients, methods, types, and history. After all, beer is more than the liquid itself, right?

First Post

Ah, the infamous "First Post"... always to be looked back at later on with some embarrassment, but in this case, at least it's not the first blog I've had, so hopefully this will be a bit less embarrassing.

Anyway, let me get straight to the point about what this blog is about - beer. I enjoy drinking it. I enjoy far more than wine or liquor, as to me it can be a refining endeavor or just a way to let off some steam.

Lately I've been trying to take my beer drinking a little more seriously. No, that doesn't mean I've moved from six-packs to twelve-packs or anything, and I've always enjoyed 'finer' beers (I often refer to myself as a beer snob), but rather I feel that as I experience more and more different beers, I should some how record my impressions of them in some organized way.

It started with an email from my father, who naively asked what my favorite beer was. Two pages later in my response, I realized I had more of an affinity for beer than I previously realized. And thus, the impetus for this blog.

I hope that for whoever reads this blog will gain more insight into the beers I review, but also the world that swirls around them, so that the general understanding of this heavenly drink can be elevated. And with that, we're off!