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New Glarus Chocolate Abbey

February 18, 2012 Leave a comment

New Glarus Chocolate Abbey

New Glarus Chocolate Abbey
Brewery: New Glarus Brewing Co.
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 7.0%
Availability: Limited; Thumbprint Series
Serving Type: 12 oz. bottle

Label: This decadent Chocolate Abbey Ale is a lovely trifle for your senses. Brewed with a proprietary Belgian yeast and English Maris Otter Malt it is smooth and rich. Inspired by a recent tour of Europe and brewed with chocolate we enjoyed there. Subtle Segal Ranch hops promote the rich dark chocolate flavors of this rather strong Dubbel. Best served at 48 °F. An elegant excuse to linger after dinner.

Beer Review: Chocolate Abbey pours dark brown with a thick, creamy khaki head. The nose consists of cocoa powder, chocolate syrup, along with a Belgian yeast character to it. Medium-bodied. The initial taste very much reflects what was revealed in the nose: chocolate malt, cocoa powder, and that unique Belgian yeast quality.  Midway there’s a roasted bitterness that helps to balance the sweetness and add even more depth. A touch of banana follows and leads into a dry finish that carries some sourness to it.

I’ve been holding on to this since last Fall and finally opened it up on Valentine’s Day. I think this is a great combination of the Belgian Dubbel style with the added bonus of chocolate in the flavor. If you’re a fan of either this is a must try- although it might be a tough find now. I can definitely recommend this as more of a dessert beer or to be enjoyed on its own due the the sweetness that the chocolate imparts.

Goose Island Mild Winter

February 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Goose Island Mild Winter

If there was a winter in the past couple of years that you could describe as “mild” this would have to be it. As I mentioned in a previous post we’ve had ourselves a pretty modest winter, so far. Maybe I should drink one of these in November every year.

Mild Winter is an American Mild Ale from Goose Island Brewery in Chicago. The beer pours dark brown in color, but when held to the light, it appears more of a clear dark brownish copper. The light khaki-colored head leaves a nice sticky lacing down the side of the glass. The nose has characteristics of a brown bread crust, along with rye and hints of chocolate. Medium-bodied with a soft airy carbonation.

This is a wonderfully malty beer that’s not overly sweet. In fact, it reminds me a lot of a great homemade loaf of freshly baked brown bread. If beer is truly liquid bread this goes along way in validating that statement. Flavors of roasted barley and chocolate malt create the backbone of this beer. The addition of rye really makes it shine by imparting a spiciness and layered depth to the taste. The beer has some dry bitterness in the finish, but it works perfectly to add balance to the malt.

I have to admit that this has been one of my “go-to” beers this winter. At 5.6% abv it isn’t going to overpower you and it’s just a great flavorful beer to have on hand. I’ve been drinking Mild Winter on and off since last Fall, and am thankful that for a winter seasonal it doesn’t rely on holiday spicing like the cinnamon, clove, or nutmeg, you see in a lot of Christmas beers. If you’re a fan of brown ales, you’ll probably enjoy this one quite a bit.

To learn more about Mild Winter watch the following video which was produced by Goose Island.

Sprecher Winter Brew

January 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Sprecher Winter Brew

Sprecher Winter Brew
Brewery: Sprecher Brewing Co.
Style: Munich Dunkel Bock
ABV: 5.75%
Availability: Winter Seasonal (Dec. – Mar.)
Serving Type: 16 oz. bottle

Label: The flavorful blend of a complex variety of dark roasted and caramel malts give this Munich-style dunkel-bock a smooth and robust character making it the perfect winter lager.

Beer Review:
Sprecher Winter Brew pours a deep, dark brown in color with a tan head. Aroma is malty, with caramel and toffee. As the beer warms dark fruit and cherry also appear in the nose. Smooth and medium-bodied with some soft carbonation around the edges.  Hearty roasted maltiness dominates the flavor profile of this beer. The smooth finish builds on that roasted malt flavor with subtle hints of cherry with a touch burnt malt toward the back. Hops help balance out the sweet maltiness of the beer.


Hinterland Winterland

January 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Hinterland Winterland

It was inevitable.

The weather may have been chilly at times in December, but it had been a mild winter. That is until January arrived and with it came the first major snow falls of the season. I was actually enjoying having a mild winter for a change. Not having to deal with shoveling and driving in slow traffic with slippery conditions was rather nice. Alas, I knew it was not meant to last.

Winter has finally arrived! One of the great things about living in Wisconsin, a state that has four definitive seasons, is also being able to truly appreciate seasonal beers meant for each type of weather.

Hinterland Winterland is an American Porter brewed with juniper berry. This is a 7.5% abv robust porter, that’s meant to be enjoyed during the cold winter months. The beer pours black in color with some slight amber highlights on the bottom and a tan head. The nose consists of cocoa, sweet chocolate powder, raisins, and juniper. The mouthfeel is full-bodied. Initial flavors of roasted malt and dark fruit appear on the first sips. A closer examination reveals the juniper berry midway and it leads into a long, dry finish. Burnt malt and dark chocolate are also tasted towards the back.

Hinterland Winterland is produced by the Green Bay Brewing Co. At the brewery there is an attached restaurant named Hinterland. A second Hinterland Gastropub is located in Milwaukee’s downtown Third Ward. Having eaten at the Milwaukee restaurant I can vouch that the food there is quite amazing and definitely worth a visit.

Likewise, if you’re a fan of porters, Winterland is certainly worth trying. The juniper berry is not overpowering and it adds a unique and unexpected twist to the flavor of a traditionally brewed porter.

 

Point 2012 Black Ale

January 24, 2012 1 comment

Point 2012 Black Ale

It’s fitting that my first review of 2012 is a beer called “2012”. More specifically 2012 Black Ale from Stevens Point Brewery. The inspiration for the name comes from the Mayan Calendar which stops recording on December 21, 2012, and as a result, is leaving some people with an ominous feeling that the world’s going to end this year.

Style-wise this kind of falls somewhere between a Schwartzbier (black lager) and an American brown ale, while weighing in at 5.2% alcohol by volume. The appearance is near black in color with a tan head. The nose is fairly light with a vinous aroma, along with that of soy, feint chocolate, and alcohol. The mouthfeel is medium in body with soft carbonation.

The taste starts off with a light, roasted maltiness. Caramel emerges midway, followed by some soy flavor toward the back. Very lightly hopped, with a low bitterness. In fact, according to the brewery’s website it’s only at 9 IBUs. 2012 Black Ale is pretty smooth drinking and very mild.

This is one of the more enjoyable beers I’ve had from the Point Brewery. I don’t mind their Cascade Pale Ale, but I find the flagship Point Special Lager somewhat lacking. I’ve been more impressed with their Whole Hog limited release series, than the line of regular offerings. I’d consider 2012 Black Ale worth a look, if you like malty beers, although it tends to remain on the mild side.

2012 Black Ale is available year round on draft and in 12 oz bottles and cans. The simple fact that you can purchase this in cans makes me happy. More and more craft brewers are releasing their beers in cans and this is something I’d definitely consider picking up again for that reason alone.

Laughing Fox from New Glarus Brewing Co.

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

New Glarus has been on a roll lately. In the past couple of months they’ve released three new beers: Blacktop IPA, Laughing Fox, and a Chocolate Abbey ale under their Thumbprint series. Blacktop IPA is already making its mark, as it won a Gold Medal at this year’s Great American Beer Festival in the American-Style Black Ale category.

Laughing Fox started showing up on store shelves in Wisconsin around Labor Day. This wheat beer is a kristalweizen (essentially a filtered hefeweizen) and clocks in at a modest 4.5% alcohol by volume, which makes it a very sessionable beer.

Beer Review
The wheat ale pours a clear, dark copper in color with a thick light khaki-colored head, that eventually settles down. The aroma consists of bananas, with light chocolate or cocoa, clove, and spicy yeast. The mouthfeel is full-bodied. It has a softness to it with a tingling carbonation. Although, if you push the beer around your mouth, it still maintains a light airiness to it.

Laughing Fox starts off with flavors of wheat malt, banana & some slight chocolate, followed by a dusting of cinnamon. The satisfying flavor of the wheat malt really emerges in the middle. Cloves linger in the finish.

I was really impressed with this autumn release. When I think of Fall, wheat beers like kristalweizens don’t tend to come to mind, but the combination of 50% Wisconsin red wheat seems to work here and gives this beer a little heartier feel in both taste, and certainly appearance to match the cooler weather.

Cafe Benelux High Speed Wit Bier

September 4, 2011 Leave a comment

High Speed Wit

Milwaukee’s newest Belgian-inspired Grand Cafe from the Lowlands Group, Cafe Benelux, opened in June in the downtown’s Historic Third Ward.  A couple of things that set Cafe Benelux apart from its other sister restaurants of Cafe Hollander (of which there are two), Cafe Centraal, and Trocadero are that it has a market inside, roof top seating, and possibly the largest beer selection of the five restaurants. Although the beer menus at Cafe Hollander and Cafe Centraal are extensive in their own right.

My first visit was with a friend on a hot and humid night in the middle of July. At 10 pm it was still 90 degrees outside and the humidity that evening felt like it had to have been around 70%. Despite the heat we spurned the air-conditioned inside and instead opted to sit outside and enjoy the view from the roof top overlooking the Milwaukee Public Market and N. Broadway St.

I ordered the High Speed Wit. It’s one of three “house beers” that are brewed in Belgium for Cafe Benelux. As customary with most Belgian beers, High Speed Wit arrived in its own unique glass. The wit is a cloudy, lemony yellow with a white head. The body is crisp with a moderate amount of carbonation. The taste is tangy with a light lemony citrus to it. The wheat malt is balanced with a light hop bitterness and the finish has a touch of dryness that lingers.

The other two exclusive beers that are brewed for Cafe Benelux are the Tandem Dubbel and Confession Grand Cru. On another visit I tried the Tandem Dubbel with dinner. It too was rather delicious, but that’s a story for another day.

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