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Featured Reviews - December 2013 Archives

New Belgium's Lips of Faith Imperial Berliner Style Weisse Ale
Posted Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 by Tip Top

NB Imp. Berliner WeissThanks go out to the brewery for sending me this bottle this week.  When I first found out about this beer coming out, I was cautiously optimistic.  I really love the style, but one of the really redeeming qualities is how drinkable and sessionable they are with the refreshing qualities and the low alcohol.  I was concerned that "Imperializing" the style would cut back at some of what I really loved about the beer.  On the other hand, they could end up enriching the flavors I love too.  Time to find out.

A very small, slightly off white head formed when I poured the beer, as you can see from the picture.  What is now left is just a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.  The body is a light, clean, golden color.

Smelling the brew brings back what I love about the style.  Nice wheat base that just seems to intensify the tartness laying underneath.  Some lactic aromas underneath.  Sour apple.

Flavor echoes what I got on the nose.  Light wheat base rings through the entire time this is on my tongue, intensifying a bit towards the end.  Tartness comes in right from up front, lasting for a couple seconds, before giving way to a bit of sweetness.  Green apple is there, but very light.

This one does drink much easier than you would expect from a 7% beer, but not quite as easily as a typical Berliner Weiss.  I guess that's pretty much what I would expect, though it might drink easier than I expected.

Very drinkable and pleasant beer.  Being a lover of sour beers, and knowing what New Belgium can do with sours, I was hoping there might be a little more tartness here.  It's on for the style, but the higher base seems to have made it a little more muted.  That said, I'm enjoying this thoroughly and will be happily polishing off the bottle.


Odell Woodcut No 04 Oak Aged Lager - Double Marzen-Style Lager
Posted Monday, June 7th, 2010 by Tip Top

Odell Woodcut 4 GlassIt's been what seems like forever since I have taken the time to write up a review.  The good people at Odell were good enough to send me this bottle, which compels me to give them the courtesy of writing up a review.  Thanks also to the good people at Original Gravity for passing my info along to Odell.  I really haven't read any opinions of this beer, which is always is a good thing when writing up an objective review.

From the literature that was sent along with the bottle, this is an Oak Aged Double Marzen-Style Lager weighing in at 11% abv.  It's the first of the Woodcut series to be a lager. 

Bottle 2528, bottled May of 2010.

Corked and caged in a champagne style bottle.  I've always favored the look of these.  Much more elegant than some of the other shaped beer bottles out there.  I know, who cares what the packaging looks like.  The beer.  The pour produces a healthy head that has to be about three inches tall.  It shows great staying power and is made up of uniform sized bubbles.  The body looks just like the glass above.  Amber colored and clean.

The aroma brings first caramel and toffee.  Hidden a little behind that are some of the wood characteristics.  Vanilla and a touch of toast. 

First take upon this hitting my lips is rich caramel.  This melds together with the toffee aroma that was detected earlier.  Midway through, I'm getting the vanilla, along with almond and just a touch of dates.  It's finished up with a bit of bitterness and some of that char from the oak.  Big and malty, there isn't much being shown by hops here and that's just fine.  Not everything needs to be a hop-bomb.  Let this one warm up a bit, as you will get richer, fuller flavors the closer you get to cellar temperature. 

The mouthfeel is smooth and almost creamy.  Carbonation and a bit of a prick to the tongue.  I can't even imagine how incredibly drinkable this would be on cask.  Very easy drinking for a beer tipping the scales in double digit abv.

Overall, a really nice example of a wood aged lager.  There just aren't enough beers like this, and that's a big reason that the masses of craft beer enthusiasts tend to gravitate towards the ales.  More big, rich, complex lagers would certainly challenge that way of thinking.  Do yourself a favor and get yourself a couple bottles of this one.

*Photo courtesy of the Odell Brewing Company website.


Stone Vertical Epic 09.09.09
Posted Thursday, November 12th, 2009 by Tip Top

090909 Glass

Ok, I have had this bottle entirely too long and have been meaning to sit down with a few minutes to devote to the beer.  I guess that time will never come, so I'm making it work now.  I've had the bottle since it's release and can't thank Matt at Stone enough for it since I can't seem to find any in Western Wisconsin.  On to the beer, this is classified as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale here, which can mean so many things.  Time to find out what it's about...

The beer pours great.  Generous head that's thick and luscious.  Very think and dense, it's made up of super small bubbles.  It's sort of the color of toasted marshmallow.  Good retention, as the head is sticking around and it's been sitting there for a couple minutes.  Thick sheets of lacing coat the glass.  The body is dark and forboding.  Only when you bring it up to the light can you tell that it will let light through, as it shows a nice dark brown hue.

Aroma starts off with a little burnt malt to it, but then quickly moves to chocolate.  Next it's some vanilla bean and dark toasted bread.  The Belgian yeast starts to show itself, with some spicy notes of peppercorn and maybe coriander.  Cinnamon and nutmeg come in, making this remind me of some holiday spiced beers. 

Flavors are a little different than expected based on the aroma.  Starts off with chocolate flavors.  Milk chocolate and some cocoa.  There's just a hint of toffee.  Fruity flavors of banana and starfruit combine with anise and a definite spiciness that is probably coming from both the added spices and the Belgian yeast.  Some oak is present, but in the background, bringing flavors of the wood as well as some vanilla and a touch of char.  At first, the peppercorn/clove/coriander type spiciness really seemed way too much.  As I drink more, my tongue becomes more accustomed to it, but I still think that the spices need a little time to mellow out. 

Another nice Vertical Epic effort from Stone in 2009.  As this beer warms, the flavors seem to meld together better and better.  I would recommend drinking this at cellar temp or just a touch cooler to start so you can see the difference in the beer as it warms.  Grab one for now and a couple to stash away and see how it develops.



Beer Review: Stone 13th Anniversary Ale
Posted Friday, June 19th, 2009 by Tip Top

Stone 13th BottleI was lucky enough to receive an advance bottle of this brew.  It's been a while since I have been as excited for a Stone beer as I am this one.  The anticipation is almost as high as it was when Stone 10th was released.  When I had by first bottle of Stone 10th, I immediately ordered another case.  The talk about this beer has built up excitement that is close to that level.  Time to see if this one can live up to my high expectations.

Pour produces a thick tan head that is made up of small, uniform sized bubbles.  Dense and thick, it doesn't look to be going anywhere anytime soon.  The body is a dark amber color that when shown to the light glows a vibrant garnet.  Nice looking brew. 

The nose screams hops, as I really hoped it would.  The aroma reminds me of fresh Dead by Dawn from AleSmith.  Vibrant hops bring a nice citrusy mix, along with a hint of resiny bitterness.  There's a touch of pine in here as well, but citrus is the main hop aroma.  Malt backs it up very well without covering up the hops.  Sort of caramelly and toffee-like.  Enough of this, I need a taste...

This one doesn't wait around.  The bitter hop blast hits right off the bat.  Piney bitterness covers your tongue and doesn't really let go.  The malt backbone is strong, but like the aroma, it isn't getting in the way of the hops being the star of this beer.  I took my last sip over a minute ago and there is still bitterness sitting on my tongue.  That's good news to this certified hop head.  The caramel and toffee malt flavors combine nicely with the resiny hops that just don't let up.  There's a touch of citrus happening in the flavor, but you really don't get the citrus like you do in the aroma.  Flavor is all bitter pine sap.  Did I mention it's bitter?  It's sort of medium to full bodied, but drinks pretty easily for 9.5%.  Sticky hops cover your tongue and don't wash away quickly.

This doesn't quite make it to Stone 10th territory for me, but it's definitely the best Anniversary beer that Stone has put out since 10th.  This from someone who adored fresh 10th Anniversary.  A hop head's type of beer.  Very much recommended.  Now the only problem is I have to wait until this makes it's way to WI after the release on the 29th to be able to hop the border and get more.