Archive | August 2011

Can Anheuser-Busch Make a Decent ESB? (Goose Island Harvest Ale 2011)

Goose Island Harvest Ale
English Special Bitter
5.6% ABV

This is sort of the moment of truth, isn’t it? Harvest Ale will be the first seasonal release from Goose Island made since their sort-of acquisition by A-B Inbev. I don’t have a clear memory of what this beer tasted like in previous years, but if it’s a solid ESB we have room to hope that Goose Island’s other seasonalsbourboncountystout!will still be decent.

So let’s get the damn thing in a glass and find out!The pour itself

Pours very clear orange/red body with almost no haziness at all. Typically with an ESB you have a bit of haze, but nothing here. It gives me about a finger and a half of white head that dissipates pretty quickly. Aroma is very English, with lots of biscuity toasty malt and a very dry character. Love to see what this one’s like on cask — I’ll have to see if it’s available next time I stop by the Clybourn location in Chicago.

Check out that clarity!I digress. Flavor is very much like the aroma, somewhat sweet with lots of fruity esters. Very malty and toasty, drying on the finish with a hint of spice quality. Aftertaste is clean but biscuity. Nothing too complex –certainly not my favorite ESB!– but it’s definitely solid. Tastes like a very authentic example of the style.

I’ve got to say, this bodes well for the future of Goose Island. We’ll see how it goes, but for now color me cautiously optimistic.

Beyond the Pour grade: B+

Goose Island Vanilla Cream Soda (Video)

This is the second of my entries for Chad9976’s Charity Challenge. I was going to review Goose Island’s root beer, but Chris over at BGN already reviewed it, so I decided to do their Vanilla Cream Soda instead.

Sorry about the roughness of the video. I shot a better intro to this, but had technical problems. It happens.

Beyond the Pour grade: A-

Has Anyone Ever Had a Zwick’l? (A review of Veldensteiner Zwick’l)

It’s not often that I get to taste a beer that’s of a beer style I’ve never tasted before. Here’s the BeerAdvocate description of a Kellerbier/Zwick’l bier:

A rather old, rare, and unique German beer style, Kellerbiers are unfiltered and unpasteurized lagers that date back to at least the Middle Ages. The beer is matured, unbunged (beer is exposed), in deep vaults. The final product is a smooth, naturally cloudy beer that’s rich in vitamins (from the yeast). Hop bitterness can be high and alcohol will vary. Zwickel Bier is similar to a Keller, but not as pronounced.

Sounds like a nice after-work beer. Let’s give it a shot.

I know a lot of people love these swing-top bottles, but I’m not a fan. They don’t really hold carbonation as well as a crown cap, and they tend to pop off and explode if the beer hasn’t been babied. Just a personal preference. Anyway, this one didn’t explode on me but it did start to foam up a bit. Poured into my half-liter Weihenstephaner mug and the head actually spilled over the side of the glass a bit. Whoops. Dark dingy orange/brown body with a thick white head made up of big bubbles. Head dissipates quickly. Lots of carbonation in the beer but not so much protein.

Smells sweet, “lagery,” with that slight caramel note that you get from sweeter German lager. No real hops to speak of. Slightly grainy. Tastes clean, with a nice golden malt character and a sweet earthy aftertaste. It’s been stored well if it is aged “un-bunged,” as there’s no sourness or off flavors at all. Significant yeast in the bottom of the bottle — when I pour it in I get a lot more bready and yeasty notes. It’s a bit pricey here in the States ($4.99/bottle) but I could see drinking something like this regularly if it were made locally and inexpensively. Not sure why this style isn’t more popular, unless it’s just the need for extended cellar times.

Beyond the Pour grade: B+

Is Stone 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA the Best Black IPA Ever Made?

I took a few days off from uploading, just to give myself a breather from the shooting and editing.

Before I took the break, however, I shot this video. Ryan gave this beer an A+, which psyched me up for trying it. Since then, Jamison has also given it an A+.

I guess I’m the spoiler of the bunch. I “only” gave it an A.

Bell’s Octoberfest 2011

Bell’s Octoberfest 2011
Batch 10531 bottled 2011-08-12
Comstock, MI
5.8% ABV

I got off work early today, so I figured, what the hell — let’s do a quick beer review!


It’s Oktoberfest season, not necessarily my favorite time of year beer-wise but it’s nice to have a season devoted to brown malty lagers. I don’t like doing video reviews of these because so many of them are very similar, lots of malt with a bit of yeastiness and maybe some earthy hops with a clean malt finish. But text reviews are quick and easy and I figure I might as well do a few of them this year as I get around to them.

Sorry about the monitor glare -- my lamp is in use elsewhere at the moment.

Pours a bit lighter than expected, whether that’s my memory playing tricks with me or if the beer is really a bit lighter than last year I can’t say. Kind of a pale brown/orange or dark roasty yellow color. A twinge lighter than copper. Head is minimal and dissipates immediately. Smells grainy, sweet, slightly cardboardy. Somewhat “off,” in that nondescript way. Maybe a hint of chocolate and some earthiness.

Aroma’s a bit off, but flavor’s pretty solid. No graininess present, instead with some sweet caramel and fruity notes, a bit like a dopplebock. Somewhat creamy on the mouthfeel with a carbonation bite on the finish. Leaves a hint of breadiness on the aftertaste. Very smooth. I’ve got to say I was expecting this to be a disappointment based on aroma but it really made up for it in flavor. Not my favorite Oktoberfest/Marzen to be sure, but pretty solid, especially from an American micro.

Beyond the Pour grade: B

Soda Review: Sprecher Puma Kola (Video)

A soda review? Well, yeah.

Chad has been doing soda, energy drink, and other non-beer reviews for about a year now, and challenged all of us other video beer reviewers to give it a shot. To sweeten the pot, he said he’d throw in ten bucks to the Red Cross if we did one, or twenty if we did two. So I shot two.

This is the first, a soda made by Sprecher in Wisconsin. They make some pretty “okay” beers, and apparently also some pretty “okay” sodas. I call this a “root beer” a couple of times in the review, but that’s a slip of the tongue — it’s just a soda, although it has some root-beer-like characteristics.

Good People Snake Handler IPA (Video)

I actually shot this on August 14, the day I got back from vacation, which explains why I’m a bit rusty in the video.

This is a new brewery in Birmingham, AL, that doesn’t bottle at all yet. I’ve had this beer a couple of times when I was down south, but haven’t bothered to review it until now. A shop called Liquor Express in Huntsville, AL, has draft beer to-go sold in plastic milk jugs, which is the format for this review.

Is it a bit hyperbolic to call this beer better than Hopslam? Probably, but it’s still a pretty impressive beer. (Keep in mind I’m not really a huge fan of Hopslam.)

Beyond the Pour grade: A-

Check out Liquor Express in Huntsville here:
1802 University Drive
Huntsville, AL 35811