Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hale's Ale's "Red Menace" Amber Ale

4 out of 5 Hops

Another Seattle staple brewery, Hale's Ale's, and their delicious hoppy amber, Red Menace. I love the name and bottle label for this beer. The bust of Lenin in the picture is of an actual statue located in Fremont, just north of Seattle, where the brewery is located.Here is the story of the statue. I have to love this beer, if just for the label. Truth is though, it tastes good too. Style could be compared to an American Pale Ale, but with more toasted malt flavor and color. Hoppier than its UK cousin but not infringing on the IPA category. This fine brew is deep red color, almost brown until held to the light. The aroma is toasty, malty, and a touch of piney hops. The taste is initially a mild sweetness, then quickly balanced by moderate hop; about 37 IBU. The Centennial hop only is used exclusively for this beer. Bonus points for Single hop beer! The hop oils cling to your mouth for a while a good way though. The flavor has a slight black tea flavor left behind. Not sure my feelings on that. Mouthfeel is full bodied, but not to the point of being thick and creamy. I could not find the ABV for this beer, but given the original gravity of 1.056 I would calculate it is around 6% or just under. There is a bit of yeast sediment in the bottle, which makes me assume this has been bottled conditioned for carbonation. Bonus points for bottle conditioning! Hale's has been around since 1983 and still going strong. Try the Red, and if you like it, Join the Party!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dale's Pale Ale

5 out of 5 hops

Continuing my series of canned beers, I present...Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado! (Applause) Have I mentioned I have a severe mental aversion to canned beers? I think I equate all them with the flavor of American Light Lagers consumed in my fuzzy memories of youth. This American Pale Ale changes my mind though. I pour the beer into a glass, leave the can in the kitchen,walk to another room and sit, close my eyes, smell, and...taste. Wow! This came out of can? I realize cans now are lined for flavor protection and they are more this beer is an indicator how good they can be I will keep trying the cans. I may be converted yet. Well the beer at hand has an awesome aroma of lemon/grapefruit and English biscuits. The taste is lightly sweetened at the front but quickly converted to HOPVILLE, USA! This Pale could easily be an IPA at about 65 IBU and 6.5% ABV. Texture is thick and chewy and the finish is pleasantly oily and leaves a delicious Centennial Hop flavor behind. Speaking of hops..the recipe I found for this is Northern Brewer and Cascade for the boil/bittering, Chinook hops for some more flavor and finally Centennials for aroma. I will be snagging more of this one and also trying their other varieties very soon. Six pack and some fishing anyone?

Tsingtao Chinese Lager

3 out of 5 Hops

China's Number One Beer! I have not drank Tsingtao in a long time. The green bottled version is a staple in Seattle Chinatown restaurants. Many a spicy Sichuanese meals have I enjoyed along side this brew. This is the first time I have tried it in a can though. Not too shabby. I recall the bottled version being a little skunky like a Heineken; I attribute this to the light striking that occurs in the green bottles. Why do they use green bottles?? So, back to the can. This little 3.8% has a light, mellow malt/rice aroma. They use a mash of barley and rice to brew this. The taste is very delicate and smooth with a honey like lager aftertaste. Pleasant surprise. Hops are used just enough to balance the sweetness but do not allow any distinct hop notes. Clone recipe I found calls for Tettnang and Saaz hops. It has a clean, crisp aftertaste and the flavor dissipates quickly. Still...I am not complaining. Goes great with Asian food; especially spicy I think. In fact, I made stir fry tonight just for this beer. I don't know how the distribution is in the rest of the states, but just for the Hell of it, I dare you to try it. Compare the can and the bottle if you are able. Amazing what bottling can change.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Tale of Two ESB's

5 out of 5 Hops...just because

What better excuse to drink two beers than with two interpretations of the same style? Redhook ESB was an early favorite of mine when I began drinking craft beers. It's also one of my go-to beers in a pinch that is readily available here in Washington. Fuller's produces amazing English Beers that are available in the U.S. On to the comparison! ESB stands for Extra Special Bitter, which is a descendant of English Bitter/Pale Ale. The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) has guidelines that break down the elements of each beer style. I basically see ESB as an ale with more hop, malt, and alcohol than a Pale Ale. There are more breweries doing ESB's now, but these two have always served as gauges for my comparisons.

First off, my old friend, Redhook ESB. This is a 5.8%, 28 IBU brew. It has a toasted malt nose with light hints of hop. The taste is malty but the moderate bitterness takes over right away. Hops used are "Alchemy Hops"(proprietary blend:Warrior and Millenium?) and Willamette for bittering, Centennial and Crystal for flavor/aroma. Clean finish, malty aftertaste with some hop.

Next is the Fullers ESB from England. This would be the more "original" style, but to each their own. The aroma is more noticeable and has a toffee/candy/fruity smell. Uniquely Yummy. The other Fullers "London Pride" has a similar aroma; yeast, I presume, combined with the grains. The taste is malty delicious and a slight oily finish. The beer has a very full bodied mouthfeel to it..if that makes sense..not watery in texture;thick and chewy. English Hops used are Target (bittering), Challenger(flavor/aroma), Northdown(flavor/aroma), and Goldings(flavor/aroma/dryhop)..same blend as their Bitters but add the Goldings. ABV is 5.9% and IBU is a rumored 35; which is remarkable since the Fullers tastes less hoppy. Definitely an English beer. Carbonation and aroma may seem very foreign at first, but give it a chance.
I won't go so far as to say one is better than the other. Like any style, each brewery interprets. I say try em both and see what you think. Redhook is very common in the West, and Fullers has a large distribution in the US. Let me know what you think!