Beer 59 of winter – tis’ the Saison

Allagash Saison

Brewer: Allagash       Craft: Saison       ABV: 6.1%

Such a simple name.  Saison.  Translated it just means season.  But that simple name holds a secret.  A secret well worth discovering.

This Saison is much more complex than I expected.  Most saisons have a clean, crisp drinkability to them with some spice notes.  So I guess most saisons are rather simple in nature.  Not this one.  Allagash has done a feat.  They have added depth, and layers to their Saison that are unexpected, but they make this craft one of my favorite beers right now.

It starts off like most saisons – clean and crisp.  There is a subtle sweetness then that is characteristic of most Belgian style ales.  The standard floral spice notes are present throughout.  And then I get a biscuity, almost cracker like taste in there.  Well that’s unexpected.  But it works.  And then I get a buttery smoothness toward the finish that I didn’t expect either.  But it works.  And somehow it still finishes clean and dry.

This beer is now firmly planted in my top ten at the moment.  An unexpected but interesting craft has worked its way on to the list.  I love that.  That is one of the main reasons I so enjoy trying new beers.  Because every once in a while one comes along and surprises me.  And there’s the key.  Keep drinking, folks.  Keep trying.  Drink new beers.  Don’t be afraid.  Enjoy!

Rating: Buy a case!

Beer 58 of winter – to the Max!

Lagunitas Maximus

Brewer: Lagunitas       Craft: Maximus IPA       ABV: 8.2%

I think I’ve caught a cold.  Well, maybe.  You know how you get that tickle in your throat and you’ve got that little cough?  You’re feeling a little stuffy and you’re hoping it doesn’t spiral into whiny sickness…

So I thought it would be a good idea to drink some craft beer to kill off those germs.  And why not do it to the Maximus?  The Maximus IPA from Lagunitas was a wise choice.  At 8.2%, it certainly will have a go at warding off any establishment of colonies.  All I keep saying as I’m drinking this is ‘man this is good!’.

This is definitely an IPA.  Floral notes from the hops are present in the aroma and in the taste.  There is a smooth sweetness throughout, which I can only assume is from the malts they use.  The hops that provide the bitterness do it well and do it mostly in the finish.  This totally feels like an IPA made in California.  Man this is good.

So I’ve decided to roll out a new rating system.  It’s pretty simple in its construction.  I’m going to include, if I can remember to, how I would purchase the craft in the future.  Here’s what I mean.  The Lagunitas Maximus IPA is a craft of which I would buy a case.  It is that good.  I could drink a lot of these.  And I would pay to do so.  Cheers!

Rating: Buy a case!

Beer 57 of winter – it’s not what you think, but it is…

Sierra Nevada Nooner

Brewer: Sierra Nevada       Craft: Nooner       ABV: 5.2%

I was blessed with a snow day today from the blizzard that turned into a nuisance snow for us here in eastern Pennsylvania.  I’ll take it.  And that means, you guessed it, daytime drinking!  And what better choice of craft to enjoy than the Nooner.  I think everyone enjoys a Nooner every now and then.  So I saw this as my opportunity.

The Nooner is a pilsner, which are normally crisp, clean, and bitter.  And this craft is no different in that regard.  But it also has some solid floral notes from the whole cone hops they use that add a another layer of flavor and depth.  Nooner drinks like a pilsner, but for me has a smoothness to it that other pilsners lack.  I even pick up a subtle spice character in there from the hops as well.  This is an easy drinking beer for an afternoon spent at home or with a quick lunch before you head back to work.

If you haven’t had a Nooner in a while, or ever, then reward yourself.  You deserve it.  I know I always feel better after I’ve had a Nooner.  Cheers!

Beer 56 of winter – Scottish Import

Innis & Gunn Rum

Brewer: Innis & Gunn       Craft: Rum Aged       ABV: 6.8%

Some of my fellow teachers and I who all enjoy craft beer, well, we decided to do a beer exchange.  What that means is this: we all put in money and offered either specific suggestions or general ideas.  And once the votes were tabulated, a couple of us went and bought 12 cases to split between us.  So two of each beer seems like a good way to try something you might not normally try.  Plus, we went to a local watering hole and had a few after we exchanged.  So it was like a win-win.

The Innis & Gunn is one of the crafts that was chosen for the exchange.  I’ve had it before, but it is one of those beers I’d have over and over again.  It is a Scottish ale, which means it is malty, sweet, and hearty.  But I&G never just leave it at that.  They always age their beers in something or on something.  This craft is aged on rum oak chips.  I’m guessing that means they took some old rum barrels and chopped them up and put them in the oak barrels with the ale.  What a great idea!  The rum is definitely palatable and adds a boozy, sweetness and smoothness to the beer.  And maybe even a little spice as well.

If you haven’t heard of Innis & Gunn before, find yourself a four pack and buy it.  Every craft I’ve had of theirs so far has been a quality drinking experience.  And if you haven’t done a beer exchange before, find yourself 5 or 11 friends and set that up.  It’s a great way to try new beers and frankly it’s just a good idea.  Cheers!

Beer 55 of winter – don’t be chicken

Atwater Winterbock

Brewer: Atwater       Craft: Winterbock       ABV: 7.5%

A little back story.  One of the beers I drank in my younger, less particular years was vitamin y, or as it is more commonly known, Yuengling Lager.  So I am very familiar with what a lager tastes like.  Lagers are fermented at colder temperatures than ales.  For me, that makes lagers drinkable in greater quantities.

So that brings me to the Atwater Winterbock.  A bock is a variety of lager that is a bit stronger and heartier than the normal lagers.  And this craft doesn’t disappoint.  I feel like I’m at Oktoberfest when I’m drinking this beer.  It’s easy to drink.  It’s smooth.  It’s malty and subtly sweet.  It has a nice hop undertone.  It’s a hearty, I could drink a few of these and start to wonder where my lederhosen are kind of craft.  Wait, what?  Anyhow, another successful brew from Atwater.  Enjoy!

Beer 54 of winter – Seek and ye shall…

Founders Imperial Stout

Brewer: Founders       Craft: Imperial Stout       ABV: 10.5%

Find that this craft is no joke.  Rich, smooth, deep, luscious, thick, a flood of adjectives washes over me as I sip the Imperial Stout from Founders.  Solid notes of chocolate, coffee, licorice, and all of the roasted grains they use melt on your palate.  Reminiscent experience for me to drinking the Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues.  Both stouts border on tar-like in their consistency, which is not something you find too often.  And I think that’s a good thing.  That’s a compliment.

I had a feeling that Founders wouldn’t disappoint with their Imperial offering.  Their Breakfast Stout and their Kentucky Breakfast Stout are quality crafts and now I’ve found that their Imperial Stout falls right onto the list of beers I’d drink over and over.  You should do the same…Cheers.

Beer 53 of winter – Live Forever?

Elysian The Immortal IPA

Brewer: Elysian       Craft: The Immortal IPA       ABV: 6.3%

I’m blogging between periods of the Flyers-Penguins game.  (I’m a Flyers fan, if you were wondering.)  It is an epic, classic, fight-filled hockey game.  I love it.  I’m trying to remember to breath because I get so into the game.  So this is one of those nights I’ll be having a few craft beers to help me remain as calm as is possible during one of these throwdowns.  This craft, The Immortal IPA, happens to be one of them.

You would think that you’d get a nice west coast style IPA from a brewery in Seattle, WA.  West Coast IPAs are hop forward and add in floral and citrus hops for a little depth.  But this craft is not exactly what I’d call west coast.  And they tell you that on the label…”a Northwest take on a classic English style”.  I like it.  It’s malty.  It’s hoppy.  It’s crisp.  It’s smooth.  It’s resiny.  It’s not your standard IPA.

If you’re looking for something different than a Dogfish Head 60 Minute or Founders All Day IPA, then check out The Immortal IPA from Elysian.  It’s different.  And this time different is good.  Enjoy!