Beer 32 of Spring – Wicked Awesome

Jacks Abby Hop Union

Brewer: Jack’s Abby       Craft: Hoponius Union       ABV: 6.7%       IBU: 65

This is my first experience with Jack’s Abby and you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  Well, it’s a good thing that my first impression is wicked awesome!  I must say I feel kinda weird saying that, being from the Philly area, but when (drinking) in Rome, right?

Hoponius Union is an IPL, or India Pale Lager.  So Jack’s only crafts lagers.  Let’s talk about that.  There are only two kinds of beer – lagers and ales.  It’s all about the yeast and the fermentation.  Lagers are cold fermented – the yeast settle to the bottom and do their thing down there turning sugars into alcohol.  Ales are fermented at slightly warmer temps – and the yeast hang out up top and convert those sugars.  Lagering takes longer and is more labor intensive.  The process creates beers that are drinkable and refreshing.

And then there are variations on the theme once you decide to lager – IPL being one of them.  This craft is a Wicked Hoppy Lager, as it says on the bottle.  It’s definitely easy to drink.  It’s smooth, but refreshing.  And the hoppy action is bitter and citrusy, which counters that smoothness well.  At 6.7%, this is not quite a session beer.  But it sure drinks like one.  I could drink a few of these in a row no problem.  But I’d probably start to feel it sooner than I’d like…

I’m impressed.  Lagers are difficult to brew, let alone master.  And when you decide to make your whole lineup lagers, you better know what you’re doing.  Jack’s Abby certainly has mastered the craft.  If you’re in the northeast, find yourself some lager from them.  I’m looking forward to trying more of their crafts as soon as I can.

You may have noticed I started adding IBU to the blog.  This is for reference and for those of you that are interested in that measure.  IBU stands for International Bittering Unit.  It’s just a way to measure the bitterness of a beer.  The higher the number, the more bitter the craft.  Some folks like to know how bitter the craft is before they try it.  So it’ll be included from now on.

Rating: At least a six-pack

Beer 29 of Spring – Rock & Roll

Sam Adams Porch Rocker

Brewer: Samuel Adams       Craft: Porch Rocker       ABV: 4.5%

Talk about accuracy in a name.  Ok, I will.  Good suggestion.  Sam Adams named this craft Porch Rocker and boy if they didn’t just about find the best name for this beer.  I could sit on my porch and drink one after another.  This craft is a Limited Release, which is a little disappointing.  I’d drink this any time of year.

This is another craft that I was glad to have after I came in from doing some yard work.  I was thirsting for something refreshing, sessionable, and flavorful.  So this time I chose the Porch Rocker.  It’s a lager, which gives it a full, drinkable character.  But then they add some lemon in there, which gives it a little depth; and they add some spices, which makes it zesty and full-flavored.

This is one of my favorite springtime beers.  But as I said before, I could totally drink this in summer, or even autumn.  The refreshing taste helps it rock into summer, and the spices keep it rolling into autumn.  Whatever time of year you’re drinking this, your thirst will be quenched.  Do yourself a favor…

Rating: Buy a case of this and savor it.  Hold on to some until summer and autumn and see if I’m right!

Beer 26 of Spring – not a taxi ride

Heavy Seas Uber Pils

Brewer: Heavy Seas       Craft: Small Craft Warning       ABV: 7.0%

And now for something completely unexpected.  So, it being spring and all, the stouts and porters are less appealing right now.  Springtime is for drinking clean, crisp, flavorful beers.  This means more pilsners, IPAs, and pale ales.  Hey, this Small Craft is an Über Pils, which must mean it’s a pilsner?

Ha ha!  Fooled you!  Just like it fooled me.  This is unlike any beer I can remember having.  And I’ve had a few (must be close to 800 by now).  This is not what I would consider a pilsner.  Let’s find out why.  As it says on the label, this craft is “a rich, golden bock lager with big malt flavor and a crisp hop finish.”

Let me tell you, this craft is big and malty.  I’m not really even sure why they would use the pils tag.  Maybe they meant it like it’s so over the top pilsner that it transcends the genre.  Über does mean over, so I guess I’ll buy it.  But it seems like a misnomer.  Call it what it is – a wheaty, lagery, malty, bock with a nice simple hoppy finish that has a full mouth-feel and a carmely, ambery color.

Heavy Seas have created here a beer that kind of blows my mind.  It’s easy to drink.  It doesn’t fit the mold.  It is delicious.  I find myself wanting to have another one.  Über Pils?  Not so sure about that.  So maybe that’s my warning for you…don’t expect a pilsner.  Expect a hoppy bock.  You can’t call me convinced about the nickname, but you can call me a fan of this craft.

Rating: at least a six-pack or two – and if it’s your style, then buy a case

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 40 of winter – doppelgänger

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Brewer: Susquehanna Craft: Toboggan ABV: 8.7%
Where have I seen you before? You seem familiar. Just kidding. I haven’t had anything like this. Putting chocolate into a lager sounds like it could go very wrong.
But this craft goes very well. It’s malty and hearty, with a lager smoothness, and a hint of chocolate at the start and in the finish.
Lots of German malts give this craft a solid character that you’d expect a lager to have. The subtle wisps of cocoa add just enough sweetness to make you take notice. And I like the hops they used, as they add a simple bitter element into the malty, chocolatey mix. This one’s a keeper. Cheers.