Friday, August 14, 2009

Indian Brown Ale - Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head is in Delaware and it's what I'd call more of an "experimental" brewery. While they do offer a few styles of IPA, that's about the only normal brew you'll find. The Midas Touch is a fascinating story which I'll get to in the future.

Indian Brown Ale is pretty interesting. A deep brown, nearly black color. The head isn't huge, but it's certainly there. The aroma and flavor both have a roasted nuttiness and almost fruitiness to it. There's almost a cooked brown sugar lingering flavor that is a little bitter. It's pretty complex, but the mouth feel is surprisingly light. The alcohol is well hidden, too (read: It'll getcha drunk!) Honestly, this is similar to a porter, but that was not the original intention. There's a video on the page I linked to explain how it was made.

I'm rather enjoying this!

Grade: A

Lunar Lager

Oh, the Lunar Lager from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company in Akron. This beer was made specifically for the Summer Moon Festival in Wapakoneta, Ohio, which is the home of Neil Armstrong. He said the moon is made of jam, or something. Anyway, it was made for the 40th anniversary and was first made available to the public at the Summer Moon Fest. Pretty cool if you ask me. When I asked the people from Thirsty Dog how they came up with it, I got kind of a convoluted answer about taking characteristics from other lagers they like and that it didn't quite meet the original IBUs they had anticipated. But hey, at least they responded, not all craft breweries would do that.

Now, to the beer. To be perfectly honest, if I didn't know it was a lager, I'd think it's an ale. It's a cloudy gold color, similar to a hefeweizen. Nice head, very good lacing, and a little bit of bitterness. It almost tastes like a milder version of Great Lakes' Grassroots Ale. It's got that kind of muddled herby citrusy taste to it. A very dry finish, too.

It's good, but not great. Honestly, the novelty is the most appealing feature. Certainly no problem finishing a sixer, though!

Grade: B-

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Old Scratch Amber Lager - Flying Dog Brewery

Flying Dog's Old Scratch Amber Lager. This is one I've read great things about and was very excited to try. Pours a hazy copper with a decent head. The flavor is light caramel and fruity, but not citrusy. The finish is a little dry and almost tastes like butter. Perhaps more like butterscotch. Very smooth and drinkable. Another very good all-day beer. I'm not blown away by it, but I do like it and would certainly get it again!

To quote Flying Dog, quoting Hunter S. Thompson, "Good people drink good beer." Indeed!

Grade: B

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sawtooth Ale - Left Hand Brewing

When trying a new brewery, I like to start with their standard ale. Why? Because if they can't get that right, chances are anything more "special" is going to blow. This is the Sawtooth Ale from Left Hand Brewing. Based in Longmont, Colorado, this company has a pretty interesting history. Started in a basement and with a few different buy outs and mergers after that. There are a ton of craft and microbrews (yes, there is a difference) in Colorado, so I figure if they can make it out of there, it's probably pretty good!

Sawtooth ale pours a cloudy copper. It took me a bit to pick up on the flavors. I got the grain, a hint of caramel, and a little bit of hops. It has a late and dry, yet subtle, bitterness. No flavor was really prominent, but I'm OK with that. Everything was kind of middle of the road. Decent head and lacing, medium body, but not watery. Then I realized why I liked it; because it's middle of the road. I think this beer has a great potential for mass appeal. It would be a great gateway beer and an all night beer. Let's face it, no one is going to crack a porter at noon on a Sunday and go with that through 3 football games. To use a cliche that I hate, it doesn't try to do too much. It's very drinkable. Try it!

Grade: B

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale - Black Sheep Brewery

I'm a huge Python fan, and not just of Holy Grail, so I had to try Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale! Pours a light golden color. Good head retention, with some lacing. At first, the taste of a slightly bitter grain, but after I swallowed, I noticed a distinct sweet fruitiness. Almost like sweet grapes. There's a subtle bitterness and it's just a little watery. Good, but not great. There's nothing that really stands out about it, other than the title.

Grade: C

Stone - Levitation Ale

Stone Brewing Company is tied with Great Lakes as my favorite brewery. Opened in Escondido, CA, just north of San Diego, in 1996. Their ales are, overall, the most aggressive bunch I've had from any brewery. If you want mild beers, steer clear! I love the attitude and writing on the bottles, as well. Seriously, the writing on the bottles is almost as entertaining as the beer itself. And the Gargoyle's pretty sweet.

Levitation is a red ale. As expected, it pours a rich amber color. The hops are evident the second it's poured. At first, there is a high citrus note but that goes away as the hops kick your mouth's ass. It doesn't have the most bite of any beer I've had, but the bite is there for sure! Surprisingly low ABV at 4.4.

Great color, great flavor, aggressive but not overwhelming bite, very good lacing.

Grade: A

Great Lakes - Edmund Fitzgerald

Great Lakes Brewing Company is one of my absolute favorite breweries. Based in Cleveland and opened in 1988, I haven't had a beer of theirs yet that I haven't loved. The variety is incredibly wide, including lagers, ales, a porter, and seasonals.

Edmund Fitzgerald

This is Great Lakes' always available porter, which is one of my favorite styles of beer. Oh, and just because a place calls itself the Porter Pub doesn't mean they actually serve porters. But that's another story. It pours an incredibly dark, almost black, amber color. It's full and smooth with a complex, smokey flavor mix of chocolate and coffee with just a hint of bitterness in the back of the throat. Fantastic lacing, too.

A note about porters, stouts, and other dark beers. They're not meant to be enjoyed at next to freezing temperatures. Let it warm up a bit - Great Lakes says it's best at 55 degrees. When beers like this are too cold it can mask the flavors. And you don't want that, now do you?

As it warms, the bitterness does get a little more aggressive, but it's far from overpowering.

Grade: A
Hi! I'm The Beer Fan. I love beer and it has nothing to do with getting drunk! (ok, maybe a little) However, I am not a beer expert. I'm not a brewmaster, I don't write books about beer, and I'm not a professional beer sommelier. I'm writing this blog to help you explore a world of beer that maybe you don't know about. I'm just a beer fan giving reviews, histories of breweries, advice, and answering questions for people who love beer, but perhaps don't know what Fuggles are.

So, what do you need to know to get started? Well, you should learn what you like and there's no way to do that other than trying! But it's good to know what characteristics and styles you like.

Ale or Lager?
The two types of beer. Ales are brewed using a top-fermenting brewers yeast that works better at room temperature. Lagers use a bottom fermenting yeast and is fermented at cold temperatures. Lagers tend to be lighter in color, with a more mild, yet crisp and clean flavor. Ales are generally richer, more complex, and more full bodied. Lagers also tend to have higher carbonation.

It's dark, that means it's bitter, right?
Not at all. The color of a beer comes from the roast and is not at all an indication of how bitter or bitey a beer is.

Head is good?
Indeed! When you've got a foamy head on a beer, it releases gases in the beer which then bring out some of the subtle nuances and aromas that make the beer unique. That leads to lacing, which is the trail of foam left behind. The more lacing, the better beer experience you'll have.

A great website is It will answer a ton of questions, break down almost any style of beer you can find, has reviews of every beer I've ever tried, and even has a list of where you can find beer in your city. Seriously, check it out!

Happy tasting!

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