Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baltika #9 Extra: My 1st Russian Beer!

I've seen a lotta beer in my day. Never before have I seen a bottle quite like this - it is plastic, with a plastic screw-on top. At 51 ounces and 8% alcohol (for $3.99), this could easily be a dangerous party beer. The brewery is Baltika (check out the website! fun dance music, very European). What is also European is the style of this lager. According to BeerAdvocate, this style is "Euro Strong Lager," a style that uses more malts and less corn/rice (like most American-style lagers). Cool, a new style to explore! And I have to say, I like it.
It poured darker than I expected; a good sign. Medium amber, crystal clear, lots of carbonation, and a huge sudsy white head with little retention. The smell was STRONGLY green apple. Like, regular apples plus artificial green apple, very sweet. And the taste...Again, I was expecting to hop on the train to Blandsville, but this is flavorful! Strong caramel malts, a big apple bite, some grassiness, and a touch of bitter hops. Even with 8% alcohol, I do not detect much in the taste.This has a stronger body than expected as well. Almost too thick. But then again, maybe that's because I'm not familiar with this style. It is not a bad drinking beer. However, it is really sweet. A little too sweet. But, you know, sweet flavor is better than no flavor. Ya know?(Plus I got a cool bottle cap for the ol' collection). B-

Short's Hangin' Frank: Controversy!

Oooh, nothing like a little controversy in the beer world, eh? Hangin' Frank by Short's has a story behind it. And a quick Google search shows the debates over the rather gruesome label. I have to admit, the label is what caught my eye, besides also generally enjoying Short's products and IPAs. SO, the short story is that there is a bar in Petoskey, MI, where a bartender hung himself. There is a rumor that his ghost haunts the bar, and this beer was named in his honor. Cool story, cool tribute to a small-town Michigan bar. But Short's....Really? Really you didn't think the label might be in poor taste? The early version of the label made Frank look black. Um, yeah a beer label with a hanging black man without context? Terrible idea. You know, American history and such. The label has been changed, so Frank looks white now. Still totally creepy. Anyways, the beer is to be rebranded next year. Probably a good idea.So, how's the actual beer? Pretty good! I got over the label. It's a purty beer. Nice, light amber with hints of red; almost peach-like. Mostly clear, but a bit murky. Plenty of visible carbonation and a sudsy 1/2 finger head which left lots of lacing.
Hops are quickly detected upon opening the bottle. Odors of lemon, orange, and a little bit of sweetness, almost like honey.
This is a very pleasant IPA. Lots of citrus hops, some bitter pines, with a touch of malty sweetness for balance. Strongly bitter, but not over-the-top. The feel is a lil sticky, and surprisingly light and soft compared to other IPAs. Definitely has good drinkability. I'd pick this up again for sure...Perhaps at that time with a new name and label.
A-

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Couple of Cans: 21st Amendment Brewing

On a recent road trip to MA, I decided to make a beer run. Namely to find my absolute favorite beer that you cannot get in MI. I stopped in Mentor, Ohio and found a really amazing store that had all kinds of goodies. Really amazing considering the kinda crappy strip mall and unassuming name - "Save On Tobacco and Beverage." Inside, aisles of beers from all over the country and world. Including some 21st Amendment beers from San Francisco.
First up was the Back in Black, an American-style IPA brewed with dark malts. It has 6.8% alcohol and 65 International Bitterness Units (IBUs). This poured very dark, although not exactly black, into my chicken glass. It had 1 finger of a rocky brown head with excellent retention. The nose was quite hoppy, and notably grapefruity.
Back in Black was a tasty IPA. There was an interesting balance of hops, a touch of spice, and just enough nutty malt taste to balance it out. A nice medium to full body and easy and pleasant to drink. I like IPAs a lot, and definitely enjoyed this one. It's kind of a strange style though, and I'm somewhat of a hop head, so don't see the need for dark malts in my IPAs.
I totally scored a can of Monks Blood too. I didn't know it was a score, but the cashier was excited because it's a limited release and I got the last one in the store. Therefore, SCORE. 21st Amendment has some nice packaging, and I enjoyed reading some of the scripture about monks on the can...But mostly went ahead to the tasting. This has 8.3% alcohol and 34 IBUs. Description: "Belgian-style dark ale brewed with cinnamon, vanilla, oak chips, and dried figs." OOH LA LA fancy pants.
Monk's Blood poured a cloudy brown with a thick sudsy light brown head. It smelled mildly sweet and malty. It tasted very nice. Sweet vanilla, mild cinnamon spice, and the oak flavor stood out as the beer warmed. This is a nice, mellow, well-balanced ale. Very soft in body, but a sipper due to the noticeable alcohol. Also I did not pick up a lot of fig or dark fruit flavors, which is my preference. So yeah. I enjoyed the Monk's Blood a lot.

Back in Black IPA: B+
Monk's Blood: A-