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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Review of Left Hand Black Jack Porter

For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be drinking the Left Hand Black Jack Porter from the Left Hand Brewing Company located in Longmont, Colorado.

I have never had this Porter before and I have always appreciated the Left Hand products, so I figured why not give it a go.

The website, lefthandbrewing.com, entices the drinker with a nice, little description. 

Black Jack Porter delves deeply beneath the surface to embrace your Ace.  Espresso and dark chocolate flavors envelop your senses, with herbaceous hop flavors pulling you from the light.  You never know what treasures may be lurking in the darkness.  Will you play the game?

I think I’ll play!!!!

The Black Jack Porter has an ABV of 6.4% and comes in a 12 oz. bottle. 

With the pour, the beer appeared a dark brown to an almost very dark amber color.  It developed a semi-creamy, off white head that had adequate size, solid retention and very nice lacing.  Some light, burnt orange highlights shown through at the very bottom of the glass.  It’s not as dark as some of the other Porters out there, but it still presented itself well I thought.

The aroma seemed to have a nice, smooth, milk chocolate fragrance.  Mild hints of roastiness and “smoke” along with a timid coffee nose.  Deep within the aroma I started to pick up a pleasant oatmeal raisin cookie type of note.  Very nice.  The bouquet seemed to be balanced very well, however the chocolate was still the primary factor.

The taste brought out nice touches of bittersweet chocolate with restrained, toasted, coffee notes.  A recollection of the “smoke” was found, however it seemed to be more relaxed in the taste than in the aroma.  Some dark fruit with a slight grain bill helped to add a bit more complexity to the profile.  The dark fruit is not provocative, yet it added a little bit more sweetness to the savor.  It was balanced evenly and completely.

The mouthfeel was medium and slick.  It went down smooth and easy with suitable carbonation.  It wasn’t quite as dry as I was hoping it might be, however it was still ok.  The palate, to me, was covered fairly well to average.

This was, for the most part, a pretty good Porter I thought.  It wasn’t “world class” or anything, but it was nothing to scoff at either.  It’s super easy to drink and it supports all the proper “goodies” of a Porter styled beer.  Solid characteristics of chocolate and roasted malt along with a better than average appearance make this beer worth a try in my opinion.  I think I could make a night of the Black Jack Porter without any problem.

Once again, I appreciate all the positive feedback and comments.  Thanks for reading also.  Stay tuned because I have many more reviews to come!!!

Score:  3.75 out 5
Grade:  B        

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Country: USA, Left Hand

 

Review of Great Divide Samurai Ale

Today’s beer review is going to come from the Great Divide Brewing Company located in beautiful Denver, Colorado.  It’s an American Blonde Ale called Samurai Ale.

I really don’t know much about this brew.  Actually, I had never even heard of it when I spotted it sitting on the shelf. 

Let’s turn to the website, greatdivide.com, to find out more about it.

Samurai is an easy drinking, unfiltered ale that changes the status quo for unfiltered beers.  The addition of rice gives Samurai a slightly fruity, crisp, refreshing and clean taste.  This is definitely not your everyday unfiltered beer. 

Let’s give it a try, what do ya say?

The Samurai has an ABV of 5.1% and comes in a 12 oz. bottle. 

The color was a light, hazy yellow with brighter yellow highlights around the bottom of the glass.  The head that was produced was bright white and soapy with a mixture of both large and small bubbles.  It was of very nice size and had better than average retention and lacing.  It didn’t look bad, really.

The aroma was chocked full of bread and biscuit malts.  A citrusy note of both lemon and orange played an important role in the bouquet along with a slightly spicy note.  The bread and biscuit malts trumped the fruitiness here as they helped build a sturdy and solid nose.  A grain hint came through at the very end to give a tad more complexity.

The taste brought out a lemon citrus zest along with a bit of the rice that was mentioned in the description.  Slightly toasted bread and wheat touches came through in the middle, which coincided with small splashes of bitterness.  Not much spice was detected in the taste, however I did find that it had a minute salty flavor.  Hmm.  The flavor seemed to be balanced rather well, however it was just a bit weak and reserved.

The mouthfeel was medium to thin, smooth, crisp, refreshing, thirst quenching and somewhat dry.  Leaves a nice showing of flavor on the palate.  Not too much, but just enough to savor the taste.   

This brew isn’t bad at all.  I would be able to down several of these after doing some yard work during the Summer.  It may be a little tame in the flavor and aroma departments, but that makes it very easily drinkable and refreshing.  I was a little skeptical when I saw that rice was a primary ingredient, however it did nothing to conjure similarities to a “macro.”  Give it a try if you are looking for a decent alternative in a Summer refresher.  It’s not overdone with spices like a lot of other American Blonde Ales are.  It’s definitely more malt”y” and I prefer that.  Well, anyway, give it a go if you see it.    

Thanks a bunch guys.  I really appreciate all the support.

Cheers.

Score:  3.4 out of 5
Grade:  B-

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2011 in Country: USA, Great Divide

 

Review of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

Today, I’m going to review one of the most talked about, liked and famous of all the India Pale Ales produced….. the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale from the Bell’s Brewery, Inc. in Kalamazoo, Michigan.   

Let’s not waste any time.  Let’s go ahead and get to the description from the website, bellsbeer.com.

Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance.  Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas.  A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell’s house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.

Like many of you, I have had the opportunity to sample this brew several times, both on tap and from the bottle.  Today, we are pouring from the bottle.

The Two Hearted has an ABV of 7.0% and comes packaged in a 12 oz. bottle. 

The pour produced a hazy, bright orange/yellow color with some brighter yellow highlights around the bottom of the glass.  The head was off white, very full and soapy looking.  It’s well endowed with tremendous retention and adequate lacing. 
The nose brought forth strong citric aromas of grapefruit and orange.  It came out both a bit floral and piny.  A hint or two of a bready/biscuit malt pulls some of the hoppiness down to help create a more harmonious balance.  It smells clean and fresh.  To me, it’s reminiscent of a homemade orange juice cake or orange juice punch. 
The taste is very similar to the smell in that it recalls the plentiful grapefruit and orange characteristics.  Actually, I found that the orange started to overtake the grapefruit a little bit and really push the flavor along.  Nice, sharp “bites” of bitterness tickle the palate on the initial taste, but as the beer wanders across the tongue, the biscuity malt helps to restrain some of the sharpness.  Only a trace of alcohol is detected and after a few minutes it was dissolved into oblivion.  Overall, nicely balanced and even. 
The mouthfeel was medium, crisp, snappy and smooth.  It was mostly dry at the beginning, however it seemed to become a tad bit watery after it had a chance to warm some.  A warming alcohol is felt down the back of the throat, but like the taste, is quickly dismissed after a few sips.  It goes down rather easy, I must say.

I can definitely see why people enjoy this beer so much.  It’s both very good and very easily drinkable.  I really liked how the orange juice was a bit more dominant than the grapefruit in the taste.  It seemed to change things up a bit.  This beer is most surely one to try if you have not had it.  It’s good year round, but especially fitting during the Spring and Summer.  Compared to a lot of the “Imperials” and “Doubles” out there right now, this beer falls just a bit short, but it still holds its own, is well balanced and should not be taken lightly.   

Thanks to everyone who reads and comments.  It’s most appreciated.  I really enjoy the interaction.

Score:  4.15 out of 5
Grade:  A-

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2011 in Bell's, Country: USA

 
 
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