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<strong>The Disgruntled Chemist</strong>


Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat


On a warm night like tonight, I needed something a little lighter to follow that stout, and here it is: Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, one of the few Sam Adams beers I've never tried before. As you can see from the picture, this beer has a golden color and a huge white head that actually came up above the top of the pint glass but faded away within a couple of minutes. It's clear, which isn't something I was expecting in a beer with the word 'wheat' on the label. The smell is, as one might expect, strongly of cherries, but I think I can also smell some sweet malt in there. Whatever it is, the cherries overwhelm it easily.

This beer actually doesn't taste as much like cherries as the aroma led me to expect. They're there, of course, but they're not the dominant flavor. It's a very light beer, without a lot of sweetness or bitterness - a very summery beer, I guess you'd say. I'd compare the magnitude of the flavor to something like a lager, but without any bready flavors. Right up front you taste cherries, along with some very light malt. Once the cherries fade away, the malt sticks around, resulting in a somewhat watery effect. The aftertaste gets a little bready malt flavor and a little cherry flavor, but it doesn't last long. There's no hint of alcohol, and I'd guess that the beer doesn't have more than 4% ABV (until I decided to look at the label just now and it said 5.35%. So much for me).

Rating: 6/10. Nothing special. If you're looking for something to drink on a warm summer evening and you like fruit in your beer, you might like this one. If you're a big fan of wheat beers, you will probably be disappointed. Otherwise, a tepid recommendation.


Beer Blogging - Samuel Adams Cream Stout

I don't have a fun, clever opening for this post. I had a long week capped off by a rough night last night, and I really need to have about 8 beers tonight. The process begins...now!

This beer poured into the glass very dark, with a big, creamy brown head that stuck around for about five minutes. When held up to the light there are some hints of red and mahogany, but mostly it's just black. The aroma actually smells creamy, which is interesting and not unwelcome. There are scents of roasted malt, vanilla, caramel and maybe espresso. Promising.

With the first sip I realized that this beer is surprisingly hopped for a stout, but I'm getting ahead of myself. It starts out like a typical stout, not too carbonated and thick in the mouth. The flavor starts out with dark chocolate and roasted malt and finishes with some surprisingly light-tasting floral hops. The aftertaste moves on to the caramel and espresso flavors. None of the flavors really reaches out and punches you in the mouth; for a beer this dark and roasted smelling, it actually borders on thin. Still, it's a good beer, and it's very drinkable - the lack of any strong flavors make this one a good candidate for drinking multiple bottles at a sitting.

You know, if you're into that sort of thing.

Rating: 8/10. A very well put together beer, recommended for fans of any sort of dark beers, and for people who normally find stouts overwhelming.



Beer Blogging - Stone Smoked Porter

OK, this is the last one tonight, I swear. I'm finishing my night off with a bottle that's been in my fridge for a while because (a) I've had it before and (b) I could have sworn I already blogged about it. That beer is Stone Smoked Porter:

Well, it sure does look like a porter. It poured into the glass very dark and thick, and there was no head to speak of, just a little foam around the edge of the glass. Holding it up to the light showed...well, not much. It's really black, with a little bit of red-brown around the edges. There's a strong odor of roasted malt along with some hints of coffee and molasses.

The first taste reveals some surprising sweetness; the malt is not at all as roasted as you'd expect. There's also a little more carbonation than you usually get in a porter, which is interesting considering the almost total lack of head. If I had to put a name to the sweetness, I guess I'd say dark chocolate, brown sugar, and either vanilla or caramel. It makes for an interesting and surprisingly sweet combination.

The "smoked" in the name comes from the next layer of flavors. After the sweetness dies down, flavors of coffee and smoky roasted malt show up. There's actually not a lot of aftertaste, but what there is tastes like dark chocolate. There's no hint of alcohol in the taste, and very little hops either. Despite all the strong flavors, this beer is fairly easy to drink, and it's not nearly as overpowering as some (OK, most) of Stone's other offerings.

Rating: 7/10. Recommended for fans of just about any kind of dark beer. I think it would be especially agreeable to people who like chocolate stouts, Guinness, and any other beers with coffee or chocolate flavors. If you can get Stone beers where you live, you should try this one (and all the rest, as a matter of fact).


Beer Blogging - Victory Storm King Imperial Stout

Making up for lost time, here - hopefully people don't hate it when this blog becomes almost exclusively about beer. Anyway, I just opened another beer from Victory Brewing, the Storm King Imperial Stout.

I'm trying to think of all the imperial stouts I've had in the past, and the list is pretty short. I can think of Old Rasputin and maybe one from Rogue, but that's it, which is strange because I like the style. Anyway, the Storm King is a really black beer, and viscous - coming out of the bottle it looked more like used motor oil than beer. There was a thin brown head at first, but that went away quickly leaving only a ring around the edge of the glass. The aroma is a very interesting mix of sweet malt, coffee and bitter hops, suggesting a nice, complex beer.

And the taste definitely measures up. It starts off with molasses and roasted malt, and underneath that is the orange peel taste of the hops (which aren't as present in the taste as they are in the smell). The overall effect is sweet, but not too sweet, with just a little bit of bitterness. This taste blends nicely into the aftertaste, which has hints of espresso and dark chocolate and sticks around well into the next sip. There's a good amount of carbonation, which keeps the flavors from being too cloying, and a very slight hint of the 9.1% ABV.

Rating: 7/10. If the hops didn't hide in the molasses flavor so much the rating would be a little higher. Regardless, you'll like this beer if you like stouts, porters, and any other kinds of beer that get their flavor from roasted malts.


Beer Blogging - Victory Hop Devil India Pale Ale

After that lager I need something a little more bitter, and I think I've got just the thing: the Hop Devil IPA from Victory Brewing.

Mmmmm, IPA. As you can see from the picture above, this beer looks just like a typical IPA: orange-golden in color, a little cloudy, and a big tan head. It smells like a typical IPA, too, with a big wallop of citrus and floral hops flooding into my nose when I get anywhere near the glass. Promising indeed.

Maybe it's just the contrast with the lager I just had, but this beer packs a lot of flavor. As you might expect, the defining characteristic is the hops, which provide both floral and citrus flavors. The taste starts out with the citrus hops, with flavors of lemon peel and grapefruit predominating. After the bitter hops come some surprisingly light floral hops and some sweet, bready malt. The aftertaste goes back to the grapefruit and lemon rind, and some alcohol (6.7% ABV) also peeks its head in here. It's a nice progression of flavors, complex without being overwhelming.

Rating: 8/10. If you like IPAs, you will like this beer. It's hoppy, to be sure, but it's not just hoppy, and there's enough variety within the hops to make it very interesting. If you're not into bitter beers, though, you should not buy this one, because you will not like it. Oh, and even thought Victory is located in Pennsylvania, I bought this 6-pack just down the street at my local Beverages & More, so I assume that you can get it most places in the country. Go pick some up!


Beer Blogging - Magic Hat Mother Lager

Wow, it's been a while, huh? This will be my first post in over a week, and my first beer blogging post in almost 3. No reason, really - I've just been busy with work. But now it's Sunday, the NBA playoffs are on TV, and it's time for some beer. The first one will be Magic Hat's Mother Lager, another one of the beers I bought in New York back in February. Like most of the beers I've seen from Magic Hat, it's got some very cool label art (click to embiggen):

I'm normally not a huge fan of lagers (the stronger the better, in my opinion), so we'll see how this one goes. The first thing I noticed when I poured it into the glass was that there's not a lot of color to this beer - it's a very pale yellow color that you can't really see in that picture because my camera is a piece of crap. There also wasn't a lot of head to speak of, just a little bit of white foam on top of the beer. The aroma was bready, indicating the presence of malt but not sweetness. There is also a little bit of hops in the smell, but not so that you'd notice if you weren't trying.

The taste is a lot like the smell with this beer. It's very light on the flavor, coming dangerously close to the dreaded "watery" designation without quite getting there. I could see this being a good beer to drink on a nice warm summer day. What flavor there is is bready but not toasted, with very little malty sweetness. There are some floral hops that come through at the end, but the aftertaste doesn't stick around a lot so you don't really experience them to any extent. The carbonation sticks around pretty well to the end of the glass without being overwhelming. Overall this is a very drinkable beer, if a little less complex than I usually like.

Rating: 7/10. This is a good example of the style; I'd recommend it for people who like lighter stuff (blondes, lagers, etc.). If you're normally a fan of amber ales and darker, this beer probably won't do it for you. If you're going to be drinking Magic Hat, get the Fat Angel; you'll enjoy it more.

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Beer Blogging - Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine

I found this bottle in my local corner liquor store while I was buying a couple six packs to have while watching the NCAA national championship basketball game. It's a Stone brew that I'd never seen before, let alone tried, and I love barley wine style ales. So I had to get this:

This is the limited early 2007 release of Stone's Old Guardian Barley Wine Style Ale. According to the back, the ingredients are "a whole buncha barley, tons o' hops, water & yeast".

This looks like a classic barley wine in the glass: deep amber in color with a fluffy tan/white head that doesn't stay around very long. The aroma is almost pure sweetness, with maybe a little bit of hops. No alcohol to speak of, even though the label promises an impressively precise 11.26%. Smells tasty.

And it is. Wow, the aroma didn't even hint at what this beer had in store. Of course, my sense of smell is kind of limited, so that could be the problem here, but I think the beer just tastes different (better) than it smells. It's complicated, and I'm not sure I can describe all of what's going on here, but I will try. The initial flavor is mostly sweet, a malty taste in a beer that has no malt. The flavor isn't purely malty, though; it's hard to describe the flavor of barley + yeast if you've never had a barley wine. It's kind of a sharp, almost bitter sweetness, if that makes any sense. That sweetness is followed up by, in order, floral hops, alcohol and malty flavors. I would never have known this beer had more than 11% ABV if I hadn't read the label...that is, until I'd had half the bottle. Overall it's a delicious, if demanding, beer experience.

Rating: 7/10. Recommended for barley wine fans only - if you don't like beers with really strong flavors, you won't enjoy this beer. That pretty much goes for all the Stone beers, actually.



Beer Blogging - Magic Hat Fat Angel Ale

Tonight I'm having another one of the beers I got when I was visiting Tart in New York City. This time it's Fat Angel Ale from the fine Vermonters at Magic Hat Brewing.

The label describes this as "a paler kind of ale", so I'm expecting something hoppy but not overpowering. The color is pretty nice, a light amber that borders on gold when held up to the light. The head is foamy and white, and dissolves to some nice lace on the sides of the glass. Both citrus hops and sweet malt are present in the aroma, but neither one too strongly. Interestingly, there's also a hint of green apple in the aroma.

This is a nice, smooth pale ale, right in line with what the label promises. There's a nice balance of malt and hops, pretty much consistent with the aroma with maybe a little more hops (floral, not citrus) toward the end. I can't taste any of the green apple, though. No hint at all of the 5% ABV. This is an extremely drinkable beer, and I could see drinking several of them at once very easily.

Rating: 8/10. Recommended for fans of pale ales who are in the mood for something a little lighter, and for fans of non-bitter beers who are feeling adventurous. This would be a good introduction to the style.