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<strong>The Disgruntled Chemist</strong>


Beer Blogging - Green Flash Extra Pale Ale

Happy Sunday night, everyone. Tonight I have a beer that a friend of mine gave me: the Extra Pale Ale from Green Flash Brewing, down in San Diego. The beer's name refers to a phenomenon that you can see especially well in San Diego: as the sun sets over the Pacific, just as it dips below the horizon, you can see a flash of green light. It's not local to San Diego; I've seen it in Barbados as well.

Science alert: the green flash effect is caused by the refraction of light by the atmosphere; atmospheric inversions enhance the effect by causing something like the mirages on hot pavement. Basically, the green light bounces around for a while and doesn't get dispersed as easily as the other colors, so it can make it to your eyes. It's best observed from near sea level; standing on a beach at sunset is the perfect spot, but even then atmospheric conditions need to be correct for it to be seen.

Anyway, it's a beautiful phenomenon, so hopefully this will be a beautiful-tasting beer. It poured into the glass with a huge, foamy head that took a minute to disappear; the beer itself is a light gold color. It certainly smells like an extra pale ale, all hops in the nose. There's some citrus smell, but mostly it's a floral hop aroma.

The taste mirrors the smell pretty well. Right out front is a sort of bready malt taste, but it's really subtle. Right after that the hops come in, and it's that same mix of floral and citrus (but way heavier on the floral). After the hops, the malt actually makes a little comeback that combines with the hops to give a long-lasting aftertaste. I wasn't expecting that, but it was a really cool effect. Kind of like the green flash itself, actually! Overall, I'd say this beer is a nice example of the Extra Pale Ale class, and if you find yourself in San Diego and see it you should definitely pick some up. I'm hoping I can find it again.

Rating: 8/10



Beer Blogging - New Belgium Fat Tire Ale

One more beer blogging post for the night sounds good. To finish up, I think I'll do a beer that, frankly, I cannot believe I haven't reviewed before: Fat Tire Amber Ale from New Belgium Brewery.

Fat Tire is a Belgian style amber ale, which you might be able to guess from the name of the brewery and the name of the beer. Fat Tire has a great color: it's a dark amber, almost red, with a fluffy, light tan head that fades away within a minute. The smell is very bready, like a toasted biscuit type flavor. There's no hint of the alcohol (5.2% ABV) in the aroma, nor is there much in the way of hops.

The founders of New Belgium brewery really did their homework on this one - it's a terrific example of the Belgian ale style. It's a really, really smooth beer, very drinkable. The flavors are understated, but they all complement each other nicely. The flavor starts out with a toasted malt flavor, moves on to a very light floral hop taste, and finishes off with kind of a nutty aftertaste. It's a delicious progression. I highly recommend this beer for people who drink the standard American beers and want a little more flavor, or those who like Belgian ales and want to try another example of the genre, or anyone who enjoys a good glass of beer.

One recommendation I'd make is to drink Fat Tire out of a proper beer glass like the one in the picture above, rather than from a standard pint glass or [heaven forbid] the bottle. The smell of Fat Tire is integral to the drinking experience; with the wrong type of glass you could miss out on that.

Rating: 10/10


Beer Blogging - New Belgium 1554

For my second beer blogging post this evening, I decided to drink a beer that I picked up this morning: 1554, from the New Belgium Brewery (the makers of the wonderful Fat Tire).

New Belgium describes this as an Enlightenment Black Ale; it certainly poured into the glass black, with a foamy white head that disappeared pretty quickly into a bit of lace. The smell is a nice mix of roasted and sweet malts, with maybe a little chocolate mixed in. There's also a little bit of alcohol in the smell, which is surprising for a beer with only 5.6% ABV.

The first sip of this beer was a nice surprise. I was prepared for something that was either bitter or too sweet; instead, I got something right in the middle. The initial taste is nice and light, but just sweet enough. The aftertaste isn't as good as it could be, but there is a hint of chocolate that's not as bitter as you'd expect in a dark ale. That alcohol that made its presence known in the aroma is nowhere to be found in the flavor, which is good - the flavor would definitely be out of place.

My glass of 1554 actually got better as it got a little warmer. When I first started drinking it, it was definitely a little too cold; all of the flavors were reduced, and in this beer, that's a bad thing. As the beer got warmer, towards the last few ounces, the chocolate flavor got much more pronounced (but still not bitter), and the aftertaste stuck around longer.

This is a very, very drinkable black ale. My only complaint would be that the flavors aren't as pronounced as they could be when it's cold; you should let this beer warm up a little in the glass before you start in on it. I'd recommend it for people who like a little darker or sweeter beers, but don't like the strong, sweet flavors. This would be a good compromise for you.

Rating: 7/10


Beer Blogging - Stockyard Oatmeal Stout

Well, it's the end of a long week for everyone in the office here; it also happens to be 4 PM and our boss happens to be clear across the country (Massachusetts, I think). So we're having beer, because why the hell not? I went to Trader Joe's this afternoon after lunch and bought a beer I've never tried before: the Oatmeal Stout from Stockyard Brewing Co., in Chicago.

I don't have a pint glass here, so I'll be drinking it out of the bottle. Hmmm, I should really start keeping a pint glass in my desk....

Focus! OK, so smelling at the top of the bottle confirms that this is, in fact, a stout. There's a strong roasted odor, but there's also a distinct sweetness - brown sugar, maybe, or maple syrup.

It's weird, but there's almost none of that sweetness in the taste until the very last bit of the aftertaste (which lasts quite a long time, by the way). Right out front there's actually a little bitterness, before the roasted malt and oatmeal flavors come in. It's not a hoppy bitterness, though, more of a dark chocolate bitterness. I'm not a fan of dark chocolate, so I wasn't crazy about that being the first taste, but your mileage may vary. The roasted oats and malt aren't much to write home about, either - they're a presence through the middle of the taste, but they don't really jump out at you. The beer is fairly carbonated for a stout, so that could be throwing me off too.

I could see this being a very drinkable stout if you drank it really cold, but when served a little warmer (as is the case for me), the flavors all get a little more pronounced. In this beer's case, that's not really a good thing.

Rating: 5/10. Meh.