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<strong>The Disgruntled Chemist</strong>


Beer Blogging - Sweetwater Brewing Georgia Brown Ale

Continuing with the Southern theme, my next beer of the evening also comes from Sweetwater Brewing in Atlanta. This one is the Georgia Brown Ale, which is described on the side of the bottle as being "an easy drinkin' back porch brown ale [that] is as smooth as a Bill Clinton apology". Yes, really.

Now that's what a brown ale should look like. Superficially, it looks a lot like Newcastle does in a glass: medium-dark brown color, a rich amber when held up to the light, and a thin brown head. The aroma is not all that interesting, just a bit of sourdough over a bit of malt. The malt smells a bit like caramel, but I can't tell for sure.

Considering the relatively thin smell, the taste is a nice surprise. It starts out a little watery in the front of the mouth, but then really develops nicely as it moves toward the back. There's a big dollop of sweet malt that tastes like caramel or maybe toffee. There are some light hops and a molasses sweetness in the aftertaste. It's not blowing me away, but then brown ales rarely do.

Overall, I'll give this one a 6/10 (rating scale explained here). There's nothing wrong with it, exactly, and it's interesting in its own way. It's also very drinkable - nice smooth mouthfeel, with just enough carbonation to keep it from being flat. There's just something missing, something that belongs in that first watery instant when the beer hits your tongue. Maybe if they added anything it would stop being a brown ale. I dunno. If you're burned out on hoppy beers and want some light malt that's not too sweet, or if you're a fan of Newcastle, pick up a 6-pack of Georgia Brown and you won't be sorry. Since I'm not a big brown ale fan, this one would have had to be really special to get rated a 7 or higher, but that's just me.

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Beer Blogging - Sweetwater Brewing 420 Extra Pale Ale

While I'm down here in the sticks, I figured I'd buy some beers that I've never seen in Southern California, and then I'd drink them. To that end, here's a glass of 420 Extra Pale Ale from Sweetwater Brewing Company down in Atlanta.

This beer is described on the bottle as "a crisp pale ale accentuated by a stimulating hop character, handcrafted with selected malts and Pacific Northwest hops". We'll see about that.

Pouring it into a glass, I see that it has a very nice clear amber color. The head was white and thin, and dissolved quickly into a little bit of foam on top of the beer. The aroma was fairly malty for an extra pale ale, with the hops lurking underneath.

The taste: mmm, hoppy! They weren't kidding about that stimulating hop character. The flavor of this beer is like the aroma, except exactly the opposite. The hops come right out front and hit you in the mouth, followed by some sweet, light malt. The aftertaste has more hops, pretty much the same as the ones at the beginning. I don't know if this is so much a re-emergence of the hops as it is just the malt falling away. The hops never really leave, and overall they give the beer a nice bite. In contrast to the Abita Turbodog, there's a good, carbonated mouthfeel going on here, and you can actually taste a bit of alcohol (again, damn Southern brewers didn't put an ABV value on the bottle).

I'll rate this one a solid 8/10. The malt and hops are very well balanced; that is, you can really taste the malt. This is a good example of the style. If you're in the Atlanta area, I highly recommend picking some up.

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Beer Blogging - Abita Turbodog Ale

It's time for some Christmas Eve Winter Holiday Festival Eve beer blogging! First up: Turbodog Ale, from Abita Brewing in Abita Springs, Louisiana. I got this in a Publix grocery store here in Tennessee; they don't sell it (as far as I know) in Southern California. Let's see what we've got here.

I had one of these last night out of the bottle, and I didn't think it would be nearly this dark. It poured with a big, solid-looking head that decreased in size but shows no signs of disappearing. The aroma (which is much stronger in the glass) was a surprise, too. The label describes the beer as a dark brown ale brewed with three kinds of malt and dry-hopped with Willamette hops, but the main smell is a very strong sourdough. Underneath that is the malt, and maybe a very faint suggestion of floral hops. Interesting - I wonder if it tastes very different out of the glass, too?

I think it does. This is a complex beer, to be sure, and you can tell it was dry-hopped. In fact, it might be a little too complex. The flavors are all crashing into each other; I think the problem is too many different kinds of malt. The bottle says they use pale, crystal and chocolate malts. I think they need to pick two (probably throwing out the chocolate would be best).

The taste is hard to describe, but if I had to guess something I'd say that it starts off with a harsh floral hop flavor and finishes with chocolate malt, which persists into the aftertaste (along with some of that sourdough). Between the hops and the malts is a weird blank space that tastes almost watery, quite a trick in a beer with so much going on. There's no hint of alcohol, so I have no idea how much is in there because they don't seem to print ABV values on the labels of beers sold in Tennessee. [UPDATE: The website's Turbodog page says it's "a bit stronger" than their other beers, which I'm guessing means ~6.5%]

One interesting thing: the head disappeared after a few minutes, and with it went the aroma. Seriously, once the head is gone there's no smell coming off this beer. Strange. There's also kind of a lousy mouthfeel, because the beer blew it's carbonation wad in building up that thick head. A porter or a stout is allowed to feel this flat, but an ale should not. The overall effect is profoundly uninteresting.

The rating: 4/10. I think it's actually better out of the bottle, which is not a positive thing. I can't think of any reason I'd recommend this beer, so it's not recommended for anyone who's got access to anything better.

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