The pour is very pale yellow, with lively carbonation that helps support a quarter-inch of soft, pure white head. The retention seems decent.
The nose is as grassy and green as most of the Shiner brews, though this smells a bit thinner than some of the other similarly golden samples. The bottle claims that it contains both Euro and US hops, which is always a lovely-sounding idea. Some faint notes of grape and a touch of rain, but that’s about it.
The mouthfeel is thin and, while the carbonation is good, the anorexic body leaves you with nothing but the effervescence and makes you think you’re drinking seltzer. What flavor exists is not bad, by any means – some faint grassy hops, a little bit of pleasant wet loam – but there’s too little to make a strong assessment. Essentially, this tastes like a watered-down or even ‘light’ version of Shiner’s Kosmos.
At 4.4%, it’s a session beer, and you could easily put away many of these without any serious deleterious effects, but you might as well save room in your belly and wallet for something with some more substance.
The lacing isn’t all that bad either, leaving a pocked coral wall behind, but that’s about the best this brew has to offer save for maybe some thirst-quenching during a really serious softball game.
Atwater Block Brewery
Dirty Blonde Ale
Trying out a stemmed wine glass for the first time, I tried to pour this beer a bit heavy to puff up a head, but managed to elicit only a thin white layer which was quick to settle. I’ll chalk that up to glassware.
The color is straw gold, slightly hazy, with a heavy yellow base and a veneer of orange. The carbonation is very fine, running up the center of the globular glass in pearl strands.
The nose has coriander, a touch of banana, and some orange zest.
The initial sip yields a wisp of wheat then a touch of a thin cereal body, but it all quickly disappears into a tart squirt of lemon. The finish isn’t altogether unpleasant, however what legs the waifish citrus flavor has barely manages to limp to the finish.
The end of the pour provides a bit more haze and a few bits of yeast to add a bit to bolster the body of this beer but, on the whole, this brew is a fairly innocuous choice. Certainly, it’s not offensive, and you could drink several, but you’d get bored. I do however love the young woman’s Tigers tramp-stamp on the label.
This brewery is around the corner from where I stayed for one of the best weddings I’ve ever attended, so believe me, I want to like it, but these brews are lacking something to really make them stand out.
Boulder Beer Co.
Sweaty Betty Blonde
Even with a very soft, slow pour into a tilted glass, this beer puffed up with a billowy white head. The color was initially straw with very good clarity, but a final swirl of the bottle before finishing off the pour clouded it up. The head persists with over a half-inch of the stuff. The color is a very soft yellow – like a Labrador – and the heart of the glass has just a touch of sandy brown to it. This beer is very light though (lighter than my expert photo might indicate).
The nose starts off strong with overripe oranges, bananas, and apple cider, with a touch of spicy coriander in the back. A slight hint of esters from the still-present yeast promises some interesting flavors.
The mouthfeel is decent – not great, but not terrible. There is no full-on wheat assault that some beers with this aroma might launch. That said, a little bite would be nice. Yeah, that sentence could be misconstrued.
The start of the sip is slow, subtle, yielding flavors of cheap bubblegum, green apple, and a slightly earthy back that is a bit disappointing in that it finishes weakly, leaving you wondering where the rest of the beer is.
Certainly, this is not an off-putting brew. If you’re one of those beer drinkers who might not like wheats, whites, or blondes, this might be a good way to wade into the styles. I love the pale yet murky look of the brew, but Sweaty Betty’s brother, Hazed & Infused, was much more interesting than this. I’m going to revisit this in a few months to see if any further conditioning takes place.
Farmington River Brewing Co.
This is part of the Mercury/Ipswich family that has produced some very drinkable, usually session, beers.
Pours golden with a touch of red, certainly not amber but not quite straw. The clarity is decent but there is a bit of translucency that I wouldn’t necessarily classify as cloudiness. The head is white, billowy, settling to a nice even topping with a bit of lace. The nose is mostly hops but there is a decent amount of wheat included as well. The mouthfeel is very good with a great effervescence; it also mirrors the nose pretty accurately. There is a a great hop character that is more noble than it is West Coast but still slightly floral. The perfect amount of wheat at the back of the swallow helps the beer finish cleanly and a touch of malt is present, but not dominant, and supplies just a hint of bittersweet sourdough that makes this beer a refreshing and balanced ale.
Mercury Brewing Co.
The pour is even and responsive with a crackling white head that puffs itself to about an inch and slowly subsides. The color is a reddish honey and the clarity is good. On the pour, a sweet hoppy aroma emerges but is not overpowering and there is an evenness to it that makes me think the first sip will be not be too aggressive. The fact that this is called a blonde ale also figures to lend it a softer feel. The mouthfeel is impressively whole and the character is like a pub ale with a real full body. A Swiss-cheese lacing follows sips down the glass and hang around. The hops are subtle, hiding behind an impressively mild maltiness which does not create too much sweetness. This is a well-crafted session ale that is smooth from start to finish.