Boone Brewing Co.
Blowing Rock, NC
Blowing Rock Summer Ale
Having just returned from the West Coast – including a 120-degree day in Las Vegas – I have returned to what is most definitely summer in NYC. Thus, a summer ale.
Initially, the pour is somewhat lively, with a very clean white head accelerating to a half-inch before settling to a fine layer. The beer is properly cloudy, like a real New York City summer haze – golden straw in color with dappled orange.
The nose is malty with wet cedar bark, sweet citrus, and a hint of coriander spice.
The mouthfeel is full, improving as it proceeds toward the throat. Fine carbonation keeps things interesting as the beer starts to open up a bit. Pleasant twiggy tanginess and a smoother spiciness than you might expect are complemented superbly by very subtle touches of lemon and orange.
It may be the run in the heat I just went on, but this beer is really hitting the spot. It is a really nice refresher on a hot day like this and, while it won’t stand up when preceded by a fuller-flavored brew. All told, this one is pretty good and is more interesting than many other summer brews I have that suffer from a thinner mouthfeel.
Carolina Beer Co.
Wilkes-Barre, PA/Mooresville, NC
Cottonwood American Wheat Ale
Again, here’s CBC (Mooresville, NC), brewed under the Cottonwood label in PA. The beer is labeled as a “Wheat Ale Brewed with Orange and Coriander,” somewhat demystifying this tasting process.
The pour is calm and a pure white head shows up to a rocky inch, but settles to a fine layer in a couple of minutes.
The color is a slightly hazy hay-and-straw gold with fine steady, well-spaced carbonation.
The nose certainly has coriander in it, as well as some orange, but the initial aroma is slightly horsy like wet hay or a barn in a rainstorm.
The mouthfeel is decent – good carbonation – but a bit thin. Orange hits the sides of the tongue and feels a bit medicinal, but some nice wheat flavors come through to bring out a good tartness. There is little spice from the coriander – no real peppery notes to speak of right away, but there is a bit of dryness that opens up after a bit.
While it’s no prom queen, this beer would be an adequate date on a warm summer evening.
In an act of pure love and utter selflessness, my oldest brother gave me a year’s subscription to a Beer of the Month Club. I am to receive two six packs of new brews each month. This month, one of the sixers was Cottonwood Almond Stout. The name intrigued me as I’d never heard of Almond being used before.
Carolina Beer Co.
Cracking the bottle, you instantly get a whiff of the eponymous almonds. The beer pours very dark brown, nearly black, with a thin tan head that didn’t hang around. Once in the glass, the almonds really come out along with a sweet malty smell and a hint of smoke. The carbonation was low and the mouth feel was a bit thin and on the sides of the tongue. There was a hint of creaminess but most flavor and refinement was lost to the overwhelming taste of almonds.
Not a terrible brew for a cold winter’s night, but I’d stick to yellow cap Guinness if given the option. I’ll have to revisit this when I haven’t prefaced the sampling with a couple of Dale’s Pales.