Evil Twin Brewing Stratford, CT
Citra Sunshine Slacker
The name was too apt not to try; having slacked off for 692 days, I’m in need of inspiration. The stylized geometric Lebowski on the can helps too.
Crystal clear golden straw color with a crackling snow white head. Fine pearl strands wind up the glass keeping the froth rocky. The nose is fresh cut sativa and grass, with a touch of over-ripe orange. The mouthfeel starts with that effervescence skittering across the palate, opens up wide, then thins out in a wave of bitters. The flavor starts tart and citrus, blending and evening out a bit before dissipating into a slightly vegetal tang. A few more sips help even things out and the bubbles take on a hand-pulled quality. It’s a good session beer albeit one that tries to clone the effect of an IPA rather than settle for its own profile. Sessions have become their own thing, mimicking English cask pales more than their overblown American counterparts. This one abides.
Clipper City Brewing Co.
Heavy Seas Gold Ale
A slow, slightly glugged pour yields little in the way of head, though a lacy white honeycomb sits on top of this mildly carbonated ale. The clarity is just this side of glassy. There is some blush through the middle of the glass, but the color is otherwise a wonderfully tawny gold.
The nose is biscuity – warm bread crust and honey on top of some slightly floral hop perfume. A light vegetal smell sits beneath the slightly murky lupulin layer.
The mouthfeel is nice and even; soft at first as a mild ale should be, but opening up towards the back of the swallow with sweet tangerine and mandarin that carries just a faint tart pop. The finish hangs on for just a moment, coating slightly, before gradually dissipating into a slightly malty sponginess.
Again, this is a mild, though not entirely quiet session ale. I’d sit down with a couple more of these in front of me.
Uinta Brewing Co.
Salt Lake City, UT
Four+ Hive Ale with Honey
While I’m awfully skeptical about the prevalence of crappy products with honey added, it makes sense in beer, what with brewing’s relation to mead.
The pour is lively, with a very tightly-knit, cloudy white head that has just the faintest hints of orange. The head is active and the surface teems as fine carbonation swells up throughout excellent clarity.
Less yellow than I expected, this really looks like a jar of honey – amber thinned out by marigold and some faint dun tones. As the head recedes to just below a half-inch, it clings to the inside of the glass like a wet sheet.
The nose is wonderfully malty and reminds me of East Anglian pubs – there is an earthy smell of wet wood, flour batter, hay, and a little bit of lemon zest.
The feel is quite good – the frothy head helps – and cereal grains show up first, though more thinly than the smell originally let on. There’s an interesting moment when the (very) faintly sweet honey mixes with the grassy hops; it’s not a battle between the two, but they don’t necessarily get along at first. Rapidly though, the honey becomes less sweet, and more floral while the hops become a bit more like lemon soap.
All in all, a pleasant brew, and an impressively delicate session ale (not lager!). While I might not seek it out as something incredibly complex, it is interesting enough, and infinitely refreshing.
SweetWater Brewing Co.
420 Extra Pale Ale
This is a gorgeous beer – a golden orange, late summer sunset over a hayfield, with a slight haze from the lack of pasteurization adding to the effect. A crackly lemon sorbet head persists at over half an inch. That same foam catches at the edges of the glass and the ultra-fine carbonation is frenetic and constant.
The nose is sticky sweet like an orange Creamsicle. Some subtle pine needles emerge as slow and as sap, and with the malt coming through just as sweet with mild sourdough pungency. This is shaping up to be an elegant English pale.
The mouthfeel is good, though the start of the first sip is a bit thin. It kicks it up a bit though after a couple of sips and the warmth of my hand around the glass. There is no hop uppercut – everything here is subtle. The wash of hops is very green with lettuce and cucumber being the most distinctive tastes. The malt provides some breadth to the sip and expands out from the middle of the tongue with touches of honey and caramel malt.
Certainly a good session beer (though at a shade over 5%, I’m not sure if it technically qualifies) and if you don’t necessarily want a full-on assault on the palate, this beer is like the perfect blind date: beautiful, smells nice, and has a lot more character than you initially thought. There’s a funny simile about lace in there somewhere, too, but I’ll let it go.
Named after the original Shiner brewmaster, Kosmos Spoetzl, this beer is meant to be a German-style lager similar to what Mr. Spoetzl initially brewed.
A pillowy, pure-white head stands to about a half-inch before settling to a solid quarter-inch, maintained by agitated, snaking strands of carbonation.
The clarity is crystal clear, and the color is a bit more gold than straw, perhaps with a drop of orange.
The nose is very clean – a slightly candied aroma of malt, followed by fresh cut grass and barnyard rain.
The mouthfeel is pretty good, coming across a bit on the thin side though the bubbles help you overlook that. The first flavor is a very twiggy greenness that borders on metallic. The hops do their part to bring out a thoughtful, if not elegant or subtle, bitterness. The finish is smoother and creamier than you might expect from such a hoppy beer.
Similar to their Dortmunder-style Frost, Kosmos Reserve makes you think ‘Pilsner.’ The clarity, color, and Noble bitterness are reminiscent of those Bavarian styles. This is a smooth session beer that will provide a bit more substance than many of the bigger American lagers, and is worth a try.
Lancaster Brewing Co.
Rare Rooster Rye Ale
The color is a copper-honey deep orange, that pours with slow and steady carbonation, providing a decent, but quick to deflate, off-white head. The clarity is perfect – a very limpid amber ale.
Lancaster Brewing Co. Rare Rooster Rye Ale
The nose is sweet, with warm honey notes, touches of overripe orange, dried caraway, and celery.
The mouthfeel is decent, with some malt that isn’t really chewy, but whose sweetness has more body than cloy. Some peppery quality at the start of the sip is surprising for such an amber ale, but perhaps not for one with rye in it. Mellow caramel notes rise through the fairly flat effervescence, leaving you to think it’s all over.
At the end of the swallow though, a bitter hop tang hits the tongue quickly and the dryness of the rye flavor comes out just subtly enough. Some traces of orange peel show up in the back, perhaps, but the end is altogether smooth, if not a bit on the sweet side.
This is a really nice example of how a session beer can have some complexity. Try this with some rye bread, mustard, and ham or sausage I’m sure you’ll be tempted to have a second.
The pour doesn’t yield a lot of head and what does show up is a bit weak, missing any real froth. No matter, the effervescence is lively and the clarity is great. The color is a deep, clear amber. A faint brown touch mingles to create a nice roan beer.
The nose is very malty with soft brown bread aromas mixing with a cotton-candy sweetness and just a faint hint of grass and dandelion (no pun intended) in the back. The mouthfeel starts off well, but gives way to a thinner flow towards the end of the swallow. The hectic effervescence is still there – and adds a nice texture – but there is a lack of a solid body.
The flavor is a bit sweet, not really cloyingly so, but has hints of caramel and confectioner’s sugar. The middle is where the body seems to thin out a bit, as a soft and slow-rolling grassy hop back takes over.
It easy to forget, with the color of this beer, that you are quaffing what is really just an easy-drinking lager. The malts used here give it the really lovely copper tone and the sweet bready smell. While this isn’t the most complex beer, it is certainly a good session brew and has a time and a place. I would be happy to indulge in a few of these while watching a baseball game in the summer