A guest review from Max – plus a new “Limited Release” tag and category!
Matt Brewing Co.
Saranac White IPA
There seem to be so many IPAs at one’s finger tips today that one might
think the beer industry has come to target only hop heads. This isn’t a bad
thing, mind you, but it is rare to find a really good hoppy IPA that tastes
different from, well, a really good hoppy IPA. Batter up, Saranac White
IPA. What drew me to this beer was essentially the fusion of two of my
faves: a citra hops IPA and a Belgian-style white. The results had the
potential to delight, but you never know with seasonals, because if they
bomb they are only around for a few months.
The pour unleashes a powerful head similar to that of a Boddingtons, the cascading abruptly ceases (note the glass here) and you are left with a beautiful orange-ocher haze. Don’t try and stare down this lady, she, like most women are tough to see through and patience will serve you best as you make your way through the aroma which, like most analysis of this beer, is refined citrus. The most prevalent smell is grapefruit, then grass.
The mouthfeel takes you on a wild ride starting with a blast of citrus, however the infusion of 2 Row, Wheat, and Oat malts, tone down the hop as the backside of the taste releases an array of spicy vanilla and coriander (Saranac also uses 2 Row malt in it’s Vanilla Stout).
There is a wonderful duality between these different styles, they harmonize
when they need to and clash at just the right moments. This is certainly
one of the most refreshing IPAs I’ve ever tried and I would be very happy to
see a re-release in time for grilling season. While hardly a session beer at
6%, I drank three in 20 minutes after the Giants won the NFC championship
with no problem!
Posted in Beer Review, Guest Review, IPA, Limited Release, Max, New Brew, New York, Seasonal, U.S. and A, Wheat/White
Tagged Beer Review, Guest Review, IPA, Limited Release, Max, New York, seasonal, Wheat/White
Belgian Style White Beer
Mill-e-wa-kay is Algonquin for “the good land”, but Wisconsin means beer – it’s a fact. Belgium is also known for its great white and wheat beers, so this combination must be good, right? We will find out. Well, I’ll find out – it’s a perk of the job.
The beer pours clear, but with a slight agitation of the bottle, the sediment from the active yeast spills into the glass and clouds it up. The color is a thin straw gold, with a yellow translucency like lemon pulp. The head is crisp white but settles down quickly despite huge bubbles that fly up the glass.
The aroma is slightly musty. The yeast comes through with an odor of damp sand, though some subtle citrus notes – mostly lemon – come through. The mouthfeel starts off surprisingly full, but thins out a bit. Coriander spice does not really tart things up much, though there is a bit of a lemon sorbet feel. There is an unexpected but pleasant creaminess that shows up at the end of the swallow.
Nothing mind-blowing here, nor is it particularly wheat-y, but it’s another easy sipper from Lakefront.
Schmaltz Brewing Co.
Saratoga Springs, NY
Coney Island Albino Python
Schmaltz makes great beer, and they’re not afraid to do something a little wild and out of the ordinary that may be looked at as off-putting or gimmicky (see Freaktoberfest).
At the pour, this beer is active with a sparkling pure white head that is fine and fizzing. A real white lager, this beer is bottle conditioned and a good deal of yeast is still in the bottle. Stir it up and pour it in – it gives the marigold beer a fine luster with tangerine highlights at its denser portions. The clarity is low, but there’s enough visibility to see the pinpoint pearl strands fly around the glass, knocking the leftover sediment around with it.
A fine coating of lace is already coating the side of the glass as the teeming head begins to deflate slowly. The nose is peppery and a bit sour – overripe clementine peels and a bit of wet dog.
The mouthfeel is a good and the extra fine carbonation doesn’t take away from it. Pepper, fennel seed, and coriander emerge subtly and without heat from behind a crisp crackery base. A touch of that clementine aroma accompanies the spices, rounding out the swallow with just a drop of vanilla creaminess.
It’s not as big and bold as a lot of Schmaltz’s brews, but it’s an unfairly drinkable 6% white lager offering some zigzagging complexities that are fun to try to pick out.
Michigan Brewing Co.
The pour is a shower of effervescence – carbonation streams up the glass, helping to inflate a delicate but full inch of cloud-white head. Those fine bubbles stay busy keeping the head settled at a half inch.
The clarity is good though the color is surprisingly light. (N.B. I didn’t pour the full bottle so any sediment in the bottle is still in there). It is a very fine straw gold, even champagne colored brew.
The nose is pleasantly surprising. Despite what seems to be a thin-looking brew, the aroma is much more interesting. Powdery bubble gum, along with lemon zest and coriander mix with slightly under-ripe banana flambé (which comes through as a sweet caramelized odor).
The mouthfeel is very good, if a bit on the thin side. However, spice gives way to more sweetness that couples nicely with the lemon zest. As the beer gets a bit warmer, the bubble gum and coriander emerges a bit more.
If I’m going to have a white or wheat beer, this is the way I like it.
Sprecher Brewing Co.
Back in 2008, I tried Sprecher Maibock which received the coveted “Awesome” tag. Here’s a dark wheat offering from Sprecher.
Sprecher sie Dunkel
Dunkels are among my favorite German styles because they’re like really good wheat beers, only better.
The pour is lively – a half-inch head pops up and settles to a fine layer that bunches up around the inner edge of the glass. When held to the light, a milk chocolate brown emerges through what is otherwise a dark cola color with amber and maple syrup tones.
The nose is massively malty for something that has ‘wheat’ on the label. It is all sweet oatmeal cookie dough, caramel, and a mild almond nuttiness. A slight husky wheat character emerges from behind the dark malt – let’s see if it shows up on the tongue.
Beautiful. This is a great brew. The mouthfeel is excellent, alternatively smooth yet with lively carbonation tiptoeing to the back of your throat. The initial flavor is a very subtle, slight tartness down the middle of the palate that is the wheat showing up as promised. It is tangy and a bit grassy – very nice. However, just as you are wondering if that’s it, all that dunkel-y goodness – the malt – flows outward and downward, coating the mouth in a slightly sweet layer that touches on chocolate and corn flakes.
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.
Lakefront Brewery, Inc.
Wheat Monkey Ale
The color is very pale gold like hay in the sunshine – there is no trace of orange or red. The head is fine and white but dissipates rapidly, leaving only a disappearing archipelago of thin carbonated film. Clarity is low – there is a haze – but light passes through easily.
Why can't you set your monkey free?
The aroma is pleasantly full – a lot of sweet mash. It’s all grain and honey with some subtle coriander huskiness and perhaps a dash of lemon zest.
The mouthfeel is a bit fine, but very good for a wheat beer. There is very little spiciness or malt sweetness to overwhelm the palate, just a clean, lightly spiced citrus quality, some grassiness, just enough sweetness to make you keep sipping and enough bitter hops to round out the finish.
It’s not the most interesting beer I’ve had, but it hits the spot on a hot New York City summer day.