Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Belhaven - Scottish Ale

A Moderate Beauty.

Belhaven Brewery makes this medium-brown golden ale of medium carbonation that pours with a nice medium-sized persistant head. At first one is lost in searching for the character - not too malty, not too hoppy, not too tart and not too sweet. This ale hits the middle of the road nicely - not too extreme in any one direction, its a good, very drinkable, malty ale that feels "just right" to the palate. A nutty, yeasty nose with just a touch of smoke, this is a real Goldilocks Ale - I could serve it to my Pilsner-loving friends or to friends used to darker fare without fear of reprisals. There's real beauty in moderation. This brew would hit the spot with a medium-spiced German sausage, steamed red cabbage and crabapples.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Elysian Brewing Co. - The Wise ESB

ESB fit for a Goddess.

Elysian Brewing Co. crafts a number of brews as bold and brash as the labels on them. Athena, the Goddess of wisdom graces the bottle of this Northwest-style heavy-on-hops ESB. So hoppy in fact that its in danger of becoming an IPA if not for the strong smoky body provided by the Cara-hell and Belgian malts. Not overly flowery, like some hoppy beers, it has a toasted orange peel finish that is pleasant on the tongue. With a bit of a kick at 5.9%, its still an easy-drinker. In fact, this ESB is one of my favorites and a wise choice by any definition! The Wise would go well with a Buffalo Burger piled with Roquefort crumbles and sliced red onions on a Kaiser roll.

St. Peter's - Cream Stout

Coffee and Chocolate.

Saint Peter's Brewery makes this amazingly opaque brew. Redolent with coffee grounds and chocolate with a tart finish, this Stout has overtones of prunes, raisins and herbs. The tart finish causes some to charactreize St. Peter's Cream Stout as "a bit off" but to my palate its just the character it needs to keep from being too sweet or heavy like many stouts. The longer I drink it, the more "bittersweet chocolate" it becomes. With notes of horehound and Worcestershire, its a Stout that stands apart. This would go well with Creme brulee or home-made caramel creme.

Dogfish Head - 90 Minute Imperial IPA

Not your father's IPA.

Dogfish Head Brewery has been crafting unusual beers since 1995 and they've gotten pretty good at it. Case in point is their 90 Minute Imperial IPA which at 9% alcohol by volume is not recommended for extended "quaffing"! Its a bit sweeter than many IPAs but still has a dry finish. It has an extremely floral nose. The hops are very predominant in the flavor but not as overpowering as you might think in such a high-alcohol brew because of the fruity sweetness balanced by the barley notes. For your first brew on a hot Summer afternoon or with a world-class Curried Chicken Salad sandwich, I can't think of a better choice.