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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Founders Round-Up

Founders Brewing Co. Round-Up:

When you think of Michigan, the 26th State in the U.S. of A., you might think "Wow! That state looks like a giant mitten!" or maybe "I love Motown music!", and here at The Ferment Nation that is exactly what we think, but we also think that Founders Brewing Company is one of that state's finest contributions to the Union. Located in Grand Rapids, MI, Founders Brewing Company has been creating some really great crafts beers since 1997. The Ferment Nation is a fan of theirs, and we wanted to re-cap some of the beers we have already reviewed.

Founders Imperial Stout:

Imperial Stouts got their name because of their intended audience: royalty. So if you have the grapefruits to call your stout "imperial" you'd better be prepared to back it up with quality you can taste.
Founders Imperial Stout does that and more. [Read the full review]

Founders Double Trouble Double IPA:

Another wonderful offering from Founders. This Double IPA is really hoppy and bitter and goodness gracious dry! Even though there is a slight floral sweetness to this brew because of the serious hoppage, the finish is outrageously dry like a wine finish. [Read the full review]

Founder's Red's Rye:

Had this beer several times on tap at Cork, once at High Street Grille, and now in a bottle. Damn fine. Simply described as "red ale made with rye", this beer has a lot more than that to offer a real beer lover. [
Read the full review]

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

McKenzie Brew House Shane's Gold (Presidential Brief)

Ferment Nation Beer Blog Presidential BriefWhat: McKenzie Brew House Shane's Gold 4.6% abv
Where: McKenzie Brew House (Malvern, PA)
November 7, 2009
What-have-you: "A dry pilsner with a nice body. Another session beer. These beers are made for drinking!"

Check out McKenzie's Beer Selection [Click HERE]

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Winter Beer Retrospective 2009-2010

The Ferment Nation suffered through the worst Winter in history, and perhaps that is why we waited so long for our second Winter Beer Round-Up, which since it's Spring already, is no longer a round-up, but rather a retrospective. So while you're sipping on your hoppy beers in time for Easter, you can reminisce about these great Winter beers.

Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser Winter Ale:

This reddish-brown winter warmer has a pretty apparent malt flavor, but is just a bit light on the body. It isn't weak, however, since the hoppy bitterness creates an interesting finish. The aftertaste is bitter and lingers quite awhile. [Read the full review]

Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale:

Okay, so now I am on the hunt for the perfect "winter warmer."
Samuel Smith's almost always presents a near-perfect product; Just as nearly perfect is their representation of the style at hand. My personal opinion of Winter Welcome is that it falls just a smidge short. [Read the full review]

Great Divide Hibernation Ale:

This "English-Style Old Ale" is another interesting take on the "winter warmer." The flavor is rich and woody and malty. The aroma contains a hint of caramel sweetness but the taste isn't really sweet at all. [
Read the full review]

--From the Office of the Vice President

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Selin's Grove Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale (Presidential Brief)

Ferment Nation Beer Blog Presidential BriefWhat: Selin's Grove Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale 5.0% abv
Where: Selin's Grove Brewing Co. (Selinsgrove, PA)
November 7, 2009
What-have-you: "The freshest and grooviest pumpkin of all. A 4.0 if ever there was one. A little spicy, very creamy, and fresh as can be."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Erie Brewing Company Mad Anthony's APA

Erie Brewing Company Mad Anthony's APA American Pale Ale:

American Pale Ales seem to have an interesting color... just a shade darker than a traditional Pale Ale (mostly fashioned in the British tradition) with a slightly sharper hop profile than an English style pale ale.

The flavor is an interesting "melting pot" of pale ale, pilsner, and IPA. Mad Anthony's APA is a pleasantly refreshing version of this patriotic style. Nothing crazy going on here, but I detect a slight haze, perhaps a wheaty influence. There's a little hoppy bite right in the middle of the draught, and I seem to sense a bit of German influence in the brewing.

Mad Anthony's APA is a prime candidate to share with neighbors and friends at a Fourth of July barbecue. Pour some over the bratwurst and enjoy the rest straight out of the bottle or perhaps in a pilsner glass. Feel free to enjoy a few: this is a nice session brew at 5.5% abv. Mad Anthony's APA would be a fine brew drunk ice cold on a hot day -- and accessible enough to pass along to a stranger who is simply curious about the intriguing name of the man whose bust adorns the label ("Mad" Anthony Wayne was a widely decorated and highly respected military officer in the American Revolution. He was apparently quite the spark plug, earning his nickname "Mad" Anthony. His legacy is quite profound, having left his mark on history by way of a billion towns named after him. Rock a Wiki if you don't believe me).

Actually, I'm quite looking forward to this summer after a cold, wet East Coast winter. If you remember last Independence Day, yours truly celebrated with Troegs Sunshine Pils and another American Pale Ale, Stoudts APA. Erie Brewing Company has offered a fun and drinkable session brew in Mad Anthony's APA. Not terribly stylish, but certainly user friendly.

Erie Brewing Company Mad Anthony's APA American Pale Ale:

Representation: .90
Accessibility: .99
Style: .80
Personal Preference: .895

Total Score: 3.585 Flags

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sun Up Brewing Stinger Pale Ale (Citizen Review)

What: Sun Up Brewing Stinger Pale Ale 4.5% abv
Where: Sun Up Brewing (Phoenix, AZ)
When: February 26, 2010
What-have-you: "I can taste the malt with this one, and the hops. Nice golden color, too. This has more taste to it than some of the other ones. More body than their other beers, too."

Sun Up Brewing Phoenix AZ

Friday, March 19, 2010

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout

Samuel Adams Imperial StoutSamuel Adams Imperial Stout:

This imperial stout is dark all the way through. Extreme bitterness up front presents the traditional dark flavors of chocolate and coffee. The bitterness gives way for just a moment to let in a little sweetness from deep within. Then, the aftertaste hits with lasting results. What is that herbal, tongue-numbing bittersweet flavor? Aha! Anise. I may not have come up with that on my own but Jim Koch was kind enough to sum up the brew on the rear label. Thanks, Mr. Koch, for putting words to my flavor experience.

The aftertaste lingers a good long while, perhaps partly due to the intensity of the brew, but maybe the viscosity has something to do with that -- Sam Adams Imperial Stout coats the mouth like Sambuca in a way. So let that be the Presidential Recommendation for today: Sambuca drinkers, give this powerful stout a try.

Sam Adams Imperial Stout fits right in the mix of imperial stouts abv-wise, clocking in at 9.2%. Not nearly a session beer, this imperial stout is particularly boozy in flavor with a pungent bite that so far is unique to me. Very stylish and extremely bold, this offering is sure to receive a perfect Style score. But here's the thing...

I love Sam Adams; I love bold brews; I love imperial stouts... but this isn't my favorite among them. I have to be honest here, it's not suiting my taste buds. The craftsmanship is ever-present, but I'm not in love. Goes to show that there's some crazy voodoo involved in brewing. Not many breweries could even take a chance like Sam Adams by creating an entire Imperial Series. And even fewer can throw down a unique imperial stout. This particular version of imperial stout does challenge the norms of the style but it does not redefine them in my opinion (Key words: my opinion. Please comment!!).

Samuel Adams Imperial Stout:

Representation: .875
Accessibility: .85
Style: 1.0
Personal Preference: .85

Total Score: 3.575 Flags
Check out our other reviews of [ Imperial Stout ] beers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Newcastle Brown Ale (Citizen Review)

Newcastle Brown Ale:

"Nice smooth nutty taste
very pleasant
great every occasion beer!
bonus -- great freebies"*

Representation: 1.0
Accessibility: 1.0
Style Points: 1.0
Personal Preference: 1.0

Total Score: 4.0 Flags

--Reviewed by Citizen Cheryl

*Citizen Cheryl is referring to giveaways given away at Pour-A-Palooza 2009 (at PJ's Pour House in Westmont, NJ). Pour-A-Palooza 2: The Reckoning will be happening this year, and The Ferment Nation will be there!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Victory St. Victorious Doppelbock

Victory St Victorious DoppelbockVictory St. Victorious Doppelbock:

There is something unique about a European beer that lets you know it is imported and crafted with ancient technique and tested recipes. Victory is the best American brewery I've come across so far at fooling the tastebuds. Their German training shines through again with this late winter doppelbock, St. Victorious.

The label's story references the monks of St Francis of Paula, giving a nod to the original doppelbock, Paulaner's Salvator. That and the use of German malts infuse this brew with tradition and heritage worthy of the brew that sustained those holy men through the fasts of their faith. St Victorious himself maybe a brew-tested time traveler, sampling the rich malty lagers throughout history. With his monk-style hair dickey gelled up into a little "bro-hawk" in the front and rockin' a sweet button-down vestment, this brother looks wise to the pretenders (and frankly, also looks half-shot in the butt).

The German malts definitely shine through as the sweetness is tempered with just a bit of funkiness. They present a bit of a harder edge than the normal American double bocks. Really good versions include Sam Adams Imperial Series Double Bock and Great Divide Hibernation. St. Victorious' malt choice and hop profile provide a little levity and dryness to the mix, giving this winter warmer a bit more of a glass-clinking "Cheers" vibe to the field. St. Victorious is malty and rich with a complexity that is slightly pungent. It pours dark caramel and has virtually no head, but none is necessary for a doppelbock to do its magic. A few of these in the right pub and you may wake up on the stone floor of a German monastery sometime in the seventeenth century. Would that really be so bad?

Victory St. Victorious Doppelbock:

Representation: 1.0
Accessibility: .90
Style: .99
Personal Preference: .95

Total Score: 3.84 Flags

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bullfrog Brewery Inspiration Red (Presidential Brief)

Ferment Nation Beer Blog Presidential BriefWhat: Bullfrog Brewery Inspiration Red
Where: Bullfrog Brewery (Williamsport, PA)
November 7, 2009
What-have-you: "Really nice red. Session brew with plenty of flavor."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Victory Yakima Twilight Ale

Victory Yakima Twilight Ale:

Twang! That's the word for this intriguing ale from Victory. The aroma as well as the flavor is more earthy than floral, but hoppy just the same. Quite hoppy, in fact. At first, expect a burst of hoppy flavor, but the serious bitterness is contained mostly in the foamy head. The malty base is dark and smooth and serves to mellow out the bitterness a bit.

The complexity of Yakima Twilight is epic. One sip could last you several minutes (thought I haven't been able to test that theory yet). Hoppy up front and mingled with a malty body, this brew keeps your tastebuds dazzled like twilight itself: Day or night? Ale or IPA? Not until the aftertaste do the generous hops resurface and hang around like the remnants of daylight in the arms of dusk. Sporting a nice bitter aftertaste without making you scrunch up your face, Yakima Twilight is pleasantly flavorful and challenging but not over the top.

Two beers should be sufficient to quench your thirst for a hoppy-malty-zesty brew (well, maybe three if your constitution is strong) but take caution: at 8.7% abv, this could be a tricky way to end your evening. Better way to start with Yakima Twilight then you could go in one of two directions: Lighter session brews like ales, pilsners, or dry stouts, or you could go wit slower-drinking bigger beers like double bock, double IPA, or imperial stout. Either way, even thought Yakima Twilight isn't officially billed as an IPA, hop-heads can get a sufficient fix from this finely crafted Victory brew.

Victory Yakima Twilight Ale:

Representation: .95
Accessibility: .925
Style: 1.0
Personal Preference: .975

Total Score: 3.85 Flags

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sun Up Brewing Horizon Hefeweizen (Citizen Review)

What: Sun Up Brewing Horizon Hefeweizen 5.4% abv
Where: Sun Up Brewing (Phoenix, AZ)
When: February 26, 2010
What-have-you: "Smooth, and easy going. Does not have a very cloudy, wheaty look to it when you hold it up to the light, and there is a lack of wheat flavor and smell. A lot of wheat beers you can tell right away from the smell. Not so here. Maybe that's good, maybe not. Overall, it's not my favorite, but very accessible."

Sun Up Brewing Phoenix AZ

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Flying Dog Road Dog Porter

Flying Dog Road Dog PorterFlying Dog Road Dog Porter:

Another sneaky offering from Flying Dog. The Road Dog porter has a surprising abv at 6%. That's not a very strong beer but it could really do some damage if you fall victim to the easy-drinking Road Dog. The accessibility of Road Dog is its best attribute by far. Not a bad porter to start with if you're just an adventurer who isn't used to dark beers. But the veterans know better.

El Presidente is a staunch supporter of free speech -- and while we at the Ferment Nation choose to keep the language mostly family friendly, we support Flying Dog's right to plaster a "naughty" word all over the label. The only problem I have with it is that the bold claims of being dark, rich, malty, and the best I'll ever try go largely unsupported. I mean, they've made a good attempt and a decent porter but not hardly in the same category as the other porters I would choose over Road Dog (like Yards George Washington, Smuttynose, Anchor, Sierra, Sinebrychoff... just to name a few).

The flavor and the body are both on the light side, which as previously noted, makes Road Dog quite accessible and drinkable. There's a subtle hint of smoke or coffee or something, a gentle tug on the tastebuds, but not very stylish. Flying Dog does have some successes but this porter leaves me a bit underwhelmed.

Flying Dog Road Dog Porter:

Representation: .75
Accessibility: 1.0
Style: .75
Personal Preference: .75

Total Score: 3.25 Flags

Friday, March 5, 2010

Magic Hat Odd Notion (Citizen Review)

Magic Hat Odd Notion 6.0% abv:

"Magic Hat's Odd Notion. It is definitely cloudy and golden in color like wheat beer. Mellow. Doesn't have the crispness you expect from a summer beer. Hints of fruityness but subtle (like I said, mellow). This beer comes in like a lamb. Can't wait until Spring."

--From the Office of the VP

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Holland Mad Hatter IPA

New Holland Mad Hatter IPA:

This is a really smooth IPA from New Holland Brewing Co. in Holland, MI. The aroma tells a pretty clear tale of the flavors to come, thought the citrusy hop flavor is a bit stronger than the bouquet would let on. Mostly, though, it's a fairly chilled out IPA with a smooth flavor, lightish body, and a drier malty base ... almost pilsner-ish but not quite. Definitely pale. In fact, the Mad Hatter is so pale that one would almost classify it as such. The finish is so very crisp and dry that only at the very end does the mildly grapefruity hop essence kick in.

If you love Pale Ales or lighter-side IPAs, then definitely check out Mad Hatter. It's extremely drinkable, even right out of the bottle. In fact, you may squeeze out a little extra hoppy bite if you drink it that way. Definitely recommended for ball games or barbecues. Newbies go ahead and give it a try. Highly accessible.

As far as being an IPA, there are so many dynamite ones out there, I have to be pretty picky with regards to representation and style. Mad Hatter reminds me a lot of Hoptical Illusion in this way. It's a little hoppier than its Blue Point counterpart but still perhaps a bit to "safe" for my tastes. Don't get me wrong. I could settle in with a bunch of these and take my appreciation to the next level (exactly how deep is that rabbit hole, anyway?) and have a lovely little "session" with this brew. But its light body and crisp flavor give me that summer feeling and not necessarily the "Wow, this IPA really kicks my butt!" feeling. Caught between Pale Ale and IPA, Mad Hatter doesn't disappoint, but doesn't knock any socks off either.

New Holland Mad Hatter IPA:

Representation: .80
Accessibility: .925
Style: .825
Personal Preference: .85

Total Score: 3.4 Flags

Monday, March 1, 2010

Left Hand 400 lb Monkey IPA (Citizen Review)

Left Hand 400 lb Monkey IPA:

"Different flavor

for an IPA,

nice bitters."

Representation: 1.0
Accessibility: 1.0
Style Points: .75
Personal Preference: .85

Total: 3.6 Flags

--Reviewed by Citizen Cheryl