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Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout

New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout:

Without a single whiff or sip, this beer is at a disadvantage because it is an oatmeal stout and because it is not Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout. Drinking Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout is an experience on a near-religious level (I have a special hand-made beer mug I use). And as much as I like Edgar Allan Poe, presumably the inspiration for this raven-bedecked beer, it may be more product marketing than poetic justice.

I didn't get too much out of the nose-in-bottle test, so into the glass it goes where it doesn't help out too much. If you really breathe in deep, like 2-3 seconds at full nostril intake, you can get some of the subtle scents, but even several swigs into the beer, there are no noteworthy tastes, either on the surface or bubbling underneath. I actually have to do the burp test to see what tastes can be hiding in this oatmeal stout. When I think of oatmeal, and toasted oatmeal, I have a very specific flavor spectrum in mind, and this does not fall on the spectrum.

What I can say positively is that it is easy drinking, scoring high in accessibility. It does not taste boozy, but also I don't see any % abv, because it's not printed on the bottle! I don't like this. Number one, I am a responsible drinker (please, no e-mails) and I like to know what percentage beer I am drinking, but also it's just polite. Please, to all brewers, put the % abv on the bottle, somewhere.

I just recently reviewed Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale, which was pretty great, and I know these are different styles, but I think they are close enough for me to say that Old Engine Oil takes The Poet Oatmeal Stout to school. And not to belabor the point, but as I mentioned in my opening, compared to Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout, this beer lags behind and will be scored harshly in terms of representation in its style of beer. As for style points (originality, boldness, etc.), it does not do well and the same goes for personal preference. Its redeeming quality is its smoothness, but for me that is not enough. If asked when next I will drink New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout, I certainly won't say "Nevermore!" but I might say "not for while."

New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout:

Representation: .35
Accessibility: .90
Style: .5
Personal Preference: .75

Total: 2.5 Flags
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lagunitas 'Lucky 13' (Presidential Brief)

Ferment Nation Beer Blog Presidential BriefWhat: Lagunitas 'Lucky 13' @ 8.3%
Where: The Pour House (Westmont, NJ)
July 25, 2010
What-have-you: "Lagunitas 'lucky 13' @ 8.3%. Imperial red, hoppy and sweetish with malt base. Big body but clean finish. Lil bit like like Oskar Blues "Gordon" if you please."

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Weyerbacher Insanity (Citizen Review)

What: Weyerbacher Insanity 11.1% abv
Where: Pour House (Westmont, NJ)
When: July 17, 2010
What-have-you: "Chocolate, poundcake tofee. Sea breeze?  Reminds me of the undertable of a London pub" (this citizen assured me that this was by no means an insult, and we at The Ferment Nation believe him)

Representation: .6
Accessibility: .4
Style: 1.0
Personal Preference: .8

Total: 2.8 Flags

Posted by: Citizen Chris W.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale:

If you don't know my routine by now, I always start off a beer tasting my shoving my nose right in the bottle.  And they say that finding an honest ad man is like finding sober Irishman (very rare indeed), but just like the bottle clearly states, this beer is "chocolately" and "roasty," at least in odor, and there's still "viscous" to judge with this beer, so let's not waste any more time.

Wow, that is good.  Right out of the bottle for the first couple of sips, and the chocolate definitely takes a back seat to the roastedness.  Viscous?  It leaves a bit of a welcome bitterness in the aftertaste, so yeah, let's say viscous.  I don't have mirror to check to see if my teeth are stained, and it is hot, very hot actually, so we might see some thermal viscosity breakdown, but let's continue.

A fizzly effervescence to the head as I pour it into a mini pint glass, and holding it up to the light, Man, that is opaque!  Instead of the flavors and bouquet opening up when poured into the glass, they seem to settle down into a nice even idle (that's a lame attempt at making a car reference).  Halfway through and I am liking this beer.  This beer is from Scotland, and I am kind of bummed I didn't review this for our Beers of Scotland newsletter and video we did for Robert Burns Week.  I am a fan of dark beers, and I think Williams Brothers had a black ale I reviewed and really enjoyed (Williams Brothers Brewing Company Elderberry Black Ale).  Perhaps I am settling in on a favorite style? This beer has what I like: roasty, toasty nose and body with a good all-around taste.  At 6% abv, I can have a bunch and not be too worried about falling down on the heath.  There are some stouts and porters that should taste this good, but don't, so this scores high in representation and style, even though I don't have many black ales in mind for comparison.  Accessible? I think a fan of dark roasted beers will really like this, but not an average lager or pilsner drinker.  This also scores high in my personal preference, which should be no surprise.  This beer should not be trunked, it rides shotgun all the way.  Beep, beep!

Harviestoun Old Engine Oil Black Ale:

Representation: .90
Accessibility: .75
Style: .85
Personal Preference: .95

Total: 3.45 Flags
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lancaster Strawberry Wheat (Citizen Review)

What: Lancaster Strawberry Wheat
Where: Pour House (Westmont, NJ)
When: July 17, 2010
What-have-you: "Smooth and very refreshing.  Good all year."

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

Total: 4.0 Flags
Lancaster Strawberry Wheat
Posted by: Citizen Melanie S.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pour-a-Palooza 2010

Boy oh boy was that a success!! Pour-a-Palooza 2010 was even bigger and went even smoother than last year (and it was just as hot, by the way). The Pour-a-Palooza staff couldn't have been more excited about the festival nor more dedicated to its successful execution. Everyone at the Pour House was generous and accomodating to myself and the VP as well. Bob, Jake, Remo, Mike, and Kate were great to work with and we look forward to Pour-a-Palooza 2011!!!

With more shaded space for brewers and drinkers alike, the vibe was very cool: the crowd was fired up but not insane and the interest in the different styles seemed to be elevated this year. This festival is for folks who want to try lots of different styles and review them with their friends. Conversationally, at least, the talk among beer geeks seemed more engaged and informed than last year. I can tell you that the responses and review cards we received were much more detailed and inspired than ever before. You, the citizens of this great Nation are starting to rise up and make your voices heard!! Keep it going.

Please enjoy the pictures we took on Saturday and feel free to email us your own. Weigh in on the beers as well, whether you had it outside at the festival or inside at the bar. Some noteable brews from my point of view:


Weyerbacher Insanity is always a show-stopper. The Idiot has finally lost it.
Terrapin Boom Shakalager is a little scary. It weasels its way into barleywine territory, lowering the boom at 9%.
Yards Philly Pale Ale and Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer are all-day good.
Stoudts Maibock rocks. Elixir for any season.
Unibroue Eau Benite triple (7.7%) was a rare treat from Bernard's private stash. Not even produced anymore. Cool, huh?


Founders KBS is simply ridiculous. Bourbony and bitter and delish.
Avery Samaels kills you softly. Makes you feel one with the earth... and may put you six feet under it (16.45%).
Founders Devil Dancer is aptly named. Hops out the wazoo.

We the Pounding Fathers of the Ferment Nation have tried to provide a steady voice for beer reviews throughout the past two and a half years. You keep coming back to our site because our reviews make sense to you and you've come to trust our judgment... But Ferment Nation loves to dedicate time and space on our site for the people's reviews. Email us and let us know what you think of a brew, a venue, or an event. Send pictures. Keep everything family-friendly and we'll publish it. There is just about enough input from you, the people to devote a separate space on our page to Citizen Reviews. When more people review, knowledge is spread for the greater good. Thanks Again for joining us at Pour-a-Palooza 2010. If you weren't there, check out what you missed and be sure to mark your 2011 calendar in pen when the next date is announced. Feel free to glance at Pourapalooza.com for details as we receive them. Thank you and Grog Bless our great Nation.
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Troegs Java Head Stout

Troegs Java Head Stout:

I have shared with El Presidente as well as some beer-smart co-workers that Troegs might be my favorite Eastern Pennsylvania regional brewery.  Sure, I am a fan of Victory and Weyerbacher, but I think with Nugget Nectar, Hop Back, and Dreamweaver, and Sunshine Pils on their roster, they make for one hell of a team.  So, being a fan of the roasty, toasty, dark beers, I welcomed the chance to review a Troegs Brothers creation I have never sampled before.

With my first sniff and opening sips, I am not tasting or smelling much in the line of coffee.  I am drinking out of a bottle, so my second experiment will have to be in a glass to see if there is a difference.  When I first started drinking this "stout brewed with coffee beans", which coincidentally, weighs in at 7.5% abv, I couldn't help but think it had a full-bodied, straight-up "beer" taste to it, and I immediately thought of Victory Yakima Twilight, but I may need to drink another one of those, because I might be thinking of a different beer altogether.  As I am half way through the beer, I am now starting to get the slightly bitter aftertaste, which is not altogether unpleasant.  I am finally tasting the coffee here, which is a relief.  On the bottle neck, Troegs writes, "Java Head Stout passes through a blend of coffee beans and whole flower hops - akin to a French press - releasing cocoa, citrus and java flavors."  This is making for an interesting and tasty beer, just not a very coffee-flavored beer according to my tastebuds.

With bottle number two, I decided to pour this one into a pint glass, and there was quite a difference.  The bouquet really opened up in a glass, the roastedness, the coffee, all quite nice.  Here is the thing, though.  When you compare this stout with other dark coffee beers, it just doesn't measure up in the boldness and daring department.  I think as a stout, this is a nice beer, but you can't take the beer out of its context.  Troegs did not have to put "Java" in the title, they didn't have to put coffee beans and a death's head on the label (by the way, the label art is pretty kick-ass).  So, I guess what I am saying is that if this beer wasn't a "coffee" beer, I would be singing its praises, but as it stands, it is an okay "coffee" stout.

Troegs Java Head Stout:

Representation: .75
Accessibility: .85
Style: .70
Personal Preference: .8

Total: 3.1 Flags
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA (Citizen Review)

What: Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA
Where: Pour House (Westmont, NJ)
When: June 24, 2010
What-have-you: "All hands on deck for this IPA.  Hoppy with a bit of a bite.  Nice lacing in the pint glass.  Light golden brown color, very translucent.  Has an ever-so-slightly warming effect, a bit of the booze in this one, which is surprising but nice."

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Founders Centennial IPA

Founders Centennial IPA:

Unfiltered and dry-hopped, this India Pale Ale has a really nice balance and a bit of zip to it. Less floral and a bit drier than some other IPAs I've had. Centennial has a medium body and refreshing flavor but it's not as citrusy and flowery as, say Green Flash West Coast IPA or Ithaca Flower Power. And as an IPA, the paleness does shine through and isn't completely masked by the hops. Definitely drinkable and not nearly as rich as another Founders classic Double Trouble.

Founders Centennial IPA is a really dry pale ale with hops that remain in the background until the aftertaste. But dry as it is, there is also a malty earthiness that holds the beer together. Not sweet, mind you, but a touch of caramel peeks through. Pretty smooth and drinkable with a nice mouthfeel and just a hint of spice.

Founders has its own style and distinct flavor profile, but if it helps to compare and contrast, here are a few beers I've had recently (and you, good citizen, may be familiar with) that may be in the same ballpark: It's kinda like Sierra Nevada Torpedo meets River Horse Hop-a-lotamus plus a little bit of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. All in all, it's a really nice IPA with just enough complexity to keep it interesting. The highlight is its fine accessibility. This brew is worth taking to a barbecue so you can show off your good taste in beer without going overboard.

Founders Centennial IPA:

Representation: .90
Accessibility: .925
Style: .85
Personal Preference: .875

Total Score: 3.55 Flags
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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

Hello Citizens,

Happy Independence Day!! We here at the Ferment Nation like to celebrate July 4th in barbecue style. And what transforms cooking outside into a cookout? Beer. If you remember last year's Independence Day BBQ selections, the Stoudts American Pale Ale and Troegs Sunshine Pils reigned supreme.

Sunshine makes a return engagement because it has proven itself time and again to be a go-to brew in the hot weather. Clean, light, refreshing, and easy to drink, this pilsnser keeps giving and giving.

Troegs comes up big with another light and sessionable favorite, Hop Back. Bottle or draft, Hop Back is a perennial stand-by.

Lancaster County's Spring House Brewery offers a nifty pale ale called Seven Gates. I just visited Spring House a few weeks ago and got these brews right from the premises. This Seven Gates Pale Ale on tap is excellent. Lets give it a go in the bottle.

Dogfish Head's Raison D'Extra is a beast of a beer. Fruity and wine-like, this will work as an after-dinner relaxer, finishing off the night for certain. Raison D'Etre on steroids should be drunk from a wine glass as the sun goes down.

Thanks for spending your holiday with the Ferment Nation. Be safe and stay hydrated. Cheers.

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