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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Stoudts Blonde Double MaiBock (Citizen Review)

What: Stoudts Blonde Double MaiBock
Where: Pour House (Westmont, NJ)
When: July 17, 2010
What-Have-You: "Fantastic finish, great aftertaste."

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

Total Score 4.0

Reviewed by: Citizen Marc C.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Arcadia Ales Jaw-Jacker Ale

Arcadia Ales Jaw-Jacker Ale:

Arcadia seems to follow the British Isles session beer model. They do not fear flavor, but they do keep it to a dull roar. Jaw-Jacker has tons of flavor. It is an "Ale with spices added (Cinnamon, Allspice, and Nutmeg)" as described by the label itself. And it is a pretty accurate description, I might add. Yes, these spices invoke the spirit of Fall, hinting at Pumpkin Pie -- but there are no pumpkins brewed into this beer. It's a hit and a miss at the same time.

Originality is a tough thing to judge here, which affects the Style score in my method. Yes, it is original in that it's a pumpkin ale without the pumpkins. But really... where does that leave you? It has a very similar spice profile to maybe -- Southampton Pumpkin Ale? But without the actual pumpkin, Jaw-Jacker may come up just a little short.

I think that Style points could have been really pumped up here if the brew had come out either crisper (like a ginger ale, almost) or way bigger in body (picture something from Dogfish Head or Southern Tier), or perhaps entirely different (cider, perhaps?). Anyway, Arcadia Jaw-Jacker is not bad at all as a fall beer or even as a Halloween beer. Thanksgiving? Maybe. But compared to the million other seasonals I've had over the past three autumns, Jaw-Jacker is pretty good but not great. It's fairly drinkable (in the Arcadia tradition) at 6.0% abv, but I think one is good enough for me.

Arcadia Ales Jaw-Jacker Ale:

Representation: .85
Accessibility: .875
Style: .85
Personal Preference: .80

Total Score: 3.375 Flags
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This Weekend in the Delaware Valley

Greetings Citizens!

With Fall officially here, we've got Octoberfest beers, pumpkin beers, and Halloween beers now being served on taps all across the country.  In the Delaware Valley, The Ferment Nation has officially endorsed two great events being held locally.  We have been counting down the days to the 2nd Annual Oktoberfest celebration at The Blue Monkey Tavern in Merchantville, NJ on The Ferment Nation Twitter page as well as the Twitter page for South Jersey Beer News.  The Monkey normally has 38 craft beers of tap!  Be sure to check this one out.  From their website:
$30 Per Person. 60 Craft Beers. Tickets on sale at The Blue Monkey Tavern. Wine will also be served. Food will be available at an additional cost.

At the same time, across the bridge, The Institute Bar is having their second annual Charlie's Pumpkin Patch, a celebration of some great pumpkin beers.  The Ferment Nation was in attendance last year and got to sample at least 8 different pumpkin beers, and this year should be great, too.[ Check out last year's coverage.]

With two great beer events this weekend in the Delaware Valley, you have no excuse not to have a good time.  Eat, drink, and be merry, and tell us about your experience.  Submit a Citizen Review to the Ferment Nation!  Have fun, be safe.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bullfrog Brewery Nut Brown (Presidential Brief)

Ferment Nation Beer Blog Presidential BriefWhat: Bullfrog Brewery Nut Brown
Where: Bullfrog Brewery (Williamsport, PA)
November 7, 2009
What-have-you: "Solid nut brown.  Light to medium body, and very drinkable."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout:
El Presidente warned me about North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. I seem to forget, was he warning me about the 9.0% abv? Or was he warning me about how much i would like it?
Ooh. Smooth. Rich. Intoxicating. There is a bit of some interference here, because i am outside on Labor Day weekend and someone is smoking a pipe or cigar, and I can smell a pungent almost candy like smell wafting through the air. It is interferring with my initial smell taste. There is a silky smooth quality to Old Rasputin, and I can feel it lingering on the back of my palate and warming me up. The 9.0% abv isn't immediately apparent in the taste or aftertast, but the warming qualities are there. This would certainly be a bottle of solace for the Russian banished to Siberia for crossing the mad monk.
This stout has more subtle tastes, like fine chocolate, rather than the uber-roasted flavors of a coffee stout where you can almost taste the roasted beans in your mouth. Like I said, this is more warming, more chocolately, more refined.  There is a nice smell to this beer after pouring it into a glass.
El Presidente has lectured on the properties of Russian Imperial stouts. If i can remember correctly, they tend to be more robust, more alcohol, higher quality of ingredients, because originally imperial stouts were brewed for royalty (i.e., "imperial"). I mean, if Czar Nicholas II dropped by your house, you wouldn't crack open a Bud Lite, would you?  I am not too familiar with North Coast brewery, but they have intrigued me with this one. It's almost like Old Rasputin has some kind of hypnotic hold over me. I must have another Old Rasputin.
As for representation of stouts and particularly imperial stouts, scores will be high. I am liking it better with every sip. Accessibility? I think it will score pretty decently.  As I previously said, some stouts really kill you with the roasted coffee bean flavor, which I prefer in a coffee stout.  I have chided some breweries in the past for skimping on the coffee flavor with their coffee stouts, but an imperial stout can have a little coffee, a little chocolate, little toasty, warming qualities in the right proportions, that is what I look and taste for. Style and personal preference will also be high. I wasn't taking El Presidente's word.  I was a little skeptical, but now I see the light, or rather the dark, dark beauty of Old Rasputin. I must kill the Czar. I must kill the Czar.
North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout:
Representation: .9

Accesibility: .85
Style: .9
Personal Preference: .9
Total: 3.55 Flags

Here is a little taste of the Ferment Nation archives and a glimpse of the evolution of The Ferment Nation.  Check out this image from El Presidente's review of North Coast Old Rasputin.  That was before our major photo studio upgrade.  Read El Presidente's review and compare!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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

Ferment Nation Beer Blog Presidential BriefWhat: Selin's Grove Brewing Co. Scottish Style Ale 4.5% abv
Where: Selin's Grove Brewing Co. (Selinsgrove, PA)
November 7, 2009
What-have-you: "Lighter than a Scotch ale.  Light to medium body.  Slightly malty."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ithaca Ground Break (Citizen Review)

What: Ithaca Ground Break
Where: Pour House (Westmont, NJ)
When: July 17, 2010

Representation .6
Accessibility .7
Style Points .8
Personal Preference .7

Total Score 2.8 Flags

Reviewed by: Citizen Todd F.

Read what El Presidente had to say about Ithaca Ground Break in his coverage of a Philly Beer Week 2010 event in South Jersey [CLICK HERE].

Friday, September 17, 2010

River Horse Hipp-O-Lantern

River Horse Hipp-O-Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale:

There are lots of lovely things going on in this Imperial Pumpkin from River Horse. The "Brewer's Reserve " line has been impressing me since the Double Wit a few years back and continues straight through the Hop-a-Lotamus (which I recommend to just about everyone, by the way). Hipp-O-Lantern has plenty of body and a boozy pumpkin essence, yet somehow remains dry at the finish.

I haven't gone completely bonkers with pumpkin brews yet this season so it is with renewed vigor that El Presidente takes on the task of organizing the citizenry's autumnal beverage selection. If you've been following Ferment Nation over the past two years, you will realize the depth of coverage we try to provide: The Ultimate Pumpkin Showdown is worth a look (and a listen, by the way... check out our podcast). And last year, Charlie's Pumpkin Patch at The Institute was fairly epic as well. And so it begins again...

First things first: Pour Hipp-O-Lantern into a nice glass. Perhaps a thistle, tulip, or even a wine glass. This will keep you from chugging this gentle giant from River Horse. Don't lose all the subtle spice notes by greedily pouring it down your gullet. And take a moment to check out the aroma. Fairly mild, but a treat nonetheless.

Flavor: The warm nutmeggy-clovish-allspice-rific essence combined with the fairly potent alcohol content (an imperial 9% if I'm not mistaken) give Hipp-O-Lantern an after-dinner cordial feel without invoking dessert. The spices are first when you take a sip, but the pumpkin is not far behind. This reminds me of Weyerbacher's Imperial Pumpkin Ale, though Hipp-O-Lantern is slightly sweeter with less alchohol bite.

Finally: The beer kicks in and you remember that you are drinking an ale without apologies. Hops and malt make their presence known. The finish is a little dry, which reminds me of Dogfish Head's Punk. Overall, Hipp-O-Lantern is a fine Imperial Pumpkin Ale with a groovy vibe. Oh yes, it is completely appropriate to bring to an Oktoberfest, Halloween party, or even Thanksgiving dinner. Seasonal but not gimicky, River Horse Hipp-O-Lantern delivers a warm pumpkin punch wrapped in a velvet glove.

River Horse Hipp-O-Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale:

Representation: .975
Accessibility: .90
Style: .95
Personal Preference: .94

Total Score: 3.765 Flags
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Affligem Abbey Ale (Citizen Review)

What: Affligem Abbey Ale
Where: Pour House (Westmont, NJ)
When: July 17, 2010
What-have-you: "Affligem Abbey: A little bitter but expected in an abbey ale. Smooth pleasant ale."

Representation: 1.0
Accessibility: .8
Style Points: .8
Personal Preference: .8

Total Score 3.4 Flags

Reviewed by: Citizen Cheryl S. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Octoberfest Haddon Pub Fest

They're at it again... from the website www.haddonpubfest.com:
On September 18th, Cork, treno, Taproom & Grill, P.J Whelihan’s, Pour House, Brewer’s Towne Tavern and Tom Fischer’s Tavern will spotlight a particular craft beer and host its brewer or distributor from noon to 6:00 PM with drink specials, tastings and conversation. A free trolley service will run continuously between all of the pubs plus a stop at the Westmont Patco station. Pub Fest T-shirts are on sale now at the eight participating establishments for $10. Wear one on September 18th for special deals, door prizes and other perks.

We at the Ferment Nation had the opportunity to experience the first Haddon Pub Fest during Philly Beer Week 2010 and it was a resounding success! The Presidential motorcade started at PJ's, moved to Treno, and finished up at the Pour House. This time we plan on utilizing the trolley to it's fullest extent so we can take advantage of Cork, Brewer's, Fischer's, and the Tap Room as well. Check out some pics of our adventures from the original Haddon Pub Fest and don't forget to email us your own pictures, stories, and reviews of beer!
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Boaks Belgian Wheat (Citizen Review)

What: Boaks Belgian Wheat
Where: Pour House (Westmont, NJ)
When: July 17, 2010
What-have-you: "Doggone it, that is a Belgian Wheat! A little less bodied than I'd like, but refreshing. Reminds me of: A Belgian Wheat Beer, yep."

Representation 1
Accessibility .75
Style Points 1
Personal Preference .5

Total Score 3.25

Reviewed by: Citizen Jack W.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Spring House Seven Gates Pale Ale

Spring House Brewery Seven Gates Pale Ale:

Earlier this summer I had the chance to visit the Lancaster, PA area and sample some interesting craft brews. Spring House Brewing Company was recommended to us by Pam and Dallas at the BandB. The brewmaster Matt was hanging out in the tasting room providing anxious samplers with some tasty tidbits. The brewery is pretty much located in the main room of a barn converted to to a brewmaster's work. The loft upstairs served as a nifty tasting room where the choice selections were freshly tapped and served with a smile. And why not? Some tasty beers were on display.

The Atomic Ray Gun Imperial Red was quite tasty and deserves a review of its own, but I was really impressed with the Seven Gates Pale Ale; I was so impressed that I bought a case of it right off the brewery floor and took the bottles home to enjoy over the course of the hot, nasty summer in the Delaware Valley. I was enchanted by Seven Gates' drinkability and smoothness. Just a little hoppy bite and really nice dry finish made my tastebuds jump up and ask for more.

Gotta be honest with you, dear citizens, the super-fresh draught selection right from the brewery kicks a lot of butt.... the bottled version, while good, is a little less spectacular. On tap, Seven Gates is comparable to some of the more widely known and respected pale ales on the market today. So clean in its finish and balanced in flavor... Man, that's impressive! An awesome session beer. Now when it comes out of the bottle, there is something lost in translation. There is still a little hoppy bite but the finish is not as clean. there is a little bit of a funk present in this beer that I don't remember being there the first time I tried it. Representation and Accessibility scores drop here, like the blue book value of a car as soon as it leaves the lot.

I still like the pale ale from Spring House... don't get me wrong! In fact, I had it with ham and potato salad for dinner tonight, and it seemed to complement the salty fare quite nicely. So maybe I would recommend this brew as a companion to salty food. Yes, I would certainly recommend that. So at a barbecue, go crazy with the Spring House Seven Gates as long as you are pounding down potato chips and so forth. But when the eating stops but the heat stays on you, cool off with something a little smoother. The good news: The Lancaster area may find Spring House beers a bit easier to get a hold of on tap if the brewery opens up a brew pub or similar establishment that is a little more accessible to the general public. I'm not spreading rumors or anything... I'm just sayin'...

Overall, my experience with Spring House Seven Gates Pale Ale has been a really good one. If you see it on tap, grab it quick! If you see it in cases of bottles, invest in a sixer first to test the waters.

Spring House Brewery Seven Gates Pale Ale:

Representation: .85
Accessibility: .875
Style: .80
Personal Preference: .80

Total Score: 3.325 Flags
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