Belhaven Wee Heavy Scottish Ale

Belhaven Brewery – Dunbar, Scotland

Wee Heavy Scottish Ale– 6.5% ABV – 16.9 oz.

Purchased from Wegmans Warrington, PA on 3/26 for $3.99.

“Rich, deep flavor that derives from the greater proportion of malted barley to hops which characterizes Scottish ales of the 19th century.”

Wee Heavy is a fun name for a good style.  Let’s see how Belhaven fares…

The pour introduces a nice ½ inch head which is tan and thick.  It fades to a thin ring of foam.  The color is brownish red.  Holding the glass up to the light accentuates the reddish hue.

The aroma is a good start.  It fills the nose with bread, a bit of roasted malt, and some brown sugar.  The roasted smell of grain is a prominent aroma.

The flavor is rich and sweet.  The roasted grains are a prominent flavor referring back to the aroma.  This is a very smooth beer.  It tastes like it’s going to be filling.  The all-malt flavor has barely any hint of hops.  I’m sure they’re there, just too subtle to be apparent.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, there is no balance with this beer.  It’s all malt, and I like it.  There is also a mild spiciness in the flavor; hints of cinnamon or cloves, or maybe nutmeg.

Mouth feel is light-medium.  I think I was expecting more body, but this is OK.  Carbonation is perfect.  It’s there, but unobtrusive.  Present for personality.

Even though the ABV is 6.5%, there aren’t any alcohol flavors; it’s an easy drinking brew.  I shouldn’t drink it as a session beer, but I think I want to… A slice of bread in a glass.

Overall – A-

Published in: on March 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Victory Wild Devil

Victory Brewing Co. – Downingtown, PA

Wild Devil – 6.7% ABV, 25.4 oz.

“…What has made him truly wild is a change of yeast…Brettanomyces…”

Bottled 6/11/2009, purchased 9/2010, enjoyed 3/27/2011

Wild Devil pours a hazy, honey color with a large, chunky head.  It was 2 inches high, and the bubbles were noticeably larger than normal.

The aroma is musty, sour and fruity with a good amount of hops and malt.  Definitely a funky smelling beer.  Funk is a characteristic that I’m still getting used to observing, but Wild Devil has it.  I can also smell the ‘Brett’ wild yeast.

Flavor resembles the aroma.  It is funky with some pleasant sourness; distinctly tangy.  It’s not an official sour beer, but the wild yeast brings some of the same flavor notes: fruity, funky and tart.  Malt is certainly present and it’s bready with a very floral hop flavor profile.  The hops are citrusy, yet floral.

There is a small bit of unwanted alcohol or phenol flavors that detract from this beer.  It’s not a deal-breaker, but I would have hoped they weren’t there.  It’s possible that they are only present from the extra aging.

The mouth feel is light to medium bodied.  Carbonation is aggressive and seems to foam up with each sip.

The drinkability isn’t too bad.  I’m sure I could have a couple of these, but one is what I’m going to recommend.  I shared this bottle with my wife and she really liked it.

Another cool offering from Victory, even cooler being almost 2 years old from the bottling date.

Overall – B

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner Urquell Beer – Plzen, Czech Republic

Pilsner Urquell – 4.4% ABV, 12 oz.

“Brewed since 1842”

A local grocery store had a pilsner representative discussing their product on Friday.  Pilsner Urquell had the best swag: an awesome pilsner glass as shown in the photo below.  I took the bait and bought a 6 pack for 10 bucks… free glass!

As they supposedly pour beer in Europe, I made sure the head was large and extended above the rim of the glass.  The head was a monster 2 ½ inches with a billowy texture.  The first thing I noticed was the clarity of this beer.  The color is warm and golden with visible carbonation.  One nice thing about cold-lagered pilsner beers like this is their clarity.  Rarely any floaters, yeast or particles of any kind are seen in the glass.

The aroma is fresh, crisp and grassy.  A tiny bit of hay is in there, as well.  The aroma has a good balance of malt and European hops.  A little bite, but it doesn’t smell bitter.  A very appetizing aroma.

The flavor resembles the aroma with a crisp freshness.  Very smooth and dry, with the hops coming out first, followed by a nice variety of malt flavors.  The hops are clean and grassy, like the aroma.  The malt flavors remind me of fresh bread.  There is a pleasant hint of sourdough: Organic, musty, with just a slight hint of tanginess.

The mouth feel is light and refreshing.  There is a perfect level of carbonation for a pilsner like this.  Drinkability is excellent.  At 4.4%, I could make this a session beer anytime.  If only people would learn about this over an American Macro beer, they would actually learn what a real pilsner tastes like.

This ended up being a really nice pilsner from Pilsner Urquell.  Incidentally, it’s brewed in Plzen, which I guess is a city in the Czech Republic.  Plzen: Pilsner… coincidence?  I think not.

Overall – B+

Published in: on March 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Weyerbacher Heresy Stout

Weyerbacher Brewing Co. – Easton, PA

Heresy – 8% ABV, 12 oz., Purchased at the Blue Dog, Lansdale, $2.99

“Imperial Stout aged in oak barrels.”

Last night, I had the pleasure of meeting Bill from Weyerbacher at a non-beer related event.  I was able to taste their Merry Monks Ale and Verboten Belgian.  (even though it was a non-beer related event.)  I happened to have this bottle in my tasting cue and thought it would be appropriate.

So, using my trusty tulip glass, I poured this dark, thick stout.  The color here is black.  I held it up to a pretty bright light and there was only a thin rim of dark brown around the edge.  The espresso colored head came up about 1 ½ inches, and then faded to a then coating of foam after about 5 minutes.

“Thick” is the first adjective I think of for the aroma.  Normally not an aroma adjective, but this stout smells like it’s going to be a heavyweight stout.  Chocolate, coffee and molasses are the first things that jump out right away.  There is a mild smokiness, as well as some roasted malt.

For the flavor, Heresy leans more to the coffee side of things.  Malt and molasses also have a strong character here.  The oak is definitely present along with a nice helping of vanilla bite, presumable a combination of the high ABV and the vanilla notes from the oak.  This is a good stout and I’m definitely enjoying it.  It’s nicely balanced.  The only negative I have is a faint alcohol taste that reminds me of something like rubbing alcohol, possibly from the high ABV.  Luckily, it’s really faint and doesn’t affect the flavor much.

The mouth feel is medium bodied with a perfect level of carbonation.  Drinkability is nice, but I would only have a 12 oz. serving per sitting.  The solution is to enjoy it on numerous sittings.  I’ll definitely have this on hand in the future to enjoy and let others taste.  A really nice stout enhanced by the oak aging.  Also, it’s a great purchase at $2.99.

Overall – B+

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

St. Patrick’s Day Review Battle Royale: Guinness Draught vs. Murphy’s Stout

Guinness Draught – weighing in at 14.9 ounces

Murphy’s Stout- weighing in at 16 ounces

Both beers were stored and served under the exact same conditions.

They were poured at the same time and kept at the same temperature together.

When opening the cans, the Murphy’s fizzed a little, but the Guinness came up out of the mouth of the can, foamed up and ran down the side of the can.  Maybe we can call it a False Start?

On first glance, the Guinness head is cream-colored, while the Murphy’s is more tan.  The Guinness head looks creamier.  Murphy’s has larger bubbles visible in the head.

In the pint glasses, Guinness has no bubbles at all, while Murphy’s has bubbles sticking to the inside of the glass.  I cleaned each glass the same, but the extra bubbles could be my fault.

The aroma of the Guinness is distinctly smoky.  Lots of dark, roasted malt aromas, nutty.  I’m surprised how smoky it smells.  It hadn’t jumped out at me in the past.  There is a bit of a chocolatey aroma with a hint of hops.  I always remember there being coffee aromas, but they’re not there.

The Murphy’s is distinctly hoppier, but its aroma has more malt, a bit of molasses and sweet caramel.  It’s not nearly as smoky as the Guinness.  It has just a hint of smokiness.

The flavor in the Guinness is very mild.  I hesitate to say it’s mild, because there’s not too much flavor there.  It’s at the correct temperature, but the flavors avoid being in your face.  There are subtle flavors of European hops, fruity and not as bitter aromas as American.  There is just a hint of the smokiness present from the aroma.  There is a tiny bit of chocolate.  Malt flavors are there, but they’re subtle.  I’m trying every way possible to avoid saying there’s just no flavor to this beer.

The Murphy’s flavor leans clearly more toward the chocolate end of the spectrum.  It also has a bit more flavor overall.  More malt, more hops.  It simply has more flavor.  It’s also more balanced.  The flavor is nowhere near the level of flavor of a craft or micro stout, but it has more flavor than Guinness.

In terms of mouth feel, the Guinness is thinner than I remember.  It’s light bodied.  The Murphy’s is the same.

Drinkability on both is amazingly high.  They are very drinkable because they are both like drinking water.  ABV for each is in the low 4% range.  Easily sessionable.

So, after I’ve had my way with each glass, I let my wife taste them both, with Guinness first.  Her response: “It tastes like water”.  Wow!  My wife historically hates stouts and she says Guinness tastes like water.  That’s just sad.  Her opinion of Murphy’s was having more flavor then Guinness, and she could drink a glass of either.

After my first craft/micro beer back in the ‘90s, I gravitated toward Guinness and thought I was Hot Shit because I drank Guinness.  I used to love Guinness.  I thought it would crush Murphy’s.  I clearly thought it would win but I’m happy for Murphy’s that they came out ahead.  I think the recipe for Guinness may have changed because it’s nowhere near how I remember it.  I was so looking forward to this head 2 head tasting and I’m actually disappointed by both beers.  I think they’re both disqualified.

Guinness seems to be the Macro Brew of the Irish Stouts.  Reduce the taste to as close to flavorless as possible so as many people as possible can drink it, say the like it, and feel like they’re cool.  I’m now a Murphy’s fan… go figure.

Think I’m a little too harsh on Guinness?  Tough.  They deserve it.  They should be making kick-ass stout and taking it to the bank.  Instead, they’re making crappy stout and taking it to the bank.  What a waste.  Maybe it was a sign that the can of Guinness is 14.9 ounces…  it’s not even a pint next to the country that created the pint!

Well, that’s all for my unexpected rant. 

Overall:  Guinness – C                    Murphy’s – B–

Winner – Murphy’s

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 9:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Founders KBS – Possibly more limited than last year.

Founders KBS (Kentucky Bourbon Stout) is an excellent beer.  It’s brewed once per year and is often a bit hard to acquire.  News on the street says it may be more limited this year than in the past.  We’ll see…  I will most certainly be trying to obtain some, both for tasting as well as cellaring.

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 12:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Now On Twitter!!

Philly Beer Ambassador was too long.  So, using a vote from other beer enthusiasts, my new Twitter name is PBAmbassador.  Follow me for the most up to date news!

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 8:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Beer Event Tomorrow, Sunday March 13th.

There will be a special beer event tomorrow at The Blue Dog Tavern in Chalfont, PA.  Doors open approximately 11:30.  Rte. 202 and Countyline Road.

The tap list will be expansive and have a few rarities and other delicious beers.  There is no admission fee to attend, but a ticket is needed to taste Russian River’s Pliny the Younger.  Sadly, I hear tickets sold out in 8 hours, but the other items on the list are impressive:

Russian River Pliny the Younger Double IPA (11% abv) “Ticket”

Russian River Pliny the Elder Double IPA (8% abv)

Russian River Consecration – American Wild Ale (10% abv)

Mikkeller Geek Brunch Weasel Imperial Stout (10.9% abv)

Tröegs Nugget Nectar Imperial Amber (7.5% abv)

Bear Republic Apex Strong IPA (7.5% abv)

21st Amendment Monk’s Blood Belgian Strong Dark Ale (8.3% abv)

Dock Street Prince Myshkin’s Russian Imperial Stout (9% abv)

Voodoo Cowbell Imperial Oatmeal Milk Stout (8.5% abv) – On nitro

Boulder Mojo Risin’ Double IPA (10% abv) (on nitrogen line)

Ithaca Flower Power India Pale Ale (7.5% abv)

Founders Double Trouble Imperial IPA (9.4% abv)

Avery Dugana Imperial IPA (8.5% abv)

Victory V-Twelve Quad (12% abv)

Rogue Morimoto Imperial Pilsner (8.8% abv)

Brasserie de Blaugies  La Moneuse Saison (8% abv)

Speakeasy Public Enemy Pilsner (5% abv)

Dogfish Head Red & White (10% abv)

Notice how everything except the Speakeasy Pilsner is well over 7% abv?  It’s going to be an interesting day…

I’ll be there with a bunch of folks who appreciate beer.  Some homebrew will probably show up, as well.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Published in: on March 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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