1 HersheyWhen you hear “Hershey” you may think “chocolate” but I think “beer.” Tröegs beer, that is.

I found myself in Hershey PA a couple of months ago for a meeting, and as soon as I had a chance I made a beeline for Tröegs Brewery, conveniently within a mile or two of Hershey Park. I was anxious to taste what’s on draft, get some dinner, and share a pleasant, relaxing evening with other craft beer lovers.

I usually feel rather awkward as an unaccompanied woman in a bar, but that’s not the case in a craft brewpub. I may walk in alone, but when I leave I’ve made friends with whomever I happen to be sitting next to at the bar. We may have nothing else in common, but we all have a love of craft beer– enough love to make us go out of our way to a find the brewery’s home base, so we can try the drafts that may only be available on site, or for limited time. On my left, a biker who did construction work and rode 20 miles to get here; on my right, an IT guy from even farther afield. We talked, tasted, and compared, while each enjoyed a snack or dinner.

2 Food TroegsFirst, a word about dinner. Pennsylvania laws require bars to offer food as well as spirits, so you can always get a good meal at pub. Most brewpubs take as much pride in their menu as in their drafts, and Tröegs was outstanding in this regard. Their snack bar covers the range from small snacks to large platters and dessert, and they even have a good kids’ menu. What I liked is their insistence on fresh, local meat, and produce from independent farms, all of which are listed on the menu. And you can’t go wrong in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch country. This posed a problem for me, as there were too many choices and I over-ordered so I would have a chance to try some of the superb craft cheese with designer pickles, as well as the beef marrow bones with house-made fermented horseradish. Not shown is the salad with fall greens, figs, pistachio & blue cheese, dressed with barrel-aged Mad Elf vinaigrette. All of which paired extremely well with my selection of hoppy beers.

3 TroegsAs with the food at Tröegs, there were too many choices on draft beer, too, so I settled for a selection of small pour samplers. Tröegs is well known for a couple of its year round beers, most of which are available in bottles in my local deli; their HopBack Amber Ale, and Perpetual IPA are two favorites, both on draft that evening. But I was interested in their “scratch beers,” or experimental single batches that may or may not go on to become standards. The theme appeared to be fresh hops and new hops.

There were two fresh hop ales. Scratch #162 was brewed with wet whole flower Mosaic hops from the Yakima Valley; at 7.6% ABV and 62 IBU, with that wonderful Mosaic pine-citrus flavor really coming through. Very similar was Scratch #161, brewed with wet whole flower Cascade and Chinook hops from Maryland, with added local PA honey. At 8.1% ABV and 79 IBU it was a delightful drink, similar to #162, hoppier, but perhaps a bit smoother due to the honey, though honestly I didn’t taste honey at all. Perpetual IPA, 7.5% ABV and 85 IBU, is the hoppiest of the Tröegs beers, while their Sunshine Pils, at 4.5% ABV and 45 IBU was a bit unbalanced to me–too hoppy for this low alcohol.

There were two beers featuring a new hop, designated as “871” by the American Dwarf Hop Association, ADHA. The ADHA is an organization of hop growers in the northwest committed to improving new hop production techniques that are more environmental friendly, including being easier to harvest. Dwarf hops are varieties that grow on low trellis systems, unlike the standard 18-foot high vines, which require specialized equipment and high labor to harvest, as I described in At the Hop (Harvest), YBN October 28, 2014. Since these are new varieties, they don’t always taste like the old standards, but every so often they hit a winner, as when “369” was christened “Mosaic” and really took off.   Since 871 is mellower and not as piney as the classic IPA hops, but carries a lot of bittering, the brewers chose to use it in a pale ale, Scratch #163. It was a nice, rather bland IPA, at 4.5% ABV and 54 IBU, a very good session beer which paired well with food. The real knockout for me was Scratch #160, a Belgian Style Saison: a farmhouse ale brewed with rye, wheat, French saison yeast, and ADHA 871. It was about as good a Belgian saison as I have ever had (6.7% ABV and 20 IBU). ADHA 871 may have found its niche.

4 mad-elf-picNow to The Mad Elf. I was disappointed The Mad Elf was not available on draft at the brewpub when I visited; it was still in production and was scheduled to be released later in the month. I was looking forward to trying this beer, which is a holiday tradition with Tröegs. It is a Belgian Strong Ale, brewed with PA honey and West Coast cherries. It is brewed with traditional noble hops, Saaz and Hallertau, using a grain mix that combines with the cherry, producing rich red color, just right for the holidays.

I finally had a chance to try The Mad Elf on draft at a local bar in Wilkes-Barre, where the bartender poured me a standard 16 oz. draft. (Most bartenders would have poured this in a smaller tulip-shaped glass). I hadn’t done my homework, and didn’t realize that the ABV of Mad Elf is 11%.   Needless to say, it was the ONLY beer I had that night. For an 11% beer, one draft = two drafts of 5.5% beer. Get the picture?

So enjoy a draft of Tröegs during the holiday season, but beware The Mad Elf!

imagesAlso available from Dr. Westbrook: 

{ 0 comments }

So a new trip to the south. The difference this time, is that, as opposed to a one stop straight shot to our beloved but isolated burg of Okeechobee Florida, this tour had more stops and, thus, more opportunities to try some brewage.

First up, Winston-Salem North Carolina. We revisited a watering hole we’ve reported on before, First Street Draught House. Nice people, interesting selections on the board, tastes freely offered, and a nice terrace on which to sip, talk, and relax.

Boxcarr

Boxcarr

My first draught was Boxcarr, a pumpkin porter, from Starr Hill brewery out of Charlottesville, Virginia. As we all know, I’m not big on pumpkin seasonals that inspire one to run to the fridge for Cool Whip, and I made that position clear to the bartender before going with it. Turns out, this is, first and foremost, a tasty English style porter that happens to be brewed with pumpkin and spice. The nose was definitely sweet, a little floral and, yes, spicey. No head to speak of, with decent lacing, the dominant impression from the sip was a sweet malt taste, almost milk sugary, over that trademark English toasted malt edge. At a very British 4.7% ABV, a good choice as the first beer supped after dinner. I’ve tried a number of beers from Starr Hill, all of them respectable, none of them standing out from the crowd, but Boxcarr broke the mold. This is a lovely, highly drinkable brew with real personality and style. Gets me to thinking, sometimes maybe it isn’t the brew, but maybe it’s me at a moment in time. As a result of my experience with Boxcarr, I’ll revisit some Starr Hill offerings sooner rather than later.

photo credit : beer47.com

photo credit : beer47.com

Inspired by the kind of sweetness and mouthfeel I got from the Boxcarr, I then ordered up a Milk Stout from Duck-Rabbit, about 175 miles east of us in Farmville, NC. Also an excellent choice. The award winning best seller for Duck-Rabbit, this offered up similar impressions as had from Boxcarr, but in a much different beer. I have no info to confirm that Boxcarr used any lactose, though the sweetness inspired by the spices suggested it. Duck-Rabbit definitely uses said milk sugars in their stout. There was a sweetness and a full bodied mouthfeel over… again… that great toasty , almost burnt malt flavor, giving it depth and edge. Also distinguishing this stout was a fruitiness that joined all the other flavor notes as it warmed a bit. No wonder it’s won “best in show” multiple times. At 5.7% ABV, I was able to head back to the wonderful Summit Street Inns happy, and with a clear head.

Next up, Savannah, Georgia. Last time there we wrote about Moon River Brewery. We planned on returning, but they’ve expanded with a impressive outdoor beer garden and were just too busy when we went by. Instead, we had dinner at Churchills Pub and Restaurant, where we learned a couple fun bartender tricks. Sitting upstairs in the intimate open air roof bar of this sprawling pub, restaurant, and catering venue, the food was fine but the drink was delightful. I started with a Churchill’s Ultimate Bloody Mary : “Cucumber Vodka, Zing Zang bloody Mary mix and a few secret ingredients rimmed with cajun spices.” I requested additional horseradish. I’m not normally a mix guy, and prefer my BMs thick. This was quite opaque and yet extraordinarily delicious.

The wife had their Old Fashion Savannah Style, consisting of Savannah 88 Bourbon, muddled orange, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, angostura bitters, club soda and ginger ale. This is not my drink, but it should be noted she loved it.

Experience the Magic: Jameson's and Pickle Juice

Experience the Magic: Jameson’s and Pickle Juice

As we conversed with our server/bartender, we learned the interesting factoid that more Irish Whiskey is consumed in Savannah than anywhere else in the country. I can’t confirm this but I have learned there are a LOT of Irish Pubs in Savannah. As we expanded on this conversation, he asked if we knew about Irish and pickle juice, which we, in fact, did not. The idea is that if you follow a shot of Irish immediately with a shot of pickle juice, there’s no evidence on your breath of whiskey. In a festive mood after my two previous drinks and, of course, driven by journalistic fervor, I gave it a go. Absolutely true. A little brine on the breath but that was it. I figure this was, first and foremost, a trick to be used by your wiley alcoholic, stopping by the pub for a couple on the way home from work, in order to go totally undetected by the spouse… or the boss, I would venture to guess, after a quick duck out at lunch.
Also a great moment of salesmanship by the bartender. First you buy a shot to try the trick. Stuck with the taste of pickle juice on the tongue, you then have to buy another shot to rid yourself of THAT! Genius, I tellya!

The other bit of magic he offered up appealed to the Missus. Her favorite breakfast comes in the form of pancakes or waffles. She likes to say she enjoys having some flour with her sugar. Well this cute combo was a shot made up of half Irish and half Butter Shot schnapps immediately followed (preferably without taking a breath) by a shot of orange juice. The end result should be the mouth tasting pancakes. This, miraculously, worked as well. The downside for the bar was that my wife loved this flavor and didn’t require the purchase of anything further to change things.

The next night in Savannah was dedicated to food, pecans, pralines and iced tea.

Myrtle Beach, our next stop, offered up a lovely beach, nice folks, and at least 75 pancake houses and another 47 Calabash Seafood buffets per 1/10th mile. The good news, of course, is that Spring Breakers will NOT go hungry here. Had wonderful Italian at Villa Romano, a throwback big, noisy, red sauce, cloth linens indulgence.

Audrey Junior?

Audrey Junior?

Moving on to Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington, NC, we met up with an old school chum, a newspaper writer who has been in the are a for decades.  First stop was Flytrap Brewing, a cute little out of the way place located in the Brooklyn Art District. With friendly faces and an interesting selection, my first round was the Flytrap Hoppy Tripel. I love a good, hoppy IPA, and I love a good Belgian, so it’s nice to enjoy the big hops with the yet greater variation in flavor notes brought about by distinctive yeast and spice recipes used in Belgian concoctions. At 8.2%, a “real” beer, yet not too heavy, sporting a nice hop aroma with a little sweet bread thrown in, refreshing and flavorful with a proper back end bitter. I finished up my wife’s Flytrap Belgian Blond, a nice “craft session” beer (5.9% ABV) with that layer of sweet flavor that distinguishes the Blonds from their, to me, less interesting German Weissbier counterparts. Picnic tables out back, named after the Venus Flytrap (remember “Little Shop of Horrors”?), which, amazingly – I did not know this – ONLY lives in the greater Wilmington N.C. area, a great place for a pre-dinner drink. Mike Barles, the brewmaster there, has mad chops, to be sure.

bacon-swansonOur little gang then moved on to downtown Wilmington for more beer and some eats, hitting the Front Street Brewery, a two (or three) level, clearly popular eatery in town. I went with a mug of their 80 Shilling, a Scottish style ale, a little bigger and leaning more towards the chocolate/coffee malt flavors prevalent in the American craft lexicon, than the dryer, toastier malt tastes found in the traditional Scottish Heavies. Yet at 5.1% ABV, a terrific, flavorful quencher and accompaniment to our dinner. We started with appetizers in the form a of a plate full of fried green tomatoes (which I don’t eat, but everyone else loved) and the famous “Mug of Bacon,” which I, of course, ordered. This made no bones about it. It was a clear glass mug stuffed with tasty bacon. No dusting of scallions or dipping sauces. It was a real “Parks & Recreation” Ron Swanson offering. I followed it with a Crawfish Po’ Boy while Miss Dolli went with the brisket and melted smoked gouda on grilled sourdough. Everything was plentiful and delicious, and the 80 Shilling did the trick on all fronts.

By the time we made it back down to our old, usually relatively beer bereft haunt of Okeechobee, I just concentrated on the 160 proof Hooch, with oak chips and rose petals in the jar, whipped up by my personal mash chef, only (to protect the …um… guilty) known here as “Boo”

unnamedThis was a great trip. Many dear friends and, really, family. Some great Fall weather in the south. I even took this pic on Wrightsville Beach!

Epilogue: As I proof read this to my wife, when I came to “…prefer my BMs thick,” she completely lost control and came very close to laughing herself into one herself, giggling “who doesn’t like their…” as she headed off into another paroxysm of laughter and strangled coughing.

{ 0 comments }

Chase Cutting

Chase Cutting

These bottles have just been sitting here. Let’s cut to the chase!

Left to right:

Yes, definitely!
Night of the Living Stout, from  Full Pint Brewing

NO, NO, NO!!! Argh!!!
Cranberry Stout from Meantime Brewing

You Betcha!
Hop Ryot Rye IPA from Jackie O’s

Woo Hoo!!!!
D.O.R.I.S. the Destroyer from Hoppin’ Frog

 

QUESTIONS?

unnamed

{ 0 comments }

Figure 1 handfulHops, hops, and more hops! It is a dream come true for a hophead like me. I was thrilled to participate in the hop harvest in Leelanau Co, Michigan this fall. Picture me on a lovely autumn morning, sitting in a tractor, harvesting hops, and later sharing a draft of delicious, locally brewed Michigan IPA.

Here is how you harvest hops. You may recall from an earlier post  that hops grow as vines trained on 18-foot tall strings, strung in parallel rows, each of which is secured to permanent overhead wire tracks. Fig 2 TractorThe rows are spaced just right to enable the specialized tractor, which looks like a preying mantis, to grasp the top of the vine, clip the cord from the wire, and gently deposit the vine into a bin.

When the bin is full, it is driven to the end of the field and the vines are loaded into the Hopfenpfluckmaschine (literally, hop plucking machine).

The Hopfenpfluckmaschine!!

The Hopfenpfluckmaschine!!

A master of wheels, pulleys, and German mechanical ingenuity, the Hopfenpfluckmaschine strips the vine from the string, separates the ripe hop cones from the vine, spits out mulched green vine, and pours the hops into a bin. The bin fills with green gold — fresh hops.

Some of these hops will be rushed to a brewery to make their fresh-hopped harvest ales; some will be dried as whole hops, and the rest will be dried and made into pellet hops, sealed into vacuum packs and refrigerated.

Dan Wiesen and a LOT of hops!

Dan Wiesen and a LOT of hops!

I was riding the tractor with Dan Wiesen, harvesting Cascade hops in this 9-acre field; the field also had Glacier hops and Vojdovina hops, but not yet ripe for harvest. Dan, a handsome man in his late 50’s, owns or manages almost 120 acres of hops in Leelanau County, Michigan. He is increasing his facilities and equipment so he can harvest and process hops for other growers as well, because the demand for Michigan hops is growing, and so is the acreage devoted to it.

Dan and his partners are responsible for bringing commercial hop farming to this part of Michigan. They established Empire Hop Farms in 2008, at about the time hop prices were skyrocketing due to a warehouse fire in Yakima, Wash, that destroyed a significant portion of the harvest–the Pacific Northwest grows most of the commercial hops in the US. Dan reasoned that hops might do well in Leelanau County because, like Yakima, it is at the 45th parallel, and it has a climate suitable for growing fruit trees. (I can also attest to the fact that these features are also shared with Tettnang, Bavaria, one of the major hop-growing regions of Germany, which is also noted for its apple orchards.)

Interestingly, Dan’s true passion is apples, and he considers himself first and foremost a fruit grower. Long before hops, Empire Orchards was noted for its abundant apples and cherries. Dan was not born into a farming family, but his passion for fruit cultivations led him to study agriculture, and he has always been intrigued by applying the latest and newest ideas in fruit production. Visit one of his apple orchards and you will see carefully pruned and trellised trees, bearing huge, perfect fruit, which would make any German apple grower proud. Dan used the same approach in hop farming; rather than being intimidated by the unusual growing pattern and harvesting needs of hops, he merely took a workshop with MSU (Michigan State University) and jumped right in. The farm now grows an extensive variety of hops, including Nuggett, Fuggles, Brewer’s Gold, Simcoe, Magnum, Osiris, Empire, Williamette, Cascade, Crystal, Centennial and Vojdovina. Business has been growing exponentially.

Dan’s 29 year old son Alex Wiesen has taken up the challenge and now has a major role in the farm. Alex clearly knows his craft, and his craft beer. (I can attest to this, having shared a few pints with him in Glen Arbor.) Although Michigan will never produce the volume of hops that the Yakima valley does, the goal of Empire and other growers is to meet the needs of the microbreweries in their area, who appreciate locally grown hops that are fresher and more readily available. It is not unusual to see the brewery trucks waiting for bins of fresh hops as they come off the Hopfenpfluckmaschine! Both New Holland’s Hopivore and Founder’s Harvest Ale use Empire’s fresh hops. Other breweries that rely on them include Shorts, North Peak, Right Brain, Perrin Brewing, and Saugatuck.

Empire-Hops-FestivalOn October 4, 2014, Empire held its first Hops Festival. The festival featured live music, local food, and of course local beer made with Empire hops. In spite of the weather, it was attended by over 1000 patrons! I hope to be able to attend next year’s festival, which should prove to be even bigger. It looks like Michigan hops are coming into their own.

{ 1 comment }

by Jaime Jurado

Jaimi Jurado

Jaimi Jurado

Ed: Contributor Jaime Jurado is Director of Brewing Operations at Abita Brewing Co.
We’ve asked Mr. Jurado to contribute based on his vast knowledge and  insights into
the making of beer and the industry. Your Beer Network receives no money or incentives
from Abita, and are grateful for Mr. Jurato’s contributions.

When you visit breweries, ask for a taste of the water used to make the beer. It’s no different
from asking for a taste of the base malt used in the company’s brews in that it lends a little
character of what makes the beer. You’ll enjoy the experience as you next appreciate the fresh
beers.

What makes Abita beer special is the water of our brewery wells, from where it’s brewed. We
enjoy a proliferation of local springs and the centuries’ old tradition of pristine water here.
Abita Springs was treasured by the Choctaw. It’s easy to appreciate our local history of the
purity and beauty of our water when you visit….starting at the bronze Abita Princess statue at
the Abita Springs trailhead of the Tammany Trace, and end at the brewery visitor center. The
statue captures the Choctaw maiden poised to drink from the bubbling spring. The reputation
of the waters had spread and the Choctaws settled near-by so that the princess could drink
from the spring and be healed. The Choctaw named their settlement Abetab Okla Chitto which
means ‘large settlement near the fountain ’and later settlers followed and anglicized the name
to ‘Abita’. We don’t add or remove anything from our well water. We put it through a simple
stainless steel filter to remove any tiny pebbles, and that’s all.

It’s the character of a brewery’s water source that is particularly important to the beers it
produces. Water also affects the perceived bitterness and hop utilization of finished beer. It adds
flavor directly to the beer itself – as water is the largest single component in finished beer, and it
provides micronutrients as it dissolves the milled malts and takes the ‘mash’ through temperature
rests we brewers dictate. The effect of brewing water on beer can be characterized by six main
water ions: Carbonate, Sodium, Chloride, Sulfate, Calcium and Magnesium. But this is not the
right place for a technical treatise on brewing water.

If you look at Plzn, Burton-on-Trent and Dublin, you see native waters that are extremely
divergent….with Plzn being truly ‘soft’ and Burton being very ‘hard’ and Dublin being roughly
in between both brewing waters. In the US, one can find close native water approximations:
Portland, OR and Durham, NC are quite close to what Plzn offers. Shiner, TX reminds me of
what Dublin offers. I don’t really know of any local American brewing waters that are close
to Burton…even in Europe the closest might be Vienna…yet even that falls short with sulfates.
Adding calcium carbonate or calcium chloride to get water with key parameters close to Burton-
on-Trent is called, “Burtonizing” and there are distinct attributes that such brews have.

IMG_3107Throughout the history of American brewing, breweries respond to pressures we experience,
and now from our local sources of water. We have states in the midst of extended droughts, and
breweries within these areas work with a laser-focus to reduce the amount of water consumed
to make a barrel of beer. Breweries relying on city-supplied tap water invest in activated carbon
and other treatment to remove chlorine compounds used in civic water distribution in order to
provide bacteria-free drinking water. Breweries with their own wells, a minority by all accounts,
take care and prudence to get samples analyzed and scrutinize the data to know what’s in their
wells.

Beer in the future, in some places, may have to integrate aggressive policies such as using
reverse osmosis to purify brackish waters. While I know of no brewery actively pursing the
utilization of what is described in the recent link, the exploration and publicity comes as little
surprise:

http://www.opb.org/news/article/purified-sewer-water-is-the-secret-ingredient-in-hillsboro-homebrew-competition/

The comprehensive water footprint of making beer starts at the water used growing of its raw
materials, grains such as barley and wheat, and hops. Our farmers are working increasingly at
quantifying and optimizing water consumption in crops which may augment natural rains.

With all the attention that hops and malt enjoy, it’s always good to remember that water is the
 heart of beer.

{ 1 comment }

From the Good Doctor Westbrook…

unnamed

{ 0 comments }

Part 1: Fresh from the market

indexSummer has come to an end, and it is time to enjoy the bounty of the land. Farmers’ Markets are in full swing, homegrown tomatoes are everywhere, and local apples are appearing in the supermarket. The season is beginning for Octoberfest and pumpkin beers, but first let’s take the time to enjoy those wonderful seasonal fruit beers.

I have never seen such a proliferation of fruit-based crafts as I have this year. Though a few of the larger breweries have seasonal fruit offerings which they release every year (e.g. Abita’s Strawberry Harvest Ale), this year it seems that even the smaller brewers are doing so, too. They are taking advantage of locally grown produce, adding it to their standard ales or wheats, or even creating new styles. Since these beers have limited production due to the availability of fresh produce, they may only be available for a short time, until the crop is gone and the barrel is empty.

Preconfusion?

Preconfusion?

This was the summer of fresh produce for Breaker Brewing Company, my local brewery in Wilkes Barre, PA. BBC wholeheartedly embraced seasonal produce, brewing many offbeat, fruit and vegetable-flavored beers. Even though I made several trips to the brewery, I wasn’t able to try them all, as some of these small batches were completely gone before I got there! And please do forgive me if I get some of the details wrong, since there were so many on draft at one visit I had to taste 7 at one sitting. Not surprising that things got a bit hazy for me.

Two BBC offerings stood out in originality and flavor.

Minefire Blackberry Jalapeno, at about 5.5% ABV, is a wonderful craft beer. It has a flavor complexity that is really outside of the box. It does not taste like hot peppers, as you might expect; instead, the peppers act like bittering hops. Additionally, there is a background of toasted malt that adds another level of complexity. This beer already has a number of local followers, including myself. When it’s on draft it is my first pick. This is gold-medal quality!

Tomato Sour IPA. The brewers have been experimenting with sour beers, including a sour pear, but this tomato sour really blew me away. It isn’t red, and it sure doesn’t taste like tomato juice, but it’s a nice, mellow sour that pairs very well with food. The only downside is that it has a slight, unusual aftertaste that makes it less than perfect–but not bad for the first vegetable beer I have ever tasted (pumpkins excluded). What next? Carrots are in season, and they contain a lot of fermentable sugar. Why not a carrot cake ale, with walnuts and raisons?

Other fruit beers included:

The Beer Doc and Breaker's Chris Miller

The Beer Doc and Breaker’s Chris Miller

5 Whistle Watermelon Wheat. This is a light, summer beer on BBC’s wheat ale base, and this is the second year it has been released. Because it is finised with the addition of fresh watermelon, the taste depends primarily on the flavor of the watermelon itself. Last year’s was a bit sweeter than this, and the 2014 release has more hop character, but all told it is a good, refreshing, low alcohol (4.2%) summer drink. I wrote about this ale in YourBeerNetwork last summer, “The Best Summer Beer You’ll Never Taste.” The pic to the right shows me tasting the watermelon wheat with Chris Miller, co-owner and brewer.

Laurel Line Lemongrass IPA, at 4.5% ABV, was quite nice, with an herbal flavor that complimented the hops. Last year’s version of this tasted like lemonade, whereas this release is much more grownup.

There were two citrus-based IPAs, the Orange IPA and Daybreak Grapefruit IPA, both at about 6% ABV. I’m not clear how they were made, and I believe both were based on their I Love PA ale. The grapefruit paired well with the IPA taste, probably because grapefruit is, after all, one of the characteristics of American hops. It was a pleasant drink. On the other hand, the orange ale was not inspiring and I wouldn’t order it again.

Finally, the Chocolate Mint Ale, included because it is a fresh herb beer. This one was not to my taste. It was a light colored ale, and the flavors just didn’t work with the malts or the alcohol level (I’m guessing it was at least 6% ABV). On the other hand, when I mixed it 50-50 with their Old King Cole Stout, as suggested by the bartender, it was really very nice. My suggestion? Next time brew it as a chocolate mint porter, with lots of dense malt, and a splash of vanilla. You got it — Girl Scout Cookie porter! Just in time for cookie season.

Addendum:

Since I wrote this review Breakers has produced two ales made with fresh Mosaic hops, as well as a Sour Pear and a Cranberry Ginger Ale, both very nice. Also of note, they have started to offer their ales from a firkin (small keg), steeped over fresh fruit. They set up one firkin each weekend. These are nice if you like fruit tastes in your beer, and they usually sell out before the weekend is over. I’ve had the Lunch Pail Ale over blueberry, Lightheaded IPA over apricots. A nice way to highlight fresh local fruit, and a big hit at the brewery.

images

Coming up: Fruits, Sours and Oak

Also available from Dr. Westbrook: 

{ 1 comment }

PIC OF THE…. FOREVER!!

by admin on September 28, 2014

unnamed

{ 0 comments }

FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK :: So a Clown Shoe walks up to the bar…

by Harvey Gold 09.11.2014

Hard to say if this one is more a review of an ale or a review of the reviewer…. sigh. In any event let’s just cut to the chase. I recently sang the praises of Clown Shoes, loving the name, the labels, the humor, and, of course, the beer. So I was pleased to pick […]

Read the full article/watch the video →

BEER CLINIC :: The Land Where Beer Began Pt 2

by Dr. Carol Westbrook 09.10.2014

Craft Beer, Hops, and the Beautiful Blue Danube Craft beer in Germany? Craft beer in Austria? Why, I ask, would anyone bother, since the beer is already so good? In the US, the craft beer industry grew up as a grass roots movement, a reaction to the predominance of lower quality beer offered by large […]

Read the full article/watch the video →