Beer Review – Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale


Elysian 3

The other day, I reached into the back of the beer fridge and pulled out a Night Owl Pumpkin Ale from Elysian Brewing Company. The only other Elysian product that I have tried is the Bête Blanche, a Belgian tripel. Always a fan of tripels, I enjoyed the Bête Blanche and thought while not quite a fan of pumpkin beers, I would give the one from Elysian a try. Elysian is a brewer from Seattle, WA that produces 6 year-round brews as well as some two specialty series (the Oddball and the Manic IPA) as well as six seasonals (including 4 pumpkin beers).

What they say…

A very drinkable pumpkin ale—brewed with seven and a half pounds of pumpkin per barrel and spiced in conditioning with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.

I found the Night Owl to have the following characteristics…

  • Appearance: Nice deep copper color with a slowly dissipating tan foam.
  • Aroma: Sweet with hits of vanilla and baking spice; almost like the sweet smell of pumpkin custard.
  • Taste: A little fizzy with a big blast of sweetness; like drinking a pie filling without the all too familiar nutmegish aftertaste
  • ABV: 5.9%

While still not a fan of the style, I expected a rather off-putting hodge-podge of spices and lingering aftertastes. Instead, I was presented with a very well-balanced and flavorful brew. The Night Owl was very easy drinking (my better half even liked it; high praise indeed!) and a pleasant diversion from my regular beer.

Beer Review Poetry – Fegley’s BrewWorks Devious Imperial Pumpkin Ale


Fegley's BrewWorks Devious Imperial Pumpkin

When it comes to Pumpkin Beers, they boggle my mind.

I really want to love them, but I rarely find the right kind.

When I saw Fegley’s Devious, my curiosity was piqued,

Cause their Insidious was delicious, and oh such a treat!

When I filled up my glass, the color was ruby red,

And the bubbles rose quickly to form a fluffy white head.

The foam didn’t last, and left very little lacing,

And when I took that first sniff, the aromas were bracing.

Strong nutmeg and clove are all that I smelled,

So I lifted the glass and said, “Oh what the hell!”.

It’s boozy at first, with a firm alcohol bite,

Then the spices kick in and are quite a delight.

When you get to the middle, those spices subside,

But as you approach the finish, they again start to rise.

While it’s good overall, I have trouble with the ending.

It leaves a weird aftertaste, so this beer needs some mending.

Take away that small quibble, and Fegley’s Devious was quite good.

Yet another fine Pumpkin Beer that can stay in my hood.

Booze Review – Hush Spiced Apple Moonshine


Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Several weeks ago, we received an email from Hush Moonshine asking if we’d like to sample some of their product for a possible review. While Moonshine isn’t something that we normally drink, when I noticed that Hush makes a Spiced Apple version, I just had to give it a try. You see, I’m a huge fan of FX’s Justified, and without a doubt, the best villain on the show was Mags Bennett, a marijuana dealer in Harlan County who was famous for her Apple Pie Moonshine (if you’re a fan of the show, then you know that Mags makes some killer hooch. Sometimes literally). Here’s hoping that the Hush Spiced Apple Moonshine is only lethal from a deliciousness perspective!

Before we get to our review, below are a few words about Hush Moonshine and their Spiced Apple expression taken directly from their website:

Keeping a secret can be difficult, and when it is a juicy secret it might be near impossible. It takes a great deal of willpower and determination, not to want to tell someone what you just heard.

The moonshine business was built on confidence, loyalty and the ability to keep secrets. The most successful Shiners surrounded themselves and their operations with trusted family, friends and associates.

Our Moonshine production is not a criminal activity. We create our product from scratch with a trustworthy distiller and the best flavorists. Hush Moonshine is simply the smoothest un-aged corn whiskey on the market. We utilize a “Secret” refining method that eliminates any and all impurities from distillation. 

Our Spiced Apple is made from clear, grain spirit fused together with genuine apple and cinnamon flavors. It has a slightly warm, spicy aroma with hints of ginger and cloves. Notes of sweet, crisp apples and citrus predominate, and are complemented by a subtle, cinnamon undertone. The warming finish is well-balanced and smooth.

And now for our impressions of this boozy concoction…

  • ABV: 40%
  • Appearance: Looks like slightly cloudy apple juice.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Smells just like a Tastykake French Apple Pie, i.e. apples, raisins, and even a bit of that white sugary frosting.
    • G-LO: On the nose, this is straight up apple pie, i.e.  baked apple, cinnamon, brown sugar, and maybe even some flaky, buttery crust too!
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Starts off sugary sweet as expected but then gets very spicy. Kind of like eating an apple pie with a Red Hot chaser.
    • G-LO: Syrupy sweet mouthfeel. There is lots more Red Hot or Hot Tamale type cinnamon heat than I was expecting. The apple pie flavor is there, but it takes a backseat to the cinnamon. The syrupy sweetness lingers into the aftertaste, but not in a bad way.

The Verdict

While Hush Moonshine is not something that we would drink all the time, we definitely enjoyed it. This is much better than the Ole Smoky Tennessee Apple Pie Moonshine that Limpd bought in Gatlinburg last year. That stuff was way too low in ABV and way over the top as far as sweetness goes. If Apple Pie flavored moonshine is your thing, then you should definitely give this a try.

___________________________________________________

Many thanks to the good people at Hush Moonshine for sending us this very generous sample!

Beer Review – The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Mecktoberfest


Old Mecktoberfest

The other day, I found myself on a layover in Charlotte, NC. I had about an hour to change terminals and grab dinner. Just outside my gate, I found the Carolina Beer Co. and grabbed a 22oz Mecktoberfest on tap. While not a big fan of the Märzen style, I thought since it was the season, and since I would probably not get a chance to try something from the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery anytime soon, why not? The OMB is the brainchild of John Marrino, a former advanced water treatment exec who noticed the absence of a brewer in Charlotte and sought to rectify the problem. Opened in 2009, OMB provides the Charlotte area with fresh, German-style beer. The Mecktoberfest is one of a line-up of seven mostly seasonal beers in the style of Altbiers, Bocks and Maibocks.

What they say…

A classic Maerzen style amber lager.  The original Oktoberfest Bier and quintessential Ueberseasonal.  Rich and malty up front, which transitions to a smooth, satisfying finish courtesy of the noble Bavarian hops and a flavor profile produced by an outstanding  yeast strain from the oldest brewery in the world.  If there were a season for beer, fall would be it.  And for beer season, nothing beats Mecktoberfest!.

I found the Mecktoberfest to have the following characteristics…

  • Appearance: Nice golden-orange color with a quickly reducing foam and lots of legs.
  • Aroma: Mostly dough and malt with a little hops and citrus
  • Taste: Not overly carbonated but still fizzy with a fair amount of sweetness on the tongue followed by some citrus zest and a little tang ending with a mild bitterness.
  • ABV: 5.4%

The Mecktoberfest was very easy drinking … had I a longer layover, this might have been a dangerous stop with another 22oz glass or two (or three) on the horizon. I’m still not a fan of the Märzen style, but the quality of this attempt really came through in the finished product. Now, I wish I found myself with a little time in Charlotte to try the OMB’s Bauern Bock (the Thanksgiving release) or the Yule Bock (at Christmas).

Whisky Review – SIA Scotch Whisky


SIA Scotch Whisky

We’ve all had our “Aha!” moment with whisky at some point in our lives. For me it probably happened via a sip of Maker’s Mark or Johnnie Walker Black way back in my misspent youth. For Carin Luna-Ostaseski, the founder of SIA Scotch Whisky, her “Aha!” moment occurred via a sip of Oban 14 (that’s a pretty solid start if you ask me!). While my “Aha!” moment led to a never ending whisky journey that eventually led to me sharing my non-sensical and booze infused ramblings with you on our little corner of the blogosphere, Carin’s “Aha!” moment eventually led her to working with Douglas Laing & Company to develop a blended Scotch whisky that would “appeal to a modern palate” (a gateway whisky perhaps?).

Below are a few words about SIA taken directly from their website:

SIA (pronounced “SEE-a”)  is a new, fresh and exciting Scotch Whisky created specifically to appeal to a modern palate. The striking amber color of clover honey, SIA awakens the nose with citrus and spice and opens the palate with the smoky vanilla crunch of a crème brulée. The finish is long, smooth and refreshing with hints of hazelnut and toffee.

SIA is distilled in Scotland and matured, blended and bottled by third-generation crafters Douglas Laing & Co., Ltd. from a perfectly balanced blend of Speyside, Highlands and Islay malts. SIA is imported by Spirit Imports, Inc.  SIA is 43% Alcohol by Volume/86 Proof.

As many people have inquired, the name SIA means “six” in Scottish Gaelic, which happens to be the founder’s favorite number.

And now for our impressions of this blended Scotch whisky…

Carin Luna-Ostaseski, founder of SIA Scotch Whisky

Carin Luna-Ostaseski, founder of SIA Scotch Whisky

  • ABV: 43%
  • Appearance: Pale golden color.
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: Alcohol, brine and pipe tobacco followed by a little bit of butterscotch.
    • G-LO: A wee bit of alcohol intensity that subsides quickly. Once you work past that, I’m getting lots of fruitiness of the green pear or green apple variety. Also getting vanilla, toasted almonds, grass, and a very light hint of peat way off in the distance.
  • Taste
    • Limpd: A little sweet with spun sugar and some cake batter followed by a mild, spicy heat that continues well into the nice, long finish. The finish has a little bit of sea spray and just the smallest amount of peat.
    • G-LO: Very smooth with just a touch of alcohol burn at the onset. The vanilla and lightly spiced apple/pear are there at the onset. As you approach the middle, a bit of light cinnamon and clove spiciness makes an appearance. At the finish, you get a hint of smokiness that is backed by the lightly spiced fruit. The flavors linger for quite a while with a bit of herbal notes coming through in the aftertaste.

The Verdict

  • Limpd: This was a very nice whisky. At an ABV of 43%, I thought it might be too “soft” but there was so many flavors and so much balance that I didn’t notice the lower ABV. This was easy drinking and made me regret my limited sample size. Well done!
  • G-LO: I love trying a new whisky with zero expectations. Although I had heard of SIA before, I had absolutely no preconceived notions with regards to how I thought it would taste. So did I like it? Yes I did! SIA is very well balanced and very easy drinking. While it may not be the most complex blended whisky that I’ve ever tried, it has a great deal of character, and I definitely recommend giving it a try.

____________________________________________________

Many thanks to Carin Luna-Ostaseski of SIA Whisky for sending us these very generous samples!

Beer Review – Anchor Big Leaf Maple


Anchor Big Leaf Maple Ale

Ahhhhh Autumn! Kids are back in school. Shorter days and longer nights, i.e. the end of daylight savings time. The NFL and NHL are back in session. Halloween and Thanksgiving. All of that stuff is great, but since Craft Beer is a muy importante subject on this here blog, our attention is laser focused on the latest and greatest fall beer releases.

Anchor’s Big Leaf Maple Autumnal Red is one such beer, and I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I am to see that the word pumpkin is nowhere to be seen on the label. While I am not completely opposed to a pumpkin beer every now and again, it’s far from my favorite beer style, so if I stumble upon a fall beer that doesn’t say pumpkin on the label, you can rest assured that I’m going to give that beer a try!

Below is a video about the Big Leaf Maple taken directly from the Anchor Brewing website:

Now that you know a bit more about this beer, let’s make like a kid with a huge pile of freshly raked leaves and dive on in to this review…

  • Appearance: Slightly cloudy, ruddy orange-red color. Thick off-white foam that climbs to about an inch and then dissipates really slowly leaving lots of sticky lacing and settling down to a thin layer that covers the top of the beer.
  • Aroma: As expected, there are oodles of sweet notes coming off this beer. I know the label says “maple”, but to me it’s more of a caramel thing, with some orange marmalade coming through too. There’s a hint of hoppy goodness in there too, but it’s pretty darn subtle.
  • Taste: Velvety smooth texture with an almost creamy carbonation. Not as overly sweet as the nose would suggest. The flavors are caramel flavored malt with a mild bitterness playing background to lend some balance. Not much in the way of flavor transitions with this beer. Straight ahead and easy drinking is how I would describe it.
  • ABV: 6%

In case you couldn’t tell from my tasting notes up above, I really enjoyed Anchor’s Big Leaf Maple. It’s not too sweet, nor is it too bitter. It’s also infinitely quaffable. And as an added bonus, the Big Leaf Maple is an Autumn only Craft Beer release that has absolutely nothing to do with the word pumpkin. That makes me happy. Once again, bravo Anchor!

Poppin’ a Few Pils with G-LO…


The other day, G-LO called to say that he had a couple of Pilsners and wanted to get my impressions of them. While I am not necessarily a fan of Pilsners, I am also not one to turn down an opportunity to duck out of the house … er … to do some in-depth research for the blog, so I quickly headed over for our session. G-LO had picked up four pilsners: The Wright Pils from Great Lakes Brewing Company, the Scrimshaw Pilsner from North Coast Brewing, the Prima Pils from Victory Brewing Company, and the Mama’s Yella Pils from Oskar Blues Brewery.

In reviewing the four pilsners, I found them to have the following characteristics…

Pilsner

The Wright Pils

Scrimshaw Pilsner

Prima Pils Mama’s Yella Pils

Appearance

Yellow Straw with minimal foam

A little darker with more foam and lacing

Lighter than the Wright Pils

About the same as the Wright Pils with more foam and lacing

Aroma

Smells like a typical beer; a little malt and then not much else

Kind of funky; like a glass filled with wet wheat bread and almost no sweetness

Not much in the way of dough or sweetness but more hops

Not quite as fragrant as the Prima Pils but a little more than the first two

Taste

Thin and watery with a doughy sweetness and hints of citrus and hops

Totally different than I was expecting with an almost Belgian quality to it

Nice mouthfeel; not as thin as the Wright Pils and more like a Pilsner than the Scrimshaw. A nice blend of malt and hops.

Good mouthfeel; fizzy with a nice balance of flavors

ABV 5.3% 4.7% 5.3%

5.3%

Final thoughts…

  • The Wright Pils was a respectable entrant but left me wanting a little more. It was good but not great; respectable but unremarkable.
  • The Scrimshaw was an entirely different entrant; it is almost a German wheat beer with big hits of citrus and coriander. It was not a Pilsner.
  • The Mama’s Yella Pils is a favorite of mine as it comes in a can which makes it pool club portable and is readily available in Southern NJ (especially in the sample pack with the Old Chub).
  • I saved my impressions of the Prima Pils for last. This is by far the best of the four that I tasted, and it might be the best Pilsner that I have ever tasted.

Many thanks to my man G-LO for taking time out of his busy day to further my education. I will need to return the favor. Perhaps a pumpkin beer-off?