Beer Review: Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Beer

maurice amon beerWith all this crazy weather in the northeast, I started really missing my favorite season of the year, Fall. I decided the best way to do this without actually going outside and was to have a Harvest Pumpkin Ale by Samuel Adams. Don’t ask where I got this in February, I have connections. My connection includes a flight of a lot of goodies. Anywho, so Samuel Adams has always been one of my favorite ales and nothing says Fall like a good pumpkin Ale. Mostly, because it is a pumpkin Ale that tastes like pumpkin! Let’s dive into this.

Here’s the description according to Samuel Adams:

“A perennial favorite at our brewery Halloween party, Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale is brewed with over 11 pounds of real pumpkin per barrel, adding a full body and sweetness to this dark reddish amber brew.  Deep roasted malts, including a smoked malt, lend a distinct roasted character while traditional pumpkin pie spices give the beer a subtle spice note.” – Samuel Adams

maurice amonSo in terms of the taste, it is definitely one of the more authentic ales on the market. Upon first hitting the palate you get a clear taste of a variety of flavors and spices that you associate with Fall. Aside from pumpkin, you also taste cloves, spices, nutmeg and of course pumpkin. This paired well with the pumpkin aroma making it pleasant to anyone who consumes this. Though there is a slight bitterness in the aftertaste, which is always expected when it comes to beer. All in all, the finish is a bit dry.

The color is a nice amber/copper color with a nice off-white fizzy head which leads plenty of lacing around the glass. This color definitely aids in the bringing the flavor to life. The flavor mirrors the aroma as well as the color which is pleasant as best. From an “ale” standpoint, there are some mild grassy and hop notes present which helps this not feel or taste like a straight cider.

Out of 5, I would rate this beer a 4. I would definitely purchase as well as order this from a bar. I absolutely loved the taste, and appreciated it for not being too much of a cider tasting ale.

Beer is Beer, Right?

Maurice Amon

Since the boom in microbreweries in the early two-thousands, countless varieties of beer have been brewed and imagined! There are spicy beers, sweet beers, rich beers, meek beers, high and low gravity, common and unique beers.

Some go down with an “ooohhhh,” some go down with an “ahhhh,” some are tasty with chocolate, some pair nicely with ‘za. We all love meeting friends for a nice pint or two, and sometimes having one all alone – don’t you?

The two main types of beer are lagers and ales, this distinction is important – it’s knowledge avails. Lagers ferment on bottom, ales on the top, with a different selection of grain, yeast, and hop.

Ales are brewed in warm water, by the timeless tradition, and that’s how they’re distinctly ales, by definition. Often fruity in flavor, refreshing, and sweet, great things come when you ferment warm water with wheat!

Lagers ferment in a bath that’s kept cold, and that’s how it’s decided by what name they’re sold. Also brewed in cold water are pilsners and bocks, and they ferment for longer…don’t wait by the clock!

Whatever your fancy, whatever your whim, hold up your glass proudly, fill up to the brim! For now you know the difference ‘tween lagers and ales, may the knowledge help guide you down beer-laden trails

Since the microbrew BOOM in the early two-thousands,

Countless beer styles have been brewed and imagined!

Hop monsters, barrel-aged, spicy smoke freak beers,

Wine grape ales, barleywines; uncommon unique beers.

Some go down with ‘OOHS’, some go down with an “AHH,”

Some pair with fine cheeses, some cry out for ‘za.

We all love meeting friends for a nice pint or two,

and sometimes having one all alone – don’t you?

There’s two types of beer: lagers and ales,

The distinction’s important – the knowledge avails.

Lagers ferment on bottom, ales on the top,

With different yeasts joining malt, water, and hop.

Ales are brewed in warm water, by timeless tradition,

And that’s how they’re distinctly ales, by definition.

Often fruity in flavor, refreshing, and sweet,

Great things come when you ferment warm water with wheat!

Lagers ferment in a bath that’s kept cold,

That’s how we decide by what name they are sold.

Lagers include dunkels, pilsners, and bocks,

They ferment longer…don’t wait by the clock!

Whatever your fancy, whatever your whim,

Hold your glass proudly, filled to the brim!

You now know the difference ‘tween lagers and ales!

May the knowledge help guide you down beer-laden trails!

Top 5 Holiday Beers

With the holiday season quickly approaching (with some arguing that we’re already in full swing), it’s time to change our beverage choices. For a couple of weeks we have been indulging in some of the best Fall beers. Hints of pumpkin, sweet potato, and hops were perfect way to usher us into the season. But with the weather getting a little colder and the Christmas cheer creeping in, holiday beers are making their way into our hearts. Around this time of year we tend to see a lot of smaller production seasonal brews. Christmas brews tend to be a little more malty and dark with hints of fruits and spices. What are some of your favorite beers for holiday cheer?

Check out some of my favorite below:

maurice amon welcome ale

Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale

This is the perfect ale to start off our list. Samuel Smith’s ale has a warm welcome feeling that’s perfect on a cold winter night. With it’s deep orange feel and look, this ale offers scents of rich caramel, toasted scents, with a sweetened mixture of luscious pears and dark fruits. In addition to these strong tastes and scents, there are also strong hints of toffee merged with nutty flavors along with strong apple notes. Samuel Smith’s Winter Ale finishes off with a crisp bitterness that is familiar with a good ale and definitely cleanses the palate. If you want to try this ale out, hurry! This beer is only out for a limited time!

maurica amon st. benedict

Stevens Point St. Benedict’s Winter Ale

This ale is a true winter ale with its deep cocoa colored appearance. The look alone reminds you of being in a warm room on a cool winter evening. From the moment you open the bottle, the aromas of the holiday season envelope your senses with notes of caramel, figs, raisins, and dark fruits. All the smells that you would associate with a Thanksgiving and Christmas meal. To finish off the holiday palate, the beer has a hint of spicy hops to heighten your senses. This beer definitely has an edge that anyone will enjoy in the winter season.

maurice amon fezziwig

Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale

This ale is one of our favorite ales on the list. Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale is what holiday dreams are made of. The different flavors that encompass this ale are pretty much holiday baked goods in a bottle. Fezziwig Ale is complete with cinnamon, ginger, orange, with a hint of toffee sweetness that is sure to let anyone who enjoys this ale become nostalgic. The taste lasts well into the last drop.

maurice amon st feuillien

St. Feuillien Cuvée de Noël 2009

St. Feuillien is another favorite on our holiday list. One word: chocolate. This ale has a strong palette of milk chocolate and caramel that is sure to please your tastebuds. The minute you take your first sip your greeted with the beautiful merger of chocolate and caramel before a surprise of prune and fig. Basically this ale is what all holiday fairytales are made of.

maurice amon schlafly

Schlafly Christmas Ale

And because it’s the holiday season, we’re going to go ahead and end this list with Schlafly’s Christmas Ale. Unlike the other ales on this list, Schlafly’s isn’t favored with cinnamon or nutmeg flavors like one would expect in a holiday ale. Especially one named after Christmas. Instead this moves more towards orange peels and spicy hops scents which pairs well with the holiday palette.

These are a few of our favorite ales for the holiday season. What are your favorites?


For more info all things beer as well as other spirits, follow Maurice Amon on Twitter

Top 5 Hard Ciders

maurice amon

It’s Fall and we all know what that means. Time for apple picking and fall beers. When one thinks of Fall beers, pumpkin beers and dark ales come to mind. But those who aren’t the biggest fans of beer will often enjoy a nice hard cider. Ciders are happy marriage between beer and a good apple cider. Pretty much what all Fall dreams are made of. Ciders aren’t always the easiest to find when out. And if Ciders are available, the selection tends to be slim to none. There are a number of great Ciders out in the market but you can usually only find one or two available at any establishment. Out of the options that are available, it’s hard to to find one that isn’t too sweet or syrupy.

Check out some of the best hard ciders below:

Crispin “The Saint” Hard Apple Cider

Sweet or Dry: Dry

Crispin is close to the beer family. So for those who are fans of beer, this cider is a good option for you. Those who enjoy it describe the taste as “beer-like” with a hint of apple and maple. Others described the taste as a Belgian beer with a slight apple taste. The Belgian flavor is not surprising being that the beer is fermented with Belgian Trappist yeasts.

 

Woodchuck Amber Hard Cider

Sweet or Dry: Sweet

More on the inexpensive side, this cider is easily available in most grocery stores as well as bars. Unlike most mass produced ciders, this cider is a little more dryer than most sweet ciders making it less of a “juice box” like quality than its competitors. Tasters say that the cider has a hint of bitterness and that it is very balanced.

 

Angry Orchard Hard Cider

Sweet or Dry: Balanced

Angry Orchard is one of my favorites. Sweet and tangy with strong apple flavors. Though it has strong hints of sweetness and apple flavors, it still has a hint of beer flavor which differentiates it from most ciders. Angry Orchard is available at most grocery stores as well as most bars. It’s perfect for those who aren’t fans of beer but don’t want to be separate from the pack when out at your local watering hole. One taster described it as “tasting like you’re biting into a crisp tart apple”

 

Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider

Sweet or Dry: Balanced

This is one of the ciders on our list from across the pond. One of the more balanced ciders on the list, this seems to be a fan favorite. Not too sweet, Samuel Smith’s has a flavor of a refined adult beverage staying away from the “juice box” flavoring of most ciders. Tasters say this cider tastes all and happiness.

 

Crispin Lansdown Artisanal Reserve

Sweet or Dry: Dry

This cider is probably the closest to beer on this list. Smooth, dark, and yeasty smokey cider. If you are not a fan of beer, you won’t like this cider. The Crispin Lansdown Cider has a mixed taste of scotch ale and molasses. Tasters had a mix review of this cider with one saying it tasted like a perfect fall day with others saying the smell throws them off.

 

 

 

Oktoberfest Beer Not Actually Brewed in The Fall

Maurice AmonLabor Day has passed and it is officially the Fall season. The official sign for Fall is Oktöberfest beer and it’s coming through in full swing. What many don’t know is that Oktöberfest beer isn’t actually brewed in the Fall.

Let’s go back and look at the history behind Oktöberfest. Oktoberfest was first established in October of 1810 by Prince Ludwig of Bavaria in celebration of his marriage to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. What was very unusual for the times was that the prince made the event public and accessible to the general public which generated around 40,000 Bavarians. This turned into an annual celebration and almost 200 years later, it is still celebrated around the world.

Authentic Oktoberfest beer is only brewed within the city limits of Munich. Additionally those are the only breweries that can participate in Munich Oktoberfest. Any other beer brewed outside of those city limits should be labeled as “Oktoberfest-style beer”. Traditionally, despite the famed name, Oktoberfest beers are not actually brewed in the Fall. The beers are actually an outgrowth of the traditional strong Spring brews called Märzen or “March beers” that were put aside in ice-filled cellars for summer consumption. However, the left-over Märzen was finished off in October when when the fresh beers were being made with the newly harvested grains and hops. This in turn made for well-aged beers, some three to four months old. Oktoberfest beers are usually deeper in color and have have a deep amber color. the alcohol content is usually between 5 and 6.2%.

(The German Beer Institute)

Best Beers For Fall

Best Beers For Fall

Maurice Amon suggests the best beers for Fall

Brooklyn Brewery to Brew Superhero-Themed Beer for New York Comic-Con

Maurice AmonComic-Con is fast approaching in October to New York City and Brooklyn Brewery is ready to participate in the fun. Comic book artist Amy Reeder created the “Brooklyn Defender” which will serve as the official beer of both New York Comic-Con and Super Week. The beer comes as a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery and event organizer ReedPOP.

Brooklyn Brewery was started by founder Steve Hindy who began with brewing beer in his apartment. Soon he incorporated his partner and Park Slope neighbor Tim Potter to the business and they both quit their jobs in order to focus on the brewery full time. Originally brewing through the Matt Brewing Company, the pair started their own distribution company in which they personally transported marketed their beers to bars and retailers to various bars in New York City. By 1996 they acquired a former matzo factory in Williamsburg Brooklyn and transformed the factory into a fully functioning brewery.

The beer will not be available solely at Brooklyn Brewery. It will make its debut on September 10th at a release party before moving on across the city to select bars and restaurant during Super Week October 3-12 and Comic Con October 9-12. Brooklyn Brewery has released a press release stating:

“This year’s Brooklyn Defender is an IPA as red as the setting sun, as brisk as a tornado and as refreshing as Amy Reeder’s ink style. We incorporated some German red malts that give the beer the slightest edge of roast and a suggestion of caramel, and the explosive Mosaic hop steps out front with the aromatics.”  

In terms of the Brooklyn Defender character, she matches the beer perfectly with her New York attitude which goes hand in hand with the beer’s unique flavor. As for the Brooklyn Defender herself, creator Amy Reeder says:

“The new Brooklyn Defender packs quite a punch,” Reeder says, whose previous work can be seen in issues of Supergirl, Batwoman and Rocket Girl. “She’s your neighborhood vigilante hero: everything about her screams ‘homemade’ and ‘homegrown.’ A boxing and wrestling champ in her own right, the Brooklyn Defender decided her skills were needed on the streets to defend beer and all those who stand behind it!”

This will be continued great marketing for Brooklyn Brewery as it is sure to expand their brand to a wider audience. Comic Con brings in fans from around the country and the world to participate in the latest releases.  This is sure to be a treat for comic and beer fans alike.

(Tech Times)

 

Stone Brewery Expansion

Craft beer is everywhere. Every small town has a brewery dealing with rapid growth and the growth pains that come alongside it. The rise of craft beer as a culture has created a demand unseen before in the industry prompting companies like Anheuser-Busch to get into the game with Goose Island, a watered down alternative to tasty ales.

But perhaps the most famous craft brewery is Stone Brewery, hailing out of the craft beer capital of the world, San Diego. San Diego is a city that, despite having the largest number of craft breweries having surpassed Portland a few years back, still can’t supply enough amazing beer to meet demand.

stone_ipa

Stone Brewery is most famous for their Stone IPA and Stone Pale Ale. You can find these beers in every city and any bar that’s worth their salt. Each of these beers has a very strong a distinct taste that has been perfected since long before the craft beer craze started.

Many of their beers like Ruination and Levitation boast powerful and dark names. Others beers include Arrogant Bastard, Double Bastard, Self-righteous, and RuinTen. Bold statements are made on each of their beers like, “A stage dive into a mosh pit of hops,” and “A self tribute to 15 years of arrogance”, and even “you won’ t like this beer”. They are masters in branding and have created a memorable brand whose border-line offensiveness resonates with its drinkers as welcome and cheerful.

With the demand for craft beer, the flavorful beer choices, and the marketing team, Stone Brewery could easily have expanded much earlier. With a focus on quality, they have decided to move forward and are looking for cities to build large breweries helping to facilitate growth and distribution on the east coast.

Stone Brewery is also well known for the food they serve in San Diego, having recently expanded into South Bay. Each of their restaurants are massive campuses that rarely seem empty. All the food down to the smallest appetizer are paired nicely with a beer from their large list of beers brewed on-site. How about some quail wings to go with that Pale Ale.

Stone Brewery has managed to please the most discerning beer loving hipster to the weekend afternoon professional type. They are deserving of their success and that is a lucky city who gets to help facilitate the expansion

 

Untappd, Beer Advocate, and Beer Menus

Maurice Amon beer techTechnology has reached into every part of modern life, it seems, and the world of beer is no exception.  There are countless apps, sites, and online communities surrounding the craft beer scene.  Some are great, practically essential to me – others, not so much.  There are three that are very popular, at least here in the northeast – Untappd, Beer Advocate, and Beer Menus.  Each has a specific purpose, something that sets it apart from the rest of the herd.  This is a quick rundown for the initiated.  Get ready to create some accounts!

Untappd

I use Untappd all the time.  This app and website has a list of every beer ever produced.  You use the app to ‘check in’ beers that you drink.  You can rate them, take a picture, and write a description.  It serves as a catalogue of the beers you’ve tried, what you thought of them, and beers you want to try.  What’s more, you can become friends with other beer enthusiasts and see what they’re drinking.  I often find myself commenting and liking the check-ins of friends.  The app is very, very well built, and has a lot of functionality – too much to go into in full.  If you use no other technology for your beer hobby, make it Untappd.

Beer Advocate

Beer Advocate is a magazine and website devoted to beer.  Where it really shines is it’s online community of beer nerds.  And these are beer nerds.  People come here for a higher quality and more in-depth discussion about beer.  They have an advanced rating algorithm, with users expected to rate beers on a variety of factors individually, adding up to an overall rating.  The forums are very active, and full of great info and advice…as well as some of the negativity so often found on the internet.  I use Beer Advocate as a casual resource when I want to know more about a beer or see what the real beer nerds are talking about, but I don’t get too involved in the forum.

Beer Menus

This website is very simply about delivering listings of what beers are being sold where.  Users can edit beer lists, or owners of bars & beer stores can update their own lists.  There is check-in functionality, but the site is relatively shoddy.  Here in Long Island, however, most establishments maintain accounts.  The best feature of the site is being able to search for a specific beer in the area.  I hope that one day this feature will be available on Untappd – one less login to worry about.

Flights & Pints

maurice amon beer flightOne of my favorite pastimes is craft beer exploration.  It’s sometimes unfortunate that when you list beer as a hobby, it also means one of your hobbies is getting drunk.  And when you’re into the kinds of beers like – imperial stouts, double IPAs, Belgian quads – it’s easy to lose track of the night!

So, when I set out for an evening of beer exploration, the responsible choice is to order a flight.  For the uninitiated, a flight is a collection of small glasses, each filled with a different beer.  Typically there are four glasses, anywhere from 4oz to 8oz, served on a slat of wood with round holes to keep the glasses in place.

There are just so many advantages to ordering flights, even beyond keeping your alcohol intake in check.  First, it’s a great way to try many beers in one sitting.  If you’re planning on having four pints with some friends, that pretty much equals to sixteen beers, if the bar has enough beers on tap!  Beyond that, it can also be fun to select beers that will complement or contrast with one another.  For instance, trying four IPAs with different prominent hop varieties would be a great way to understand the effect hops has on aroma and flavor.  Ordering a flight can also be a magical experience when ordered with a food with varied flavors – a meat and cheese plate is the classic example.  Choosing a few beers that you think will pair with the house cheeses, then playing around with combinations can often make for some outstanding flavor combinations.

But there’s a flip-side to ordering a flight.  Great beer tasters will tell you that you only need 2oz of beer in order to understand it’s profile fully.  For the average person, and me, that can be a little more difficult.  Sometimes when I’m tasting a flight, because there’s so little liquid in the glass, I focus too hard on the qualities of the beer.  What happens is that I often judge it more harshly than if I was leisurely sipping from an imperial pint.  Take Finback Brewery’s new Smoked Porter.  In a flight glass, I thought the flavor was tinny and flat.  But, less than a week later, I was given a pint and LOVED it.

Can someone truly understand a beer after only 4oz?  If so, what hope do we have for making even a dent in the many brands and offerings out there in the craft beer world?  Thus is just one of the beer-drinker’s dilemma 🙂