Thursday, June 11, 2015

Jester King El Cedro Review

Brewery: Jester King Craft Brewery | Beer: El Cedro
Style: Saison | ABV: 7.8% | IBUs: ~40
Serving Method: 750ml bottle poured into teku glass

Jester King El Cedro
El Cedro is another farmhouse Jester King release, this time featuring dry-hopping with Citra, aging on cedar spirals, and lots of brett character.

It is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally carbonated through re-fermentation in the bottle with Brettanomyces. Tough to nail down an exact style, as always with the Jester King wilds/sours, but we're going with Saison again.

As for construction, the malt bill is two-row and wheat malt, with the hopping duties carried out with Columbus and Citra. As per usual, the fermentation is taken care of with farmhouse yeast and local native yeast and souring bacteria.

Here's how El Cedro is described by Jester King:
It combines tropical, fruity hop flavor and aroma with funky, barnyard yeast character and the unique flavor and aromatics of Spanish Cedar.
Well this all sounds fabulous, so let's get stuck in.

Appearance: A thoroughly-hazy golden body capped by two fingers of creamy white head that fades slowly, leaving brilliant lacing. Top marks.

Aroma: A mix of funky Brett, green and citrusy hops, tropical fruit, mild cedar, and a laid-back crackery malt body. A hint of booze once it has warmed.

Taste: Up front, a mix of rich barnyard Brett, tart citrus juice, tropical fruit, white pepper, green and strongly bitter hops, and mild cedar. Underneath, a wheat and pale malt backbone that grounds everything nicely. Just a little mild spice from the alcohol throughout. Lots of funk, citrus, green and herbal hops, cedar, and husky pale malt in the big finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and creamy with medium carbonation and a bone-dry finish. Very mild heat from alcohol.

Drinkability: Drinks much faster than the alcohol content would suggest, so watch out.

Verdict: El Cedro is a solid big Brett Saison with a nice cedar component blended in. It's very much a Jester King beer that fits right into the lineup. There are a lot of intense components here, but everything comes together nicely.

Grade: A- (4.3 out of 5 stars)


Note: These tasting notes are based on the 6th batch of this beer when fresh.
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Jester King Das Wunderkind! Review

Brewery: Jester King Craft Brewery | Beer: Das Wunderkind!
Style: Saison | ABV: 5.0% | IBUs: ~30
Serving Method: 750ml bottle poured into tulip glass

Jester King Das Wunderkind!Das Wunderkind! is a blend of Das Überkind and fresh, hoppy beer. The process of blending these types of beer together is called bière de coupage, and used to be quite standard.

When released, Jester King were very proud of the result, calling it "the best encapsulation of our brewing philosophy that we've released thus far" and that "it's brewed so that people who drink it will experience the "sense of place" or terroir of our brewery in the Texas Hill Country."

This kid is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally conditioned. It can be a little hard to pin down the exact style with these beers, but Jester King refer to it as a "blended Saison", so Saison it is.

As for construction, the malt bill is two-row, wheat malt, amber malt and flaked oats with a hop bill of Goldings, Sorachi Ace, Nelson Sauvin and Falconer's Flight. Fermentation is handled by farmhouse yeast and native yeast and souring bacteria from the area.

Here's how the Wunderkind is described by Jester King:
Das Wunderkind is dry, highly attenuated, unspiced, tart, floral, and funky.
Sounds wudnerful, let's pop the top.

Appearance: A thoroughly hazy golden-straw body capped by a finger and a half of fluffy white head that fades slowly, leaving excellent lacing.

Aroma: A mix of barnyard funk, citrusy and green hops, golden and tropical fruit, and pale malt.

Taste: A similar mix of funk, green and herbal hops, orchard fruit, and a hint of white pepper all over a backbone of grainy pale malt. It's all very well balanced. Green and bitter hops, mild funk, and husky pale malt in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied and refreshing with medium carbonation and a lightly tart and dry finish.

Drinkability: Drinks easily for funk fans, quenching all the way, as you may expect given the style and alcohol content.

Verdict: Das Wunderkind! is a lovely, restrained, quaffable, and well balanced funky Saison. It goes back easily while never being boring thanks to its wealth of character, and is clearly a product of Jester King.

Grade: A- (4.2 out of 5 stars)


Note: These tasting notes are based on the 17th batch of this beer when fresh.
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Jester King Das Überkind Review

Brewery: Jester King Craft Brewery | Beer: Das Überkind
Style: Saison | ABV: 6.0% | IBUs: ~15
Serving Method: 750ml bottle poured into tulip glass

Jester King Das Überkind
One of Jester King's staple sours, Das Überkind serves as a base for the blended Das Wunderkind! as well as most of their fruit re-fermentation beers. It's also a pretty awesome beer in its own right.

It is unfiltered, unpasteurized, 100% oak barrel-aged for months. Jester King describe it as a "Vieille Saison" (or old Saison), so we're going with the trusty Saison label here.

As for construction, the malt bill is Pilsner, two-row, wheat malt, and Caramunich with a hop bill of Czech Saaz and East Kent Goldings. Fermentation is handled by farmhouse yeast and native yeast and souring bacteria from the area.

Here's how zee Überkind is pitched:
All of the time and steps that went into making Das Überkind result in an “old” beer that’s fruity, funky, and sour, with undertones of sherry and oak.
My mouth is watering already, let's dive in.

Appearance: A thoroughly hazy golden-straw body capped by small bubbly white head that burns off quickly, leaving bare, patchy lacing.

Aroma: A mix of tart and sour citrus and golden fruit, vinegar, very mild green hops, pale malt, and some oak.

Taste: Like the aroma, it's a mix of sour fruit, mild vinegar, a hint of funk, oak, mild citrusy hops, and a solid backbone of grainy pale malt. Nothing from the alcohol. It's all balanced nicely, with all of the elements interacting positively. Mildly tart golden fruit, husky pale malt, and a little oak in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied with medium carbonation and a drying and mildly puckering finish. No sign of the booze.

Drinkability: With the sourness, this drinks just a little slower than the alcohol content would suggest.

Verdict: Das Uberkind is a great little barrel-aged sour Saison that drinks perfectly. Mildly sour, this expertly toes the line between sour enough to be interesting and sour enough to drink slowly.

Grade: A- (4.2 out of 5 stars)


Note: These tasting notes are based on the 3rd batch of this beer when fresh.
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Jester King Le Petit Prince Review

Brewery: Jester King Craft Brewery | Beer: Le Petit Prince
Style: Saison | ABV: 2.9% | IBUs: 30
Serving Method: 750ml bottle poured into tulip glass

Jester King Le Petit Prince
One thing about Jester King is that they don't mind going small. It's not very often you see someone release a beer with less alcohol with a Bud Light in a 750ml bottle, but Jester King has a whole suite of them. Releasing premium session beers is one of their missions.

Le Petit Prince is the slightest of all of them, at a scant 2.9% ABV. Hearkening back to the days where water was suspect and beer was safe, this beer is styled int he manner of the light, hoppy, low alcohol table beers of the time.

It is unfiltered, unpasteurized, and 100% naturally conditioned. I'm going to go ahead and throw it into the somewhat catchall Saison style, like many other Jester King beers.

As for construction, the malt bill calls for two-row and wheat malt, with the hop bill consisting of Perle, Fuggle, and Czech Saaz. As per usual, fermentation duties are performed by farmhouse yeast and native yeast and souring bacteria from the local area.

Here's how the little prince is pitched:
This is a beer we've been excited about for quite some time now, as we believe that it's a clear, simple expression of the delicate, delightful interplay between noble hops and farmhouse yeast.
This should be interesting, let's head to le petit royal court and check it out.

Appearance: A thoroughly hazy lemon-hay body capped by two fingers of fluffy white head that fade in average time, leaving brilliant lacing.

Aroma: A mix of funky yeast, lemony and grassy hops, and sweet pale malt. It's not particularly intense, but well sorted.

Taste: Like the aroma, it's a light and airy mix of funky yeast and mildly bitter hops over a backbone of delicate sweet grainy malt. Everything is balanced perfectly, with an overall profile that is light in intensity but rich in character. Husky and sweet light malt and bitter green hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied with crisp medium-high carbonation and a drying finish.

Drinkability: As expected given the aim and alcohol content, this drinks supremely easily.

Verdict: Living up to its stated purpose in full, Le Petit Prince is a pretty genius beer; it's light, delicate, masterfully balanced, thoroughly sessionable, and yet still full of character and enjoyable to the last sip. Another great Saison from Jester King that's true to the brand.

Grade: A- (4.3 out of 5 stars)


Note: These tasting notes are based on the 13th batch of this beer when fresh.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Anchor Bock Beer Review

Brewery: Anchor Brewing Co. | Beer: Bock Beer
Style: Bock | ABV: 5.5% | IBUs: ~30
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into Pilsener glass

Anchor Bock Beer
First brewed in 2005, 2014 marked the final year for Anchor's spring seasonal Bock Beer, paving the way for new seasonal releases.

I'll be honest, this wasn't a massive loss for the craft beer world, as the Bock Beer was one of the more forgettable Anchor products. However, as always, I still think it's worth adding this review to the archive.

As for construction, the malt bill was two-row pale, Munich, caramel, chocolate, and wheat. Hop bill was nugget and glacier, with a dry-hopping of glacier.

Here's how Anchor described their Bock:
The dark satiny texture of Anchor Bock®, with its rich hints of chocolate, caramel and roasted barley, is our interpretation of the historically strong German beers that signal the coming of spring.
Bock on! Let's get in the time machine and do this.

Appearance: A clear, dark brown body capped by two fingers of tannish head that recede slowly and leave great lacing.

Aroma: Roasty malt accompanied by spices, caramel, and something a little lactic. Reminiscent of their Christmas beer.

Taste: Dryish roasty malt, spice, earthiness, and a hint of something metallic. Again, parallels with their winter seasonal, though its nowhere near as rich and interesting. Grainy malt, earthiness, and mild brassy hops in the finish.

Mouthfeel: A somewhat creamy medium body with smooth medium carbonation and a drying finish.

Drinkability: Though a bit more substantive than most spring seasonals, this is still a rather easy drinker.

Verdict: Anchor Bock is solid and to style, as you'd expect from Anchor, though just a little unexciting. In the end, it's kind of a neutered version of Anchor Christmas.

Grade: B (3.6 out of 5 stars)


Note: While this review is being published in 2015 after this beer was retired, the tasting notes contained within were taken when the beer was fresh.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Prairie Standard Review

Brewery: Prairie Artisan Ales | Beer: Standard
Style: Saison | ABV: 5.6% | IBUs: 25
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass

Prairie Standard
Billed as their everyday beer, and a great beer to drink while noodling, Standard is another Saison in Prarie's Saison-rich lineup. With that in mind, this is one of the few Prairie offerings sold in four-packs of 12 oz. bottles. After a brief absence, Prairie recently brought Standard back.

Standard is dry-hopped with Motueka hops to the tune of one pound per barrel. Prairie's farmhouse yeast is employed for fermentation here. No official word on the malt bill.

Here's how Prairie describe Standard:
It's a light, crisp saison with a hoppy finish. A lovely New Zealand hop with a spicy lime like flavor and aroma.
The first four Prairie Saisons I've tried have all been great, so hopes are high here. Let's dig in.

Appearance: A lightly-hazy pale-golden body capped by three fingers of fluffy, white head that fade slowly with excellent retention and patchy lacing.

Aroma: A mix of grassy and citrusy hops, orchard fruit, white pepper, funk, and pale malt.

Taste: Up front, citrusy, grassy, and lightly hops along with mild funkiness. Underneath, a crackery malt backbone anchors everything nicely. Lemon-lime and leafy hops, mild funk, and husky malt in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with medium carbonation and a drying finish.

Drinkability: Goes back just a little faster than you'd expect given the alcohol content. This is just what I'd be looking for on a hot summer day.

Verdict: An amazing session choice, Standard has earned a place in my regular rotation. It's not terribly complex, but it is full of character, well-balanced, and highly drinkable. These guys are really impressing me.

Grade: A (4.5 out of 5 stars)


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Prairie 'Merica Review

Brewery: Prairie Artisan Ales | Beer: 'Merica
Style: Saison | ABV: 6.5% | IBUs: 30
Serving Method: 750ml bottle poured into tulip glass

Prairie 'Merica
'Merica, another of Prairie's many Saisons, is a single hop, single malt variation of the style. The malt used is old school floor-malted Bohemian Pilsner, the hop variety is Nelson Sauvin (three pounds per barrel and dry-hopped), and the yeasts used are the house strain, two strains of Brettanomyces and a wine yeast.

This is the last of the first four Prairie offerings that showed up here in Houston last year, all four of which were consumed over the course of a weekend where I sorta fell in love with this Oklahoma brewery.

Here's how Prairie describe 'Merica:
The Nelson hops provide white wine flavors while Brettanomyces add a juicy quality to the beer.
Sounds good to me, let's light the fireworks and enjoy some good old 'Merica!

Appearance: A hazy golden body capped by a little over a finger of white head that fades quickly, leaving no lacing.

Aroma: A mix of tropical and orchard fruit, grassy, dank, and floral hops, barnyardy funk, white pepper, and pale malt. Just a hint of booze once it's warmed.

Taste: Up front, grassy, tropical-fruity, and moderately bitter hops along with funk, dried orchard fruit and spices. Underneath, a crackery pale malt body grounds everything. Spice from the alcohol throughout. There's a lot of strong flavors here, but everything comes together nicely. Dry hops, pepper, and a hint of booze in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with medium carbonation and a dry finish. Slickness from the booze throughout.

Drinkability: This drinks much faster than the alcohol content would suggest, making this dangerously smooth.

Verdict: 'Merica is another thoroughly enjoyable funky Prairie Saison with its own character. I'm really impressed with these guys so far, and glad they serve shelves here in Houston.

Grade: A (4.3 out of 5 stars)


Note: While this review is being published in 2014, the tasting notes contained within were taken when the beer was fresh in 2013.
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