Sunday, August 31, 2008

Samuel Adams LongShot Weizenbock Review

Brewery: Boston Brewing Co. | Beer: Samuel Adams LongShot Weizenbock
Style: Weizenbock | ABV: 7.2%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

LongShot WeizenbockEach year the Boston Brewing Company (makers of Sam Adams beers) puts on a homebrew contest and releases the best employee and public entry in a nationally distributed six-pack. Two weeks ago, I reviewed one half of the 2007 Samuel Adams LongShot offerings, LongShot Grape Pale Ale. You can read a bit more about the contest in that review.

This week, we turn to the 2007 winner in the public category, Rodney Kibzey's Weizenbock. Weizenbock is a top-fermenting, unfiltered wheat beer with a strength closer to that of Bock (hence the name). The profile is typically that of dark fruit, spices, bready wheat, and darker malts. According to the bottle, Rodney himself describes this particular beer as "deep amber in color with a full creamy body and a dark fruit and clove aroma." I'm sold, let's try some.

Appearance: Murky brown body with amber highlights and a healthy and creamy ivory head that settles nicely with good retention

Aroma: Sweet bananas and herbal cloves over a nutty and earthy malt base

Taste: Similar to the aroma, banana, dark fruit, and cloves dominate here. However, the nuttiness and roasty malt come out more in the taste than in the nose. Pleasantly, that 7.2% booze comes through every now and then in the back

Mouthfeel: Creamy with medium to high carbonation for good contrast

Drinkability: Even with a somewhat high ABV and its strong flavors, I could easily throw one or two of these into a session

Verdict: Complex and unique, Rodney has really brewed up something special here. I guess with these contest winning brews, the real test is whether people would actually buy them again. Well, I can confidently say that if this was a regular or seasonal offering, I'd happily pick up a six-pack or two a year. After trying this year's winners, I can't wait for next year's!

Grade: A

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saint Arnold Healthier Than Ever

Saint ArnoldMy "local" brewery and Texas' oldest craft brewer, Saint Arnold, reached a major milestone in the first half of this year. Through the end of June production exceeded 10,000 barrels, (obviously) putting the company on track to produce over 20,000 barrels this year. It seems that this year, by far, will be the biggest in the company's 14 year history.

The production figures so far this year mark a 29% increase over the same point last year. 29%. In fact, the amount of beer these guys have already cranked out in 2008 is roughly equal to their entire output for 2005. For comparison, the Brewer's Association reports that the craft-brew market as a whole is grew at a steady 6.5% over the first half of the year, 22.5% less the Houston brewer. And all of this in a year of great economic slowdown and increasing prices due to the cost of inputs and transportation.

Saint ArnoldHowever, this isn't a sudden jump for Saint Arnold, looking back over the company's growth figures for the past 5 years or so, they consistently grow between 20-30% each year. It's not hard to see why either, Saint Arnold has a wonderful portfolio of beer and brilliant marketing. Next year, Saint Arnold is moving out of their current, somewhat cramped, location to a new (historic) location. This will allow them to double brewing capacity, and hopefully give the devoted masses that make the pilgrimage each Saturday for the "tour" a little more room to stretch out.

Check out the Saint Arnold offerings I've reviewed here on PintLog so far: Winter Stout, Fancy Lawnmower and Spring Bock. Want a different Saint Arnold beer reviewed? Ask for it in the comment section!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Samuel Adams LongShot Grape Pale Ale Review

Brewery: Boston Brewing Co. | Beer: Samuel Adams LongShot Grape Pale Ale
Style: Pale Ale | ABV: 5.4%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

LongShot Grape Pale AleThe Boston Brewing Company, being one of the biggest success stories in craft brewing, takes the art of brewing pretty seriously. A big part of their brand image is the attitude that the company really cares about everyone out there making great beer, including homebrewers. To back this spirit up, every year the company holds a homebrew contest for their employees and the public, with two winners (one from each group) having their concoctions distributed across the country. Click here to watch a cool video the company put together about The American Homebrew Contest.

This review is about the 2007 winner from the employee category, Lili Hess' Grape Pale Ale. The bottle advertises this as an "ale brewed with natural grape flavor and maple syrup added." Well, you certainly have to give Lili points for originality here. In her own words, "It's like you are drinking a pale ale after biting into a fresh green seedless grape." Sounds fun.

Appearance: Rich amber color with a decent off-white head that leaves quite a good amount of lacing

Aroma: Almost smells like a malty apple cider, there's some real brown sugar sweetness lurking here

Taste: A lot more malty than I had expected, it's sweet with some nice tart crispness to balance it all out. I'm getting some fruit, but I can't decide if it's grapes that are coming through though (is it green apples I'm tasting?)

Mouthfeel: Well balanced carbonation with a decidedly light body

Drinkability: Goes down nice and easy, this is a beer in the middle of the spectrum

Verdict: A well balanced malty Pale Ale with a unique twist of sweet fruit. I really love Boston Brewing for putting on this contest, it's a great public service to the world of homebrewing and beer in general. Quite a unusual little beer, Lili Hess' Grape Pale Ale is a worthy winning recipe, athough I bet not everyone would agree with me...

Grade: B