April/May 2008

Spring Seasonal Beers

Springtime makes us a bit wild. The onset brings extreme swings in weather, Spring Breaks, cabin fever, March Madness and Spring Training. Such disruption invites us to try something different, oh Yeah! The Beer Diva and the Beer Beacon tasters gathered together at Coles in Buffalo and were delighted to share the taste of spring seasonal beers. We had more new folks than usual, but a pleasant, friendly group, excited to partake in the enjoyment of beer appreciation.

A sincere appreciation goes out to the generous breweries that sent us samples. We also can't say enough about the warm hospitality extended to us by Coles - the beer list is remarkable, the food is fabulous and the staff is outstanding.

The next Beer Beacon tasting will feature Lagers and Chick Beers - terrific summer quenchers. The deadline for entries is Monday, May 5th. Send no less than three 12 oz (or two 22 oz) bottles to Beer Beacon, at 571 S. Park Ave., Buffalo, NY 14204.

Rating System:

Beer drinking is a very subjective experience; our individual palates taste things differently. This contributes to the enjoyment of beer exploration and the appreciation of craft brewed beer. We do not all take the same route to Beer Nirvana. As for the ratings, you'll notice we went with simplicity.

The Pint Rating Scale

would seek this one out
would drink another one
would finish it
not drinkable


The Beers:

Custom Brewcrafters Spring Fever
93 Paper Mill St., Honeoye Falls, New York

Appropriately, the night started off with a growler of Spring Fever. The Magistrate was impressed with the malty flavor, said it was a little sweet, very clean and remarkably drinkable. We all agreed with Hop Jack,
that the medium copper color and smooth taste reminded us of a British Mild. Mark noticed both plenty of malt and some hops in the first sip,
and said they were very well balanced, without fighting each other.
Nancy liked the lingering sweet, caramel flavored after taste. Marlene commented on the sweet start, malty finish with no bitterness and likened
it to a sweet Newcastle.

Boston Beer Company Sam Adams Longshot Grape Pale Ale
One Design Center, Suite 850, Boston, Massachutesetts 02210

Marlene was down on this one - it tastes like a wine with a floral nose. The Magistrate liked the sweet, estery nose, but thought the finish was a bit dry, almost astringent. Hop Jack noted the sweet and tart combo in the middle. Mark commented on the silky mouth feel with a Scotch whisky character and summed it up - vanilla meets leather. The fruit was difficult to distinguish. We guessed pears, raspberry, and cherries and were not surprised to learn it was brewed with green grapes and then sweetened with maple syrup.

Southern Tier Hop Sun
2051A Stoneman Circle, Lakewood, New York 14750

“So refreshing!” exclaimed Hop Jack. The big, hoppy nose, green hoppy flavor with a wheat character in the middle and dry finish - a perfect lawnmower beer concluded the Magistrate. Marlene marveled at the
fruity Trix flavors and Nancy appreciated the lemon sharp, hoppy smell and bitter after taste. Mark was puzzled; this beer hangs between quenching and substantial, India Wheat Ale? Hmm, that's familiar - a no commitment macho beer? Brilliant and gold, the Beer Diva could drink
this all summer long.

Rogue Half-E-Weizen
2320 OSU Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365

Like a spring day, this beer was cloudy, but light in body and flavor. Nancy perceived a hint of fruit and spice with a hop finish, that evolves as you drink it. A lacey, good head with some clove aroma commented Hop Jack. Mark thought the hefeweizen character was buried by earthy bitterness. Marlene found it somewhat sweet, but smooth - women will definitely like this. She called it a “training wheels beer”. There was noticeable wheat malt in the aroma and flavor, with a somewhat subdued character. The Magistrate said “You could drink a lot of this beer if you liked it!” Nancy plans to stock her fridge with this one, especially since her husband won't drink it.

Boston Beer Company Sam Adams Longshot Weizenbock
One Design Center, Suite 850, Boston, Massachutesetts 02210

“Strong aroma!” The Magistrate said it was spot on for color and style, with a great wheat beer flavor and quality phenolics. The aroma was bursting with raisins, cloves and banana bread, commented Nancy.
This 2007 American Homebrewer winner's talent and perfection of
style captivated the Beer Diva. Interestingly, the taste changes as you
drink it, so you want more. Very Bavarian said Mark. It's heavy malt
on the nose, caramel banana flavor with a persistent heat - absolutely awesome. Hop Jack agreed, very pleasant. The Beer Beacon tasters concluded, Beerlicious!

Rogue Kells Irish Style Lager
2320 OSU Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365

Very drinkable and clean, this beer has a slight fruity flavor, with a bit of hops. Hop Jack found it very refreshing and soft, with a faint malt nose. Marlene thought it was very mild and clean, an easy summer cooler.
The slightly sweet smell was inviting to Nancy and she found just a
slight bitterness that lingered. Mark commented on the American Macro brewery body and flavor - was that a ping-pong ball I swallowed? The Magistrate perceived a soft malt nose, and a sweet malt flavor with a
light body and clean hop finish. A perfect ballpark beer - you could drink barrels of this one.

Rogue Imperial Red Ale
2320 OSU Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365

Strong nutty and spicy smells, with a full body, this is a great spring
bonfire beer. The color is deep copper red, and Mark tasted a mocha
flavor that wasn't cloying with a nice crisp finish. The Magistrate
thought the rich, sweet malty aroma had more appeal than the flavor,
as it finished a bit dry. Nancy liked the raison sweet scent on the initial taste, and then was surprised at the dominance of the hops in the after
taste. Hop Jack commented on the bold finish - has plenty of everything without tasting “extreme”, very well balanced. A jewel, a beer garnet, added the Beer Diva.

Rogue Chipolte Ale
2320 OSU Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365

“What the fuck?” exclaimed Marlene, at first sip. (Having momentarily excused herself, she had missed the introduction of the style.) Marlene liked the crisp, smooth flavor more when she realized the pepper taste was intentional. Hop Jack commented that the pepper dominated the malt and hops, but thought this beer had great food matching potential. Nancy smelled a sausage and pepper aroma and suggested she'd like to add it to her next pot of chili. Mark perceived a quality smoke flavor, but said he thought it tasted like someone drove over his tongue with brand new snow tires. Countering, the Magistrate said the smoky, peppery flavor is present at the back of the throat, but it isn't the hottest beer I've had. Very interesting, we all concluded.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron Brown Ale
6 Cannery Village Center, Milton, Delaware 19968

The Magistrate found the initial aroma slightly phenolic, a nice, roasty malt flavor with a bit of sweetness. Hop Jack tasted dates and currants, the finish warm and lingering with a nice complexity. Mark said it smelled like a vanilla toffee espresso; it was pleasantly warming, without being overpowering. Nancy liked the raisin vanilla taste that stayed with you. The Beer Diva liked the commingling of flavors, like the colors in a gorgeous sunset.

--- by The Beer Diva, Beer Beacon columnist

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