KENDALL'S COMMERCIAL BEER REVIEWS
from Kendall Staggs
Tis the season for Holiday beers. Here are some personal reviews of a
few of the more common varieties. I recommend strongly some of the
harder to find imports (see my Beer Appreciation Class, Tuesday,
December 14) like Affligem Pater's Vat, Scaldis No'l, Stille Nacht, and
1 Bobby Dozzler Old London Style Ale (Portland Brewing Company, Portland, Oregon)
Color and Appearance: Dark amber, clear, with a moderate, yellow-tinted head. Good head retention.
Aroma: Citrusy hop aromas dominate but some fruity character also appears on the nose.
Flavor: Hop flavors overpower the malt, which is fruity but unsubstantial. Hop bitterness is very high. This beer is full-bodied and has alcohol warming. The alcohol level is 6.5 percent by volume.
Overall Impression: This is a good beer but it is almost one-dimensional. A recipe with less overall hops and more malt flavor would be welcome. I prefer a beer with more balance and complexity. I assume that Portland Brewing was inspired by the success of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, another (but superior) hoppy winter specialty. Bobby Dozzler is not really an English Old Ale, as its name suggests; it is more of an India Pale Ale.
2 Jubelale (Deschutes Brewing Company, Bend, Oregon)
Color and Appearance: Dark amber, clear, with a thick white head. Very good head retention; a lacy pattern stays on the glass.
Aroma: Hop aromas are strong. Some chocolate malt notes come through on the nose.
Flavor: Hop flavors dominate. There are some malt flavors evident, including chocolate. But the body seems a little thin for such a strong, hoppy beer. The alcohol level is 6.7 percent by volume. Hop bitterness is very high. Warm alcohol sensations are evident.
Overall Impression: This is a well crafted beer but for my tastes there needs to be more malt and less hops (sounds like an old Lite Beer commercial). I have always regarded Jubilale as one of the better holiday beers from Northwest breweries, and this year is no exception. But it is not outstanding, and I cannot decide whether I am less enamored with it because my tastes have become more sophisticated or because the recipe has changed. Perhaps both are true.
3 Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Booneville, California)
Color and Appearance: Deep, red-amber, clear, very thick white head. Good head retention.
Aroma: Subtle spice and malt aromas come through. A slight chlorine-like odor is also present.
Flavor: Reminiscent of freshly baked bread. Malt and unidentified spicy notes fill the flavor profile, but hops are also evident. The finish is long and spicy. Hop bitterness is fairly high but not overpowering. The alcohol level appears to be high and turns out to be 6.9 percent by volume.
Overall Impression: This Winter Solstice is not as rich and malty as I remember it from last year. It is a little thin-bodied for such a big beer. It's still good, though.
4 Our Own Special Ale 1999 (Anchor Brewing Company, San Francisco)
Color and Appearance: Mahogany brown with red tints in the light. Thick, creamy tan head. Good head retention.
Aroma: Roasted grains, chocolate, spices, and nuts fill the nose. The aromas are very complex and inviting.
Flavor: A tantalizing array of spices, possibly including juniper, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger come across the palate. A flavor reminiscent of walnut emerges. There is also a roasted barley component at the base. Hop bitterness is fairly high, but is not distracting. The alcohol is not obvious; the level by volume is approximately 6 percent.
Overall Impression: This is the classic American holiday brew, worth seeking every year. It is so rich and flavorful that it can easily stand alone, but it also goes well with lots of rich foods and even chocolate deserts. Each year the recipe varies; this one was especially good. Our Own Special Ale seems to age well if stored cool and dark. So put some aside.
5 Snow Cap Ale (Pyramid Brewing Company, Seattle)
Color and Appearance: Dark amber color, almost garnet. Fairly dense, white-tan head. Good head retention, lots of lace is left behind.
Aroma: Hops dominate the nose, but some rich malts and chocolate aromas are also evident.
Flavor: Abundant hop flavors come through but do not overpower a malt profile that seems to include roasted barley, chocolate malt, and several other varieties. Fruity ale notes are also present. Hop bitterness is relatively high. The alcohol level by volume is 7.0 percent.
Overall Impression: This is one of my favorite American holiday brews from this season. It is very rich and flavorful, and because it is from the Northwest, it is almost obliged to be very hoppy. Compared to other brands Snow Cap is well balanced and invites more drinking but watch out, this is a big, big beer. Cheers.
6 Winternacht Ale (Widmer Brewing Company, Portland, Oregon)
Color and Appearance: Deep mahogany color with ruby highlights. Thick white head. Good head retention.
Aroma: Citrusy hops come through, along with chocolate malt and a fruity ale quality.
Flavor: Another good balance of hop flavors and malt, with the hop flavors unfortunately a little too pronounced for my tastes. Several malt varieties including chocolate, plus roasted barley, appear to be present. Hop bitterness is relatively high. The alcohol level by volume is 7.0 percent.
Overall Impression: This is very similar to Snow Cap but not quite as rich, flavorful, and well balanced. Winternacht is worth seeking, though, and is one of the better beers from Widmer. All is calm, all is bright.
from Kendall Staggs
On November 23, 1921, President Warren G. Harding signed the Willis
Campell Act, better known as the anti-beer bill. It forbade doctors to
prescribe beer or liquor for medicinal purposes.
In 1998 Japan's Kirin Brewery Co. reported that worldwide beer
production increased 1.6 percent from the previous year, to about 133
million kiloliters. This was the 14th consecutive year of growth in
beer production. The top five beer producing countries (listed by
millions of kiloliters) are:
United States 23.77 (+0.5 percent)
China 19.64 (+5.3 percent)
Germany 11.17 (-2.7 percent)
Brazil 8.15 (-0.3 percent)
Japan 7.21 (+0.5 percent)
Last August Anheuser-Busch was forced to recall 5.8 million bottles of
Budweiser in 12 European Countries. Shards of glass were breaking off
the rims of the twist-off cap bottles manufactured in Spanish and
Portuguese plants. The beer was perfectly okay, however (or so the
company said; we could seek other opinions).
Harrah's Casino and the Joliet, Illinois Civic Center Partnership has
recently offered $150,000 to anyone opening a brewpub in the downtown
BEER APPRECIATION CLASSES
from Kendall Staggs
I would like to invite all of you to attend one of my upcoming Beer
Appreciation Classes in Corvallis. The classes are held in the Wine
Cellar in the Old Cannery Mall, 777 NW 9th St. at 6:30 on Tuesdays. We
sample 9 to 10 beers, evaluate them, taste complementary food, and
discuss the styles. The emphasis is on fun.
December 14, 1999 ($25)
Imported Holiday Beers
January 4, 2001 ($20)
Oatmeal Stouts and Imperial Stouts
January 25, 2001 ($20)
Belgian Strong Golden Ales
© 1995-1999 HOTV