Lagunitas Cappuchino Stout

Maker: Lagunitas, Petaluma, California, USALag Cap Stout

Style: Stout with coffee.

ABV: 9.2%

Price: $4.50/ 22 oz bottle

Appearance: Dark coffee with a big head.

Nose: A bit of malt, mocha.

On the palate: Full bodied and fizzy. Cappuchino, roasted malt, tirimisu.

Finish: Coffee ice cream, long, bitter and creamy. Leaves a bit of sticky sweetness on the lips.

Parting words: Yes, we mostly do Michigan beers around here, but without a little context my reviews wouldn’t be worth what you paid for them.

Lagunitas Cappuchino Stout is a delicious beer. It’s not complex or revolutionary but it tastes really good after a meal. It would taste even better shared with 1-2 friends. At this price, it’s hard to beat. It is recommended.

Great Lakes Christmas Ale

Maker: Great Lakes, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Style: Spiced ale

ABV: 7.5%

Thanks to Brian & Jessica for this birthday beer!

Appearance: Coppery auburn with a nice foamy head.

Nose: Malt, baking fruitcake.

On the palate: Effervescent and spicy. More fruitcake, then malt, toffee and a hit of hops.

Finish: Surprisingly dry. Spicy, malty and lasts for a good while.

Parting words: Great Lakes Christmas Ale is much more typical of holiday brews than Bell’s. It’s sweet with some Christmas spice and a tiny bit of hoppy bitterness. It’s not complex but it is comfortable like a fuzzy Christmas sweater. It goes just as well with a hearty Christmas feast as with conspiring by the fire. Great Lakes Christmas Ale is recommended. GL Xmas

Bell’s Christmas Ale

Maker: Bell’s, Comstock/Kalamazoo, Michigan, USABells Xmas Ale

Style: American Pale Ale.

ABV: 5.5%

Notes: 100% malted Michigan two-row barley, Michigan and Northwest US hops.

Purchased for: $10/6 pack
Appearance: Old gold with a big frothy head and a bit of sediment in the bottom.

Nose: Hops, creamy malt, dried flowers, tea.

On the palate: Full bodied and well balanced. Fruity malt and then the hops take over in a big way.

Finish: Dry and spicy, a quick shot of fruity malt and then hops until the whole thing fades away.

Parting words: Bell’s Christmas Ale is an unusual holiday beer because there’s nothing particularly holiday-ish about it. It’s just a good hearty pale ale. It goes very well with food, even rich food that one has around this time of year, so maybe that’s the idea. Or maybe it’s that it reflects the experience of a typical holiday family gathering. It begins sweet but ends in lingering bitterness. I may be over thinking this a bit.

At any rate, it’s quite tasty and the local angle in the malt and hops adds interest and softens the blow of the price which is a bit on the high side. Bell’s Christmas Ale is recommended.

Under the Kilt

Maker: Dragonmead, Warren, Michigan, USALabelWeeHeavy

Style: Scottish Ale, Wee Heavy

ABV: 7.8%

Appearance: Chestnut brown with a big frothy head.

Nose: Malty, slightly fruity, a little boozy.

On the palate: Medium mouth feel. Like a piece of slightly burnt berry pie chased with a shot of Wild Turkey. Roasty, fruity and boozy.

Finish: Slightly sweet, but mostly bitter, but not hoppy, more like burnt toast. Lingers for a good long time.

Parting words: This is a fairly good beer but not a very good one. It comes in four pack boxes for a pretty high price, well over $10 (I forgot how much exactly). Even accounting for the high ABV, that’s too much. As for the style, maybe I don’t know enough about what a Scottish ale is supposed to taste like, but this seems a little off when compared to other examples from Michigan like Dirty Bastard or Scotty Karate. I’m on the fence with this one. It wasn’t terrible but factoring in the price and style problems, I can’t recommend Under the Kilt.

Double Down

Maker: Atwater Block, Detroit, Michigan, USAatwater-block-double-down-imperial-amber-ale

Style: Imperial Amber Ale

ABV: 7.5%

Appearance: Cloudy burnt orange with an insanely foamy head that took the better part of a half hour to go down enough to be drinkable. Don’t believe me? The picture below is the beer fifteen minutes after being poured into a frosty mug. Still hadn’t poured the whole bottle in. Open and pour over a sink

IMG_20121104_185828Nose: Malty and fruity. Strawberry licorice candy, mango, papaya.

On the palate: Medium bodied. Nice interchange of fruity, malty and bitter.

Finish: Like most of my ex-girlfriends: pleasantly thick and sweet, with a hint of bitterness.

Parting words: Aside from the weird head behavior, this is a very nice beer. In spite of its imperialness it is food friendly and easy to drink. It comes in four packs for $9-$10, but considering the high alcohol content, it’s not that big of a deal. This one might even respond well to bottle aging of a few months. A nice pour. Double Down Imperial Amber Ale is recommended.

Founder’s Porter

Maker: Founder’s, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

ABV: 6.5%

Appearance: Dark chocolate brown, nearly black, with a frothy brown head, like espresso crema.

Nose: Rich and slightly boozy. Bitter dark chocolate, coffee liqueur (you know the one), espresso.

On the palate: Full-bodied. Slightly bitter, but not overly bitter. Dry. French roast coffee, dark toast.

Finish: Long and bitter. Like gargling with coffee. Long-lingering.

Parting words: Founder’s is a textbook porter. It’s all roasted coffee deliciousness. Nothing not to like. That said, it could use a little more sweetness for balance. Good but one-dimensional.  Still, Founder’s Porter is recommended.

Narragansett Summer Ale

Maker: Narragansett Brewing Co., Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Brewed: Genesee Brewing, Rochester, New York, USA (North American Breweries)

Style: American Blonde Ale

ABV: 4.2%

Note: Pint cans.

Thanks: to Jennifer & Pete for this can.

Appearance: Pale gold with a big foamy head.

Nose: Bright. Some hops, orange, lemon grass.

On the palate: Easy-drinking and light. Pilsner-like. Bright, hoppy, slightly floral with maybe a touch of lemon.

Finish: Pleasant. Long and bitter.

Parting words: This beer was brought to me by a couple friends who were vacationing in Cape Cod and this was their go-to beer for the trip. It’s not bad for what it is. It’s simple and easy. It’s light, refreshing beach fare, like a pulp novel. Narragansett Summer Ale gets a mild recommendation.

Archangel Summer Wheat

Maker: North Peak Brewing, Traverse City, Michigan.

Style: Wheat Ale with cherry juice and other natural flavors

ABV: 5%

Appearance: Copper with a pinkish hue.

Nose: Tangy but slightly bitter.

On the palate: Light-bodied. Little wheat character or even ale character. A bit of bitterness followed by a lot of sweet cherry flavor.

Finish: Cherry juice, cherry coke, Twizzlers, cough syrup

Parting Words: Another disappointing beer from North Peak. What little character this wheat ale might have had is completely overwhelmed by the cherry juice. Makes me wonder if covering over a poorly brewed product was the intention to begin with. I don’t think the concept of wheat ale sweetened with cherry juice is inherently a bad one, but there is more subtlety and complexity in a Cherry Coke from Steak & Shake than in this. Maybe it’s time for North Peak to spend some of the time and effort they invest in snappy labels into making better beer. Not recommended.

Oarsman Ale

Maker: Bell’s, Comstock, Michigan, USA

Style: Sour mash wheat ale.

ABV: 4%

Appearance: Gold, slightly hazy.

Nose: Sour, Meyer lemon, yeast.

On the palate: Light bodied. Sour, more Meyer lemon, grains of paradise, coriander seed, lemongrass.

Finish: Quick with a little sweet and sour hit at the beginning.

Parting words: The level of sourness in this beer was a bit of a shocker at first, but by the time I got to the end of the six-pack, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s more complex than it seems at first sip, but isn’t so cerebral it doesn’t work alongside a sandwich. Oarsman ale is recommended.

Dirty Blonde

Maker: Atwater Block, Detroit, Michigan, USA

Style: Spiced Blonde Ale

ABV: 4.5%

Appearance: Not surprisingly, dirty blonde.

On the palate: full-bodied, a little bitterness but a lot of sweet, fruity, a very subtle hint of spice.

Parting Words: A serviceable, summertime ale, but not much to write home about. Not a bad buy but not a very interesting one. Mildy recommended, especially if on tap. It always seems to taste better from the tap at Grand Trunk Pub.