Not Your Father’s Root Beer

Maker: Small Town Brewery, Wauconda, Illinois, USA.wpid-2015-06-14-14.37.00.jpg.jpeg

Brewed in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, USA

Style: Spiced ale

ABV: 5.9%

Local retail price: $12/6 pack

Thanks to Holiday Market for this bottle (free sample from retailer).

Appearance: Dark brown with a fizzy, short lived head.

Nose: Grape bubble gum, root beer.

Palate: Root beer, aniseed, hint of sweet malt.

Finish: Heavy anise, yeast, and yes root beer.

Parting words: This bottle was dropped into my cart by Holiday Market’s wine/beer/liquor manager Brian after I introduced myself to him. As such it’s the first free beer I’ve received from a retailer after outing myself as a booze blogger. It could very well be my last.

Initialllly, NYFRB tasted just like root beer but it became unbalanced as it sat . The anise flavor became so strong that it took on a bitter quality. The sweetness is way over the top, which I probably should have expected from a product marketing itself as a boozy root beer, but malty notes pop up at unexpected moments leading to some unpleasant clashes of flavor. The fizz dies off much too quickly, too.

I set it aside for a few hours and then went back. It was back to tasting exactly like a decent root beer. I then tried it with ice and it also tasted the same. So my recommendation is to serve it well chilled.

My wife, who enjoys root beer more than I do and actual beer less than I do, tried this and liked it quite a bit, but she did notice the overly strong anise in finish. If your tastes run toward hers, you’ll probably enjoy this and you should act fast, since it’s apparently highly allocated. As for me, though, Not Your Father’s Root Beer is only mildly recommended.

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Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout

Maker: Anderson Valley, Boonville, California, USAAnderson Val BBS

Style: Dry stout aged in Wild Turkey bourbon barrels.

ABV: 6.9%

Price: $10 (Binny’s)/22 oz bottle

Appearance: Chocolate bown with a big tan head.

Nose: Roasted malt, soy sauce.

Palate: Mildly sweet and bitter with some butterscotch and salted caramel.

Finish: Mildly sweet and a little fruity, then a touch of bitterness.

Parting words: My first encounter with an Anderson Valley beer was not a very positive one. This is much better. It’s not particularly ambitious or edgy. It’s just a stout that has spent some time in a bourbon barrel. But it’s tasty. The barrel contributes some very nice sweet butterscotch flavors without making it too boozy or sappy. One might even call this a session bourbon barrel stout. Maybe.

 

The price isn’t too bad for a product like this, but it is near the upper limit of what I would be willing to pay. Knowing the origin of the barrel is a nice bonus too. Anderson Valley Bourbon Barrel Stout is recommended.

The Lost Abbey Serpent’s Stout

Maker: Port, San Marco, California, USALost Abbey Serpents

ABV: 11%

Price: $14/750 ml (Binny’s)

Thanks to Rhiannon to help in acquiring this bottle.

Appearance: Black coffee with a big frothy head

Nose: Faint. Coffee.

On the palate: Full bodied and rich. Roasted malt, effervescence, chocolate covered raisins, Ethiopian Harrar coffee.

Finish: Bitter and slightly sweet. Coffee and dark chocolate stick to the lips for a long time.

Parting words: Lost Abbey’s Serpent’s Stout is one of the best stout’s I’ve ever had. It’s fantastic beer that has a strong classic stout profile but is has a complexity and balance that puts it ahead of the competition. The fruity notes were a bit of a surprise but a welcome addition. As usual, I feel like I’m reaching for descriptors for a beer. I all have left to say is that one tastes really good. Lost Abbey Serpent’s Stout is highly recommended.

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.

Abita Purple Haze

Maker: Abita, Abita Springs, Louisiana, USAAbita Purple Haze

Style: Lager with raspberry.

ABV: 4.2% ABV

Appearance: cloudy burnt orange.

Nose: Malt and a vague fruitiness.

On the palate: Heavy cereal notes with a background of raspberry. Like eating a bowl of Grape Nuts with raspberries, only the raspberries have already been eaten and all that’s left is the raspberry infused milk with the cereal.

Finish: Light with more cereal and what seems to be a touch of hops. Not much fruit to be found.

Parting words: I traded a Rübæus for this with a friend. I think she got the better of the trade. There’s nothing wrong with this beer. It’s very easy drinking and if you like lots of cereal flavors in your beer, you’ll like it. I think it needs more raspberry, though. If I didn’t want something that tasted like it’s been made with raspberries, I wouldn’t get this beer. So I want more raspberry not more. Anyway, it’s good enough to warrant a mild recommendation.

Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout

Maker: Aloha Plenty/Iron Fist/Stone, California, USAMCIS

Style: Imperial stout with cocoa and mint flavoring added.

Vintage: 2012

ABV: 9.6%

Thanks to Rhiannon for this bottle.

Appearance: Black coffee with a lacy beige head.

Nose: Dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, faint herbal note.

On the palate: Full bodied and sweet. Like a Shamrock Shake upon initial entry. Some bitterness does surface later and on subsequent sips. Very dark chocolate, Espresso with a shot of peppermint schnapps.

Finish: Long, bitter and slightly sweet. The mint is in the background but still present.

Parting words: I wasn’t so sure what this beer was going to be like, but my doubts were unfounded. It’s delicious. The cocoa dovetails with the Stout-ness perfectly even to the point where I don’t think I would notice it if I didn’t already know it was there. The mint is noticeable but subtle, especially as the beer sits in the glass. I would have preferred a little more mint, but that’s a quibble. I also don’t know if adding cocoa was really needed but it didn’t hurt.

I received this beer as a gift from my cousin, so I’m not sure how much it sold for, but I’ve been able to find it online for $3 for a 12 oz. bottle. That’s not cheap, but since this is more of a novelty than a go-to brew, I wouldn’t mind paying that for a bottle or two. Mint Chocolate Imperial Stout is recommended.

Hell or High Watermelon

Maker: 21st Amendment, San Francisco, California, USAH or HW
Style: Watermelon wheat beer.
ABV: 4.9%
Thanks to Rhiannon for the cans.
Appearance: Not sure, drank it out of the can.
Nose: Sweet watermelon, a touch of cereal and tropical fruit.
On the palate: Fizzy and mild. Watermelon, banana pudding, cream of wheat.
Finish: Crisp. Watermelon with some lingering bitterness.
Parting words: Fruit beers are getting more respect these days, at least from me. This is a fantastic summer beer. Crisp and refreshing but with the weight and fruit of a wheat beer. The tropical fruit already present is complemented perfectly by the watermelon. It’s not particularly complex or a “meditation beer” but it’s perfectly refreshing and delicious. It’s runs at typical micro prices, judging by what I saw online. It’s not available locally. Hell or High Watermelon is recommended.