From the Shmaltz Brewing Company, this is the He'Brew Hop Manna IPA. Limited release in 22oz bottles, I was fairly excited to try this little guy. The label states that Hop Manna is dry hopped with Centennial Cascade and Citra hops, checking in at 65 IBUs and 6.8% abv.
The Hop Manna pours a great straw-golden color, with quite a bit of fluffy off-white foam. There is a ton of carbonation rising from the bottom of my Unibroue-brand tulip glass. As usual, there's a long story on the side of the label in tiny print that I don't dare try to read after I start drinking.
The nose is full of brightly floral hops, bitter at the core, but mostly floral and citrusy in nature. On the palate, this is much more subtle than some of the other IPAs I've been trying lately. The hops are definitely present, but not nearly as rough and bitter as others. The alcohol isn't even noticeable, it's seamlessly blended in behind the hops. The finish is not super-long lasting, but it does linger for a few minutes.
Soft, smooth, flavorful, and quite drinkable. I like the Hop Manna!
Just released, I've been super anxious to crack a bottle of this Victory Brewing Company Saison du Buff. This beer was first released two years ago as a collaboration brew between Dogfish Head, Stone, and Victory Brewing. At the time, the beer was never released in Connecticut because of some awful hiccups in the distribution network. This year Victory Brewing did a batch of it's own, for release during it's normal distribution network.
Just arrived this morning, I immediately set a bottle aside so that I could try one tonight. The Saison du Buff pours a bright golden yellow color with an egg-shell white foam. There's plenty of carbonation, but the foam never gets more than one finger thick. While the initial carbonation fades back, there's a persistent thin film of foam throughout the entire glass of beer. There is also a ton of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass for the duration of my beer.
On the nose, there's very little hops, an unexpected surprise considering the three breweries involved in this collaboration. There's a very nice complex variety of spice on the nose, with just a touch of malts. On the palate, the Saison du Buff is relatively light-bodied, with plenty of spice, and a clean dry finish.
Despite the name, I really didn't expect a very saison-esque brew. There have been dozens of American saisons that I've tried, always falling a bit short of the Belgian versions. By definition, a Saison should be relatively light and easy to drink. This Saison du Buff has been one of the two best American Saisons I've had to date, only competing with the Goose Island "Sofie". I like the Saison du Buff so much, that I've already emailed my salesman asking for another couple cases. At the very least, I'll buy a whole case for myself!
Victory Brewing Company/Dogfish/Stone
Saison du Buff
TCSH - 9.5/10
Aka - Absolutely delicious!
The Goose is Loose in Connecticut, finally! My salesmen have been taunting me with the Goose Island beers for over a year now, and as of May 1st they've finally been released. Just today we received our first shipment which included this little gem, the 312 Urban Wheat Ale.
Despite its appearance in the picture, the 312 pours a light straw shade of yellow, with a bright white one finger foam on top. As the foam recedes, a small amount of lacing remains.On the nose, the 312 is a light crisp combination of malts, wheat, citrus, and just a touch of soft hops.
The Goose 312 drinks somewhere between a crisp summer ale and a soft American wheat ale. The body is light and easy drinking, there's a subtle hint of hops, just a little sweetness, and nice lingering finish.
This is the first time I've had the Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat ale, and I'm definitely a fan. Where I come from we do our best to keep the freezer full of geese, but now that Goose Island is available in Connecticut, the hunt is going to be a lot easier.
I opened the bottle of Xtra Gold on my coffee table, turned around to grab a glass and within a minute the carbonation had overflowed the bottle and onto the table. The bubbles continued to foam out and over the bottle and make a horrible mess of my coffee table.
The rest of the experience with the Xtra Gold was great! Very flavorful, complex, and delicious! The best Captain Lawrence brew I've had yet!
The Kona Brewing Company has been available here on the east coast for a few years now. When I first came to Connecticut, I saw a few of their beers scattered about, including two of the beers we had at the store when I started. They weren't big sellers so eventually we let them sell out and replaced them with other brews we hoped to be better movers. Now there's a handful of people that ask about the Kona beers again, so we'll have to see how they are.
This is the Kona Brewing Company's Koko Brown Ale, their coconut-influenced nut brown ale. The Koko Brown pours out a dark brown color, not quite as dark as the picture suggests. The foam on top is a light cream color, that starts fairly thick but fades quickly.
The aromas are subtle, dominated by roasted malts with a just a touch of nutty aromas. With some vigorous swirling in the glass I can pick up a little bit of that coconut I've heard so much about, but really only as an underlying layer.
The flavor profile is equally subtle. It's a soft brown ale, dominated by roasted (nearly burnt) malts with just a small influence of coconut and nut flavors. I let the brew come closer to room temperature to see if I get a little more, but I'm unfortunately disappointed. Actually as the Koko Brown comes up to temperature, it's becoming somewhat less drinkable. Sorry, but I'm not excited about this one.
A beer that I've claimed over the past few years as one of my top ten favorites, tonight's beer is the Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier. Brewed in Bavaria, Germany, Weihenstephan's label states that it's the oldest brewery in the world. Records date back to the year 768 with documents mentioning a hop garden, but the brewery was officially licensed in 1040.
The 17oz bottle pours at a clear burnt-amber color, with a nice thick ivory white foam on top. The foam lingers for several minutes, and leaves behind a mild lacing as it recedes. The aromas are bright and distinct, with plenty of lemon, orange peel, banana, and spices. I absolutely love the aromas on this little Hefeweiss!
On the palate, the Weihenstephaner is flavorful and complex, yet so incredible easy to drink! The citrus and banana is right up front in my mouth, but not far behind is the spice and just a touch of alcohol. This is an absolutely delicious brew that I highly recommend for anyone who ever considered those mediocre mass-produced imitations.
Berkshire Brewing company is a small craft brewery located just a short drive north of here in Massachusetts. Released at the peak of Summer, their Hefeweizen is only available into the fall (usually). I'm a big fan of the seasonals from Berkshire Brewing Company so we often stock up a little extra at the store to enjoy these brews beyond their season alone.
This 22oz Bottle of Berkshire Brewing Hefeweizen pours a brilliant golden straw color. Just a touch of haziness fills the glass, with a thin layer of ivory white foam on top. Last time I had this Hefeweizen the foam over-flowed my glass, but this is a few months older so I'm not really surprised the carbonation has faded a little.
What really strikes me in this brew is the nose; every time I have the Berkshire Hefeweizen I'm impressed by the aromas! More than any other Hefe that I've had, this smells like a glass full of banana! There's a little bit spice in the background, but the aromas are easily dominated by the banana, citrusy lemon, and other light fruity aromas.
The Hefeweizen is as full on the palate as it was on the nose. There's a significant portion of that banana and citrus that I was picking up in the aromas, as well as a substantial portion of spice. Flavorful and full, yet easy-drinking and refreshing! Not exactly the best brew to keep me warm on a cold night, but I've been drinking so many big stouts lately that this is a nice change of pace!
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