Poured into a plain old tumbler, it appeared mostly cloudy, and even somewhat murky, with a bright golden honey color and straw yellow highlights. There was a lot of suspended yeast and overall particulate floating around that refused to settle on the bottom throughout the drink, but without this feature, it wouldn't be called a witbier, would it? It produced a solid two-finger thick, fluffy eggshell-white head that was left over from a vigorous pour, which dissipated within a minute, leaving barely noticeable spots along the glass and a thin, patchy island in the middle.
Immediately upon opening the bottle I was inundated with fresh-squeezed juice from nectarines, navel oranges, mandarin oranges, and tangerines - all of which really emphasized the citrus hops. There was quite a bit of wheaty malt that gave the aroma much more body than if it hadn't been present at all, and I really enjoyed the hints of light coriander rolled in honey that peeked through from under the wheat and oranges. Overall, the nose was faintly spicy, but managed to maintain a mysterious softness that kept it very appealing to smell.
From the smell alone, I couldn't wait to get this beer in my mouth. It's been a while since I've had a good orange-flavored beer, some of them are just too medicinal or syrupy and it's hard to find any enjoyment in them. Right away with the Orange Avenue Wit, there was a faint lemon zest that tasted as if it had been sprinkled into a wheat bread base and dipped into grainy pale malts. There were plenty of oranges - both mandarin and navel - and tangerines bursting from the juicy liquid carrying a good amount of tartness along their waves. A dab of honey added the perfect amount of sweetness and kept the oranges from making the brew sour as well as maintaining that fine balance between medicinal and quaffable - which I think can be a big issue with some orange/fruit beers. It offered a light body and mouthfeel with a good amount of spicy carbonation that kept it alive and popping on my tongue, despite a slightly slick finish.
Overall, I found the Orange Avenue Wit very, very easy to drink and extremely refreshing (to the point where I'm probably going to be picking up a four- or six-pack sometime soon). It easily held onto that line between medicinal and quaffable that I mentioned before, being deliciously sweet and yet still managing to deliver a soft kick in the mouth thanks to all of the tangy citrus combined with the heavier wheat. This is very much a summer beer, though it is just as fantastic in the winter, helping bring back that warmth that everybody longs for during the coldest months of the year.
Poured into my fancy crystal Pilsner glass (it was a random splurge), the A-1 appeared a slightly hazy, deep golden honey color - otherwise known as melichrous - with straw yellow accents when held up to the light. A fluffy two-finger thick egg-shell colored head was piled on top and it quietly fell to a thin, soapy island that blanketed the top of the liquid while a medium collar ran around the outside. The island slowly shrank, but never fully disappeared and any lacing followed the beer down the glass as I drank it, leaving behind clean walls.
The nose was predominantly a huge bouquet of floral hops and pale and grainy malts. Quite a bit of sweet grass mingled cheerfully underneath a lightly tart lemony cover with hints of yeast and something reminiscent of pear and kiwi, which is a first for me. There was a definite sour-bread dough aroma that held its presence in the forefront, though as it warmed, there was something that smelled like dried corn - almost like what you'd expect to find in a barnyard or silo - but it's not completely off-putting, and actually makes me yearn for the dairy farmlands of Wisconsin in the summer. Quite odd considering they state that they didn't use any corn in the brewing process.
The taste was very bright and fruity right from the start, offering itself up with a tart lemon, smooth kiwi, and crisp pears - much like the nose. It carried along a light bitterness, but otherwise it was ridiculously smooth thanks to the pervasive rich grainy malts. A surprising amount of sweet fresh cut grass also flowed between the fruits and malts, driving this beer from pilsner to pale lager, and has been continuously labeled as such across many product descriptions. A-1 offers a light mouthfeel with spicy, crisp carbonation that keeps it on the lighter side of a medium body - as well as very, very refreshing despite its slightly dry, faintly lingering bitterness at the end. I think the next time I need a beer for the weekend, I will pick up a six-pack and easily be able to finish all of them off. This is a very summery beer, nice and light and invigorating - not to mention, there are not that many lagers out there in the local craft beer market, so this is a welcome escape from all of the ales.
To start this barley wine off, it poured a deep hazy chestnut brown with golden amber highlights. It quickly built a tight single-finger thick fawn colored head of large bubbles that fell within 30 seconds to a thin island and collar around the glass with no lace to speak of. Initially there were some minuscule streams of tiny bubbles peppering the liquid, but in no time at all, it ended up appearing fairly flat with no visible carbonation.
The nose was predominantly a bourbon-like alcohol that "burns the nostrils." I would be hard-pressed to say that Speakeasy even remotely tried to cover up the glaringly obvious 10.2«V in Old Godfather, and I might go so far as to say that all of the grains and malts in it only further exacerbate the ethanol scent. It held barley and oats up front with pale and crystal malts - pale coming through more aggressively than the crystal, but both are definitely present. There were rich dominant caramel malts drenched in super sweet brown sugar molasses and cooked with real maple syrup. No Aunt Jemima here. There was also an odd warm, burnt toffee with chocolate notes that didn't quite seem to fit in, as well as an even odder hint of overripe cherries lingering and fermenting way underneath. I found it hard to tell if there were any hops at all, though through a little research, others claim to have found both pine and citrus quite easily - which I can totally get on board with when I think about it, but otherwise I just can't seem to get past the glaring caramel and alcohol.
Dipping into it, my tongue was washed over with the bourbony alcohol right off the bat. I was actually a little surprised to find it thinner in the mouthfeel with a lighter-medium body, which I expected to be a little thicker due to the high ABV. Even the carbonation was lacking - though it still managed to bite my tongue with a combination of alcohol, something bright and citrusy that I couldn't pick out in the nose, and some bold bitter hops that also hid from the aroma. After the initial bitter overload, the in-your-face pale and crystal malts came out swathed in a rich caramel sauce accented with brown sugar and molasses, which made it very candy-sweet and just shy of syrupy. The flavors didn't last much longer after I swallowed, and it finished very dry with tongue-numbing effects.
Before I knew Wild Blue was made by Anheuser-Busch, I took lots of notes on it, so these are pretty much as unbiased as they can get. I was shocked to see it pour into my tumbler flashing a cranberry juice/burgundy red body with blueberry purple shadows and ruby red raspberry highlights. This was the first point where I contemplated whether or not I should pick another beer to review, but I soldiered on for the sake of saying I had tasted it. There was a slight cloudiness from the blueberry sediment (apparently they used real blueberries), otherwise it was mostly clear. A pale creamy rose-stained blushing head formed and fell very quickly with small popping soda bubbles, and it managed to reach just about 2-fingers thick before it disappeared. It left minimal tracks of lace that closely followed the liquid down the glass, but refused to stick around for long.
The nose was a ridiculously strong concoction of blueberries and sweetened cranberry juice. I could smell it the second I opened the bottle and even standing a few feet away, it was obvious what made up this fruit beer. Up close, there was a slight wine-characteristic to it, with light traces of tart hops in the background and hints of barley malt that just barely emerged as it warmed to room temperature. It was rather dry in my nose despite all of the fruitiness and it was really quite difficult to discern any other smells over the powerful blueberry. It is a blueberry beer though, so I guess it's nice that they stuck to their advertising. For once.
The taste was pretty much exactly what I expected, besides the suggestion that regardless of whether or not the blueberry flavor was slightly syrupy, it held a more "fresh blueberry" tartness than a "from concentrate" thickness. There was a definite lack of high fructose corn syrup, which I liked - though I doubt I'll ever really know if they use real blueberries like they say they do. Nestled up close to the blueberries were some cranberries and raspberries as well, but they tasted like they'd been cooked down to the bare minimum of flavors. There may have also been a few dark grapes and a very faint maltiness that lingered way underneath, but my tongue was so over-burdened with blueberries that it was hard to find anything else, much like the nose. So, obviously with all of that fruit, it was very sweet and it also managed to keep the carbonation going for most of the beer, despite the bubbles being like tiny champagne bubbles - which made the whole drink reminiscent of a fruit cider. Also, it had a very thin mouthfeel and a rather dry, crisp ending even with all of the big juicy fruit flavors, and tasted something like a slightly carbonated juice beverage that was on its way to going flat. It carried no aftertaste and in the end, I couldn't bring myself to finish it. A fruit beer like this just isn't my style, it's too sweet with not enough sour, and I'm beginning to think that even though I tried not to be a snob about it being a product from Anheuser-Busch, the knowledge (unfortunately) definitely tainted my experience.
Prescott's Ponderosa IPA poured a golden amber color with bright ruby-orange highlights that formed just under the fluffy eggshell-white head. The liquid was mostly clear with a slight haziness in the middle - which I'm 90% positive isn't chill haze, as I let the beer warm a little before I poured it and I've read multiple reviews saying they saw the same thing from cans, bottles, and on-tap. The foam was a good 3-4 fingers thick and held with excellent retention, lazily melting into thick, creamy snow pile islands of small and medium bubbles while leaving sheets of sticky lacing along the glass walls.
The aroma was reminiscent of walking through an orange grove full of fruit bursting with nectar, where the grass was just being trimmed down the paths between the trees. It carried a strong perfume of juicy oranges and tart tangerines - compiled from both the fruit and the rind - with just a tiny bit of lemon peel fluttering amid the light grassy notes underneath. There were some pale caramel malts lingering around the edges, transforming some of the whiffs of citrus into candied fruits. And right before the end, mild pine needles - spruce perhaps - were crushed and scattered through the fruits and sweetness of the nose.
The first few sips presented a light/thin mouthfeel - though it wasn't watery by any means thanks to the sharp bitterness that snapped at my taste buds. It thickened to a more medium mouthfeel as it warmed and some of the simple flavors became more pronounced. Much of what was in the scent was also in the taste, offering a great amount of sweet orange and some grapefruity citrus hops that made the beer deliciously bitter. Some pine erupted in a giant wave near the end, washing up nicely after all the fruit, and left my tongue warm and tingling and my mouth clean and dry. The Ponderosa IPA was held together by light caramel and honey hints hidden in a malt backbone, but neither detracted from the very up-front IPA attitude. Initially the carbonation was prickly, and my only complaint is that over the course of a half hour, it went rather flat near the end. Fortunately, this one little issue did nothing to take away from the fact that this beer is really, really easy to drink. I really enjoyed all of the citric fruitiness without it being too sweet or orangey, and I'm really glad I was able to pick out the malts behind the ideal amount of bitter hops - they played well together and I look forward to picking up more from Prescott Brewing company.
The Ranger poured out crystal clear and oddly reminded me of the way the sun shines through a slice of mandarin orange. Or maybe a coppery apricot with rich golden-honey highlights. It produced a handsome buff/beige whipped cream head that was, again, easily 3 to 4 fingers thick - possibly 5 when I first poured it. Refusing to disappear, the frothy foam held itself together in nice big snow piles that drifted across the middle while thick sheets of fluffy lace clouds clung effortlessly to the glass.
The nose came across fairly mild, but I think I'm expecting these IPAs to be Imperials or Doubles, when they are only (and not a bad only) regular IPAs. I'm a sucker for a good punchy hop. Regardless the aroma of this IPA, though mild, was chock-full of grapefruit pith rolled up in some marijuana and soaked in oily lemon peel. The obvious zesty hops were present with an even bitterness that was smoothed out by light pale malts, and while I tried to find where the minimal pine accents were coming from, they really didn't associate with the rest of the scents too much even in the flavor.
Where the nose was nice and mild, the flavor was definitely mellow in its own way. Carrying a nice medium body with heavier medium carbonation, the Ranger also offered a slick oiliness that coated my tongue and mouth while at the same time ended on a dryer note. I've gotta find out how they do that, it doesn't make sense to me that something can be oily and dry at the same time...and still taste delicious. I think the oil came from the lemon peel that was in the aroma, but the taste was more lemon-lime with touches of grapefruit rind. I was a little surprised to find that none of the citrus flavors were very pronounced or obvious despite the use of both Cascade and Chinook hops, and much of the taste came out in light unidentifiable florals and herbs. Nearing the end of my glass, I was able to pay more attention to the sweetness emanating from the liquid and recognized a light honey and a few caramel malt notes just around the edges. These were offered with some breadiness that helped me to really feel it in my mouth - making it taste stronger/thicker.
I left the beer out a few minutes before I poured it to keep it from any potential chill haze, and because Iâ€™m trying to warm up (see what I did there?) to the whole drinking beer at a more â€śprofessionalâ€ť temperature rather than straight from the icy depths of my ridiculously well-insulated fridge. I have found that drinking a cool beer versus a cold beer really makes a difference in everything from which aromas are stronger in the nose to which flavors are more obvious on my tongue and even to how the mouthfeel is affected. Itâ€™s very interesting scientific stuff, so Iâ€™ll just stick to the basics.
Poured into my nonick (I canâ€™t help but read that as â€śno neck,â€ť which makes no sense) it glowed a sweet potato/pumpkin pie orange with brown sugar shadows. The liquid was mostly clear with a faint bit of a slow, translucent haze that was suspended just above the bottom of the glass to just below the soapy head. Oh the head, letâ€™s talk about it for a minute: gorgeously fluffy and a creamy pearl color that looked just divine floating above the amber liquid, much like a heaping dollop of home-made whipped cream sitting atop a fresh-from-the-oven pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving is only 10 months away folks, canâ€™t be too prepared! When I first poured it, the foam reached a good 5-finger thickness before gradually melting into 3 and holding with fantastic retention for a long while before fading into thick patches of sticky lacing that left the glass dirty. Itâ€™s like a love poem of lace.
The nose was a lot lighter than I initially anticipated, as with many IPAs itâ€™s pretty obvious what youâ€™re smelling right from the first whiff, but with the Torpedo, it was way more mild and didnâ€™t threaten to burn my nose with bitterness. Grapefruit rind and lemon zest were at the front line, closely followed by an odd creamy tangerine, which I definitely wasnâ€™t sure of. There were plenty of herbal hops, including some faint pine needles, but an obvious light crystal malt kept the whole encounter sweet and even added a welcome touch of caramel to the scent.
Finally in my mouth after furious note-taking, I was genuinely surprised by the first flavor to hit my tongue. Lightly toasted malts strolled across my taste buds with grapefruit pith on one arm, herbal piney notes on the other, and a light lemon zest trailing closely behind. Itâ€™s still a little hard for me to believe that the malts were so prevalent and the hops hardly held a bitter knife to my mouth. Carrying a medium body with nice, rounded carbonation made it creamier and heavier than it appeared, but I would much rather have a beer that holds some weight than have one thatâ€™s watery and thin. There was a short lingering hoppy bitterness and light caramel sweetness right at the end, but the bitter throughout the beer was actually relatively mellow, making it really easy to drink. I would probably recommend this IPA to someone whoâ€™s not sure if they like IPAs or not and needs something to ease them into it. It was a very good beer, one that I will most likely pick up in the future as a filler for a day Iâ€™m not reviewing or if Iâ€™m out and want something simple to start the evening.
I poured as much of the 12oz bottle as I could into my snifter before the head completely overtook the glass. The liquid can best be described as a hearty clouded goldenrod flitting with sunflower highlights, which made it very cheerful to look at by color alone, but add an awe-inspiring 4-finger thick creamy head on top and, ladies and gentlemen, you have yourself a craft beer. The head had great retention and lasted until I reached the bottom of my glass, leaving thick, spotty, medium-bubbled lacing that refused to let go without being dirty.
No sooner had I put my nose to the glass when summer seemed to erupt out of the top of the beer. It was an explosion of lemon zest, light pine, rosemary, hints of thyme, cloves, light yeast, and an over-exuberant grassy sage that stole the show. I wasn't sure if I was smelling an herbal potpourri or a beer! Despite the myriad of aromas swirling around under the top heavy sage, it had an airy feel to it and became intoxicating after a few sniffs. It reminded me of the beginning of summer, when obligations and worries are finally melted away by the sun and grass, when there doesn't have to be a care in the world. It was so refreshing before I had even tasted it and I still would have been happy without a sip. Though that definitely enhanced everything.
I was caught completely off-guard by the spiciness that blasted through my mouth coupled with a medium bitterness that quickly bit my tongue before being washed over with the other flavors. Once again, the earthy sage steam-rolled everything else into near submission, but a floral lavender, light lemon, rosemary, thyme and grassy cloves eventually reared their heads as I swallowed. I think the only part I didn't really enjoy was when I could still taste the oily sage sitting on the back of my tongue 5 minutes after each drink - it was reminiscent of what I can only imagine licking a sage plant would be like. Holding a light to medium body with moderate carbonation, this Saison was way thicker in texture than it was in scent, which further encouraged my surprise at the anomaly of it all.
This beer is definitely a sipper, not one to be gulped or tossed back. If you're going to try this beer, you need to really put your heart into it, you need to let yourself be taken over by the aromas and quality of the seasonings. At the same time, don't take this craft brew too seriously, it is the epitome of summer, after all. I would recommend pairing this with grilled chicken, maybe with a lemon marinade to further enhance the lemon hiding in the beer, and don't forget the herbs.
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