Archive for the ‘English Strong Ale’ Category

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Day #365 – Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer

January 1, 2012

So here we are, at the end of a journey. 365 days ago I embarked on a journey, a journey which I did not expect to be so difficult. It was a challenge, and I succeeded. I learned a lot too, not just about the beer I was featuring or where it came from, but about myself. I set a goal for myself, began a project and saw it through to the end. It will be bittersweet to see this journey end, but I am ready. I will have an additional post after this one detailing some interesting statistics about my blog. Look for it soon!

Today I am finishing things up with one of my all-time favorite Texas beers from who else, but Rahr & Sons Brewery right here in Fort Worth, TX. One of the purposes of this blog was to feature quality craft beer and breweries from Texas, so I felt it was appropriate to end things with a Texan brew. Also, as a special treat today I will be sampling 2 batches of the same beer, one from 2011 and one from 2010! Glad I have some friends to share it with. 🙂

Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer

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This is one of the most sought-after beers that Rahr & Sons make. I remember several years ago when I had just heard about it, I tried and tried to find it but I was always out of luck. It seemed like every time I went out to try it, the place that had it had run out of it mere minutes before I got there. This dance happened for 2 years in a row until finally I was able to sample some a few year back. Last year Rahr gained the ability to bottle things in the bomber format which is a larger size bottle than the standard American longneck. I wisely saved a bottle of it from last year with the intent to try it side by side with this year’s batch. I am very excited to try it today! Rahr made a concerted effort to increase production and it can be found at some of the higher end beer stores and bars. I’ll begin with the newer batch, and here are some details. This is an English Strong Ale style that holds 8% ABV. Rahr takes recently emptied whiskey barrels and ages their Winter Warmer in them for a period of time. This will impart some additional flavors and aromas that is not already in the base beer. What results is what sits in front of me now, the Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer!

2011 Batch

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I’ve sampled this particular batch on draught before this season but I have yet to try the bottled version. I will use last year’s glassware for this beer.

This beer pours a very dark brown color that is difficult to see through. A small amount of light comes through but not much. A fizzy beige head is formed on top but does not last very long. There is also a fair amount of lacing on the edge of the glass as well.

The aroma is…WOW! Lots of woody notes, bourbon, chocolate and dark malts. Light bit of roasted notes. Very aromatic indeed.

The flavor is fantastic as well. Dark roasted malts mix well with sweet chocolate flavors. The finish is where the aging process comes in, adding woody notes and touches of bourbon. Man this is good. I highly suggest seeking it out if you can find it!

2010 Batch

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This bottle is a year old, as old as my blog. It is fitting that this will be the final beer I feature on this blog. Let’s go out in style. This one will be poured in this year’s glassware as well as the 2009 glassware, bookending this batch.

As it is the same beer only a different batch, the appearances are very similar if not exact. This beer pours a very dark brown color that is difficult to see through. A small amount of light comes through but not much. A fizzy beige head is formed on top but does not last very long. Light amount of lacing.

The aroma however is very different from the fresh batch. There is hardly any bourbon scents on the nose, which was very prominent in the new one. Instead it has a large chocolatey aroma and dark malts. Light roasted notes as well. Lots of wood shines through.

The flavor is also very different from the fresh batch. Dry and woody with some sharp flavors that sit on the back of the throat. Almost a bit tart but not sour by any means. Chocolate and wood notes are on top here with little bourbon. It leaves a large tingle on the palate that warms all the way down. I think I prefer the fresh batch more but this one isn’t too bad either.

Well there you have it folks! This blog is in the books. I’m finishing up my final glass with a small tear in my eye. It’s been fun, challenging, stressful and enlightening. Glad to have done it but it’s time to say goodbye. And for the last time…I bid you Cheers!

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Day #356 – Rahr & Sons Angry Santa

December 23, 2011

I’m a little bit late typing this one up because I was a little unsure about what exactly to say here. I mean, there are 10 days left in this project. 10! After these 10 days I will have accomplished my goal that I set out for 356 days ago. What will happen afterwards? Who knows. I’ll probably take a break for awhile and then might toss up a review or 2 every now and again. Or perhaps I’ll dedicate the blog to my homebrewing exploits. I know I certainly won’t commit to ANOTHER year in beer….well, I guess I shouldn’t say never.

Anyways, for these last 10 days I think it will be appropriate to feature only Texas breweries as one of the main reasons I had for starting this blog was to show consumers how many other options there are for us beer lovers in North Texas. (well, 1 beer won’t be from Texas but it’s a very special beer.) It’s been fun. On to today’s beer.

Rahr & Sons Angry Santa

Forgive my obviously ripped photo taken on my iPhone….

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Is this a new beer or isn’t it? That is the question. It starts as the Winter Warmer base but then almost every spice known to man is added to this beer. These spices change the character of the beer completely so we will call this one a new beer. A specialty one though. Check out the label!! How cool is that!! Unfortunately this beer is draught only at the moment and I will be enjoying a firkin of this beer at the FW Saucer. A firkin if you recall is basically like a giant bottle conditioned homebrew. Firkins are small kegs that have a pinch of yeast added at the end to carbonate and continue to alter the character of the beer.

It appears I got the very bottom of the firkin as this beer looks pretty disgusting. It pours a muddy, and yes I mean muddy brown color with a small white type head. I can see large chunks of something floating in this beer. I’m a big fan of Rahr but I’ll be honest and say this beer looks awful. Yes I understand that I got the bottom portion of the firkin and that it’s probably not exactly fair to judge this beer by this particular sample, but this was the sample that was placed in front of me so this is what I have to go off of.

The aroma is actually quite pleasant. Lots of spice; TONS of spice in this! Cinnamon is prevalent, with all-spice and ginger also. Some citrus on the finish of the aroma. Nice.

The flavor is a tad bit harsh. There is a burn from what I can assume is the spice which doesn’t make for an easy drinker. It’s certainly flavorful, just unappealing to look at. I bet the top part of the firkin looked nothing like this. Check out the photo:

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10 to go…

EDIT: I had another glass of this beer from a firkin last night and it was COMPLETELY different! You can see the immense difference in the picture below. The appearance was attractive, the spices in both the aroma and flavor were a lot mellower. Now that I’ve tried it the way it was meant to be tried I like it a lot more.

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Day #342 – Boulevard Nutcracker Ale

December 9, 2011

Quick one today. I still have a few work things to do this evening and then a PARTY! Gotta love that right?

Boulevard Nutcracker Ale

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This is Boulevard’s special winter seasonal only available during the Holiday season. It is an English Strong Ale at 5.9%.

This beer pours a murky dark reddish brown color with orange highlights. Tall foamy off-white head forms on top.

The aroma is a mix of nice hops, citrus and spicy in nature with a solid malty backbone. A slight sweetness appears on the nose as well.

This same sweetness holds through to the finish, with a definite flavor of hops and sweet grains. Maybe a touch of spice, but it’s a nice touch. Not bad!

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Cheers!

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Day #334 – Redhook Winterhook

December 1, 2011

Redhook Winterhook

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This is the seasonal ale from Redhook. It is an English Strong Ale at 6% ABV.

This beer pours a clear amber orange color with a white foamy head.

The aroma is hoppier than I was anticipating. Strong aroma of hops, winter spice like ginger perhaps and a strong malty character as well.

The flavor matches the aroma with the maltier flavor taking the lead. The hops provide a bitter backbone and finish with the spice being felt more than tasted. Also has a floral flavor to it which I wasn’t expecting. Not bad.

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Cheers!

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Day #331 – Samuel Smiths Winter Welcome Ale

November 28, 2011

Samuel Smiths Winter Welcome Ale

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I don’t think I’ve reviewed a beer from Samuel Smith in quite awhile, maybe not since the very beginning! Anyways, it’s time for another. This beer is their seasonal release, an English Strong Ale at 6%.

This beer pours a clear copper color with a light ring of foamy head.

There is a strong syrupy aroma here that mixes with some honey notes and grains. There is also a fairly bready aroma as well.

Flavor is sweet with honey notes again, with sharp bitter bread. The alcohol can also be felt and tasted. Much better than the first time I tried this.

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Cheers!

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Day #330 – Pyramid Snow Cap Ale

November 27, 2011

I apologize if some of my posts have been rather lackluster recently. I can admit that I am certainly running out of steam, but I am never one to quit on a project so I will see this thing through to the end by God! My life has certainly changed a lot since starting this project, and the free time I used to have to be able to focus on this has switched to other priorities. Oh well, such is life.

Pyramid Snow Cap Ale

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I’ve reviewed several things from Pyramid I believe and this is their winter seasonal. It is an English Strong Ale at 7%.

This beer went into my lovely Pyramid Hefeweizen glass, which isn’t technically the correct glassware shape for this style, but I like to match breweries. This beer pours a dark maroon color that turns a lighter shade of amber when put to the light.  Foamy beige head as you can see in the picture.

The aroma on this smells an awful lot like one of my homebrews, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!  It has several notes of heavy malts and dark fruit, with some candied sugar type notes and roasted bread.

The flavor is a little bland for my tastes, with straightforward grains and dark malts and perhaps a lingering hint of bitter dark fruit near the finish.  I was hoping for a touch of spice but I didn’t find any.

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Cheers!

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Day #326 – Summit Winter Ale

November 23, 2011

Summit Winter Ale

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Got another one here from Summit again today. This is an English Strong Ale at 5.9% and is their winter seasonal ale.

This beer pours a dark brown color that shines brilliant red when put to the light. Foamy tan head.

The aroma is dark malts, sweet caramel with a light sense of winter spices and heavy malts. Very nice aroma, and I am excited to try it.

The flavor is dry and roasted, almost nutty with a sweet flavor that does not last. The flavor also includes a bit of sweet spices but finishes quite dry.

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Cheers!