Beer Reviews – February 2011

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The month of February is here—we’ve recovered from the holidays, sent out our apology letters for any drunken mishaps and finally allowed our livers to start that healing process. Then the holiday planning assholes from above take a shit on us by infecting this month with cherub- and chocolate-packed mayhem, which only leads to more heavy drinking and probably some regrettable carnal endeavors. This lineup ought to put you in the mood for candlelit alone time with your lover or the random you picked up at the bar to ease any feelings of loneliness. Sit back, grab that KY and prepare for your beer chubby.


Root Cellar
Brewery:
Squatters
ABV: 8.4%
Serving: 750 ml bottle
Description: This new Wild Ale from Squatters pours a deep brown (almost black) color with a pillowy soft, off-tan head. The aromatics are filled with figs, dark cherries, sweet molasses, and it is polished off with a sweet plum character. The flavor is a mixture of rounded plum softness, some light barrel taste and a subtle tartness that finishes with a deep caramel/molasses coating your mouth.
Overview: I generally get my hard-on confused with love, and with this, my head is spinning. Barrels with sour yeast are the easiest way to my heart, so thank you Squatters for helping me through this rough patch of 2011. This American Wild Ale has just enough tartness without destroying the malt character of the beer and not so much sour character that it makes me want a lemon for the comedown. It hit all the spots, and is perfect for that dark beer craving you may get with the colder weather. 

The First SnoAle
Brewery:
Hoppers
ABV: 8.1%
Serving: 750 ml bottle
Description: This winter Biere de Garde pours a crystal clear ruby to copper color with a small white head. The aroma is sweet overall, with notes of spicy yeast, caramel and a warming fruit essence. Off the first sip you initially get light fruit, which leads into soft spice with a well-rounded malt character.
Overview: Out of the blue, head brewer Donovan Steele surprises us again. The First SnoAle is a classy Belgian beer with a killer yeast profile and the balance to match. The brew also features sexy label art and a curvaceous bottle that makes it tempting to kick your loved ones aside and take this brew to bed. This was one of my new favorites from the folks at Hoppers.

Paardebloem
Brewery:
RedRock Brewery
ABV: 9.2%
Serving: 743.6 ml bottles for sale at the brewery
Description: Hazy, dull golden in color with a tight white head of tiny bubbles, this bottle-conditioned release pays homage to classic traditions in more ways than one.  Like any bottle-conditioned ale, tip and pour carefully, keeping the bottle horizontal until nearly empty to ensure that none of your friends get the lees (the physical evidence of bottle re-fermentation) in their snifters.  Then, immediately hold your glass up to your nose.  You are greeted with the smell of freshly cut dandelion, followed by a fruity Belgian yeast note.  These both eventually fade and leave the toasted malt aspect to dominate the aroma.  Sip, and half a dozen flavors overlap and blend together.  This is one of the most complex local beers I’ve had to date, and the good news is that it’s just going to get better.  The flavor starts dry, but quickly diverges along many avenues, which you may follow to peach juice, rich cooked fruit, musty farmhouse character or herbal bitter.
Overview: Paardebloem means ‘dandelion’ in Flemish, and while considered a nuisance, these plants have long been used as a bittering element in beer.  This oak-aged ale was designed by RedRock in conjunction with Chris McCombs of the New Belgium Brewing Company in Colorado, and the quality of the craft really shows.  Included in the ingredients are not only the namesake fresh dandelion greens, but also hand-peeled peaches, wonderfully toasted pilsner malt and the kicker: a dose of Brettanomyces yeast added at bottling for conditioning.  The upside of this is an extremely complex, yet refreshing beer that will keep getting better as it ages.  Seriously, that little yeasty will just keep finding new things to eat and simultaneously produce a wonderfully complex and uniquely acidic character for literally years after bottling.  Taste this in six months and the beer will not be the same, six more after that and you will have a personal revelation.  I’d advise buying a case—a couple for now and several more for down the road.  –Rio Connelly