Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April Quads: Lake Placid Ubu Ale, Abita Turbo Dog, Sam Adams Noble Pils & Rising Tide Daymark American Pale Ale

Since April is the fourth month, I'm attempting to write four mini reviews in one post!  Time is running out for the month & I'm not pleased that there is only one review published on the blog.  To clarify, I've tasted more than one delicious brew this month but haven't had the time to sit down and write about the tastings.  So, let's get the party started!

The Lake Placid Ubu Ale is beyond yummy--perhaps, one of the best beers I've tasted in 2011.  I had this when I was visiting Binghamton earlier in the month and both my dad & I couldn't keep enough of them on hand.  There's a cool story behind this English-style ale from their website: "In 2000, the Lake Placid Pub was a stop for some White House interns accompanying Hillary Clinton on a trip through the area as she contemplated running for the Senate. The interns enjoyed the atmosphere and especially enjoyed Ubu Ale, the brewery's flagship beer. After hearing the story of Ubu's namesake, the friendly chocolate lab with a nose for great beer, the interns decided to bring some of the deep garnet English Strong Ale to President Clinton as a gift. Once he tried the brew, the President had the White House aides call the Pub to get more Ubu Ale for a party at the White House!"

Taste: silky smooth with a caramel malty finish--delicious!
Color:  deep brown with maroonish tones
Thickness: mild to moderate with a cream colored head of bubbles that create a pretty froth
ABV: 7%
MomFactoid: Story on the bottle says that the village of Lake Placid, NY, was once a home to a legendary chocolate lab named Ubu! My kids would LOVE a dog as would the husband but honestly, I think we're a cat family.  What about you?

Keeping with the dog theme, let's move onto Abita's Turbo Dog, which is a dark brown ale brewed with Willamette hops along with crystal and chocolate malts.  This brewery is located in Louisiana but their beers can be found nationwide & their Purple Haze is one that I look forward to reviewing in the warmer weather, which should be here soon! 
Back to their flagship brew, the Turbo Dog:

Taste: Very smooth with roasted nuts and chocolate bursts in each sip
Color:  Super dark brown with an almost tan head of frothy bubbles
Thickness:  Moderate to rich; not overwhelmingly thick
ABV: 5.6%
Mom Factoid:  Thinking that a trip to the Gulf Coast would be a great family trip.  Anyone been there & can recommend spots to visit, besides New Orleans?

I'm lacking a smooth transition from dogs to Sam Adams seasonal Noble Pils, but most days I don't have smooth transitions with my kids when we move from one activity to the next, but move on we do.  So, the Noble Pils, a traditional Bohemian Pilsner, is an award winning brew from Sam Adams.  According to its label, it is one of the only brews that uses all 5 Noble hops from the world's oldest growing region.  Moreover, the seasonal late winter released beer, from January to March, is a reminder to us that the warm days of spring are just a few weeks away.

Taste: According to the husband, he tastes flowers! Not sure which ones, but I agree that there is a floral spring quality in the sip with a crisp finish that isn't bitter!

Color:  Goldish bronze with yellow undertones
Thickness:  light and airy
ABV: 4.9%
Mom Factoid:  I recently traveled to Boston to see a Harvard Women's Lacrosse game & driving along Storrow Drive brought back tremendous memories of having attended school at BC. I can't wait to road trip again & explore the Boston Aquarium & Science Museum with the little duo!  Perhaps, for the sake of the blog, I can fit in a stop at a Beantown brew pub too!

From Harvard we move on to the Portland brewery, Rising Tide, and its newest release, their Daymark American Pale Ale. According to the bottle, a Daymark is a navigational tool used on the water, which connects, in my mind, to the rowers one always views while driving along the Charles River (which I did last weekend when I was heading into Harvard Stadium to view the women's lacrosse game). However, it wasn't the name that captured my attention of this brew, it was the bright yellow label.  Wow!  I immediately equated the vibrant label to spring and even further to daffodils and Easter. Given this was last week, when I was grabbing sandwiches at the Cheese Iron in Scarborough, I had to hope that warmer weather was approaching & that spring was lingering.  This internal hope was realized when the temperatures reached close to 70 degrees and the sun was shining brightly on Easter, here in the Portland region. The Daymark is a perfect selection for a sunny, joyous day.

Taste: light & slightly sweet; not lemony rather a dew drop scent and taste in the mouth
Color: bronzed caramel coin
Thickness:  very light with minimal bubbles & head
ABV: 5.5%
Mom Factoid:  Dedicating this review to a close friend's mother, who's favorite color was yellow & who sadly died two years ago, during the month of April from lung cancer. I thought of you, Jeannette, and your beautiful family when I toasted my glass of Daymark on Easter!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ithaca Beer Company's Excelsior! Series

I had VERY good intentions of trying to come up with a brew challenge during March Madness but couldn't quite pull it off this year....perhaps, Thing 1 and Thing 2 had something to do with my lack of time! So, onward and upward, a motto which works out perfectly with the beers I have had the privilege of tasting lately.  My friend, Jeff O'Neil, affiliated with the Ithaca Beer Company, sent along speciality beers from their Excelsior! Series for me to enjoy. 
The Excelsior! Series is IBC's:
  • "handcrafted speciality beers, issued in extremely limited runs. They meld complimentary flavors while defying existing style guidelines.  These beers are unfiltered, hand-packaged and bottle-conditioned.  Each one is alive, has a unique personality and may be cellared indefinitely." 
The two Excelsior! Series beers that I will review, as the blog's twelfth and thirteenth beers, are: White Gold and Thirteen Anniversary Ale.  I will save the Sour Blueberry Ale for later this spring or summer.

Both the White Gold and Thirteen came in pint bottles with unique labels describing their contents. The White Gold is characterized as a "Rustic Pale Wheat Ale" with Belgian influence. Additionally, the ale is brewed with "domestic barley and French wheat malts."
The Thirteen is described as a "Double Hoppy Wheat Ale" that has been brewed with "raw and malted wheat and flaked oats, assertively hopped with Citra and Sorachi Ace, spiked with an addition of orange and lemon peel and vigorously fermented with an American Ale Yeast."

Before I give my analysis of these two beers, let me just say that in receiving them, I felt like I had reached rock star status. Yes, Jeff and I are friends, but to taste beers that aren't typically available to the public felt really special and given that I just celebrated a special day--my 35th birthday--it was cool to sample these Excelsior! Series beers as a means of enhancing the celebratory spirit one feels as they age!

Onto the White Gold:

Taste:  a hoppy very full flavored sip with a gardenesque floral scent

Color:  extra golden like a bruised lemon peel

Thickness:  especially bubbly producing a frothy head

ABV: 8%

Now the Thirteen Anniversary Ale:

Taste:  the lemon was very pronounced, but not tart & helped to yield a refreshing sip; very aromatic, smelled like a spring day with each pour

Color:  beautiful orange hues that contrasted the bits of sediment floating in the glass

Thickness:  medium to moderate head; quite smooth

ABV:  Happy Birthday to ME as it was 8.9%

Mom Factoid:  Sometimes, you have to decide when is the best time to get your kids sugared up!  Obviously, there is no magic moment to watch a sugar high, but since it was my birthday, I allowed the cake with an intense sugary frosting to be eaten prior to dinner by the three year old!  It was fun and out of the ordinary and allowed for more time before bed to get the sugar out of her system!  Cheers to a new year and more beer :)  Thanks for reading!
 **If you are interested in learning more about the Excelsior! Series beers, check out this link: