Friday, January 20, 2012

Samuel Adams - Update & Honey Porter Review

It's amazing to consider that one year ago, I began writing this blog.  "Amazing" may sound like an exaggeration but truly, I simply envisioned tasting beer and writing about it for my friends, as a way to have an outlet, from the day to day stay-at-home mom gig.  I didn't realize that through writing about beer, I'd meet great people who do the same thing and beyond. I've met down to earth local, Portland, Maine brewers; "big" time craft brewers like Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head; beer bloggers and social media gurus.  All of them have one constant theme:  sharing the craft beer love aka community onto others.  Which leads me to this next post.  I'm sharing the link to the very first ever Samuel Adams blog post, as a tribute to being the first brewery I ever reviewed. In addition, I met a craft beer buddy, Nick, this past November via Twitter at the Maine Brewers' Fest.  Ironically, he's a Mainer who is now doing the Samuel Adams newly debuted Twitter feed.  If you're on it, follow him at: @SamuelAdams Beer!  Congrats, Nick!  The next time you're back in town, let me know, I owe you a beer! Oh, and if Jim Koch needs a special palate to taste any upcoming beers, you know how to reach me!

Re-Post of my Samuel Adams Honey Porter review--the 1st ever on my blog!
Original post date:  1.7.11: (let's hope it's evident that the blog has evolved)!

The first beer to get reviewed in the blog--an ironic choice in that it has Boston routes as do I (BC alum & former Newton Public Schools Employee--Go Lions & Tigers!).  The fate of being first is not always easy--(1st children know this all too well) & sadly, it is only first because it happened to be the last beer in our refrigerator.  This lonely bottle was part of a six-pack purchased at a small beer store in early December in Scarborough, ME for under $5.00; quite the bargain, as it usually sells for $8 a six-pack.  Being the smart shopper that I am, I scooped it up only to realize, after the fact,that it was on sale because the expiration date was earlier this fall.  Alas, perhaps the taste could have been altered but given my desperation at 5pm, sometimes referred to by moms as the "witching hour," to drink anything with alcohol this past date wasn't a factor to me.  So while I was feeding the 6mos old in his high chair, flipping pancakes and burning pre-cooked bacon, I finagled the bottle opener and poured my first sips. 

Taste:  the honey comes through & definitely leaves you with a sweetness on your tongue
*although it is a porter, it is not overly heavy and very smooth.
**Delicious choice with bacon and pancakes :)
Color:  dark almost like a coke
Thickness:  slight to moderate
Will it help me sleep better? Yes
Mom factoid: honey is a natural way to help little people (older than age 1) when they have a cough or sore throat--just give a teaspoon of honey during cold season!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anchor Brewing Co. Our Special Ale 2011

As told to us on the bottle, "This is the thirty-seventh 'Our Special Ale' from the brewers at Anchor.  It is sold only from early November to mid-January.  The Ale's recipe is different every year, but the intent with which we offer it remains the same:  joy and celebration of the newness of life. Since ancient times, trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew."

Brewery:  Anchor, San Francisco, CA
Style:  Ale brewed with natural flavors & with natural flavors added

Tasting Notes:
Aroma:  Pine, resin, Birch wood & subtle malt notes

Taste:  Malt forward (not overly sweet); husband described as tasting like drinking birch or root beer soda; detect pine flavors throughout but not in a harsh or bitter way.  Really unique and refreshing on the palate.

Color:  Amber stone

Thickness:  Medium to full body; half-inch caramel colored frothy head which lingers and leaves delicate lacing in the glass.  Nicely carbonated.

ABV:  5.5%; feels almost like a "session beer" where you can easily have more than one in a sitting.

Mom Factoid:  This holiday offering from Anchor was one of the top vote getters  in my, "What craft beer should go under my Christmas Tree" poll in December.  I can't believe this is the first year I remember having it.  Let me tell you, I really wish I had sought it out in previous years, as it's truly delicious.  I love the symbolism they describe on their bottle, of trees representing the winter solstice and the idea that there is a rebirth when the seasons change.  I think it's neat that a brewery puts some depth into it's beers.  Cheers!

Special Note:  I picked a Tuesday to review this beer as a shout out to my friends over at Brew England who coined the term:  'Tuesday Tasting' on their awesome craft beer blog.  It is an honor to have been asked by them to draw your attention to an upcoming event in March, called 'Cure Me I'm Irish'.  Please check out their website at for further information on this worthwhile fundraising event & the breweries involved.  Thank you!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pretty Things Saint Botolph's Town

Brewery: Pretty Things from Westport, MA
Twitter: @prettybeer

Style: Rustic Brown Ale
Bottle Notes:  "This beer is inspired by Northern English dark ales and by St. Botolph, an Anglo-Saxon saint who gave Boston its name."  "Saint Botolph's Town is a malty brown ale made with barley from Yorkshire and a blend of two yeast strains."

Aroma:  Figs, malt, & dried fruit notes

Taste: Malt forward with caramel tones intertwined.  Similarly, like the aroma, I detect a harmonious union of figs & dried fruit notes.  Very little, if any bitterness in the finish. Quite a pleasant sipper, particularly on a cold night!

Color:  Roasted deep brown chestnuts

Thickness:  Beautiful lacing along the edges of the glass, coupled with a lingering top layer of a small yet creamy head ,which doesn't dissipate.  Overall, it has a balanced carbonation with a medium to full, silky, smooth body.

ABV:  5.9%

Mom Factoid:  Picked this bottle up over New Year's weekend while staying with family in Sudbury.  I had heard wonderful things regarding another offering from them, Jack D'or, a Farmhouse Saison beer, which I also brought back with me to Maine.  I tremendously enjoyed the Jack but didn't take notes & the bottle was finished before I thought to do it.  So, last night, I was prepared for my tasting of the Saint Botolph's.  I look forward to grabbing more offerings, these two included, the next time I'm in Massachusetts.  Not only are their bottles "pretty," their beer is delicious!  Cheers to discovering new craft beer in 2012!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Maine Beer Company News

A short & wonderful documentary on the Maine Beer Company was released and can be accessed here:

Located in Portland, ME, I've been enjoying their beers for the past year and have reviewed their Mean Old Tom & Lunch. Check them out below:
Mean Old Tom Review
Lunch Review

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Beer Advent Calendar Day 25: Gritty's Christmas Ale

Happy New Year!  I've been on an unplanned hiatus from the blog due to traveling over the holidays.  I did have an opportunity to post a guest review over on the Beer Advent Calendar on Christmas Day!  Talk about coming full circle--one year ago, I was contemplating starting a craft review blog & one year later, I was invited to participate in a collaborative craft beer bloggers project, with fellow bloggers from all over the country.  How cool is that?  Just goes to show, if you pay attention to your internal voice, the one that nudges you to take risks, good things will follow.  I hope you all had a wonderful 2011 & a here's a virtual toast to an even better 2012!  Cheers!

Beer Advent Calendar, Day 25:
Who doesn't love a beer with the promise of Christmas in each sip?  I don't actually mean the "taste" of Christmas that one might associate with other holiday brews.  You know, those that have:  nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, all-spice, vanilla bean, honey, pine, miseltoe etc...No, Gritty's Christmas Ale contains zero additives, fruits or spices.  This beer is more about celebrating the spirit of Christmas, here in Maine than it is about attempting to artificially taste it.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a winter warmer beer that has a variety of holidayish flavors, but what I appreciate about this Christmas Ale is it's simplicity.  I think sometimes in the race to buy our gifts we forget what the true spirit of the holidays is (more on this topic below in Mom Factoid).  Interestingly, thanks to Gritty McDuff's clever packaging, they give you the image of Santa, in full regalia with his white beard, red hat and stockings stuffed with bottles of beer on the mantle. For me, this image evokes the perfect motif for a craft beer lovers Christmas celebration with family & friends during the holiday season.

Aroma: Malt balls with a subtle hint of caramel creme candy
Color:  Pours a roasted chestnut brown with reddish hues glistening throughout the glass.
Taste:  Malt forward with carmel notes on the tongue with a burst of mild bitterness on the finish. Balanced & clean on the palate. 
Thickness:  A medium to full body with a small quarter inch tan head that fades quickly.  Yet, there's pretty icicle-like lacing that hangs around throughout the tasting.  Carbonation is balanced.
ABV:  6.2%;  Not that high of an abv for a winter warmer styled beer, which results in easily consuming more than one in a sitting.

Mom Factoid:  As mentioned earlier, in the intro, I noted that sometimes in the race to buy our gifts, we forget what the true spirit of the holidays is.  Particularly, as a parent, coach and/or teacher, one of our greatest daily challenges is to set a good example for the children we interact with.  I find that the holidays can often bring out the worst in others with the mounting stress to buy more presents, without examining that it's in the shared act of giving that we truly gain an appreciation for what we have.  These can be complex issues to work through but, what's been wonderful about blogging, this past year, has been the daily reminder that there is a collaborative spirit that exists between others.  It's a spirit of sharing ideas, supporting each other's experiences and providing feedback that allows each of us to grow, not just our blogs but also ourselves.  Truly, this Advent Craft Beer Calendar is a perfect example of the collaborative spirit--one that symbolizes being part of a community. It is this simple recognition, that we are not alone but part of a bigger world, that I hope to pass on to my Little Duo, as being the true essence of Christmas.   

About Gritty's: