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Posts tagged Pale Ale

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Westbrook Brett & No Mices

Westbrook Brewing Co.

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Brett & No Mices Belgian-style Pale Ale

6.4% ABV

I really do love what Brett can do to a beer, imparting a good funk but a nice, rich taste and sweetness. I also love barrel-aged beers, what with their oakiness and slight bite. And, I love Westbrook, easily South Carolina’s most adventurous brewery, which continues to crank out one awesome beer after another.

So when Westbrook puts out a Belgian-style pale ale brewed with Brett, aged in barrels for 10 months and then dry-hopped, well … I’m probably going to love it. That’s just what Brett & No Mices is, another entry in the Mt. Pleasant brewery’s barrel room series (and quite a barrel room it is).

This baby pours a murky copper orange color with about two fingers of a tight white bubbly head. There’s a really nice carbonation streaming up the edges of the glass. The lacing’s pretty weak and it’s got some mild alcohol legs to it, but it’s quite a nice looking brew.

A big Brett funk and a major oak character punches you in the nose on first whiff. There’s a touch of fruits, maybe a slight pineapple or orange. Definitely some wine characteristics, and a bit of apple and pear.

On the tip of the tongue you get a slight pinch of tartness. It’s got kind of a lighter mouthfeel and really good carbonation throughout. The funk is very prevalent on the end and the oak really shines through right at the back. I got a very mild toffee and raisin flavor toward the middle of the palate. It’s got a dry finish, which is a nice way to end it.

The nose on Brett & No Mices is more layered than the beer turns out tasting, but the taste isn’t any less delicious. The barrel aging blended with the magic of the Brett is a great mix, and all the characteristics of both are very present. Another winner.

Filed under Westbrook Belgian Brett pale ale

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Dogfish Head Pangaea

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Milton, DE

Pangaea Belgian Pale Ale

7% ABV

And again we go back to Dogfish Head, this time for one that’s been around a while, but I’ve never gotten to try.

Pangaea is a Belgian pale ale originally designed to be a way to unite people during the holidays as one would unite the continents before they shifted into the world as we know it. And of course, with it being Dogfish, there’s nothing simple about this beer.

The beer is brewed with an ingredient taken from each contient, including: Australian crystalized ginger; Asian basmati rice; Africa muscavado sugar; South American quinoa; European yeast; North American maize; and - my favorite - water from Antarctica. Again, another mouthful of ingredients.

(Note: The particular bottle I had was bottled in 2010 and has been in my cellar for about a year. Results may vary if you find a younger batch.)

The beer pours a really nice deep orange, almost brown in color. There’s a slight haziness to it which fades as it warms. Topped with a finger of bubbly head. Not much lacing but some surprisingly strong alcohol legs.

Ginger’s the first big thing on the nose, and that’s backed with a musty sweetness and a big bread quality. The mustiness is a bit off-putting, but the honey does an interesting job of balancing it. The grains definitely give it kind of a fresh-baked bread quality. Overall, it’s a big, thick, funky and bready beer.

The honey and ginger are the first tastes that really pop on the tongue. There’s a nice medium body along with some slight carbonation. As it settles on the back, it’s as if eating a spoonful of honey. Very thick and syrupy sweetness with a bit of caramel to it. A slight hop bite as well. That big bread note is very present as it warms and pops up on the end, lingering along with the sweeter flavors. Big grain quality and big rich somewhat cloying sweetness are what’s the most noticeable.

While not one of my favorite Dogfish beers, Pangaea again sticks with the trend of who-the-hell-thought-of-this style with interesting, unique and generally tasty results. The bread characteristic and sweetness are a nice touch, and the ginger definitely adds a pop to it. 

Filed under Dogfish Belgian pale ale

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Terrapin 10th Anniversary Ale

Terrapin Beer Co.

Athens, GA

10th Anniversary Belgian Strong Pale Ale

10% ABV

This past April, Terrapin celebrated 10 years of brewing amazing beers with the release of the special anniversary ale. The Belgian strong pale ale features Euler’s Identity, a mathematical equation from Leonard Euler that is considered one of the most beautiful calculations ever devised. Also, it equals out to 10, so there you go. (Fun challenge: Drink a bottle by yourself and then go on to try and work out the equation. Alcohol and math go so well together.)

This thing was a beast of a brew. It features Chouffe yeast, coriander, two types of orange peel, chamomile and Nelson Sauvin hops, all in a smooth Belgian-style ale. Fittingly complex, given the mathematical behemoth that accompanies the bottle.

The color is a crystal clear deep yellow with no head to speak of, although there is a nice heady film on top. Accordingly, there’s no lacing, but there are so strong alcohol legs.

On the nose is a huge blast of melon. It’s a honeydew and cantaloupe bomb coupled with a great sweetness from the Belgian yeast. That also imparts a bit of a bubblegum note along with a kind of sooth, syrupy sweetness.

The mouthfeel is very smooth. There’s just a slight hop bite on the front of the tongue, followed by a really rich melon sweetness throughout. There are hints of grape, pineapple, orange and citrus, and spices. It’s a very rich, mellow beer that completely hides the alcohol. 

Filed under Belgian Terrapin Pale Ale

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Ommegang BPA

Brewery Ommegang

Cooperstown, NY

BPA (Belgian-style Pale Ale)

6.2% ABV

I’ve always enjoyed Belgian-style beers. For an aspiring beer geek, something such as Hoegaarden - which was one of the earliest “craft” beers I tried - can be a gateway to other, more complex styles. When it comes to stateside, Ommegang has stood with the best of them for as long as I’ve been a fan of craft beer.

The New York-based brewery has always cranked out solid beers, from their rarer releases to the year-round offerings, which include BPA. This Cascade dry-hopped pale ale blends the crispness of a pale with the smoothness the Belgian yeast imparts on any beer it’s brewed with. Having not enjoyed a BPA in a long time - and being gifted a Ommegang sampler pack at a recent wedding shower - I figured to give it another go-around.

BPA has an opaque and hazy deep yellowish orange color. On top is a finger of a bubbly head that flattens out into a nice film that lingers on top of the beer. There’s some light lacing and alcohol legs as well.

The dry-hopping gives off a big juicy tropical fruits on the nose. There are major notes of peach, orange juice and papaya, along with some light grape and pear notes. As with Belgian-style beers, there’s a very smooth smell from the yeast and definitely a hint of esters, which impart a rich banana bread quality.

There’s much more of a bite to the taste than on the nose. The carbonation hits the front of your tongue and washes over the inside of your mouth at first. There’s kind of a dull tartness that remains on the tip of the tongue, like biting into a green apple, which I guess comes from the dry-hopping. There’s that classic tart and tangy Belgian note along with hints of grape, orange and melon on the back. Overall, there’s a dry mouthfeel and dry finish.

BPA is drier and a little more biting than other Belgian-style beers I’ve tried, yet it still has those characteristics and qualities that made me fall in love with the style in the first place. The rich body, the tartness and wealth of flavors and overall drinkability of a beer. Definitely a nice twist on the pale ale style

Filed under Ommegang pale ale Belgian

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Westbrook Single Hop: Pacific Jade

Westbrook Brewing Co.

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Single Hop: Pacific Jade Rye Pale Ale

6.1% ABV

I’ve talked before about my less-than-enjoyable visits to Westbrook Brewing down on South Carolina’s coast. But whatever reservations I have about the facility itself, the same can’t be said about the products they put out. With a little more than a year under their belt, the brewery has continued to put out an increasingly-impressive line beers. One of their latest releases is (I believe) the first in a series that will explore single hopping, starting with Pacific Jade.

A sessionable rye pale ale, the beer uses a new hop strain from New Zealand, which is becoming a mecca of new hop strains lately. The hop is marketed as having a spicy and citrusy flavor to it, which seems smart considering it’s used with a rye pale ale.

The beer has a hazy orange color to it with two fingers of a pillowy head on top. Nice lacing and a bit of alcohol legs as well.

There’s a really great smell to it which, to me, resembled ripe, rich starfruit. There’s a bit of an orange juice smell and other juicy citrus, with a very slight astringency and a slight black pepper note. There’s a slight bite from the rye, but not much.

The starfruit really pops on the tastebuds, and the carbonation pinches the insides of your cheeks. Really rich orange juice and grapefruit notes are very present as well. It’s got a very smooth mouthfeel and a bite from the rye, which is much more prevalent than on the nose. The rye is balanced out really well by the citrus in the hops. There’s a slight bready malt note on the back. Overall, extremely easy drinking.

Westbrook seems to be always trying something new. There’s usually one or two new releases hitting the shelves every couple of months, with each seeming better than the previous. I love single hop beers and being able to deconstruct the specific ins and outs of each hop on its own. If Westbrook keeps up with this series, I’ll keep coming back for more.

Filed under review westbrook rye pale ale

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Three Floyds Alpha King

Three Floyds Brewing Co.

Munster, IN

Alpha King Pale Ale

6.6% ABV

Back again with another Three Floyds review, this time with an offering in one of my favorite styles: the pale ale.

I love IPAs, but there are times when the richness of the beer can be a little too much, especially when you want to enjoy something on the porch during the blazing South Carolina summers. Pale ales can still deliver the hoppiness I’m looking for, but in a drier, crisper package. While it’s not as good as Zombie Dust - one of the best pale ales I’ve tried - Alpha King is still pretty good.

Alpha King is brewed with Cascade, Warrior and Centennial hops, which give it a really grassy and citrus-forward hop character. It’s a bit darker for a pale ale, pouring a hazy brown shade of orange. There’s two fingers of a tight-bubbled head on top. The lacing is absolutely gorgeous. It grabs hold to the sides of the glass and doesn’t let go.

There’s a great punch of grapefruit on the nose. I got a slight resinous hop character to it with a bit of a pine note on the back. It’s a very floral nose, with hints of lemon, a little pineapple and other citrus.

On the front of the tongue is a sort of muted bitterness and some nice carbonation throughout the mouth. The citrus definitely shines through on this one, with some nice grass and pine notes throughout the mouth. There’s a surprising amount of malt on the back end. A really strong caramel note with a kind of bready character sticks to the back of your tongue. Yet there’s still that drier crispness you’d expect from a pale ale.

Filed under review three floyds Pale Ale

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Three Floyds Zombie Dust

Three Floyds Brewing Company

Munster, IN

Zombie Dust Pale Ale

6.4% ABV

In an effort to make my way through the “must have” beers for hop heads, there are a few that have eluded me due mainly to breweries not distributing anywhere in my area. Indiana’s Three Floyds is one of those breweries. I have a bottle of Boogoop - the barleywine they did in collaboration with Mikkeller - in my cellar, but other than that hadn’t tried any of their other beers.

Fortunately, as has been the case lately, my beer geek friends come through and hook me up.

I’ve heard Zombie Dust, their single-hopped Citra pale ale, referred to as the best pale ale in the country. I’m partial to the bite of Oskar Blues' Dale's Pale Ale, but after trying a bottle of ZD, I may found a contender.

The beer has a great sunset orange color to it that’s yellowish around the edges. There’s a finger worth of a rocky head on top and a bit of lacing, as well as some carbonation coming up the sides.

The pungent citrus notes from the Citra are very prevalent on the nose. There’s orange and grapefruit and a hint of astringency. There’s also bread notes from the malts. It’s a very rich, but mellower hop smell that’s just excellent.

There’s a strong punch of hop bitterness right on the front of the tongue. Throughout the mouth, I got a really prevalent biscuity malt flavor, similar to New Belgium beers. However, that flushes out to great citrus notes - orange juice, pineapple and papaya. The bitterness kicks in on the back again, but the balance between the hoppiness and maltiness is really nice.

Zombie Dust is a superb pale ale, and I think people are totally justified in calling it the best of its style in the country. Having no access to it on a regular basis, I can’t call it the definitive winner in my opinion, but it’s a strong contender. And of course, I really hope this isn’t my last bottle. 

Filed under review three floyds pale ale