Not Your Father’s Root Beer by Small Town

Not Your Father's Root Beer by Small Town Brewing

© popsonhops

Tasting: April 26, 2015
Style: Flavored Ale
Beer #: 739
ABV: 5.9%

Not Your Father’s Root Beer by Small Town Brewing

A text to my sister-in-law in Pennsylvania led to her sending her boyfriend off to The Beer Store in Southhampton to nab me a case of this — well — beer. The brewer was at the store and he was pouring samples for the customers of this unique brew that apparently tastes more like root beer than beer. I love root beer so this certainly piqued my curiosity. Based on the sample, the advance scouting report from my sister-in-law’s boyfriend was – “well, it’s interesting”. Oh boy, maybe it’s just bad beer covered up with some semblance spices.

I guess technically, Not Your Father’s Root Beer is brewed like an ale and that ale is amped up spices out the wazoo. Enough wazoo packing spices that it resembles more soda than beer. At 5.9% alcohol by volume this aligns with an average pale ale or sessionable ale.

My fears of an odd tasting beer were quickly allayed after I took my first sip. It is absolutely delicious. It tastes exactly like a root beer heavy on the birch flavor and low on that fructose liquid artificially flavored root beer we buy in two liter bottles. This truly is a replica of an old-fashioned root beer and has a syrupy sweetness to offset the woodsy spice flavors. I’m also not sure what to do with a score for this ale. It is excellent and I guess I’ll stick with just calling it as I taste it and I’ll happily put Not Your Father’s Root Beer at 93 points.

Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Ale

Tasting: April 30, 2015
Style: Flavored Ale
Beer #: 740
ABV: 4.8%

One good turn deserves another. I enjoyed this alcoholic soda deal so much with my experience with Not Your Father’s Root Beer that I went back to the store to pick up a single bottle of this alcoholic ginger ale by Scottish Brewer, Crabbie’s. I’m finding the same authentic flavor. Not sickly sweet like the two-liter cousin. This has spicy, real ginger flavor. A bit more carbonation than the root beer but not a lot. I like this one a lot as well – 92 points.

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4 Elf by Dark Horse

4 Elf Winter Warmer by Dark Horse Brewing, Marshall, Michigan

© 2014 popsonhops

Tasting: December 6, 2014
Style: Old Ale
Beer #: 662

4 Elf by Dark Horse

Thankfully, most of the pumpkin ales have either disappeared or have hit the bargain bin. If you’ve read this blog even semi-regularly, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of pumpkin ale. Each year, I’ll try one or two with the lowest of expectations in hopes of being marginally surprised. I don’t know, a weak beer jacked up with the periphery accent spices in pumpkin pie just doesn’t do it for me. However, this year my patience paid off and I found pumpkin respectability in Rumpkin from Avery (91 points) – a massive 16.74% alcohol by volume (ABV) beast and Almanac’s Heirloom Pumpkin (90 points) – a barrel-aged barleywine.

That being said, I’m not a fan of holiday or Christmas ales either. These ales tend to have a similar spice base of cinnamon, clove and ginger. So again, I go into the season in hopes of finding one I can call a favorite. I’ve picked a couple for this year – 4 Elf from Dark Horse and Sleigh’r from Ninkasi.

4 Elf is also the name of Dark Horse Brewings annual holiday event. It marks the brewery-location release of bourbon-barrel aged (BBA) Plead the Fifth and other brew house rarities. This year, it happens next Saturday, December 13th. According to Dark Horse’s website, the brewery has 42,816 bottles of the BBA Plead the Fifth for sale. Hopefully, some hit the trade market soon thereafter. They also offer a rum-barrel version of 4 Elf and they’ll have 4,320 available next weekend.

Anyway, onto 4 Elf the beer. It’s billed as a winter warmer and at 8.75% ABV, it could deliver some heat. Nose is of the familiar fall spice – ginger, nutmeg and clove. Some roasted grain flavor tucked underneath. Does have some mild heat. This is a one and done – it’s eh – 84 points.

Read my thoughts on Rumpkin Here

Read my thoughts on Heirloom Pumpkin Here

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Gose by Westbrook

Tasting: September 27, 2014
Style: Gose
Beer #: 621

© 2014 popsonhops

© 2014 popsonhops

Gose – pronounced (gos-uh) is ale that originated in Goslar, Germany in the 16th century. This salty and sour wheat beer nearly went extinct with the 1966 death of the last brew master in Leipzig producing the style. But Gose has had resurgence in Germany and with the growing popularity of “sour” or “wild” ales it has found a niche in the US craft beer market.

A little about “wild” or “sour” ales – while yeast is the most popular organism used to ferment beer – some brewers use wild yeast or bacteria to ferment beer. The bacteria used are harmless but move quicker than yeast to eat fermentable sugars and (like yeast) will convert these sugars to alcohol and carbonation. In Gose, a lactic acid bacteria is used.

If you’ve read this blog – or at least looked at my list of six-hundred plus beers – you’ll notice very little in the way of wild or sour ales. I think I’ve had two and did not like either experience. I think I described one as one part beer, one part wine and one part vinegar. I vowed to keep checking back on the style thinking that my evolving palate would catch up with this immensely popular style.

I didn’t buy this offering from Westbrook, it came as an extra in a trade that featured (no surprise) a stout from Westbrook – Mexican Cake.

Only 5 IBU and 4% ABV. The label adds that Gose is made with sea salt and coriander. It’s definitely a jolt to the tastebuds with some sharp apple cider and lemon out of the gate. Prickly to the tongue. It takes a while to settle a bit and to pick up a tad bit of saltiness on the finish. My tastebuds can’t seem to find the coriander either. This is certainly not as sour as the other sour ales I’ve had. I can see how people enjoy the style – it really is crisp and refreshing. On the plus side, I’ll say that I’m enjoying the aftertaste. Overall, I’m just not there on sours yet. 72 points

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Dwarf Invasion B Nektar

B Nektar Dwarf Invasion

© 2013 popsonhops

Dwarf Invasion
Tasting: December 7, 2013
Style: Mead (honey wine)
Beer #: 505

A couple of years ago, my brother-in-law Dave set up several beehives on his property. His yield was remarkable this year and he provided me with eight pounds of his prized bamboo flower honey. Coincidentally, the perfect amount to make a couple of gallons of sweet mead. The photo shows the blackberry on the left and the blueberry on the right (black & blue theme). I’ve made mead before – once such batch was for my wedding since it is purported that the term honeymoon comes from mead. The story goes that if the couple drank mead (honey) for one month (a moon) that a son would be born. I guess I made a time release batch as we were blessed with two sons albeit twelve and fourteen years later.

I’ve seen honey-based beer called “braggot” to me Mead is more akin to wine. However, the mead I made for my wedding was carbonated with the strength of champagne. A few popped their caps during the course of the day. This mead is made with honey, cherries and they indicate on the label that they added hops. It checks in at a beer-like ABV of 6%.

I like the label – reminds me of my kid’s latest obsession – Clash of Clans. On the label, they explain that dwarfs are the little craft brewers taking on the giant beer conglomerates. Their website tells a different and more interesting tale of the legend of the Detroit Dwarf. The dwarf would appear randomly throughout Detroit history and is thought to be a bad omen. My friend Mark is a big Lions fan – I’ll have to pass on this explanation.

Pours a rich red color. No or little carbonation – so, to me, it would be more mead than braggot. Big time fruit – a sweet and sour cherry bomb. It takes a few sips to let your palate wrap itself around the explosion. Sour undertone like a Belgian Lambic. Not picking up any of the hop influence. It is refreshing. I think the 500 ml is a bit too much for me – it would be perfect to share with a few friends. If you are into the cider craze – this might be a nice alternative. For a cross-over style – it’s nice 85 points. I can only hope my batch comes out as well.

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