Red Nectar Ale, Humboldt Brown Ale Firestone Walker, now Humboldt Brewing Company.

Is it nectar?

Nectar Red Nectar & Humboldt Brown

My blog entries are usually pretty rushed. It goes like this – I come home from work, blow through my chores and grab a beer before dinner and try to type about the beer while I’m actually drinking it. My wife complains that I’m sitting on the computer while I could be making salads or setting the table and the kids usually chime in with “are you taking more pictures of beer”? That explains why most of my photographs are taken from my walk from my beer fridge to the kitchen counter top. If you’ve seen my blog photos (like this one), you’re probably well acquainted with my basement stairs. I’m trying to be more efficient and taking pictures in advance – so, I hope that you’ve noticed that my photos are becoming a bit diverse. This one was taken with a fun phone app called Paper Camera.

Firestone Walker recently announced that they have decided to sell their Nectar brand. From their point of view, I can understand that they wanted to clear out some production space to concentrate on their own brands. I’m curious about this brand’s future as it wasn’t purchased by another brewer but rather a beer, wine and liquor distributor. I suspect they’ll either flip the brand or contract a new brewer. In the meantime, these are a couple of samples under the Firestone Walker ownership.

Nectar – Red Nectar
Tasting: July 26, 2012
Style: Ale (Red)
ABV: 5.4%

This red ale won a gold medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival in the American Style Amber/Red Ale category. This one is a little darker than I expected — a rich reddish brown in color. Caramel malt aromas – first sip is very subdued. It certainly has some of the things you’d look for in a red ale — like nice caramel/toffee malts evenly balanced by earthy/spicy hops. Frankly, it’s a watered down version of the style when compared to the likes of Great Lakes’ Nosferatu (90 points) or Bear Republic’s Red Rocket (89 points). Thin mouthfeel and muted flavor. To be fair, this is a beer that has been produced for twenty plus years and probably was considered cutting edge at one time. If you are a craft beer newbie — it’s a good bridge beer…I certainly wouldn’t turn it down if I was offered one…84 points.

Nectar – Humboldt Brown
Tasting: July 27, 2012
Style: Ale (Hemp)
ABV: 5.7%

Although hemp is commonly associated with marijuana, hemp is a term for a particular type of Cannabis (Marijuana) plant. It has very low THC (the stuff that gets you high). Hemp is a fibrous plant and it is used for a variety of purposes including paper, textiles, plastics, insulation, health food and even bio-fuel. Hemp is legally grown in many countries across the world including Spain, China, Japan, Korea, France, North Africa and Ireland. I can’t say that hemp seeds in beer are a new idea as I recall having a hemp ale about 25 years ago. The seeds are supposed to add a nutty quality to the beer. Personally, I think it’s just a ploy — playing on people’s misunderstanding of hemp and it’s relationship to marijuana. Wow! Beer made from pot, we should buy that!

Some quick tasting notes on Humboldt Brown. It has a nice enough malt profile of caramel and brown sugar. I don’t really get any nuttiness or hops — just that subtle sweetness. Here again like the Nectar, it’s a bit underwhelming. Nice and all — but not that memorable. I’ll label it 78 points.

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