Monday, November 21, 2011

Beer Review | Terrapin: Hopsecutioner

Terrapin: Hopsecutioner

The review is a supplement to the youtube review that I did.  You can view that review at the link below.   Rating = 96   Rating = 87

Rating: ''A"
In the video, I rated this at a B+.  However that was a few years ago, so I'm not changing my rating to an A.

Style: IPA
Color: Brilliant Orange
ABV: 7.2%
IBU: 78
Malt: 2-row pale, Munich malt. pale crystal, and 24 lov Victory malts.
Hops: Warrior, Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, and Amarillo.  Then Dry-Hopped with Cascade

Bottle Code:
A best before date notched into the side of the label.

- $1.79 - Single 12oz bottle
- $9.49 - for a 6 pack

The Pour:

The head was absolutely pitiful. Even with a vigorous pour,  there was absolutely none. However, when I swirl the beer around, it froths up.  But then dissipates almost immediately.


The beer was very hazy.  I was expecting a perfectly clear beer.  But it was not.


There's a nice bright piney, resiny hop aroma right up front.
There's the slightest bit of citrusy hop character. It's just peeks through.
There's a hop sweetness, much not much of a sweet maltiness.
It smells like it's going to be a bit on the drier side.
There is no alcohol aroma.


The first thing I noticed was that it had a strong hop bitterness.  It definitely sticks around on your tongue for quite a while.
The citrus in the aroma doesn't really come through in the taste, but the pine definitely does.
It's got a really nice hoppiness with every sip.
The odd thing is, that even though you'd expect there to be a hop fatigue on your tongue,  the hop bite is still really potent.  Which is a really nice refreshing twist because usually after a few sips of a really hoppy beer you begin to just taste... well... beer and not an IPA.


I think hop heads would enjoy this beer immensely.  It's a nice strong beer with wonderful hop aromas.
It you're looking for an IPA that makes your senses go wild but doesn't knock your tongue on it's but from hop fatigue, then this would be a great choice.  It's priced perfectly and it tastes really good.

Worth the Money:

For an IPA of this quality, $9.49 cents for a 6 pack is a pretty good price.  Before I researched the price, I was thinking to myself that $9.50 would be what I'd be willing to pay.  Then after researching the price, I found out that this was, indeed, the cost of this beer.

“Drink what you like.  Enjoy what you drink.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beer Review | Newcastle: Brown Ale

Newcastle: "Brown Ale"   The website is very unhelpful and difficult to navigate.  It's a hipster website that really sucks.  There is nothing about the beer anywhere on the site.    Rating = 44   Rating = 77

Newcastle Brown Ale was originally created by Colonel J. Porter in 1925.  But it took until 1927 to perfect the recipe.

Currently, Newcastle is being brewed by Heineken Intl.  At times, over half of the brewery's output is directed overseas to the U.S.

Style: English Brown Ale
Color: Medium Amber
ABV: 4.7%

Bottle Code:

Varies depending on where you buy it.  But it ranges anywhere from $11.99 to $16.59 for a 6 pack.

12 oz bottles
Cans (In limited areas)


Depending on how vigorously you pour the beer, the head will be somewhere between nonexistent and one pinky finger.
But it only sticks around for a brief period of time then dissipates.


Crystal clear.  Light carbonation.


Very fruity smelling beer.  Just like most English ales.
There's a malt sweetness that is very present in the aroma, but nothing over the top.
There's a light breadiness that evens out the malt sweetness.


The first thing your going to notice is that there's absolutely NO hop character in this beer, which goes right along with the English Brown Ale style.  If there is any hop character at all, it's in the light bitterness.  But really it is only noticeable in the aftertaste, which only sticks around on the back of your tongue for about a minute then disappears.
There's no alcohol taste or presence in this beer.  But I wouldn't expect that from a 4.7% beer.
The pronounced English fruitiness is ever-present in the taste.

Surprisingly, in the bottle that I reviewed, there was none of that Import-Clear-Bottle-Skunkiness.  This was certainly refreshing, as I've never had a bottle of Newcastle that wasn't completely skunked.

Is it Worth the Money?  "No"
This beer was on sale at my local grocery store for $12.99 for a 12 pack.  That's down from it's normal price of $16.59.  However, at my local beer and wine store for $11.99.

I just can't see myself paying nearly $18.00 (after tax) for the regular grocery store price.  Not when it's only $11.99 down the street.

Since there's such a wide price-range on this beer, if your heart is dead set on buying Newcastle, seek out the best price.  Don't just go to your favorite grocery store and lay down nearly $18 when it can be much cheaper at another store.

This is just too over priced for what it's delivering to the senses.



Rating:  "C"

I feel like the flavors and aromas are so light and muted that this beer just isn't bringing much to the table.

If you're looking for a flavorful beer that you can drink quite a few of, this is not the beer for you.  It doesn't really taste like much.  However, yes you can drink a ton of them and not even get buzzed.

I guess you could consider this a nice transitional beer for someone looking to dip their toes into the craft beer world.  But would I call this a craft beer?  Definitely not.

This is what I consider the English equivalent to a Budweiser looking like, at least mass marketing-wise.

If I'm going to spend nearly $18 on a 12pk of anything, it's going to be something like Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada or a more flavorful beer than this.  Something that I can sit back and relax and have one or two and be completely satisfied.  Newcastle just doesn't give me that sense of satisfaction.

This almost feels like a novelty beer to me.  For example:
I bring this to a party because I'm trying ot make a statement. It says, "Look at me.  I'm sophisticated because I drink import beer."  While everyone else is downing BMC beers, I'm "sipping" on Newcastle.  Sipping... mostly because it's too expensive to chug.

Although, you might have the experience of bringing this beer, and others strike up a conversation with you because of the beer.  They'll ask you questions about what you're drinking, and then the conversation migrates to other topics.

So if you're interested in the social interaction aspect of this beer, then you might be willing to fork out the extra cash for the beer.  But I guess that's for you to decide.

A point of advice when shopping for this beer...  I've always complained about how this beer usually  has that clear bottle import skunkiness like Heineken and Corona.  But as long as you don't buy it off the shelf where it's been sitting in direct light (even fluorescent light), then you should be alright.  Personally, I always get the pack that's all the way on the back of the shelf.

Always buy the 12 pack of bottles or the cans because the packaging shields the beer from the harmful rays.  If you buy the 6 packs, there is more surface area exposed to the light which will skunk the beer faster.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beer Review | Piggly Wiggly's: Pig Tail Ale

Piggly Wiggly's: "Pig Tale Ale
Contract Brewed by: Thomas Creek Brewery

Serving Type: 6 pack of 12oz bottles.
ABV: 5.5%
Cost: $7.99 for a 6 pack.

For those of you living in the coastal regions of South Carolina, then you're probably familiar with the grocery store called "Piggly Wiggly."  They recently joined the ranks of 'Costco' 'Trader Joes' and 'Walgreens' by releasing their own store-branded beer.

  • Costco: "Kirkland Signature Series"
  • Trader Joes: "Name Tag Lager"
  • Walgreens: "Big Flats 1901"

Now Piggly Wiggly has their own, "Pig Swig" which hit shelves on Memorial Day 2011.

It comes in two different styles:

  • Lager: "Pig Pen Pilsner"
  • Ale: "Pig Tail Ale"

Both are covertly being contract-brewed by a local (Upstate South Carolina) brewery named 'Thomas Creek Brewery.'  The premier craft brewer in the upstate.  

Point of fact:

They are only about 15 minutes from my house.

You can buy this beer exclusively at corporately run Piggly Wiggly stores.  But the independently run store may or may not carry it.  The one I went to didn't, and the manager said that it was up to the individual stores.

The Pour:

When it was first poured, there was about two inches of a nice creamy head.  
It's a really deep amber color. 
It looks like there may be some crystal malts. (possibly 40 or 60, or maybe both).  
There may be a small percentage of some dark roasted malts as well.

The Aroma:

It smells similar to an English Brown Ale.
There's a pronounced maltiness with a very light hop character.
It's definitely got an English fruitiness about it.

The Taste:

Just like it smelled, it tastes just like an English Brown Ale.
It's very similar to New Castle, again with the pronounced maltiness and a very light English hop character.
It definitely has that characteristic English Fruitiness in the taste.
They possibly used an English ale yeast, which typically imparts those fruity flavors.

If I were to guess, I'd say this was the same beer as Thomas Creek's "Appalachian Amber Ale" rebranded for Piggly Wiggly.

Is It Worth the Money?:

That's an interesting question. My first thought, when it comes to store-brand beers, is that it's supposed to be economically priced.  This beer has a price of $7.99 for a six pack.  To me, that's not an economically priced beer.  In comparison, Costco's store brand cost $4.75 per six pack, if you break it down. Trader Joe's costs $2.99, and Walgreens beer costs $2.99.  So if you figure that a store brand would cost no more than $5.00...

Is a store brand worth $7.99?  "No".  It doesn't matter how good it is.


Don't let the title, 'Store Brand' sway your opinion before you even try it.  Think of it as a really good craft beer that just happens to be cursed with the title of, "Store Brand."

It's just too bad that most people won't even give it a chance because it says "Pig Swig" which is obviously store branding.  This will be for one of two reasons. 

1. Either because the rednecks that drink cheap, no-flavored, beer, are looking for cheap, no-flavored store brand.  But this costs too much.  And if they were even they were even willing to try it, they'll realize that this is actually a full-flavored beer that's not suited to their piss-water-drinking palettes and don't want to drink it again because of the combination cost and taste.


2. On the other side of the spectrum, the craft beer drinkers won't be willing to try it because they think it's a no-flavored store brand and won't want to fork out the $8.00.  Initially, that was my feeling until I found out that a brewery that is, literally, 15 minutes from my house, and one of my favorite breweries, brewed this beer.

Piggly Wiggly probably priced themselves out of the market.  I applaud them on what they were trying to do, but because of my previous two reason are probably going to be this beer's downfall.

So I guess it comes down to taste and quality. Based on that, is the beer worth $7.99 for a 6 pack?  "Yes".  This is about average for a 6 pack of your typical craft beer. 

So if you love good beer, don't miss out on this one.  Don't let the title, "Store Brand" turn you off.  If you're in the coastal areas of South Carolina, find your closest Piggly Wiggly, pick up a 6 pack of Pig Tail Ale and enjoy a well crafted beer.

Drink what you like.  Enjoy what you drink.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Beer Review | Laughing Dog: Dogzilla Black IPA

Laughing Dog
: "Dogzilla IPA"


Today I'm reviewing "Laughing Dog Brewery's" DOGZILLA Black IPA.  Two thumps way down on this.

Way to astringent.  It could possibly have been a bad batch. I don't know.  But I don't plan to give them another chance. And if this is any indication of how the rest of their beers are, then I don't plan to try any of their other beers anytime soon.

The website claims: "This is the same brewery that makes the dogfather and alfa dog.  A bid bold IPA that finishes with a dark twist. True to it's IPA roots, Dogzilla has a massive hop presence that is piney and citrusy."

It comes in 22oz bottles, it's 6.9% ABV and retails for around $5.00.

It had a large khaki colored head, even with a light careful pour, a light 2 inch head formed.  It stuck around and was almost the consistency of a meringue.

It's black as night.  There's definitely no light getting through this.

There's not much in the way of a hop aroma, there's just an astringent smell from the dark malts.   It smells like a lot of tannin extraction happened during the brewing process.

The tannin extraction came through in the taste as a really strong astringency. There's a pronounced bitterness that lingers after each sip. This is more of an astringent dark malt bitterness, than a hop bitterness.  There's a light hoppy taste (well, at least to my palette it was light). To an untrained palette, this might be considered a moderately hoppy beer.  It's almost an accidental afterthought rather than intentional hop addition, but even that might be a stretch.  But either way, there's no specific hop flavors or aromas to speak of, just a generic light hoppiness.

Is it Worth the Money?"
This is a 22oz bottle of beer and I paid $4.99 plus tax. Honestly, to put it into perspective, my local brew pub brews a beer nearly identical to this, in flavor and color to this.  I was able to fill a half gallon grower for $9.00.

About 2 years ago, I brewed a beer that taste nearly identical to this. That only cost $10 in ingredients to brew a 5 gallon batch.

Is It Worth The Money":
It's got some flavors but most of them are undesirable flavors.  If you want to try it, then try it, but it probably won't be a beer that you try twice.


Rating:  "C"

When I bought this bottle, I thought it was going to be this massively hopped, dark IPA, which is one my favorite styles of beer.  Unfortunately it turned out to be a rather difficult beer to drink. There was just way to much astringency.  And the fact that it's supposed to be an IPA, really left me disappointed.

Lately, with my experiences drinking IPA's, I've come to realize that some breweries think that if they put ANY hops, at all, in the beer, what-so-ever, that it should be considered an IPA.

When I say that it's hard to drink, I mean that it was really difficult. I've had some less-than-desirable beers before, but those were just a variation on a style that I didn't agree with. But with this beer, the astringent bitterness really made it difficult to swallow... And I mean that literally, not figuratively.

It has this flavor that usually comes during home brewing, when you steep your dark grains to hot... Actually a better descriptor would be... take your dark grains, throw them into a pot, add some water, then boil the heck our of them for abut 15 minutes. Strain the grain, add the liquid to the brew pot.  There's no sugar extraction.  It's just boiled grains.  That's the flavor that I'm getting from this beer.

To top the whole thing off, the lack of hop... well... anything was a big disappointment considering that it was supposed to be an IPA,

But... Drink what you like. Enjoy what you drink.