Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beer Review | Terrapin - Pumpkinfest Ale

Terrapin: Pumkinfest Ale

Today I'm going to be reviewing Terrapin's Pumpkinfest Ale. This brewery based out of Athens, GA.
This blog is a companion to my youtube video.                      Rating = 85

Terrapin's Pumpkinfest Ale is a seasonal beer and comes out of Athens, GA. This is a very nice example of the style (Pumpkin Beer). I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Pumpkin beers, as well as to anyone who has not tried one yet. Make this your first.

Website says: Expect a pumpkin pie nose followed by a strong malt backbone, low hop bitterness and authentic fall taste, all wrapped in a light bodied beer.

On the website, there wasn't really any style guideline. I'm just going to call this a Seasonal Pumpkin Beer, for that reason.

STYLE: Seasonal Pumpkin Ale
COLOR: Medium-Light Amber
ABV: 6.1%
IBU: 14.5
HOPS: Vangaurd, Hallertaur, Hershrucker
MALT: Munich, Vienna, Munich II, Catamunich II, Melanoiden
ADDITIONS: Cinnamon, Ginger, All Spice, Cloves, & Pumpkin

BOTTLE CODE: Written on the Label. Typically the date code on Terrapin beer is marked clearly on the label. But I guess it's different with the Seasonal beers. However there is something laser-etched on to the bottom of the bottle. But this is not the bottle code.
- Only says, “Seasonal 2012”

- $2.49 - Single 12oz bottle
- $11.00 - for a 4pk

The helps give German beers such as Bocks and Oktoberfests that rich malty flavor without using many, if any, crystal malts.

They are formed when sugars and amino acids combine at high temperatures and low water activity. Melanoiden is commonly present in foods that have undergone some form of non-enzymatic browning, such as barley malts, bread crust, bakery products and coffee.

So hopefully this gives you an idea of what they mean when they say, “We used melanoiden in our beer.”


On the pour, there was not a whole lot of head. This seems to be a constant theme with these pumpkin beers; with all the ones I've ever had. They all just seem to be lacking in the head.


This beer is a hazy beer. It's not cloudy. Just hazy. I can see light through the beer and I can see my fingers going up and down the glass, however I can't see detail through the glass.

There are small streams of bubbles rising from the bottom, so it is definitely carbonated well. But it's not effervescent.


The first thing that I notice is the nutmeg aroma. The cinimmon and the all spice as well as the other spices come through in order.

The spice aroma is not astringent. It's not overpowering. It is not a potpouri bomb like many other pumpkin beers. It smells like a sweet, spiced, buttery-crust filled beer. Just like you would expect a pumpkin beer to smell like. It seems to be all encompassing. All of the aromas from what you would expect from a pumpkin pie are coming through in this beer.

It seems to be a very well balanced aroma.


Once again, the nutmeg is the first thing that comes through. Then the cinnamon comes next, then all the other spices in order, just like in the aroma.

But what you'll notice is the pleasant buttery, pumpkin pie crust flavor that lingers on the back of the tongue. It's just like when you eat pumpkin pie. First you taste the sweet. Then you taste the spices. And then the crust coats your tongue and slowly fades away.

This is a very delightful beer. Everything kind of blends together. No one flavor is out of control and unbalanced. It's a very very nice beer.


This is a nice, well balanced, pumpkin beer. I've had some that were litterally just potpouri bombs. I've had some that say they're pumpkin beers, but that really are not. They're just the same color.

You can taste everything that you would expect to taste in pumpkin pie, in this beer. It's very good.

It's difficult to pick out one this that I like the most. But I'm going to say that it's probably the absence of any overpowering elements. Nothing is more powerful than anything else. It is very well balanced.

There is just a bit of that residual sweetness. All of the sugar has not been fermented out of the beer. So it is not extremely dry. It's sweet like a pumpkin pie would be. However it's not over the top. And I think this put it just a step above most of the other pumpkin beers on the market.


Once again, they sell this in 4-packs. My feeling on 4-packs... “I DON'T LIKE THEM.”
They don't sell it in 6 packs or above. I've never seen this in a growler fill.

At $2.50 per bottle, that's okay if you just want to try it. And it's a very good try. I HIGHLY recommend that you try this. For a 4-pack you're look at between $9, $10, possibly $11 depending on where you buy it.

I'm conflicted a little bit because this is a very good beer. To try it for $2.50, I say “Go for it.“ But to buy a 4-pack for upwards of $11, I feel that's way to steep.


4-packs, for some reason, are just outrageously priced. And there is no need for the prices that they charge. I'm sorry. I know that sounds cheap, but there is no reason for it. It should be either 6-packs, or by the bottle. Or heck, sell it in a 22oz or 24oz bomber. Because I just feel like I'm getting ripped off.

With that said, "Drink what you like and enjoy what you drink."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Beer Review | Sweetwater: Road Trip Ale

Sweetwater: Road Trip Ale   Rating = 44   Rating = 81

Once again, another out of date IPA. The bottle is dated July/13/2012 and it is currently Feb 23th, 2013.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.

The website says, "This is a fiery Pilsner fermented at ale temperature for a fuller flavor, capped by an intense spice-hop finish."

Style: Pilsner fermented at ale temps.
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 60
Color: Yellow
Malts: Pilsner and vienna malt
Hops: Sterling and US Goldings
Bottle Code: Etched into the bottom left corner of the label.  "07/13/12"


A half pinky of a white creamy head formed.


It wasn't very carbonated.
The color was yellow like a Budweiser.


A very, very light hop spice.  But almost non-existent.
A nice malty aroma.


It actually wasn't too bad.  It tasted like an lightly hopped American Ale.
No frills.  No nothing.
Not very impressive.


I'd like to try it fresh and see if it's any different.  But as it is, there is not much here.


Based on the style, I'd give this beer a "B"

Friday, February 22, 2013

Beer Review | Flying Dog: Snake Dog IPA

Flying Dog: Snake Dog IPA   Rating = 92   Rating = 81

Once again, another out of date IPA. The bottle is dated Sept/6/2012 and it is currently Feb 22th, 2013.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.

ABV: 7.1%
IBU: 60
Color: Medium Straw Gold
Malts: C-60
Hops: Warrior and Columbus
Bottle Code: Best by code in Julian format. 250A12


A half pinky of a white creamy head formed.


Almost no carbonation.  It's very very light.  In appearance, the beer looks almost flat.


A sort of cardboardy aroma.
A light hop spiciness.
Malt doesn't really come through the other aroma.


This is the first time I've ever experienced the cardboard flavor.  It is stronger in the taste than in the aroma.  I am extremely disappointed.
The beer is almost flat.


I would say that this beer is just old.  It expired in September.  But I had an IPA the other day that was older than this and it was absolutely excellent.  I don't know what the heck is wrong with this beer.
It's pretty gross. Not gross enough to pour out. But pretty close.


Based on the style, I'd give this beer a "D"

Beer Review | Wild Blue: Premium Blueberry Lager

Wild Blue: Premium Blueberry Lager

Brewed by: Anheiser Busch  Rating = 9    Rating = 52

Once again, another beer that's out of date. While there is no bottle code on the bottle, I know it's old because I bought it back in February 2012 and it is now February 2013.

Style: Fruit lager
ABV: 8%
Color: Purple
Bottle Code: None


A tini tiny purple head formed then fell almost immediately as it was being poured.


The beer is dark purple with heavy effervescent carbonation.  Almost like soda pop.


It almost smells like a really sweet blueberry wine.  It smells like alcoholic cool-aid.
It is not very appetizing.


It tastes like sweet wine.  Blah.
The only thing that is even vaguely similar to beer is a light, almost hidden aftertaste.


This is an absolutely disgusting alcoholic beverage.  I'm not even going to call this a beer.  It is really gross.
I actually poured it down the drain.  I could not finish the drink.  It was terrible.
I can't even force it down.
I wouldn't really expect much more from an Anheiser Busch beer.


Based on the style, I'd give this beer a "F"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beer Review | Russian River: Pliny the Elder

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

Russian River Brewing Company:Pliny the Elder
Rating: 'B+'

This is the first time I have ever tasted Pliny the Elder.  Heck, this is the first time I've ever seen a real bottle of it.  So that being said, I plan to give this an honest review that is not jaded by an opinion gathered from previous experiences.  But I will also be giving a true review of this particular bottle.  I am leaving the “Hype” out of this review.  It will get an unbiased review.

Is it really as good as everyone says?

My brother-in-law picked this beer up for me while working in Portland OR.  I live in the upstate of South Carolina.  And the only place they distribute on the East Coast is Philadelphia, PA.  So I can't even get this where I live.

The side of the bottles says, “Pliny the Elder is best enjoyed fresh.” This particular bottle was bottled on August 31st, 2012.  So that makes this bottle 3 months and 17 days old (as of the day I filmed this review which was December 17th, 2012).

I'm not sure what they consider fresh, so hopefully three months in the bottle hasn't affected this beer too much.  But personally, three months isn't that old.  But other factors may also affect this beer including how the store handled and stored the beer.

Style: Double IPA
Color: Dark yellow bordering on light amber.
ABV: 8.0%
IBU: The website says, “Bitterness is High” but other sources say it's about 100 IBU's.
Hops: Amarillo, Centenial, CTZ,  and Simcoe

Bottle Code:
It's plainly printed on the side of the label.  It says “Bottled On: 08/31/12.”  So I assume that mean August 31st, 2012.

Cost: Varies depending on where you buy it.
 Costs range from:
  - $5.00 - $8.00 for 17.25oz bottle (510 mL).
  - $7.50/$5.00/$4.50/$6.00 for a pint on draft, depending on where you get it.

Up and down the West Coast.  But the only place it's distributed on the East Coast is in Philadelphia, PA.

The Pour:

It started off with a nice 2-fingers worth of head.  There was nice lacing on the glass as the head settled down.


The beer is really cloudy.  From the looks of it, they either do not filter it or it's bottle conditioned.
There's not a ton of carbonation but there was definitely a steady stream of bubbles.


Citrusy hop aroma. Grapefruit is the main citrus smell.  It's not overpowering but it is definitely the main aroma of the beer.
It's very malty but mostly citrus.
It smells just like Bell's HopSlam.
There is no alcohol aroma.


It was good.  For an 8% ABV beer, you don't taste the alcohol at all.  In this respect, it is nothing like HopSlam, which is very boozy.
There is a hop citrus and pine.
The flavors don't linger.
Regarding the bitterness; it's not that bitter.  It's about on par with any other regular IPA.  Weak compared to other Double IPA's.
It definitely does NOT taste like a double IPA.  The flavors are very muted compared to other beers in the “Double IPA” category.  Honestly, it just tastes like a regular IPA.  Sierra Nevada: Torpedo Extra is a stronger tasting IPA than this beer.  And that is only a 7.2% ABV beer.  Almost up there with Pliny but not quite. But it's also only classified as a regular IPA.  And the hop character of the Torpedo Extra is three times what is coming through in Pliny.
I've had many other Double IPA's that completely overshadow Pliny's hop character. Hoptologist, Avery's Maharaja, RJ Rockers Rockhopper IPA.


I'm a bit conflicted.  Should I give this beer a higher rating because of it's reputation?  The answer is clearly “NO.”  If that were the case, I feel like I should judge it more harshly than I would other beers.  It must prove itself to me.  I do not have to prove myself to it.

I've been waiting to taste this beer for years.  I've read all of the reviews.  And, in my opinion, this beer is way overhyped.
Was is good?  Yes.
Was it great?  No.
To me, it was just another everyday IPA.  If I were to put this up against other regular IPA's I wouldn't be able to pick it out.  There was nothing over-the-top about this beer.  Nothing really stuck out.
I personally wouldn't classify Pliny as a Double IPA.  There was nothing “Double” about it.  The alcohol wasn't that high.  The hop character was very muted for the style.
The other beers I mentioned above (Hoptologist, Avery's Maharaja, RJ Rockers Rockhopper IPA) were far beyond the Double IPA drinking experience of Pliny.
When you open up any of those bottles, you are immediately hit in the face with Hops.

I will concede that some of this lacking-of-flavor could be due to the age of the bottle.  But I don't feel that 3 months is enough time to mute the hope character this much.
I recently drank a bottle of “Clown Shoes: Supa Hero” that was almost a year out of date.  However, it tasted like a fresh, super hopped, Double IPA. It was 8% ABV and was only listed as a Regular IPA.  It was the same price as Pliny but was still massively hoppy.

So those that are whining and fussing about this beer being to old for a true review, I say “Bulls*&t!!!”  If Clown Shoes can produce a beer that holds up after being a year out of date, then Pliny should be able to hold up after 3 months.

Because of all these factors, this is getting a “B+” from me.  It is not worth any more than that.

Worth the Money:

For the reputation alone, I'd say that it's worth $6.00 per bottle.
But if I'm basing it solely on the drinking experience that I'm getting from this beer, I would say, “No. It's not worth the money.”

For those of you out there crying “Foul” and are huffing and puffing that I got an old bottle... My feeling is if a beer with this kind of reputation loses everything after 3 months when I can find a comparable beer in style in price from a different brewer that is 12 months out of date and it still knocks my socks off, Pliny IS NOT worth $6.00 per bottle.

That's my opinion.
If you disagree, leave me some comments below.

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

Friday, February 15, 2013

Beer Review | Sweet Water: LowRYEder Rye IPA

Sweet Water: LowRYEder IPA   rating = 88   rating = 85

Once again, another out of date IPA. The bottle is dated 12/30/2012 and it is currently Feb 15th, 2012.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.

ABV: 6.2%
IBU: 45
Malts: 2-Row, Rye malt, CaraRye, Rye Flakes,  Munich malt
Hops: Centennial and Mt. Hood
Bottle Code: On the bottom left corner of the label, clearly printed .

  • Best By: 12/30/12 = 12/30/2012


No head.  Only a light layer of creamy film formed.


Medium-light amber.
Somewhat cloudy.  Most likely from the rye.
Very light but steady carbonation.


No hop aroma.
Light spiciness from the rye malt.
Not much of any aroma at all.


Very minimal, almost non-existent, hop flavor.
Malt is also very minimal.
Not impressive at all.


This beer is only a month and a half out of date, but there is no hop or malt flavor.  This is definitely not worth what I paid for it.
I do not recommend this beer.
However... this may only be due to the fact that it is an "Old" beer.  But this particular one is a huge letdown.


Based on the style, I'd give this beer a "B-"

Beer Review | New Belgium: Red Hoptober Ale

New Belgium: Red Hoptober Ale   rating = 94   rating = 86

While this is not officially an IPA, it is however a VERY hoppy beer. So I'm treating this as if it were an IPA.  That being said, it is slightly paste it's best-by date of December 2nd 2012.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.

This beer had a different name a few years ago.  It was simply called "Hoptober."  The packaging is the same as "Red Hoptober", only they simply added "Red" to the label.  While this isn't official, it is, however, true.

ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 60
Malts: Pale, Crystal 80
Hops: Target, Nugget, Cascade, El Dorado, Centennial
Bottle Code:

  • Best By "02Dec12" = Dec 2nd 2012
  • Bottled On Date: "120727" July 27th 2012 


No head.


Dark brown color.  Resembles a brown ale.
Very clear.
Very light but steady carbonation.


Piney hop aroma.
Very malty aroma, similar to Thomas Creek's Appalachian Amber Ale.


Light hop taste.  Spicy piney flavor.
Very very malty.  More malt than hops is coming through.
Has a roasted nut flavor.
Very tasty.


Due to it's age (more than 2.5 months out of date), the bulk of the hoppiness has disappeared. This would make a great brown ale, at this point.


Based on the style (IPA) I'd give this beer a "B"
Rated as an Amber Ale, I would give this an "A"

Monday, February 4, 2013

Beer Review | Abita: Jackamo IPA

Abita: Jockamo IPA    rating = 77   rating = 63

Once again, this is an IPA that is well paste it's best-by date of May 5th 2012.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.  But based on and it's not looking good for this one.

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 52
Malts: Pale, red, and Caramel malt
Hops: Liberally hoped and dry-hopped with Willamette and Columbus Hops
Bottle Code: Best By "05/05/2012"


A creamy white head formed on the pour.  About 1/2 finger of head.
It dissipated very quickly.


Light amber color.
Very hazy.  I can't see through it at all.
Very light carbonation


Piney hop aroma.
Although it is only a 6.5% beer, it smells really boozy.
Very malty.


Light hop taste.  The aroma was much bigger than the taste.
Very malty.  More malt than hops is coming through.
The slightest bit of a skunk flavor on the back end.


Despite what the rating sites say, it really does taste fairly good.  But here's the problem.  While it's a pretty decent beer, if you're looking for a great IPA, this is NOT the beer for you.  But if you're looking for a decent beer (in general) then this is a a fairly good one to try beer.

It only has two downfalls.

  1. The hop flavor is pretty lacking.
  2. It's got a slight skunk flavor on the back end.


Based on the style (IPA) I'd give this beer a "B-"

Beer Review | New Belgium: Red Hoptober

New Belgium: Red Hoptober

Once again, I am cleaning out the beer fridge (so to speak) and drinking another IPA.  And as we know, IPA's lose their hop essence more quickly over time than any other flavor in the beer.  So instead of reviewing this beer on camera ( and not giving it a fair review due to it's age, I'm reviewing it here on my beer blog.  I'll let you know how it tastes now, after it's expiration date.  Some beers keep better than others.  So lets see if this holds up.

This beer is the progression from a previous beer that New Belgium put out call simply "Hoptober"

  • Cost: $7.99 6 pack (at beer and wine store) $9.00 at the grocery store.
  • First Brewed: August 2012
  • ABV: 6.0%
  • IBU: 60
  • Hops: Target, Nugget Cascade, El Dorado, Centennial
  • Malt: Pale malt and Crystal 80
  • Bottle Code: New Belgium is very good about their bottle codes.  They have a best-by and bottled on code.
    • Best By Date "18NOV12": Translated = Nov 18th, 2012
    • Bottled-On Date "120708": Translated = July 8th, 2012


There was almost no head.  If you didn't see the lightest bit of creamy lacing, you'd think this beer wasn't carbonated.


It's a very dark beer.  Nearly the same color as the amber beer bottle.
It's lightly carbonated.  With small streams of bubble rising through the beer.


Very piney hop aroma.  It's very spicy I'm surprised at how hoppy this smells considering it's 2 1/2 months older than it's best-by date.
The malt comes out up front.


Piney hop flavor, right up front.
Then a roasted malt flavor mixed with the Caramel malts takes over.
It has a very nice blend.


Even after 2 1/2 months past the best-by date, this beer is still absolutely wonderful.  I had a fresh one of these the other day and it tasted nearly identical to this one. So that proves that it does keep well.  Although I wouldn't try keeping it too much past the best-by date, a couple months doesn't seem to have hurt this beer at all.

If you want a roasty malt / hoppy beer, then this is certainly a great one to try.  It's well worth the $7.99 your are paying.



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Beer Review | Southern Tier: 2XIPA

Souther Tier
: 2X IPA


Availability:  Year Round
Packaging: 6pk and 24pk case 1/2kegs and 1/6kegs
Brewed Since: 2010
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.2%
Bottle Code: Near the bottom of the label.  Bottle-On Date: 02/10/12

The Pour:

Very little head.

The Look:

Very cloudy.
Yellow in color.
Medium to low carbonation

The Aroma:

Thick sweet aroma.
Smells like it could be very boozy.
Strong piney hops.
Smells strikingly similar to Thomas Creek's "Up the Creek IPA"

The Taste:

Flavor is very balanced.
Very effervescent.  Nice carbonation.
Not as boozy as it smelled.
Not as sweet tasting as it smells.
The website claims that it is more citrusy with light pine.  But I'm getting a lot more of the piny hop aroma.
Very very tasty.


I highly recommend this beer.  It's very smooth.  You could drink many of these in one sitting without flinching.  Unfortunately you'd get knocked on your ass after doing so.  You don't taste the alcohol. 
It's a very delightful beer.  I could drink a 6er of this (and probably regret it massively).  It is so good.  I could imagine what it tastes like fresh.  This bottle was born Feb. 10, 2012 and today is Feb 1st 2013.  So...
I highly recommend this beer.  Don't miss out.



Beer Review | Smuttynose IPA

Smuttynose "IPA"

I've been holding on to this beer for quite a while.  Probably a bit to long.  According to the bottle, this was best before July 16th 2012.  I figured that instead of reviewing this on camera and give it an unfair review, due to age, that I would just give it a mini review on my blog.

Bottle Code:  Easy to read.  "Best Before" date on the lower neck of the bottle.  07/16/12
ABV: 6.9%
IBU: 75

The Pour:

There was very little head which dissipated quickly.

The Look

  • The beer is a light orange.
  • The first thing I noticed was that there are a lot of floating chunks.  Very unappetizing.
  • According to the bottle neck, it is bottle conditioned.  However, I've seen bottle conditioned beers before but the sediment in this beer is over the top.  It's pretty gross.  But, until I try a fresh bottle, I'll attribute this over-sediment to the age of this bottle.

The Aroma

  • Strong Hoppy Citrusy aroma with light malt aroma.

The Taste

  • Medium bitterness.
  • Very creamy mouthfeel.
  • The chunks are not actually chunky. So you don't feel a mouth full of pulp.
  • Citrus didn't really come through strongly. It was there but that's about all. Most of the hop character was in the bitterness.

Tasty beer. But it's just difficult to get past the chunks. Very unappealing.
The beer tastes good but I've certainly tasted better.