Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

Category: Beer Reviews Page 1 of 7

Rabbit Hole Saison

Today I am sharing my impressions of Rabbit Hole French-Style Saison from Alaro Brewing in downtown Sacramento (California).

Rabbit Hole is an amber-colored beer, almost copper in hue. It has a malty aroma, with some floral and citrus – tangerine, maybe kumquat. It is not as carbonated as I might’ve expected from a saison but it does present a moderate head that subsides within a couple of minutes.

In the mouth it presents an effervescent crispness on the palate and citrus notes similar to those present in the aroma. It is moderately bitter, but not as bitter as a pale ale or, certainly, an IPA. It is more akin in hoppiness to a pilsner. I tasted notes of stonefruit, most reminiscent of apricot. Or perhaps a very ripe loquat.

It finishes with a lingering bitterness that is pleasant and not overpowering.

Very pleasant overall and a good recommendation by the server at the brewpub!

Anchor 2020 Holiday Ale

The holiday season is upon us and to add to the seasonal cheer, we have the arrival of Winter seasonal beers. For forty-six years Anchor has upheld that tradition with its Our Special Ale.

Their 2020 edition of Our Special Ale (sample bottles provided by Anchor Brewing) is a very dark, almost black, ale with a ruby translucence when held up to the light. It presents a moderate head, that subsides quickly to a ring around the edges of the glass. When swirled in the glass there is ample but short-lived lacing. I didn’t notice any “legs” or “tears”- the clear streams that alcoholic beverages sometimes leave on the sides of the glass.

It presents sweet notes in the nose: molasses, caramel, cloves, light cinnamon.  Overall, the aroma reminds me of gingerbread or spice cake.  I didn’t notice any hop aroma.

Sweetness is the most immediately noticeable flavor component.  It is not a particularly hoppy beer, but there is definitely a bitter backbone to support all that malty sweetness.   Some dark chocolate and coffee character, and graham cracker, too.  A few spice notes in there as well: cinnamon, black pepper, orange peel.  A little vanilla.

It has 7% alcohol by volume, but doesn’t come off as strong or alcoholey. And, despite the notable malt sweetness, it is a medium-bodied drink, with a dry finish, and a slightly bitter aftertaste, ending with a lingering dark roast coffee note.

It is smooth and easy to drink, and I think it would prove approachable even to those who say that they don’t usually like dark beers.

An aside on the packaging: You may have observed that rather than the usual single tree, this year’s label features three trees. According to the brewery’s literature, this is only the second time that multiple trees are shown on the label. In this case, the image represents The Three Graces, an iconic trio in Yosemite National Park’s Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. They are meant to evoke “togetherness and hope in a year when so much time has been spent apart”.

O Light Organic Light Beer

Today we are sharing our impressions of O Light Organic Light Beer. O Light Organic Light Beer is a 4.5% abv American light lager manufactured by O Light Organic in San Jose (CA).

As befits a light lager, it is a blonde beer, golden -tending toward straw- in color.  It raises a nice head upon pouring, which subsides quickly, to leave a ring of medium bubbles around the glass and a thin layer of tiny bubbles across the surface.

It has a light, slightly sweet aroma, with light caramel and honey notes. Hop aroma is low, almost obscured by the sweetness.

The flavor is quite nice. It has a pleasant toastyness, with a biscuity, almost graham-like flavor and hints of honey. Hop bitterness is light, with notes of pine and grapefruit.  It has a light, smooth, mouthfeel with medium carbonation and slightly dry finish.

O Light Organic Light Beer’s calling card, and the reason some may be drawn to it, is that it is a USDA and CCOF-certified organic non-GMO product. That’s great, but I think equally important is that it is a quite pleasant beer; refreshing and easy to drink.

Spencer Trappist Ale

Today, I am writing about Spencer Trappist Ale, a beer that I had been curious to try since I first learned about it four years ago.

Spencer Trappist Ale is brewed by the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachussetts. The brothers of St. Joseph’s follow the Rule of St. Benedict and are part of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, otherwise known as the Trappist Order. The Spencer Brewery is the only certified Trappist brewery outside of Europe, and the Spencer family of beers the only certified Trappist beers produced within the United States.

Spencer Trappist Ale was the first beer released by Spencer Brewery and is the monastery’s flagship beer. It was inspired by the refectory ales or patersbiers, the table beers historically brewed for consumption by monks at meals. However, at 6.5% abv it is a tad stronger than the usual refectory ales which tend to fall in the 3.5-5.5% range.

Spencer Trappist Ale is a deep golden ale, tending toward orange, mildly hazy in appearance. Upon pouring it presented a moderate white head, that didn’t rise particularly high and very subsided, but didn’t disappear entirely.

It has a moderately hoppy nose, with notes of citrus. In the mouth, it came across as effervescent sip after sip, and quite refreshing. It had notes malt notes, a little biscuity flavor. (I mean that not in the sense of American biscuits, the breakfast item, but of imported tinned biscuits. Maybe shortbread might be a better referent.) It also has pleasantly floral notes, with light citrus and pine at the back end.

It’s a nice beer. Too bad it’s not distributed more widely.

2019 Anchor Christmas Ale

I’ve received a couple of bottles of the 2019 Anchor Christmas Ale courtesy of Anchor Brewing, and decided to pop one open for review tonight.

First off, let me say that it is a pretty beer. It has a big tan, rocky head. It appear dark brown and opaque, but when held up to the light a beautiful dark, deep garnet hue comes through.

Following on that impression, it is also a beer that can fool one a bit. Due to its dark hue and big tan head, one might allow oneself to expect a robust beer like a porter or stout. In other words something with a very malt-forward character. However, the 2019 Christmas Ale is actually surprisingly light-bodied, and the first impression upon tasting is one of smoothness, almost as if it had been dispensed on a nitro system.

It has a malty nose, with a light hop aroma, with some subtle conifer notes in the background. As it warms and the head subsides, some caramel or invert sugar aromas come forward.

In the taste, I got some spice, some coffee, and baking chocolate up front, backed up by some malt or caramel notes. It finishes dry, with the bitter chocolate flavor lingering, and some more of that pine at the back end.

It is a good, tasty beer, but to be honest, I’m not as partial to it as I have been to previous years’ iterations of the Christmas Ale. The recipe changes every year, and taste is subjective, so that is to be expected from time to time. I guess I just miss the more robust mouthfeel of those other versions.

However, because it does have that lighter mouthfeel, it is more drinkable than a lot of other seasonal ales that come out at this time of year. This is one that one can have more than one of in a session.

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