Tagged: specialty

Founders Sumatra Mountain

SUMATRA MOUNTAIN: 98 Points

Absolutuly deslicoius

Absolutely Delicious

This American Strong is a released as a rare beer in late Spring in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This bold, imperial brown ale gets its body from a team of malts including Caramel malt for sweetness, flaked barley for dense foam, a bit of Chocolate malt for its deep color and Aromatic and Munich malts to add even more depth. German and Perle hops add a touch of bitterness to balance the malty sweetness. The addition of rich Sumatra coffee takes this perfectly balanced imperial brown ale to a decadent level.”

My Description: A superb beer from start to finish. It begins with a good sized, beige colored head that fades to a thin ring leaving behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting with bold dark coffee notes along with caramel notes a faintest touch of dark fruits. Sumatra Mountain is medium/full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer is delicious; the balance of flavors along with the depth makes this one addicting ale. Complex coffee notes are detected throughout but never become the dominant note, all the flavors work harmoniously together. Toasted malt notes, toffee, tobacco, and a hint of biscuit malt are present. The alcohol is beautifully hidden and the aftertaste is slightly bitter. Overall, the coffee notes in this beer tastes like the gourmet beans at the high end coffee shops. This is a must try for any coffee fan. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with tiramisu, creme brulee, or a mild cigar.

ABV: 9% Color: Dark Brown Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

Petoskey Brewing Cranium Crush

CRANIUM CRUSH: 69 Points

For the sugar addict

For the sugar addict

This Specialty ale is released seasonally in 16 oz. cans.

Brewer’s Description: “This unique ale has actual waffle cones added into the mash. Very slight hints of this ingredient can be picked up in the finished beer. More prevalent are the fruit notes from the addition of fresh raspberries added during fermentation. the low IBU makes this an easy drinking ale.”

My Description: This beer is like the Camel Joe for kids, wow raspberry cream waffle cone! It begins with a large, white colored head that lasts the whole way leaving behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma showcases a potent raspberry juice note along with minor hints of malt and cream. This beer smells pretty much like a raspberry creamsicle. Cranium Crush is medium bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is really sweet with notes of raspberry juice and creamy undertones. It tastes just like the description says it would. Overall, this beer is smooth and interesting but it is hard to put down. It is so sweet and so raspberry forward that drinking a single can becomes a chore. This should be in the malt beverage category. I can see how people could like this, but you just have to be a sugar addict.

ABV: 7% Color: Golden Copper Sweetness: 4.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

Brewery Vivant Contemplation

CONTEMPLATION: 82 Points

Not much to contemplate

Not much to contemplate

This Specialty Belgian is released in April in 16 oz. cans.

Brewer’s Description: “Clover honey added during the boil contributes color and complexity but adds no sweetness to the beer as the sugars are broken down during fermentation. Look for whispers of apricot and nectarine on the palate, mixed with the floral aroma of the hops grown in northern Michigan.”

My Description: I think a quick decision is made with this beer, nothing to sit back and contemplate. It begins with a decent, light beige colored head that fades to a ring leaving no lacing. The aroma is welcoming with sweet fruit notes along with some yeast esters, floral notes, and a hint of honey. Contemplation is medium bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is pleasant but nothing to write home about. Light clove notes pair cleanly with some fruit notes, grassy lemon notes, and a touch of honey. The alcohol is picked up on from time to time and the aftertaste shows very little bitterness. Overall, this beer is more on the sweeter side, obviously from the honey, with soft flavor notes and a clean body. It is best served around 45° and pairs nicely with sourdough bread, soft cheeses, or a light salad.

ABV: 7% Color: Reddish/Brown Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

Dogfish Head Beer to Drink Music To

BEER TO DRINK MUSIC TO: 95 Points

Turn it on loud

Turn it on loud

This Specialty Tripel is a limited release in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Of course, as the Official Beer of Record Store Day, we had to create a special brew for the occasion! Insert Beer To Drink Music To. This Belgian-style Tripel is brewed with sweet orange peel, green cardamom, peppercorns and vanilla. It’s the perfect marriage of beer and music and best when paired with some of your favorite tunes. Clocking in at 9% ABV, Beer To Drink Music To is a golden orange brew with forward notes of toffee, cardamom, cloves and subtle notes of vanilla.”

My Description: This is a very enjoyable beer that you can sit back and enjoy all the flavors. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head that fades to a film leaving a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is slightly complex and inviting with notes of vanilla, orange peel, pale malts, spices, and a touch of alcohol. Music to Drink Beer to is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is clean and tasty with with a great combination of flavors. Pale malts intertwine smoothly with vanilla and pepper undertones, orange peel, and hints of light fruits. This transitions into a slightly bitter aftertaste with lingering coriander notes. Overall, this is a wonderful specialty beer with deep flavors and satisfying body. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with sauteed asparagus, cheesecake, or strong cheeses.

ABV: 9% Color: Golden Orange Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 3/10

Stone Winter Harvest (2014)

WINTER HARVEST (2014): 92 Points

Complex wine notes

Complex wine notes

This Specialty Belgian Strong is released in limited quantities in 500 ml. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Stone Brewer Matt Courtright came up with the recipe for this Belgian-style ale, designing it specifically to be aged in wine barrels. We did just that for over two years, during which native wild yeasts continued fermenting the beer. The result is an off-dry ale with pleasing levels of malt and tart fruit, especially tropical fruit flavors: guava from the Merlot grapes and pineapple from the Sauvignon Blanc barrels. Oak tannins contribute mellow non-hop bitterness while the Belgian yeast lends muted notes of clove and banana. Cellared properly, the dryness and complexity will increase over time.”

My Description: Stone has created a pleasant beer that is different than their usual offerings. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head with an excellent retention level that leaves behind some lacing. The aroma is complex and intriguing with strong yeast notes that deliver scents of unrip bananas and a hint of funk. There are also aroma notes of white wine, french oak, floralness, and a hint of sweetness. Winter Harvest is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is as complex as the aroma with an overall white wine presence and notes of pears, bananas, tropical fruit, pineapples, floral hops, with a hint of tart. The alcohol comes through slightly but never becomes intrusive. The aftertaste is delicious with a hint of bitterness with lingering oak notes. Overall, this is a nicely balanced beer that makes for a great sipper for any occasion. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled asparagus, soft cheeses, or chocolate truffles.

ABV: 11.3% Color: Murky Brown/Orange Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Funky Buddha Sweet Potato Casserole

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE: 86 Points

Like the real thing

Like the real thing

This specialty ale is released seasonally in late Summer in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Drop the dressing and ditch the pumpkin, Sweet Potato Casserole is fresh out of the oven and ready to party. This fall treat is just like moms used to make – only if moms had penchant for gooey marshmallow, fall spices, and gobs of sweet potato cavorting in one sinful glass. Bottoms up.”

My Description: This is one of those interesting beers that delights initially because of its novelty but that feeling diminishes soon after. I feel that I can only have one of these beers because of its too sweet presence, just like I can only have a few bites of an actual sweet potato casserole. It begins with a decent, light beige colored head that leaves a slight film on top with a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is spot on with notes of vanilla, spices, marshmallows, and hints of light fruits. Sweet Potato is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile transforms this Thanksgiving treat into a liquid replica with notes of vanilla, cinnamon, and clove as well as other spices. The backbone of this beer is definitely on the sweeter side, almost a bit too much. A hint of Belgian yeast notes comes through from time to time and the aftertaste shows no bitterness. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with baked turkey, Salisbury steak, or pumpkin pancakes.

ABV: 7.9% Color: Golden/Orange Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

Dogfish Fort

FORT: 94 Points

Raspberry Heaven

Raspberry Heaven

This fruit ale is a limited release in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “An ale brewed with a ridiculous amount of raspberry juice. Fort has a Belgian-style base, then we follow a similar fermentation process to the one we use on beers like 120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout. Fort is an excellent candidate for cellaring. Grab a few bottles, enjoy one now and lay the others down for a few years. Want to know when the Fort you find was bottled? Check the ‘Bottled On’ date on the neck of each bottle.”

My Description: What’s nice about this beer is that it is exactly as advertised; a big fruit beer that tastes like real raspberry juice and ages beautifully. It begins with a decent, light beige colored head that fades to a ring leaving behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming with bright raspberry notes and a hint of cherry. Fort is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is straightforward with clean raspberry notes, a hint of tart, and Belgian yeast notes such as light fruits. The alcohol is hidden better than I had anticipated given the high ABV. Overall, this ale is on the sweeter side with fruit notes dominating. This makes for a great sipper. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with roasted duck, dark chocolate, or a mild cigar.

ABV: ~17% Color: Orange/Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin

HABANERO SCULPIN: 93 Points

Let the spice in

Let the spice in

This Specialty IPA is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Our Sculpin IPA with Habanero Pepper began as a crazy experiment that’s taken on a life of its own. While its bright fruit notes and hoppy bite has made the original one of our favorites, this version takes that balance of flavors to the next level with the citrusy, floral heat of habaneros. Sculpin are known to sting, but this one’s got a kick.”

My Description: This is a fun beer to drink because the IPA base is delicious and the addition of habaneros gives it an interesting character. However, after some time the heat does begin to dominate the flavor profile but never becomes too potent. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head with a great retention level that leaves an excellent amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant with notes of grapefruit hops, pine hops, and hot peppers; the hops smell real fresh. Habanero Sculpin is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile gets better as it warms up, the flavors just seem to blend cleaner. There are notes of citrus hops, tropical hops, pale malts, and of course habanero. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with lingering hot spice notes. Overall, this is a great IPA for those spice lovers. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with Basmati rice, curry chicken, or jerk seasoned shrimp.

ABV: 7% Color: Orange/Copper Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5/10

Terrapin Vapricot

VAPRICOT: 78 Points

Lacks flavors

Lacks flavors

This collaboration with Cigar City is released for a limited time in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “When you can’t see the smoke through the haze, reach for a beer the cuts right through. Two neighboring breweries in the South, Cigar City and Terrapin Beer Co., introduce “Vapricot” Apricot Ginger Imperial IPA. Brewed with apricot puree and ginger for a sweet and spicy profile, this multidimensional beer will help you see things more clearly.”

My Description: This is not an apricot lover’s dream but it makes for an interesting sipper. It begins with a decent, off-white colored head that fades to a thin film that holds the whole way leaving behind some spotty lacing. The aroma is pleasant with notes of caramel malt, stone fruits, with faint ginger notes. Vapricot is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is a slight letdown because it all seems weak. There are notes of pale malts, apricot puree, and hints of hops. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with lingering ginger notes. The alcohol is slightly tasted because this beer needs more body, more bitterness, and more hop flavors. It is definitely a drinkable beer but lacks in taste. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with shrimp stir-fry, Thai noodles, or cheesecake.

ABV: 9.05% Color: Hazy Apricot Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

Boulevard Collaboration No. 5

COLLABORATION No. 5: 90 Points

It's Tropical Beer!

It’s Tropical Beer!

This collaboration with Cigar City is a limited release in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Combining Cigar City’s expertise with tropical fruit flavors and Boulevard’s love of pale ales, Collaboration No. 5 – Tropical Pale Ale begins with a base of pilsner malt layered with Marris Otter, Munich, and caramel malts. Huge late hopping with a blend of Mosaic, Citra, Lemondrop, and Azacca lends bright citrus flavors. Freshly sliced grapefruit and passionfruit added at the end of the boil add a refreshing acidity and tropical fruit flavor and aroma.”

My Description: This is a nice collaboration between two great breweries; the fruit flavors really pop. It begins with a decent, off-white colored head that fades quick leaving very little lacing. The aroma is welcoming and it feels like I’m in the islands with notes of mangoes, pineapples, and grapefuit. Collaboration No. 5 is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile follows the nose nicely but it almost feels like I’m drinking tropical juice with alcohol; the beer notes get slightly lost behind those potent tropical notes. Flavor notes of mangoes, pineapples, grapefruits, and citrus hops are apparent. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with a slight acidic note. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with coconut shrimp, jerk chicken, or spicy sushi.

ABV: 7.2% Color: Hazy Orange Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 4.5/10

Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm

CALM BEFORE THE STORM: 89 Points

Nice Blend

Nice Blend

This Coffee Cream Ale is brewed in limited quantities in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Calm Before the Storm came from a quest for a warm weather alternative to our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter. Like its more robust cousin, we infuse a punch of flavor using cold brewed Caffé Calabria coffee and a hint of vanilla. But this time, we added it to a lighter-bodied golden cream ale. The end result is a surprisingly bright, coffee-forward beer that’s perfectly refreshing.”

My Description: The addition of the coffee and vanilla notes is done in a manner to where it is not overly robust or intrusive; the cream ale notes still come through cleanly. It begins with a decent, off-white colored head that fades to a thin film quickly leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is expected with some sweet notes blending in with notes of coffee, vanilla, and some herbalness. Calm Before is light/medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile follows the nose nicely with notes of bread, pale malts, coffee, and vanilla. There is also a faint earthy note that adds complexity. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with lingering light roasted coffee notes. Overall, this is nicely blended cream ale that is easy drinking and very smooth. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with cheesecake or a mild cigar.

ABV: 5.5% Color: Orange Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown Ale

HERITAGE COFFEE BROWN ALE: 90 Points

Lightly Roasted

Lightly Roasted

This Coffee Ale is a limited release in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Our latest Rough Draft Limited is a collaboration with Heritage Coffee — a delicious beer we call Alaskan Heritage Coffee Brown Ale!”

My Description: This beer surprisingly works out. It begins with a decent sized, light beige colored head that fades to a thick film that holds the whole way leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is subtle with notes of brewed coffee, soft vanilla notes, and brown malts. Heritage Coffee Brown is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is rather simple but enjoyable with notes of coffee, sweet caramel/toffee notes, and soft brown malt notes. The aftertaste is minimally bitter with lingering coffee and caramel notes. This ale is easy drinking and smooth; the flavor profile isn’t complex but it doesn’t have to be. This beer is just what it says, a brown ale brewed with coffee. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with baked chicken or steak tips.

ABV: 7% Color: Brown/Red Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Ballast Point Indra Kunindra

INDRA KUNINDRA: 95 Points

Like I'm in SE Asia

Like I’m in SE Asia

This Specialty/Herbal Beer is available year-round in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Our India-style Export Stout is a unique collaboration with award-winning homebrewer Alex Tweet. Released in limited quantities, this explosion of South Asian flavors is reason enough to kneel down and thank the heavens. It’s further proof of San Diego’s status as a brewer’s playground, and a beer lover’s utopia.”

My Description: The flavor profile reminds me of eating Indian cuisine, they did a great job turning that into a beer that still feels like a big stout. It begins with a large, dark beige colored head that fades rather quickly but leaves behind an excellent amount of lacing. The aroma is complex and intriguing and spot on with the description including notes of curry, cayenne spice, coconuts, chocolate, and roasted notes. Indra Kunindra is full bodied with a slighlty lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is tasty with the heat from the cayenne spice taking center stage along with notes of coconuts, roasted malt, faint lime notes, and traces of chocolate. The aftertaset is slightly bitter with lingering spice notes. Overall, this is a very creative beer that makes you feel like your in SE Asia. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with ribs, fried rice, or Mongolian BBQ.

ABV: 7% Color: Black Sweetness: 1.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

Right Brain Chubby Squirrel

CHUBBY SQUIRREL: 78 Points

Save for the squirrels

Save for the squirrels

This Amber Ale/Autumn Ale is a limited release in 22 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “A seasonal spiced ale brewed with real Madagascar Vanilla Beans, Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon, and Lemon Peel. Medium bodied and mildly sweet with a subtle boozy warmth. Perfect for sipping on the porch while you watch the leaves fall.”

My Description: The ingredients and the overall idea of this beer is well thought out but poorly executed. It tastes rather bland with little depth and what comes through on the palate feels like cheap ingredients. It begins with a decent, light beige colored head that fades quick leaving behind no lacing. The aroma is welcoming with notes of caramel malt, bread, clove, vanilla, and a hint of nutmeg. Chubby Squirrel is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is nothing special but becomes better as it warms. There are notes of vanilla, caramel malt, cloves, and a touch of cinnamon. The aftertaste is minimally bitter but overall this is more on the malty side. This is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with grilled sausage or baked pumpkin pie.

ABV: 5.5% Color: Ruby/Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

Dogfish Head American Beauty

AMERICAN BEAUTY: 91 Points

What a long strange trip it's been

What a long strange trip it’s been

This Imperial Pale Ale is released randomly in 750 ml bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “American Beauty, an Imperial Pale Ale inspired by the Grateful Dead, captures the spirits of the band’s 30 years of touring and recording. Dogfish Head and the Dead both built their followings by connecting directly with beer lovers and music lovers, so we asked those loyal fans to help drive the recipe. For more than 1,500 ingredient suggestions, organic granola was tops. It was the main course in millions of parking lot meals and is a sweet and toasty complement to the barley and all-American hops.”

My Description: This beer boasts mild flavors and interesting ingredients. It begins with a large, off-white colored head with a great retention level that leaves behind a nice amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming with notes of citrus hops, granola, honey, barley, with a hint of bread. American Beauty is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is interesting and the ingredients blend cleanly together, although I didn’t really detect the granola. A tasty malt backbone holds up notes of honey, floral hops, crackers, and a hint of sugar. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with lingering sweet notes. The alcohol is nicely hidden and overall this beer is smooth and enjoyable. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with jambalaya, vegetable pasta, or light cheeses.

ABV: 9% Color: Copper Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

Wychwood Ginger Beard

GINGER BEARD: 67 Points

Weak Representation

Weak Representation

This Ginger Beer is available seasonally in 500 ml. bottles.

Brewers’ Description: “Back off it’s Ginger Beard, he’s a fiery character and his beer is no different. This amber ale is infused with fiery root ginger to deliver a spicy finish with a bit of bite. Try it if you dare!”

My Description: This beer may be smooth and easy drinking but that is because it is low in alcohol and tastes like a soda. It begins with a good sized, off-white colored head that fades to a thin film leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is dominated by a big ginger candy note that is accompanied by a hint of malt and English hops. It almost smells soda like which is a slight turn off. Ginger Beard is light/medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is decent enough with notes of pale malts, herbal notes, and of course ginger but it all tastes like a liquid candy. This ale is on the sweeter side with a hint of bitterness in the finish and a touch of spice. Overall, this beer is more of a novelty for those with a sweet tooth. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with baked ham or smoked pork shoulder.

ABV: 4.2% Color: Orange Amber Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Short’s Black Chai

BLACK CHAI: 85 Points

Interesting Design

Interesting Design

This Herbal Beer is a limited time release in 12 oz. bottles in the Winter Variety Pack.

Brewer’s Description: “Black Chai is a sumptuous black cream ale that immediately entices the senses with aromas of dark specialty malts, cardamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The brew has a delicious creamy mouthfeel. Chocolate and roasted malt characteristics resonate throughout this black ale. The finish is playfully spicy and bitter.”

My Description: Black Chai is a beer that grows on you. At first it just seems like a novelty but the spice notes add depth and contribute to the flavors of the beer pleasantly. It begins with a large, dark beige colored head with an excellent retention level that holds the whole way leaving behind a tremendous amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant and welcoming with notes of roasted malt, coffee grounds, and spice notes like ginger and cardamom. Black Chai is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is tasty and quite interesting. The black chai notes actually work nicely with this blend of malts because the roasted notes balance out the spice notes cleanly without one taking over the other. Plus, this beer is moderately bitter making for a highly drinkable combination. The chai notes taste great with ginger standing out nicely along with some nutmeg and hints of cardamom. The texture is slightly creamy and overall the flavors are fairly mellow. This is a great beer to check out while it’s available. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with jerk chicken or peppered steaks.

ABV: 5% Color: Black Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5/10

Boulevard Entwined Ale

ENTWINED ALE: 78 Points

White Wine Quality

White Wine Quality

This Blonde Ale/Fruit Ale is released seasonally between May and October in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Entwined Ale is the first production batch of a test beer formerly referred to as Nelson. While the recipe was adjusted slightly from the original tests, the use of Muscat juice remains the focus. The juice was combined with pale malt in the brewhouse for a beer that is light both in body and in color. It was hopped exclusively with a New Zealand hop variety called Nelson Sauvin, known for its tropical fruit and white wine-like aromatics. This unique session ale has a refreshing, slightly tart finish.”

My Description: There is nothing bad about this beer but also nothing memorable. The grape juice addition is interesting but does nothing to get my taste buds excited. It pours a good sized, white colored head that fades to a film but holds most of the way leaving behind some lacing. The aroma is pleasant with notes of pale malts, lemon juice, white grapes, and some earthiness. Entwined Ale is light/medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a dry finish that is crisp. This beer has an overall sparkling white wine characteristic in flavor. It is slightly tart with white grape juice notes. As the beer warms up and the carbonation begins to settle down, some light fruit notes begin to emerge along with some pale malt notes and some Nelson Sauvin hop notes. The aftertaste is minimally bitter but enough to balance out the beer. This is a good integration of grape juice with a beer but overall this is a mediocre offering. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with a grilled salmon salad, coconut shrimp, or roasted asparagus.

ABV: 4.1% Color: Light Straw Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Dogfish Head Raison D’Extra

RAISON D’EXTRA: 100 Points

Complex and Flavorful

Complex and Flavorful

This Specialty Ale is released sporadically in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Our Raison D’Etre, with a little extra. This immodest brew, made with an obscene amount of malt, brown sugar and raisins, takes Belgian-style browns to new heights. Raison D’Extra’s little brother Raison D’Etre was brewed to be the ultimate beer partner for steak. Plump raisins and beet sugars give the beer a similar DNA and color to red wine. D’Extra takes this concept to the next level. What 120 Minute IPA is to 60 Minute IPA, D’Extra is the D’Etre. We’re pushing the limits of what a Belgian yeast can do (and we’ve discovered that’s somewhere in the ballpark of 15% to 18% ABV!) D’Extra is extremely complex and a great candidate for aging. Sip on one with a loved one now, and stash a few in your beer cellar! As Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione says, “This puppy’s only getting better with age.”

My Description: This beer is ridiculously smooth for being such a big beer, and not to mention delicious. It begins with a good sized, beige colored head with a great retention level that holds for some time leaving behind a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is strong and welcoming with a deep malt presence that is slightly sweet along with notes of raisins, banana bread, and some alcohol. Raison D’Extra is full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The flavor profile is complex and bold. Caramel malt and dark fruits like raisins and dates are the center piece but this ale has great depth with many flavors coming through from time to time like brown sugar and faint chocolate notes. Alcohol notes come through as well but are not intrusive, they are enjoyable. The transition to the aftertaste is clean with a welcoming bitter note to help balance this beer. A lingering cherry note is the perfect flavor to end this beauty. I would highly recommend getting a few of these to age as I can only assume they will get smoother and more flavorful. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with grilled steak, roasted lamb loin, or chocolate cheesecake.

ABV: 15%-18% Color: Garnet Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 2/10

Founders Black Rye

BLACK RYE: 96 Points

Dark Bliss

Dark Bliss

This Specialty Ale is released seasonally between January and March in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “We’ve reached into the vault and pulled out a cult classic from years ago. Before Black IPAs were all the rage, we made a dry-hopped dark ale with copious amounts of rye malt. Black Rye is a perfectly balanced blend of German- and American-grown hops, premium 2-row barley and heavily kilned rye and wheat malts. As with many of our offerings, there’s no style category that can contain this beer. It’s an original.”

My Description: An excellent brew for the season. The rye blends so nicely with the roasted malts and the bitterness level is spot on. This beer begins with a good sized, beige colored head with a great retention level that holds most of the way leaving behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is strong and pleasant with notes of rye, pine hops, chocolate, and roasted malts. Black Rye is medium/full bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. This is a delicious combination of flavors. A slightly sweet toffee note is immediately overtaken by roasted malts and rye. Pine hops, earthy notes, and some char are welcoming additions and the alcohol is completely hidden. The transition to the aftertaste is very smooth and the finish is moderately bitter with lingering hop notes. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with grilled lamb chops, roasted duck, or chocolate desserts.

ABV: 7.5%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 5.5/10