August 2015 Archives

Founders - Curmudgeon's Better Half

Better_Half.jpgSo here is an ale I have had around for a while. I knew I would enjoy it, Founders backstage series are not the disappointing type. It rational to argue that I may have hung on to this one for too long.

It poured with a minimal head, reddish mahogany in color, and with a minimal nose initially - it was a bit cold. The palate was English Barleywine with rich sweet molasses. That is pretty much it, the clean transparent caramel character of English Barleywine with the complexities of brown sugar and molasses. It's possible that at one point some of the barrel aging aspects may have been more dominate. Overall simple and good. It had all the standard aspects of any Founder's brew, balanced, full-bodied, no off character of any kind. Recommended.

Now to the untrained observer that may not sound like much a review, and maybe it's not. But here is the thing about Founders. Stating that something is simply standard Foundesr fare, is nothing to shake a stick at. Recently I sampled the two Perrin Killing Craft Series, Kill 'Em All, and Kill 'Em with Kindness. They were standard Perrin fare, decent, thin bodied for an Imperial (in the case of the Kill 'Em All), quickly dissipating head, and a reminder that putting sub - par ale in a barrel does not magically made it God's gift to the world. Perrin tries hard, but never makes outstanding ales. Not bad quality, but never over the top. Honestly when sampling them I though that Perrin had wasted their money on barrels.

and.. while I am catching up on reviews. Oak Aged Cuvee 2. Southern Tier has really went to hell. I don't buy their stuff anymore. But back in the day they made some decent stuff. Oak Aged Cuvee 2 had a rich malty nose, rich caramel notes, raisins, and dark fruits. It was good stuff. Too bad they just make overly sweet crap these days.

Barrel - Aged Narwhal

Black with a deep sustaining head of fine bubbles, Barrel Aged Narwhal has rich cocoa notes, roasted malts, and strong bourbon characteristics. Overall I have to rate this brew relatively high. While it may not posses the complexities of some barrel aged stouts it is not uni-dimensional. The bourbon is big, it is on the opposite end of the scale as say Brooklyn's Black Ops. I thoroughly enjoyed it's rich vanilla, charcoal, bourbon richness. Full bodied just like regular Narwhal it leaves nothing to the imagination. I would guess that the primary criticism brought against this brew if any, would be the dominance of the bourbon.

Ultimately, cellared Imperial stouts, and barrel aged stouts fall into different categories. I think a well aged Imperial wins over a barrel aged beer, simply because you get flavors and complexities missing from a barrel aged brew. I recent sampled the past few years of Brooklyn Black Chocolate stout. With the exception of one year which was sort of over oxidized and off a bit, the rest were amazing. It's hard to beat just plain old cellared stouts, Narwhal included. I just drank two that I in the keezer/cellar for the past couple years and they were pretty darn good. Of all the aged stouts I have had recently - my vertical of Dark Horse Plead the 5th has to be the winner. Plead the 5th is a pretty average stout in my opinion, but is ages better than anything I have saved.

In other news, now that I have drank all those verticals down, I have been able to clear out my fermentation chamber so that I could just possibly brew a batch of homebrew. I had wanted to brew a Black Tuesday clone two years ago before I left Michigan, so hopefully I will get my chance here soon.

One thing I would like to add - it is easy to forget that Narwhal is a product of Sierra Nevada one of the largest breweries in the U.S. They still make what I consider to be Craft Beer, they have not sold out, and their products have not went to hell. Not only that, they still can turn out a quality special product like BA Narwhal. This is no small feat. No other brewery I know of has maintained the size/quality ratio that SA has without selling out. Kudos to Sierra Nevada.


The Brewmaster


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This page is an archive of entries from August 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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