I love beer. It is just that simple. Benjamin Franklin once said that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Well he must want me to be really happy. So happy ,in fact, that I brew my own beer just to get exactly what I want. I am lucky enough to live near a store that stocks over 800 different beers from around the world. This has given me the unique opportunity to taste and review beers on a routine basis. I am on a quest to try every beer that they stock and to find the "ultimate" beer for me. The reviews that I generate can be found below.
I am not a professional beer critic. I am not a certified beer judge (yet.) I am just a lover of beer. I write these reviews as I drink the beer. I write them in a dead trees book with a pen. I tend to ignore all rules of composition, grammar & syntax. I am just trying to capture the essence of what I am tasting, smelling & feeling. I do clean up the reviews a bit when I key them in. You may notice that many reviews are similar, this is because of the unbelievable number of similar beers out there. I write about one review for every three different beers that I drink. This is because I am a lazy bum. I hope to improve on this ratio in the future.
The rating system is 1 to 4 stars. 1 sucks, 4 is good. Duh.
#1 Bass & Co. Pale Ale
Orange color. Light scent. Light bodied with a crisp finish. A small touch of bitter taste. A tiny bit fruity. None of the mellow, nutty-creamy taste that I really like. Drinkable. Not bad.
#2 Portland Original Honey Beer
Light golden color. Light slightly hoppy aroma. Slightly malty. I can actually taste the honey in this beer. It's slightly sweet with an initial bitterness that fades in to a mellow nutty finish. A good beer.
#3 Acme California Pale Ale
Yellow orange. Tangy & slightly musky aroma. Mildly bitter. A slight metallic taste. Very slight sweet after-taste that quickly fades to bitterness. Drinkable. Not bad.
#4 Hacker-Pschorr Munich Edelhel
An authentic German pilsner. At one time this was voted "best beer in America" by congress. Hmmm. A light golden lager. Malty aroma, smells like a domestic. Very tasty. A light flavor but very complex. A nice mellow maltiness with a bitter finish. Slight nutty flavor. Very good. As with all premium imported beers, these are hard to find in good condition.
#5 Thames Welsh Extra Special Bitter
Dark brown color(or colour as this IS a Welsh beer.) Full malty scent with a nice frothy head. Mmmm, full malty taste. A sweet start with creamy overtones. Fades into a nice mellow bitterness. Dark tasting but not "burnt" like a beer with a lot of roasted barley. Smooth and delicious. Very good.
#6 Spaten Pils
VERY pale golden color. Not very aromatic. Smells like sour beer but not like a Lambic... I have never tasted piss but I'm pretty sure this is what it tastes like. A sour & bitter beer. I couldn't even finish it. Note: This could have been a bad bottle. I will re-sample it in a few months.
#7 Allegheny Cream Ale
Dark caramel color. Smells like a homebrew. A slightly fruity aroma. Diaceytl? It tastes like caramel too. Slightly sweet. Not very creamy. It has a slight after taste of tea.
#8 Wynkoop Light Rail Ale
Medium golden color. Slightly fruity. A nice strong hop aroma. A good amount of bitterness. Good but average.
#9 Theakston Old Peculier
Very dark brown color. Sweet aroma. A hint of hops, very light. A slight chocolate scent. Very tasty. Full and rich. Very flavorful. This beer is roumered to be made with molasses. If so it has made for a good beer. Remember to serve this one at "cellar" temperature for best flavor.
#10 Portland Brewing Woodstock IPA
Nice head. A light hoppy aroma, flowery. Lots of hop flavor with a bitter wood aftertaste. Almost smoky. Not to my liking. Too bitter & weird. I couldn't finish it.
#11 Rouge Dead Guy Ale
Light amber color. A malty aroma. Nice taste. Well balanced.
#12 Gun in Your Hand Nut Brown Ale
Dark brown color. Sweet, fruity aroma. Full malt flavor with a big hop bitterness. Has a slight "roasted" flavor. Not bad for a dark ale.
#13 Sapporo Draft Beer (in a can?)
Pale yellow color. Smells like a domestic, mild with a tiny hint of hop aroma. Not very impressive. An American beer clone, all the way from Japan. I can taste the off flavors from the high adjunct percentage. Fairly dry with a mild, mettalic taste. Almost not malt, some bitterness. A canoe beer.
#14 North Coast Brewing Scrimshaw Pilsner
Light golden color. A slight musty, malty scent. Not too bad. Well hopped with a slight spice aftertaste. A good pilsner.
#15 Bitter by Fisher
Golden yellow color. Nice hop aroma. Uuugghh!! That is BAD!! It tastes like very weak beer witha metallic aftertaste. It tastes like a penny. Yuck. French beer.
#16 Samuel Adams Boston Lager
Red gold color. Slight malt scent witha fresh hop aroma. A fairly standard US "micro" brew. Some malt taste and LOTS of hops. Drinkable but unoriginal. Does NOT live up to the commercials.
#17 SLO Brewing Co. Amber Ale
Dark golden red color. Typical hop aroma. Ahhhg! Yet another highly hopped no malt ale. Depressingly unoriginal. I think these guys are brewing from the same kit.
#18 JW Dundees Original Honey Brown Extra Rich Lager
Wow, that is a long name for a beer. Maybe they could have thrown "Smooth" or "refreshing" or "gets-the-job-done" in there somewhere. Unusual Dark brass-gold color. No hint of red. Nice sweet malty scent. Interesting taste. Nice malt background. Too much honey. It has a very odd taste. Needs more hop balance. I think this beer would be better fresh.
#19 Firestone Walker Windsor Pale Ale
Dark gold color. Strong hop aroma. Light malt taste. Bitter. Not bad. Smooth bitter finish. Something wrong, sour notes.
#20 Acme California Brown Ale
Dark gold/brown color. Nice malty aroma. Smooth grainy taste. A bit of the roasted/burnt malt flavor. Well balanced with a nice bitter hop finish
#21 Boulder Beer Pale Ale
#22 Samuel Smiths Old Brewery Pale Ale
Dark copper red color. Strong metallic taste. Strong roasted malt flavor with a good hop bite. I can't get past the metallic taste.
#23 Anno Duuel
Very light pale yellow. Hugh head! Wonderful hoppy aroma with a distinct spicy saaz scent. An almost musty aroma. A lot of hop taste! Explosive carbonation. Full rich hop taste, bitter with a sweet finish.
#24 Wurch & Warnke Bohemian Style Pilsner
Rich golden color. Nice head. Smells great! Wonderful taste! Full hop bitterness, nice spice. Sweet taste, low malt fades to a full hop flavor. Very, very smooth & clean finishing. An excellent lager.
#25 Fullers ESB
Deep copper color. Nice full head. Great chocolate/coffee aroma. Smells like an oatmeal stout. Yummy, creamy & smooth. An excellent beer!! Sweet & flavorful. Some have described its taste as "caramel". I don't know if I agree. It has a wonderful flavor, malty & bitter, sweet & easy drinking. It is hard to describe the flavor, it seems to be unique to this quality beer. One of the best.
#26 Witkap-Pater Abbey Single Ale
Great golden straw color. Clean white head. An odd musty/hoppy aroma typical of beers from this region(Belgium.) Sometimes they taste great, sometimes they taste moldy. Lets see how this one tastes. Hmmm, a sour/ malty taste with a bit of hop bite. Not to my liking.
#27 Warsteiner Premium
The #1 selling beer in Germany according to the label. Beautiful pale gold color with a nice white head. Full carbonation. Has the same musty/hoppy (opposite of citrusy) aroma typical of German beers. I think it may be from the "Nobel" hops. Low malt taste with a slight bitterness. Has an "earthy" pungent taste, none of the nutty creamy taste that I like. Drinkable, would take some getting used too.
#28 Spaten Premium
This beer is hard to find in good condition. Most bottles are skunked by the time they get to the store. Brassy gold color. Low/no aroma. A slight citrusy hop scent. Great taste, slightly sweet & smooth with a good bitter finish. Full bodied without being heavy. It has a delicious taste that I can't identify. Good subtle malt flavor. Light drinking. I could drink several pints in a sitting.
#29 Bitburger Premium Pils
The most famous Pilsner in Germany according to description. It has a beautiful pale gold color, white head with fine bubbles. The wonderful citrusy/earthy aroma. Not musty like most German pils. A refreshing scent. Yummy! Smooth and refreshing. A nice light flavor with a complex finish. Sweet and malty. A wonderful slightly bitter finish, a very tasty beer. No nutty taste. Just clean malt and citrusy hop flavor. Great beer.
#30 Erdinger Weisbier Kristelklar
German wheat beer. I think this type of popular wheat beer as a very low percentage of wheat (10%-20%). A good hop aroma with a nice malt background. A typical "earthy" sent. Good but not original. A sweet mellow start the fades to a quick bitter finish.
#31 Erdinger Weisbier Dunkel
A dark wheat beer. Chocolate color with a hint of red. A nice malty scent will no real hop aroma, clean. Mmmm! Great! A good malt profile, sweet and slightly nutty. It finishes smooth and easy with very little bitterness. Almost no aftertaste. Very light for a "dark" beer.
#32 Portland Haystack Black Porter
Dark black color, tan head. Not a very big head at all. Big dark malt aroma, slight chocolate/toffee notes. No hop aroma. Great taste! Full bodied and malty. Dark roasted flavor but not "burnt". A very pleasing malty/roasty taste that fades into an assertive hop bitterness.
#33 McEwans Export Scottish Ale
Light orange/camber color, white head (not very thick) in unusual orangy color. No hop aroma light malt/slight flowery scent. A bit "musty", clean tasting but uneventful. Almost "watery" tasting, bitter finish. Tastes like a sheet low alcohol beer.
#34 Anchor Steam Beer
"Steam" beer is an old Californian style. It was very popular back during the gold rush days. It was brewed with a lager yeast at ale temperatures in long shallow pans. The carbonation coming from the kegs as they were tapped was said to resemble steam. Anchor Steam produces the only commercially available example. This is a dark copper/brown colored beer. A nice malty profile, sweet aroma with caramel scent. Excellent taste! Smooth and even. A good malt taste with a nice nutty background. A pleasant taste that fades to a light bitter/nutty finish. Very good. A light "drinkable" beer.
#35 Dixie Beer
A light lager from New Orleans. The brewery has been around since 1907. They age there beers in cypress wood tanks. This is a very pale gold color. Slightly cloudy, very little hop aroma it has an odd scent, possibly from the cypress wood. Hmmmm. An odd taste. I can taste the standard "light lager" profile in the background but it is masked by a very odd grassy-sour taste. Good but not to my liking.
#36 Edelweiss Hefetrub
Brewed by Hofbrau 10 miles from Salzburg in Germany, A nice golden cloudy wheat beer. Very nice smooth white head. A pleasing fruity-pungent aroma, somewhat earthy. Tasty. It starts off as a sweet citrusy flavor then proceeds to a very light malty, earthy taste finishing with a very clean & slightly bitter tail. Might be just a bit over carbonated. Very good and true to style. One of the better wheat beers. Not overly earthy like so many others.
#37 Wolaver's Pale Ale
"Naturally brewed with organically grown barley and hops" or so says the label. It is even certified by the "OTCO" whatever the hell that is. This is an amber colored American pale ale. Slightly cloudy, could be a chill haze. A very light citrusy hop aroma, very alluring. Mmm-Mmm, tasty! A smooth but worty taste. Very fresh. Good hop flavor that finishes clean. No nutty taste though. Just good clean beer. Very enjoyable & flavorful. This would be an ideal beer for those looking to move beyond Sam Adams and the like.
#38 Bert Grant's Amber Ale
According to the label Bert Grant is "the world's most discriminating beer drinker." OK. Darker amber color, no head. Hmmm. An interesting scent. Toffee notes, crystal malt maybe and something hard to define - sweet smelling but with a malty background. Apparently "the world's most discriminating beer drinker" is not all that demanding. Definite off flavors. Stale and cardboardy, oxidized maybe. A small malt flavor comes through, no hop aroma or flavor. Average at best, yucky at worst.
#39 Corona Extra
The most famous Mexican beer. It is made with a very high percentage of rice in place of malted barley. It is very cheap to make and designed to be refreshing rather that full flavored. It is supposed to be close to a fairly standard light lager. It certainly looks the part. Over the years many people have wondered what gives Corona its distinctive flavor. Many odd "ingredients" and bizzar midnight rituals have been proposed. The "taste" is actually a smell. Corona is delibertaly skunked. The beer is packaged in clear bottles and subjected to strong light. This causes complex reactions with the isomerized alpha acids which forms prenyl mercaptan, the main component in "skunk-smell" Humans can detect prenyl mercaptan at just a few parts per trillion. It is a VERY powerful scent. If you live outside of the Americas chances are that you have never smelled a skunk. If you can get your hands on a domesticated ferret, give it a whiff. The smell is very similar. The beer has a beautiful light gold color and the traditional skunky smell. VERY light taste, almost watery. No real malt taste to speak of. Light and drinkable. Best served ice cold on a hot day. For no readily apparent reason many people put a lime in the bottle. If you do this in Mexico they just look at you funny. (this is catching on in the more liberal border towns like TJ.) If you like this style there are better examples. Pacifico comes to mind.
#40 Young's Luxury Double Chocolate Stout
Established in 1831, Young's brewery claims to be Brittan's oldest brewery. If anything has ever been worth a 169 year wait, it is this beer. Deep, dark and mysterious with a luscious brown head. The foam clings like lace to sides of the glass. The scent has to be experienced to be believed. It is complex and alluring, a delightful chocolate roast aroma. No hop aroma at all. The taste, ohh the taste!! It starts out with a bit of a roasted flavor then builds to a sweet/chocolate taste and begins a long, slow, complex descent through rich full maltiness, mellow hop flavor and a delicate bitter bite. It finishes with a balanced nuttiness. This is a smooth and flavorful beer. It can be very thirst quenching when served cold and is a delicious treat to be savored at cellar temperature. Truly one of the world's finest beers. If you like dark beers, you will be in heaven. If you have never tried darks beers this is a great place to start and finish. Superb.