Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Bar Crawl - Beer Reviews

As I wrote last week, I went on a Christmas bar crawl with a local homebrewing club.  I convinced a friend (let's call her...Cameron) to come with me and we were joined later by someone else (let's call her...Brooke).  Although she's great company, at 5'0'' tall and about 97lbs, my friend Cameron does not make the best drinking companion (she'll argue till the death, though, that she can drink anyone under the table).  I learned this last Saturday night when I had about 2-3 beers for every one of her drinks.  Fortunately, this gave me the opportunity to expand my beer reviews.  Unfortunately for me, this led to a few hazy memories of my liquid aloha-filled evening.  Nonetheless, it was a fun night where I got to sample a few new beers.

Here is the list of new beers, but you can read previous reviews here and here.  In no particular order, they are:

Primo Island LagerPrimo is Hawai’i’s original beer, dating back to 1897. This tasted very similar to a Longboard Lager or Stella Artois.  It had a light, smooth taste, golden color, and it's brewed with pure Hawaiian cane sugar. It was the perfect beer to just chill on a back deck and enjoy some breezy 80-degree weather. 

As with any Hawaiian beer, it's all about the culture.  The breweries try to embody the spirit of the islands, the people, and the culture.  One way the company tries to embody that spirit is on their website under a section called "Who Is Primo."  There, they profile various people from the island - a 75-year-old convenience store woman who is known for selling "her famous li hing mui, salty-sweet crack seed and cold Primo," a surf board shaper who carries on a family tradition, or an antique dealer who's been operating since the 70s.  

Lindeman's Pomme Lambic - Lambic is a "spontaneously fermenting" style of wheat beer unique to Belgium. Pomme is a type of lambic brewed with apples.  During the fermentation process, Brewers pump the wort into cooling vessels, open the windows and let the soon-to-be beer cool overnight where it's "inoculated by the yeast and other microbial flora of the surrounding air," according to Lindemans.  The Pomme Lambic was good, but a little too sweet.  It tasted much more like a cider than a hoppy beer.  The apple flavor was unmistakable and while good, it was a little overwhelming.  The bottle itself is unique in that it has a foil wrapper over a cork that must be opened with a wine bottle opener.  The most disappointing thing about this beer is its alcohol content.  At only 3.5% abv, it doesn't have anything to help overcome its embarrassingly sweet taste.

Hawai'i Nui Hapa Brown Ale - This is also a beer made by a Hawaiian brewery.  At the recent World Beer Cup, this beer won the Silver Award for Brown Ales and I can see why.  First of all, it has a very smooth taste with slight hints of nutmeg and cinnamon.  Small-batches are brewed with two-row caramel, roasted and chocolate malts. Then they use Hawaiian water to finish the fermenting process.  It's really good.

Now I know what you're thinking: Tell me more about this World Beer Cup.  Well, in 2010, 3,330 beers from 642 breweries located in 44 countries were grouped into 90 style categories. Entrants were judged by an international assemblye of 183 judges from 26 countries.  Basically, the mission is to educate the world about beer and bring together a variety of traditions from countries around the world.

Maui Coconut Porter - This one immediately threw me off because it was served in a can.  Very rarely have I seen porters or stouts served in a can (yes, I know you can get Guinness in a can). I said rarely.  Anyway, this Porter from the Maui Brewing Company pours a deep black-brown, with an opacity to it which causes the edges to glow slightly when held to the light.  Taste is smooth and full, and again extremely well mingled between the sweetness of coconut and chocolate, and the slightly more astringent roastiness.  This was another delicious beer.

Gordon Biersch Winterbock - Ever had Sam Adams winter lager? This tastes the same.

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