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Archive for the ‘Style: Blonde Ale’ Category

Nebraska Reserve Series Apricot Au Poivre Saison Aged in Chardonnay Barrels

March 29th, 2011 by Aaron Goldfarb | 1 Comment | Filed in Brewer: Nebraska, Brewer: Russian River, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: Blonde Ale, Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

6.5% from a 750 mL

(I apologize for the sideways picture–my iPhone is fucked up.)

So…I write a novel, I’m feeling pretty proud about myself, about my career, and yet I keep hearing from people, I keep receiving emails:

“Why don’t you review beer any more?!”

I guess I thought novel > beer blog reviews in the world of writing and entertainment, but apparently, to many people, that isn’t the case and, in fact, I alienated many of my fans!  They didn’t care about my stupid novel (that took years to write), they care about my subversive reviews of craft beer (that take a few minutes to write).

Who am I to be the arbiter of my fan’s enjoyment?  Thus, I am back.  And, I plan to be back with new reviews every single week now.  My first “back” review, though, is of a great beer by some of my good friends in the industry, Nebraska Brewing Company.

Nebraska burst onto the scene in 2010 with two of my favorite beers of the year:  Hop God aged in Chardonnay Barrels and Melange a Trois, a tripel aged in, you guessed in, Chardonnay barrels.  Here’s another beer aged in Chardonnay barrels, this time using their Apricot Au Poivre Saison as the base.

Now, oddly enough, I’ve had all of Nebraska’s rare, high-end, and pricey brews–which, luckily, they ship to me, gratis–but I haven’t had that many of their regular line.  I was fortunate enough to finally try their IPA the other day and it is as good as anything on either coast, and last summer I sucked down plenty of the standard Apricot Au Poivre.  That was a nice little brew, but the chardonnay aging takes this one to a completely different level.

Flawlessly effervescent.  A slight tartness yet the apricot fruitiness comes through with just a hint of stinging black pepper.  I put back a 750 of this in about 750 seconds.  I was loving it that much.  Another huge winner from Nebraska that demands being searched for.  It still doesn’t even have a single review on Beer Advocate yet!  Come on people.

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Is Nebraska one of the best sour beer makers in America?!  Hard to say, there’s so many great ones and NBC doesn’t quite have as large of catalog (yet) as some other, older breweries.  But they might be the best Chardonnay-barreled beer maker around.  Or, damn close.  At the moment, I’d rank them 2nd to the American kings of the sour beer game, Russian River, who also favor Chardonnay aging.

Interestingly, just a few weeks earlier I tried a Russian River beer aged in these beloved barrels:

Russian River Sanctification

This is a 6.5% Belgian Blond aged in Chardonnay oak with 100% Brett added.  And, whoa!, is it a nice beer.  Perhaps the best-looking beer I’ve ever had.  Looks like fresh squeezed OJ with the pulp removed.  Not overly complex, but flawless in execution.  Tart, crisp, with the fruity taste of a nice white wine.  Not too sour, and totally refreshing.  A beauty.

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Harlem Sugar Hill Golden Ale

September 30th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 2 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Harlem Brewing Co., Country: America, Grade: C-, Style: Blonde Ale

4% ABV from a sixer

Who knew Harlem had a brewery?  I sure didn’t, and I live only 70 blocks from it.  Though it’s hardly a brewery as this is the lone beer they make.  Seems more like a homebrewer just had the gumption to get some slick labels printed up at Mail Boxes Etc. and then secured some minor local distribution.  And though the beer’s name is cool, and the labels are indeed cool, the beer is unfortunately marginal.

Harlem’s aforementioned brewmaster is Celeste Beatty, an African-American woman.  And being that I only know of one other black brewmaster (Brooklyn’s Garrett Oliver) and zero female brewmasters, I’m assuming Ms. Beatty is the only black female brewmaster in America.

I wanted to have some homtown pride, I wanted to support the little gal, and I’m notorious–like most white folks–for overrating Harlem stuff as Cotton Club, Apollo Theatre, Malcolm X-type cool, but unfortunately Sugar Hill has some problems.

It smells fine.  Mild hints of malt and grain.  I thought it might actually be good.  The taste is fine too, a decent little sweetness.  The problem is that it’s just so damn thin.  Amp these exact flavors up and produce a 6% beer and now we’d be talking, but as it stands now this is just beer-flavored water.  Why would a brewery make their one beer so meager?  I finished an entire six-pack in about 45 minutes and wasn’t anywhere close to drunk.  Though, I was already hungover.  Figure that one out.

Suggested motto:  “Harlem Brewing Company:  Beers that skip the most cherished step in drinking — getting drunk!”

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Blue Point Summer Ale

June 4th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Blue Point, Country: America, Grade: C-, Style: "Summer" beer, Style: Blonde Ale

4.4% ABV

There are lot of Blue Point beers I like (I know it sounds gay, but their blueberry beer in particular is sublime. OK, using the word “sublime” sounded gay. But really, there is no other way to describe the wonder of Blue Point Blueberry). Any who, I was pretty excited to see this Blue Point Summer Ale fresh on the shelf at my local supermarket, rushing home to try it. I didn’t like it at all. I guess it’s just time for me to admit that I don’t like summer ales. Any of ‘em. Even breweries I hold in super high esteem (Brooklyn, Sierra Nevada to name two) make summers that I don’t really love. Much like all summers, Blue Point’s is overly light, overly citrus-y, underly alcohol-y, and just really has no body or taste. I mean, I guess this would be the pinnacle of beer for those (non-)drinkers that list Corona as their favorite, but other than that, it just isn’t that swell. I don’t really have anything to criticize this beer for, but there’s nothing to recommend about it either. Actually, it does have a pretty gorgeous (first “sublime,” now “gorgeous”???) label, looking like special issued stamp from old-timey Long Island. That was my favorite part of this beer.

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(Note: A lot of people take me to task for criticizing beers like Corona and summer ales. They say that these are great, “refreshing” beers meant to be enjoyed ice-cold and poolside or at an outdoor BBQ. Hogwash. A beer should be good no matter where I have it. A Gatorade Propel might be refreshing in the hot sun too, but it doesn’t mean it’s a great beer)