#SippyTimeBeer Review – @HalandAls Winter and Christmas Beer Tasting 2013

Bells Winter White

Bell’s Winter White with the commemorative Hal & Al’s glass

I went to Hal & Al’s last night for their Winter and Christmas Beer Tasting. It was just what the doctor called for since the lady & I have been a bit grumpy getting prepared for Christmas. Our friends Chris & Lacey got there ahead of us. You got a punch card for the 12 beers of Christmas. At the end of the tasting, you got a special pint. Let’s delve into these four ounces of beer.

Bell’s BreweryWinter White Ale – Last year, I tried Bell’s Christmas Ale in my second Sippy Time Beer post. I also had the Winter White Ale in the fourth post. Unlike Christmas ales, Winter ales tend not to have cinnamon, nutmeg or clove. Christmas ales also don’t tend to be whites either. I’ll get more into that topic later. This beer doesn’t use any of those spices but the mixture of yeast, barley & malt do make it taste like it has a hint of clove in it. That line is a correction from the original review. This beer has a hefeweizen like quality without the wheat flavor. Availability here. Solid start.

Smuttynose Brewing CompanyWinter Ale – This beer was interesting because it was an amber ale, which isn’t used much for these style of beers. It did seem to have the normal spices in it which had a different tone to them since it was playing off the malt instead of hops. I enjoyed this beer out of New Hampshire. Availability here. Two for two.

Buckeye Lake BrewingChristmas Ale – This beer is obviously a local one that most read won’t get to try. This beer was more of a red ale with the usual spices but there was an interesting note on the beer list. This beer had graham crackers in it. I didn’t taste it unfortunately and it didn’t seem to make the beer any thicker. They also said it finished with a sweetness and it did. A little too much in my opinion.

Smuttynose Winter Ale, Buckeye Lake Christmas Ale and Southern Tier Old Man Winter (L to R)

Smuttynose Winter Ale, Buckeye Lake Christmas Ale and Southern Tier Old Man Winter (L to R)

Southern Tier Brewing CompanyOld Man Winter Ale – My third review covered Southern Tier’s other winter offering, 2xmas. This beer was more traditional than that one. The barley and hops stand out. You were supposed to sip this because of it’s high alcohol content, 7.0% which isn’t that high. I took this one down with a quickness. Availability here. Seriously, try it.

Full Pint BrewingFestivus – This beer comes out of Pittsburgh, PA. The verbiage of this beer gets the Seinfeld treatment so you don’t get much of a description and their site doesn’t even list. I think it was another amber ale though because of the heavy malt with a little more hops than normal. It was very tasty also. The distribution area is pretty limited but if you’re in this area, try it.

The Brew KettleWinter Warmer – This beer is another local offering that many people won’t be able to wrangle. From the northern city of Strongsville, OH this beer brings the usual Christmas spices of cinnamon, ginger (not as common) and honey. They also toss in some orange (not tasted much) and lemon (very much tasted). It actually helped to cut through the sweetness of the honey with the acidic taste of the lemon. I still don’t think it cut the sweetness enough. I sense a general trend of holidays beers that I don’t like.

Full Pint Festivus, Brew Kettle Winter Warmer, Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas and Oskar Blues Yule Chub (L to R, T to B)

Full Pint Festivus, Brew Kettle Winter Warmer, Thirsty Dog 12 Dogs of Christmas and Oskar Blues Yule Chub (L to R, T to B)

Thirsty Dog Brewing Company12 Dogs of Christmas – The sweetest of the lot as noted a few weeks ago.

Oskar Blues BreweryYule Chub – This beer was a strange one because of it’s dark color. It looked like a porter or stout. Neither the description nor their website say exactly what style of beer it is. The website doesn’t even acknowledge that this beverage exists. That is probably why we were supposed to thank someone at the bar for procuring this limited edition keg. The description used orange peels and spruce tips in it and I tasted the pine flavor but not the orange. I am not a fan of of drinking spruce but the darker beer held up to it much better than a lighter style of beer. Availability here although you probably won’t be able to snag this beer in particular.

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#SippyTimeBeer Review – @21stAmendment, @Lagunitasbruwhs, @OtterCreekBeer and @ThirstyDogBeer

21stAmendment Sneak Attack Saison21st Amendment BrewerySneak Attack Saison – My lady and I went back to Altoona PA to go see Kent State play at Penn State back in September. We stayed at my parent’s place Friday & Saturday nights. After being rained on for the entire game and watching Kent State be miserable, I was ready for a beverage after a rainy forty five minute trip from State College to Altoona. Luckily my younger brother Brian had left this beer in the fridge. It must have been in there for a while since this beer is only available from January to March. Not only did I need a beer, I really loved this one. The spiciness provided by the cardamom is quite a surprise and very pleasing. The beer goes down smooth and has a nice crispness to it. I would suggest finding this beer in the upcoming months, so go to this part of their site to find out if you can Sneak Attack your taste buds.

Lagunitas Brewing CompanyLittle Sumptin’ WildJeremy tried this beer back at Oktoberfest in Charlotte so when I saw it on the menu at a bar, I decided to give it a whirl even though it is an IPA. It may have been the beer that started my long, hop heavy road to at least figuring out IPAs. Lagunitas advertises that they also put in boatloads of wheat and pale malt which might cut the edge off of the hops for me. So just like other IPAs that I have enjoyed, this one is more balanced than most that I have tried. This beer from Petaluma CA made it all of the way to the taps of a small bar in Columbus so you should be able to find it in your area, so long as it’s July-ish. Or October which is when I had it.

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#SippyTimeBeer Review – #Cbus Microbrew Festival

Cbus Microbrew Festival '13

I got to taste a lot of local beer when I went down to the Columbus Microbrew Festival. I had a chance to taste some of my favorites but as usual, I decided to try beers that I didn’t have. Zauber Brewing is still working on a larger facility. Four Strings had a couple of offerings there and I passed on them along with Barley’s, Barley’s Smokehouse & Pub, Columbus, Elevator, Gordon Biersch, Great Lakes, Ohio & Thirsty Dog because I have had and reviewed a number of all of their products. I’ll list in alphabetical order what I did have since I’m not completely sure of the order I drank them in. They were supposed to serve 4 ounce portions but almost everyone was very generous with their pours so I got a good idea of how they all taste.

Buckeye Lake BreweryOctoberfest – It’s that time of year, Oktoberfest & Pumpkin beers are everywhere. I’ll get around to a whole column on pumpkin beers later. This brewery just east of Columbus in, you guessed it, Buckeye Lake has gotten good reviews from my friends in the area. It was finally time to try some for myself though. I’m not sure if it was fair to try a seasonal beer though. If it is indeed seasonal since they don’t even have a beer list on their website. The beer had the red hue that most “Marzen” (March in German because of when they brewed them) beers have. This one has a nice balance of hops and malt to make it taste really good. Thumbs up for my first taste of Buckeye Lake.

Great Black Swamp BrewingWetlands Wheat – This company is based in Toledo, OH so it’s not the most local beer there but it was a new one to me. No one wants to go to Toledo so I’m glad they came to us. I love wheat beers so it was an easy first choice from the company and it delivered. Nice and crisp on a night that was reminiscent of Fall than the Summer.

Great Black Swamp BrewingBull Frog Stout – Because there weren’t any cider beers on tap, my girl friend ended up giving me her tickets. Since they had a hard closing time of 10 PM on Friday, we had to venture back Saturday afternoon to finish using the tickets. You don’t need to twist my arm. Since I had a second crack at this brewery, I went with their Bull Frog Stout which was quite good. Double thumbs up from this company.

Homestead Beer CompanyPine Table Pale Ale – This beer is from Licking County which, like Buckeye Lake, is just east of Cbus. Unfortunately, my memory of this beer is hazy at best. I didn’t take notes and I didn’t Instagram each beer, just their label. No, it wasn’t from drinking too much, this time. It just means I’ll have to try it again.

Homestead Beer CompanyBoat India Pale Ale – On Saturday, I couldn’t remember how many choices Homestead had. When I got to their station, I was talked into trying this beer. “It’s the right balance of hops & malt” said the worker who must have been part of the brewery because he was dead on.I could get into more IPAs if they were like this one.

Hoof Hearted BrewingVoltan – Russian Imperial Stout – Aside from the over played but somewhat amusing name, they do have a goofy centaur as a mascot so these guys know how to market. Of course, it helps when you have a fantastic beer. One of the best beers of the weekend.

Jackie O’s BreweryMatriarch Tri-Pa – I have reviewed two of their beers with another one on my “To Get To” list. I hadn’t seen their Tri-Pa probably because it contains six different kinds of hops and a total of five pounds of it per barrel. It’s no wonder this beer cost me not the normal one ticket for four ounces but three tickets. Another reason the cost was so high was because of it’s 11% alcohol content. If you want to get drunk in style and quickly, have this beer if you can get a hold of it.

Lagerheads BreweryWhite Water Witte – When we arrived Saturday, I grabbed this beer first because the vendors let us in without getting our 21 and over wrist bands. No one cared that we didn’t have them on. Yep, starting to get old. Any way, since it was good and sunny, mid 0s I went with a Belgian wheat beer. Perfect plan to soak up some of the last rays of summer. Come Fall and Winter, that whole sun thing is going to be scarce around these parts. Glad I could enjoy a smooth crisp and citrusy beer. They are located up in the Abbeyville OH which is just south of Cleveland.

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#SippyTimeBeer Review – What I Drank During The Super Bowl

Elevator Thirsty Dog Tommyknocker

Elevator Brewing CompanyWicked Goat Barrel Aged I.P.A. – This beer is a departure from the normal I.P.A. because of the barrel aging. It dulls the taste of the hops or they don’t put in as much as normal. It tastes like they’re using an oak barrel because it definitely has a hint of it in the flavor. This beer is out of Columbus. They have a fabulous brew pub that was the earliest I had heard of aside from the Columbus Brewing Company. I have a vague story about my bachelor party from Elevator but I’ll save that for another time.

Thirsty Dog Brewing CompanyWhippet Wheat – This is my favorite beer from Thirsty Dog. As you can imagine names all of their names have a dog reference in them. The alliteration should not dissuade you from trying this beer. It is extremely smooth German Weizen beer. You can definitely taste the banana in there with something else surrounding it which ends up being clove and vanilla. You can check to see if it’s in your area here. I suggest finding it if you’re in one of those states. It may be out of Akron, but it has solid distribution.

TommyKnocker BreweryButt Head Doppelbock Lager – I’ve got to admit, I didn’t actually drink this one during the game. I like keeping a trio of reviews at a time though. I had this one for my dad’s 70th birthday party. As far as I know, this beer has been sitting in my parent’s fridge for two years. I’m not sure if that changed the taste at all. Although it was a lager, it was thicker than normal and the tasty were more like a porter. It does use caramel malt like the Founder’s Porter. It was tasty for a possibly skunked out beer. I’ll give it another taste from a fresh bottle just to be sure. This beer is the only one on this list not from Ohio. It’s out of Colorado. Here’s their distribution so taste one and make sure it isn’t skunky too. -Kevin

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