Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Bridgeport IPA - BOTTLEBridgePort India Pale Ale
USA flag - SMALL

Company info:
BridgePort Brewery
Oregon, USA

[bridgeportbrew.com]

Bottle size sampled: 355ml

Alcohol: 5.5%
Standard drinks: 1.6

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $3.99 AU

Label info: ‘Floral and hoppy, delightfully complex, smooth and satisfying’

What the label really means: Nuff said

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: I’m not too convinced of the effectiveness of this label. It looks as though it may have been designed in the 1980s and hasn’t moved from there. And I’m not talking cool Goonies-style 1980s, I’m talking Bobby McFerrin ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ 1980s. It’s like the back cover of a computer programming text book. There’s way too much green, and a horrible navy blue banner with gold print above it. The whole thing is like a horrible coffee shop menu. Time for a revamp Bridgeport.

I give it a label rating of 2 out of 10.

AROMA:  A gentle wave of floral and straw tones.Bridge Port IPA - GLASS

Taste: GLASS – This is a very mild take on an IPA. Sure, it’s incredibly smooth and refreshing with great after tastes. But it’s missing a real front of mouth smack to the kisser of bitterness and spiced hops that we’ve all come to expect from an IPA. It’s very drinkable and shouldn’t be dismissed too readily – allow it to serve as an introduction to the IPA kingdom. 

I give it a beer from glass rating of 6 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – The small upfront flavours detected in the glass tasting have now all but disappeared and the beer becomes a little more flavourless and watery. Stick to the glass. 

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 4 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Beef. A good hearty beefy dish. Or a cake. A beef cake. Like Emilio Estevez in ‘Young Guns’.

Best season to appreciate: A good winter session brew.

All-nighter beer? While many IPAs may feel too heavy to drink all night, this is so light on its feet that I think it would be an awesome all-nighter.

Other: Happy Oregon Craft Beer Month 2014

NEXT WEEK: TBC

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Duff - CANDuff
USA flag - SMALL

Company info:
Imported by Pinnacle Liquor
Surry Hills, NSW
Product of U.S.A

[No website listed on can]

Can size sampled: 330ml

Alcohol: 4.7%
Standard drinks: 1.3

Cap type: Ring pull

Cost: I picked this up for $2.99 AU

Label info: N/A

What the label really means: N/A

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: The beer made famous by animated series The Simpsons has materialised as a real brew. Here is the label that we have seen in countless episodes. The same font, the same colour, the same everything. It is instantly recognised as easily as we would recognise one of the characters and instantly the connection from the beer to the series is made.
I vaguely remember many years ago an Australian company released Duff and was subsequently taken to court by Fox for copyright infringement. Now, this brew has been released as an ‘Australian Edition’ purporting to be a product of the USA and endorsed by Matt Groening (his signature is on the can!) and Fox. To me it reeks of a marketing ploy with the brewers knowing they have an instant customer base of nostalgic fools. Let’s hope the beer brings more to the table than a cheap gimmick. For attention to detail and authenticity to the celluloid design I have rated this label accordingly.

I give it a label rating of 5 out of 10.

AROMA:  It’s how I imagine the carpet in Moe’s Tavern smells – a washed out stale-citrus aroma.Duff - GLASS

Taste: GLASS – Duff is a generic citrus infused lager with a smattering of bitterness and little else. It’s exactly as you’d expect. But perhaps that is the joke…it tastes just like all the other big US brews (think Bud, Millers, Coors, etc). It’s the stereotypical US beer that fits the mass produced formula of blandness, designed to be consumed in high quantity. Is Duff being ironic? Is this a post-modern brew where bland becomes unique? No. This is as boring as a night watching slides at Patti and Selmas. 

I give it a beer from glass rating of 4 out of 10.

Taste: CAN Surprisingly, Duff becomes even more dull when tasted from the can. It’s like the night at Patti and Selmas just got turned down a notch with the arrival of Principal Skinner’s mum. What little taste I could sense from the glass has now all but packed up and headed back to Grandpa’s retirement village.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 3.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: I often suggest spicy dishes for bland brews, especially lagers, and this is no exception. Grab yourself a chilli pork dish and tuck in like Homer at an all you can eat buffet.

Best season to appreciate: Summer I suppose.

All-nighter beer? Designed to be consumed in quantity. To be thrown back as quick as you can. It’s so inoffensive that it could be an all-nighter in the right hands. Not for me.

NEXT WEEK: New Englander Brown Ale

Liberty Ale - BOTTLELiberty Ale

Brewery info:
Anchor Brewing Co.

California, U.S.A

[www.anchorbrewing.com]

Alcohol: 5.9%
Standard drinks: 1.7

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $4.99 AU

Label info: ‘San Francisco’s famous Liberty Ale was first brewed on the 18th of April, 1975, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s historic ride. It is virtually handmade by the brewers of Anchor Steam Beer in one of the smalles and most traditional breweries in the world. Liberty Ale is made with the finest barley malt; fresh, whole hops; top-fermenting yeast; pure water; and the simple, natural methods that reflect our exceptional respect for the ancient art of brewing. It is ‘dry hopped’, a classic ale tradition, and slowly completes its fermentation in sealed vats in our cellars. This unique process creates Liberty Ale’s distinctive bouquet and uncommonly delicate, entirely natural carbonation’. 

What the label really means: I repeat what I said previously RE Anchor Steam’s label: Looking at this beer you’d be forgiven for not believing all this text fits on the bottle. Look carefully at the neck label and there it all is. Great detail, great history.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: This is a label that reeks of national pride, strength, and integrity. It’s traditional in appearing to be a label that hasn’t changed for 200 years. A massive eagle has its wings spread out behind the Anchor Brewing anchor. The anchor sits atop a US-flag shield while hops and barley flay out around the sides. Yes it’s over the top in its symbolism, yes it’s in your face, but I love it. I love it for the over all design and for the staunch literal portrayal of liberty. Don’t go changin’, Anchor.

I give it a label rating of 8 out of 10.Liberty Ale - GLASS

AROMA:  Hoppy, florally fun.

Taste: GLASS – A heavy meaty brew that delivers a fine smack of hoppy bitterness and a lasting dry finish. While this is not as great as Anchor Steam (and comparisons will always be drawn against their flag-ship brew), this is still one hell of a finely crafted brew whose excellence in creation is evident in every sip. 

I give it a beer from glass rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Some other mellow banana-esque flavours are now popping up that only serve to enhance the tasting experience. Even from the bottle this remains one very fine brew.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Something salty…olives, haloumi…

Best season to appreciate: More of a cooler weather brew due to the darker tones.

All-nighter beer? For me, it’s just not a session beer.

NEXT WEEK: Haymaker (as promised in my last review)

Saranac Pumpkin Ale - BOTTLESaranac Pumpkin Ale

Brewery info:
Matt Brewing Company

New York, U.S.A

[www.saranac.com]

Bottle size sampled: 355 mL

Alcohol: 5.1%
Standard drinks: 1.4

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $3.99 AU

Label info: ‘In celebration of the fall harvest, here’s an Autumn favourite that’s as enjoyable as pumpkin pie. This hearty ale is brewed with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Look for a full body and amber color. We’re sure you’ll enjoy this special brew. Cheers!’. 

What the label really means: I am all for these pumpkin brewed beers and this label sounds like it has all that I am looking for – bring it on.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: There is a large sketch of a smiling jack-o-lantern that takes up the majority of space on this label, in pumpkin orange. ‘Saranac’ is emblazoned across the top of his head, and the label in bold red lettering that stands out beautifully on a sea of back. It’s bold, it’s punchy, it’s fun, it made me reach for it at the store.  It’s a label that could easily have gone bad with a light coloured background and instead aimed for that contrast. Great stuff.

I give it a label rating of 7.5 out of 10.

AROMA:  Earthy nutmeg notes.Saranac Pumpkin Ale - GLASS

Taste: GLASS – This is a surprisingly mild tasting brew. It does not have the punchy pumpkin or even nutmeg flavours that I was hoping to find and I can’t help but feel cheated. It’s like a watered down amber ale with a citrus undercurrent. Sadly, this is not a beer I’d rush out and buy again. 

I give it a beer from glass rating of 6.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Much the same from the bottle, if not a tad milder and even more watered-down tasting. It’s not a strong beer by any standard and it’s becoming very tedious very quickly.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 6.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: I think a good pumpkin pie would (predictably) suit this beer well.

Best season to appreciate: More of a cooler weather Autumnal brew. 

All-nighter beer? Not for me I’m afraid…it’s just a bit too watered down tasting, and a little bloaty.

NEXT WEEK: TBC

Budweiser - BOTTLEBudweiser

Brewery info:
Anheuser-Busch

Missouri, U.S.A

[No website listed

Alcohol: 4.9%
Standard drinks: 1.4

Cap type: Twist

Cost: I picked this up for $TBC AU

Label info: ‘This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age. Our exclusive Beechwood Aging produces a taste, a smoothness and a drinkability you will find in no other beer at any price’. 

What the label really means: I’ve read this label text a couple of times now and I’m still not sure I understand it. Maybe I’m a bit slow. Can anyone help? Seriously.
I hope the brew inside is less confusing.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: As arguably the most well known beer label of our time, this is a bold, in your face brand. The red makes the label jump out while the white and gold soften it and create an air of bogan-pride. The label portrays itself as a throwback to an era when smoking was advertised as a tool for picking up ladies, and conjures images of crack dens and whore houses. It’s sad, it’s depressing…it’s like a 68 year old man at a rave sporting a faux-hawk and fluro pants. Budweiser claims to be the ‘King of Beers’, I claim it to be the ‘King of Oversized Under-durps’.  

I give it a label rating of 3 out of 10.

AROMA:  A very mild aroma…sniff carefully and you may catch a citrus hint.

Taste: GLASS – This is a very mild pale lager with no discernible flavour profile emerging. There is a soft citrus swirl through what is unsurprisingly a very bland brew. It’s very easy to drink because of its inoffensive style but that’s hardly endearing.
Putting your pre-conceptions aside when tasting this beer is difficult. But try your best to sample the brew within and judge it based on its performance and not its reputation. Budweiser - GLASS

I give it a beer from glass rating of 3.5 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Much the same from the bottle as it is from the glass…perhaps a tad soapier now. It’s not great, it’s not fun, it’s not impressing anyone. Very disappointing no matter which way you look at it.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 3.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: A strong Szechuan beef with extra chilli. Team it with this dish and Bud could at least act as a softener to the heat. 

Best season to appreciate: I suppose a Summer brew. Though by saying that I fear I’m insulting Summer.

All-nighter beer? Because this beer is so easy to throw back in large quantities, this really is a sessionable beer. Unfortunately it would make for a very dull evening.

NEXT WEEK: TBC

Anchor Steam Beer - BOTTLEAnchor Steam Beer

Brewery info:
Anchor Brewing Co.

California, U.S.A

[www.anchorbrewing.com]

Alcohol: 4.9%
Standard drinks: 1.4

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $3.99 AU

Label info: ‘Anchor Steam brand beer is virtually hand made with an exceptional respect for the ancient art of brewing. The deep amber color, the thick creamy head, and the rich flavor all testify to our traditional brewing methods.
Anchor Steam brand beer derives its unusual name from the 19th century when ‘steam’ seems to have been a nickname for beer brewed on the West Coast of America under primitive conditions and without ice. The word ‘steam’ may have referred to the pressure of natural carbonation developing in the beers. Today the brewing methods of those days are a mystery, and for many decades Anchor alone has used the quaint name ‘steam’ for its unique beer.
Today Anchor is one of the smallest and most traditional breweries in the world. San Francisco’s famous Anchor Steam brand beer is unique, for our brewing process has evolved over many decades and is like no other in the world’. 

What the label really means: Looking at this beer you’d be forgiven for not believing all this text fits on the bottle. Look carefully at the neck label and there it all is. Great detail, great history.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: The label is a mottled water-colour-esque style, predominantly a yellow-orange colour with a bold blue anchor and red banner with bold white lettering (reading ‘Anchor Steam Beer’). The anchor has a piece of rope hanging about its shaft and is flanked by barley and hops on either side. At the bottom of the label the clear black lettering ‘Made in San Francisco since 1896’ is bold and heavy. I like the label because it has a sense of tradition about it, a sense of strength, and a sense of uniqueness that is emphasised with having a matte finish.

I give it a label rating of 8 out of 10.Anchor Steam Beer - GLASS

AROMA:  A dark, malty aroma. Very hoppy, very intriguing.

Taste: GLASS – Anchor Steam Beer is a strong malty brew that is smooth, refined, and exquisitely crafted. It is hearty and strong, flavoursome and full bodied. This brew truly exemplifies the pinnacle of brewing beauty.

I give it a beer from glass rating of 9 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – Still good, but drinking this from the bottle does make the beer lose a little of its edge and it becomes a little one dimensional. The bitterness increases while the refined finish decreases. Stick to the glass.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Turkey with cranberry sauce. The beer lends itself to rich flavours. 

Best season to appreciate: More of a cold weather brew due to the dark malty flavours. One to savour.

All-nighter beer? It’s very easy to drink and a beer I could easily see myself drinking all night.

Other: This beer was my introduction to craft brewing, sampled during my first tour of the US back in 1999. I encountered a whole new world back then. A world that opened my eyes to the beauty of beer and craft brewing. It was as delicious way back then as it is today and I heartily endorse this beer as an all time classic.

NEXT WEEK: TBC

Pintail Pale Ale - BOTTLEPintail Pale Ale

Brewery info:
Karl Strauss Brewing Company

California, U.S.A

[No website listed]

Alcohol: 5.3%
Standard drinks: 1.5

Cap type: Non-twist

Cost: I picked this up for $3.49 AU

Label info: ‘When you spot a pintail headed towards the beach, odds are the surf is way up. And where this board provides balance on big waves, Pintail Pale Ale brings balance to big hops. We wanted to brew a session beer with huge hop flavours, so we created Pintail – a dry hopped pale ale from the West Coast’
AND
‘An American Pale Ale with a floral, grapefruit hoppiness and a clean dry finish’ 

What the label really means: So what I gathered from this label is that a pintail is a surfboard…I think. When I first saw this brew some time ago, I assumed the pintail was the type of bike depicted. Anyway, I also gathered that there is one very interesting brew inside.

The Hell-Cat review starts here

Label: I’m a fan of all the labels coming out of the Karl Strauss Brewing Company, and the Pintail Pale Ale is no exception. I like the sketchy, rough drawn image and simple fonts used. This label has a certain organic feel to it…it’s predominantly green with an earthy beige. Depicted on the label is a cruiser bike with a surfboard (a pintail) strapped to the side. It’s riderless thankfully or it would have looked dorky. In some regards the word ‘classic’ springs to mind as it seems to hark back to a bygone, carefree Summer. It just works so well.

I give it a label rating of 8 out of 10.

AROMA:  Delicious. Soft fruits pave the way for caramel malty aromas.

Taste: GLASS – Definitively American pale ale in style, Pintail Pale Ale has some subtle smooth flavours that lead into bold caramel beats and healthy doses of bitterness. This is one truly delicious drop.Pintail Pale Ale - GLASS

I give it a beer from glass rating of 8 out of 10.

Taste: BOTTLE – From the bottle it’s just not as strong a contender. It becomes a bit fizzier, sharper and more biting on the palate, and a bit unrefined in finish. Combine this with a pervasive bottle-cap oxidation flavour and I strongly suggest you stick to the glass.

I give it a taste from bottle rating of 6.5 out of 10.

Accompanying food: Pork…perhaps a nice pork schnitzel would work well.

Best season to appreciate: Because of the darker, caramel tones in this brew, I am suggesting this would make a good Winter brew. And this is just one reason why I love reviewing pale ales – the spectrum of flavour. From the fruitiest of flavours to the darkest of caramels there is just so much variety.

All-nighter beer? Yes please – bring it on.

NEXT WEEK: KISS Destroyer