You can’t get much more Christmasy than a gingerbread stout, at least not in my books. The surprising thing is that this seasonal brew is made in LA. Golden Road (no, they’re not a South American revolutionary group or a type of staph infection) have been brewing since 2011, which a long time in America. Beginners or not, they’ve certainly nailed this one!
The can design is pure California Christmas, with jingle bells and palm trees and contains an impressive 3.2 standard drinks. At 8.5%, too many of these and you’d be chasing bright stars all over place like the three (un)wise men! The aroma is of Latvian Christmas gingerbread house, sweet and warm. The taste is of a spiced Cornish fairing , there’s ginger, sugar, cinnamon and a tangy alcoholic finish. It really is quite delicious and ideal for keeping carol-singers happy on a cold LA night (if such a thing exists?).
From Golden Road we get the road, from the LA road we get the highway. Here’s stout fellows, Audioslave with “I Am The Highway”
When you find yourself at Bergstrom International Airport, Austin, Texas and your flight’s been delayed; and you’ve managed to wangle your way into American Airlines’ Admiral’s Club, you’ve got to use your drink vouchers wisely. I can think of no fairer exchange than a piece of printed paper for a bottle of Stash IPA.
Brewed by Austin’s own Independence Brewing Co, Stash is billed as ‘dank and resinous’. From that description, you might expect it to taste like bong water! Instead, what you get is a punchy American-style IPA packed with taste and aroma. At 7% ABV it’s a heady experience, rolling with citrus, pine sap and exotic resin flavours. Stash IPA comes highly recommended, see your local dealer today and smash one with a buddy!
Here’s Cypress Hill, with ‘I Want To Get High’ …………
I was mighty impressed with the craft beers in the People’s Republic of Texas, on what was my first visit to the country. One the best brews was one of the last I sampled. Having just topped up my ring-burner supplies in Austin’s Tears of Joy hot sauce shop, I joined my amigos at the Iron Cactus, on Austin’s famous 6th St for my good ole Tex Mex food before heading home.
The guacamole was the best I’ve ever had, the fried fish tacos really hit the spot and, to top it all, the ‘Fuego’ Jalapeno Pilsner proved the perfect accompaniment.
Brewed by the Texan Twisted X Brewing Company, Fuego is a beautifully balanced Pilsner with enough Jalapeno heat to make it interesting but not so much that it takes away from the complex hop flavours. I loved it’s subtlety, but if heat is your thing you could always spice it up with some Anal Angst or Brand New Asshole hot sauce from Tears of Joy!
Here’s brilliantly twisted Texan, Bill Callahan with …. America ………..
Another day, another classic ‘merkin brew. Anchor Brewing have some real history and experience behind them, mastering the noble art of brewing since 1896. Based in San Francisco, they have a fine range of beers and after sampling this one, I’ll definitely be seeking out some more.
Not as punchy as many American craft ales, this beer is more subtle and nuanced. There are honey hues and aromas, with a slight hint of brandy barrels on the nose. The barrels are evident in the taste too, with undertones of wooded Chardonnay and raisins. Really quite yum. Just be careful when ordering ‘two Anchors’ ………… you could always use sign language.
Time to weigh anchor, here’s Dreadzone with ‘Captain Dread’ ………
Based in the aptly-named Downington, Pennsylvania, the Victory Brewing Company have been doing the business since 1996. I chanced upon their ‘Hop Devil’ whilst on a brief visit to Lennox Head. I don’t think any beer deserves to be left on the shelf, so I grabbed the last bottle. After drinking it, I wished there had been a six-pack.
I expect a bit of bite from an American IPA and Hop Devil doesn’t disappoint. The aroma is yeasty and there’s deep, rich hop flavours. I taste hints of blackcurrant and Navel Orange rind. Brewed using whole hop flowers and not pellets the result is complex and rewarding. The devil is in the detail.
I was going to include a pun about Beelzebubbles …….. but decided against it.
I can’t believe that I’ve had this beer in my “cellar” for months, waiting for Halloween and when it finally comes round, I go and miss it. Par for the course at the moment I’m afraid. Besides, I’ve come to conclusion that Halloween has become just another bullshit excuse to buy crap made my cynical capitalists who probably don’t even believe in ghosts anyway.
In fairness to Saranac, who have been brewing since 1888, this may have sighed a little too long on the shelf but I found it a little lifeless. It’s spicy on the nose the there certainly a hint of Ma’s pumpkin pie on the palate, complete with cinnamon and nutmeg. Unlike other fruit-flavoured ales, like Youngs Banana Bread Beer, this appears to taste too much of pumpkin and not enough of ale. Perhaps I’ll try another, fresher one next Halloween ………. if I remember.
Never been much of a fan of the rather obvious Smashing Pumpkins so here’s Julian Cope with a song that rhymes with Halloween …… Trampoline ……
Sierra Nevada’s Harvest Fresh Hop IPA turns the tables on the current Southern Hemisphere trend. Whilst, increasingly, Southern Hemisphere breweries try to emulate the hop-packed flavours of American-style IPA’s, this American IPA uses fresh New Zealand grown hops to create a more smooth yet complex brew.
I’m a fan of the the Sierra Nevada brewery, its beers are full of taste and character and this member of its Harvest series is no different. Colour-wise it reminds me of my last beer, the Young’s Special London Ale, a beautiful orangey-brown. The aroma is fresh and floral as you’d expect with an IPA. The surprise comes with the taste. Unlike the beefed-up IPA’s, like Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo, this one is more subtle. The taste is hard to put your finger on, but the blend of Southern Cross, Pacifica, and Motueka hops makes for a fresh and exciting brew. There’s a characteristic bitter citrus finish, just enough to bring you back for more ….. but beware, weighing in at 6.7%, it’s not beer for guzzling ……. unless you like that kind of thing!
Here’s another American pale, Neil Young, with ‘Harvest Moon’ …….
Portland-based Bridgeport Brewing is celebrating 30 years of ‘Beervana’. The Oregon brewers have a fine stable of brews but this is the first I’ve come across. With most American IPA’s the “I” stands for “Intense” and Hop Czar is no exception.
‘All Hail The King’ boasts the bottle and this Imperial India Pale Ale lives up its royal billing. This is a feisty American IPA with bags of hops, bittersweet green-apple crumble with hints of citrus rind and a zesty finish. It was great for a winter barbecue and a perfect accompaniment to my homemade burger with mayo, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, picked beetroot, red-onion chutney and melted cheese, topped with The Chilli Factory’s ‘Turbo Supercharge – Extreme Hot Habnero Paste’. Not for the faint-hearted
Here’s beer-lovin’ Frank Black with ‘Czar’ …………… well, he looks like he’s beer-lovin’
All work and no play ……………… The Beer Hunter has been hunting.
What a rare treat and what a rare ale. This limited edition ale is very hard to find in Australia. In fact it is so limited in its Australian edition that I’ve drunk the only one. Munroe’s Fredonian is a hand crafted, American style pale ale from the little-known Munroe Brewery in Sarasota, Florida and boy, it’s a beauty.
Head brewer and founder, Alan Munroe hand delivered this little gem. It travels well and arrived in perfect condition. A deep reddish amber in colour, it has floral aroma, plenty of fizz and holds its head well. A good balance of citrus and hops give it a full, well-rounded flavour and the dry hopping towards the end of the brewing process gives it a lip-smacking bitter finish.
I give it 5 bunny ears and can’t wait for the 2015 vintage. Goes well with a Cornish Pasty ……………. Muy Buena!
In honour of the first Fredonians, here’s Texas with ‘I Don’t Want A Lover’
Strauss calls this a ‘seasonal ale’ and it certainly has a winter feel to it. It’s a deep reddish brown and only very lightly carbonated. There’s caramel and rich, Christmas cake flavours. I’d prefer it with a bit more fizz, or maybe in a pint glass in front of roaring fire.
Here’s Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with ‘Red Right Hand’ ………….