Kona Brewing Company out of Hawaii has made it all over mainland USA and for good reason, they tend to brew good beers mixed with a touch of island flavor. A new limited release of theirs is the Island Colada Cream Ale which is brewed with, as you might have guessed, coconut and pineapple.
Island Colada pours a golden yellow, as if the sun exploded in your glass. It is bright, cheery, and welcomes you with a nice foamy, white head that stood almost three fingers at its height. It just looked delicious from the pour. The aroma is heavier on the coconut, as you would kind of expect since that tends to be more fragrant but the sweet notes of pineapple do poke through. If you close your eyes you can almost escape the doldrums of winter in the northeast. Almost.
The first sip offers coconut flavors forward, quickly followed by pineapple sweetness, before coconut comes back. There is a touch of malt and perhaps a touch of hops that snuck in as well with a little grassy and citrus flavor. The carbonation is on the medium side which is perfectly acceptable. The mouthfeel is on the heavier side of light or the lighter side of medium. There is a creaminess that really makes this beer pleasant given the flavors. There is a dry, hoppy finish at the end though.
Overall, Island Colada is a pretty fun beer. Getting this in winter in the northeast was a treat. I did buy a six pack and had the beer in a glass and out of the can. Pouring in the glass was a little tastier than the can but both were good. It is kind of like Hawaii in a can, pineapple, coconut, and a little grassy touch like a skirt on an island girl. I would drink this any time of the year although only a couple at a time. I don’t know if I would make this a session beer given the flavors. I’m a fan of a pina colada but I don’t think I could pound them. The same goes for this beer. Ultimately, this is a nice escape for a winter offering but I wouldn’t mind using this as a change of pace beer in the summer or having a couple at a ballgame.
O’ Fallon Brewery out of Maryland Heights, Missouri is a growing brewery that offers many different types of beers. Between their year-round brews, seasonals, and beers in between there are well over 20 beers produced. One of their three winter offerings is their Cherry Chocolate Beer, a dark wheat beer.
The beer poured with an almost cola color. There was almost no head which may or may not have been the result of the glass. The aroma is definitely one of cherry and chocolate with some undertones on malt. There was very little carbonation seen.
Upon first sip you instantly get what this beer advertises. It is cherry and chocolate with a slight alcohol note. It is very similar to those chocolates with the alcohol and cherry inside. I can’t remember their name but if you cut the alcohol flavor back a bit on the candy these would be identical in flavor. Or, like you added a touch of alcohol to a cherry Tootsie Pop. It is actually pretty good.
Throughout the session the flavor profile was consistent. Chocolate and cherry. Both flavors played well with the beer. The mouthfeel was on the medium side but not overly so. There was some carbonation that tickled the tongue but nothing too outrageous.
Overall, this beer is exactly as advertised. It is an alcoholic cherry Tootsie Pop in liquid form. If you were expecting something different then there might be no hope for you. This is a definite dessert beer as I can’t imagine having too many of these. A six pack would last a few sessions for sure. It was fun to drink though and at 5.7% ABV it won’t sneak up on you. If the name sounds tasty to you give it a try.
Flying Dog Brewery out of Frederick, Maryland has come up with a wide variety of interesting flavors. One such rotating flavor is their Cookies and Cream offering, a milk stout brewed with vanilla beans and chocolate.
The first thing you notice is the darkness of the brew as it pours. This beer is darker than coffee. The frothy, tan head rose to just under two fingers at its height. The aroma is forward with the chocolate and complimented by notes of malt. This is a very inviting beer. It looks great even if the flavor profile might seem a little odd.
The first sip teases vanilla before the chocolate dominates. It is smooth and somewhat velvety on the tongue but is a lot thinner than would be suspected given that this is a stout and the look makes it seem it will be thick like a Guinness. There is a definite sweetness to the taste as the vanilla, cream, and chocolate play with your taste buds. The beer finishes smooth and a little on the dry side, though not overly so. It is very pleasant and it has some characteristics of a milkshake.
Consistency was excellent with this beer. You never felt like chocolate dominated in one sip, then vanilla or cream in another. There were times where a malt flavor poked through but never too much as to disrupt the experience. The glass laced sexily throughout the session, letting you know exactly where you undressed the glass with each sip.
I am not one for sweet beers usually, or crazy concoctions such as this. However, I must say that overall the entire session was fun and flavorful. It is very sweet though, as you can kind of expect. It also clocks in at 8.2% ABV so this can sneak up on you if you try to make it a session beer by itself. Having one or two for dessert would certainly be tasty and fun. As would adding vanilla ice cream for an added experience. This is the kind of beer you try and if you like it you explore with it. I would love to go exploring with this Flying Dog Cookies and Cream again.
We have reviewed quite a few of Matt Brewing Company’s Saranac line here. Today, we tackle their Saranac Adirondack Lager.
The beer pours an amber gold with a moderate white head. The aroma is one of malt and hops. There isn’t much carbonation seen rising to the top and the head dissipated fairly quickly.
The first sip was a little different than the nose. There were notes of cracker, malt, and an acidic sweetness that was tough to define. Is it lemon, pineapple, or just citrusy hops? It was hard to pick out. This is listed as a German-style Pilsner but I don’t know if I feel that definition. The body is on the lighter side with slight carbonation. The finish is on the dry side with a crisp at the end that stops just short of being a bite.
As the beer drank there was absolutely no lacing of my glass. The flavor stayed somewhat consistent though there were sips that offered a slight metallic, coppery taste which wasn’t that pleasant. Thankfully, those were few and far between. There were malt notes that hinted at Pilsner but they didn’t shine through often enough leaving me wondering if this was a pilsner or a more traditional lager.
Overall, this was an all right beer. Saranac offers much more flavorful options and while this is certainly drinkable it doesn’t stand out. It does clock in at a manageable 5.5% ABV. I really expected more from this brew and am slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn down one of these at a party but I also don’t know if I would add it to my regular lineup of brews. It’s good but it just doesn’t stand out enough to be memorable.
The Devils Backbone Brewing Company, located in Roseland, Virginia, might be owned by a large company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, but they are geared towards craft brewing. Established in 2008 by Steven Crandall, they have maintained true to developing new and interesting takes on beer. Up today is one of their winter offerings, Danzig Baltic Porter.
Danzig Baltic Porter pours a deep coffee black with a tan head that resembled toffee or caramel. The head quickly dissipated shortly after pouring. This is a dark beer, as one would expect from a porter. The aroma offers notes of malt, toasted malts, a hint of caramel and coffee. Nothing is overpowering and the aromatics are kind of subdued but when noticed are pleasant.
The first sip is heavenly. The malt is up front and is quickly followed by chocolate, coffee, and caramel. There is a tiny hint of hops on the back end. There is a comforting feeling when it hits your tongue, like you wouldn’t mind being curled up on a cold, snowy winter’s day with a few of these in front of a fireplace. The mouthfeel is on the medium side but the finish is smooth and creamy. It finishes with a little hop dryness which makes you want another sip almost immediately.
The carbonation was light, as one would expect from the way the head formed and dissipated. The taste stayed consistent for the most part. There were times where dark chocolate and caramel dominated the sip while at other times you noticed a more bitter coffee taste. It didn’t matter because every sip was inviting and full of flavor.
Overall, this was an excellent beer. If you like dark beers like porters and stouts you should enjoy this. I wish I had more than one from my sampler pack but alas another trip to the beer store will be necessary. There is a reason this won bronze at the 2018 World Beer Cup. I am a fan and will be looking out for this one. It is definitely worth a try if you enjoy porters or stouts.
Southern Tier Brewing Company has several nice year-round offerings. They also have some seasonal brews. One of their winter seasonal beers is Cherry Crush, a session sour. On the can it states that is an “ale brewed with tart cherries and milk sugar.”
Cherry Crush pours a bright copper color with a thick head that had a tinge of pink hue to it. The head rose to three fingers at its height. The aroma is very elusive. There are some notes of cherry, which isn’t a very fragrant fruit to begin with. There are some subtle cracker notes as well but they are very faint. There isn’t much on the nose at all but it does look inviting.
The first sip lets you know this is a session sour. It isn’t overly sour but it definitely has the note on the back end. The cherry gives it a touch of sweetness up front that is followed by the tart and sour notes on the backend. It is very refreshing and the sour notes at the end invite you for another sip. The mouthfeel is light and finishes dry and crisp. The carbonation is right at what you would expect but seems to be enhanced on the finish because of the drier finish.
The flavor stayed consistent throughout the session with some nice lacing on the glass that any grandmother would be proud to put on a side table.
Overall, this is a good session sour. The sour notes don’t overpower but rather tease your taste buds at the end of each sip inviting you back for one more sip. The cherry notes are even and not overpowering and don’t have an artificial taste at all which is nice. It is a little surprising this is a winter offering because it feels like a summer or early fall beer. I wouldn’t mind kicking back any time of the year with this though. It might not be something I drink a lot of at one time but here and there it is a very enjoyable brew. If you like sour this is worth a try.
When the weather starts to get cold and the holiday spirit starts to dominate you know one thing is certain. No, not a fat man in a red suit jumping down your chimney. It’s the holiday beer selections that add some spice and flavor to the season. They don’t call it the most wonderful time of the year for nothing. Harpoon Brewery has their holiday entry with their Winter Warmer, a holiday ale flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg.
The beers pours a deep copper color. It almost has the color of iced tea. There was a light tan head that rose to a little under one finger at its height. It looks fairly appetizing with very little carbonation seen through the dark color.
The aroma offers notes of cinnamon and nutmeg along with notes of malt and bread. However, the aroma was very feint.
The first sip follows the nose. There are notes of cinnamon and nutmeg with a slight bready finish before a feint cinnamon aftertaste. There are some slight bread notes that poke through as well as a sweetness that is slightly caramel in flavor. The mouthfeel is just a shade on the medium side but it finishes smooth with just the right amount of carbonation. The spices definitely dominate the flavor profile and cinnamon predominates the aftertaste.
The flavor stayed consistent throughout the session. There was very little lacing on the glass as it drank. The cinnamon and nutmeg flavor profile definitely dominated the brew so if you don’t like these flavors this might not be for you. There was also a sweet taste that reminded me of biting a peach. It was an overpowering sweet but rather subtle and blended well with the beer.
Overall, this beer is pretty good. It is kind of your typical holiday beer with its myriad of spice and flavors. It doesn’t stand out among the other holiday beers but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was a fun beer that would be good during the holiday season and at 5.9% ABV you won’t end up being the loud, obnoxious relative at your family gatherings. This is worth the try if you like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Cigar City Brewing is based in Tampa, Fla. and offers quite a few good beers, some of which have been reviewed on the site previously. Up for review today is their Maduro Brown Ale.
The beer pours a deep brown with a thick, tan head that stood over two fingers tall at its height. If you are a fan of Brown Ales then you will appreciate the appearance. The beer almost looks as dark as coffee and looks delicious. There is no carbonation seen through the dark color.
The aroma is one of malt, toffee, caramel, and a touch of chocolate and coffee. Nothing truly sticks out on the nose and the aroma isn’t very strong but it is nice when you get into it.
The first sip offers notes of caramel, toffee, chocolate, coffee, and malt. There is very little hop flavor here but some notes do come through. The mouthfeel is light and smooth and finishes smooth and dry. It makes you want another sip.
As the beer drank there were notes that reminded me of a cigar and I couldn’t tell if my taste buds were being tricked by the can which features a cigar on it or if there was a slight earthy, tobacco note. Either way it was pleasant and relaxing. The beer was consistent and there was some light lacing on my mug as I drank it. I did keep going back for more sips and even though the taste was consistent the flavors that introduced themselves up front sometimes changed. For example, on one sip you would hit more toffee and caramel notes followed by malt and coffee. On another sip the coffee note was more forward followed by the toffee and caramel and so on. The profile was consistent though.
Overall, I liked this beer. I could imagine myself drinking this while enjoying a cigar or even on its own. I am a fan of Brown Ales and this one was a little adventurous and slightly different from some other Brown Ales. It clocks in at a very manageable 5.5% ABV so this could easily be a session beer. It is certainly worth a try if you enjoy this style brew.
Blue Moon isn’t exactly an unknown beer by any stretch these days but they have been branching out with different flavors, some of which are quite good. Up for review today is their Iced Coffee Blonde which they advertise as a “golden-colored wheat ale made with Fair Trade decaf coffee beans.”
The beer pours a hazy gold with a thin, white head that doesn’t stick around long. There is some carbonation seen rising through the haze. The color was a little brighter than I expected for something made with coffee beans. The aroma offers a slight note of coffee, again not as much as one would expect for something brewed with coffee beans. There is also a slight note of bread and malt on the nose but that is quickly pushed out by an artificial sugar smell, like coffee creamer.
The first taste is surprisingly sweet for a beer. The sweetness evolves into a malt and bread flavor like you would expect with a wheat ale. The coffee notes are faint, very faint. You almost have to search for them with your taste buds. The flavor isn’t bad. The sweetness isn’t overwhelming and plays nicely with the bread and malt flavors. The coffee should be more forward here in my opinion, however. You notice it more on the aftertaste and not so much on the sip.
The beer was consistent throughout. There was no lacing on the glass as it drank. The mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium but still in the medium category, very similar to your typical Blue Moon. It finishes smooth and somewhat creamy.
Overall this is an interesting beer. I don’t know how I would have felt about a lot of coffee in the flavor but I think I would want a little more than what I received. The sweetness played with the bread notes well and made it feel as if I was eating a pastry with my coffee. Although I think this beer misses on a few points it isn’t a bad drink at all and I would have it again, especially as a lighter dessert beer. This could be a session beer if you are into sweeter things and it only clocks in at 5.5% ABV which is manageable. I do wish they didn’t use decaf coffee beans though as the caffeine would be a nice touch.
There is no doubt that the New York Giants need help on defense after finishing 25th in the NFL in yards per game. They will surely be spending on defense in free agency but they will also be in great position to address the need in the NFL Draft with the fourth overall pick. It is likely that Chase Young will be gone before the Giants pick but Isaiah Simmons should be there for the taking.
Simmons can line up almost anywhere on the defensive side of the ball. He can play outside or inside linebacker. He can play safety and might even be useful in certain matchups in the slot. He is a Swiss Army knife on defense and could bolster the Giants’ pass defense almost instantly. He would certainly give the Giants someone to match up with almost any tight end in the league and as any Giants fan knows that has been an Achilles heel for years now.
Listed at 6-4, 230, Simmons has the size and speed to match up with almost every tight end and even some wide receivers. He is versatile enough to rush the quarterback from an outside linebacker position and has a great feel for the game to make him valuable in the middle as well. Across 15 games this season, Simmons tallied 102 tackles, 16 for loss, 8.0 sacks, 8 pass breakups, 3 interceptions, and forced a fumble. He was the heart and soul of the Clemson defense.
The Giants have not had a defensive player that teams have game-planned for in over a decade, since Michael Strahan was in his prime. Simmons has the ability to give offensive coordinators nightmares and the versatility to line up anywhere thereby negating opponents’ game plans.
If you have seen him play you will see a player with fluid hips who can change direction well and uses his long arms to disrupt opposing receivers. At just 230 pounds he won’t win a lot of battles in the trenches with offensive linemen but he has the speed to blow past them at times and get to the quarterback or ball carrier before they get to the line. He also has the potential to add some bulk to his frame without sacrificing speed or fluidity.
It is hard to compare Simmons to any player and that is just fine. Simmons is a unique football player and no matter where the Giants decide to use him he will most likely flourish into a star. He is exactly the type of player Joe Judge will need on his defense.