Saturday, December 31, 2016

Here are my last six beer reviews of 2016.


This bottle of Brothers Craft Brewing's Verdure was a gift from a friend who participates in various projects with the brewery. This beer might not be available to the general public, there was no UPC symbol on the label and I couldn't find any reviews at ratebeer.com. It is possible that I am enjoying something exclusive with both of the first two reviews in this batch. I didn't think to ask... sometimes, the best thing to say is simply thank you.

Anyway. Brothers Craft Brewing’s Passion Fruit Vurdure is a Berliner Weissbier. It has a very low ABV (less than 4%) and a tangy character that I found very versatile. I sipped some while cooking dinner the other night and paired the rest with my lean beef and vegetables. I thought it was delicious. This beer pours bright yellow with very little foam and a lot of carbonation. The aroma is tart and bright, the passion fruit doesn’t dominate the sourness of the beer’s aroma, but it is there. The flavor is sour enough to pack a little punch, but it finishes clean and bright and doesn’t blind the palate at all. What a wonderful dinner beer.




I’m far from an expert on Berliner Weisse, but the ones I’ve had are turning me into a fan. I can’t taste a tremendous amount of difference between the passion fruit and pineapple variants of Brother’s Verdure, but I’ve enjoyed them both quite a bit. Like the passion fruit version, I found that this one paired well with lean meat and vegetables, and was delicious to sip on it’s own while I was cooking. Like the passion fruit version, this one is tart and bright. The fruity notes are clearly there, but the difference between the variants is a little lost on me. All I know is that this beer pours bright yellow with average head, smells slightly tart, tastes more than slightly tart, and goes down really easy. I’d drink this again in a heartbeat, and I'd buy it in six-packs very happily.




Barn Dog, a porter by Wyndrige Farm, really isn’t a bad beer. It pours chocolate brown, there isn’t much head, and the truth is, it doesn’t smell very good. There is a muted, plastic quality to the aroma that covers the mild chocolate and vanilla notes with something that just ain’t right. But the flavor is a big improvement. The vanilla comes through on the front and the finish is a combined mix of chocolate, coffee, and a little bit of hops. After that slightly bad smell, the slightly good flavor is a nice surprise. Plus, there is a dog wearing a monocle on the label. That's gotta be worth something.




I hate to use a word like "lush" in a beer review, but "lush" is exactly the right word for Old Hickory's Lindley Park Barrel Aged Imperial Stout. It pours dark brown without much foam, and the aroma is chocolate and vanilla from the barrel aging, plus a hint of the raspberries. The flavor adds coffee to that mix. The raspberries come through on the finish and don’t dominate the flavor, they just add an indulgent quality after all of the character from the malt and the barrel. This is the kind of beer that closes a meal in style, but it was also fine by itself.




This is the first chance I’ve had to try Bell’s Black Note Imperial Stout, and I think this beer deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the hard to find, crazy expensive stuff. It’s that good. Black Note pours black with crimson highlights and basically no head at all (11.5% ABV). The aroma is huge baker’s chocolate and vanilla. Big, rich, a lot of punch, just a tremendous smelling beer. The flavor is delicious. That chocolate and vanilla are right there, and the bourbon barrel comes through strong on the finish. Coffee and toffee notes, and roasted nuts are also a presence. This is fantastic beer.




I shared my last beer of the year with Lucky. Like me, she's enjoyed all of Hardywood's Gingerbread Stout variants this year. And, like me, she was anxious to try this one. We agreed that we haven't had a variation of Hardywood's GBS stout that was anything less than outstanding. And Rum Barrel Aged GBS is one more home run, just as I expected. This version isn't significantly different from the other variations, I'm not sure that the rum barrel aging was able to distinctly and clearly distinguish itself from the already pronounced ginger and spice tones of regular GBS. But it's still damn fine beer, no matter how it's been aged. This one pours dark brown to black with average but brief head (as do the others). The aroma, like other versions of GBS, is sweet, spicy and rich. So is the flavor. There may be a little more sweetness and a little more Caribbean spice going on here, as compared to the bourbon barrel aged and coffee blended varieties. But it isn't enough to significantly change the character of an already fantastic stout. I have absolutely no complaints. Hardywood, I don't know if you are capable of a misstep.