New Holland at Ashleys

I rarely have reason to go out to the bar in Ann Arbor, but when I read that several New Holland beers were going to be featured at Ashley’s last night, I couldn’t help but check it out. There were about 10 beers on tap, ranging from the ordinary (Poet Stout, which you can pick up at pretty much any grocery store in the state) to the ordinary-but-on-Firkin (Dragon’s Milk), to those I’d never seen before (Charkoota Rye).

Night Tripper

New Holland Night Tripper

New Holland Night Tripper

Imperial Stout (10.8% ABV) Tastes really strong, there’s plenty of alcohol in the flavor. Really roasty with some chocolate notes. Pretty darn malty sweet (as imperial stouts, especially Russian Impoerial Stouts, often are). I would almost say it could have been fermented a little more to a lower final gravity to dry it out a bit, but it’s already bordering on liquorbeer, so upping the alcohol content is unnecessary.


Dragon’s Milk Firkin

New Holland Dragon's Milk (Firkin)

New Holland Dragon's Milk (Firkin)

As beers served on firkin always are, this was warm, and it was flat as well. After the Night Tripper, it almost tastes bland (though it’s one of my favorite beers usually). I think the Firkin really damps a bit of the aroma, partially because there’s less carbonation maybe. Hardly get anything on the nose, very light on the vanilla, a nice roasty smell. Tastes a little hot in the back of the mouth, and you definitely get the barrel-aged flavor. Not necessarily bad, but I’m used to (loving) the beer as normally served.


New Holland Envious

New Holland Envious

Not what I expected. Ingredients listed as pears and raspberries, I was expecting something relatively light in color or even a wheat, but it had a nice deep mahogany (my apartment smells of it) color. A little fruit on the nose – all pear. In the flavor, mostly pear, but I definitely see where the “slumber on oak” with raspberries comes in. Not as tart as the description led me to believe there would be. The tartness reminded me of the tang from our cherry belgian, which comes mostly on the swallow, not in the mouth.


El Mole Ocho

New Holland El Mole Ocho

New Holland El Mole Ocho

I’ve already had (and loved) this beer, so it was the only thing I had that wasn’t “special” in some way. On the nose, it has a nice malty character, almost no hops with a hint of spiciness. The flavor, however, is full of hot pepper flavor, but honestly more well-balanced with malt than I remember. It’s not blistering hot like our second pepper porter, but reminds you the heat is there, along with the pepper flavor. I really like this beer.


Charkoota Rye

New Holland Charkoota Rye

New Holland Charkoota Rye

This tastes a lot like El Mole Ocho with smoke serving as the “special flavor” instead of pepper (although they’re very different beers in reality). Aroma is a slightly malty but mostly smoky. Taste is super heavy on the smoke up front, but if you let it linger a bit, you get much more maltiness, for a nice balanced beer. A solid Kolsch with delicious smoky flavor. This was a lot like what I was hoping the BOB Brewery BBQ Beer would be at Winter Beer Festival.


Imperial Hatter

New Holland Imperial Hatter

New Holland Imperial Hatter

Classic imperial IPA (can an imperial IPA be “classic?”). Nothing really distinct from other beers in the genre. Decent nose/body balance, some graperuit citrus and a lot of bitterness in the flavor.


Of course, if I had read a little more carefully before heading out, I would have seen that many of the beers weren’t going to be tapped until later in the night, and I wouldn’t have shown up at quarter-to-6… since I closed the place down, that’s more than 8 hours in the bar. Oops. Good times were certainly had by all.


The Fruits of Our Labor

This weekend, after 2 weeks in primary, 3 weeks in secondary and 3 weeks bottle conditioning, we cracked open our first bottles of the Joe Paterno Is Old Ale that we brewed in January.

Unfortunately, despite what felt like very admirable patience (some of it due to the fact that we didn’t have caps or priming sugar or a car to get to Brew and Grow), it still wasn’t quite ready when we poured it. There was a bit of gas escaping when we popped the top, but that was about all she wrote. It was barely carbonated at all. In another month or so, it should really be hitting its stride. This is also a beer that I’ll be interested in trying in about a year or so. I bet it will cellar really, really well.

Tasting Notes

Despite the lack of carbonation, I still really enjoyed this beer. I really like the simplicity of it. A bunch of Maris Otter, a bit of Crystal and a dash of Special B. A couple ounces of hops were added and then just the standard British Wyeast. What comes out of the bottle, though, is rich and complex. Tons of flavor and great balance between the sweetness of the malt and the heat from the alcohol (this bad boy clocked in right around 7.4%).

It did get a bit cloying as you drank through an entire glass, but I bet a bit of brightness from carbonation would really help with this. Still, overall this beer is just as good as I remembered it being when we made it 18 months ago.

One things I was a little worried about was diacetyl.  We got a bit of that buttery, slipperiness in the Two Hearted clone we made. With the high gravity of the wort and forgetting to get starter going, I was worried that might be more pronounced in the Old Ale. Luckily, I think the extra week in primary and the extended stay in secondary allowed the yeasts to clean up most of the excess diacetyl.

Coming Up

My birthday is coming up, and brewing a beer for the occasion seems like the thing to do. I think we might try mail-ordering since getting the local homebrew store is sort of a pain. For the birthday, I’m thinking a nice RyePA (unsurprising to anyone who has followed this blog). I’ve heard good things about Northern Brewer, so I think I might order the Denny’s Wry Smile Rye Kit

Since they do a flat shipping charge, we might as well do a bigger order. One thing we had talked about was brewing an imperial stout now for next winter. It will be interesting brewing a beer in Spring for the Winter, but if we actually pull it off and have the patience, it could be really, really, good. That’s a big if, considering I thought waiting 8 weeks was an eternity.

Review: Avery The Czar Imperial Stout

I’m bunkered down in my apartment during Snowprah Winfrey 2011. Like any good northern kid, I have my supplies ready for a blizzard. I had a choice between a barley wine, imperial stout and imperial black ale. It’s a big storm, so I decided to go with the biggest beer in my fridge, Avery Brewing Co.’s The Czar Imperial Stout.

I’ve tried two other bombers from Avery Brewing Co. The Kaiser was very good and made me think, “I should really try more beers from Avery.” Then I tried The Reverend, which made me think, “Maybe I should slow my Avery roll…” The Czar will serve as the great tie breaker.

The company itself describes the beer:

Behold the stunning crimson hues through the inky blackness. Inhale the noble Hallertau hops, spicy and floral. Savor the flavors redolent of English toffee, rich mocha, sweet molasses, candied currants and a hint of anise. We highly recommend cellaring additional bottles, as the Czar will continue to mature and become denser and more complex with age.

This is the perfect night for an imperial stout, and I might get to work from home tomorrow, so I’m in a good mood to try this. Here’s hoping that Avery can win this round!

The Czar Imperial Stout

The Czar Imperial Stout - 11.69% ABV and 70IBUs

Appearance: The beer pours dark, opaque brown with a couple ruby flashes if the light hits it the right way. There was a huge, fluffy caramel head that laced down quickly. A thin layer of foam is fighting the good fight still now.

Aroma: I’m getting a roasty, malty sweetness, almost syrupy. There’s also a stone fruit and slightly spicy note underneath the sweetness.

Taste: A surprising amount of hop bitterness on the initial taste.  Lots of acrid, roasty notes early in taste. In the middle, there is a nice caramel/toffee sweetness. It finished with some spicy hop notes and warming alcohol taste.

Mouthfeel: Thick, chewy and syrupy. There’s not a lot of carbonation, but there’s enough to keep it from being completely overwhelming. It coats the mouth and leaves a pleasant lingering alcohol tingling.

Overall: This is a very easy drinking giant beer. It has a lovely, complicated flavor that warms the body and perfectly compliments this ridiculously horrible night. Avery wins this round and is sitting at 2-1.

Beer Review: Leinenkugel’s Big Eddy

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Imperial Stout - 9.5% ABV 74 IBU

First off, sorry for the blurry picture. My phone decided that focusing was a bridge too far, and there was only a limited time to snap this photo. Big Eddy is a special release Russian Imperial Stout from Leinenkugel. It’s 9.5% ABV and clocks in at 74IBU. An interesting note is that they do not propagate the yeast for this beer. They brewed it once before with a special White Labs yeast and spent a significant amount of money getting that same yeast for this version.

This beer is slated for release throughout the Great Lakes region. I got a sneak peek when I got to meet and talk with John Leinenkugel. After taking my first sip, in front of Binny’s beer consultant, Mr. Leinenkugel asked what I thought. It was a bit awkward.

Anyway, Mr. Leinenkugel thought the beer’s greatest asset is its balance, which is fair. Some RISs get to be too sweet or too chewy or too boozy, but this one walked the narrow line of moderation.

It poured like a fine motor oil into my glass with a nice tan head. The nose is almost all dark roasted malts with just a bit of sweetness. The taste has a bit of that acrid, burnt flavor, but not overwhelming. The sweetness of the malt is balanced out with an almost tart, fig flavor. The beer was thick, but not overly chewy, and it finished with a bit of an alcohol warmth.

Overall a good Russian Imperial Stout. More than the beer, the Big Eddy line of beers are an exciting turn for Leinenkugel’s. John Leinenkugel said he’s hoping that Big Eddy will become a series of experimental, extreme big beers. Successful ones will be saved and re-released while the others will become collectors items.