Tag Archives: < 5%

A Tale of Two Ciders

Hard ciders have been growing in popularity along with craft beer during this recent boom, though at a much smaller percentage. Years ago your selection was limited to old English brands then Woodchuck came on the scene and started to dominate. Now there are a plethora of companies making cider and 2 “local” ones that I’ll be trying tonight. My wife has been a cider lover for a long time now and I’ve been meaning to steal one of hers to review and that day has finally come.

The main difference between beer and cider is the source of the alcohol. Beer uses the sugar from malted barley while hard ciders rely on the sugar in apple juice. Don’t think this means hard ciders are light, or low alcohol, in fact the Oliver Original cider I’ll be trying tonight is 8%!

I have come to believe that there is a general perception that hard ciders are for women or something like that. Please note, I am not saying this is my perception nor am I trying to start any kind of sexist war, just stating something I’ve observed. Honestly, I think it’s nonsense and according to some facts from Angry Orchard it is equally consumed by men and women. Anything can be for anyone it’s just all about what their personal preference is. My hope is that this post will bring info about hard cider to our readers and encourage them to give it a go. That said, on to the reviews!

Brewery: Oliver Winery
Beer Cider: Beanblossom Hard Cider Original
Style: Cider
ABV: 8%
Calories: ~250

Fantastically clear and very pale yellow/gold color that honestly looks a lot like Bud Light. No head what so ever, though I’m not super sure if cider’s should have a head on them. It does look a lot like apple juice though.

Very fruity aroma with lots of sugary action and a noticeable amount of alcohol.

Pleasantly sweet taste that screams apple. I was concerned that this was going to be sickening sweet, like Georgia sweet tea, but am glad to find that’s not the case though It is certainly sweeter than most beers.

Very light body with an extremely crisp and refreshing mouth feel. This is probably my favorite part of this drink.

I digg this and can see myself drinking more of them after mowing the lawn on hot summer days, a spot usually reserved for a Rivertown Helles. Though the 8% this thing packs could make for an interesting afternoon, I’m about half way through and definitely feeling it.A few words on packaging before moving on to Angry Orchard. This is a very interesting can, bottle, canottle, cabottle? bottan? It’s a tall aluminum can, I dig the convergence of cans and bottles in this format and would like to see some beers packaged this way as well.

Brewery: Angry Orchard (Boston Beer Company)
Cider: Crisp Apple
Style: Cider
ABV: 5%
Calories: 280

Much richer golden yellow hue then the Oliver had. Also packs noticeably more “head” then Oliver did, it’s not really a normal head as much as just a ring of bubbles around the top rim.

Very strong apple smell with loads of sweet apples, but not much else.

Overly sweet apple flavor that is over done in my opinion. Like the aroma there is nothing else happening here except for the apples.

Nicely crisp, smooth, and light body feel.

Between these two the Oliver is the clear winner in my opinion. It’s got a much better overall experience and more alcohol, on the upside for this beer is that it’s cheaper, session-worthy, and massively available wherever any beer is sold.

I mentioned earlier how both of these ciders were “local”. I’m using “local” because Bloomington, Indiana isn’t in the greater Cincinnati area but is only 2 1/2 hours off. Angry Orchard claims to be from Cincinnati, Ohio. This threw me for a great loop when my wife first spotted it in Asheville, North Carolina of all places. I knew that no place making cider in Cincinnati could have popped up completely under my nose without me knowing at all. After doing a little digging online I quickly discovered that Angry Orchard is a Sam Adam’s product. So yes, it is “local” as it is brewed at Sam Adam’s facility in Over-The-Rhine.

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Beer Review: Sam Adam’s Summer Ale

Attention all brewers please take note: April is not summer, it is spring. March (when I first spotted this beer as well as Bell’s Oberon) is also not summer, May is kinda summer, June is officially summer. Summer ales belong in summer… However it was over 70 degrees yesterday, and I spent all day doing yard work followed by beer & grilling out… So it’s close enough to summer.

There was a time a few years back when Sam Adam’s Summer Ale was pretty much the only beer I’d drink whenever it was available. I enjoyed a few craft beers but had no “true” idea of what was out there. Like I said that was  a few years back, last year I only had one of these and it was at a bar where the other options were less than “optimal”.

The following is the Sam Adam’s blurb about this brew:

Samuel Adams® Summer Ale is an American wheat ale. This summer seasonal uses malted wheat, lemon zest and Grains of Paradise, a rare pepper from Africa first used as a brewing spice in the 13th century, to create a crisp taste, spicy flavor and medium body. The ale fermentation imparts a background tropical fruit note reminiscent of mangos and peaches. All of these flavors come together to create a thirst quenching, clean finishing beer perfect for those warm summer days.

To me that sounds like a bunch of PR hype. “Grains of Paradise” and “a rare pepper from Africa” seriously??

Brewery: Sam Adams
Beer: Summer Ale
Style: Wheat Ale
ABV: 5.3%
Calories: ~160

A very attractive wheat beer with a nice cloudy orange/yellow color and pure white head.

Smells of lemon and a bit of grass… really not the most appetizing aroma.

Decent, though very light, flavor of mostly lemon mixed with the sweet wheat and some orange-citrus hops. Nothing to get excited about but also nothing to complain about. And there is an intangible taste that just “feels” like “summer”… though this may be part of my memory of this beer more than anything else.

Very light bodied mouth feel with plenty of carbonation.

As I said initially before I truly knew of the world of craft beer I loved this beer and it was “summer” to me. Now I know a good deal better, that doesn’t make it a bad beer it just puts this into perspective a bit. I still enjoy this in warm weather but there are superior summer wheat beers out there like Bell’s Oberon. Though I have come to prefer a nice sessionable IPA or a high quality Helles lager (by Rivertown) over one of these wheat beers… But that’s just me.

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Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Stout vs. Narwhal Imperial Stout

Getting back on track with The Winter of my dark-content I built my own 6-pack of stouts & porters at Belmont Party Supply in Dayton. I had Left Hand’s Nitro Milk Stout last night and the mouth feel was insanely awesome, but otherwise not to amazing. It left me a little disappointed with stouts in general. Tonight however that all changes as I compare Sierra Nevada’s Stout to their Narwhal Imperial Stout.

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Beer Review: 2 very different stouts

Brewery: Samuel Smith’s
Beer: Oatmeal Stout
Style: Oatmeal Stout
Alcohol by volume: 5%

Gave it a pour straight down the middle and was rewarded with a completely opaque fully black beer. Due to the more aggressive pour I got a LOT of head, had to wait for it to settle before I could pour the whole bottle.

Very sweet chocolaty malty aroma with no hop presence at all. I also pick up some oatmeal aroma, or at least an aroma that reminds me of breakfast.

Super chocolate flavor with some grainy oat action as well. Slight bitterness from the hops but this is an extremely malty beer. Good flavor but not amazing.

The body and mouth feel is where this beer shines the brightest. Soooooo smooth and creamy it reminds me of drinking chocolate milk.

Overall I’m not impressed and this doesn’t live up to the hype I’ve heard about it, like the 99 rating on ratebeer.com. I got this at the Village Wine Cellar over in  Lebanon but you should be able to come across this beer just about anywhere better beer is sold.

Brewery: Oskar Blues
Beer: TenFidy
Style: Imperial Stout
Alcohol by volume: 10.5%

Very different pour from before. The color is blacker than I could’ve imagined and there was only the faintest layer of dark tan head before fading away.

Strong aroma of malt and grain with plenty of alcohol standing out.

Taste is similar to the smell, lots of alcohol though. That combines with malt bitterness to dominate the flavor.

My taste buds may have been skewed slightly by the Oatmeal Stout but I’m not super impressed by this beer either. Sure it’s a great beer and I digg how strong it is but I don’t feel like there is too much more there than that and malts. Sticking with G’Knight as my favorite Oskar Blues brew.

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Beer Review: Mt. Carmel Blonde & Nut Brown Ales

Tonight I’m knocking back the last two styles contained in Mt. Carmel’s Porch Pack. Last week I had the India Pale Ale and Amber Ale to start off my review of the Porch pack. So far I’ve been impressed at how spot on to style Mt. Carmel is but not amazed or wowed in anyway. The IPA & Amber were both good beers, lets see if the Blonde & Nut Brown follow suit.

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Beer Review: Rivertown Hop Bomber

After drinking stouts all week it’s nice to get back to more familiar territory. I’ve had Rivertown’s Hop Bomber on numerous occasions but have never given it a review on this site or an overwhelming amount of thought. It’s been easy to drink this without too much thought because it’s a good session beer. It’s not too outstanding in anyway but not to mild to be noticeable disappointing. While I do take issue with the name I do love this beer. Time to get drinking!

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Beer Review: Guinness Extra Stout

Guinness doesn’t make many styles of beer, at least compared to most American craft Brewers. Making just the Draught, Extra Stout, and Foreign Extra Stout regularly and then a small spattering of others which are mostly one offs. I wasn’t hugely impressed by the Draught, it’s a decent beer but not a good or great beer. I’ve heard amazing things about the Foreign Extra Stout but tonight I’m drinking the Extra Stout.

The Extra Stout has an interesting story behind it. Seems this is the original recipe for what we now think of as Guinness, according to Wikipedia the beer was toned down in the 70s to make it more marketable. That is why this same beer is the called Guinness Original across the pond. The other interesting, and far more important, thing is that this is brewed in Canada. That much is known from the label on the bottle, the following is a bit of varying info from the Internet. According to some sites Guinness exports the unfermented wort from Ireland to Canada to be brewed there. While that is all fun to know drinking is better!
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Beer Review: Guinness Draught (can)

The state of Guinness in America has always surprised me a bit. In a nation of fizzy, yellow, and generally flavorless beer many bars have on tap this black as night, creamy, and semi-flavorful beer. Something I’m quite glad about. I’m no Guinness-fanatic, even though I’m mostly Irish, but I do prefer it over the fizzy yellow stuff. If you’ve never had a Guinness can or bottle, or if you’ve had and pondered what that clinky sound is, allow me to educate you on the widget. Nitrogen is a way of dispensing beer and is what helps make Guinness on tap so nice and creamy. To achieve that in a can/bottle they decided to create a “widget” basically a little nitrogen container that releases it’s nitrogen when you crack open the beer. Next time you open one of these listen closely and you’ll hear it go off. Widget or not I’m ready to drink.

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Beer Review: Yuengling Traditional Lager

Yuengling’s been distributing to Ohio for nearly a year now and I’ve had it multiple times in the past year. As well as a few before that when visiting Pennsylvania. Though in none of those situations have I given this beer a tremendous amount of though. Sure it’s a decent easy drinking beer, but can “America’s oldest brewery” deliver more?

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Beer Review: Oskar Blues Mamas Little Yella Pils

Here comes the second of the four beers that OB hooked us up with. This is a pilsner, something I don’t think has every been reviewed on this blog before. They’ve gotten a bad rap in the past 15 or so years by us craft beer geeks. Some big brewers decided to brew the living crap out of this beer and to do so in the most cost effective way possible. That has turned out great for their bottom line, but less great for our taste buds. But that’s their fault (and our fault for buying it) it’s not the fault of the style of beer. This is a great, complex, and classic style of beer. One that I’m happy to give some more attention to here.

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