24 August 2009

BEER REVIEW: Coastal Brewing Company - Defender's Choice

I was in my local favorite liquor store the other day looking for the latest craft beer to review when a six-pack carton caught my eye. It had a red, white, and blue stripe across it and the name Defender's Of Freedom Choice on the side. I had never heard of it before and there wasn't really any information about the beer itself on either the carton or the bottle; however, it did say that it was dedicated to our brave and heroic service men and women, and that a portion of the sales would be donated to the Fisher House, a private / public partnership that supports our military personnel in need (fisherhouse.org). Being a patriotic American and a veteran, naturally I had to give it a try, at least for the purpose of the charity.

Defender's Choice is made by Coastal Brewing Company of Dover, Delaware which I understand is owned by the partnership of Fordham Brewing Co. and Anheuser - Busch. Well as you know, I am NOT a fan of the mega-brewers but many people are so fair is fair. I really can't tell you anything about the malt, hops, or other additives it is made with, or what the ABV is because as I said, there wasn't any information on the packaging and there wasn't a web-site either.

The pour revealed pleasant, malty notes and a yellow-golden color which was slightly opaque. It didn't have much of a head and didn't leave very much lace behind either. The taste was also a little malty and it had a crisp mouth-feel that was refreshing with a nice finish. All-in-all, this beer was consistent with a lot of the mainstream American-style lagers but was a little more flavorful than the Buds and Coors. Not a bad warm-weather beer.

20 August 2009

BEER REVIEW: Clipper City - Heavy Seas, The Big DIPA

Clipper City Brewing Company, right here in my home town of Baltimore, is releasing a Special Edition Series to their Heavy Seas line called the Mutiny Fleet, in 22 ounce bombers. The recipes, and even the label art, for the Mutiny Fleet are being created by the CC brewers themselves. I have looked at all the labels on the CCBC web site and must admit that the Pirate designs called to me.

The first release is The Big DIPA, which is a Double India Pale Ale style (hence the name Big DIPA). DIPAs are normally characterized by being a bit stronger than traditional IPAs (normally between 7% and 14% ABV) and heavier on the malt and hops. If you have ever had any of the Barleywine styles, DIPAs are often compared to them and sometimes even called American Barleywines.

The Big DIPA is a high gravity, bottle conditioned ale, made with five kinds of hops and 3 kinds of malts, and is hopped 3 times during the brewing process. It is 75.5 IBU and 10.6% ABV which will leave you with a peasant buzz if you haven't eaten first. Clipper City describes it as having an "earthy hop aroma", but I thought it had a strong grapefruit aroma. It had a nice golden-brown color, creamy head, and left nice lace as it went down. In my opinion, the flavor was totally dominated by grapefruit notes, which comes from the type and amount of hops used. While more dominant hops notes are customary with IPAs and DIPAs, at least to my pallet, this one was a bit overwhelming and could have used a tad more balance. How many times have you heard me say it though, "Taste Is Subjective!" It wasn't an unpleasant beer by any means, just not to my specific taste. My beautiful wife tends to think many of the beers that I really like are unpleasant to her taste.

The Mutiny Fleet - Special Edition Series is only going to be brewed in small batches for a limited time, so get your hands on some and try it yourselves. If you happen to be from Maryland (or "Merlin" as some of us say), buy some and SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CRAFT BREWERY!