December 8, 2008

Yankee Spirits Beer Tasting

Newport Storm James

Yankee Spirits had a beer tasting yesterday. It was a welcome opportunity to try some new (relatively local) brews and a couple of distant brewery offerings as well. I was surprised by a couple of products that may become fast favorites. Here are some notes.

Coastal Extreme Brewery

I tried two of the beers from the makers of "Newport Storm." First: their Newport Storm Winter Ale is a chocolate porter, dedicated to the blizzard of '78. The chocolate malt is evident, but not burnt. I liked it, but I'm favoring more malty brews lately. (Sam Adams Chocolate Bock is a different animal entirely, because it uses actual chocolate; usually when you see the word "chocolate" in the name of a beer it describes the malt and not any actual chocolate flavor. And bock is a maltier style than porter.)

The porter was overshadowed by their Cyclone Series this year which is named "James." It's a Scotch Ale, which I find usually too peat-y. The reps told me they were going for only a hint and aftertaste of peat, rather than an overpowering flavor. They hit it. It wasn't too sweet or malty, either. Fans of traditional Scotch Ales may find it differs too much (you'll have to let me know) but I found it very enjoyable. I picked up a 6 pack for further analysis.

Sebago Brewing

This brewery offers a line of beers with the moniker "Slick Nick." My only notes are on their Slick Nick Winter Ale which I found to be clean, and only a little malty. It reminded me of a black lager, but with a little more body. It wasn't heavy, though.

The Balvenie

It's not a beer, it's a Scotch. There were three scotches, but I only tried two because I'm familiar with the DoubleWood. Founder's Reserve 10 year old and Single Barrel 15 year old were the two I tried. I didn't write down any notes beyond the lame observation that the 15 year old was smoother, but that I think I like the DoubleWood better than both.


Ayinger's well-known Celebrator double bock was very sweet, almost overpowering. You expect malty with doppelbocks, and this was certainly malty. I'm not drinking a lot of double bocks lately, and I'd like to taste this side by side with Salvator. With beers that are on the extremes, like Doppelbock, it's difficult to get a good read on them when you're swinging from an IPA to this; it over-emphasizes the differences. In any case, Celebrator is like a meal in a mug, and packs an alcoholic punch.

Samuel Smith

Another surprise of the day was Samuel Smith's new Organic Apple Cider. Wow - this might be my new favorite cider. It's definitely much stronger with the apple flavor. It was difficult to judge the relative sweetness, alongside of bitter beers, but this cider is very different from super-dry ciders that taste like champagne or beer yeast. It had a dry bite, but the apples come right to the front. I like a cider where the apples seem front and center. Specifically, it had a Cortland-like flavor.

Wachusett Brewing Company

This was a good comparison, because I tried two of their somewhat similar beers. Their Wachusett IPA is as hoppy as you expect from an IPA. Considering how expensive some super-hoppy beers are today, Wachusett IPA seems to me to be a very good deal. Not overpoweringly floral, the hops were a little fruity.

But I preferred their Green Monsta Pale Ale, which has a blend of hops and is more complex. Since I'm not a hops-head, perhaps I like to get as many different hops at one time in one beer. But they've done a good job balancing this beer. It's got less bite than the IPA, which is good for me, less good for hopheads.

I ran into @jcallina and his wife, but none of my other friends could get free to attend the tasting. Jason concurred with my judgment on Sam Smith's new cider. It was definitely a stand out of the tasting.

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Posted by James at December 8, 2008 9:07 AM
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Always happy to read beer recommendations! I like the sound of the Samuel Smith's cider and Green Monsta Pale Ale. Most who know me know I'm not a fan of porter.

Scotch ales range from 60-(40?) shilling to "wee heavy" depending on how thick and syrupy you like them. I like them all, but prefer the McEwan's (wee heavy). On pancakes.

Posted by: Bull at December 9, 2008 11:20 AM

Oh, cool, Yankee Spirits! You just took me SO far back in time. I'm going to bring hubby out there for a little spree to try some of your recommendations...

Posted by: Audrey at December 12, 2008 9:31 AM

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