Monthly Archives: May 2009

New Belgium Lips of Faith Dark Kriek Review

Lips of Faith Dark Kriek by New BelgiumLips of Faith beers by New Belgium Brewing Company are special releases that are available around St. Valentine’s day. They describe these beers as “funky” and “fruitful” and Dark Kriek is no exception. It is a big sour cherry ale with lot’s of complexity and flavor. New Belgium describes the Lips of Faith releases as follows:

For many years we’ve celebrated Valentine’s Day at New Belgium Brewing by creating a special small batch beer for our family and friends. These beers tend to be a little funky, fruitful and straight from the heart. This year we decided to share the love.

On the same page, they describe Dark Kriek as follows:

New Belgium Brewing’s Dark Kriek is a limited edition Belgian kriek or cherry beer. Much darker than a traditional kriek with a dash of sour cherry up front, our Dark Kriek is actually a blend of two beers. We start with a light, dry, tannic beer aged two years in oak barrels and combine this with a heavier, dark ale and cherries to create one smooth cherry blast of love.

Although I enjoyed this beer, especially after it warmed up to probably about 50ºF, it is not for the casual beer drinker and it is not a sweet and sour lambic like Lindemans’ lambics.

Dark Kriek Bottle from aboveWhere I Found It. I found a 22 oz. bottle of this special release beer at BevMo in Sacramento, CA.

Serving Type. I poured from the bottle into a glass.

Appearance. Dark Kreik has a frothy head that lasts a long time. The head has an eggnog-like color with a touch of pink from the cherries. The beer has a dark amber-red color that reminds me of redwood or mahogany. Although very dark, this beer is crystal clear.

Smell. The aroma has a a dark, roasty malt quality like that of a barley wine. It is, however, just a touch yeasty smelling. The bouquet has a rich fruit sourness like that of dark cherry and cassis. This sour bouquet is the prevalent smell in the beer especially as the beer warms up to an appropriate drinking temperature.

Taste. When consumed too cold, Lips of Faith Dark Kreik tastes sour and the other interesting flavors are subdued. After this beer warms up a bit, the flavors are much more pronounced. This beer is sour like a sour lambic ale but unlike other lambic ales like Lindemans’ kriek, this beer is not fruity sweet. Instead, it has a roasted malt sweetness that is more like the molasses sweetness that you might find in a barley wine. The fruit flavor is not lost in the sourness but is enhanced by the other flavors to create a nice dark cherry flavor.

Mouthfeel. The mouthfeel is what I like least about this beer. It was thick and syrupy with some chalkiness probably caused by tanins.

Drinkability. Dark Kreik is a interesting, complex, and tasty beer to try. It is a strong beer with unique flavors and sourness but is not a session beer. A 22 oz. bottle of this beer is perfect to share with somebody else. With that said, I would pick up this beer again, if it were available.

Dark Kriek with a white background to show the colorRating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (20%): 4.0
  • Smell (20%): 4.0
  • Taste (40%): 4.0
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 2.5
  • Drinkability (10%): 3.0
  • Overall: 3.75


  • Style: Belgian kriek, fruit beer
  • Brewery: New Belgium
  • Alcohol by volume: 8%
  • Other ingredients: cherries
  • Beer Advocate rating: 3.6 (as of May 29, 2009)

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Glass and Bottle of Dark Kriek by New Belgium

Bottle of Lips of Faith Dark Kriek

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Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Review

Pint of Dry Hopped St. Rogue RedOn the same visit to the Yard House, when I tried Avery White Rascal, I also had a pint of Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red by Rogue Brewery.This beer is made with Chinook and Centennial hops giving it a piney hoppy smell.

St. Rogue Red beer is an award winning red ale that has won Best Amber at the 2006 Celebration of Suds, a Silver at the 2004 World Beer Championships, and more.

Where I Found It. I enjoyed this beer at the Yard House in Pasadena, CA.

Serving Type. I tried St. Rogue Red on tap served into a pint glass.

Appearance. This beer has a typical off-white head, which lasts an average amount of time. Despite it’s amber color, it is crystal clear with a medium amber golden color.

Smell. Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red has intense floral hops with citrus and pine notes. The pine is a smooth scent and not harsh and scratchy. There is also a hint of grapefruit with a touch of orange.The malt aroma is almost completely masked by the hop bouquet.

Taste. The hop bitterness can be characterized as being smooth and not very harsh. I was surprised when I tasted this beer because it is not as bitter as you might expect from the very hoppy nose. It gives it a refreshing quality. I would consider this beer to be more roasty and toasty but less malty. It does, however, have a nice balance between the malt and hops.

St. Rogue Red tap handleMouthfeel. This is a medium to light bodied beer. I actually find it to be on the lighter side of body and almost feeling a bit too watery for my taste. The hop bitterness finishes well and does not linger too long. Although it seemed watery to my, my gravity calculations don’t agree so take this part of the rating for a grain of salt.

Drinkability. This beer is very drinkable. It is smooth and well balanced which makes it feel like it is not too bitter even though it has 44 IBUs of bitterness. Although it felt a little watery for my taste, this lighter body makes it more refreshing.

Rating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (20%): 4.0
  • Smell (20%): 4.5
  • Taste (40%): 4.0
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 3.0
  • Drinkability (10%): 4.0
  • Overall: 4.0


  • Style: Red Ale
  • Brewery: Rogue Brewery
  • Alcohol by volume: 5.1%
  • Original Gravity: 1.053 (13° Plato)
  • Final Gravity: 1.014 (3.6° Plato)
  • Hops: Chinook and Centennial.
  • Malt: Great Western Harrington, Klages, Munich & Hugh Baird Carastan 30-37 & 13-17, Crystal 70-80.
  • IBU: 44
  • Yeast: Pacman yeast
  • Color: 27° Lovibond
  • Beer Advocate rating: 3.85 (on May 19, 2009)

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Homebrewing: Black Dog Ale Clone

For my next batch of homebrew I wanted to accomplish a few objectives. First, I wanted to brew a batch where I could re-pitch the yeast for the next batch, which I already determined to be a nut brown ale. Next, I wanted to find a recipe that would utilize the hops that I’m growing: Cascade, Willamette, Mt. Hood, and/or Zeus. Finally, I wanted something fairly simple that I could use as a basis for something more experimental like using lavender instead of aroma hops.

Black Dog Ale Clone boiling wort

I was flipping through my copy of North American Clone Brews [Amazon] when I came across a recipe for Black Dog Ale, on page 81, from Spanish Peaks Brewing. It seemed to be the perfect recipe for what I wanted and it was a beer that I have not had in ages and have not seen in the stores for a long time.


When I got to the homebrew shop, they were out of Mt. Hood whole hops so I substituted with Vanguard whole hops. The following is a modified version of the recipe from North American Clone Brews. The main differences are the Vangaurd hops substitution, addition of Whirlfloc, substituted crystal 50 with 40 and 60, and the amount of dry malt extract that I used.

  • 5 lbs. light dry malt extract
  • 0.5 lbs. Crystal Malt 40
  • 0.5 lbs. Crystal Malt 60
  • 12 oz. white wheat malt
  • 4.5 AAU Willamette whole hops (60 minutes)
  • 4.5 AAU Vanguard whole hops (15 minutes)
  • Whirlfloc wort clarifier (15 minues)

This recipe has a starting gravity of about 1.055 and a target final gravity of 1.012.

Vanguard whole hops.

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Homebrewing: Review of Blood Orange Hefeweizen

Glass of Blood Orange HefeweizenOn February 23, 2009 I brewed up a batch of Blood Orange Hefeweizen using a recipe that I found in Extreme Brewing [Amazon]. The recipe, photos, and details of brew day can be found in this previous post. After 3 weeks in the secondary fermenter and 2 weeks in the keg, it was finally ready to drink.

I poured the beer from the keg into a glass and the following is what I experienced.

Appearance. This beer has a yellow tan head that doesn’t last very long. It is hazy, as a hefeweizen usually is, the has a deep red-orange amber color.

Smell. The blood orange hefeweizen that I brewed has a strong clove smell and a hint of banana. It has a citrus and dark ripened fruit bouquet, which, for me, seemed to be a characteristic of the blood oranges. The smell is not terribly sweet and I was expecting a lot more of the blood orange smell.

Taste. The banana aspect of the blood orange hefeweizen is more prevalent in the taste. The yeast also gives it a clove spice quality. When the clove flavor is combined with the unsweetened blood orange flavors, it reminds me just a little of orange-spice herbal tea. Where the tea is very in your face with the flavors, in the beer thse flavors are more subtle.

A view from the top of a blood orange hefeweizen.Mouthfeel. This batch of homebrew did not reach the target final gravity. It ended up with a little more body than I wanted creating a slight surup-like sensation on the tongue. It seems to leave a bit of a yeasty aftertase in your mouth.

Drinkability. Despite the fact that this homebrew recipe wasn’t quite what I expected, it is a drinkable beer. Especially while is cold out of the keg, it has a refereshing quality to it. The uniqueness of it is a drawback, however, to having more than two at a time.

All in all, I thought this was an interesting beer to brew and drink. I’m not sure that I would brew it again any time soon. If I did try brewing it again, I would use a more neutral flavored yeast. I think the hefeweizen yeast might have overpowered the taste and smell of the blood oranges.

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Mammoth Paranoid Pale Ale Review

In March, I was snowboarding at the Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort and for lunch my group stopped for lunch at the Summit Deck & Grille at the top of the mountain. While I was trying to figure out what I wanted to eat, I noticed that they had two beers by Mammoth Brewing Company on tap. I had never tried any of their beer so I thought I’d grab a Paranoid Pale Ale. I had no intention of reviewing that beer on the spot, especially since I did not have my camera, until I tasted it. It is hoppy, well balanced, smooth, and refreshing. To me, it really seems like an ideal beer for skiing and snowboarding.

This malts used to create Paranoid Pale Ale are ESB malt, crystal malt, and honey malt. Simcoe hops are used for bittering, crystal and cascade hops are used for finishing, and this beer is dry hopped with cascade.

Where I Found It. At the top of Northstar-at-Tahoe at the Summit Deck & Grille.

Serving Type. Paranoid Pale Ale was served on tap into a clear plastic cup.

Appearance. The head of this beer is nice and foamy with a slightly darker than egg-shell white color. This beer is crystal clear with an orange amber color. The color is similar to that some dark orange candies.

Smell. The hop bouquet of Paranoid Pale Ale is a little spicy with spruce or pine notes. There is also a hint floral and citrus notes. The aroma comes through with a little caramel maltiness.

Taste. The flavor is malty caramel and vanilla while very nicely balanced with a distinctive cascade flavor. The taste of the hops are slightly spicy, a little floral, but not pine tasting. Although this beer has 40 IBUs, the hop bitterness is smoother and balanced by the sweetness of the malt.

Mouthfeel. Paranoid Pale Ale is a medium bodied beer. The bitterness lingers briefly then is smoothed away by the malt sweetness. The bitterness does, however, builds up on your tongue over time.

Drinkability. This beer goes down smooth with a wonderful hop flavor balanced with the malt. Since it does  not have a harsh bitterness, it goes down smooth. I’m thinking the beer was designed with skiing/snowboarding in mind because it was great with lunch after a morning of snowboarding. It would also be a great après ski beer.


  • Appearance (20%): 3.5
  • Smell (20%): 3.5
  • Taste (40%): 4.5
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 3.5
  • Drinkability (10%): 4.5
  • Overall: 4.0

Caption on the Bottle

Although I did not try Paranoid Pale Ale from the bottle, I did find a picture on Flickr.

Classic American pale ale featuring a piney citrus hop nose, a full malt body, and a clean bitter finish.


  • Style: American pale ale
  • Brewery: Mammoth Brewing Company
  • Alcohol by volume: 5.5%
  • Hops: simcoe (bittering), crystal and cascade (finishing), cascade (dry hopping)
  • Malts: ESB, crystal, and honey
  • Original gravity: 1.055 (13.5 Plato)
  • Final gravity: 1.013 (3.2 Plato) (calculated)

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