Review: Hottenroth (Berliner Weisse), The Bruery

The Bruery — Placentia, CA

  • Style:  Berliner Weisse
  • Bitterness:  2 IBU
  • ABV:  3.1%
  • Malts:  Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Sampled:  750 ml bottle

Description: "Hottenroth Berliner Weisse is brewed in memory of Fred and Sarah Hottenroth, Patrick's grandparents. This tart German-style Berliner Weisse is as authentic as it gets. We used lactobacillus and a hint of brettanomyces to sour this very unusual, low gravity wheat beer. To cut the tartness for those with sweeter tastes, raspberry or woodruff syrup is a traditional way to sweeten the beer. Almost an extinct style, we hope to revive the Berliner Weisse in memory of two great people." — The Bruery 

Random thoughts:  My favorite beer discovery of 2011 was the Berliner Weiss, a tart German-style ale with a very low alcohol content. I tasted two on the same day at Bailey's GermanFest. In Germany, this style is typically served with a fruit syrup. I've tried the syrups, but prefer not to use them. I thought it would be fitting to close out 2011 with a Berliner Weisse, so I added Hottenroth to my list of special holiday beer treats. This is the first Bruery beer I've profiled. 

The tasting:  Light golden in color, clear (but cloudy towards the end, due to unsettled yeast), with a white head that dissipates fairly quickly. Light effervescence is visible. Aroma of wheat, hay, lemon citrus, and grassy hops. Flavor similar to the aroma with the addition of bready malt. It's tart, but not sour, and acidity is low. It has no bitterness and little sweetness. Alcohol is not noticeable in aroma or flavor. Hottenroth is light bodied, highly carbonated, and has a soft prickly mouth feel. It reminds me of champagne. It finishes dry with bready malt and tangy wheat. It's light, refreshing, and very drinkable. I polished off the bottle by myself!

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again! Hottenroth won a silver medal at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival (in the German-Style Sour Ale category), so I expect it's an excellent representative of the Berliner Weisse style. Personally, I would have preferred a touch more tartness. There aren't an abundance of Berliner Weisse beers on the market, and the few that I'm aware of are summer seasonals. If you'd like to try the style or want an introduction to the world of wild/sour ales, Hottenroth is a great place to begin! Plus, its champagne-like qualities make it an excellent choice for your New Year's Eve celebrations. The low 3.1% ABV is a benefit as well!

Have you tried Hottenroth? What are you favorite Berliner Weiss beers? Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year! Cheers!

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Review: Silipint (Silicone Beer Glass)

Silipint is the world's first silicone pint glass. I first heard about it on Lisa Morrison's Beer O'Clock show. It has an interesting backstory. It started life as a silicone dog food dish and evolved from there. Today, I'm evaluating Silipint with the assistance of a Redhook Winterhook.

Silipint — Bend, OR

  • Style:  Silicone Beer Drinking Vessel
  • Weight: 7.6 oz
  • Ingredients: 100% food-grade silicone
  • Size: 16 oz. capacity  (full disclosure: sample provided by Silipint) 

Description: "This one-of-a-kind, 16 oz. pint is unbreakable, bendable but sturdy, 100% safe, highly portable, uniquely fun & a great gift for anyone in your family!  Take it anywhere and challenge it to extremes!  Microwave safe, Dishwasher safe, Freezer safe, Oven safe.  Silipints have twice the insulation value as glass, so not only do hot drinks stay hotter and cold drinks stay colder, it's also great for boiling water, or refreezing smoothies and ice cream!  Silipints are made from the same 100% food grade silicone that make baby bottle nipples, so have no fear of BPA toxins or off-gassing." — Silipint  

Random thoughts:  A beer glass made out of silicone? If you're worried about drinking out of something used for implants—don't. Silipint is made out of 100% food grade silicone approved by the FDA. The primary benefits of Silipint are that it's unbreakable, easy to clean, and has good temperature retention properties. 

The look:  To start, this is what a Silipint (on the right) looks like. As you can see, it's not clear. While this limits your ability to view the contents in detail, it does allow you to see the general color.

The feel: While being unbreakable is a great selling point, I found the tactile experience of using Silipint to be its most compelling (and fun) feature. First, it's surface is not entirely smooth. It has a very fine texture that makes the the glass easy to grip and unlikely to fall out of your hands. Second, it's semi-rigid. If you apply a bit of pressure, the glass will flex. See picture below to demonstrate a novel use of this feature.

Photo courtesy of Silipint

Final Analysis:  The folks from Silipint sent me this glass back in July and I've used it extensively. I've dropped it, squished and stomped on it (not part of my normal beer sampling routine), and have put it through countless dishwasher cycles. It has held up perfectly, and performs as well as it did when I first received it.

If you like beer and live an active lifestyle, you should add Silipint to glass collection. Its flexibility and durability make it ideal for travel and the great outdoors. While it won't permanently replace the traditional pint glass inside my home, it's coming with me whenever I drink beer outside. To learn more, check out the Silipint website.

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Review: Frambozen, New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing Co. — Fort Collins, CO

  • Style:  Brown Ale
  • Bitterness:  15.5 IBU
  • ABV:  6.5%
  • Malts:  Pale
  • Hops:  Target
  • Special Ingredients:  Raspberry Juice
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle
  • Calories:  200 per 12 oz.

Description: "Frambozen begins with the aroma of fresh red raspberries, followed by the ripe seductiveness of a fruity brown ale with depth and delicate malt notes. It is deep ruby in color, with flavors just as rich. Every year, New Belgium sends a delegate to the Pacific Northwest to oversee the process of turning freshly picked berries into a pure juice to be added in fermentation. The coming of Thanksgiving at New Belgium is ushered in with the first sighting of our cellar operators scuttling about, covered head to tow in a festive crimson berry wash." —New Belgium Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:  Raspberry is a great fruit to use in beer. It's tart and adds a little sweetness. I made my own Raspberry Wheat homebrew this summer. In addition to Frambozen (which I added to my lineup of special holiday beer treats), New Belgium recently released Snow Day as their new winter seasonal. 

The tasting:  Reddish brown, but when held up to the light, it's a brilliant garnet color. It's clear, sports an off white head that dissipates fairly quickly, and has minimal effervescence floating though the glass. Aroma of raspberry, toasted malt, and spicy hops—but the raspberry dominates. In flavor, the raspberry is front and center. It surprised me a bit, as I expected the fruit to be subtle. The raspberry is both sweet and tart and is followed by a healthy dose of grassy hop bitterness. Frambozen is light to medium bodied, has a slightly prickly mouth feel, and finishes with (surprise) raspberry and grassy hops.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  My biggest gripe about beers with fruit is that the fruit is usually too subtle. Not the case with Frambozen. If anything, the raspberry flavor was a bit too strong. As a result, the malt flavors were lost to me. However, this was not a major flaw and I really enjoyed this beer. I appreciate winter seasonals that are unique, and this certainly is. If you like raspberry and can still find Frambozen, give it a try!

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Review: Hibernation Ale, Great Divide

Hibernation Ale
Great Divide Brewing Co. — Denver, CO

  • Style:  Strong Ale
  • Bitterness:  Not specified
  • ABV: 8.7%
  • Malts: Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description: "Our award-winning Hibernation Ale is Colorado’s original strong ale – it has been our winter seasonal each year since 1995. Since that time, Hibernation has become the most sought-after winter beer in Colorado. Hibernation is revered for its malty richness, complex hop profile that can only be obtained by dry-hopping, and hearty, warming character which is perfect right out of the bottle or cellared for longer periods of time. Hibernation is a lively treat that really beats the winter chill." —Great Divide Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:  I didn't get a chance to taste Hibernation Ale last year, so I didn't want to miss it this winter. I've always heard great things about it so I added it to my list of special holiday beer treats. This has a "bottled on" date of November 3, 2011.

The tasting:  Deep garnet in color, clear, with a cream colored head that dissipates fairly slowly. I love this color in a beer. Aroma of brown sugar, plums, and raisin. Flavors mirror the aroma with the addition of toasted and caramel malts, and some light notes of cherry and chocolate. Although this is dry-hopped, the bitterness is not pronounced and serves to provide balance to this malt forward beer. Hibernation Ale is medium bodied, lightly carbonated, and has a smooth mouth feel. The alcohol at 8.7% is noticeable, but provides a nice warming in the middle that complements the malt sweetness. It finishes with flavors of dark fruit and the drying alcohol.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  What a lovely beer! This reminded me very much of a Barleywine — albeit a lighter version. It has many of the layered flavors and alcohol kick that remind me of the style. This is a must-try beer and perfect for the winter season. If Great Divide is in your area, go get some before it disappears in January!

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Southern Oregon Brewing's New Black Heart Imperial Stout

Southern Oregon Brewing from Medford is ringing in 2012 with a brand new beer--Black Heart Imperial Stout! This is a limited release that will be available for about three months. The beer's specs are listed below.  

A release party for Black Heart will be held this Friday (12/30), from 4 - 7 pm  at The BeerMongers in SE Portland. I love Imperial Stouts and will post a full review as soon as I can get my hands on a bottle!

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From your friends at
Southern Oregon Brewing Company

January 1st  release date
Black Heart Imperial Stout is startlingly rich and complex as its roasted, chocolaty malt aromas and flavors are balanced perfectly with Warrior hops. A slight alcohol heat lends a spice to this mammoth beer which finishes with a creamy smooth texture on the palate.  Black Heart is full of body and not for the faint of heart. 

8.5 % ABV, Color: 45 SRM, IBUs: 40
Hops: UK Kents,Warrior
Malt: Rahr 2 row, Castle Special “B”, Roast, Black, Flaked Oats, Crystal 77, 
 Briess Carapils, Weyermann Dark Wheat

Beer Run: Holiday Treats

I can't believe 2011 is almost over! I'm looking forward to taking vacation during the last week of the year and spending time with family and friends. Homebrewing is in my plans and I hope to brew two batches this week. Beer tasting, of course, is also on the agenda.

I've assembled this special lineup of treats for my holiday week. While all are not winter seasonals, they're all unique and I've heard great things about each.

What special beers will you enjoy this holiday season?

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Free Stuff (Chalice & Music) from Stella Artois!

The folks from Stella Artois (owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev) are offering two free holiday goodies!

The first is a chalice. Just to be clear, this is not a glass—it's a chalice. If you call 1-800-MY-CHALICE to order this fancy beer vessel, you'll be educated about what a chalice is and how it differs from a glass. If you really want a free glass, call someone else. I ordered my free chalice yesterday, and should receive it in a few weeks.

The other freebie is "Under the Holiday Star" a download of eight jazz-style holiday classics. I don't know about you, but I've had my fill of Christmas music this year. If you haven't, click here to download your free album.

So go get your free stuff and have a Merry Christmas!

1/23/12 update:  I got my free chalice in the mail yesterday. I didn't have a Stella in the fridge, so I christened with a BridgePort IPA. It's a nice glass. It feels substantial and comfortable in the hand. More importantly, I can now count myself as one of the few, the proud, the chalice owners....

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Review: Festivale, Terminal Gravity

Terminal Gravity Brewing Co. — Enterprise, OR

  • Style:  Strong Ale
  • Bitterness:  Not specified
  • ABV: 8.3%
  • Malts: Not specified
  • Hops:  Not specified
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle

Description: "Terminal Gravity's Festivale is in the style of British strong or 'old' ales.  We brewed it to be fairly dry so that it is completely drinkable and not cloying.  It has huge and complex malt and hops flavors with a nice little alcoholic warmth in the finish.  The color is deep ruby brown and it produces a fine cream colored cascading head.  If you like strong ales, this might be one of your new favorites!" — Terminal Gravity Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:  I first tasted Festivale '10 last year at Horse Brass Pub. I'm tasting this year's release as part of my series on winter seasonal beers

The tasting:  Deep ruby in color, slightly hazy, with a tan head that dissipates very slowly. It's a great looking beer! Aroma of piney hops, caramel, toasted malt, with light brown sugar, and faint alcohol. In flavor, I first notice caramel malt, followed by grapefruit hop bitterness. The hop bitterness is solid, but is supported by a strong malt base. So in the end, it leans toward the hoppy side. It has brown sugar and raisin flavors, but is not overly sweet. Festivale is medium bodied, lightly carbonated, has a smooth mouth feel, and finishes dry with caramel and grapefruit hop bitterness. The alcohol is noticeable, but mild. Festivale goes down quite easily for an 8% brew—so be warned...

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  If you're looking for a winter warmer that's not overly sweet and leans towards hops, look no further. Festivale isn't complex with many layers of flavors, but don't let that dissuade you. This is an excellent beer for your holiday celebrations, particularly Festivus. Let the Airing of Grievances begin!

Have you tasted Festivale or any other Terminal Gravity beers? 

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