Black Sheep Ale

This delicious Ale comes out of the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire in England.  I have to admit that I purchased it solely on the basis of its attractive sturdy oversized bottle.  It was a little over a pint or half a liter for you metric types.  And, like I said, it was delicious.

It was formerly called their “special ale” and I can see where the name came from.  Light and drinkable with an ABV of 4.4%, it was a tasty brew with nice bitter aftertaste.  Certainly not as hoppy as its Pale Ale or IPA cousins, it did have a nice hop aroma and initial taste up front.  Then the malty goodness took over, although never becoming too sweet or cloying.  I only had one, but I could easily have had a few more.

My Rating: 8 out of 10.


Southern Tier

We sat down prior to a delicious meal of pasta and meatballs from Maroni’s this evening to try a couple of seasonal brews from Southern Tier Brewing Companyout of Lakewood New York. The two we tried were the PumKing (an Imperial Pumpkin Ale) and the Creme Brulee (an Imperial Milk Stout). They like the word “Imperial”. And it fits their brews to a T!  We enjoyed the big 22oz bottles, which I’m pretty sure is the only packaging available on these delicious brews.

PumKing – I love pumpkin beers. It’s probably has a lot to do with my love of Autumn just as much as anything. For years when it came to pumpkins, my only choice was Post Road’s Pumpkin Ale. And it was a great choice. A little different every year, it always tasted wonderful. Many years later now, I’ve tried just about every pumpkin beer I could get my grubby hands on. And with absolute glee, I have to say that PumKing is the best of the bunch! So much flavor, so much aroma, great color. It literally has everything going for it. While there are a whole slew of great food pairing ideas with this one, I prefer to enjoy it on its own. What a delicious brew!

My Rating – 10 out of 10.

Creme Brulee – As soon as you open the bottle on this one you can smell a strong toffee aroma that is bigger than the bottle itself.  Great aroma!  It pours nicely with a lush, thick head and it looks great in the glass.  The taste is both smooth, as an Imperial Milk Stout would suggest, and bold as it’s 10.0% ABV would dictate.  Wow!  It’s not a beer that usually fits within my comfort zone, to be honest.  As I’ve mentioned before I have a “thing” about stouts.  But it is unquestionably delicious even though I don’t think I could finish one all by myself.  It would be great with a rich dessert or as a dessert on its own.

My Rating – 7 out of 10.

Elysian – The Wise

I purchased a big bottle of this at the local distributor last week and tried it over the weekend. I don’t know exactly what drew me to it, but it could have been the comic-book style artwork of Athena (that’s Athena, right?) on the label of the bottle.  After I looked at again at home I thought it looked a little silly, but what are you gonna do?

Elysian Brewing Company is out of Washington State in Seattle.  They are a both a brewpub and microbrewery with a full line of year-round and seasonal brews.  The Wise is their version of an ESB, and it is delicious!  Nice blend of hops and malt with a citrus flavor (orange?) that comes through nicely in both the aroma and taste of the beer.  The color is a deeper red or copper than I am used to with other ESBs.  Helps to distinguish it, I guess. 

I didn’t have it with any food, but it sure seems like it would go well with a whole assortment of culinary treats from cheese to red meat to salads.  Highly drinkable as a stand alone as well.

My Rating: 8 out of 10.


Instead of focusing on one beer today, let’s talk about the selection of canned beers offered from Butternuts Beer & Ale out of the great state of New York.

As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of canned beers. Especially in the summertime. It just seems to go better with an outdoor setting, having some barbecue or sitting at the beach. Cans just make sense. And I think they keep the beer colder. Maybe that’s not true, but it feels right to me at least.

Butternuts currently makes four different style of beers and ales. They are:

Hennieweisse– Their take on a Hefeweizen.  Very drinkable and fun.  Like all wheat beers, I prefer to drink this one out of the glass and observe the cloudiness and smell the rich aroma.  I think it stands up very well to its German ancestors.

My Rating: 8 out of 10.

Porkslap– I love the artwork on the can on this one.  Very whimsical and fun.  Great for a BBQ.  There shouldn’t be a barbecue joint in the area that doesn’t serve this brew.  It tastes great on its own as well, a really rich and surprisingly malty Pale Ale.  Delicious!

My Rating: 8 out of 10.

Moo Thunder – I’m not a stout guy.  Let me clarify.  I love Guinness Stout, but I’ve had a hard time accepting any other stouts over my long history of beer consumption.  This one is no exception.  Maybe the reason is the time of the year.  Stouts and summertime just don’t go together well for me.  I’ll give it another go in the Fall.  OK?

My Rating: 5 out of 10. (for now)

Snapperhead– A very, very drinkable IPA with a lot less bitterness than most.  Tasted great right out of the super cold can on a super hot day.  I love IPAs in the summertime!  Gotta say my current favorite out of the Butternuts Barn. 

My Rating: 9 out of 10.

Lucky Beer

We had the distinct pleasure of meeting one of the gentlemen who runs this brewery the other day in NYC. He and his father started this brewing company in their native Australia with the idea of branding a distinctive Asian-stlye lager that is easy enough on the palate to please those who like to have more (sometimes much more) than just one beer.  While they started brewing this beer in Oz, they now are in the process of moving the brewing operations to China.

I also believe they are in the process of changing the name to Lucky Buddha because of copyright infringment issues with an old beer out of LaBatts that was sold here in the States as Lucky Ale or Lucky Beer.  Something like that.  The bottle I drank has the word “Buddha” written on the bottle cap in lieu of “beer”.

It definitely appeals to me more as a drinkable lager than most Asian beers.  Almost closer to a pilsner our of Eastern Europe, but with a nice non-bitter aftertaste.  Not surprising since they use Czech Saaz hops along with rice flakes and malt in the brewing process.  This is a premium brew, so it’s not cheap.  But it’s well worth the hunt to find it if you can in your area.  I know that they are actively marketing in the US now after a long time when it was only available in Australia.  Now they have gone world-wide.

Of course, I have to mention the bottle.  The lucky Buddha himself.  Its a wonderful tactile experience to hold the lucky Buddha in your hands.  He is a joy to behold…and hold.  I’m sure it is going to look great behind the bars of many moderate to upscale bars and restaurants.  It sure made me happy.

My rating: 9 out of 10

The River – NYC

Went to a nice bar and met an interesting character in NYC on Thursday.

The place was called The River (or Hell’s Kitchen River…not sure) over on 10th Ave. by 43rd Street, and the character I am referring to is the new manager of the joint.  He desperately wants to change the atmosphere of the bar into a place that locals and tourists alike will go to for either a great beer, great whiskey/whisky or glass of wine.  Maybe a little food too.  The nearest  bars are either sports bars or the kind of neighborhood pub that is difficult to distinguish yourself from.  And there aren’t any great beer bars in the area, so it seems to be a good fit.

So we talked beer for about two hours with him, and if he only makes half of the changes that he wants to then it might become a destination bar for me and other beer enthusiasts in the NYC area.  I would post a website, but they are in the midst of creating one.  What I will do is post any updates here as they try to morph into a craft beer bar.

With this guy in charge, I don’t foresee any problems with that.

Afterwards, we stopped into another neighborhood bar in that area called Conker Hill.  Decent selection of taps, but nothing extraordinary.  The crew, especially the bartender Jeff, is extraordinary.  Super nice and a great bar crowd.  I recommend it if you are looking for a fun night out in Hell’s Kitchen.

Juju Ginger

This one was a real disappointment for me.  I’m a big fan of beer (duh) and an even bigger fan of ginger.  So naturally I assumed that this brew from Left Hand Brewing Company would be a big win for me.

Wrong.  It was merely so-so.

The taste of the beer was pretty good. I thought it was similar to a Singha or some other Asian-stlye ale. I guess I just expected so much more.  I wanted a blast of ginger, similar to something that I would get in a ginger beer.  That’s what I wanted, even though I knew it wasn’t realistic.  Ginger infused beers just don’t taste like that.  I would have settled for an undertone of ginger, however.  Just a taste.  Something on either the front or back end of the beer.  Just a little something of ginger wafting over my palate.

Didn’t happen. 

It just didn’t bring the ginger flavor.  Nada.  And really disappointing considering that the word “ginger” is right in the name of the brew.  So as a beer…fine.  As a beer brewed with ginger…fail.

My rating: 4 out of 10.