The More You Know…About BEER!: Old Foghorn

November 25, 2009

Editor’s Note: Since this is Thanksgiving week, instead of having our beer review on Friday we’ll have it a smidgin earlier so you can all revel in your beerful knowledge before your tryptophan-induced comas. Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Old Foghorn
By Anchor Brewing Co. (San Francisco, CA)
12 fl oz.
8.8% ABV

Anchor Old Foghorn

Anchor Old Foghorn

Bottle Description:
San Francisco’s celebrated Old Foghorn Ale has been virtually handmade by the brewers of Anchor Steam Beer, in one of the world’s smallest and most traditional breweries, since 1975. Our barleywine-style ale, the first of its kind in modern times in the United States, has a luscious depth of flavor that makes it ideal for sipping after dinner. It is made with top-fermenting yeast, fresh whole hops, and “first wort,” the richest runnings of a thick all-malt mash. Old Foghorn is “dry-hopped” in the classic ale tradition and aged in our cellars until it attains the perfect balance of malty sweetness, estery fruitiness, and exquisite hop character, for which it is known throughout the world.

Barleywine is one of my favorite styles the beer world has to offer. Is it called a barleywine because it’s produced with grapes? Not at all. The English Barleywine was one of the first beers to be brewed to the “strength of wine,” hence barley-wine. The original version tended to be sweeter and extremely malty but with just enough hops to balance the sweetness. And what did we Americans do? We hopped the crap out of it. Furthermore, the residual sweetness is a result of the yeast failing to ferment all the sugars in the beer resulting in a malty sweet, alcoholic beverage. These beers age well, keep a few.

Old Foghorn 6-pack

Old Foghorn 6-pack

A six-pack for $12.99? Risky purchase since they don’t offer this in single bottles. Worth it? We’ll see…Amber brownish in color with a tan-beige colored head that has medium retention. This barleywine is quite opaque, seems to be unfiltered. The aroma starts off a little musky with some cloves. Hop aroma is very mild with hints of orange and citrus. The malt dominates with flavors of figs and raisins. The initial sip is loaded with intense maltiness, with a strong hop bitterness following. The malt profile is simple but with emphasis on caramel/toffee and some bubblegum notes. The hops in this beer seem to focus more on bitterness rather than flavor. Very full-bodied with moderate level of carbonation and some alcoholic warmth. This beer is extremely rich and well-supported by the hops. This beer is definitely a after dinner sipping beer, savor it.

Category 19C: American Barleywine
Aroma: 10/12
Appearance: 3/3
Flavor: 16/20
Mouthfeel: 5/5
Overall: 6/10
Total: 40/50 — B+

– Ant

The More You Know…About BEER!: Hofbrau Original

November 6, 2009

Hofbrau Original
By Staatliches Hofbrauhaus (Munchen, Germany)
1 pint 0.9 fl oz (500mL) x2
5.1% ABV

Hofbrau Original

Hofbrau Original

Bottle Description:
The Hofbrauhaus am Platzl is a symbol for Munich’s hospitality, conviviality and sociableness. Guests from all over the world enjoy the famous specialties of Hofbrau Munchen there.

Hofbrau Original embodies the special atmosphere of the brewing metropolis Munich and carries this throughout the world. It’s full bodied, refreshing and its fine hard aroma have made it world famous. A Munich specialty with character!

Got this at BevMo! for $2.19, yet you can find this at any better beer store. Definitely a steal compared to other 500mL German beers. Poured out carefully into a 1L mug giving off a light sulfur aroma that fades into a soft floral yet spicy hop aroma with hints of corn and grainy malt sweetness in the background. The beer is golden in color and leaves a pretty resilient white head with brilliant clarity. I noticed some very small black specks on the head; I can’t tell if that came from the glass or the beer itself (yet its good to note in case). The clearness provides excellent viewing for its strong carbonation which almost rises up like soda bubbles (but smaller). A grainy pilsner malt taste dominates with a slight metallic taste on the back of the tongue. The malt profile is well supported by a moderate hop bitterness with a spicy hop flavor. The finish isn’t too dry but the malt kicks back in after the hops fade away. A medium bodied beer with moderate level of carbonation that provides a smooth mouthfeel. If you’re looking for a flavorful pale lager, this one is for you. Deliciously malty and supported by spicy hops which result in an excellent crafted commercial beer.

Category 1D: Munich Helles
Aroma: 11/12
Appearance: 3/3
Flavor: 17/20
Mouthfeel: 5/5
Overall: 7/10
Total: 43/50 — A-


The More You Know…About BEER: Ginga Kogen Silver Bottle

May 15, 2009

Editor’s Note: Here once again is beer expert, Ant, bringing you our weekly installment of The More You Know…About BEER! This week: Ginga Kogen Silver Bottle Edition!

Ginga Kogen Silver Bottle
Higashi Nihon Sawauchi Sougoukaihatsu (Iwate, Japan)
300 mL (10.1 fl. oz.)
5% ABV

Ginga Kogen Silver Bottle

Commercial Description:
Fruity beer with rich taste made by packaging “Weizen”, the traditional beer in the South Germany made of over 50 % of wheat malt, without filtering beer yeast. Blue bottle with modern design brings out table coordinates.

I found this bottle in the beer section of Nijiya Market just down on Convoy (for you San Diegans). Its beautiful blue bottle is a definite eye catcher and I kept imagining what kind of homebrew I was going to put in it when I was done. I think the bottle was about $4-5, a little steep for an import beer that’s only 300mL. Even Hofbrau Original is under $3 and that’s a 500mL bottle. Then again, Yebisu (a premium all-malt beer produced by Sapporo) is about $4-5 for a 12oz. bottle. Yet, I couldn’t pass it up especially because the bottle didn’t even describe what style of beer it was in English and I was curious to see what this blue bottle contained. Originally, I decided to place this in the German Wezien/Weissbier category since its flavor profile matched the closest. American Wheat beers don’t have any banana/clove esters that German Wheat beers have and this beer didn’t have any citrusy orange fruitiness that Belgian Witbiers are well known for. This traditional style originated in Southern Germany and is usually considered a specialty for summertime consumption yet can be consumed year-round. At the same time, no category for international wheat beers exist in the BJCP Style Guidelines. After doing some research on their website, their commercial description confirmed its German Weizen style. I think it’s really awesome how this Japanese brewery used an uncommon style of beer to be its flagship beer especially in an era where lagers dominate the domestic brand in almost every nation that never had malt-based beer in their historical roots (Sapporo-Japan, (Editor: Sorry, no official website, so no link) Taiwan Beer-Taiwan, Tsingtao-China, Singha-Thailand, Tiger-Singapore, Quilmes-Argentina, Taurino-El Salvador, etc.). Then again, Widmer Brothers and Pyramid Brewery paved the path for flagship wheat beers in the U.S. and at the same time created new styles. Good thing? Maybe. Now for this beer.

Pale gold in color and effervescent, Ginga Kogen starts off clear until yeast sediment is poured in making this quite hazy. The head is bright white and fluffy that slowly dissipates. Traces of cinnamon colored yeast sediments in the middle of the head along with the fine bubbles suggest that this beer is bottle-conditioned (naturally carbonated). Initial sulfur volatiles permeate after being opened but fades into moderate banana-like fruity esters and mild phenolics (spicy). The hop aroma is very low but present. Light wheat aroma is apparent and sweet smelling. The mouthfeel is medium light bodied with a pleasant creaminess that makes this beer smooth going down. Banana/bubble gum and wheat flavors are prominent; a stronger clove presence would make this an ideal German Weizen. Hop bitterness carries through the malt and finishes slightly dry and semi-tart. Overall, a delicious example of a German-style Wheat beer however most of the flavors turned out low to moderate in intensity (not bad, but I was looking for a little more flavor).

Category 15A: Weizen/Weissbier

Aroma: 9/12

Appearance: 3/3

Flavor: 15/20

Mouthfeel: 4/5

Overall: 8/10

Total: 39/50