Not much time for an intro this evening. The Bruins game is on in 30 seconds. 2nd game of the playoffs. Must glue myself to the TV. Good thing we have Silvio to give us our beer review quota for the day! Silvio…
The rain has washed out my softball game for a second straight week, so while I’m still jonesing to get out on the field for the first game of 2011, at least it’s perfect beer reviewing weather. This week, I’m really psyched to try a six pack of Sam Adams’ Category 23 Longshot American Homebrew Contest. The three winning homebrews are quite diverse – Honey B’s Lavender Ale, Friar Hop Ale, and Blackened Hops.
I went with Honey B’s Lavender Ale first, assuming the other two beers would be much heavier. This brew is quite light, was created by a Sam employee, and featured lavender petals and honey with a 5.5% ABV. I definitely smelled the lavender on the pour, and it’s got a light clear golden yellow color. The lavender definitely comes through on the first sip, subtle but crisp. The beer gets a lot sweeter through the middle, with lots of honey notes, but fades into a bitter aftertaste. I liked this beer overall as a novelty, but the lavender and honey combination is a bit weird for me.
Next up was the Friar Hop Ale, billed as an IPA brewed with lots of Belgian spices. This beer was created by a Georgia homebrewer, had a dark but clear amber color, and 9.0% ABV. I smelled lots of oranges and coriander on the pour and it’s got a thick foam head. Flavor-wise, there’s a lot going on here. The Belgian spiciness and citrus flavor is thick, almost overwhelming, and dominates the front and middle taste. I got some hoppy bitterness on the end note, but even that had hints of citrus. I usually love Belgians, but think the brewer tried to fit too much into this one. Don’t think I’d have it again.
Last up was the Blackened Hops, from an Illinois homebrewer, with a 7.0% ABV. This is one of the mysterious black IPAs, which I’ve wanted to try but hadn’t yet come across. It’s definitely dark – looks exactly like a Guinness with a pitch black color and light foam head. But that’s where the stout resemblance ends. The smell is straight up crisp piney hops, and the pour combines pine and citrus hops perfectly. There’s a long bitter note on the end, but it’s not harsh at all. This is a great tasting IPA, but it’s so weird to get that IPA taste from such a stout-looking beer. I’d love to have this again.
Overall, kudos to Sam Adams for innovating once again and bringing three interesting homebrews to market. All three are unique, and I think this would be the perfect six pack to bring to party, since just about anyone will like one of the brews.