Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bud Light Platinum

By Tom
I stopped by my local beverage center today and saw that they were doing a tasting...of Bud Light Lime and Bud Light Platinum.  I thought to myself, “seriously?”. I did want to at least taste the new Platinum and I saw this as a good opportunity to try it for free.  No need to try BL Lime - I actually like that one under the right circumstances. The BL Platinum is sweeter version of Bud Light with a 6% ABV and it comes in a cool blue bottle.  AB Inbev, who owns Budweiser, is trying to win back some people who have left the fold for better craft beer.   If I was at a party and that’s all there was, I’d probably have a few too many, but I wouldn’t choose it over anything decent.
The girl doing the samples was young and very pretty...I think she liked me because I got a cool hat.
OK, anyone who asked could get one too. I also tried 3 of the “Shock Top” beers: Raspberry Wheat Ale, which was actually OK, not too sweet, very light; Lemon Shandy which is horrible, I don’t like lemon in beer, all other citrus - yes, lemon – no.   Finally there was Shock Top Wheat IPA. It doesn’t taste like an IPA, it only has the very mildest hop flavor but I think it’d be an acceptable hot day beer. This one in particular might be a good starter beer for someone looking to broaden their horizons from the macro brews. A baby step. That’s the best I can say for these “macro-craft” beers.
I don’t think I’d ever actually buy any of these unless the choices were extremely limited. I felt a twinge of guilt as I, donning my new Bud Light Lime cap, paid for my bombers of Hop Stoopid and Hop Manna IPA.   Hop Manna is a really nice, refreshing IPA which is significantly lower on the bitterness scale than Hop Stoopid, somewhat reminiscent of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra. Though Hop Manna is made here in NY by Shmaltz Brewing, the cascade, citra and centennial hops give it that wonderful west coast aroma and taste.  Mission accomplished!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dos Costas Oeste

Happy Mother’s Day beer lovers!  We broke into my brother’s stash of “special” bottles over the weekend to celebrate the holiday.  In the beer frig were some hold overs from the fall like Pumpking  and three bottles with matching labels. 
 These beers are a collaboration between Cigar City Brewing in Tampa FL and The Bruery in Placentia, CA, hence the name, which translates to “Two West Coast Breweries”.  Both breweries produce outstanding beer so I was expecting quite a treat.  First, Why 3 different bottles?  It turns out that the brewers wanted to experiment with aging this saison in 3 different types of wood: Cedar, Grapefruit wood and lemon wood.  The bottle we opened over Mother’s Day dinner was the red -labeled, cedar variety.
So on a beautiful May afternoon, I poured this deep orange beer into a goblet and took in its aroma.  I could detect Belgian yeast and coriander, but could not pick up the other ingredients right away.  My sister-in-law Irene noticed the orange scent, but no one could tell that ginger is also used in this brew.  These flavors mixed well on the palate as we drank it.  The fruity overtones made it perfect for this spring day.  At 9% ABV, it’s not meant to drink all day long.  But as a precursor to a great meal it was right on the mark.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sugar Plum - Cigar City Brewing Co.

I just picked up this beer on a whim because I saw the word "sugar" on the label.  I was also anxious to try another offering from Cigar City which does exceptional things with malty beers.
It’s a seasonal beer brewed in Tampa, FL and meant to be enjoyed at Christmas time.  I know it’s getting into spring, but I have trouble saying “No” to dark, sweet beers.  The bottle did not even make it into my frig, so it’s being poured at about 50 degrees which is probably just about right for this brown ale. 
It has an amber hue with a healthy tan froth on top.  The head dissipates slowly leaving a fine lace on my glass.  The nose is more malt than fruit.  The taste has a nice balance of toasty malt and raisin sweetness.  It reminds me of their other brown ale called Bolita, only with more sweetness.  I like the way the sweetness mellows the dryness so my mouth isn’t too chalky like it can get after a stout like Guinness. 
I would prefer a darker color and a little more creamy mouth feel.  Bolita has the creaminess down better IMO.  Overall, I found this to be a solid brown ale with lots of flavor