Archive for the ‘beer’ Category

Nothing beats a cold pint at the end of a long day.  So, for Day 5 of the GSN Advent Gift Guide, we suggest the latest in beer-centric technology, the uPint.

Nobody likes warm beer or a broken glass. This double-wall, vacuum-insulated, stainless-steel pint keeps beverages nice and cold to the last drop, bringing off-premise pours to perfection. Inspired by the uKeg, it has the same sleek appearance and was made for beer on the go. An integrated lid with a wide-mouth opening allows for easy sipping, and durable steel adds to portability.

It’s been called “the holy grail of pints” by Coalition Brewing. While you can put beer in any insulated glass to keep it cold, the uPint was crafted for beer and comes in three different finishes to satisfy aesthetic senses.

GSN has a review of the uKeg here, which is the perfect pairing for the uPint. Why not pick up both this holiday season for the beer lover in your family?

For more information, click here.



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We here at GSN love micro-brewed beer. So much so that we have a dozen glass growlers on hand for staff to use when visiting a local brewery.  However, these have the usual drawbacks:

1) If you accidentally drop it, chances are that is the end of the growler and the beer inside.

2) Every time you open it to pour a pint, the carbonation escapes and usually the last few glasses are nearly flat.

3) Plus, it’s always a bit difficult to pour from a heavy jug into a glass.

With that in mind, GrowlerWerks made it their mission to create a growler that overcomes all of these drawbacks. After a hugely succesful Kickstarter campaign, they now offer the uKeg in several styles: It’s easy to set up and begin use in less than a minute with an automatic regulator cap that holds CO2 inside, instead of externally; variable levels of carbonation from zero (off) up to 15 psi; and a dispensing tap so beer can be easily served without removing the cap. It also has a liquid sight glass, an ergonomic handle, and it’s easy to clean. Plus, it is easily the most attractive growler in existence.

We put the uKeg through its paces ver the last few weeks. First, we took it to Red Hawk Brewing located in Central New York to have it filled with some of their amazing Belgian style ale.  We ended up choosing the Maple Abbey which as the name indicates is made using local maple syrup. As we entered the brewpub, we were greeted by a lot of amazed glances at our growler by the clientele sampling beer flights.  The owner remarked that she had a few customers that regularly brought in uKegs. A good sign.

The beer was luscious and kept at cellar temperature for well over a week with no loss of flavor or carbonation.  It did its job well, with the minor issue that the safety lock on the tap handle got stuck a few times. A quick glance at the manual which came with the uKeg solved this issue immediately. We simply ran the apparatus under a stream of ht water for a few seconds and it cleared up instantly.

Our next test was to see how it worked keeping a classic punch recipe fresh.  The office decided that a growler of Chatham Artillery Punch would be just the thing for the beginning of the holiday season. We scaled the recipe down to fill the uKeg (the original recipe makes about 150 ounces), and set the pressure to 8 psi.  The punch came out of the uKeg in a perfect stream and into our ice filled tumblers. This made for an easy and fun way to get a glass of punch without the huge punchbowl, ladle and possible spillage.  Plus the whole design of the growler is so steampunk, that it felt very much like stepping back into time.

The last test was to force carbonate some homebrewed basil mead created by staff writer Kieran Jerome Matthew. Mead in general not carbonated, but we wanted to see if we could get something like sparkling wine. We filled the uKeg, turned the pressure all the way up to 15 psi, and let it sit in our office refrigerator for three days, gently rolling the growler back and forth once a day.  By day three, we poured ourselves some very fine sparkling mead.  Another win.

In the end, the uKeg far exceeded our expectations and met all of our challenges easily.  This is a killer growler and one that will last a lifetime.

GSN Rating: A+

For more information go to: Growlerwerks

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Many craft beer enthusiasts I have spoken with seem to be on one side of the fence or the other in regarding craft beer; to experiment, or to enhance and define a style. There seems to be a large following for both. Should beer stick to its roots (grain, hop or otherwise), or should it be the pioneering beverage, constantly setting out and exploring the vast unknown in the universe of flavor? Most craft beer dominating the market today seems to blend both ideas. Enter Goodwood Brewing Co. of Louisville, KY. This brewery takes classic styles, defines them, and adds enough experimentation to set them apart from the competition. They were kind enough to send GSN two brews for our staff to review, so without further ado, here are our thoughts.

Hemp Gose

The gose style of beer originated in Goslar Germany, and is a salty, refreshing sour ale that has been around since the 16th century. With the additions of salt, and usually coriander, this brew did not comply with the Reinheitsgebot, but being a regionally unique beer, it was allowed exemption from the strict purity law.

The first look at this gose as you pour it gives you a lovely hazy goldenrod color with little to no head or lacing. The aroma is very mild with a hint of the tartness that will follow in flavor. The first sips will give someone who is unaccustomed to sours a pause as there is a lemon-like tartness which is tempered by the salt additions. Like most sours, this is meant to be consumed in sips, but the light body and balanced flavors can certainly allow for a quaff or two. The lemon sour is interesting to note in what helps define a classic gose. It’s not a generic sourness, or a vinegar quality, it certainly stands out as the yellow face of the summertime citrus. It’s almost like drinking a pleasant lemonade balanced with a small addition of salt instead of sugar. Not at all a sweet beer, it’s easy to take your time with this drink as the sourness makes it feel like you are drinking more than you are. With the lower end ABV of 5.12%, you can certainly make a summertime day go sip by sip without calling it quits early. The gose is fantastically balanced with not too much salt or tartness. Plenty of goses on the market seem to have trouble making this unique style work with the balance required for a great beer, but Goodwood sets a bar for what a classic gose should resemble. It’s well carbonated, balanced, just the right amount of tart, and absolutely refreshing. What sets this gose apart from all others is the fact that it is “aged on hemp”. Hemp as a general rule adds a certain nutty character to a brew and works well with IPAs and brown ales. Unfortunately, although this flavor could work wonders with a gose, the flavor here is extremely muted, almost imperceptible. There is a very slight herbal quality which can be attributed to hemp rather than hop however. There is a very slight hint of nuttiness in the aroma, but not enough to notice unless you are looking for it. All in all this represents what a classic gose should be, and would be a great introduction to the style for anyone looking to step back a few hundred years in Germany.

GSN Rating: 4/5 (Balanced, tart, refreshing, not enough hemp)

Spruce Tip IPA

Immediately as you pour this hazy light brown/straw-colored ale you can smell the incredible aroma emanating from your glass. It’s a strong hoppy bouquet that has an obvious undertone of the spruce tips it is aged on. As you pour the beer it has a moderate head with mild lacing. As you first taste the beer, the flavor is fairly intense as the malt backing is light enough to let the bitter nuances of the hops and spruce do their own thing. As one of the GSN staff said “you don’t feel like you’re drinking a meal here.” It has a light to medium body that works well for what this beer is trying to do. It has a sharp, hoppy bitterness that is enhanced greatly with the spruce which leads to a dry finish. Anyone who likes their beers bitter should absolutely give this one a go. It’s dry, herbal, and is reminiscent of a gin and tonic and what the quinine adds to the cocktail. The mouthfeel is relatively thick and creamy and easily coats your palate with the strong and subtle flavors at play. It’s certainly piney, but not as dank as some other brews. This can be summed up as a strong and sharp brew that contrasts greatly with the other readily available IPAs. As we approach hot and lazy days the 5.5% abv makes for a fairly sessionable brew that carries the flavor of a strong Double IPA, but not the weight or booziness that can be commonly found in your typical DIPA. It’s incredibly like a heavily hopped pale ale that carries itself well.

GSN Rating 4.5.5 (Dry, very bitter, excellent aroma, spruce tips work wonders)

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew


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Now that craft beer has had time to mature on the beverage market, it’s high time we talked about the brews and the bees. Honey in beer has been around for thousands of years, and while it may not dominate the top list of ingredients anymore, you can’t argue with the results. Honey works well in many beer styles including IPAs, Porters, Belgian Ales, and more for the simple reason that it can add many diversifying characteristics. Much like the hop, honey can have a massive range of flavor components depending on what flowers are used, climate, and much more. The way it is used in the brewing process can also yield extremely distinctive results. This isn’t to say all beers with honey are worth trying. Many beers that use honey on the current market tend to overdo it, and ultimately diminish the other flavor components that are meant to work with the honey. There are of course notable exceptions to any list, and today I am reviewing two of those exceptions, courtesy of Rogue Ales.

Honey Kölsch
I was impressed foremost by the light honey aroma that many honey beers either fall short of or obliterate your nostrils with. Drinking this beer, you are greeted with light honey and a fresh hop bouquet. This is followed by a perfectly carbonated light refreshing ale with a mild honey flavor that doesn’t dissipate until long after you’ve had a sip. This beer is well filtered and had a clear lovely golden color. There is little to no head or lacing, and that’s just fine for a refreshing springtime ale. The hops are fairly mild and although this isn’t a sweet beer, it balances the hops, malt, and Rogue honey excellently. The malt in particular works well as it has a bready quality, but doesn’t add any sort of tangible richness that would make this a heavier beer. The lasting impressions are ultimately well bodied, fresh taste, crisp (but not dry), and a careful amount of honey to balance and not overpower the muted hop flavor. The fairly moderate ABV of 5% helps to keep this sessionable as well. If rogue keeps this up, there will be a happy home for bees and beer drinkers alike.
GSN rating: 4.25/5 (Light, refreshing, very well-balanced.)

Marionberry Braggot
Before trying this beer, I can’t recall ever having a beer brewed with this cultivar of the blackberry plant. The Marionberry, or Marion Blackberry, is a blackberry breed stemming from the Olallie and Chehalem blackberries. This berry originated in Marion, Oregon and as a result many east coast drinkers may not be familiar with this berry. As you pour the beer, you are greeted by a creamy thick head and a strong aroma of the berry. The beer itself is extremely dark and virtually opaque and only with a strong light shining through it can you see the rich deep red color that is present. The first sip is a little intense as the high ABV (11.42%) gives it a strong boozy flavor that captures the attention of your taste buds. After the booziness relaxes a little, the somewhat tart berry flavor presents itself. The flavor of the berry is nice and matches what one would expect from smelling the aroma. The tartness is gently replaced with the honey as you reflect on the flavor. The honey itself isn’t overpowering, but instead adds a complimentary balance to the intensity of the previous flavors. The lasting flavor is one of a dry tannic nature, and while it isn’t bad by any means, it doesn’t quite seem to work with the flow of the honey and berry. I’m not sure if the dry tannic flavor was meant to mitigate the sweetness of the honey, but as the beer itself is rich and not cloying, it doesn’t seem to work. It’s definitely rich however, and for anyone who wants to dry something unique and a bit heavier without going to a stout or porter, this is one worth tasting.  There is a lot going on and the flavors are consistent as you continue to imbibe. The hops aren’t highly noticeable, but if you search hard enough, you can taste them working subtly in the background of the brew, holding it together somewhat. While this isn’t a stellar beer, knowing the ingredients were all produced by Rogue Ales themselves gives this beverage some well deserved credit. The brewers, farmers, and bees worked hard to produce this interesting beer, and it certainly stands out amongst the other honey beers and braggots.
GSN RATING: 3.75/5 (Boozy, tannic, and a tart berry flavor tempered by honey.)

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew for Good Spirits News


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upland-sour-ales-beerpulse“Making great example beers” was a quote from Doug Dayhoff of Upland Brewing Co. that both stuck and was entirely accurate. Good Spirits News was fortunate enough to speak with both Doug, the owner, and the head brewer Caleb Staton of Upland Brewing Co. based in Bloomington, Indiana on a recent stop in Syracuse, NY.

Upland’s beer selection includes a portfolio of beers that may seem contemporary to a lot of craft breweries such as pale ales, IPA’s, wheat ales, and many others that flush out a breweries selection. Where they truly shine however is their attentiveness and ingenuity when it comes to sours. Both Doug and Caleb were generous enough to allow Good Spirits News to sample some of their wares that they are introducing to NY in a widespread tour to establish themselves in a new market.

Doug Dayhoff

Doug Dayhoff

We tried three unique beers ranging from a relatively young 4 month sour to an 8-12 month Oud Bruin style ale. The first of the three was titled “Iridescent” and although the color was a hazy golden apricot, the title works well for the nature of the flavors that the glass carried. The blend of apricot and ginger come through easily and balance each other well. There is a slight dry wood character from the barrel aging that follows through on the back palate to compliment the initial tart acidity. As a young sour on draft it was very carbonated and had a great sharp mouthfeel. A relatively low ABV beer at about 5% this would pair very well with something fresh like sushi where the ginger in the brew could really enhance the pairing. A fantastic young sour and one that Caleb would recommend for those looking into the ever-growing sours market as a possible first attempt at something unique and delicious. Final Rating 4.25/5

Caleb Staton

Caleb Staton

The second sour we tried was titled “Aronia” and is an 8-month aged sour imbued with the relatively uncommon American berry titled the “Chokeberry”, although this beer will do the opposite of what the berry might suggest. With a deep ruby like color and relative clearness, the aroma matches it perfectly. A tart almost wine like character carries softly with each sip. It is a fairly dry ale due to the aging, and the oak barrel does the acidity justice once more. It plays well with the tart berry and balances the beer as a whole. A smoothly balanced flavor profile does this beer justice and for an experienced sour drinker it should be a treat. With the ABV content around 6.5-7% it’s definitely palatable and most enjoyed when sipping. Final Rating 4.25/5

Upland's Sour Facility

Upland’s Sour Facility

The final beer we were lucky enough to sample is titled “Darken” a spiced sour brown ale very much influenced by the Oud Bruin category of beer, but with enough to separate it from others. A different malt bill gives a slight rich sweetness that gives a cohesive undertone to the souring agents that make this beer truly delicious. Brewed with a wide variety of spices including grains of paradise, anise, ginger, coriander, black pepper, as well as a host of others the flavor is amazingly balanced with no spice standing out too far above the rest. The sour character works incredibly well with the malt and wood character that gives a triad of equally enjoyable parts. This beer is aged anywhere from 8-12 months and has a strong ABV of 8.5-9% although it doesn’t carry any “booze like qualities”. This beer is excellently crafted and is a fantastic sour to try for anyone who enjoys sours, browns, or wood aged beers. Final Rating 4.75/5

Through each of their friendly personalities, both Doug and Caleb’s passion for sours stood out from the beginning of our interview, and shone brightest through the product they distribute. Upland Brewing Co sources local ingredients and stays organic whenever possible, and this only enhances the quality they bring to the beer market. Welcome to New York, we hope you stay.

For more information go to: Upland Beer

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew for Good Spirits News


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For the first time ever, the brewers at Sam Adams have reformulated one of its popular flagship beers, Rebel IPA.

After months of experimenting with trial batches, and taking advantage of newly cultivated hops and those that were not readily available when Rebel was first introduced in 2014, Rebel IPA now has a more intense juicy, tropical and citrus flavor supported by a leaner body and a crisp, clean finish.

The original Rebel IPA was brewed with Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe and Chinook hops – for the 2017 release, our brewers added Mosaic hops together with HBC 566, a new hop proprietary to Sam Adams, and HBC 682, a new, experimental bittering hop. The caramel malt has also been removed, resulting in a cleaner, brighter IPA with more tropical, citrus and pine-forward notes.

And if the reformulation of Rebel IPA wasn’t enough, Rebel Juiced IPA, which was introduced in October on draft, is now available in cans and bottles. A West Coast IPA infused with mango, Rebel Juiced is a medium-bodied beer with a slightly veiled golden color that brings a big tropical aroma of guava, passion fruit and mango. The tropical hop aroma gives way to a juicy, fruity flavor with a hint of sweetness, followed up by a clean, citrusy finish.

download-1Rebel IPA: Sam Adams
Aroma: Low malt profile backed by a sweet hop character.
Flavor: A blend of hops that impart bitterness and a slight dryness to balance out the malt presence. No noticeable unique hop character.
Hops: Slight pine.
Malt: Fair amount of malt to make it full bodied.
Color: Amber
Body: Medium.
Mouthfeel: Balanced with nothing notable standing out.
Carbonation: Perfect carbonation.
Head/Lacing: Thin head with light scattered circular lacing.
Rating: 3.5/5

downloadRebel Juiced IPA: Sam Adams
Aroma: Strong sense of citrus with a bit of sweetness lingering through the hops.
Flavor: Fairly subdued fruit character which works well. More citrus than mango, but both are noticeable. Hoppy, but not nearly as dry or bitter as other brews go. Fairly balanced overall with enough malt to bring the bitterness down.
Hops: Fruity and bitter.
Malt: Just the very slighted bit of roasted character hiding beneath the bitterness.
Color: Amber
Body: Medium bodied.
Head/Lacing: Foamy rich head with scattered lacing.
Mouthfeel: Easy drinking with a small bite to it.
Carbonation: Perfectly carbonated.
Rating: 4/5

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew


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Samuel Adams was one of the first craft brewers to offer rotating beers that capture the essence of each season, and now, from January through April, the brewers are introducing drinkers to two new seasonal beers: Samuel Adams Hopscape and Fresh as Helles. It may be unconventional to have two seasonals at one time of year, but Sam Adams has never been known to follow the rules. The brewers felt that these two brews capture the essence of the ever-changing season across the country from January through April.

Available January and February, citrus and piney hop flavors with a nice lingering bitter finish make Hopscape best enjoyed during cold, brisk temperatures. While the honey malt aroma and orange blossom notes of Fresh as Helles make it a perfect pairing to welcome late spring weather during March and April.

“At the start of 1988 we introduced our first-ever seasonal beer, Samuel Adams Double Bock, a traditional spring beer originally brewed by German monks,” said Jim Koch, Samuel Adams founder and brewer. “While we pioneered rotating beers for the season, this season’s beers have changed more times than we can count. The variety in the weather during this time of year begs brewers and drinkers to explore flavors that match the ever-changing season. It might seem crazy, but after we brewed a few test batches of Hopscape and Fresh as Helles in our Nano Brewery, we knew we had two seasonal beers that captured the essence of the schizophrenic weather around this time of year.”

Brewer Megan Parisi continued, “With Hopscape, we knew we wanted to brew a hop-forward beer to match the bitterness of the cold. Our Sam Adams Nano Brewery gave us the chance to experiment with a variety of hop trials until we nailed the citrusy and piney flavor profile we were going for. On the flip side, for the more fickle side of this season, we knew we wanted to brew a more delicate beer. We found that our helles recipe created the perfect base for balancing the flavor of tangy Mandarina hops and floral orange blossom petals. As brewers, half the fun is brewing multiple trials until we get just the right flavor – or in our case flavors – that we’re looking for.”

Hopscape, the first new brew for 2017, is brewed with four varieties of West Coast hops that add bold pine and grapefruit notes to the deep golden wheat ale. Chinook, Citra, Centennial, and Zeus hops impart citrusy, dank resin and grapefruit rind aromas that lead into a balanced flavor of bright citrus and piney hop character. White wheat and a two-row pale malt blend add a crisp, light sweetness, and the beer finishes with a slightly lingering bitterness.

Fresh as Helles is a refreshing light amber, medium-bodied helles brewed with Mandarina hops and orange blossom petals. The beer’s lively, citrus flavors pair perfectly with the changing season. Soft citrus notes of orange blossom add a bright accent to the slightly sweet honey malt notes, leading to a round, smooth finish.

Flavor: Dry wheat, with a simple hop profile to round it out from other wheat ales.
Aroma: Distinct wheat and balanced low acid hops give it a warm aroma.
Hop: Mellow, but lemongrass is forward in the aroma.
Malt: Low malt, more dryness with a slight caramel note.
Carbonation: Well carbonated. Some bite without being too bubbly.
Mouthfeel: Dry and creamy.
Color: Hazy yellow/tan
Head/Lacing: Rich foamy head with scattered lacing.
Body: Light-Light/Med.
Rating: 3.75/5

Fresh as Helles
Flavor: Slight sweetness with noticeable orange blossom that ties in well with the subtle hops.
Aroma: Light and flowery, with a bit of butterscotch.
Hop: Light bitterness. Very subtle.
Malt: No malt presence to hinder the subtle floral nuances.
Carbonation: Under carbonated for a helles. Not quite as crisp as most others.
Mouthfeel: Bright and smooth
Color: Light amber
Head/Lacing: Creamy head with light lacing
Body: Light
Rating: 3.5/5

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew


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