It’s been awhile since I posted a beer review, but I have been busy sampling lots of different commercial brews. Here are my impressions on three of them. Please read responsibly.
Mash: The Bruery, Placentia, CA12.5% ABV.
Mash is a barley wine style ale aged in bourbon barrels. Now I like barley wines, and bourbon barrel aged beers, so this should be a “can’t miss” beer, right? The Bruery didn’t disappoint (I have to say, they never do; although I’m not wild about Belgian style beers, their specialty, you can count on anything from The Bruery to be good, and this is just another really good beer from our friends in Placentia).
Mash pours a cloudy dark amber with a 1/4″ light cream colored head that fades to a thin ring around the perimeter of the glass (in this case, a “Bruery” tulip glass). The aroma is sweet, dark fruit, raisin, toffee, caramel, vanilla, coconut and bourbon (faint).
Mash has a thick, heavy body with flavors of toffee, caramel, raisin, figs, vanilla, and coconut. It then produces a slight bitterness that fades to more coconut, vanilla, and a little bit of booze, with a tobacco like quality lingering in the aftertaste. This beer is sweet and chewy, but not unpleasant. The carbonation is not overwhelming, but enough to smooth out the sweetness and cleanse the palate for your next sip.
Mash is very complex. As it warms, the alcohol becomes quite pronounced in the aroma, but the taste remains very smooth, without the booziness that is noticeable in many other high alcohol beers. In my opinion, this is one of the best barley wines on the market. I prefer it to Stone’s Old Guardian (which I also like) – Mash is more in the English style (it’s not a hop bomb like Old Guardian) and is similar to Firestone Walker’s Sucaba.
I sampled Mash from a 750 ml bottle given to me by my daughter, Rosie, for Father’s Day. It’s currently available at Total Wine for $19.99. That’s pretty expensive, but well worth it (in fact, I have another bottle in my refrigerator right now). I HIGHLY recommend Mash!
Bourbon Street Rye Pale Ale: Abita Brewing, Abita Springs, LA. 9.5% ABV.
Bourbon Street is a Pale Ale aged in bourbon barrels. It is very high in alcohol for a pale ale (I’m sure the bourbon barrel aging has something to do with that). This beer is a medium to dark orange color with a creamy white 3/4″ head that remains for a couple of minutes before fading to a thin covering over the top. The aroma is sweet, vanilla, caramel and coconut.
The flavor is sweet malt, caramel and a slight, nice vanilla sweetness. It is not overly sweet, as the hops balance it, to keep it in the American Pale Ale category. The balanced sweetness fades to a nice vanilla and coconut in the aftertaste, courtesy of the bourbon barrel. The vanilla/coconut lingers for quite awhile (very pleasant).
Bourbon Street has a medium carbonation level, commensurate with the Pale Ale style, but it is higher than most bourbon barrel aged beers. This carbonation helps to keep the sweetness under control, and gets your mouth ready for the next swallow.
I sampled this beer from a 22 oz. bomber purchased from Total Wine for $9.99. I think this might be limited release, so I’m not sure if it’s readily available. Overall, this is a very nice beer, and one I can recommend. I’ve never had a bourbon barrel aged pale ale before. This one is nicely done. Good job, Abita!
Fogcutter Double IPA: Lost Coast Brewery, Eureka, CA. 8.7% ABV.
Fogcutter pours a murky golden yellow with a 1/2″ white head, which fades to a fairly thick ring that leaves extensive lacing. The aroma is mild citrus and floral. The flavor is typical DIPA – bittersweet. The malty sweetness is balanced out by the hoppy, citrus flavor that leaves a lingering bitterness in the aftertaste.
Fogcutter is rated at 80 IBU, which is on the lower end of the Double IPA category, but I think it is more balanced than many DIPA’s. The medium body and carbonation level help lend a balanced feel to the flavor. The alcohol content (8.7%) is substantial, but not overwhelming and is not noticeable in the taste. If you drink it on an empty stomach, you will definitely get the effect, but you won’t be wiped out. Many DIPA’s tend to be out of balance (in my opinion) – too thick and sweet – but Lost Coast has this one dialed in just right!
I had never heard of Fogcutter until I received a 22 oz. bomber from Phil Colias a couple of weeks ago. As I recall, he randomly selected this beer and had never tried it before. Well, Phil, good choice, and thank you for the wonderful beer. I highly recommend Fogcutter and will be buying more in the future. It’s moderately priced at $8.99 for a 22 oz. bottle at Total Wine.
So, there you have it. Bourbon Street and Fogcutter are moderately priced; Mash is expensive. Each of them, however, is worth the price of admission. I can highly recommend all three of these beers, but especially Mash. Caveat: fizzy yellow beer drinkers and cheapskates, don’t even bother – you’re not sophisticated enough.
There’s a lot happening at Mac’s Brew Pub and I hope to have a newsletter out in the next couple of weeks. That’s all I have time for now, but check back soon for the lowdown on Mac’s Brew, and for additional beer reviews.