Stella Artois

Stella Artois, brewery of the same name is a 5 ABV Euro Pale Lager.  Appearance is light orange and the nose grassy Euro funk.  The taste is mostly grassy with a sharp bite and bitter finish and thankfully cleaner than the nose.  Mouthfeel and carbonation are both moderate.  Stella has benefited from clever marketing but it’s still just a middle of the road EPL woefully lacking compared to finer brews coming out of Belgium.  You can probably skip the chalice.

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Sam Adam’s Harvest Pumpkin

Sam Adam’s Harvest Pumpkin is 5.7 ABV and pours a deep amber color.  The nose and taste all pumpkin pie and spice with a bready malt backbone.  The finish is all sweet and spice with no considerable hop finish.  This is a decent offering from Sam’s and falls somewhere in the middle of the pack for pumpkin ales.  I actually liked it more as it warmed up.  I wouldn’t call this any kind of sessionable pumpkin because of that sweetness but it doesn’t get to a cloying level.  It’s fair, always down for one a season.

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Wells Banana Bread Beer

Wells Banana Bread from Wells & Young’s UK is a fruit / veg and 5.2 ABV.  The appearance is copper and the nose malty banana bread.  The banana bread flavor is very present on the palate along with bready malt, the finish mildly hoppy.  Overall it’s crisp and drinkable but leaves you a bit wanting, edging towards watery especially on the finish.  I’ve had one before and I remember it being better than this.  It’s worth it for a novelty but could have been a bit heartier and more robust.

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Elysian Oddland Peppercorn Saison

Elysian’s Peppercorn Saison from their Oddland series is 7 ABV and pours a bright orange with a huge head.  The nose is all light malts and spice.  The flavor is that sweet candy malt and very spicy, finishing only lightly bitter with strong pepper heat.  Those peppercorns really stay on the palate after the swallow and to be frank I’m just burping pepper.  This is kind of a weird one, I’m glad to try it but one bomber is going to be more than enough.

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Guinness Blonde American Lager

Guinness Blonde American (Pale) Lager is 5 ABV and pours a dark amber with a frothy head.  The nose and taste are mostly wet grass and hay with decent bitter hop on the back end.  It’s mostly clean and finishes sweet and crisp.  Guinness draught and stout are such traditional mainstays it’s going to be hard for Guinness to really branch out.  This is modestly successful but I’d expect it to fade into obscurity like the Guinness Black Lager.  It should be noted my bottle at least was brewed in Latrobe, PA.  It’s worth a try just because it’s Guinness.

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Smuttynose Robust Porter

Smuttynose Robust (American) Porter is 6.2 ABV and 43 IBU.  The appearance is nearly black and the nose roasted malt, chocolate and some lactose.  The flavor has those smooth porter notes, coffee, chocolate, and overall roasted malt.  Their is definitely a bitter hop character towards the finish.  Robust is an apt word for the deep smooth character but it remains crisp and drinkable.  This might not be my top craft American porter but it’s darn close.  Very good.

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Smuttynose Bouncy House

Bouncy House from Smuttynose is 4.3 ABV and 86 IBU.  The appearance is bubbly orange and the nose pineapple floral hop.  The taste is mostly hop bitterness, with that pineapple fruit and strong floral character.  It’s mostly just hop bitterness without much of a sweet malt backbone, the IBU is just so much higher than the alcohol content.  So you have a bit of a hop bomb but at a sessionable abv level, it’s peculiar and kind of jumbled.  I’m glad I was able to try it but I don’t think I’d get it again.

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Maine Beer Company Zoe

Zoe is an American Amber / Red from the Maine Beer Company, 7.2 ABV.  The appearance is dark copper with a sweet malt, tangerine hop nose and taste.  This is really hop forward for an amber but it’s a fresh citrus and pine hop and doesn’t finish very bitter or oily.  Overall the body is light and mildly carbonated giving to a delicate but crisp palate.  Zoe just seems fresh and very well and carefully crafted.  Definitely recommended.

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Southern Tier PMX

PMX from Southern Tier is a 5.7 ABV 30 IBU APA.  This is a reformulation of Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale but fails to markedly improve itself, at least in my recollection.  The appearance is a standard orange and the nose and taste grainy malt with bitter hop finish.  It drinks really crisp and easy but borders on watery, but not out of bounds for an APA.  It’s fine but even a B- student can be overlooked with so many other choices.

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