The Bottom Line

I love craft beer. Brewing it, drinking it, sharing it, and learning about it. There are some great websites out there that allow people to review craft beers, but I hate to rely on stranger's opinions of how good or bad a certain beer is! What I want to accomplish with this blog is to provide a constantly building stream of personal opinions, recommendations, and interesting information on various beer styles and breweries as I enjoy them. As the blog continues, I hope you will notice similarities and differences between our tastes and use this to help you in your exploration of the craft beer universe!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Life and Limb!

I honestly can't think of a more currently epic way to tap this blog than to do so with a review of the Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head collaboration brew known as "Life and Limb".

Life and Limb was released in November 2009 in a limited run of 24 oz bottles and and even more limited run for draft. It was brewed with pure maple syrup from Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione's family farm in Massachusetts and "Estate" barley grown on the Sierra Nevada Brewery's property. The yeast used in this bottle conditioned beer(bottle conditioned meaning it is able to be aged for years while more complex flavors develop, just like a good wine) is also a mixture of both breweries house strains. As far as I know, this is a very unique practice because most breweries treasure their yeast strains as a signature of identity. Alaskan Birch syrup was used for carbonating the beer. I'm not sure if the birch really gives anything towards the flavor because it was only added in a small amount, but just to give you a reference point for how much dedication was brewed into this beer, most home brewers simply use granulated sugar for priming!

Now that you know the foundations for Life and Limb, let's get on to the review!

Label: The label on this beer stands for itself as artwork. Dogfish Head is selling t-shirts with the label printed on them and yes I ordered one yesterday. Here is a link to the print...Life And Limb Art. It is noted on the bottle that this beer is 10.2% ABV.

Nasal Observations During Pour: I sensed a strong and sweet aroma during the pour. Almost like an unlit cigar, but not as musty.

Visual Observations During Pour: Dark, dark amber.

Head: I split the bottle between two glasses for Beth and myself. The head didn't really develop until I got towards the end of the pour where the conditioning yeast remained. I noticed a few big bubbles among the quarter inch or so of medium brown head.

Visual Observations After Settling: The main body of the beer was completely opaque, though I could see a dark ruby glow in the very bottom of the glass where the edges were closer together.

Nasal Observations After Settling: The smell didn't really change after the pour, but was a little milder in intensity.

First Taste: The first thing I noticed when the beer hit my tongue was how fizzy it was. I believe that was the birch syrup giving a little introduction for what was to follow.

Second Taste: On my second taste, I felt more of the actual flavor come out. I'm pegging it as sharp raisin and dark cherry blend. I suggested that it was almost along the lines of a barely wine, but Beth pointed out that this wasn't quite as caustic as barley wine tends to be.

After Taste: The maple syrup finally introduces itself in the finish of this beer. It is subtle in texture as that it doesn't fill your mouth or feel at all thick or syrupy. The rich sugary flavor swims around the area where your tongue and throat meet, and is comparable to the lingering after taste of maple candy.

Overall Opinion: This is an excellent beer to split with a companion for multiple reasons. One, it does have a quite interesting taste that prompts more discussion than many beers. Two, it is a symbol of two very successful brewers coming together as a community to celebrate craft beer, and that symbol should be respected with every bottle. Three, well, it would be tough to drink 24 whole ounces of this stuff alone. Especially at 10.2% alcohol by volume!

Reminds Me Of: If I had to pick a close neighbor for Life and Limb I think I would have to go with Delirium Tremens Belgium Ale in taste, but a slightly thick brown ale in consistency.

Food Pairing: I think this beer would go well with a sharp cheddar atop sliced green apples. I could see it complimenting a dark turkey meat too, especially if touched up with a little cranberry sauce in Thanksgiving Dinner style.

Please leave any comments you have about your own experiences with this beer! Unfortunately I can't tell you where to find a bottle because they are few and far between due to their popularity and limited quantity. Happy hunting!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Beyond Taste

While the bottom line of a good beer is naturally a good taste, there is a keg's worth of other aspects to consider in discussing a craft beer. As noted at the top of this page, there are some well known and somewhat respected review websites that anyone else can go to, fill in a few answers to generalized questions which we may or may not even understand, and have those go on to alter the site's overall rating of said beer.

Here, on the other hand, I will express my opinions of each beer in a less structured and hopefully easier to follow way. I'm going to be as inclusive as possible without completely over analyzing and striping the fun away from the main pint!

Homebrewing For Dummies suggests, in order, the five steps of beer evaluation to be Smell, Look, Taste, Aftertaste, and Reflect. I've used those steps as a guide, but branched out a bit to make this blog a little more informative.

Some of the categories I plan to touch on for each beer are as follows...

Label Art and Blurbs(to include ABV)
Nasal Observations During Pour
Visual Observations During Pour
Nasal Observations After Settling
Visual Observations After Settling
First Taste
Second Taste
Overall Opinion
Last Taste

I am also going to be suggesting pairing options for food, similar beers, and what serving size I would suggest (This could be anywhere from "just a taste" to "let's order a keg each".).

Interesting tid bits or trivia about the brewery will be supplied when appropriate.

Again, I hope this blog provides you with some decent information about the beer you are, or may soon be drinking, but if nothing else maybe you will find my sense of humor entertaining enough to keep coming back!