Thursday, August 23, 2012

UFO Pumpkin/The Beginning of Pumpkin Beer Season

It's the end of August and you know what that means! It's officially the beginning of pumpkin beer season! My regular beer distributors St. James Beverage and Lake Ronkonkoma Beverage have started to get in shipments of various pumpkin beers in their stores. Little by little all the big name companies' pumpkin beers have made their way onto the shelves at these two locations and other local Long Island beer shops.

Last year I did a tasting of all the different pumpkin beers that I could get my hands on with mixed results.  With St. James's six-packs of six assorted pumpkin beers it was easy for me to be able to try out all the different pumpkin beers that were available in their store. I narrowed down all of the pumpkin beers I tried to my top 3 choices and UFO Pumpkin came out on top as my #1 pumpkin beer of last year.

Unfortunately all good things have to come to an end and before I knew it the pumpkin beer season came to a close. I was only able to buy one six-pack of UFO Pumpkin before realizing too late that it wasn't available for purchase in the stores any more. In the blink of an eye my favorite pumpkin beer was gone, never to be seen until the next pumpkin beer season.

I made a promise to myself that the second UFO Pumpkin became available again that I would buy it in bulk. Lucky for me the day has finally arrived and UFO Pumpkin is now available again in stores. I spotted it while going on one of my weekly beer runs to St. James Beverage and instantly picked up two six-packs and put them on the counter.

UFO Pumpkin is the pumpkin beer to end them all. It contains the perfect combination of pumpkin flavor and sweet spices that you would find while consuming a piece of pumpkin pie. The flavor isn't overpowering in any way, nor is it bland. The flavor is subtle and the alcohol content is at just the right level (5.9%) to make UFO Pumpkin the perfect light pumpkin beer that doesn't sacrifice any flavor.

UFO Pumpkin pours a beautiful light orange color (as you can see from the picture above) and the amount of head I got while pouring was just the right amount. Immediately after pouring my 12 ounce bottle the smell of the beer drove me headfirst into one of the most satisfying beers I have had this year.

Every sip was enjoyable and the wait for UFO Pumpkin was well worth it. I know what I'll be drinking for the next three months on a regular basis!

UFO Pumpkin was brewed by the Harpoon Brewery in Massachusetts and is their UnFiltered Offering that contains an ABV of 5.9% 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers

Oh Stone, how I love you. Not only do you consistently brew a delicious Smoked Porter every year, you also up the ante by experimenting with new flavors to add to it. First there was Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean and now Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers. I even found out today that there is a variation with Coconut, which I still have yet to try. But back to the beer of today; Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers.

Split this 12 ounce bottle with Tom of course, my beer buddy. Right after opening the bottle we gave it a smell. The smoked aroma had a hint of pepper and poured a dark brown to black color identical to that of the Smoked Vanilla. The smell was good, but the flavor was out of this world.

The smoked flavor of Stone's Porter is amplified even more with the addition of Chipotle Peppers. It's almost a perfect combination. Both flavors compliment each other and result in a delicious smoked Chipotle taste you might find while enjoying food from your favorite Mexican eatery.

Tom and I couldn't get enough of Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers. Every sip we took was breathtaking. We were just sad when it was all gone. We even ended up going to Taco Bell after finishing our glasses since my craving for Mexican food was through the roof at that point. I don't know if it was the beer itself or the fact that it was brewed with Chipotle Peppers, but I wasn't going to sleep that night without ingesting some Taco Bell.

Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers is spectacular and I'll even go as far to say that it was better than Stone's Smoked Vanilla offering, which I also liked a lot. If you can find a bottle of it definitely try some smoked Chipotle Pepper beer.

Delicious to the very last sip

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean

Stone; one of my favorite brewing companies with many great offerings (I'm looking at you Arrogant Bastard and Double Bastard!). Tom introduced me to Stone and their delicious beers a long time ago. It's always a treat to try something from them I haven't had before. When I heard they came out with a Vanilla Bean version of their famous Smoked Porter I just had to drink it.

Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean pours with a small amount of head and has an appealing dark brown color to it, almost bordering on black. Right after opening the bottle you are greeted with a delicious vanilla smell. Drinking the beer is even more enjoyable.

There is a vanilla flavor that lasts throughout every sip in addition to the smoky aftertaste you might be accustomed to if you've had the Smoked Porter before. The end result is a finely roasted vanilla flavored beer that is rich in flavor and pleasant to drink from start to end.

Stone takes pride in brewing high quality beers and they even go as far to tell you the story of how Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean came to be right on the back of each bottle. Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean is a limited release so if you can get your hands on one don't hesitate to do so!

Stone Smoke Porter with Vanilla Bean is 5.9% ABV and brewed by Stone Brewing Company located in San Diego, California. Look for my upcoming review of Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers coming soon!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer

Yes you read that right; pizza beer. I found out about this beer from a picture that St. James Beverage posted on their Facebook page shortly after they got it in. Needless to say, I immediately drove to St. James to get my hands on a few bottles of this...I just had to try it!

So I went over to my friend's apartment with a couple of friends, bringing the fabled Pizza Beer with me and the six of us sat down and each drank a sample with mixed reactions. Before getting into those reactions let's discuss the beer a little.

Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer is made by the Pizza Beer Company in Illinois and is brewed with oregano, basil, tomato and garlic. Upon opening the bottle you are greeted with the aroma of tomatoes and basil. Garlic and oregano make up most of the flavor as well as tomato. It has a clear orange color to it and looks similar to some pumpkin beers I have tried over the years.

At 4.6% ABV Pizza Beer is a light beer and won't get you feeling buzzed unless you drink it in large quantities, which may not be a problem for someone who really loves pizza.

As requested by my friends I am going to rewrite my notes, exactly as is, to show how everyone reacted to drinking pizza beer.

Unfavorable reactions:
Josh: "I have to drink this?"
          "This doesn't taste good."
          "You guys could drink the rest." 
Quincy: 1. Drank some pizza beer
              2. Made a weird face
              3. Put his glass down and didn't drink anymore
James: "This tastes like if you took the leftover sausage grease after cooking sausage and then combined it with Coors light."
             "This isn't good." 

Unsure about what I was about to drink 

Indifferent reactions:
Phil: "That was definitely weird, but still enjoyable in a weird way."
         "It smells like leftover cold pizza in liquid form."
          *Took my time in finishing my glass
Dave: "This is so wrong, but I can't stop drinking it."
           "Someone has got to finish it."
           *Finished the rest of the bottle by himself

Taking the plunge and trying the pizza beer

Positive reactions:
Tom: "I was expecting this to be a lot worse."
          "I don't mind it actually."
           *Drank his the fastest, probably would have had more if it was offered to him

Unfortunately after seeing these reactions one thing is clear. Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer isn't for everyone and only a select few pizza and beer lovers can truly appreciate pizza beer for what it is. I will most likely never buy a bottle of this beer ever again, even at the cheap asking price of $2.50 a bottle. It was fun to try and even more fun to see other people try it, but Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer will never make it into my ever growing rotation of beers that I like to drink. Give it a try, but don't say I didn't warn you!