Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cider On The Rise - What's the big deal?

First off, I LOVE hard cider. L-O-V-E love. That being said...

If you've been paying any attention to the current status of the adult beverage market, you'll have noticed that, along with craft beer, craft ciders have crept in. Most notably, though they claim it's not a cider, "Redd's Apple Ale" has hit the mainstream market. You may have also seen ciders like Woodchuck, Magners, Crispin, Fox Barrel (Pear Cider!), Strongbow, and Boston Beer Company's Angry Orchard on the shelves lately, each with their own variety of  flavors to choose from. They can be served on tap or in a bottle, and are slowly growing more and more popular as a sweet carbonated alternative at the local bar.

Just for fun, here's a link to, which keeps track of American-made cider distributors.

Ciders are naturally gluten-free, and their fruitiness offers an appealing sweetness to your typical non-beer drinkers. So much so, that beer brands like Stella Artois and Michelob are hopping on the bandwagon and releasing their own ciders to appeal to this crowd. I personally feel like these beverages appeal to a more female crowd, especially those who avoid anything heavy, malty, hoppy, etc. in their beers.

In my opinion, I think ciders are just as versatile (if not more) than beers, though they do offer a different flavor profile and therefore a different kind of versatility. A perfect example of this range would be in the comparison between Angry Orchard's Cider House Collection limited releases, "Iceman" and "Strawman". I was lucky to get my hands on these thanks to my bud Jimmy at Marketplace Wines In East Brunswick, NJ to tryout and review. Oh, where to start? (Note: please excuse the lack of original photos, both times I tried these I didn't have proper lighting nor a decent camera)

image courtesy of

Strawman made its appearance first, and I'll have to admit, this offered almost a champagne-y dryness, catching me off guard. You can see it has a nice deep golden color, though for me, that was it's only redeeming quality. I expected more sweetness from it, though as I said before, Ciders are just as versatile as wine and beer in some cases. This was highly carbonated (not surprising), though the bubbliness also averted from any fruit flavor or subtle sweet notes it might have had. This was just so darn sour for me and my friends.

From the Angry Orchard Website:  "Strawman combines a distinct blend of juices from traditional culinary and bittersweet apples, which is then aged on oak. The result is a full-flavored, complex, and balanced cider with wine-like characteristics, rounded out by apple and citrus notes. Its lingering, earthy finish is an homage to the origins of this unique cider." Well, I guess there's the explanation. I've also heard of it referred to as similar to a dry Reisling.

I tried the Iceman a few days later, and I must say that this was a bit more like what I'm used to.
image courtesy of
Iceman definitely has more of the sweetness you expect out of a cider, and is slightly less carbonated than its counterpart above. It has more body and a greater flavor profile, with notes of vanilla and caramel throughout. Don't get me wrong, it still has the tart note that comes through with fermentation, but Iceman is way more drinkable than Strawman, and to me, even the bottle artwork is more pleasing to look at.

From the website: "This cider is sweet but not cloying. The addition of oak-aging yields a smooth and pleasing vanilla character. The result is a perfectly balanced, full-flavored cider that delights the palate with clean apple notes and a lingering toffee finish."

Given that these both weigh in at 10% ABV, I'd say enjoy responsibly no matter what your flavor preference. Both of these ciders were obviously meant to be for a higher-end setting, with their attempts at complex flavors, aromas, and are probably even meant to sit and age in your cellar for a bit. That being said, these two are complete and utter opposites of each other on the spectrum that ciders offer us, working as a great argument for my descriptive love for their versatility.

Soon enough, and especially since kits are becoming available, we'll see more and more homebrewers perhaps venturing out in to the world of hard cider creation. I won't lie, the thought has been in my mind, especially with apple season quickly approaching!


Monday, March 4, 2013

The Bruery Autumn Maple

Unconventional ingredients can really make something stand out. In the craft beer world, brewers will go to great lengths to use different different ingredients to produce unique blends of flavors in search of the ultimate beer. Maggie has looked at strawberry beers and Nick reviewed a beer with pomegranate used in the brewing process. As far as they were concerned, these brews had varying levels of success, so it's wise to keep an open mind when trying a beer that tries to push the limits on flavor. The Bruery's Autumn Maple vegetable beer is one of those beers that has used an unconventional ingredient for a different flavor - yams.

Pictured: Yams, not oddly-shaped rocks
Image courtesy of
Sitting at a healthy 10.00% ABV, I was excited to try this beer. I poured it from its 22 ounce bottle into a tulip glass, as the brewer actually recommends a tulip glass on the label. There was about two fingers of a pale off-white foam sitting on top that settled down very quickly and left practically no lacing behind. For the remainder of the beer, there was always the thinnest head resting atop the body, but that's all. The color was a spectacular reddish brown that actually had a deep grapefruit pink color when you held it up to the light.

The aroma of the beer, amplified and concentrated by the shape of the tulip glass produced tones of pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, bananas, and apples. It was like a typical pumpkin beer you see in the fall, but earthier and fruity. The taste wasn't much different. Again, pumpkin and spices, some fruitiness, a hint of hoppy bitterness, and just the slightest taste of alcohol were all present. It also had a bit of a marshmallow taste that I attributed to the yams. As for the mouthfeel, this beer drank kind of rough. It was medium-to-heavy bodied, pretty carbonated, and required a bit of effort to drink, even while sipping on it.

Craft brewing is an art form. Sometimes a masterpiece is produced and sometimes a kindergartner's crayon drawing destined for the refrigerator is made. While I tend to think most craft brewers try to produce masterpieces, some beers fall short, much like this one; The Bruery missed the mark with their Autumn Maple. I found myself a little repulsed at the smell and taste and I had to force myself to finish my glass. The only redeeming factor of this beer was its looks. Were it not for my thrift, I would have poured this bottle out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Berry Delicious!

A terrible pun, I know.

Though it may not feel like it quite yet, Spring is almost upon us! I admit, I tasted these beers wayyy back during the NFL playoffs, and have been putting off this post until now. Today, I've got for you two Strawberry Beers - one, from our ever-favorite DE brewery Dogfish Head, and the other from UK-Based Samuel Smith Brewery.

Let's start off with the Tweason'ale. I picked this one up when Nick and I made a trip down to Delaware to visit his cousin and to make a stop at Dogfish Head's Ale house in Rehoboth Beach. Nothing's better than straight from the source!

This beer was admittedly not what I expected. It's sorghum-based, (gluten-free!) and includes strawberries and honey. The color is a predictable golden honey color, very clear and bubbly. The head was impressive, but dissipated quickly. It smells sweet, but not too sweet, as in "this definitely isn't a beer" sweet. As for the taste, the strawberry was not overwhelming at all, which made for a refreshing, lighter beer. Very drinkable. At a 6.0% ABV, this runs on the lighter side of DH's beers. Absolutely worth a try if you want a change of pace, and/or want to convince yourself that this beer is "healthy" ;) .

In my opinion, this is a great option for anyone with a gluten intolerance, but who still wants a crisp refreshing beer to drink. Once again, the artwork on the bottles and the 4-pack were super cute, a strawberry and honeybee falling in love? How cute!

Ugh, on to the next one. There's not much I can say about Samuel Smith's Organic Strawberry Fruit Ale. It smells like strawberry jam, tastes like strawberry soda....super duper sweet. 5.2% ABV. It's brewed with strawberry juice, though I'm not sure how great it ferments given how overpoweringly sweet it is. From the appearance, you can see the rich reddish color, and slightly beige head on it. But the beer-ness stops there. I can't even equate this to a wine...that's how sweet it is. Don't get me wrong, I drank it, but don't call it a beer...its a fermented fruit drink.

On the brewery website, they describe this beer as being a refreshing after-dinner beer for the summer. I guess, if I plan on drinking my dessert instead of eating it. For anyone who doesn't really like beer and prefers juice instead, here you go.

Happy Drinking!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stone Vertical Epic 11.11.11

When I was 11 in early 2002, I wasn't thinking about craft beer. I'm pretty sure I was playing Pokemon and watching Cartoon Network. Stone Brewing Company based in Escondido, California, on the other hand, was thinking of craft beer. While I was learning long division, Stone was brewing up something special. You see, they weren't your average brewery. Oh no, they had bigger plans in mind.

Cue the Vertical Epic Ale series.

From 02.02.02 to 12.12.12., Stone has subsequently released a single brew on dates ending in consecutive numbers one year, one month, and one day apart. Stone has brewed eleven different beers all designed to complement one another in a gustatory symphony never seen by the likes of the craft beer world ever before. I managed to hop on the Vertical Epic train just as the ride was coming to an end. While the earliest brews are exceedingly rare, I was able to snag an 11.11.11 and a 12.12.12. This review will focus on the 11.11.11

I let this beer sit out of the fridge for a little while before I opened it up. It definitely needs to warm up a bit for you to truly appreciate the effort that went into this brew. I poured it into a pilsner glass and observed a light tan head, a hazy orange/brown-colored body and a lacing that quickly dissipated. While the head did stick around, the lacing did not - a bizarre combination. When I put my nose up to the glass, I instantly detected a boozy aroma (which made it seem a lot stronger than its 9.0% ABV would have lead me to believe) with tropical fruits, cinnamon, cloves, and a definite smell of a peppery spice that stung the nose a little.

Now, before I get into the taste, I want to have a quick sidebar about chili beers. I usually lump them into one of two categories - beer with chili as a novelty and beer with chili for actual flavor. The former category, contains beer such as Black Mountain Brewing's Cave Creek Chili Beer, the beer with an actual chili pepper inside the bottle. This beer is terrible and should be avoided at all costs. Try it once. You won't go back. The latter category contains beers like the 11.11.11. These beers are usually better.

With that out of the way, a strange combination of flavors flowed into my mouth. Chili peppers, bananas, cloves, cherries, and hops all combined in a spicy, sweet, and mildly bitter brew that I've never even come close to experiencing in another brew. This beer also drank very nice as a light-to-medium-bodied brew.

Having aged with grace, I'd highly recommend you find Stone's 11.11.11 if you can. My only regret was not holding out to see if I could find some of its older siblings, but with a little bit of digging and a little bit of luck, I'm sure I'll be able to try again.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Go A Few Rounds With Yards Brawler Ale

This post has been a long time in the making and for no reasons other than I'm lazy and school sucks. I have finally decided to write up a review for one of my favorite regular brews.  Being in Philadelphia has afforded me the opportunity to try some very excellent beers from the eastern Pennsylvania area, as well as Delaware and Maryland.  However, this one comes right from the "City of Brotherly Love", Philadelphia, more specifically Yards Brewing Company down along the Delaware River.

Anytime I think of Yards I immediately think of their Brawler Ale.  This is one of their year round available ales.  While very abnormal for craft beer it has a very low ABV coming in at only 4.2%.  This may have you thinking it is a very light and flavorless beer as mainstream beer marketing has unfortunately done.  However, it has a considerably robust and strong flavor, especially since it has such a low alcohol content.  It has a very caramely and almost bready taste to it with subtle hints of lemon or something citrusy at the end.  One would not find this flavor a shock if they did not know the ABV in advance though because it pours a very pretty dark red and brownish color that had a very light, almost white head (that was also very small). It is most certainly a session beer in that it is a very flavorful and filling beer, but drinking one of them will not severely impact your level or judgement and coherence. To me this means it's the perfect beer to have when doing homework and projects at night.  I can grab a few of these and drink them throughout the night and relax a bit without feeling drunk to the point of not being able to complete my work.

I absolutely love the labeling on this bottle as well as it has a classic style image of a manly man boxing a devilish creature.  They also give it the appropriate title of a Pugilist Style Ale (which after using the google machine means it is a "boxer" style ale).  You can certainly go a few rounds with this one.  For someone like myself who is on a somewhat restricted budget these were also great on my wallet not costing much more than a dollar and a half a beer (when purchased in a 6 pack), which I find to be very beneficial for my stomach, liver and wallet.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


It's been a little while since our last post, but sometimes life happens. Don't worry though, we haven't stopped trying new beers! Hopefully you've been keeping up with us on Facebook, Twitter, Untappd, and Instagram!

Image courtesy of
As we've rolled into February, a few things have happened. Of course, it's been cold - like, too cold to be enjoyable cold - but, this cold weather has also ushered in ton of seasonal brews. Many brewers are releasing hoppy beers from the hops that they picked and brewed at the end of summer. Bell's Brewery of Kalamazoo, Michigan is no exception. The yearly mid-winter release of their Hopslam Ale, a 10% ABV Double and Imperial IPA, is one of the American craft beer communities most sought-after brews.

Having tried Bell's Hopslam in 2012 out of a bottle (yes, I didn't even give Bell's the courtesy of drinking out of a glass), I knew it was good, but I really didn't know how good it could be. Luckily, my favorite watering hole, having recently updated their taps, manged to snag a keg of this year's Hopslam. Suffice it to say, I was stoked to get a fresh glass of the suds.

This beer is strikingly beautiful. It had a translucent, penny-colored body with minimal carbonation and a spectacular white head sat at about 1 finger width in the small goblet glass it was served to me in. The lacing would not budge. The aroma was extraordinary too. Fruitiness, floral tones, a faint sweetness (surely from the honey brewed into it), and the slightest hint of peaches and citrus came through for me. With a beer as strong as this one in the style it was brewed in, I expected it to have a more piney smell that I've been accustomed to with IPA's, but I could barely detect one. Maybe it's because I was coming off a cold, but I'll have to try it again to see if it's there.

The taste is what really makes Hopslam stand out. First off, the name is a dead giveaway as to what's to come. Your taste buds get slammed with hops. Although, not overwhelmingly bitter, it's immediately apparent that you're drinking a hoppy beer. As the smell dictated, fruity and floral tastes were right alongside the bitterness. I tasted a little bit of malt too and I was surprised that for being 10%, I could barely detect a boozy taste. Bell's also made some serious magic in their brewery, because this beer drank super smooth. These stronger beers are usually good for sipping, but I really could have pounded the Hopslam if I wanted to. I had to cut myself short every sip so that I wouldn't go through it too fast.

Bell's set the 2013 bar high with their Hopslam. I'm glad I was able to find it on tap, so I could truly experience a beer that has received so much praise. Between it's looks, taste, and drinkability, this brew is nearly perfect in every way. If you can, snag yourself a glass and try it. Don't be afraid to squirrel away a bottle too, as it can age for a few months!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Tenacious New Year

Thanks Hop & Soul! I'll try the Curious
Traveler Shandy ASAP, I promise.
Happy 2013 DLAA readers! This New Year's Eve, I decided to try Tenacious Traveler Shandy based on a suggestion provided to me by our new friends at Hop & Soul. (Actually, I'm a big fat liar. They recommended Curious Traveler Shandy but the nice man at the liquor store checked the back room, and only found this one. Oh well, I'll try anything once.)

Fun Fact #1: Tenacious Traveler Shandy is brewed by The Traveler Beer Company, formerly known as The House of Shandy Beer Company.

Fun Fact #2: The Traveler Beer Company follows Drink Like an Adult on twitter. Go ahead, follow them back. We don't mind.

Fun Fact #3: The Traveler Beer Company's logo is a man with a sweet mustache. This clearly makes the beer all that much more appealing. Seriously, who doesn't love a good stache?

The beer was a light orange in color and had a decently thick head at first (although the head dissipated fairly quickly). It had a distinct sweet smell of honey. The very first thing I could taste was the ginger. It reminded me slightly of a really good ginger ale, but was also sweet and citrusy from the honey and lemons. This beer was also pretty carbonated, which made it easy to drink and made me feel even more like I was just drinking a glass of soda.

Overall, I absolutely loved the Tenacious Traveler Shandy. I've been telling everyone who will listen to me for long enough about how much I enjoyed the ginger and sweetness. I even drank ginger tea for the entire next week just to remind myself of the taste of what may be my new favorite beer. Sure, it only has a 4.4% ABV and only got a 25 from, but I loved it, so I hope you'll give it a shot.
My new shirt!

*Side Note: Thanks again to Hop & Soul for the suggestion, support, stickers, and my free shirt. You guys are awesome.