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Thursday, June 8, 2017



What exactly is an Amber Ale besides a beer that is, well, amber in color? An Amber Ale is a form of Pale Ale. Think of a Pale Ale as a sort of broad category of beer. If it gets hopped up considerably, it becomes an IPA. If, on the other hand, it leans more toward the malty side of the beer spectrum you might have an Amber Ale, or possibly a Red Ale (a sort of blushing cousin of Amber). Amber Ales and Red Ales tend to be malt forward with varying degrees of hops settling into the background. But, like so many beer styles since the Craft Beer Revolution, strict adherence to a particular style profile is often tossed aside in favor of creating something that might set one's Amber apart from everyone else's. One of the things we (the BOTB Guys as opposed to the Royal We) discovered early on in our Craft Beer journey was the frustration with reviewing certain beer styles such as Octoberfests because they all were so similar it became pretty repetitious ("Yup, tastes just like the last three we tried.") 
 All this is to say: we dove into some interesting and diverse Amber Ales. Our humble opinions follow. I suggest you give them a try yourself and see how your opinion compares to ours. After all, when it comes to taste, the only thing that matters is how it tastes to you.


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: 14th Star Brewing Company, St. Albans, VT; STYLE: Amber Ale; ABV:  5.4%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "14th Star Brewing Co. is a veteran-owned craft brewery in St. Albans, VT with a mission to brew high quality craft beer while enriching our community."

COLOR: Unfiltered amber

POUR: Slight head with some lacing

AROMA: Mild, bit of bread

BODY: Light

TASTE: Balanced, malty, bread


COMMENTS: "Not much of a nose - sort of malty; Neutral, easy drinking beer; Not objectionable; Nice refreshing feel; Solid bitterness at the end; Refreshing beer; A solid beer; A bit fruity up front; Tastes like what I think an amber should taste like; Not real hoppy."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Caldera Brewing Company; STYLE: Amber Ale; ABV: 5.6%; IBUs: 24; MALTS: Premium two Row, Crystal; HOPS: Centennial, Cascade; AWARDS: Gold Medal Amber Ales - 2016 World Beer Cup.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Caldera's Ashland Amber is a crisp refreshing amber, balancing premium imported malted barley and Cascade whole flower hops. Simplicity is the key to this recipe."

COLOR: Deep copper

POUR: Decent head

AROMA: Yeasty, bready

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Balanced - malty, nutty bready with some hoppiness

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Just shy of Can't Get Enough

COMMENTS: "That's got a lot of flavor; Could drink this along the Oregon Trail; This is a good beer; The picture of the hops on the can is a bit misleading, to me it tastes like thin flavored water; Oh man, I like this beer; Full-flavored; I really like the brewery so I expected more; Sort of the star of the day for me;"


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Full Sail Brewery, Hood River, Oregon; ABV: 6%; IBUs: 31; MALTS: 2-Row Pale, Crystal, Chocolate malt; HOPS: Mt. Hood, Cascade.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Anyone remember the grocery store cooler back before it turned into a kaleidoscopic fantasy world of beer options? You pretty much had two choices: Regular or Light. In 1989, when we brewed our first batch of Full Sail Amber ... two things became immediately apparent. It wasn't Regular and it sure as heck wasn't Light. Our amber is a sweet, malty, medium-bodied ale with a spicy, floral hop finish.

COLOR: Copper

POUR: Decent Pour

AROMA: Caramel

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Malty with strong flavors of bread, nut, toffee and caramel

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Between "I Could Drink This" and "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "British!; It's got that kind of Pilsner taste; Really nice; I like this; You could sit down and have several; Very smooth; It's definitely got that British vibe; Evening-on-the-deck beer; Good boat beer; Fruity nose, lacks hops; Kind of typical amber."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO; ABV: 5.2%; IBUs: 22; MALTS: Pale, C-80, Munich, Victory; HOPS: Willamette, Goldings, Nugget.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Fat Tire's unique flavor profile originates from the late 1930's, when local Belgian breweries aimed to satisfy the tastes of visiting British soldiers. English floral hops, subtle malt sweetness and spicy, fruity notes from Belgian yeast made for a balanced yet magical combination."

POUR: Decent head

AROMA: Malt, hint of clove

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Balanced with malt and clove, bit of banana


COMMENTS: "It's not bad, Kind of British thing on this one too; Some caramel; Definitely can taste the Belgian yeast, very distinctive flavor - I like it much better when paired with a big hop presence; I'm a fan of most New Belgium beers, but this one isn't my favorite even though it's their most popular; It's okay, but not my first choice."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Empire Brewing Co., Syracuse, NY; ABV: 5.6%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "East Coast Amber is clean and refined, with just the right balance of English Malt and American Hops. It's not too sweet and not too bitter, just like our beloved East Coast brewers."

COLOR: Amber

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Malt, bread, yeast

BODY: Between light and Medium

TASTE: Somewhat sweet, malty with clove


COMMENTS: "Kind of light; Not a lot of flavor; Some malt, hint of cloves, not much of a hops presence."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Switchback Brewing Co., Burlington, VT; STYLE: Amber Ale; ABV: 5.0%; IBUs: 28

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Switchback Ale was developed as a flavor concept, not adhering to any style guidelines. Using only traditional ingredients, Switchback Ale is an unfiltered, reddish-amber ale which is particularly well-balanced, allowing for complexity of flavor coupled with an unusually smooth and refreshing character."

COLOR: Unfiltered honey wheat

POUR: Better than Decent head

AROMA: Bready

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Balanced with malt, bread, nut and clove, some toffee sweetness


COMMENTS: "British yeast; Nice backend bitterness; If i go out to dinner in Burlington, I always start out with one of these; Really good beer; Kickback to the old Genesee bottles; Not terribly hoppy, but really tasty beer; I like a lot; Could drink several; I also like the retro, squatty bottle."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Modern Times Beer, San Diego, CA; STYLE: Hoppy, Dank Amber; ABV: 6.8%; IBUs: 85; MALTS: Two-Row, Munich, Midnight Wheat; HOPS: Nelson, Simcoe, Mosaic

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "This beer is the stickiest of the icky. It's a luxuriously hoppy amber loaded up with intemperate quantities of Nelson, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops, which are some of the fruitiest, dankest hops sweet, sweet money can buy. Despite its amver hue, Blazing World is pleasingly dry, sproting a lightly bready malt backbone that serves as platform for the huge and complex hop profile."

COLOR: Amber

POUR: Decent head

AROMA: Big grapefruit aroma

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Grapefruit, pine, with solid malty base


COMMENTS: "Best nose of the day; Awesome; That's like an IPA; Right next door to an IPA; I am impressed; Nice pine finish; Delicious; Fantastic; Nicely hopped without having the 'edge' of an IPA; Sooo drinkable; Nice and hoppy without sacrificing the basic Amber-ness."

While we are admittedly fans of hoppy beers, we found these Ambers to be pretty enjoyable, easy-to-drink beers. After sipping these amber waves of fermented grain, our collective opinion of how they fared is below:

1. Blazing World from Modern Times Beer - Admittedly, they had us at "It's a luxuriously hoppy amber loaded up with intemperate quantities of Nelson, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops." It was by far the hoppiest of the beers and therefore appealed to our bias toward those lovely flowers.

2. Ashland Amber from Caldera - By no means unanimous, one of us rated it toward the bottom, but it garnered enough 1's and 2's to land it in second place. It's a balance brew with a nice nutty, bready taste.

3. Full Sail Amber Ale - The first American brewer to bottle an Amber, Full Sail is one of the early craft beer driving forces. Full Sail Amber is solidly a British inspired Amber - very good.

4. Switchback Ale - A very tasty, wonderfully drinkable beer. The equivalent of a really nice table wine in that it goes well with a meal.

5. Valor from 14th Star Brewery - We felt this was pretty much exactly what one should expect from an Amber - malt forward with a hint of hops. Nice beer.

6. Fat Tire from New Belgium - An Amber with a strong Belgian vibe - hints of clove and banana. Wouldn't be any of our first choice, but drinkable. We all have other New Belgium's we much prefer.

7. Empire Amber - We felt this suffered from being a bit light, without anything to really make it stand out. 

Next Month: New England Style IPAs (AKA: Northeast Style)


The BOTB Guys

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Pack of Porters


Been seeing a lot on this trend lately and for me it's a bit of a head-scratcher. As I'm sure you know if you've followed us at all, we (that's both the royal 'we' and the inclusive 'we' meaning all of the BOTB Guys) are big fans of IPAs. While we certainly enjoy and appreciate other beer styles as well (note this month's foray into Porters and next month's Ambers) IPAs and hoppy Pale Ales are our go-to beers. After a lifetime of boring mega-brew American lagers the introduction of Pale Ales and then IPAs was like Dorothy stepping out of her black and white world into one of technicolor. The taste-buds sang with joy. The intense citrus, pine and floral flavors imparted by the hops were just glorious, but wonderful bitterness that accompanied these flavors just amped up the intensity. For us, the bitterness is part and parcel of what makes an IPA a great beer. Now a number of brewers are experimenting with IPAs that have the hop flavors without the bitterness. To me it's almost like saying: "We're going to make a Sour beer only we're going to make it so that it's not, you know, sour." I like my IPAs with solid IBUs. Without the bitter bite is it really an IPA? Not having had the opportunity to have tried a zero IBU IPA, I reserve judgement. But I remain skeptical. 


Night gathers, and now my watch begins.
It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children.
I shall wear no crowns and win no glory.
I shall live and die at my post.
I am the sword in the darkness
I am the watcher on the walls.
I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guard the realms of men.
I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and for all nights to come.

Thus is the pledge recited by those who "take the black" in Game of Thrones. To join the Night's Watch and become one of the Watchers on the Wall means a life bereft of carnal pleasures. But at least they have beer. We at BOTB won't forego earthly pleasures (we're not dead yet!) but we will delve into darkness this month as we check out some tasty Porters from traditional to New World interpretations. 


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Greenport, NY;  STYLE: Porter; ABV: 4.7%;

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A black ale that puts the flavor of the malt front and center. It has a mild hop character that balances strong notes of cocoa and hints of coffee. A full bodied roasty treat that finished dry."

COLOR: Walnut

POUR: Decent porter head, a dark ecru color, long lasting with good lacing.

AROMA: Coffee with cream

BODY: Fairly full-bodied

TASTE: Coffee with hints of chocolate - kind of mocha flavor

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "I Could Drink This!" and "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Very tasty; Smooth; Not as creamy as some; Really? I thought it was quite creamy; A little more carbonated than many; Could drink more than a couple of these; Really nice, smooth Porter."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Breckenridge Brewery, Littleton, Colorado; STYLE: Vanilla Porter; ABVs: 5.4%; IBUs: 16

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea and Madagascar grows the perfect ingredient for an extraordinary Porter brewed in Colorado. Breckenridge Brewery's Vanilla Porter. An ale that has all the chocolate and roasted nut flavor of a classic Porter, with an enigmatic surprise thrown in for good measure."

COLOR: Mahogany

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Not a real strong aroma, hint of vanilla

BODY: Full

TASTE: Initially pretty sweet, with coffee/mocha notes to start followed by vanilla

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "I Could Drink This!" and "Can't Get Enough!:

COMMENTS: "Coffee/mocha at the front - vanilla at the end; Creamy, somewhat thicker than the Black Duck; Not as carbonated, gives it a richer feel; Bitter in the back; Vanilla is not overpowering, which is a good thing. I've had a few vanilla porters that are just too much vanilla so it ends up with a kind of sicky-sweet taste. This is nicely subtle."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Bell's Brewery, Comstock, MI; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 5.6%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Our award winning Porter bridges the gap between malty brown ales and heavily roasted stouts. Notes of chocolate, coffee and roasted barleey are offset with just a slight hop bitterness. Enjoy any time of the year."

COLOR: Black - inky and opaque

POUR: Near "Guinness Class" head - thick head with an attitude

AROMA: Dark chocolate

BODY: Full

TASTE: Sweet dark chocolate, malty, borderline burnt roasted barley

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Right at my limit for burnt taste; A bit carbonated; Chocolate cherry taste at the end, giving it a sweetness; Decent; Wouldn't expect less from Bell's."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Alewerks Brewing Company; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 5.6%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "This particular beer is known as Paycheck Porter. It's a Robust Porter, boldly American, and big in all the right places. We brew this beer for, and with, rough hands and hearty appetites. Look for notes of roasted coffee and toasted cocoa."

COLOR: Black Walnut

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Malty

BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Sweet malty with hints of cocoa, dark chocolate and bit of sweet cloves.


COMMENTS: "Tastes like a Sugar Daddy but with chocolate (maybe Black Cow?); Sweet on the front  - pleasant aftertaste; Too sweet for me; British vibe with the clove taste; I couldn't drink a lot of it; I could drink this, but I wouldn't actively seek it out."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Maui Brewing Company, Kihei, Maui, HI; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 6.0%; IBUs: 30

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A robust dark ale with hand-toasted coconut and hints of mocha."

COLOR: Opaque black

POUR: Between "Decent" and "Guinness Class" head

AROMA: Coconut

BODY: Near Full

TASTE: Sweet with strong hints of chocolate and coconut

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Between "I Could Drink This" and "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS:"Coconut taste is not overpowering, but it is there: Mounds Bar - coconut and chocolate; I'm not a big fan of coconut (or fruit) in my beer - I would leave this one on the shelf; Head dissipates all too quickly; I like the vanilla better, but I like this second best so far; Too light and watery; Not as creamy as I was hoping for; Not bad, though."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Grindstone Farm Brewery, Pulaski, NY; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 7%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "We liked the idea of taking a Porter and hopping it up a bit. It's a bit of a bitter take on the traditional Porter.

COLOR: Black walnut with a ruby glint

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Somewhat neutral, not a strong aroma

BODY: Near full

TASTE: Malty with hints of chocolate but with more hop presence. Less sweet than the others.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Smooth, creamy; Hoppy at the end; Unusually bitter for a Porter; I like it - a nice twist on Porters which can be a bit too sweet at times; Good beer, it's one where you could enjoy more than one because it's not so sweet."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Yard's Brewing Company; STYLE: Porter; ABV: 7.0%; IBUs: 40; MALTS: Crystal and Chocolate malts; ADDITIONS: Molasses

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "LIQUID COURAGE. Detailed in a letter from the General to his officers during the war, Washington's recipe employed molasses to aid fermentation and give rich caramel notes to this robust, roasty ale. The recipe reflected his admiration for Philadelphia-style porters, especially those brewed by Robert Hare (whose original brewery stood just blocks from wherre ours is now). Our Tavern Porter, inspired by Washington's, is dark, smooth and complex with just a hint of dried fruit in the finish."

COLOR: Black

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Toast - biscuit

BODY: Full

TASTE: Hints of molasses, maybe licorice, dark fruits, roasted malts with a little chocolate

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Close to "Can't Get Enough!:

COMMENTS: "Enough malt presence to support the alcohol; Nice beer; Very tasty; Nice - a little sweet, but not cloyingly so; The molasses gives it a kind of interesting depth; Easy drinking because it's not overly sweet; Nicely balanced beer, very enjoyable."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Stillwater Artisnal Ales at Crazy Mountain Brewing Company, Denver, CO; ABV: 7%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Old World Porter Fermented with Brett. Playing off the English bent of our Baltimore brothers Oliver Ales, this Old World Porter brings a little bit of the Stillwater funk to the party. Drink it and don't feed the vultures."

COLOR: Near black

POUR: A bit more than Decent

AROMA: Yeasty

BODY: Fairly full bodied

TASTE:Somewhat sour, bit of roastiness, malt dominates, yeast

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Leave it on the shelf

COMMENTS: "It would take a real pirate to drink this; Cross between Dr. Pepper, Coca Cola and a Porter; Not a fan; Not one I'd go after; It has a taste almost like a sour; Got that barnyard funky, musty thing going I just don't care for; I think it's the Brett - I just can't seem to develop a taste for beers that rely on it; The 'yeast' of your problems."

Since all the beers were Porters this month we could in fact compare apples to apples. In fact we even put it to a vote, each of us rating the beers 1 - 8 with 1 being our favorite. Ergo, as in golf, low score wins. Here's the results:

THE WINNER: Yards Brewing George Washinton's Tavern Porter. We found this beer to be a perfectly balance Porter - not too sweet but with all you would expect from a good Porter. (16 pts)

2. Grindstone Brewing's General Pulaski's Porter. A very close second, we liked this for many of the same reasons - a nice hop presence making it not too sweet and a pleasing maltiness as well. Very rich and creamy Porter. (17 pts)

3. Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. A very tasty Porter with just the right amount of vanilla to give it a little different twist. Smooth mocha followed by vanilla. (21 pts)

4. Bell's Robust Porter. Delicious dark chocolate notes with hint of cherry and roasted malt. (23 pts) 

5. Greenport Harbor's Black Duck Porter. Tasty, smooth and creamy though a bit more carbonated than many Porters. Low ABV makes it a good sessionable Porter. (24 pts)

6. Maui Brewing Coconut Hiwa Porter. No consensus on this one. Coconut was not overpowering, but those who didn't like that taste in beer didn't care for it while others found it an interesting change-up (30 pts)

7. Alewerks Paycheck Porter. While no one actively disliked this beer, most felt it was a bit too sweet - okay for an occasional sipper, but not one we'd seek out. (37 pts)

8. Stillwater's Tuppence Porter. This was the only one with consensus. We all gave it an 8. No one particularly cared for the Brett yeast. Still love ya' Stillwater - just not this beer.

Next month: Ambers
The BOTB Guys

Friday, March 17, 2017

New York State of Beer


What began a number of years ago with a few outlier breweries defying the big beer conglomerates by creating what was quaintly referred to as microbrews, has exploded into a full blown brewing revolution. A number of these breweries gradually expanded to the point where they were distributed nationally so that the term microbrew became a bit of a misnomer. Not to mention that technically a microbrewery is defined as a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels per year. Samuel Adams or Sierra Nevada are hardly "micro" anything and their production far exceeds that 15,000 barrel per annum limit. So microbrews became craft beer, a sort of catch-all term for anything not brewed by the megabrews. Trouble was, the lines have become blurred. I suspect we've all (beer geeks like us) had the experience of being in a restaurant and asking the waiter or waitress if they had any craft beer and have them direct you to, say, Blue Moon  or Shock Top, beers brewed by Miller and Anheuser-Busch respectively. We would never include those two in our reviews because we don't consider them "craft." But check out this list of craft breweries now under the auspices in some form of big breweries. Do we consider them to be craft beers anymore? The truth is, many of these beers would not be widely available were it not for their association with the big breweries. So we are somewhat conflicted. Many of the beers produced by these breweries are some of our favorites. To exclude them from our reviews would mean eliminating a number of excellent beers which are widely available, and we would be limited to only those local and regional breweries and the craft breweries large enough to get national distribution on their own.

So where do we draw the line? In general we try to avoid those "fake" breweries - the ones that were created by the megabreweries to get a piece of the craft beer movement. It is a deceptive practice and we'll have none of it. As for most of the other breweries on that list, well, most of them use the mega-brews for distribution and continue to make quality beers so we'll continue to include them. But we're always on the lookout for those smaller, truly independent breweries.


Last month we had the opportunity, thanks to Gerry's trip to the Lone Star State, to check out some tasty Texas brews. This month we stayed closer to home and decided to try some New York State beers we had yet to review.  


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Keuka Brewing Company, Hammondsport, NY; STYLE: Pepper infused Blonde Ale; ABV: 4.2%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Afterburner is KBC's devilish take on the chili beer style. It is a light blonde ale weighing in at a mere 4.2%, but brewed with roasted habanero peppers giving it a bold, spicy flavor. It may not seem like much at first but be aware the burn grows after each sip. Afterburner is also a great beer to cook with; try it in tacos, chili or beer battered fish fry."

POUR: Big Guinness Class head

AROMA: Pilsner, yeast

BODY: Light to Medium

TASTE: Spicy hot! Peppery with some light malt coming through early on. The heat builds throughout


COMMENTS: "Really tasty if you like spicy hot food; This would be great with eggs in the morning - wouldn't have any need for Frank's Hot Sauce; Great to marinate fish for fish tacos; I'm a fan, the spice really sets this apart as a nice change-of-pace beer; It'll warm you up on a cold winter's night; I just mixed it half and half with an IPA - really good that way, the pepper and the hops compliment each other nicely; Truly depends on your tolerance for spiciness, but I really like it."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Full Boar Brewery, Syracuse, NY; STYLE: American India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.5%; IBUs: 65

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: No Brewer Description Available

COLOR: Wheat

POUR: Big, full Guinness-Class Head

AROMA: Strong piney aroma

BODY: Medium

TASTE: Big hop taste, piney, grapefruit, citrus

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Very near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Aroma of gin; Very good lawn mower beer - you don't want a dark beer in the summer; Really nice beer; Easy-drinking; A keeper!; This is definitely a hop-forward beer, with a real pine aroma that comes through in the taste, I like it a lot; I'm okay with it, a little too much pine for my taste, but I don't hate it, I'd just like a bit more malt for balance."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY; ABV: 6.7%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "The Defender takes to the skies, standing guard over all those who dare to drink great beer. Defender IPA is a bright, juicy, West Coast-style IPA. Fruity hop bitterness and an intensely resinous nose lead the way into a dry finish that blazes the trail to your next sip."

COLOR: Copper/ dark honey

POUR: Near Guinness-class

AROMA: Some grapefruit but not strong aroma

BODY: Between Medium and Full

TASTE: Toward the hoppy end of balanced with notes of citrus and caramel malt

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Near "Can't GetEnough!"

COMMENTS: "By itself it is very good, put against a big IPA it kind of pales; Nice mouthfeel; I like it, it's a nice, solid IPA, what you would expect from an IPA; I think it's one of those well-balanced IPAs with a good malt base along with the hops you expect."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Keuka Brewing, Hammondsport, NY; STYLE: Imperial Stout; ABV: 8.1%; IBUs: 33; SRM: 42; MALT: Chocolate malt, roasted barley, flaked oats.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Local Mocha is an imperial stout made with chocolate malt, roasted barley and a healthy amount of flaked oates to increase the body of this beastly beer. It is aged on vanilla, cocoa nibs, and coffee beans giving it huge roasted chocolate flavor and aroma. This dark delicacy is like eating a chocolate covered coffee bean."

COLOR: Black

POUR: Big, dark Guinness-class head

AROMA: Coffee, cocoa

BODY: Full, rich

TASTE: Sweet taste of mocha - coffee with chocolate


COMMENTS: "A little too malty for me, Nice dessert beer; At 8.1% you wouldn't drink a lot of them, but it makes a nice sipping beer; Doesn't need cream and sugar; This would be great in place of my morning coffee; If you're a fan of chocolate, coffee, mocha or stouts you've gotta' love this one; Nice, big sweety for sure."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Paradox Brewery, Schroon, NY; STYLE: Imperial IPA; ABV: 8.1%; IBUs: 81

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Our Imperial India Pale Ale. A showcase for hops, we use over 3 pounds of hops per barrel. This bold, juicy IPA is double dry hopped, to deliver citrus and tropical fruit flavors while still remaining highly drinkable."

COLOR: Unfiltered Golden honey

POUR: Big, full head, nearly Guinness-class.

AROMA: Bready with hints of alcohol

BODY: Full

TASTE: Pine on the front, citrus on the back, not a big malt presence, bit of pepper, maybe

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Very near "Can't Get Enough!"

COMMENTS: "Leaves your mouth full; Gets your attention; Nice beer; Tastes like a pretty big beer; nice and tasty; I really like it; Well blended aroma - pine and citrus; Doesn't have that cloying sweetness that sometimes comes with imperials to hide the alcohol; You can taste the alcohol, but it doesn't dominate; Big citrus-hop taste."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Ithaca Beer Company, Ithaca, NY; STYLE: Session IPA; ABV: 4.8%; MALT: 2-Row, Pale, Wheat, Honey Malt; HOPS: Equinox, Citra, Amarillo, Columbus.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "Our delightful mid-summer seasonal, Hopkist is an easy drinking and refreshing citrus IPA. With a mild ABV of 4.75%, this IPA is wonderfully "sessionable" for the hot summer months. The combination of Honey Malt and Citra hops in both brewing and dry hopping along with a healthy zip of citrus zest makes Hopkist the perfect summer brew."

COLOR: Unfiltered whead

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Citrus with some maltiness

BODY: Somewhat light

TASTE: Citrusy, grapefruit


COMMENTS: "Springy kind of beer; Bright, easy to drink beer; Pleasant; Not a big body - lawn mower beer; Session?; Wouldn't survive in a war of IPAs; Not a bad beer, though, very drinkable; Leans on the citrus, grapefruit taste a lot without much malt, which you would expect from a light IPA like this.


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Copper City Brewing Company, Rome, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 8.3%; HOPS: Simcoe, Mosaic

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A hoppy high with a malty depth."

COLOR: Unfiltered apricot

POUR: Decent Head

AROMA: Grassy, hay

BODY: Full

TASTE: Piney, grapefruit, hoppy bitterness


COMMENTS:"A little sweetness on the end; Good find; Tastes as big as it really is; Body and backend sweetness disguise the alcohol; Kind of dank aroma that does not carry over into the taste at all, thankfully; Delicious - I love it; It's so easy to drink you could forget that its a double; Nice warming feel to it."


THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: CB Craft Brewers, Honeoye Falls, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 9.5%; IBUs: 78; MALTS: Superiou Pilsner, Wheat, Melanoidin, Sauer; HOPS: Summit, Apollo, Columbus, Centennial, Falconers Flight, Exp 05256.

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A bonifide hop-head's delight. This is a beer truly bursting at the seans with juicy, tropical hop presence. Beginning with pineapple, mango and guava the ride continues into a pleasant citrus finish. The conjunction of malts add an assertive tangy counterbalance to this hop parade to remind you this is a real brazen beast."

COLOR: Unfiltered apricot

POUR: Somewhat less than Decent

AROMA: Malty, alcohol

BODY: Full

TASTE: Tropical fruits with sweet malt, bit of honey and horehound.


COMMENTS: "Alcohol taste works with the other tastes well, Complex brew; Horehound taste in there; Hops are so well blended you can't tell which is which; There's a kind of honey sweetness to it that marries well with the tropical fruit tastes; Really nice beer."

Grindstone Brewing

THE BEER FACTS: BREWER: Grindstone Brewery, Pulaski, NY; STYLE: India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0%

WHAT THE BREWER SAYS: "A beer for those who believe in a beer drinker's right to choose, because choice, like Alternate Fax IPA, is a good thing - and that's a fact."

COLOR: Unfiltered copper/chestnut

POUR: Between Decent and Guinness-class

AROMA: A bit yeasty, malty

BODY: Full

TASTE: Balanced with citrus/grapefruit opening and ending in a sorghum or molasses malty sweetness


COMMENTS: Delicious; A little sweet on the end; Really nicely balanced beer; Boy, that's good; Nice malt background but neither the hops nor the malt overpowers the other; There's no "wall" between the hops and the malt; This will make craft beer great again! Oh wait, it already was great, so, um, - America first!"

A great bunch of New York State beers. A nice mix of styles this time around as well. It's not really fair to compare since it was such a mix of styles. Next month we're going to have a battle of the Porters.

The BOTB Guys