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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

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