Category Archives: commercial beers

Maui 2

Kohola Brewing PilsOn the hottest day of the trip, I visited the Kohola brewery. This felt more like Portland: the brewery was located in a warehouse and behind some other buildings, so we had to go down an alleyway to get there. The serving area was blocked off by mobile guardrails and I could see the brewing equipment easily, with tubes running from the outside where the grain was stored, to the milling machines.

It was the classic ‘up and comer’ look.

I started with the Pilsner and it was a classic pilsner: little spicy, very clean finish. Can’t ask for better than that. It’s a great hot day drink.

Just to mix things up, I went for the Mean Bean Coffee stout next. With a chocolate covered espresso beans nose, this leans into the coffee bean addition nicely. But I’m glad I had a short pour of it, because coffee notes just don’t quite mesh with hot days like this, at least for me. It’s a fine ale, even holding its flavor as it warms, and finishes remarkably clean for the style. It just belongs to night time.

Last, I got the Red Sand Amber: this is a pretty damn solid Amber that has some coffee flavors on the  early back end. There’s a prominent malt sweetness though that is really working for me and the color is great. As the beer warms up, a hit of brown sugar appears and I totally dig it.

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Maui 1

Maui Brewing Star Maps KolschI didn’t intend to start my trip to Maui by breaking my ankle but…well, it rains on the just and the unjust, right?

So, in an attempt to make my trip more bearable, my family was kindly willing to indulge me with trips to the two breweries I was able to find on the island. I enjoyed my stops there and picked up a couple beers from each place to talk about, so here we go!

The first stop was at Maui Brewing and Maui has an upper scale brewpub feel; there’s a full kitchen, a separate bar area where tours of the brewery kick off from, and because it’s Hawaii, damn near everything is open-air in it’s design. Birds flew in and out of the building as we ate lunch. I enjoyed the Double Overhead IPA but didn’t take any notes. On the way out, I purchased a couple things for later and here’s what we got:

Maui Brewing Star Maps Kolsch (collab with Smog City). Kolsch brewed with star fruit.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had star fruit but it’s tart. What that does to a Kolsch is obliterate the milder flavors of the beer by the tartness of the fruit. The combination means that the beer is easy to drink on hot days, but doesn’t pair well with others because the finish isn’t clean anymore.

I don’t dislike this beer, though I will confess it took me a minute to get used to. However, I’d recommended it for hot days only and the Star Maps might be worth tasting before hand, because star fruit has such a distinct flavor to it. It’s not for everyone.

The Pueo pale ale mines much more familiar territory. The nose has honeydew and citrus qualities, with a melon element on the finish, too. The citrus qualities turn to the bitterness I’d expect, which may be a little stronger than your average pale ale but within reason I think.

This is, I think, a local pale: meant to reflect what people might want in the warm, steadily humid environment of Hawaii. It’s a thirst quencher for sure.

What Can You Buy There #9: Cerveza Dolina Pilsen

Ok, so this is cool:

The front of the bottle is scratch-off, and the back of the bottle also has a scratch-off strip that gives you more information about the skull. The brewers were inspired by archaeological digs near Burgos, their home base.

As far as packaging goes, Cerveza Dolina has won me over.

Now, the taste? It’s definitely tending more German than most Spanish beers, which (if you’re getting the commercial stuff) tends to be more like Budweiser. (As an aside, I have to say…if you go to a halfway decent-looking bar and ask for a beer, you’re probably going to get something that is of good quality and taste, even if it’s been mass produced. But I digress.)

Even though the label says pilsen, this isn’t a pilsner–it’s really more in the kölsch line. (Heck, their own Web page for this beer is titled Kölsch.) The colour is a lovely darker gold, there’s carbonation–but not a lot–, and the taste is softly bitter and spicy and earthy. I say softly because nothing really lingers with this beer, but with this style, you’d not want it to. I just wish I had warmer weather to better appreciate its virtues.

Now: can we all go back and appreciate that label again? Because that’s a really neat label.

Common Ales: Hop Valley Cryo Stash

Hop Valley Cryo Stash IIPAWith summer around the corner, the lighter ales and IPAs are coming to the fore. Let’s dive into one.

Tropical fruit scents are right up front; mango, especially. I also like the clarity, too! The Cryo is a bright beer, and the head on it is soft and luscious.

The beer doubles down on the tropical flavors, and is quite sweet. For an imperial IPA, I would expect something a little more bitter to help keep things in check. As it warms up, the bitterness starts to expand and sharpen on the finish, and this isn’t entirely unwelcome, except it does seem to arrive with a slight metallic quality. I’m not sure what to make about that but it is a ping against the Cryo Stash.

Still, I think I’m going to endorse this one: it’s a little sweet so if that isn’t to your liking, maybe it isn’t your thing but it’s an enjoyable beer overall.

Common Ales: Pyramid Lemondrop Pale

Pyramid Lemondrop pale aleLet’s just dive right in!

It’s grassy in the nose, maybe lemongrass? But definitely evoking that cut lawn scent, and I dig it.

The lemon flavor sneaks up on me. I’m not sure what the tart or bitterness is, but I don’t pick it out as lemony until a few sips in. About a third of the way down, the beer starts to make sense. It’s doesn’t have enough sweetness to really be a lemondrop, but there is just enough to reign in the beer and keep me drinking.

This has a ‘hot day’ quality to it, as it finishes somewhere between dry and crisp. The Lemondrop doesn’t commit to one feeling or another and I think that’s an pretty apt ruling on the beer overall. It wants to hint at lemon but not demonstrate it, hint at bitterness but not flaunt it, tease a quenching feeling but not provide it.
It’s ok, but I can’t recommend it, because it doesn’t want to be something, it wants to be anything.

What Can You Buy There #7: Cerveza Madriz – “La Gata Orgullosa”

I’m currently in Madrid, and as I was wandering around, I came across a lovely store called Más Que Cervezas (More Than Beers) disturbingly close to my apartment. While there, the clerks and I joked about Belgian beers invading the Canada section on their shelves, one of them tried to sell me on the beer from his hometown, so I picked up two beers to try: one Belgian and one local to Madrid.

La Gata Orgullosa by Cerveza Madriz has an…aggressive pour.

La Gata Orgvllosa ale

It was described to me in the store as a blonde ale, which I’m willing to buy…but a dark blond.

I wish I could find more information out about this particular beer, but I’ll have to make do with what I have…eyes, nose, and taste buds. Eyes you’ve already heard about. Nose: it is beer. I wish i could be more specific than that. It smells like beer with a slight caramel overlay. 

Taste: It’s not unpleasant. It tastes a little bit like homebrew. And I’m not saying that to slight homebrew. But there’s sometimes where you’re having homebrew, and you think, “This isn’t bad, but a bit more polish and practice and this could be really tasty.” Well, this is like that. The front end is competently beery, if perhaps a bit watery and the back end drags some grains across my palate. If both parts were smoother, I’d be a happy camper. As it is, it’s not terrible, but I’d not reach for another if I had a choice.

Not The Best Idea

I can’t say that I’m a fan of the notion of a ‘shower beer’. There’s something inherently wasteful, to me, about drinking a beer while showering. But that’s my thing; you do you.

However, don’t do you while drinking this, I say. At 10% ABV, that is astronomically high for a beer that you drink in hot water. You’ll be a wreck!