Tag Archives: common ale

Common Ales: Redhook Big Ballard

Redhook Big Ballard IIPANow THAT is a hop nose. Like opening a bag of Amarillo, I think: piney and pleasant. The head lasts, too, so I can pick up that nose through the entire beer.
The middle is a little odd, since it seems to be missing. This beer jumps right into a peek-a-boo from caramel malt, shouldered aside by some floral tastes before the effervescence sweeps most of this away and leaves the hop bitterness behind.
It’s a solid beer: the lack of any midrange flavor really keeps it from being great. At 8.6%, I’m genuinely surprised there isn’t something there for me to grab on to in the foreground or the middle. The density is nice but there isn’t anything to wrap my tongue around. But I am OK with drinking this and just being happy with a beer.
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Common Ales: Boatswain IPA

Boatswain IPAI’m always on the lookout for something I haven’t had before and during an uncommon trip to Trader Joe’s I found it. It looked inoffensive enough-that kind of bland TJ marketing at play-but that was also why I got it: it’s the kind of thing a not-me would probably purchase.

There is a caramel malt nose. So already, I have a problem here. Not that there shouldn’t be any malt present in the nose of an IPA-some sweetness can help balance things out.

But IPAs should have IPA scents-citrus, pine, floral kinds of things. So I was not hopeful and that hopelessness was rewarded upon tasting the ale. A halfhearted middle, thin and weightless does nothing to impede the veggie tainted bitterness. The bubbly finish doesn’t help either-though I will say that this beer does keep it’s head all the way through.

Just trying to find something positive to say and…well, it ain’t easy. It’s not very good, even for a pale. Avoid.

Common Ales: Ordnance FMJ

Ordnance FMJ aleToday we’ve got Ordnance’s FMJ English style IPA. It’s got a nice nose, with touches of caramel, pine and a little citrus.

That nose drops away far too quickly though: three sips in and I get some faint citrus but that’s about it.

It tastes uneven, too: some but not nearly enough caramel in the midrange, with a step up in the bitterness, leading to a surprisingly dry finish. The effervescence doesn’t pop things off my tongue either so all these flavors not only overstay their welcome but don’t bring me any joy to start with.

Seems like this one is a miss for me. Though I usually like Ordnance’s stuff, the FMJ just isn’t working.

Common Ales: Hop Valley Citrus Mistress

Hop Valley Citrus Mistress aleHop Valley Citrus Mistress. That is a very bright beer, eh? The nose smells like someone expressed an orange peel over it, so I can’t claim false advertising on this beer.

The middle of the beer fades fast and it’s challenging for me to pin it down. There isn’t much malt there, to be certain. This IPA is doing the IPA thing not the malt thing though: the next flavor up is grapefruit, and then the effervescence rumbles over to try and sweep it all away.

It doesn’t quite get there: the finish on this has got that grapefruit bitter quality. I’m not really on board for that. I think I could be, if this beer had some more body, something in the middle to tie the front and back together but as it stands it’s just a little heavy on the finish.

I don’t dislike it, though. On a hotter day, I might even be grateful for it. I suppose ‘cautiously recommended’ would be a good phrase. Solid, but I’m not going to convince my Mom to try it.

Common Ales: Caldera Lawnmower Lager

36785920511_13f1f04d60_cAh, getting to the lagers just as summer ends….

The Lawnmower Lager has that nose, funk/sour that they have, but it isn’t strong. There are also whiffs of cut grass, too which isn’t a bad thing! As a matter of fact, I wish I got more lagers with a nose like this.

There’s a corn flavor to the malt; it’s not overwhelming but it is definitely covering up any two-row that might be in there. It even sweetens up the finish, where the bitterness might reside and the effervescence clears things out.

In other words; this is a lager. And it’s a pretty solid one, too. I’d prefer a less skunky nose, myself but this beer is still pretty quaffable and does what it’s supposed to.

Edit: This time I really am on the road this weekend, so there won’t be a new post up until Wednesday. I mean it this time!

Common Ales: Widmer Drop Top Amber

36386679050_3a52c61ef3_cThe nose has some caramel corn going on there. More like a corn nut + caramel sauce than the candy, though.

The beer is just a smidgen too sweet for me. It’s not bad. The malt character is there-I’d probably put this at a portion of C60 malt-but the label is saying that they added milk sugar which…eh, no.

Milk sugar doesn’t ferment, so you end up getting an ale with a denser body and more sweetness. In a style like a stout, where you can have strong roasted notes, that dollop of sweetness serves as an excellent counterbalance. In this beer, it just feels like overkill.

It almost finishes clean too; the finishing carbonation is good at clearing my palate off but not quite as good as it needs to be. The residual sweetness turns a little sour, like milk chocolate can do.

That’s a bummer because I really enjoy the nose-if the flavors carried some of those flavors too, then I’d probably be a bigger fan.

Common Ales: Ordinance Bloops

35552315835_38625c5746_kOrdinance Bloops is a blueberry wheat ale and now is probably a good time to review it.

The blueberry hits right off the nose. It’s fairly sweet too, almost like blueberry jam.

As I drink the beer though, I’m wondering if that sweetness isn’t due to the malt as well; this is a beer that is playing down the bitterness in order to highlight malt and fruit. The wheat aspects give the ale some body and I’m just wondering if the restrained hop character is making the sweeter aspect of the blueberry stronger than it might be otherwise.

Now, that all said I like this beer. I think as we get further into summer (or, uh, right now), this beer is going to become a great quencher of thirsts.

The other side; this beer doesn’t pair well, in my opinion. What do you eat with this? Traditional pub food isn’t going to mesh well. Salads, maybe. Pairing with food isn’t a requirement for a good beer-I think good beer is an argument for itself. However, as a common ale, one that people would buy to bring to a BBQ or picnic, this lack makes for a slightly harder sell.

The Bloops is still good; don’t worry about giving it to strangers, they will drink it. But I feel like the applications are a little limited.