Tag Archives: common ale

Common Ales: Laurelwood Free Range Red

Laurelwood Free Range Red aleThe nose has some caramel/roast qualities but it shows up a little late; there’s actual hops on the first few whiffs. Once those go away, though, we’re dealing with a red ale and by golly that is what it is.

It’s got a pleasant richness to it; the Free Range has a creamy quality that only fades after the effervescence which is persistent but not constant, comes to do a little cleanup. The head on this beer fades pretty quickly, but there’s a steady film of bubbles on the top.

What I like is that drinking this beer is similar to chewing on good caramel. It’s sugary but not overly so and the finish doesn’t linger. That clean palate experience means that I can line up another drink or nosh on some food pretty easy.

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.

Common Ales: Ecliptic Quasar

Ecliptic Quasar pale aleThe cans have all been particularly foamy! But it pours into a class nicely enough.

The nose is strong and up front; I get the mosaic, I think; grassy, a little citrus there.

The flavors pick up in the drink too: fresh cut grass, a little lemon. I like it quite a bit and I want hot dogs on a picnic day with this. The finishing bitterness has a slightly drying effect, but it isn’t too strong and it doesn’t linger. I really dig on this-there’s a sweetness in the first phase of the beer that really helps brighten the rest of it up, keeping it from tasting one note and being too sharp. Well done.

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.

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.