Tag Archives: review

Maine Beer Co. King Titus Porter Review

Maine Beer Company King Titus Porter

When reviewing beers on this blog, I try to evaluate rare or notable brews that may be hard to find but are also widely distributed. I don’t really see value in reviewing beers that anyone can find every day in their corner liquor store. On the other side of the coin, I don’t really like to review beers that are only available to a small percentage of beer drinkers.

I occasionally make exceptions for beers that really blow my mind or for beers that are particularly notable. Today’s review falls into the latter category. Last month, I posted on Maine Beer Co.’s latest creation, King Titus Porter, and I explained how it would soon be hitting beer-store shelves. I found a couple bottles of King Titus this week.

Maine Beer Co., a small brewery in Portland Maine, makes exceptional beers, especially their hoppy ales. (Check out my glowing review of the company’s Lunch IPA.) Maine Beer’s brews are only distributed to eight U.S. states at this point: Maine; Massachusetts; New Jersey; New York; New Hampshire; Philadelphia; Vermont; and Virginia. But Maine Beer’s products are so good, it should only be a matter of time before distribution expands, assuming that’s what the brewers want.

I poured my 1-pint, 9-fluid-ounce bottle of King Titus Porter into a tulip glass with some force and it immediately formed a thick, frothy beige head. The porter is very carbonated, its head composed of tons of very fine bubbles. Its strong, notable bouquet smells sweet and has a hint of vanilla. And it’s a very dark brown color, like creamy dark chocolate.

Maine Beer Company King Titus Porter

King Titus

Like all of Maine Beer’s products, King Titus Porter tastes extremely fresh. My King Titus was bottled less than two weeks ago, so there’s a good reason for that. It’s very malty, and very smooth. It tastes of chocolate and caramel malts; it’s brewed with American 2-Row, caramel 40L, caramel 80L, Munich 10L, chocolate, roasted wheat and flaked-oat malts, according to Maine Beer. And it’s also quite hoppy with a bitter finish thanks to the Centennial and Columbus hops.

King Titus Porter is 7.5%ABV. And my bottle cost $7.50, which is very reasonable for such a high-quality brew.

Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of porters in general. So it’s hard for me rate this particular beer. I can appreciate King Titus for what it is, though: A solid porter created with very fresh ingredients and a lot of love. For that, I give it a 7 out of 10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale.

Here’s some information from Maine Beer Co. regarding the name of this porter:

Titus was a wonderful, bold silverback gorilla that led with his heart. The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund studies and protects these magnificent animals in the Virunga Volcano Mountains in Rwanda. Maine Beer Company proudly supports their efforts.

Find more details on Maine Beer Co. and King Titus Porter on the brewer’s website. And check out the video clip below for additional information about the brewery.

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Maine Beer Company Lunch IPA (Review)

Maine Beer Company's Lunch IPA

“Do what’s right.”

That’s Maine Beer Company‘s motto. It is printed on all of its bottles. And the company is following its own advice, doing what’s right for the New England craft beer scene by brewing some very special beers, including its Lunch India Pale Ale.

Maine Beer Company says Lunch is “our ‘east coast’ version of a West Coast-style IPA.” And I can say without any doubt that Lunch is one of the best east coast IPAs I’ve ever had, and it can hold its own with some of the best West Coast IPAs, too.

Whenever I drink any of Maine Beer’s ales, I’m struck by just how crisp and clean they are. They’re also always extremely fresh, but that probably has to do with the fact that the company’s beers are also always in high demand in and around Boston, so they never sit on store shelves for very long.

Lunch IPA is probably Maine Beer’s most sought-after ale. It’s extremely difficult to find, and many of the liquor stores I frequent never even put it on their shelves; the shops keep Lunch behind the counter or in their storerooms for local beer nerds like myself who will appreciate it.

I slowly poured my Lunch IPA into a medium-size Maine Beer Company goblet, and it gradually formed a nice, frothy head, which didn’t dissipate much before I finished the beer. The color is orange/beige. It’s extremely flavorful, and you immediately taste citrus, mild pine and, of course, lots of fresh hops. Lunch is brewed with Warrior, Amarillo, Centennial and Simcoe hops.

Lunch IPA comes in a 1 pint, 9 FL. OZ. bottle. It has a 7.0% ABV. I paid $8 for my bottle. Maine Beer Company brews are currently available in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York City, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

Put quite simply, I love Lunch IPA. Lunch is so good that I forgive Maine Beer Company for ditching its beautiful paper labels for cheap-looking plastic ones—though I’m still not happy about it; Maine Beer’s old labels were awesome and unique.  Maine Beer Company’s Lunch IPA gets a 9 out of 10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (It has 95/100 score on BeerAdvocate.com based on 266 user ratings.)

Check out the video below for more information about Maine Beer Company.

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Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend Review

Brouwerij Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend

What’s better than a nice, aged lambic? Why, a blend of four lambics of different ages, of course. Geuze beers are traditionally unfiltered, unpasteurized blends of one-year, two-year and three-year-old lambics that are bottle conditioned for at least a year, but Belgian brewer Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen‘s Oude Geuze Golden Blend is unique because it’s equal parts one-year, two-year, three-year and four-year old oak-aged lambic.

Oude Geuze Golden Blend is a special creation from Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen’s master lambic blender Armand Debelder, and it is a one-time limited release. As such, it’s quite rare because relatively little of the beer was made.

My 12.7 FL OZ bottle cost me $32—it’s certainly not cheap—and it has been sitting on my shelf for a while now. It was bottled on February 17, 2011. And it has an ABV of 6%. Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen says its Oude Geuze Golden Blend will age well for as long as ten years. But I couldn’t wait another day.

When I opened the bottle its cork nearly took my eye out; it rocketed out of the bottle’s stem as soon as I removed its decorative foil and untwisted the cork cover. I quickly poured the geuze into a small goblet to avoid spillage, and it instantly formed a frothy, bubbly head, like Champagne. It’s darker than I expected, with a tanish, dark-sand color. Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend has a sweet, tangy-and-sour aroma and a funky, musky body. It’s very tart with a mild sour-acidic taste and a surprisingly bitter aftertaste. The aftertaste sort of rubbed me the wrong way at first, because it was unexpected, but it grew on me as I drank the brew.

Before drinking Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend, my favorite geuze was Boon’s Geuze Mariage Parfait. The Golden Blend is a bit more complex, but I think I still prefer Boon’s Geuze Mariage Parfait.

Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend gets a 7/10 rating on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (It has an impressive rating of 95/100 on BeerAdvocate.com based on 46 user reviews at the time of posting.)

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The Bruery Oude Tart (2012) Review

The Bruery Oude Tart

Orange County, Calif.-based The Bruery‘s Oude Tart won the 2010 World Beer Cup gold medal for best Belgian-style Flanders oud brun or oud red; it won the 2011 GABF gold medal for best Belgian-style Flanders; and it also took the 2012 World Beer Cup gold medal in the same category.

There’s a reason this brew won all these medals. Oude Tart is a damn fine Flemish-style ale.

I poured my 1-pint, 9.4-FL. OZ. bottle into a large tulip glass very slowly and it quickly formed a thin cream-colored head, which dissipated just as quickly. It has a beautiful tangy and slightly vinegary aroma. The brew is aged in red-wine barrels for 18 months, according to the Bruery’s website, and the result is a fruity, toasted-oak sour flavor. The Bruery’s Oude Tart tastes a lot like Rodenbach’s Grand Cru, which is one of my all-time favorite Flemish ales, but it’s even more tart. And it also has a stronger vinegar taste, similar to Brouwerij Verhaeghe’s Duchesse de Bourgogne but not quite as vinegary.

Oude Tart is probably the best American-made Flemish-style ale I’ve ever had.

The Bruery says Oude Tart will age well for as long as five years. It has an ABV of 7.5%; 15 IBU; it’s a seasonal from the Bruery’s Special Collection; and it’s released in the late summer. My bottle cost me $23, but pricing will vary based on retailer. If you’re interested in picking up a bottle of your own, you better act fast; this one is sure to fly off of store shelves.

The Bruery’s Oude Tart gets an 8/10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (It has a BeerAdvocate.com rating of 94/100 based on 197 user reviews at this time.) Check out the video clip below for more details or visit TheBruery.com.

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Lagunitas DayTime IPA is a ‘Light, Session’ IPA (Review)

Lagunitas DayTime Fractional IPA

When I think of Lagunitas Brewing Co., I think of big, hoppy, flavorful brews. So I was surprised and intrigued to see a new “light” or “session” IPA from Lagunitas at my local liquor store yesterday. I grabbed it immediately. Obviously.

The idea of a light IPA is an odd one. IPAs by definition are big brews with higher-than-average ABVs. And because the amount of alcohol in a beer directly influences its calorie content, IPAs generally aren’t considered low-calorie or light beers—quite the opposite really. I don’t think DayTime IPA is really supposed to be a low calorie brew; it’s meant to be a low ABV IPA that you can drink with lunch and not get too buzzed. And it’s meant to be a “session” beer that you drink one after another, which isn’t usually the case with big IPAs—unless of course you want become extremely inebriated.

IPAs are more about hops and bitterness than they are ABV, though, so I was anxious to see what Lagunitas had come up with for its first light IPA. (Lagunitas DayTime is one of the first ever light IPAs, as far as I know.)

DayTime IPA has an ABV of 4.65, OG 1.042 and 54.20 IBU. It has 140 calories per 12 ounces, according to Ratebeer.com, compared to 180 calories in Lagunitas’s standard IPA and 110 calories in a Bud Light.

I poured the brew into a tradition pint glass with some gusto, but its head didn’t foam up as much as I would have liked or as much as I expected it to. In fact the brew is less carbonated than most IPAs, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just caught my eye.

Lagunitas DayTime IPA has a nice, clean hoppy aroma. And when I swished the first sip around my mouth a bit before swallowing, I was pleasantly surprised with how potent the hop flavor was. It’s floral and fresh, crisp and clean, with a malty finish and clear faded-gold color. The brew tastes great, but it lacks something in body, like most light beers; the bitter taste doesn’t linger and after a minute or two, it’s gone.

Overall, I like this light, session IPA, but it is a bit off-putting. Maybe I’m just not used to light IPAs, but something is lacking with DayTime IPA. If I was counting calories and still wanted a hoppy beer, I might go with Lagunitas DayTime again. But when it comes to IPA, I don’t cut corners, and DayTime tastes to me like a compromised IPA.

The concept of light IPAs has me wondering if we’ll start to see light- or session-versions of other popular styles, such as stouts and porters, in the future…and whether or not that’s a good thing.

Lagunitas DayTime “Fractional” IPA gets a 6/10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. It is on store shelves now, and I paid $10.99 for a six pack. Visit Lagunitas’s website for additional information.

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Fantôme Extra Sour Special Original Creation (2012) Review

Fantome Extra Sour Belgian Saison in Tulip Glass

I must admit, I’m excited about this review. I’m excited because I’ve had Brasserie Fantôme’s Extra Sour Special Original Creation once before, and it’s a one of a kind saison. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the top five brews I’ve had this year—and the Urban Beer Nerd drinks a lot of different kinds of great beer. (I drink so much good beer that I can refer to myself in the third person when describing my craft beer consumption.)

Here’s why I love it so much. I love quality saisons, and I love sour beers. And Fantôme Extra Sour is one of best saisons and one of the best sours I’ve ever tasted.

Fantôme Brewery is a small specialty brewer located in the small town of Soy, Wallonia, Belgium, that produces only saisons. The Fantôme brewing facility is so small that it can only produce tiny batches of beer, and as such, its saisons, especially it’s “Special Creations,” or limited production can be difficult to find and very expensive.

The packaging is simple yet elegant with just two small labels at the bottle’s base and a thin-paper ribbon over the bottle cap. To open the dark-green bottle you first must remove the paper, pop a bottle cap and then pull the cork using a tradition wine corkscrew, which is the case with all Fantôme’s “bomber” bottles. I poured the golden-honey potion into a large tulip glass and it settled nicely with a frothy cuttlebone-colored head. You can smell the sweet-sour tang as soon as you put your nose close to the brew, along with the funky Belgian yeast.

Fantôme Extra Sour taste like a smooth, fresh saison at first but it finishes with a mouth-puckering-but not-too-acidic sour bang. It’s a big beer with a 10% ABV, and the sour funkiness mostly kills the alcohol taste. But it does leave a mild burn and you feel it after a few large sips.

Of my favorite sour styles is the barrel-aged Flanders red ale, and though Fantôme Extra Sour is very different than the popular Flanders ales such as Rodenbach, it has a similar barrel-tang that really combines nicely with the saison style.

Fantome Extra Sour labels

Fantôme’s Extra Sour “Speciale” is the second is limited series of Special Creations from the brewery, and as mentioned above, it’s extremely rare and expensive. My “bomber” bottle (1 pint, 9.4 fluid ounces) cost $32. As much as I love saison, that’s a lot of money for beer. If you see a Fantôme Extra Sour for sale, I recommend purchasing it and saving it for a special occasion.  Good luck finding it, though.

This sour saison gets a 9/10 on the Urban Beer Nerd scale. (BeerAdvocate.com readers rated Fantôme Extra Sour at 4.85/5, though only four readers submitted ratings at the time of this post.)

Check out Brasserie Fantôme’s website for more details on the Belgian brewery. (Website is in French.)

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