Friday, April 03, 2009

Beer Of The Week (Vol II)

Week Two in the recently expanded beer tasting series. Once again, today's post is made possible by the fine folks at Glen Lake Wine and Spirits. That establishment has generously agreed to provide beer for weekly reviews and every brew featured here is available at Glen Lake Wine and Spirits. These reviews will be an expansion of the beer rating that I've been doing for years and will be more in-depth look at particular beers using the same rating criteria. And in addition to the just the beer itself, I'll be examining the whole aesthetic package; the bottle, the label, the name.

This week there are actually two beers under the spotlight, both produced by Samuel Smith Brewery in Yorkshire, England. Even though they are fairly widely available, I haven't had a chance to try any of Samuel Smith's products in some years. Now, I realize just what I was missing out on.

Let's start with their Nut Brown Ale:

Often called "mild" if it is on draft, brown ale is a walnut-colored specialty of the North of England. A festive-occasion beer, brown ale is one of the oldest English brewing styles, mentioned in literature in the 16th century. Beers brewed at the old brewery have a round, nutty flavor because of the Yorkshire square system of fermentation.

Quite a few American craft breweries produce some version of Nut Brown Ale and its a variety of beer that I enjoy. Samuel Smith's offering rises to the head of the class. It comes in a classic brown bottle with a golden foil wrapped cap. The label has a traditional olde English look fitting for a brewery founded in 1758.

COLOR (0-2): Dark, rustic brown. 2

AROMA (0-2): Pleasant if a bit light. 1

HEAD (0-2): Ample, rich, and foamy. 2

TASTE (0-5): This beer packs a mouthful of flavor. Nice balance of malty, hoppy, nutty taste. Has some bite too, but in a good way. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Smooth, strong finish. 2

OVERALL (0-6): An excellent brown ale. 5

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

Next, we move on to the Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout:

Originally a drink for lactating mothers, oatmeal stout was described as nutritional on early labels. Oats are in the same family as barley, and a small addition yields great flavor. Popular in the late 1800’s, the last oatmeal stout was brewed before the First World War until Samuel Smith reintroduced this style in 1980.

Tastes good and it's good for you. You don't see a lot of Oatmeal Stouts out there. Summit produces an excellent one that's only available from the tap. It's a bit difficult to compare a beer straight from the tap with one from a bottle and I don't know how Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout would fare against Summit one on one. I do know that it would be tough to choose one over the other.

COLOR (0-2): Silky black. 2

AROMA (0-2): As with the Nut Brown Ale, good but a little faint. 1

HEAD (0-2): Creamy and opulent. 2

TASTE (0-5): The beer has a thick yet smooth hearty flavor. It's hefty yet very drinkable. 4

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Nice follow through. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Another top notch beer. 5

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 16

After tasting these two beauts, I regret not having discovered them sooner. And I look forward to exploring more of the Samuel Smith offering.

Next week: Another double header with New Belgium Brewing's Trippel Belgian Style Ale and Kingfisher Premium Lager Beer.

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