Category Archives: RateBeer Rating

From the HopPress: Some Bits and Pieces of Ratebeer’s Best

From the HopPress: Some Bits and Pieces of Ratebeer's Best

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, February 5th.

Like many of you, I really look forward to the Ratebeer Best lists being released every year. It gives me a chance to look at the brewing industry as a whole and see who was hot and who was not in the previous year. I have taken some time to look through the various lists released last week and have a few comments and observations about their content this year.

First of all I’d like to call to your attention the appearance of one of Vermont’s own brewers, the Hill Farmstead Brewery, on these these lists. Hill Farmstead is listed twice on Ratebeer’s Best; as the top new brewery in the world and also for his truly wonderful Edward Pale Ale. If you have followed some of my previous articles here, you know that Shaun Hill’s small brewery, located in the tiny town of Greensboro in north-central Vermont is one of several shining stars among the 21 breweries that can be currently found in this small state. The appearance of Hill Farmstead on these lists is but the latest in an already impressive accumulation of accolades and awards that this young brewer has earned over the last few years. At last year’s World Beer Cup, three of Shaun’s beers, created by Shaun when he was working for Danish brewer Nørrebro Bryghus, won medals (2 golds and a silver) at this lofty international competition. If you look through the Ratebeer ratings for Shaun’s beers you will quickly see that Vermonters are not the only ones that are in love with Shaun’s creations and I truly believe that many of his beers would stand up well against a goodly portion of the other beers on Ratebeer’s Best. For many of you, however, Hill Farmstead beers might be some of the best beers that you will have never tried, as Shaun currently only runs about a 7-barrel operation and, although I know that some of his beers have appeared in Philly and NYC, most of Shaun’s beers do not make it very far out of Vermont… and that is fine with me. Come to Vermont and find out why Hill Farmstead rightly deserves their spot among the other brewers on Ratebeer’s Best.

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Ratebeer Rating #1101 – Redhook Eisbock 28

The “Commercial Description” for this beer reads…

Eisbock 28 is an ice processed winter warmer. This rich lager is aged for months at temperatures well below freezing and is a deep gold color and has a smooth and malty flavor with bittersweet complexities. This highly unique beer is unlike any other and to our knowledge Redhook is the only American Brewer currently brewing it. This traditional winter beer is very drinkable, even with its high alcohol content and is perfect before or after dinner.

I definitely enjoyed this one… you might want to find a friend to share this high ABV bomber with though…

Pours a pretty clear copper color with no head and almost no carbonation. Aroma is of brown sugar and caramel. Flavor is similar, but with the additional aspects of the hops. Some fruitiness present… perhaps some very mild citrus, grapes and/or apples. Definitely some dark fruit, raisins in particular. Lingering bitterness cuts a bit of the sweet. Warms as it goes down, Alcohol provides a mild burn in the yummy. I have had other eisbocks and this one has a bit more hops. Probably not to style, but I like it.

Ratebeer Rating #1015: Weyerbacher QUAD

The “Commercial Description” for this beer reads…

Massively big and delicious, QUAD is an elegant and dark ale. Rich with complexity and flavor, try savoring it after a long day or during a fine dinner. You also might enjoy it as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to a dessert, but QUAD stands alone quite well. We recommend enjoying QUAD in a brandy snifter or wineglass so you can drink in the aroma of this fine elixir.

I thought that is was an excellent beer….

Poured a reddish amber in color with a medium light tan head that stuck around to produce some really nice lacing on the glass. I am glad that this beer is not too cold, as that would mask some of the more subtle dried fruit (raisins and prunes with hints of grapes or apples)aromas that this beer exudes. Malty, almost a brown sugar smell is pretty strong. Flavor is fairly sweet with the malts and brown sugar being the dominant portion. Some of the fruitiness does come through. A bit of alcohol that would probably be mostly masked by a cooler temperature. A truly powerful beer… definitely a “sipper”. I like it…

See my rating at Weyerbacher Quad

From the HopPress: Reflections on 1000 Beers

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The HopPress… posted on Saturday, June 12th.

I recently reached one of those “important” milestones with my Ratebeer beer collection… my 1,000th beer rating. While I am sure that there are some Ratebeerians that would laugh at such a paltry number of ratings (the “top dog”, rating-wise, on Ratebeer is rapidly approaching 17,000 ratings!), for me the actual process of collecting these ratings is much more important than the number of ratings. Am I thrilled that I attained this milestone… absolutely, but the story and the experience of collecting that rating will always mean much more to me than the fact that it was my 1,000th. I have written before about how serious I am about collecting “experiences” along the way, rather than just simply beers.

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From the Hop Press: Beers of Spring

The Hop Press

My latest featured article for RateBeer’s The Hop Press… posted on Saturday, March 13th.

As spring arrives, so do the beers more appropriate to the season; a return of beers more suited to the warmer weather and a transition between the heavy/alcoholic beers of winter and the much lighter beers of summer. Traditionally these spring beers have included some of the broad category German bockbiers, but also include a number of other beers (depending upon which “expert” you choose to believe); Belgian wits and other wheat beers of various types, fruit beers, Saisons and stouts seem to round out everyone’s list.

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Ratebeer #988: Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu

One of the most interesting beers that I have ever had… the Dogfish description reads…

Similar to a beer brewed in China some 9,000 years ago, Chateau Jiahu used a recipe that included rice, honey, and grape and hawthorn fruits. The formula was obtained from archaeologists who derived it from the residues of pottery jars found in the late Stone Age village of Jiahu in northern China. The residues are the earliest direct evidence of brewed beverages in ancient China.

… and what I thought of it (not bad)…

Pours a clear orange-amber in color with a very small white head and low carbonation. Aroma is not strong, but there is some honey, grapes, green apples and other fruity esters. Flavor is fairly sweet with the grapes and honey dominating the profile. Never had hawthorn (if it has this in it), but there are some flavors that I cannot identify clearly. Some hop bitterness that offsets some of the sweetness. Finish is quite sweet and lingering. I think that it is OK, but it may be a bit too unusual for some folks…

Ratebeer #974: Stoudt’s Double IPA

I really enjoyed this beer at the Three Penny Tap Room the other night… Stoudt’s Double IPA

Poured a pretty golden amber in color with a medium off-white head that produced some very nice lacing on the glass. Aroma is strong of pine resin hopiness. Flavor is also very hoppy with pine, but well muted by a fair amount of malt understructure. Alcohol not really apparent at all. Extremely well done… one of the best DIPAs that I have had.

Pumpkin Ales – A Sign of the Season

I have been drinking a few pumpkin ales lately… ’tis the season for harvest-type ales, of course. I am not usually one for pumpkin beers… typically the spices are just a bit too much for me, but below is a run down of three of my most recent samplings… all of my RateBeer ratings can be found at

Clipper City Brewing Co. – Heavy Seas – “The Great Pumpkin” (ABV 8.0%, 3.2/5.0)
Bottle/22 – Pours a nice “pumpkin” amber in color with a very small whitish head that fades to almost nothing… low carbonation. Aroma is slightly sweet and almost all pumpkin spice (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon,etc.) and nothing else. Flavor is a bit more complex. Some pumpkin, spices (as noted) and a bit of harsh, unpleasant alcohol character. Slightly bitter and astringent at the end. Lingering bitterness with little else.

Shipyard Brewing Company – “Smashed Pumpkin” (ABV 9.0%, 3.6/5.0)
Draft at Great Lost Bear (Portland, ME) – Poured a coppery amber in color with almost no head and very little carbonation. Aroma is malty and sweet with the expected pumpkin pie spices. Flavor is interesting. I am not usually one for pumpkin beer, but this one was actually quite good. What made it for me was the reasonable amount of spices that were used… not overpowering at all. Plenty of malty sweetness with just enough hops to keep it from being too sweet. This one is actually a good pumpkin beer…

Weyerbacher Brewing Co. – “Imperial Pumpkin Ale” (ABV 8.0%, 3.3/5.0)
Bottle/12 – Pours a quite dark orange-amber in color with almost no head and very little carbonation. Aroma is sweet and heavy with “pumpkin” spices… cinnamon. clove, nutmeg, etc. Flavor is not nearly as sweet as I expected, but nearly overpowering with spice. Pumpkin flavor is actually apparent and lends some moderation, along with the hops that sneak in underneath, to the malty sweetness. Finish is slightly bitter and clean… except for the lingering pumpkin spices, which I seem destined to (burp!) relive for a while. Beer is pretty good, actually, but too many spices… a common complaint that I have about this type of beer.

All-in-all I enjoyed all of these beers (I usually do), but the Shipyard “Smashed Pumpkin” really stood out as my favorite. Seek it out… you will not be sorry!!