Beer Review: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier

Name: Hefeweissbier
Brewing Company: Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan
Location: Freising, Bavaria, Germany
Style: Hefeweizen
ABV: 5.4%

From the beer’s description on Weihenstephaner’s Web Site:

Our golden-yellow wheat beer, with its fine-poured white foam, smells of cloves and impresses consumers with its refreshing banana flavor. It is full bodied and with a smooth yeast taste. To be enjoyed at any time, goes excellently with fish and seafood, with spicy cheese and especially with the traditional Bavarian veal sausage. Brewed according to our centuries-old brewing tradition on the Weihenstephan hill.

If a brewery, the world’s oldest, has been in continuous operation for nearly 900 years and the beer has remained relatively unchanged, then clearly, this brewery is doing something right. I can’t think of anything that would codify the term “classic beer” and that ethos quite as powerfully as do the brewers at Weihenstephaner and their absolute classic Hefeweizen they call “Hefe Weissbier.”

While I’ve largely been focusing these beer reviews on “Craft Beer”, I wanted to take some time and space to give some love to a classic beer style, from a classic brewery. For what it’s worth, Weihenstaphan is labeled as a Micro Brewery on untappd, despite their global reach.

Few drinks or foods hit my tastebuds so well as does a Hefeweizen beer, and the wonderful brewers of Weihenstephaner have perfected the traditional Bavarian wheat beer like few others in the world. Hefeweizen is a fairly straightforward style, a classic style, but sometimes that simplicity is what makes it such an elegant, tasty beer. This is a beer I enjoy over and over and return to with regularity.

Some Hefeweizens can lean towards more of a fruity, banana flavor evocation, while clove flavor dominates other Hefeweizens. A lot of this comes down to the yeast and the brewing process. The Weihenstephaner take is more on the banana side of things, giving the beer a profile that evokes sweetness and happiness.

One may be inclined to add a citrus slice to the beer, be it orange or lemon thanks to the brewers of Blue Moon who have made it seem a standard thing to do for European wheat beers. Do not do that with any German Hefeweizen, especially, the Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier.

Pouring a bright golden yellow from the bottle (or tap), the beer head foams up quite nicely. One thing to do with many of the unfiltered beers like the classic hefeweizen is to pour only about ¾ of the beer into the glass. Let it settle and let the foamy head grow to its potential. Swirl the last of what is in the bottle to gather all the yeast particulates and top off the beer to allow those taste bursts to float through the beer and give it the flavor profile most associated with it.

The glass in the photos here is, admittedly, not the intended glass for any Hefeweizen, but I figured I’d rather use a glass with the Weihenstephaner logo on it than the logo of another brewer (even if it is another German brewery). To the right you’ll see the classic Hefeweizen/Wheat Beer glass. I do have a few of them with various logos, but opted for the large mug with the Weihenstephaner logo, which is a good second option.

These days, brewers put so many ingredients into beer or age the beer in some type of barrel which does result in a wonderful, complex flavor profile. On the other hand, there’s definitely something to be said for the elegance of using simple, straightforward ingredients (just two grains), which results in something so incredibly tasty. All you need to do is taste the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier and look no further than their logo with the year 1090 to know you’re drinking a great, classic beer.

Ein prosit und gemütlichkeit!

Highly Recommended, link to Untappd 5-star rating.

Draught Diversions: Seasonally Inappropriate Beers

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

Time for me to get a little ranty here at the Tap Takeover. Most of my posts have been positive so this is a bit of a heel turn. However, based on some conversations with other hop-heads, I don’t think I’m alone in what I’m about to rant about.

Seasonally appropriate beers. I’ve written quite a bit about summer beers, largely because I began this blog in May. I enjoy all the seasonally appropriate beers – especially Oktoberfest beers (in September and October), as well as the pumpkin beers and Christmas/Winter beers (From September through January, there’s overlap between pumpkins and winter warmers). But what frustrates me is seeing Pumpkin Beers on the shelf in July. Or seeing Summer Beers on shelves in March and April. Hell, my own father had a six pack of Oktoberfest in his fridge this past weekend!

This is just a sad bunch of pumpkins. They know they shouldn’t be in a pool, just like pumpkin beer shouldn’t be on shelves in July & August.

Like I said, I enjoy Pumpkin beers quite a bit. After all, I’ve had close to 50 different Pumpkin beers S.J.U.* But there’s a cognitive dissonance when it comes to sitting in my pool and drinking a pumpkin beer. It just shouldn’t be.

S.J.U.* is my short hand for Since Joining Untappd. I joined in February 2014.

What I’ll call Seasonally Inappropriate Beer is something that’s been going on for years, it seems. Each brewery wants to get their seasonal beers on shelves a little earlier, driving other brewers to push out their seasonal beers earlier. If you look at the release calendars of some brewers, they have July as their Pumpkin release! There are a couple of problems with this, aside from the whole cognitive dissonance issue. It is one thing to do a “Christmas in July” type of thing, a few bars not too far from me did special tappings of Tröeg’s Mad Elf in July. But that is a one-time event.

NO PUMPKIN BEERS BEFORE SEPTEMBER!!!

For starters, this early release creates an excess of one thing drowning out all other varieties. First one brewery puts out a pumpkin beer in July, then in early August another Pumpkin beer will appear. Before Labor Day, a shelf that should still have Summer/warm weather beers*, is half full of pumpkin beers.

*Oh I don’t know it is still warm and people’s pools are open and pumpkin is a fall and post-Labor Day food thing.

Second, by putting out the seasonally inappropriate beer too early, the beers may not last as long on the shelves and saving them until the season syncs up with the beer may allow the beer to taste less fresh. Again, I’ll call out pumpkin beers largely because I think there are too many pumpkin beers now, even though I do enjoy them. Pumpkins aren’t just a fall flavor/food, as far as I and I think many people are concerned. Pumpkin Pie goes just as well on a Christmas dessert table as it does on a Thanksgiving dessert table. As would Pumpkin beer, but with the pumpkin beers being released so early (July!!!), pumpkin fatigue can hit. While I always try to wait until *at least* September to enjoy pumpkin beer, by the time November rolls around, stores and breweries are already pushing Christmas Ales. Oktoberfest beers are a slightly different story, largely because they don’t seem to be quite as prevalent now as pumpkin beers are. I’ll usually pick up several Oktoberfest six packs…when mid September rolls around.

I don’t think this is just one craft beer drinker’s opinions. So, what are we to do? Boycott something we enjoy? Then we’re depriving ourselves. It is a frustrating thing, just like seeing commercials for Summer beers in March was earlier this year. What really set it off for me this year was seeing a 2017 pumpkin beer in my local liquor store a week or two after the Fourth of July.

Right. I know this is a silly thing to be ranting about, because I can (and do) easily reach past the Pumpkin beers to grab other beers I’d rather have that are more seasonally appropriate.

I’ll end this with a confession…as much as I’ve ranted about seeing the pumpkin beers now, writing about these pumpkin beers has me looking forward to trying a few new ones in month and a half and returning to some old favorites. I’m looking at you Southern Tier Warlock, Two Roads Roadsmary’s Baby, Schlafly Pumpkin Ale, and River Horse Hipp O Lantern.

Beer Review: Flounder Iced Coffee Stout

Name: Iced Coffee Stout
Brewing Company: Flounder Brewing
Location: Hillsborough, NJ
Style: Stout
ABV: 4.6.%

From the beer’s description on untappd:

Iced black coffee has become sort of a staple during our morning brews. We figured, why not make a beer that tastes just like one? Perfect for desert, or a quick pick-me-up in the morning!

A 4.6% light bodied Stout conditioned on a custom cold brew roast coffee from our friends Fieldstone Coffee Roasters in Milford, NJ.

A stout? In Summer? A stout as a summer-time seasonal beer? Crazy, I know. But listen, I drink coffee every day and in the summer, like many people (and possibly a major reason Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks make so much money) I prefer Iced Coffee to the piping hot Joe in the morning. Same reason I typically won’t have soup on a hot summer day. Our friends at Flounder hit upon that idea with this beer and it was even better than I expected.

Flounder Brewing has been around for a few years now. I recall one of their beers winning the Fan Favorite beer at one of the first Brewfests I attended. I have to be up front, this brewery is the next town over from me, on the way from work (if I go one of the half dozen ways home) and I know one of the brewers from our day job together. On the other hand, I was enjoying their beers before I started working at the company where we both work so if anything, any partial “bias” here comes from the proximity and Garden State roots of the brewery but mostly from the quality of the beer they create. I will likely go into more detail about the great things Flounder has done and the accolades they’ve received in a future Draught Diversions post.

So, what about their Iced Coffee Stout?

Although I’ve said Hefeweizen is my favorite style, I’d be lying if I said Stouts weren’t a close second or even tied for that top spot. Since joining untappd in February 2014, I’ve had over 150 different stouts compared to the 50 or so different Hefeweizens. Then again, there is a far wider variety of stouts and many more flavor enhancements that can be added to stouts or variations on the style than a Hefeweizen. For example, brewing a stout to evoke the same flavor profile as one would get from Iced Coffee.

Sometimes coffee stouts can carry over the bitterness of coffee, which doesn’t always make for either a pleasing overall flavor profile, or may impart an aftertaste that could offset the initial taste of the beer. I didn’t find that to be the case with Flounder’s take on what has become a staple of the stout variety. I’ll notch that up to the beans and what seems to be more sweetness. At least when I have iced coffee, I tend to have it with more sugar than hot coffee. Whatever secrets the brewers at Flounder have put into this recipe, it works very well.

Stout, as a style, is one that sometimes tastes better as the beer warms to room temperature. This one, as the Iced Coffee name implies, doesn’t benefit quite as much as do the higher ABV barrel-aged stouts. This beer, you want fresh from the tap or just as it is poured from the growler you had in your fridge. Speaking of the ABV, this one is nice and low at 4.6% making for a nice sessionable beer, one where a couple in an hour wouldn’t unsettle you too much. Again, if you have more than that, make sure you aren’t driving anywhere and so forth.

Flounder has played with beer expectations and given craft beer drinkers lucky enough to live near the brewery the chance to enjoy a summertime stout, something that is outside of conventional beer brewing and drinking.

Flounder hasn’t yet bottled or canned their beer for store availability, so you’ll either have to go to a bar where their beer is on tap or stop in the brewery located in Hillsborough and fill up your growler. I filled up a growler on a Friday in May and it didn’t last the weekend. They tapped another keg this past weekend and the beer is just fantastic.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4.25-star rating.

Draught Diversions: July 2017 Beer Pours

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

I had quite a few different beers during the month of July, to say the least. Some of those I highlighted in great detail in my weekly single beer reviews, a few more were featured in my last two Draught Diversions focusing on Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp 2017 Variety Pack (Stateside, Overseas)

July began just as June ended, with selections from the aforementioned Beer Camp variety pack, both of which were excellent, especially the Thai-Style Iced Tea. Outside of that variety pack, the beers of July began with a 22oz bomb from one of NJ’s “gypsy” breweries, Bolero Snort Brewery. I’ve had a few of their beers, most have been good, including the one I had early in July – Strawbully Fields a Saison style Farmhouse ale with a nice hint of Strawberry. I had it on a warm Sunday evening and it hit the spot really nicely after dinner.

Then came July 4th/Independence Day. As I mentioned in my post about Summer beers, my wife and I have been hosting my family’s annual 4th of July BBQ/Pool party for the past few years and there’s always a lot of beer to be had. Even though I bought plenty of beers in my coolers (River Horse Summer Blonde, Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer, and Yuengling Summer Wheat), friends/family always bring beer. Boy did they bring beer. Somebody brought a Leinenkugel Variety pack and the biggest surprise for me out of that pack was Canoe Paddler, their take on the Kölsch, which hit the spot perfectly for the hour or so while I was grilling.

Double cup for insulation

A good friend and fellow craft beer enthusiast (who occasionally brews his own beer) brought a few beers, including Carton Brewing’s fantastic summer brew Beach, which is reminiscent of their flagship beer Boat but with a nice addition of orange zest that sweetens up the beer. This also helped me at the grill. You know, drinking beer while grilling is good for you because the beer helps to combat the carcinogens in the smoke from the grill. Every time I have a Carton beer, I’m reminded that I need to head down to the brewery.

This same friend, Scott, recently returned from a trip up to New England and was kind enough to bring back some great New England beers to share. A few of us split the famous Heady Topper from The Alchemist, an Imperial/Double IPA that was wonderful. With a whopping IBU of 100, the bitterness of the hops was balanced so well with a strong malt presence which made the beer a welcoming taste to this typically non-IPA drinker. The same can be said for the other two Vermont beers Scott brought,  the Sip of Sunshine and Second Fiddle from Fiddlehead Brewery the few of us shared.

Another highlight from early July was a classic Belgian Pale Ale, Palm, which for a pale ale has a nice and low IBU of 18, which made for a perfect dinner beer. I can see myself returning to this beer in the future, especially since it seems to always be on draught at a local, popular eatery.

One of the other variety packs leftover from the big Fourth of July bash was the Samuel Adams Summer Variety Pack. This year’s summer variety included (of course) their popular Summer Ale, a Helles Lager they are now calling Golden Hour, a tasty Hefeweizen (the best of the pack and a solid interpretation of the style), A Pale Wheat Ale with Yuzu fruit, Tropic of Yuzu which was very bland, a Berliner Weisse which I haven’t yet had and the beer nobody ever wants in the variety pack, their Boston Lager. Golden Hour was somewhat bland, but that Hefeweizen was pretty good.

I stopped over at Lone Eagle Brewing for the July monthly Brews and Board Games meet up. I was hoping to have their wonderful Hefeweizen again, but that was all tapped out so I tried their Witbier which was excellent and perfect for the warm day it was. I followed that up with their Nitro Oatmeal Stout. I’d had the non-nitro version of the Stout and it was delicious. While the Nitro version was good, but I think I prefer the standard version.

That perfect looking pint is Lone Eagle’s Nitro Oatmeal Stout

Sunday Nights when I watch Game of Thrones, I have a ritual. I like to try a new beer, usually a “big” beer, something with a higher ABV or a beer that only comes in larger bottles (like Neshaminy Creek’s Mudbank Milk Stout). I wanted to try another mead, so I saw B. Nektar’s Zombie Killer on the shelf which appealed to me for the ingredients and the name. Technically this one is considered a “Cyser” according to untappd, which is essentially a blend of Mead (A.K.A. honey wine) and cider. This particular version was sweetened with cherries, which made for a pleasant Sunday evening drink. This one, coupled with the wonderful Exit 3 Blueberry Braggot from Flying Fish I had in the middle of the month, makes me want to try more meads. There’s a meadery here in NJ – Melovino Meadery so I don’t have too much of an excuse not to try more.

Couldn’t quite hide the logo of that other beer on the glass. That would be Sully flopped out in the background

The beer that probably surprised me the most, was Schöfferhofer Grapefruit. Well, second most since the East Coast IPA from the Beer Camp pack surprised me the most and was probably the “new to me beer” I enjoyed the most in July. As I have said, even in my most recent beer review, grapefruit and I just don’t get along. But, this beer was another leftover from the 4th of July so I figured, it was in the fridge, I’ll give it a try. I’m glad I did because this popular German Radler / Shandy was extremely thirst quenching and it seemed only the sweetness of the grapefruit came through in the beer with very little of the bitterness. Between this and the 3 Citrus Peel Out I reviewed a couple of days ago, I may have to re-examine my thoughts on grapefruit and beer.

So, there you have it, a plethora of “new to me” beers in July, which are edging me closer to 1,000 unique beer check-ins on untappd. There were definitely a few beers I’ll be consuming again, and a couple I hope will become more widely available.

Ein Prosit!

Beer Review: Southern Tier Brewing Company 3 Citrus Peel Out

Name: 3 Citrus Peel Out
Brewing Company: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Location: Lakewood, NY
Style: Fruit Beer (per untappd) / Pale Wheat Ale (per STBC)
ABV: 8.5.%

Pulled from an ice-filled cooler. That says summer.

From the beer’s description on Southern Tier’s Web site:

We’re proud to present this high-gravity Wheat Ale brewed with blood orange juice, grapefruit & tangerine peels. This special ale is brewed with 35% Wheat, 3 types of hops & coriander.

We’re making this one obviously refreshing with tropical citrus and grapefruit aromas from the Mosaic hops along with the addition of over 4 & a half pounds per barrel of grapefruit & tangerine peels. And to get extra juicy, we ferment with blood orange juice concentrate.

Not overly bitter, this brew sits around 30 IBU and its nice citrus pith rounds out the bitterness. Residual sweetness helps accentuate the fruity character and masks the 8.5% ABV well. Enjoy straight up or served on the rocks with soda & wedge of fresh fruit.

Sometimes a beer will hit your tastebuds in an unexpected way and surprise you by how much you enjoy it. That surprise for Southern Tier’s 3 Citrus Peel Out comes from one of the prominent ingredients, grapefruit. I may have mentioned in previous posts that I typically loathe grapefruit and find it to be somewhat disgusting. Imagine my surprise when this beer hit my palate and the right buttons were pushed despite the presence of grapefruit. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed the majority of the two dozen or so beers I’ve had from Southern Tier, especially their stouts, so I shouldn’t have been too surprised.

Southern Tier has been making fantastic beers out of Northern New York for a decade and a half, with this beer initially releasing in Spring 2016. This is a pale wheat ale enhanced by the addition of fruit, which is fairly common for this style of beer. I enjoy Pale Wheat Ales quite a bit including Bell’s Oberon Ale, Schlafly’s Yakima Wheat Ale, the sadly out-of-production Wolaver’s Wildflower Wheat from Otter Creek, and of course the old stand-by Samuel Adams Summer Ale.

What sets this beer apart for me, and why it is a beer I’d drink again in a heartbeat is how well-balanced it is. The hint of bitterness from the grapefruit is present only slightly and stabilized extremely well by the addition of the blood orange which provides an excellent sweetness. The tangerine is pleasant and noticeable, too, but that blood orange sweetness and slight grapefruit bitterness on top of the wheat base make this (like a lot of the beers I’ve recently reviewed) an excellent summer beer.

Southern Tier is calling this an “Imperial” Wheat Ale, largely because of the substantial ABV of 8.5%. The 8.5% wasn’t too noticeable on the warm day I was drinking the beer, but I imagine throwing back a few of these in quick succession might catch up with you. Despite the lovely sweetness and “drinkability” factor of the beer, you may want to ease yourself through a couple over the course of a slightly extended timeframe. If I hadn’t been driving the day I had this beer at a friend’s house, I probably would have thrown back at least one more of these delicious beers.

Since I drank this one straight from the bottle, I can’t comment on the look of the beer. Quite honestly, that’s usually the least important element of a beer for me, though I do appreciate a nice looking beer. Again, the surprise of how much I liked this beer factored into me writing about it and I only had the one beer pulled from a cooler at my friend’s house.

I’m going to get a little pedantic here…untappd is usually spot on with what they call each style of beer, but I’m not so sure they were quite as accurate on this beer. They call this a “Fruit Beer,” and granted, the presence of three fruits in this beer is unmistakable. But when the brewer has Wheat prominently on the label and description, I’d think this would fall under “Pale Wheat Ale” category.

Finally, reviewing beers from Victory and Southern Tier in back-to-back weeks was by no means planned, the beers in my cycle happened to work out this way. I say that because, as some of you may know, in early 2016, the two breweries came together to form a partnership Artinsinal Brewing Ventures, which some may say takes them both out of the independent category of brewing. Regardless, both breweries make excellent beers and 3 Citrus Peel Out is another fine example from the brewery in Northern New York.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-star rating.

Draught Diversions: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 2017 The Overseas Six

Draught Diversions is the catchall label for mini-rants, think-pieces, and posts that don’t just focus on one beer here at The Tap Takeover. We hope you don’t grow too weary of the alcohol alliterative names we use…

This is the second of two posts focusing on Sierra Nevada’s annual collaboration beer project, Beer Camp. Today, I’m going to finish off my thoughts on the 2017 Beer Camp variety pack with the collaborations between Sierra Nevada and breweries from Overseas. Like last week’s post featuring collaborations with US breweries, I’ll go from the one I enjoyed the least and finish it off with the one I enjoyed the most.

White IPA with Yuzu – A collaboration with Kiuchi Brewery (Ibaraki, Japan)

I think my stance on IPAs is clear at this point… so I was pleasantly surprised by this White IPA. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t wow me like any of the other brews in this entire 12 pack. The White IPA was tasty and really low in bitterness  for an IPA (only 20 IBU) while the hop profile definitely imparted what it should for an IPA. The Japanese brewer, Kiuchi, brews a fairly well recognized Witbier (Hitachino Nest White Ale) which seems to be their contribution to this brew and provides a nice balance to the IPA profile complemented by the addition of the citrusy yuzu fruit. This was an interesting beer, but unfortunately, not as good as the other brews from overseas.

Campout Porter – A collaboration with Garage Project (Wellington, New Zealand)

Porter is one of my go-to styles of beer, especially in cooler weather, so I was looking forward to this one. I liked it, but as with some porters, there was a bit too much roastiness or smokiness in this beer. I expect that strong presence of smoke/roast in porters, but it is the quality in porters I like the least. The vanilla and honey were subtle, but I think their sweetness calmed the smokiness.

With Campout as the name of the porter, the smoke and roast elements were not a surprise. This was not a bad porter in any way, a very good one in fact. Just a little more smokey/roasty than I typically like in my porters but by no means is this a dud. I’d drink it again were it made available outside the 12-pack.

Hoppy Belgian Style Golden Ale (Brewed with Lemon Peel) – A ollaboration with Duvel Moortgat (Puurs, Belgium)

I’ve come to enjoy Belgian beers and beers brewed in the Belgian style/with Belgian yeast quite a bit as of late. Duvel is one of the more respected and well-known Belgian breweries in the world, so this one was right up my alley. A really nice balance of hops and Belgian yeast make this a beer I could have in constant rotation in my refrigerator. Don’t let that statement or the golden color fool you, this is no lightweight beer. At 8% it does have a kick that will catch up with you but is right in the sweet spot for hop profile.

Atlantic Style Vintage Ale – A collaboration with Fuller’s Brewery (London, UK)

Fullers is one of the big boys of British brewing, their ESB is the equivalent of an institution. The ESB stands for “Extra Special Bitter” so with that in mind, I was a bit cautious about this beer. I was expecting something bitter, but I was pleasantly surprised by the beer that poured out of the bottle. Barely any bitterness, but I expect that’s due to the plums added to the brewing mix.

This was a very complex beer that worked really well for my tastebuds. I’d love to have another bottle or three of it. A beer that exemplifies what one should expect in a mix pack of collaboration beers.

Thai-Style Iced Tea Ale – A collaboration with Mikkeler Brewery (Copenhagen, Denmark)

I had no idea what to expect with this beer. An American and Danish brewery collaborating on an Asian inspired beer? I was completely taken aback by this brew, there’s such a wonderful sweetness throughout that isn’t cloying nor does the sweetness overpower the profile. Rather, is still noticeable and pleasing. Additional tasty flavor components are citrus as well as the dark tea infused throughout.

This would make for a fantastic annual summer seasonal beer. Such a unique and different beer that really exemplifies experimental beer at its best – smart flavor enhancements without throwing in different flavor additives just to be crazy or experimental. I’m writing about it a couple of weeks after drinking the beer and I really would like to have another one.

Dunkle Weisse – A collaboration with Ayinger Brewery (Bavaria, Germany)

Of all the beers in this variety pack, the Dunkelweizen was the beer I was most anticipating and the beer I drank first. I love the German beers and German-inspired styles, but unfortunately for me, there just aren’t that many Dunkelweizens on beer shelves or on tap in bars. A shame because the style is quite complex and works in both summer, due to its similarity to Hefeweizens, and fall because of the darker color. This collaboration between Germany’s Ayinger and Sierra Nevada is a wonderful, perfect interpretation of the style. The yeast Ayinger uses is on full display in this beer that, coupled with the clovey and banana-y/bready hints, gave me everything I hoped it would give me when I popped the cap and poured it into my glass.

If you like Dunkelweizen, or haven’t tried the style and enjoy Hefeweizens, chances are you’d really enjoy this beer. I would buy this one by the caseload were it to become available by itself. This was one of the best Dunkelweizens I’ve ever had. I think the one I had that was better came from Erdinger, a German brewery known primarily for their wheat beers.

To sum up the Sierra Nevada 2017 Beer Camp Across the World variety pack, a very good mix of brews. I have to give the Overseas half the edge in terms of overall quality and consistency largely because I poured out one of the Stateside collaborations. There was a better balanced mix on the Overseas collaborations, even the one I liked the least from Overseas was drinkable.

On the whole, the Stateside Six had a more noticeable hop profile, while the Overseas Six seemed to have a greater range of flavor profiles.

My favorite from the Overseas (as the list above indicates) is the Dunkle Weisse collaboration with Ayinger, but the best beer overall was the New England IPA collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Treehouse.

If you have the opportunity and the 12-pack is still available in your local beer merchant, it is well worth your beer buying dollar to pick up this pack.

Beer Review: Victory Brewing Peach Belgian Blonde with Coriander

Name: Blackboard Series #6 Peach Belgian Blonde with Coriander
Brewing Company: Victory Brewing Company
Location: Downingtown, PA
Style: Belgian Blonde Ale
ABV: 7.5.%

From the beer’s description on Victory Brewing’s Web site:

We’re excited to bring you the series in adventurous and unique beers –the Blackboard Series. Combining our award winning brewing techniques along side the deliciously fresh ingredients we are known for, we bring you four new rotating “special” brews available on draft, with two of them also available in bottles throughout our distribution footprint. We invite you to taste what our brewers are cooking up!

Blackboard Series Release No. 06 is Peach Belgian Blonde with Coriander. Bursting with fresh peach and spice aromas, this Belgian-Style Blonde Ale features stone fruit notes with a touch of sweetness and a refreshingly dry finish.

Victory Brewing is one of the giants of American Craft Beer, with a few of their brews considered classic or landmark beers that helped to establish the American Craft Brewing movement/ I’m looking at you Prima Pils and Hop Devil. One of those styles is classic European, the other a beer more associated with American brewing (at least as of late). Their motto is, after all, “European Tradition, American Ingenuity.” That convergence of styles and motto is quite evident in this beer (and much of the Blackboard series).

I’ll be upfront and say that Victory Brewing is also one of my favorite American Craft breweries, I’ve had well over two dozen different beers from them, visited the Downingtown, PA Brewery a few times, and have enjoyed just about everything I’ve had that has the big red V on the bottle. I’ll probably write up a Draught Diversions about them in the future. But on to this beer…

Last year (2016), Victory started the Blackboard series of beers. Special, one-off beers that are more experimental in nature than you’d expect from a Pilsner or an IPA. The first beer in this series was an Agave IPA with Grapefruit. I’ve had two of the Blackboard beers, the Coffee Cream Ale and the extremely well-rounded and refreshing Berliner Weisse with Elderflower. Problem with this series of beers is their limited run, so I knew I had to snag a six pack of the latest (as of this writing) beer in the series – the Belgian Blonde with Peach and Coriander. I’m very pleased I did.

Blondes and golden ales may be considered a very ordinary style, unless the style is more Belgian in nature, like this beer. The Belgian yeast adds something to the flavor profile that sets it apart from most other yeasts, and subsequently, adds a dimension of complexity to the beer. The beer pours a deep gold with a slight tint of orange or amber that may come from the addition of peaches to the brewing mix. It almost looks like peach juice, or at least the peach syrup from the can of peaches. (Cue the song “Peaches” from the Presidents of the United States of America). The aroma gives off the peach and yeast blend which is a nice hint of what’s to come once you drink the beer.

The peach is very strong in this beer, but is complemented really nicely by the Belgian Yeast and the flavors of clove and banana that yeast typically imparts. That drawing of the peach on the label tells it all, the peach is the dominant flavor in this one. It hit the right notes for me and evoked the same taste happiness as does peach cobbler. This is a fine dessert beer, but a beer you’d only want one sampling of per session because of the strong sweetness from the peach. But make no mistake, I am more than happy that I have 5 more of these in my refrigerator waiting for me.

If you don’t like peaches, you probably won’t like this one. But if you don’t like peaches, you probably wouldn’t try this one anyway. This is a really nice experimental beer from the fine folks at Victory that is timed perfectly as a summer release. I can see myself enjoying one of these on a late summer evening or early fall evening after the dessert has settled into my belly and I want to relax with a beer that will give me the hit of sweetness we all crave following a tasty meal.

Recommended, link to Untappd 4-star rating.