Thursday, October 13, 2016

3 Beer Reviews Gone Wrong

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge Prairie BOMB! Imperial Stout, Freetail Soul Doubt IPA, • - Jester King's Mad Meg Farmhouse Provision Ale - ILLUSTRATIONS BY MICHELLE CLAIRE
  • Illustrations by Michelle Claire
  • Prairie BOMB! Imperial Stout, Freetail Soul Doubt IPA, •Jester King's Mad Meg Farmhouse Provision Ale

Great beer makes everybody wordy, doubly so when the subject is the beloved brew itself. We write about beer for the love, in loving terms; the problem is that some reviewers write beer reviews that read like romance novels. It’s not the beer’s fault, any more than it is Cupid’s fault that Nora Roberts keeps churning out the bodice-rippers, but the number of crafties taking poetic license with their online write-ups is hitting critical mass.

Certainly, reviewers shouldn’t limit themselves to mere stats. IBUs, ABVs, and similar acronyms put you in the ballpark for your imbibing expectations. But, besides charting how fast you’ll get fershnickered or how many yards of Citra trellises went into the production of your bomber, they’re just the baseline of a meaningful review.

No, the groans issue forth when drinkers think that complex visionary beers require complicated descriptions. Adjectives spill from their paragraphs over like so many locally-sourced adjuncts. Ales produce more notes than a John Coltrane tenor sax solo. An IPA’s hop profile can’t merely be described as tropical — you had better name enough fruits to stock an H-E-B produce section. The sublimity of our favorite subject gets lost in the backwash of hyperbole.

Don’t take this as a takedown of craft beer, nor an attempt to shush the opinions of its devotees. Very much the opposite: great beer deserves great writing, writing that illuminates a brew’s history and recipe in light of the drinker’s experience without excess. In the meantime, however, we’ve decided to illustrate some textbook examples of excess.

Each of these beers are beers we love (at least one made our year-end best-of last year). We hope it proves entertaining to all, offensive to none, and a good chuckle at your next happy-hour get-together.

Freetail Soul Doubt IPA:

Here's what they said ...
Appearance: Straw-yellow glass shows heavy haze to the point it is opaque. Holds a frothy, white, rocky head that lasts and laces.

Aroma: Clean malt base, bit of grain, bready yeast note, mild hop is a bit earthy and pine.

Taste: Sweet start covers most of the alcohol before it dries out to an oily, slightly leafy hop bitter finish. The hops are a blend of citric and pine that fade into an earthy tonic, almost woody finish. That first sugar rush is heavy-handed.

Mouthfeel: Heavy carbonation and heavy body give a frothy texture that is a bit much. Has a small chew and an oily coat that lasts and dries.

Jester King’s Mad Meg Farmhouse Provision Ale

Here's what they said ...
Appearance: Gold…lots of amber in it…pushing up almost all head…a white/off-white foam that leaves a soap-sudsy sticking; keeps a thick collar.

Aroma: Barn must ... a full blast of it, that JK signature aroma of a musty old wood barn dried out in the arid Texas hill country, dusty but also featuring some lemon, grapefruit and a pinch of grain. 

Taste: A load of malt in this one. Its base flavor is JK’s musty barn, but there’s a noticeable chunk of malt flavor and sweetness mixed in, creating a slight orange/orange peel flavor.

Mouthfeel: all that malt really thickens this beer, getting its weight well into the middle range; lightened nicely by the carbonation

Prairie BOMB! Imperial Stout

Here's what they said ...

Appearance: Essentially black and opaque, with no real head to speak of. Minimal, if any, visible carbonation

Aroma: Huge on the nose…big dark chocolate, bakers chocolate, spicy peppers, coffee. Rich and dank tobacco notes, sweet malts, vanilla, and hints of lactose. Some vegetal sweetness as well. Very, very nice nose.

Taste: Big chocolate and cacao nibs, spicy peppers, and rich roasted malts. More pipe tobacco. Chocolate covered espresso beans and bits of vanilla. Finishes with both roasted malt and milder hop bitterness after the chocolatey sweetness fades. The spicy pepper presence actually fades a little as it warms throughthe drink.

Mouthfeel: Thick sticky body…low carbonation sensation, and the alcohol is incredibly well-hidden here. The beer disappears awfully quickly.

More by Lance Higdon

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