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Spread Spectrum Reviews

Alesmith Grand Cru 10% ABV Belgian Style Dark Strong Ale
Color: Vibrant dark copper/mahogany, 2 tone tan/cream colored head (like shore and surf). Very small bubbles, long lasting carbonation, some lacing.

Aroma: Scotchlike peaty malt and sherry (think Lagavulin Scotch), light smoke, toast, yeasty dough, caramel, various herbs and spices (crazy stuff like dill), old stale coriander, anise, cloves, cinnamon, candy sugar, plums, cherries, raisins and much more (but I haven't got all day to write this).

Taste: Starts off soft, lightly acidic and mouthwatering, then gets huge and lactic with a dense rush of flavors, everything I mentioned as being on the nose and many others as well, you have to wade through the richness and complexity, as well as the sweetness, then there is a light floral/citric/herbal note that creates a line between middle and end. The end is a dry/sweet/dry interplay that lasts a good while.

Body is medium-full to full.

Note: This has been aged a couple of years, but seems to be at its peak. The sweetness might put some off, but I don't think you can make something this complex and large without this level of sweetness. It is a perfect beer to substitute for both a vintage port and an island single malt scotch (esp. Lagavulin 16 year old), if you need a beer to stand in temporarily for a higher ranking (in age and alcohol) dead soldier.

Lobster Lover’s beer 9.5% ABV Lithuanian Strong Lager
Color: Rich vibrant gold

Head: White and pours to a finger or two and settles quickly leaving no lace.

Smell: Malt and alcohol mingle with a floral honey quality, aroma is simple but pleasant. Hop smells like Goldings (floral sweet).

Taste: Starts off crisp and rounds in the middle with malt sweetness, then dries out just enough at the end expressing a grassy character. Hops that smell like Goldings taste more like Saaz (earthy/spicy/grassy/salty).

Very refreshing for the amount of alcohol.

Steel Reserve 211 8.9% ABV American Malt Liquor
There’s not much that can be said about this beer, but that makes everybody's job a bit easier.

Smell is not too bad - no intense corn like I had expected. Taste is not too bad, very simple & sweet to balance out the alcohol heat. The color is actually nice rich yellow.

There is a bloaty, undeniably cheap quality to it. I didn't buy it so I'm not sure what it cost.

Overall, I've had worse, but like those others I'll never be trying this again. Drank about 3 ounces, got a headache, decided not to experiment with the rest of the can.

Sierra Nevada Glissade 6.4% ABV Maibock
Color: Clear gold

Head: White and thin but continuous due to abundant carbonation, leaves some lace.

Smell: Straw, vanilla, malt & hops with hints of honey and pepper.

Taste: Malt is multifaceted but not complex (5 distinct pils/pale malt tastes that are very similar to each other), crisp with just a hint of pepper and although it has some backbone the hop bitterness makes it taste drier at the finish.

Overall: More hop flavor and bitterness than the aroma would suggest. I like this interpretation of a Maibock style, although if I tasted it blind I’d think Bohemian Pilsener before Maibock or perhaps a Maibock with a shot of IPA thrown in. The fact that they call it “Golden Bock” shows that they’re not trying to hit the style dead on. Plus the description on the label is quite accurate, “Glissade is remarkably mellow, sliding across the palate with layers of subtle malt flavor balanced by a touch of delicate European hops.”

Beginning gravity: 15.5 Plato
Bittering hops: German Magnum & German Perle
Terminal gravity: 3.2 Plato
IBU’s: 42
Finishing hops: German Spalter, Slovenian Aurora & Styrian
Malts: Two-row Pale, Europils, Munich & Crystal

Big Sky Powder Hound Winter Ale 6.2%
Clear deep red/amber with a fluffy tan head that lasts surprisingly long for the lightness of the beer.

Smell is caramel, dough and fruit (apples and grapes), with light floral hops.

Taste is simple with plenty of caramel, but bottoms out in the middle just like Moose Drool (although this is far better than Moose Drool).

Light, simple and refreshing... NOT a winter warmer & too much caramel to mow the lawn with. But I still liked it. The best I've had from Big Sky.

Gluek Golden Pilsner Terrible version of a German Style Pilsner
Poured into ordinary water glass which was better than this beer deserves.

Very light yellow/orange with a weak white head that fades quickly to fully reveal a clear, still, bland-looking beer.

Stinks of bad bad bad corn with a hint of barley malt peeking from beneath the stench. There are some other aromas, but none are that great and certainly cannot battle this scarecrow.

Tastes like diluted overcooked vegetable (mostly corn) juice.

I drank the whole thing out of respect for my kindly hosts but there were moments that I fought off a serious gag reflex. This is some bad bad bad stuff. However, it was a very interesting experience.

No redeeming qualities to this (not mean, but still) offensive beer.

Rogue Dead Guy Ale 6.5% ABV Maibock
Creamy off- white head falls quickly even in the storm of carbonation but leaves some lacing along the way leaving a respectable 1/8" + layer at the top of the glass. Color is vibrant orange with reddish/copper highlights.

Aroma is full of malty lager notes, but with layers of subtle hidden esters deep beneath. Clean, light bready malts along with sweet citrus, old dry cedar and a whiff of smoke come forward. In the distant background are caramel malts and even coffee and chocolate.

Taste is an interplay of hop bitterness, alcohol and the lager-like clean lighter malts while a game of "keep away" happens in the background with the hidden darker malt and fruity notes. The smoke chimes in again.

Body is medium light to medium. There is a slight buttery quality that has always been here. It's been a long time, what a great beer. Why do I forget some of these greats?

Town Hall Hillary’s Step Pale Ale 7% ABV
Golden with a large white head, this beer showed up a straightforward hops and malt aroma. The taste is equally straightforward with a lightly sweet malty front end that swiftly releases and leads to a massive hop clampdown.

Overall: Medium bodied, this beer was listed on the chalk board as an "American Pale Strong Ale", so I assumed it would be a pale version of an American Strong Ale and although I guess it *kinda* sort of fit that category, it seemed more like an IPA. The malt backbone wasn't big enough to carry the beer. As an IPA verging on double IPA it works very well, but you have to mark off some points for missing the category... right?

Four Peaks Kiltlifter 6.2% ABV Scotch Style Ale
Color: Deep orange not unlike an unfiltered single malt Scotch.

Nose: Peat smoke, caramel, orange peel, floral hoppy notes, a general light fruitiness, bread dough and alcohol.

Taste: Very balanced flavors of caramel, sweet toasted grains, peat smoke and alcohol. Most importantly, the light smoke note rides through the whole thing from beginning to end. Hops don't jump out at you but add a light background of bitterness and mingle with the smoke.

Body: Light to medium.

Very drinkable, a staple.

Pike Kilt Lifter 6.6% ABV Scotch Style Ale
Color is a slightly hazy deep amber. Head is a thin ring but remains present and easily stirred to life again due to good carbonation.

Aroma is rich caramel malt and spicy/citrus hops, with a background of smoke and alcohol.

The taste is lighter and simpler than expected but still quite good. Good interplay between spicy hops, smoke and alcohol. A very nice balancing act. The smoke shows up more as it warms but never quite holds your attention. I would have left the hops where they are and added more of everything else to create my perfect Scotch ale.

Body and other notes: Medium to medium/light body, with a dry finish. The label clearly says " Scotch Style PIKE KILTLIFTER ruby ale", And the addition of "ruby" completes a very good description, I just somehow expected it to taste more Scottish than (stereotypically) Irish. It is right down the middle in my estimation, still a great beer.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 9.6% ABV Barleywine
I rarely drink these fresh, but I thought I'd try a brand new 2007 for a change. It's still good, but I've gotten so used to the aged ones that I was totally shocked by what I found.

Color is a vibrant deep amber/copper, thick lacy light tan head.

Aroma is a shower of hops - bright, spicy and bitter, along with sweet malt - caramel, cherry, berry, and chocolate notes. Everything rides the alcohol fumes.

Taste is sweet with alcohol, then bitter and dry. It really has more hop than I remember. That's why I need to drink a fresh one from time to time.

Body is pretty rich and full, but not too sweet by any means. I know I have a 2003 somewhere, I'll have to dig that one out soon.

Following is a brand new review of a very old bottle:
Reviewed January 2nd 2008

1995 bottle: a friend found five of them at a garage sale. He drank all but one. I was happy he decided to share it with me.

Surprisingly well carbonated for a 12 year old twist off, the creamy off-white head dropped very quickly to a thin film leaving spots of lace. Color was a very hazy dark amber.

Nose was gigantic ester and hop spices, caramel molasses and citrus.

Taste was grapefruit, orange, cherries, and a whole basket of fruit, peppermint gum, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, a slight banana note, a little oxidation (far less than expected), and a very slight winey sourness.

Overall, past its prime, but fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. The hops and alcohol were fully integrated into the mix.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA 9% ABV Double IPA
Note: This bottle was cellared for about 2 years prior to opening.

Appearance: Honey/peach, white head, poured 1 finger thick and dropped quickly leaving some lace. Good carbonation.

Smell: Yeast, caramel, pine resin, old tea, herbal with light spiciness.

Taste: Very balanced with slight hop bitterness growing and fighting with the sweetness all the way through, spices blending with alcohol, slightly buttery, muted tea-like hops, two layered finish with dry bitterness and wet sweetness sitting side by side.

Body is medium/full to full, overall very good after all this time, but I think it is one IPA I prefer fresh.

Bell’s Rye Stout 6.7% ABV
Color is almost black with dark red highlights, dark brown head that settles to a thin film leaving lacing.

Aroma is very strong toasted malts, tobacco, teriyaki beef jerky (or maybe even turkey jerky), pepper, coffee, and a hint of alcohol.

Taste is all of those mentioned along with a middle note of dark chocolate/vanilla/root beer, not bad at all but quite unexpected. A very stable chocolate/coffee note carries from beginning to end. Slight peak of sweetness at the start slight peak of bitterness at the end... these are very slight.

Body is medium but the beer itself is huge. Big flavors but balanced and light enough to enjoy at any drinking pace. But drink slowly.

Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René 5% ABV Gueuze/Lambic
Appearance is hazy but the color is vibrant deep orange with gold tones. Head is a small dense ring with good lacing.

Aroma is very floral with soft honey notes, complex citrus, straw, sweat/horse blanket/barnyard smells and a light clean malt note in the distance.

Taste is very complex with flavors, aromas and textures climbing over and under each other, everything is scrambling around and difficult to focus on. I don't mean that in a bad way. Overall, this beer is super dry (some would say almost chalky), acidic, fruity with all sorts of citrus, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, and a peach quality seems to be there too. This moves from super dry and acidic to a soft and sweet honey note before you realize that the acid never left and clamps back down on the palate.

This beer is very light in body and super dry, not something that you can easily drink quickly. I know many people hate these beers but I love them. This is a real thinking man's beer!

Town Hall Maibock ABV?
Color: Deep gold with a thick white head that settles quickly, carbonation is medium to low.

Aroma: Fairly clean malt with notes of apple and a hint of caramel.

Taste: Malt sweetness, again the apple shows up along with a little pear, caramel, then a very nice light bitterness.

Overall: A pretty good example of the style, but the esters seemed just slightly more up front than I thought they should be, although apple was by far the most dominant. I really could not taste the alcohol. I prefer if there is a bit of spiciness and alcohol brightness in a Maibock. But hey, it's a good beer and quite drinkable, so who really cares?

Desert Edge Latter Days Stout
Fairly close to black with a fluffy dark tan head. With a stout on nitrogen it would have been good to see a more dense head, or to get the beer while there were still nitrogen bubbles happening, but I saw it as it was poured, and no such action.

Not much at all on the nose. Very light, but with a bit of a cloying medicinal sweetness mixed with some chalky black malt to the taste, not terrible, but not enjoyable either. Better than some others that I have suffered through on this sad journey with few highlights.

Not very drinkable. A bit bloating.

Note to the brewers: A stout is about more than color.

--Thomas Ale Johnson