Category Archives: American Blonde Ale

Tree House Eureka

rating_verygood77 points

“EUREKA!” is what you might exclaim if you find yourself with a great beer. “Pretty good,” is what you might say if you find yourself with a Tree House Eureka.

Now, I’m not trying to undersell Eureka, because the panel did find it to be a Very Good beer.  Unfortunately for this beer, Tree House’s current belle-of-the-ball status in the beer world has slightly influenced my review.

treehouseeurekaI’m willing to bet that anything you’ve heard about Tree House  has been extremely positive.  Just do a quick search for Tree House Brewing reviews, and you’re sure to see high praise —  like how Tree House is seemingly “killing the beer game.”

All that hype can lead to disappointment if you, like me, tend to take a more cynical stance when you hear about “the best IPA in the country at the moment.”  (That statement not referring to Eureka, per se, but bold nonetheless.)

Don’t get me wrong.  Intentions here at The Basement Beer Tastings are not to severely judge highly-touted brews.  But there is a sense of guilty pleasure in finding fault with something deemed to be the “next big thing.”

Right now, Tree House seems to benefit from their limited-release, wait-in-a-long-line sales model.  With every new body added into that line, Tree House’s cult status grows.

Tree House plans to move into a new, larger facility that will surely accommodate higher quantity productions, and hopefully reduce the wait time for their brews.

I’ve digressed, so now onto Eureka.

With everything that we’d (I’d) heard, we were (I was) expecting most of the Tree House offerings to be in the Excellent and World Class range.

Yes, Eureka is a Very Good beer.  But there are a lot of very good beers out there, most of which don’t require you to wait in a Soviet-era bread line — or to fill out some antiquated ordering sheet to procure.  I mean really…who still uses a pen and paper to order something?

I’m going to stop here.  After proofing this with co-founder Jon Graney, we both decided I was being a little too harsh on Tree House (hence the addition of the parentheses).   They do indeed make Very Good beers, and I was treating them with the type of vitriol we usually reserve for the likes of Shock Top or any beer with Sculpin in the name.

So, if you’ve stuck with the post to this point (and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t), you’re probably wondering what makes Eureka a Very Good selection.

Well, I’ll start by telling you it’s not the appearance.   Panelists were split in their ratings with half finding the appearance to be Belgiany and the other half finding the appearance to be, well, Belgiany.  Tomato, tomato I guess.

(There’s probably a better print analogy I could have used there.)

More universally recognized was the agreeableness of Eureka’s aroma.  Citrusy hops were apparent to all, with some noting enticing grapefruit.  Aroma is the one area where Eureka truly presented itself as a great beer.

The citrus flavors were also of note in the taste, though taste was deemed to be a bit of a letdown by the majority of the panel.  Hops were present, but the taste, overall, was described as light and watery — good but not great.

The beer’s lightness did seem to have a positive impact on aftertaste.  The slightly hoppy aftertaste was deemed pleasant, albeit short-lived… yet again, good but not great.

Noticing a trend?  Clearly you should be able to guess what the panel had to say about drinkability.

Absolutely Eureka is an easy drinker.  Most of the panel thought it to be a fantastic summer beer.  It’s lightness was sure to be thirst-quenching on a hot day.  However, placing a caveat on when we would drink this beer wasn’t helping it earn points.  Drinkability: good but not great.

Yes, perhaps I’m being a tad more critical of Eureka because of all the word-of-mouth hype surrounding Tree House.  Fair?  Probably not, since Tree House is certainly making some very good beers.  But when you’re looking for a “Eureka!” and instead receive a “very good,” you can’t help but feel a little disappointed.

So, while Eureka may not live up to the hype, we’re pretty sure there’s a Tree House brew that’s completely deserving of all the hoopla.

And “bear” in mind, we’ve still got one more review to publish.

(Appearance 5.75, Smell 8.5, Taste 23, Aftertaste 15, Drinkability 25)

Continue reading Tree House Eureka

Victory Summer Love Ale

rating_good68 points

Victory says it’s summer ale is brewed with love, and our panel hoped to reciprocate that love during our recent tasting.

While the pour and fragrance had our panelists smitten, upon taste, we discovered that perhaps we’re better off being just friends.

victorysummerlovealeSummer Love Ale has a nice appearance — an American blonde ale with a light golden color and faint cloudiness.

Moderate carbonation produced a minimal head that lasted, taunting our panelists as it painted the sides of our glasses with its skimpy white lace, seductively asking, “You like what you see?” Indeed.

Our panelists were equally impressed with the beer’s bouquet of lemon, floral notes and hops. We wondered if this summer love would last.

Our panelists immediately noted the initial taste did not hold up to the aroma. Looks like this love affair was fleeting.

As most continued to drink, they found the taste to grow more palatable. Perhaps we were just settling.

And while an earthy, hoppy and somewhat flowery aftertaste was judged slightly better, it wasn’t enough to make good on the  promises alluded to by the beer’s appearance and smell.

Our panelists found Summer Love to be fairly drinkable, but with so many other summer offerings, our eyes couldn’t help but wander.

(Appearance 7.83, Smell 7.83, Taste 20.83, Aftertaste 11.83, Drinkability 19.33)

Continue reading Victory Summer Love Ale

Tasting Notes – Pilot Tasting

The first Basement Beer Tasting was held on Nov. 21, 2014, and provided the inspiration for the continuing series. Because the structure hadn’t been fully developed, this tasting included a random mix of what was in the fridge.
Panelists: Jon Graney, Mike Festi, Rick Czapla

Tasting Notes

Shipyard Export Ale . . . 53 points
This American blonde ale was a decent, middle-of-the-road brew. While it failed to stand out to the panelists, it received average or slightly above average points in every category. Panelists noted that it had a heavy caramel and malt taste that was reminiscent of a higher-end Yuengling Lager.
Appearance 5.5, Smell 5.5, Taste 17.5, Aftertaste 8, Drinkability 16.5

Berkshire Brewing Company Oktoberfest Lager . . . 48 points
This Marzen-style lager looked good on pour, and had a decent taste to it, but the panelists found its aftertaste disappointing. It invoked notes of sweet honey and citrus, but its heaviness and lackluster finish left the panelists saying, “I couldn’t drink a lot of this.” Appearance 7.5, Smell 7, Taste 15, Aftertaste 7.5, Drinkability 11

Harpoon Pumpkin Cider . . . 68 points
Shifting gears, the panelists decided to try a spiced cider offering from Harpoon Brewery. The appearance, smell and taste were very pleasing, though the panel noted that it was lacking a notable pumpkin flavor — instead showcasing strong tastes of apples and grapes. The aftertaste was a bit flat, but ultimately strongly drinkable.
Appearance 7.5, Smell 8.5, Taste 20.5, Aftertaste 11.5, Drinkability 20

Yuengling Traditional Lager . . . 52 points
Since the Shipyard Export reminded the panelists of Yuengling, they decided to compare it to Yuengling. The results? Remarkably similar marks, across the board. The smell was a bit better than Shipyard, with nearly identical taste and easy drinkability.
Appearance 6, Smell 5, Taste 14.5, Aftertaste 6.5, Drinkability 20