Category Archives: English Pale Ale

Wells Banana Bread Beer

rating_good69 points

When we decided on our fruited beers theme for June’s tasting, most on the panel were thinking of Belgian wheat ales and shandies.  However, one panelist thought of a beer that had long captured his intrigue.  A beer called Banana Bread, brewed with actual bananas.

What daring, intelligent, and, handsome nonconformist would be brave enough to introduce this one of a kind brew to the panel?  Someone most certainly not afraid of the scorn or ridicule this beer could possibly inflect upon him from the other panelists.

wellsbananaOkay…it was me.  I brought Wells Banana Bread Beer to the fruited beers tasting.  I had actually been eyeing it for quite some time but was always a little apprehensive to purchase it.  This tasting, though, was the perfect opportunity, since now I wouldn’t have to possibly suffer through a whole pint by myself.

Most of the panel were familiar with the brew when it was introduced.  And, much to my surprise, everyone had similar feelings  about wanting to try it but never willing to commit to a whole bottle.

Starting off, Banana Bread earned high points for both appearance and smell.  It had a very attractive caramel color with lively carbonation. The aroma was strong enough that the panel could smell it as the beer was being poured.  Bananas, vanilla, and malt were all found in the scent.  One panelist described the smell as “candied bananas.”

Even though bananas and vanilla were identified in the flavor, it was felt that the beer was missing the sweetness that had been hinted at in the aroma.  One panelist felt it had a “lager” taste.  Also, the mouth feel was deemed to be too light; and panelists thought the beer would be better suited as a stout.

Aftertaste ratings were mixed.  Some panelists got a strong metallic flavor at the end while other panelists continued tasting bananas.  Another panelist felt the aftertaste was slightly bitter and ashy.

Unfortunately, the novelty of Banana Bread seemed to wear off pretty quickly.  Most felt that this would be a one and done beer thus negatively affecting drinkability.

No, the beer really isn’t a substitute for actual banana bread.  Still, it received an overall rating of Good.

So, if you’ve been contemplating trying Wells Banana Bread Beer, it could be time to take a chance and purchase a bottle.  And who knows, you just may find it more appealing than we did.  Hiyoooo!!!

(Appearance 8.8, Smell 9., Taste 20.2, Aftertaste 13.6, Drinkability 17.8)

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Brooklyn Summer Ale

rating_verygood77 points

Picture, if you will, Brooklyn in the summer — a steaming, churning, baking asphalt machine. Taxis honking, police sirens reverberating down graffiti-marred side streets. Jack hammers and the smell of diesel exhaust under a smoggy rippling mid-day sun.

Now imagine a Brooklyn summer as crisp and refreshing…soft, subtle, clean and sweet. New York’s Brooklyn Brewery has not only imagined it, but captured it in its Brooklyn Summer Ale.

brooklynsummeraleThis golden caramel colored pale ale is lightly carbonated, so its pour doesn’t produce much of a head. But those tiny bubbles release a sweet malt aroma balanced with a touch of hops — an aroma that the panel found pleasing.

Our panelists found the taste a refreshing change of pace for a summer beer. Though they judged it light and mild, most found the sweet maltiness enjoyable, with a slightly sudsy mouthfeel and just a hint of ashy bitterness.

The panel rated the aftertaste above average, characterizing it as bready with slight citrus notes.  The light body of the beer coupled with a pleasing taste also led the panel to rate Summer Ale quite drinkable.

So if you find yourself this summer caught up in a borough of bustling metropolis and in desperate need some escapism, you may want to crack open Brooklyn Brewery’s interpretation of what a refreshing Brooklyn Summer should be.

(Appearance 8.33, Smell 7.83, Taste 22.33, Aftertaste 16, Drinkability 22.83)

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Tasting Notes – Winter Beers


The panel, for its January theme Basement Beer Tasting, tackled six winter seasonals. Caramel and smoke dominate taste among brews released for winter — with one notable exception.
Panelists: Jon Graney, Mike Festi, Rick Czapla, Bob Bowden

Tasting Notes

rating_excellentCaptain Lawrence Frost Monster . . . 83 points
This imperial stout from Elmsford, NY, boasts a ton of malt and a whopping 12% ABV. The panel thought it was a spectacular brew, with a gorgeous appearance and a sweet, smooth, smoky taste. But the consensus was also this was a one-and-done “showcase” beer  — a beer you could use to impress friends; not a beer you could drink all night. The label itself is worth a trip to the package store.
Appearance 9.75, Smell 7.75, Taste 26, Aftertaste 18.25, Drinkability 20.75

Brooklyn Winter Ale . . . 79 points
Another New York offering, this time a Scottish ale. This underrated beer impressed the panel with a light, toasty caramel taste and outstanding drinkability. Its aroma was light, being malty and not hoppy. But the panelists agreed this was a winter beer that could be enjoyed, one after another.
Appearance 8.75, Smell 5, Taste 24, Aftertaste 16, Drinkability 25

Traveler Jolly Shandy . . . 76 points
The Traveler Beer Co. is headquartered in Vermont, but contract brews through a famous company in Boston. This identity crisis extends also to its Jolly Shandy. The panel loved this wheat ale, but agreed that this should be offered as a summer beer — not in the dead of winter. The juicy, fizzy ale is a refreshing blend of orange and pomegranate, and with a low 4.4% ABV, it’s a drinker.
Appearance 7, Smell 6.75, Taste 23.25, Aftertaste 15.75, Drinkability 23

Berkshire Brewing Co. Cabin Fever Ale . . . 73 points
This English pale ale was rich with caramel and smoky taste. But the panel was divided on whether they would want to drink it all night long. Some found the aftertaste bitter, while others judged it as light and rich with caramel. But overall, Cabin Fever was judged to be a smooth and enjoyable winter seasonal.
Appearance 8.5, Smell 5.5, Taste 22.25, Aftertaste 15, Drinkability 21

Anchor Winter Wheat . . . 68 points
Wheat beers are traditionally light, so when the panel poured this black brew into a glass, appearance marks shot through the roof. But the overwhelming sweet taste of malt and wheat took over. The panel noted bread-like toasty, chocolaty and slightly smoky taste. Anchor Brewing released this as a new beer in 2014, and while it certainly wasn’t bad, it needs taming.
Appearance 7.75, Smell 6, Taste 19.25, Aftertaste 15, Drinkability 20.25

Harpoon UFO Gingerland . . . 61 points
The panelists approached this unfiltered wheat beer with intrigue, but quickly found that it was a rare swing-and-a-miss from Harpoon Brewery. While it definitely had strong gingerbread overtones, the panel felt that it needed a sweetener to balance the ginger bite. It certainly wasn’t offensive, but it’s a beer you’ll get sick of before you even finish the bottle. This was another new offering for 2014, so perhaps Harpoon can tame it for next year…or shelf it.
Appearance 6.5, Smell 7.25, Taste 15.75, Aftertaste 13, Drinkability 18

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