Category Archives: Fruited

Westfield River Red, White and Raz

rating_excellent84 points

As of late, our panelist Rick has been on a roll introducing new and conversation starting beers.  So, when he informed the panel that he would be picking up a selection from an unfamiliar local brewery in  Massachusetts, we were all left wondering what he would bring.

Rick stumbled upon Westfield River Brewing Company while he was visiting colleges in the Berkshires with his son (cue Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin).  After his visit, he came back very excited and was planning on featuring their brews at his May Wild Card tasting.

westfieldrazUnfortunately, that plan fell through (not unexpectedly if you know Rick); but for our fruited beers them, he was able to procure a growler of Westfield River’s Red, White, and Raz.

Let’s just say, good things do indeed come to those who wait.

The appearance of the beer was slightly cloudy and, as to be expected, had a reddish tint.  The raspberry smell on the aroma was pleasant but rather faint.  Some panelists detected hints of caramel as well.  Things were looking pretty good for Red, White, and Raz; and, to the benefit of the panel, it only got better upon tasting.

This brew truly shines on taste, aftertaste, and drinkability.  The raspberry flavor was easily identifiable but not overpowering. Panelists were reminded of “fresh, ripe raspberries” and “raspberry seeds.”

There’s no need to worry that Red, White, and Raz will be overly sweet.   The subtlety of the raspberry flavor complemented a delicious beer taste.

The raspberry flavor lingered well on the aftertaste and didn’t sour in the least bit.  Drinkabililty scores were very high with one panelist giving the beer a “perfect” drinkability rating.  Such a superb taste and aftertaste left the panel wanting to continue enjoying Red, White, and Raz beyond the end of their tasting glasses.

Westfield River Brewing Company has truly created a delicious beer.  Interests here at The Basement Beer Tastings have certainly been piqued in tasting more of their offerings.

And who knows, maybe their brews will provide Rick some solace as he watches his boy head off to college…

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you coming home son, I don’t know when,
 But we’ll get together then, Dad
You know we’ll have a good time then.

Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin

(Appearance 8., Smell 7.4, Taste 26.2, Aftertaste 16., Drinkability 26.6)

Continue reading Westfield River Red, White and Raz

Harpoon UFO Big Squeeze

rating_excellent80 points

Who hasn’t sat at their breakfast table, greeting the day with a glass of fresh grapefruit juice, and thought, “You know what would make this juice even better? Beer.”

Okay, none of us have.

But lucky for us, the folks at Harpoon not only thought of it, but successfully married the two and sold us on the notion that somehow these dissimilar liquids belong in the same bottle.

ufobigsqueezeTruth be told, a few of our panelists discovered Harpoon UFO Big Squeeze last year, in 2014, during its inaugural run. And we fell in love with this juicy summer drinker right away.

Two of our panelists, on a tour of Harpoon in late 2014, talked with the Windsor, Vermont, brewers about it, and told them, “We drank way too much of that this summer.”

Their reply? “You think YOU did? You should have seen us!”

We assume they were talking strictly from a quality control perspective, of course.

Despite our prior knowledge of this shandy — and the fuzzy memories of rounds of golf we evidently attempted to play while consuming it — we decided to put it to the full panel and give it a thorough and objective review.

On pour, Big Squeeze appears an attractive cloudy pinkish-orange akin to ruby red grapefruit juice, well carbonated but lacking a notable head. Some of our panelists likened it more to a bellini than a beer.

The panel found the smell inviting and clean, with a distinct yet light grapefruit scent.

Taste was also judged very high, with all the panelists noting the huge juice profile — tart, sweet and refreshing with a “fizziness” in the mouthfeel from the lively carbonation.

Aftertaste was also judged fairly well, as the beer trails off with a thirst-quenching tartness. The drawback here, for some of our panelists though, was that Big Squeeze lacked any notable “beer” taste in the aftertaste. It simply tasted more like juice than beer.

Drinkability, as you’d imagine for a 4.5% ABV summer beverage, was fairly high, especially noting the prevalence of citrus. However drinkability scores were tempered slightly by our panelists, some of whom said the lack of notable beer taste might keep them from having more than one.

If there’s a downside to this brew, it’s this:  if you’re a fan of big, hoppy, malty or yeasty beers, you’re probably not going to seek this out. After all, it’s a juicy shandy with a low alcohol content meant to quench a specific thirst on the hot days of summer.

But if you’re looking for a light refresher with big juice character the next time you hit the links for a round of golf, this might be just the beer for you.

It was for us last summer…or so we’re told.

(Appearance 8.4, Smell 8., Taste 26., Aftertaste 14.6, Drinkability 23.4)

Continue reading Harpoon UFO Big Squeeze

Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat

rating_basement26 points

Congratulations Anheuser-Busch. As of this posting, Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat has become the basement of The Basement Beer Tastings.

With an average score of 26 points, the only category that received a positive score was the appearance (and even that rated only 6 points out of 10).

shocktopappleSo what makes a beer receive such a low score from the panel?  A beer that’s taste is strikingly similar to a Jolly Rancher candy.

Maybe we came into this tasting a little prejudiced.  No one on the panel could recall a great experience with any of Shock Tops’ offerings.   Hopefully we’ve earned your trust and you believe us when we declare how much our panel disliked this beverage.

Pouring the beer reveals nothing to warn the drinker about what’s in store for them.  It had a cloudy appearance but generally looked like an average beer.

There’s no getting around the cloying aroma, though.  Immediately panelists compared the smell to a sour apple candy — way too sweet for a beer.

Taste didn’t make the experience any better, as the harshness of the syrupy, sour apple flavor was deemed overpowering to the majority of the panel.  Little-to-no beer essence was found in Honeycrisp Apple Wheat.  Aftertaste was deemed to be bland at best.

As far as drinkability, Honeycrisp Apple Wheat was almost unanimously found to be…well…undrinkable.  Only one panelist said that the beer was palatable, but even he admitted that Shock Top should not be marketing this as a beer.  Also, it should be noted that he has been known to drink Jolly Rancher Sour Apple soda.

Oh you didn’t know that even existed? Well obviously you’ve never shopped at K-Mart.

If you have a sweet tooth and enjoy frequent trips to the dentist, then Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat is probably the beverage for you.  If you’re looking for a beer though, we’d recommend anything that’s rated above this offering on our master list (yes, even Hennepin).

(Appearance 6, Smell 4.4, Taste 6, Aftertaste 6, Drinkability 3.8)

Continue reading Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat

Founders Blushing Monk 2015

rating_excellent87 points

For Bob’s final selection of his Wild Card tasting, the panel tasted Founders Blushing Monk which is part of the 2015 Backstage Series.

You may remember the series from our review of Founders Big Lushious as part of the February 2015 “Chocolate Beers” theme.  Of note, Blushing Monk is the first of the Backstage Series to receive a re-release by Founders Brewing.

foundersblushingmonkThe panel so far had been greatly impressed with Founders offerings, and Blushing Monk was saved for last since we felt it would be the Wild Card of the Founders’ Wild Card.  What we got was a bit unexpected…to say the least.

Before you pour Blushing Monk, disregard every notion of what you expect a beer to look like.  This “beer” shows up in costume with a pink champagne-ish head.  If you had the 2011 Blushing Monk, be prepared for a much lighter appearance.  Founders uses “ruby red” to describe the color of the 2015 release, but the panel agreed this beer held an overall pink hue.

A turn off for some beer drinkers?  Certainly this could be true, as one of our panelists described it as “pink fru-fru.”  Nonetheless, the panel was intrigued by this beer that appeared so different from any it had rated before.  What other surprises would be in store?

An extremely strong raspberry aroma stood out to all the panelists.  So sweet was this smell, that the panel’s immediate comparisons were to Jolly Ranchers’ candy and Smucker’s jams.

Blushing Monk is brewed with an abundance of raspberries, and tart raspberry was the most apparent flavor noted upon tasting.  Aftertaste finished dry with only one panelist mentioning a slight bitterness.   Our panel was quite impressed that a 9.2% ABV beer would have such a powerful fruit taste with very little notes of alcohol.

Quite obviously, Blushing Monk is a dessert beer.  This caused a few panelists to detract some points from drinkability.  Even still, with a drinkability of 24 points , Blushing Monk was found highly enjoyable; and we’d be happy to close out most meals with this brew.

Since this is the final post for our Founders Wild Card, we’d like to take the time to note what a fabulous job this brewery is doing at putting out highly rated offerings.

The panel is looking forward to tasting the rest of Founders lineup and will now certainly be following the Backstage Series.  To the Basement Beer Tastings, Founders has so far proved to be the most consistent brewer of highly rated selections.

(Appearance 9.67, Smell 8.67, Taste 27, Aftertaste 17.33, Drinkability 24.33)

Continue reading Founders Blushing Monk 2015