Sunday, January 30, 2011

Raison D’Etre should be your “raison d’etre.”

Raison D’Etre
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Delaware is one of the most creative craft brewers around, and Raison D’Etre is no exception to this reputation.  Translated from French, raison d’etre means “reason for existence", and the name of the beer is a clever play on words.  As Dogfish Head describes the beer on their website, it is “a Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins, and Belgian-style yeast (Dogfish Head Brewery).”  This interesting combination of ingredients makes for a very complex and enjoyable beer.

Appearance= 4
Raison D’Etre has a beautifully rich mahogany color.  The beer is filtered, so there is no fogginess.  The only reason I can’t give this beer a 5 for appearance is the thin head which dissipates relatively quickly and leaves little lacing on the glass.

Aroma= 3
Hidden in the strong wheat aroma you can smell a bit of the raisins uses to brew the beer.  The aroma isn’t bad by any stretch, but not nearly as complex as the taste, and the alcohol smell is a bit stronger than I would like.

Taste= 4
Raison D’Etre balances the flavors of the malts and hops very well.  The malty flavor is most noticeable at at first, and the beer finishes with a bit of hops bitterness.  You can also detect a bit of the fruity flavor from the raisins  amongst the heavy wheat flavor.  Finally, although Raison D’Etre is incredibly smooth, there is a noticeable alcohol taste, which is to be expected considering the beer is 8% ABV.

Total Score= 3.85
As with all Dogfish Head creations, Raison D’Etre is very creative beer with a very complex flavor.  When poured into a glass, it looks just as delicious as it tastes.  I would have liked to have had a more complex aroma to go with the taste, but I can’t complain about this beer.  Its raison d’etre is to be in my belly!

Verdict= Victory

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weihenstephaner... Hard to Say, Easy to Drink!

Hefe Weissbier
Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan (Bavarian State Brewery Weihenstephan)

Weienstephaner is a German brewery which claims to be the oldest operating brewery in the world, tracing it's roots as far back as 1040.  They brew a number of different beers, including the Hefe Weissbier, which is a German, unfiltered wheat beer.  There are several beers that attempt to mimic this style, but this is truly the original.

Appearance= 5
I can't think of any beers that I've poured that look more awesome than this.  The first thing you'll notice is the hazy, golden-orange color.  The foggy haze is a result of the beer being unfiltered.  Next, you'll notice the frothy head.  The picture above is a little misleading because, unfortunately, the head spilled over the glass and I had to clean it up before I snapped the picture.  I only wish I had taller glasses.  Not only does this beer produce a lot of head, but it is long-lasting and leaves a bit of lacing on the glass.

Aroma= 5
Hefe Weissbier has a sweet, fruity smell with just a hint of hops.  The most noticeable scent present is citrus, yet it is not overwhelming.  The aroma is full, smooth, and unbelievably delicious.  

Taste= 5
One word... WOW!  This beer is simply amazing.  The sweet, citrus aroma is just a hint of how great this beer tastes.  The taste is a bit like Blue Moon, except Blue Moon is not even close to being in the same league as Weihenstephaner.  It is not as sweet as I expected but it's very smooth.  It has a strong citrus taste with just a little spice.  It finishes smooth with minimal bitterness from the hops.  This is one of the most drinkable beers I've ever had.

When we decided to write this blog, I didn't want to liberally give out perfect scores.  I wanted to only give perfect scores to beers that really knock me off me feet.  This beer happens to be one of those beers.  It is nearly perfect.  This is my first time drinking Weihenstephaner, and I'll be drinking more, for sure.  I only wish I has more right now!

Verdict= Flawless Victory

Friday, January 28, 2011

Java + Beer? Yes Please.

Vanilla Java Porter
Atwater Block Brewery

When I picked up this beer at the store I was a little apprehensive because the label is quite unimpressive.  In fact, I suspect I could make something better on PhotoShop.  But the label is not what we’re concerned about; we’re concerned about beer behind the label.  So how does the Vanilla Java Porter stack up?

Appearance= 2
What you notice about this beer immediately is how incredibly dark it is.  It is a very dark reddish-brown color, but it appears almost black.  When held up a light, you cannot see through the glass.  But aside from the deep color, it is otherwise pretty visually boring.  There is very little carbonation in this beer, resulting in only a small amount of head which disappears almost as quickly as you pour it out. 

Aroma= 3
Before you taste this beer, you can get a sense of how sweet it is by the aroma.  It is rich, malty, and there is even a hint of chocolate in there.  It smells good, but not overly exciting because it doesn’t really smell too much like coffee or vanilla.

Taste= 4
When came to tasting the Vanilla Java Porter I was skeptical because I was generally unimpressed with the appearance and the aroma.  I was pleasantly surprised, though, with it’s incredibly smooth taste.  It is not nearly as thick as I expected it to be and it is very sweet.  The malt flavor is very intense and there is very little bitterness from hops.  While the java taste is noticeable, I didn’t detect any vanilla at all, and this disappointed me.  However, the other flavors present made up for the absence of the vanilla and make for a very drinkable beer.

Overall= 3.55
Where this beer lacks in appearance and aroma, it makes up for in taste.  While it may not actually be a porter, and it may not actually taste like vanilla, it is a very flavorful beer that I would gladly drink again.

Verdict= Victory!

How We'll Rate Beer

When we review a beer here on Rough Draught, we want to be able to give a fair and accurate overall rating of how good (or bad) the beer is.  To do this, we have established a rating system.  We'll give each beer a score of 1 to 5 (1 being negative, 5 being positive) in each of the following three weighted categories:
  • Appearance (15%)
  • Aroma (15%)
  • Taste (70%)
We will then average the three scores and give an overall rating as follows:
  1. Undrinkable
  2. Forgettable
  3. Worth Another Drink
  4. Victory
  5. Flawless Victory
It's not an exact science, and we may or may not agree with each other on all counts, but we think this system will allow us to judge each beer fairly and as accurately as possible.  We'll see how well it works out soon when we post our first beer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Welcome to Rough Draught

We are Paul and Jason Thompson and this blog is dedicated to one of our favorite past-times; Beer.  We readily admit that we are not necessarily beer experts, but we know a good beer when we taste one, and we want to tell you all about them.  Our mission is to experience as much of what the beer world has to offer as possible and to share those experiences with you.   Along the way we also hope to learn as much as we can about the brews we enjoy and the artists who create them.  We’ll also look to our readers for suggestions of great beers we haven’t tried, or maybe haven’t even heard of.  Hopefully you’ll find us interesting and entertaining, and perhaps we can help you find your new favorite brew.  Happy Drinking!

Paul & Jason