The Seven Barrel Brewery

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We stopped for a late lunch at the The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon, NH. We were on our way up to Vermont and stopped on the way. It is right at the border on NH and Vermont, right off of Interstate 89.

 

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 “The 7Barrel was opened April 20, 1994 by renowned brewer Gregory J. Noonan. While Greg is no longer with us, his tradition lives on …. Under the ownership of Upper Valley locals since 2010, we here at the 7Barrel are focused on continuing to provide our customers with high quality fare, great craft beer, and the enjoyable and unique atmosphere people have come to expect from our establishment.”  

 

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Queche Cream Ale – 4.5 % 14 IBU

Light but creamy flavor, smooth drinking. Good for the light end of the spectrum, we both liked this.

 

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Our sampler tray

 

New Dublin Brown – 4.5% 20 IBU

Good roasted malty flavor, a touch nutty. Not bitter, easy to drink, we both liked it.

 

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The Red #7 – 5%

Not a classic red style, so Megan drank it. A pleasant malt base and medium bitterness, not as hoppy as some reds. This is their most popular beer.

 

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Pumpkin Ale Seasonal – 4.9%

Good, comforting pumpkin pie spice. Light style beer but strong pumpkin taste. Megan really liked this beer. Makes you want to cozy up with a pint, a fire and friends.

 

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Champion Reserve IPA – 5%

Traditional style IPA, was a little bit warm though. More floral hops without much of a hoppy bite.

 

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Wet Hopped Pale Ale Seasonal – 5%

Smooth hoppy flavor without hoppy bite. Hop forward with a good taste, we liked it better than the IPA.

 

Oatmeal Stout – 4.8%

Dry, traditional style irish stout. Mark thought it was a little roasty and toasty. Megan was hoping for a little more from it.

 

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Conan the Destroyer Series: Imperial Coffee Stout – 8.3%

Not quite what we were hoping for. Megan didn’t think the flavors were bold or balanced enough. Mark liked it better than the Oatmeal Stout, but you could taste the higher alcohol content. Less roasty, hints of chocolate and coffee.

 

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All gone!

 

We each ordered a pint after the sampler tray. Mark got the Wet Hopped Pale Ale and Megan got the Pumpkin Ale.

 

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Their Special Burger of the day

 

The food was good, but the French fries were a small portion considering you had to pay $2 extra to get fries.

 

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Chicken Cheese Bagette

 

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Pretty good sized bar area

 

 

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Tanks full of beer behind the bar

 

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The dining area is a mix of booths and larger tables.

 

 

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Nearby? Going to be passing through? Time it well-from 4-6 pm everyday $3 pints

 

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Want to Visit?

Open Daily 11 am to Close

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Burlington Beer Company, Williston VT

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While we were in Vermont visiting John and Lindsay, John took us to Burlington Beer Company. They are: setting out to brew farmers’ market inspired beers that celebrate the culture and agriculture of Vermont. They have been open for less than a year at this point, and have room to grow in the space that they are in.

 

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menu by the bar

Our tasting:

Barista Coffee Porter – 7.3%
We thought it had a good balance of coffee and beer. Smooth tasting porter. John thought it had too much coffee flavor, but he doesn’t like porters anyway.

 

Peasant Bread – 5.9%
This is a brown IPA with mild rice. This was an interesting beer, had some characteristics of brown ale with a light IPA taste.

 

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Hills and Hollows Pale Ale – 5.2%
A lighter style pale ale with strong floral notes. Mark thought it was good, Megan did not like it.

 

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Swag, growlers and beers

 

Mason Jar Mild – 4.5%
Light brown ale but still had plenty of flavor.

 

Mild on Bourbon Street – 5%
Really good flavor, has that bourbon barrel age flavor but is not overpowering. It is only 5%. Megan liked the Mason Jar Mild best, Mark liked the Mild on Bourbon Street better.

 

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Unfortunately, on the night we were there, a full sized coach bus full of people was also. They handled the crowd well, and we got to taste some beers and see the brewery, it was just too crowded to talk to the people in the tasting room much. Overall, they seemed to handle the crowd.

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Crowd of people- Megan was trying to not be creepy while taking this picture

There is a large space that customers can spread out in. It is designed so you can come and hang out, drink some beers and have some fun.

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Ping Pong table and couches

They also have tables to sit at with games on them.

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John Playing Jenga

 

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They have artwork in the tasting room and around the brewery.

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Tanks and barrels.

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They also offer Memberships for special release bottles that sound pretty interesting. Barleywine, Imperial Peanut Butter Maple Porter, Trappist Triple just to name a few.

Want to Visit?

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Switchback Brewing Company, Burlington Vermont

IMG_0749While visiting our friends, John and Lindsay, we stopped at Switchback Brewing Company, located in Burlington Vermont. IMG_0750 We had a tour, with Dan, one of the Brewers. There are four brewers, and two test brewers. He gave us the safety spiel: “don’t open things- you’ll get blown through cement!” Dan continued with telling us a bit of the history of Switchback Brewing Company. IMG_0752The owner of Switchback learned how to professionally make beer, even has a Masters degree to prove it! Switchback Brewing Company was founded in 2002, by a brewer and an electrical engineer. That summer, they worked out the kinks in their newly purchased setup, and had their first batch of sell-able beer that September. Ake’s Place, in Burlington, was given the honor of pouring Switchback’s first pint on October 22, 2002.

  • the beer is left unfiltered, and is carbonated naturally
  • their business/marketing plan was to introduce draught beer first, so all could be done onsite, by the brewer until sales justified expanding and hiring help
  • They moved from only 15.5 gallon kegs, to 5.2 gallon kegs and in October of 2012, ten years after the first pint was poured, announced they would begin to bottle.
  • They do not want to do growlers or cans, and believe kegs are the the best way to hold the container to a particular amount of oxygen.

At the beginning, the brewer was brewing one day, cleaning the next. Now, they do more than one cycle a day. The tour was very scientific, while still being great for the average beer drinker. You could tell that Dan knows what he is talking about, and enjoys all aspects of it. Switchback has two brewing areas, on for their original Switchback Ale, and the other for their specialty beers. IMG_0773  IMG_0766  IMG_0765  IMG_0764  IMG_0758  IMG_0753The larger one is more automated than the smaller, specialty one.  Their larger automated equipment is a mismatch of 1960’s German equipment mixed with modern equipment. For filtering, they use a machine instead of diatomaceous earth for a more consistent filter. IMG_0769You will never get a beer from Switchback that is more than 2 months old. They bottle only on Wednesdays, so the beer almost runs out at most stores before they receive a new order in.IMG_0770  IMG_0771 IMG_0781The Beer: Switchback Ale: original recipe from 2002. Naturally carbonated, unfiltered. Available year round. 1:1:1 hops:yeast:malt Very balanced, complex, while still being drinkable. We all enjoyed. 5%, 23 IBU Dooley’s Belated Porter:  First created in December of 2009. Drinks lighter than you’d expect. Caramel, chocolate flavor. John isn’t a big fan of porters typically, but actually enjoyed theirs. 5.7%, 43 IBU IMG_0780  IMG_0777

Want to try some for yourself or, better yet- visit? Bottles are available in parts of upstate New York, all of Vermont and New Hampshire. They are looking to expand to Western Massachusetts.

Tours&Tastings: Every Saturday at 1 & 2pm.IMG_0768  IMG_0760

Zero Gravity Craft Brewery at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth, Burlington Vermont

IMG_0799  IMG_0800We visited Zero Gravity Craft Brewery at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth, located in Burlington Vermont before we headed home from our visit to John & Lindsay’s.
American Flatbread is a delicious pizza restaurant, which houses Zero Gravity Brewery.IMG_0808IMG_0806 IMG_0807 menuIMG_0814pizza oven

There was not a sampler tray, so we ordered 10 oz beers. We picked the more interesting sounding, less traditional flavors or styles of beer. The waitress was good and told us the hops from the stout would kill the flavor of the gruit, so we had the gruit first.

IMG_0811Winter Gruit Ale 5.8%

No back end taste, all up front. It was smooth and flavorful with low carbonation, drinkable. Megan is a fan of gruits in general because you get good flavor but not that heavy hop flavor.

 

IMG_0812Bermuda Triangle Sour Stout 5.7%

Sounded like an interesting beer, and it was. It was light and smooth, not too hoppy for a stout. It smelled like a stout and was a dark color like a stout, but fairly smooth. Sour aftertaste. Megan thought it tasted like sour chocolate.

 

Conehead IPA 5.7%

Megan thought it was a typical IPA, she is not really a big fan of IPA’s. Mark liked it, extra hoppy. You definitely get the wheat flavor which gives the IPA a different twist.

 

IMG_0819Medicine Wheel Flatbread that we added pepperoni to. The pizza was really good.

The service was good overall.  Not the experience we usually have eating out in Vermont. The waitress we had was good. They have a lot of wait staff for the amount of tables, although it was not a real big place.

Some history:

American Flatbread Burlington Hearth opened in 2004, and they started brewing their own beer that same year. They built their own dome oven to wood fire the pizza. They started out with a 10 barrel system. Beer and bread making go together, and have, for more than 5000 years. They have an ‘unwavering commitment’ to staying true to the classic styles of a beer, which includes using the best ingredients possible. This doesn’t mean they can’t experiment, though. In 2012 they started selling beer offsite. Now they are looking to build a new brewery offsite to keep up with demand. Want to visit? Open every day 11:30 to close.

 

after we left, we found these fun jellyfish sculptures in the park:IMG_0823  IMG_0825

Shelburne Vineyard, Shelburne VT

IMG_0745While visiting John & Lindsay, we went to Shelburne Vineyard, located in Shelburne, Vermont. The vineyard has 4 different sites where they grow grapes. 57% of the grapes they use grown by them; that will go up because they have acres of vines that are too young to be used right now. Shelburne Vineyard started with 3 acres of grapes planted in 1998 as a retirement hobby. In 1999, 3 more acres were planted, and in 2000, a partnership was founded. In 2001, the first vintage was released. In 2008, their tasting room opened, and is ready for you to visit today!     IMG_0746

IMG_0737Our tasting:

2012 Louise Swenson
Sweet but dry, “drier than most reds”

2012 Cayuga White
Blend of Cayuga, Riesling and chardonnay. Definitely drier than most Cayuga that we have tried. 30 Different local restaurants have this as their table wine. 15 of those restaurants have it on tap!

2012 Lakeview White
This is their top selling wine. Lindsay thought it was easily drinkable due to sweetness, it is almost like a juice. An off dry Cayuga with chardonnay and Riesling.

 

They have 2 Rieslings, a Vermont (comes out in April) and a New York (their current offering)

2012 Riesling Honey and melon flavors. It was sweeter than Mark expected it to be.

2012 Cabernet Franc This was bottled in December. Dry medium body aged in oak. It had a fruity, cherry and blackberry, and a peppery bold taste. This was our favorite of the 2 reds.

2012 Marquette This is the leading red grape grown in Vermont. It was aged 8 months in an oak barrel, then 1 year in the bottle. Seemed a little drier than the first red.

Dessert Styles

Artesano is a new meadery in Coulchester, which opened in January of 2014. Since they are fairly new, they are utilizing the ability to offer their meads at the Shelburne Vineyard.

Artesano’s Sparkling Cranberry Mead John liked the cranberry flavor. Mark thought it was different but good.

Artesano’s Traditional Cyder 80% Applewine, 20% Mead. Drier than expected. Ha the bright acidity of apples.

2012 Vidal Blanc Late Harvest semi-sweet dessert wine. Balanced, fresh ripe stone fruits, pears and honeysuckle. Both Mark and Megan thought it was very good.

2012 Rhapsody Ice Wine Harvested in December/January in the early morning. Much sweeter than Vidal Blanc. We enjoyed.

Eden Ice Ciders Heirloom blend of eleven different varieties of apples, without spices added. Very good, sweet

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 The store/tasting roomIMG_0738 IMG_0744 IMG_0740 IMG_0739

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shelburne 4Want to visit? They are open 7 days a week, year round. 11-6 May-October, 11-5 October-April
Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day

Free tours offered daily at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.

Crop Bistro and Brewery, Stowe Vermont

IMG_0707While visiting John and Lindsay, we went for dinner and beer at Crop Bistro and Brewery, located in Stowe, Vermont. Crop Bistro is a farm to table restaurant, and on their website have a list of the local suppliers they use.

The beers were first on tap in January 2013. They have just started selling kegs locally, so they are growing. Slightly expensive, but like you would expect from a nice restaurant, certainly not your typical Brew Pub.

IMG_0708 IMG_0709The food was good overall. The bread was slightly sweet with a good flavor, soft and fresh.IMG_0714 We ordered 3 apps, Rip N Dip, Fried Pickles, and Potato skins. Everyone liked the Rip N Dip, good flavor, like a tomato fondue, had chili powder on top- so don’t get too much of that on one chunk of bread! IMG_0716Fried pickles were cut lengthwise, salty, lots of batter, Megan thought a little too much batter. IMG_0719Potato skins were fancy, cut, covered in cheese in a saucepan.IMG_0718

BEER

Crop says they match the glass to the beer to bring out the best aroma’s, flavor, and appearance. They ‘strive to pour our beers with a head!’ Also on the beer menu it says the ales ferment on top and can be dry, fruity, and complex. The lagers are bottom fermented, aged cold or ‘lagered’ and tend to be cleaner and crisper in flavor, fruity if fermented warm.

We ordered The Crop Brewery Sample Board.

We thought we got to order the beers we wanted since it did not say on the menu, but when I asked the waitress she rudely told me no.IMG_0713  IMG_0711 IMG_0710

Helles Brook Lager – 4.5% – a munich style helles lager
A little sweeter than normal. Lager taste with medium body.

Bavarian Weizen – 5%-  a Bavarian style heffeweizen
Megan thought it tasted slightly like bananas, I only got that smell. Was not overpowering, a little bit of a slightly odd/ spicy flavor.

Belgian Amber – 5% – good fruit notes, slight phenol on the finish
Smooth, reminded Megan of fresh bread flavor.

William Ale – 5% – London ale
Creamy flavor, like other English ales I have tried recently. Fairly light flavor.

The Crop Brown Ale – 5.4% – walks the line between malt and hop finish
Has a richer flavor than other brown ales, still fairly light flavor.

IPA
Traditional IPA taste.

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Since it was not included in the sample board I ordered a pint of the Willi Vanilli.

Willi Vanilli –5.7% – traditional dark lager wonderfully smooth
Megan thought tasted like ice cream, I got more of a sweet, dark porter taste.

 

The beer was definitely good. Very traditional beer styles. They have a lot of other local beers on tap as well, and some of the big name beers for people who are not interested in trying something new. They sell Growlers and Bombers to go. The Bavarian Weizen and Willi Vanili have been rotated out for a Maerzen Lager – a German style march beer, and a Vermont Pale Ale with some homegrown hops.

Dinner

IMG_0723 Megan had the Beef tenderloin. It was cooked nicely, juicy.

IMG_0725John ordered the Crop Burger

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Lindsay ordered the Pacific Red Crab Cake, as well as a salad. She enjoyed this, but after the salad found it was too big to finish!

IMG_0721I ordered the Beer Battered Fish and Chips- the fish was HUGE and tasty and fresh. The fries were also good and tasty.

The waitress seemed rude, not very talkative, not really ‘there’. She took our empty drinks and did not ask if we wanted anything else. John and Lindsay said that is typical in that area, or in Vermont in general. The room were sat in seemed strange, too. It was out in the back, seemed more like a brunch room with metal tables. The front room looked much nicer, had more lights, a fireplace, and more atmosphere. John and Lindsay have sat in the front room every other time they have been there, and said that the hospitality in that room tends to be better.

IMG_0729Lindsay ordered cookies to go for dessert

 

Want to visit?
Hours of Operation:
11:30am- Close, 7 days a week

Mark’s Christmas Present Grab Bag, a post by Mark

Surprisingly, or maybe not so much so, I received a lot of different beer at Christmas. Between 2 Yankee Swaps, a Secret Santa, a present, and an unwanted Yankee Swap gift that was given to me, I ended up with quite a bit of beer. So I figured I would take this chance to write this “guest” post on our blog about some different beers you may have tried, and some you may not have.

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 Wells Banana Bread Beer

Malt Beverage Brewed with Banana’s

5.2%    1 pint 0.9 oz Bottle

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A lighter beer than I was expecting, sort of like a light ale. It has a subtle banana taste with more of a banana after taste. I had this beer once 3 or 4 years ago and really liked it. I was expecting a heavier, more banana taste this time around but was easier to drink than expected.

From the bottle “Long ago ale was known as ‘Liquid Bread’. We’ve used our long history of creating the finest malt blends and added fair trade bananas to awaken the sense with a seriously fruity, rich, yet surprisingly versatile banana bread beer.”

Brewed by Well’s and Young’s Brewing Company, England

Long Trail Double Bag Ale

7.2%    12 oz Bottle

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I have had this many times but figured I would include it. Has a smooth, lighter beginning. More of a hoppier taste at the end, almost a chocolaty finish. Pretty easy to drink, could be dangerous since it is 7.2%. Used to be only available for visitors to the brewery but is widely available now in 6 and 12 packs.

Brewed by Long Trail Brewing Company, VT

Stone Collaboration: R & R Coconut IPA

7.7%    1 pint 6 oz Bottle

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Heavy tasting IPA though light in color. Coconut taste is subtle, don’t think I would have guessed coconut if I didn’t see it on the bottle. Does have a fruity taste as well as the subtle coconut. Heavy tasting because it is 7.7% alcohol.

Robert Masterson & Ryan Reschan teamed up and entered the American Homebrewers Association- sanctioned brewing competition. They won and got help from Rip Current Brewing Company and of course Stone Brewers to finalize the recipe. Described on the bottle as a “seamless marrying of toasted coconut and a hop bill brimming with tropical fruit notes”.

Brewed by Stone Brewing Company, San Diego County, CA

Crabbie’s Spiced Orange

Alcoholic Ginger Beer

4.8%    12 oz Bottle

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Smells fruity, you can smell the orange. Megan said it tastes like ginger ale with candied apple, she didn’t see the label. It is a ginger beer with spiced orange and tastes like it. Very light; sweet and tangy, probably a good summer beer. I don’t think this is a beer I would drink a lot of at once.

From the bottle label, “For more than 200 years Crabbie’s has shipped its ginger from the far east following in the pioneering footsteps of the first Scots Merchants Adventures – hence our distinctive Elephant Trade Mark. Following a secret recipe, the steeped ginger is matured for 8 weeks. It’s then combined with real Orange Extract giving a deliciously distinctive flavor”.

Brewed by Halewood International in the UK.

Belhaven Scottish Ale

5.2%    14.8 oz Can, come in 4 pack

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Has a creamy head on it. Light like an ale, pretty easy to drink. Has a creamy flavor with a slight nutty flavor at the end.

Comes with the widgit in it to aerate the the beer when you open it so it tastes nice and fresh.

Brewed by Belhaven Brewery, Scotland

Lagunitas IPA

Unlimited Release

6.2%    1 pint 6 oz Bottle

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Taste like an IPA, good, not too heavy tasting, good amount of hoppiness. Has a slight fruity taste, with an almost caramel finish.

From the bottle, a “unique version of an ancient style…. made with 43 different hops and 65 various malts, this redolent ale will likely float your boat, whatever planet you are on.”

Brewed by Lagunitas Brewing Company, CA

Heather Ale

Ale Brewed with Heather Flowers

5%    1 pint 6 oz Bottle

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Fairly light tasting ale. Definite fruity-like flavor, must be the Heather flowers. Created as a summer beer, seems like a good fit. Easy to drink, fruity beer

The heather flowers are handpicked from Westport, MA by the Brew Crew and friends.

Brewed by Cambridge Brewing Company, MA

Slumbrew Happy Sol

Ale brewed with honey, orange peel, coriander,and blood orange juice

5.5%    12 oz Bottle

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Orange smell. Strong aftertaste, citrus and possible coriander taste. Reminds us both of a Blue Moon with and orange wedge in it.

From the bottle ‘refreshing Bavarian-style hefeweizen ‘ that is an ‘unfiltered wheat beer brewed with orange peel, coriander, honey and the juice from over one thousand fresh blood oranges.’

Brewed by Somerville Beer Company, MA

Boddingtons Pub Ale

1 pint Can, comes in 4 packs

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Comes with a widget in the can. Smooth and creamy is a good way to describe it, that must be why it’s on the can. It is a medium style ale, easy to drink, smooth and creamy.

From the can, it is a “unique, pale-gold ale” that was first brewed in 1778.  “Boddingtons is served using the traditional hand pulled method which mixes air with the ale as it pours, producing a distinctive creamy head and smooth bod, with little gassiness. ” They use the widget to try and reproduce that in a can.

Brewed by Inbev UK Limited in Luton, England

p.s. – Inbev is the giant company that owns most (non-craft) breweries, including Budweiser.

Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout

10%    12 oz Bottle

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Smells like toasted chocolate. Tastes like a heavy, dark stout. Subtle, toasted chocolate taste. I was expecting more of a milk chocolate taste, but it was good heavy stout with subtle flavoring.

This is brewed as a winter beer, and “achieves a chocolate aroma and flavor through the artful blending of six varieties of black, chocolate and roasted malts.”

Brewed by the Brooklyn Brewery, Utica, NY

Unibroue La Fin Du Monde

Triple Golden Ale on Lees

9%    1 pint 9.4 fl oz Bottle

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Cloudy look, lighter than expected when I poured it into the glass. Has a fairly light taste, lemony, a hint of orange and some spices, possible coriander. Easy to drink, good overall.

“The excellence of triple fermentation through a blend of special yeasts gives this malt beverage La Fin Du Monde (The End of the World) an exquisitely robust flavor of exceptional refinement.”

Brewed by Unibroue in Chambly, Canada

Southern Tier Plum Noir

Imperial Porter Brewed with Italian Plums

8%    1 pint 6 oz Bottle

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Fairly light taste for a porter. Has a malty taste, with only subtle fruit notes. I was expecting more of a fruity taste with “Plums” advertised so much on the front. Easy to drink, subtle taste.

From the bottle ” Moody and Evocative: Plum Noir’s mild sweetness is derived not necessarily from the plums, but from the many malts we use. A bit of plum flavor is present as well as earthy, toasted grains, & hints of caramel with mild coffee overtones.”

Brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Company, Lakewood, NY

That’s it, thanks for reading, Mark.