Billy's Beer Blog - A Layman's Guide to Great Beer


Posts Tagged ‘American Brown Ale’

Tastefully Done

November 29th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

The aptly named CCB Tasting Room is a great place to spend a Saturday afternoon

Anne and I spent Saturday afternoon at the Cigar City Brewing Tasting Room. In addition to being a cool place to hang out and have a pint or two, there’s the added bonus of getting a tour of the brewery. The Tasting Room draws a nice crowd of people from all ages, and the novice craft brew drinker is as welcome here as the beer aficionado.

I started with a pint of Cigar City Table Saison (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 4.0), an easy drinking farmhouse ale. Honey in color, it has subtle notes of citrusy fruit such as bananas balanced by spicy hops and toasted malt with a crisp clean finish. Table Saison makes an excellent session beer.

For round two, it was Cigar City Improvisación (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 9.0), a flavorful oatmeal rye ale. It pours a deep mahogany color, with the oatmeal and rye notes complimented by roasted malt and grassy hops. Improvisación is a rich, well balanced beer and the alcohol content isn’t that noticeable.

I finished by sampling Cigar City El Lector (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; English Dark Mild Ale; ABV: 4.0), an eclectic English style ale. Chocolate in color, it has a smooth easy feel to it, with notes of coffee and sweet malt followed by a cream soda like taste at the end. El Lector is perfect as either a session or dessert beer.

I thank Tasting Room Manager Travis for the brewery tour, and Jason behind the bar for his hospitality.

On a more serious note, there will be a City Council meeting this Thursday, December 2nd, where the wet-zoning for the Tasting Room will be voted on. Since this vote will determine whether or not the Tasting Room remains open, Cigar City needs your support. All who are interested in supporting the Tasting Room should go to Cigar City’s website below for further information. Thank you.

Good To The Last Drop

November 26th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Cubano Espresso is a java lover's dream

There was a 1970s commercial from Maxwell House stating that their coffee was “good to the last drop.” And there’s an ale from Cigar City that lives up to this adage as well.

Cigar City Cubano Espresso (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5), an offering from the brewery’s Maduro series, is a remarkable brown ale. Chocolate in color, it has considerable notes of expresso in the nose and throughout the taste. The bounty of expresso is complimented by caramel malt, roasted nuts, and vanilla spices with a rich coffee presence at the finish. Cubano Expresso gets better with each sip, and as the beer warms, the flavors intensify and the wonderful complexity of this ale is really drawn out.

The coffee-centric backbone and full-bodied flavor of Cubano Expresso makes it an exceptional beer. It’s truly “good to the last drop.”

Pecan Pie In A Pint

October 28th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Pecan Harvest Ale will make you think of grandmother's house

Now that Fall has arrived, I’ve written several posts about pumpkin ales. But there are other beers that are perfect for this time of year as well. I had the chance to savor one at Shakespeare’s recently.

Abita Pecan Harvest Ale (Abita Brewing Co.; Abita Springs, LA; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.0) is an enjoyable amber colored ale with substantial notes of pecans in the nose and throughout the taste. The hearty pecan presence is balanced by caramel, roasted malt, and a hint of brown sugar. This ale really has a nice pecan pie feel to it, and complimented the crispy duck salad that I had for dinner. I’m sure it would pair well with another bird, namely Thanksgiving turkey, next month.

At an ABV of only 5%, Pecan Harvest Ale is quite easy to drink, and recommended to anyone looking for a flavorful session beer this Autumn.

An Oatmeal Raisin In The Sun

September 3rd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 2 comments

Betty Crocker has nothing on this Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Our friend Brian was in town, so Anne and I met him for drinks at World of Beer. Angie pointed out that they had just tapped the latest offering from Cigar City, and I was eager to give it a try.

Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale (Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5) is another craft beer in the Maduro series. It pours a dark brown color, with notes of sweet caramel and oatmeal raisin balanced by roasted malt and spices such as cinnamon and vanilla. Its richness has the feel of a more potent beer, and the oatmeal raisin cookie presence is very apparent from beginning to end. This is a beer to be savored either with dessert, or as an after dinner drink.

Kudos to Cigar City for brewing another outstanding beer in the Maduro series.

World of Beer on Urbanspoon


August 9th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 4 comments

I was in my natural habitat at Wazoo 2010

Anne and I had a blast at Wazoo 2010 this past Saturday night at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. In addition to having more than 250 beers and beverages from around the world, the event featured cuisine from restaurants as well as live music from area based artists Velvet Jones, Impulse, and The Paper Stanleys. We also had a chance to get out of the heat for a bit at the zoo’s Beastly Beverage Club, which featured dinner and live music as well. Wazoo 2010 was a well organized brewfest, and I had the chance to sample some old favorites, as well as some new ones. I listed a sampling of the latter below.

Samuel Adams Sample A – Belgian IPA; Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Belgian India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. Part of this year’s 2010 Longshot Series, this ale is my pick for the brewery’s 6th annual Beer Lover’s Choice. Golden in color, with big notes of citrusy and piny hops balanced by sweet malt and a spicy undertone from the Belgian yeast. As full-bodied as it is complex.

Samuel Adams Sample B – American Rye Ale; Boston Beer Co.; Boston, MA; Rye Beer; ABV: 5.3. This Longshot Series candidate pours a deep mahogany color and has notes of rye and roasted malt complimented by citrusy and floral hops. Very easy to drink with a nice dry finish.

Saint Somewhere Pays du Soleil; Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.; Tarpon Springs, FL; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 8.0. A delicious saison from area based brewery Saint Somewhere. Amber in color, the big notes of tart and citrusy fruit are complimented by sweet caramel and toffee with a sour finish typical of a wild ale.

Saint Somewhere Saison Athene; Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.; Tarpon Springs, FL; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.5. An excellent farmhouse ale. A golden saison brewed with chamomile, fresh rosemary and black pepper. The array of spices are backed by notes of sweet malt and citrusy fruit with a crisp clean finish.

Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale; Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5. A smooth brown ale, Tumbler has notes of sweet caramel and roasted malt, balanced by piny hops and a brown sugary backbone.

Dunedin The Rock Double IPA; Dunedin Brewery; Dunedin, FL; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. From the local brewery’s Brewmaster Series, this DIPA pours a burnt orange color and has big notes of citrusy fruit balanced by caramel malt and piny hops with a slightly bitter finish.

Southampton Pumpkin Ale; Southampton Publick House; Southampton, NY; Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 5.5. An exceptional pumpkin ale from the Long Island based brewery. Copper in color, with the pumpkin pie presence complimented by sweet caramel and cinnamon spices.

Tampa Bay McBrews Scotch Ale; Tampa Bay Brewing Co.; Tampa, FL; Scottish Ale; ABV: 7.0. A smooth, easy drinking Scottish ale. Amber in color, with notes of sweet malt and chocolate balanced by light hops with a resiny finish.

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace; Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 7.6. A superb saison from the acclaimed brewery. Golden in color, with the Japanese Sorachi hops balanced by notes of citrusy fruit, sweet malt, and peppery spices. Refreshing from start to finish.

Southern Tier Farmer’s Tan; Southern Tier Brewing Co.; Lakewood, NY; Imperial Pale Lager; ABV: 9.0. An eclectic, straw colored imperial lager. Big nose of citrusy and piny hops complimented by notes of sweet malt, wheat, and peppery spices.

Leffe Blonde; Anheuser-Busch InBev; Leuven, Belgium; Belgian Pale Ale; ABV: 6.6. A golden, easy drinking Belgian ale. The notes of citrusy fruit, particularly bananas, are balanced by sweet malt and light spices such as cloves.

We concluded the evening by sampling an excellent dopplebock from The Beer and Wine Makers Pantry. Called Strawberry Dopplebock, it poured a dark amber color with big notes of strawberries, roasted malt, and a hint of chocolate. I’m guessing the ABV is around 6-6.5%.

All in all, our brewfari was a total success!

Good Karma

August 7th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

You'll get positive vibes from this Karma

Stopped by Shakespeare’s the other day and ordered a pint of Terrapin Hop Karma Brown IPA (Terrapin Beer Co.; Athens, GA; American Brown Ale; ABV: 6.0). Like Dogfish Indian Brown Ale, it’s brewed as a traditional brown ale crossed with an IPA. Karma is dark brown in color, with notes of citrusy hops akin to an IPA balanced by the roasted malt backbone of a brown ale. Each are complimented by hints of sweet caramel and nuts with a slightly bitter finish. Karma is smooth from start to finish, and really went well with the Thai chicken wrap that I ordered.

Anyone looking for good Karma should give this ale a try.

A Matter of Life & Limb

December 15th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

An ale definitely worth going out on a limb for

An ale definitely worth going out on a limb for

I’ve been wanting to try Life & Limb (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 10.2) since first hearing about it from my friend Wayne Mahaffey. A collaboration between Dogfish and Sierra Nevada, it took a lot of effort to find it, but the hunt was definitely worth it. I was able to order a couple of 24 oz. bottles from Brewforia Beer Market (, the online beer store based out of Boise, ID.

This is a very complex beer to say the least. I noticed a smoky, almost tobacco like taste up front, followed by chocolate, sweet molasses, dark fruit, and possibly a little vanilla as well. There’s even a woody feel to Life & Limb that reminds me of Dogfish’s own Palo Santo Marron, albeit a slightly lighter version. This ale gets better with every sip, and the 10.2% ABV is hardly noticeable. All in all, Life & Limb lives up to its billing.

Kudos to Brewforia for having it in stock, and for putting together an online store with an excellent selection of hard to find beers.

Taps & Turkey

December 1st, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Gobble Gobble

Gobble Gobble

Thanksgiving is always a wonderful holiday for us, as we gather with family and friends to enjoy the day. Anne cooked another wonderful turkey, and everyone brought either a delicious side or dessert. The long holiday weekend also gave me time to relax, and to try several new beers that I really enjoyed.

Brooklyn Manhattan Project (Brooklyn Brewery; Brooklyn, NY; Rye Beer; ABV: 8.5) is a complex beer that grows on you with each sip. The dark cherry taste is complimented by sweet caramel, cinnamon & vanilla spices, roasted malt, and possibly even a hint of bourbon. This beer is also quite smooth, so the 8.5% ABV isn’t noticeable.

BrewDog Paradox Isle of Arran Batch 016 (BrewDog Ltd.; Fraserburgh, Scotland (UK); Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.0) is another complex beer. Quite drinkable for a beer of its potency, the taste is an array of dark chocolate, nuts, coffee, and dark fruit. Paradox is aged in whiskey casks, so there’s definitely a smoky feel and aftertaste to it as well.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar (Rogue Ale Brewery; Newport, OR; American Brown Ale; ABV: 6.2) is one of the best American brown ales there, and comparable to the classic English browns as well. Crisp and refreshing, the rich hazelnut taste is balanced by dark chocolate, roasted malt, and earthy hops.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Chico, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8) is a truly exceptional IPA. The taste up front is a blend of citrusy & piney hops, complimented by sweet malt, honey, and spices. Celebration is a very drinkable ale and can easily be a holiday session beer.

I highly recommend each of these beers, and they would definitely go well with any Thanksgiving leftovers!

Heavy Seas Indeed

September 5th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Big DIPA comes at you in a wave of hops

Big DIPA comes at you in a wave of hops

I picked up a bottle of Heavy Seas Big DIPA (Clipper City Brewery; Baltimore, MD; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.6) the other day at my local Total Wine & More. I’ve been a big fan of Clipper City’s Heavy Seas line, with several of their offerings among my favorite all-time beers. Needless to say, Big DIPA is yet another superb beer from the Baltimore brewery.

The big piny hops up front come at you like a tropical storm, but are well balanced by sweet caramel malt, dark fruit, & spices. This Imperial IPA is quite drinkable even with an ABV of nearly 11%. Big DIPA is a suped up version of their outstanding IPA Loose Cannon (Hop3 Ale).

I was having dinner with friends the other night at Urban Flats, & had a couple of pints of Dogfish Indian Brown Ale (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; American Brown Ale; ABV: 7.2). This beer is easily one of my favorite brown ales, with a big nutty burst up front complimented by sweet caramel, roasted malt, & spicy hops. You can have it with dessert just as easily as the main course.

I highly recommend both of these excellent ales.

Dog(fish) Days of Summer

June 14th, 2009 Bill Zavorskas 1 comment

You like me, you really like me

You like me, you really like me

Summer officially starts next Sunday, but for us here in Florida it’s been summer for weeks now. With the heat & humidity reminding Sunshine State residents of the dog days of August and September.

I stopped by my local Fresh Market earlier this week to pick up dinner, and was in need of something refreshing. They were running a special on several beers, so I decided on the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery; Milton, DE; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 9.0). This beer had fallen out of favor with me in the past year or so, as I felt that they were sacrificing the original taste for a more alcoholic bite. While it was still a pretty good beer, it seemed a bit overrated and not up to previous standards, or comparable to top flight IPAs such as Green Flash Imperial IPA, Stone Ruination IPA, & Bell’s HopSlam Ale.

Well, I got home, poured it into a chilled DFH glass, and hoped for the best. Maybe it was the humidity, or the long day that I had at work. Maybe DFH read my mind. Guess what? I liked it, I really liked it! The alcohol is still there, but it’s balanced by a wonderful array of big citrusy hops & malt. The finish is crisp & clean. Just like old times.

My faith has been restored, and I once again consider this beer one of the best IPAs out there.

In addition to Dogfish 90 Minute IPA, I had several other excellent brews recently at the Mellow Mushroom:

Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale; Cigar City Brewing; Tampa, FL; American Brown Ale; ABV: 5.5. A truly outstanding brown ale. The toasted malt up front is well balanced by oatmeal, milk chocolate, & caramel. More than holds its own with the classic English brown ales. The best offering from a brewery known for its outstanding beers.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout; Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Russian Imperial Stout; ABV: 10.8. Bell’s Expedition Stout gets all of the fan fare among the imperials, but this beer blows it out of the water in my opinion. The rich chocolate taste is complimented by roasted malt, coffee, & a mild hoppy finish. Very smooth for a beer with an ABV of nearly 11%. Rivals Brooklyn Black OPS as my favorite Russian Imperial Stout.

Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine (2009 Double Dry Hopped); Stone Brewing Co.; Escondido, CA; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.3. Another superb offering from Stone. Big malty taste with hints of bourbon & vanilla, & a blast of citrusy hops. Reminds me of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot.