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Wednesday, December 19th 2012

Phantom Punch Winter Stout
(Baxter Brewing Company)

Baxter's recent winter release pays homage to a big event which took place in their hometown of Lewiston, Maine. The can tells the story and the design, by artist Josh Fisher, is an outstanding example of what you can do with a cylindrical canvas. 

From the Baxter Brewing site:

"Baxter has named its winter stout in celebration of Lewiston’s 1965 Ali/Liston heavyweight championship. “Phantom Punch” is a Foreign Extra Stout with a hearty 6.8% ABV; enough to warm up winter gatherings, but not too much to prevent sipping a few by the fire. Its deep black hue and rich tan head compliment the full, but not overly-heavy body. Roasted and toasted malts dominate the flavor, with hints of caramel and strong notes of chocolate.


Meanwhile, roasted organic cocoa nibs reinforce the malty chocolate flavors, while real vanilla beans suggest a touch of sweetness without weighing down the brew. Lastly, Phantom Punch has just enough British hops to balance the stout’s maltiness, but this is Baxter’s least hoppy beer to-date."

Here we go...


Pour - darks as a winter's night in Maine. There are some shades of brown and red when held to the light. A big coffee colored head sits on top. 

Aroma - if you like big roasted malt aromas than this will make your nose happy. Strong dark roast coffee, bitter chocolate, cocoa and vanilla all intermingle quite nicely. 

Taste - one sip brings a flood of roasty/toadty malt flavor into my mouth. The bitter chocolate and coffee flavors hit the tip of the tongue right away and the sweetness from the malt combines with some of the cocoa and vanilla to round things out. It has a dry bitter roasted malt finish and just a hint of citrus from the hops. Love all the rich roasted malt flavors and just how smooth this is going down. It would be great to try this on nitro sometime. 


Overall - a very well-assembled stout that should make the stout and malt crowd quite happy this winter. It brings about pleasant memories of Dieu du Ciel's Aphrodite, with its cocoa and vanilla flavors and aromas. I'll definitely be enjoying more than a few of these during the long New England winter ahead.


Note - Lewiston is the smallest city to host a heavyweight title bout since Jack Dempsey fought Tom Gibbons in Shelby, Montana (population 3,000) in 1923. It remains the only heavyweight title fight held in the state of Maine.

The second Ali-Liston fight was embraced by The Pine Tree State. Maine Governor John H. Reed announced to the press, "This fight is one of the greatest things to happen in Maine. Nevertheless, it would go down in history as a debacle.

Due to the remote location (140 miles north of Boston), only 2,434 fans were present (the arena seated less than 3,700), setting the all-time record for the lowest attendance for a heavyweight championship fight. The fight also ranks as one of the shortest heavyweight title bouts in history as Liston was knocked out before the end of the first round. Many in the small crowd had not even settled in their seats when the fight was stopped. - Wikipedia


Phantom Punch Winter Stout
Style: Foreign/Export Stout
Brewery: Baxter Brewing Company
Lewiston, Maine  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: ???
ABV: 6.8%
IBUs: ???
Date: December 19th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Sunday, December 16th 2012

Abominable Winter Ale
(Hopworks Urban Brewery)

It really is amazing how craft beer can design just keeps on getting more and fun and exciting. HUB's newest canned release, as well as their first seasonal can, features a hard to resist illustration of "Mr. Yeti" by Portland artist Martin Ontiveros. For years this brew has been available on draft and in 22 oz. bottles, also with incredible artwork by Ontiveros, and now for the first time its available in cans. If you see some, get some. Did we mention that this, and every other beer that Hopworks brews, is totally organic? Just a side note. Also, we just found out that HUB barrel-ages some of this and pours it under the name "Kentucky Christmas". That is surely incredible...

From the Hopworks Urban Brewery site:

"This mythological beer emerges from the depths of our brewery every winter. Made with Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops and six organic malts. “A-Bomb” has a complex floral, spicy and citrus hoppiness backed up by just the right amount of malt sweetness.

Don’t turn your back on the BEAST!"

Here we go...

Pour - dark auburn in color with a big beastly, snow-white head on top. Loads of sticky lacing inside the glass. 

Aroma - citrusy, piny, grassy, molasses-y. Very nice aromas of sweet oranges and caramel. Very balanced between hop aroma and malt aroma. 

Taste - the first taste reminds me of grapefruit with some sugar on top. Its both puckering and citrusy but with a sweetness. Each additional sip brings about similar sweet citrus flavors from the hops and malts working together. There is certainly a good deal of pineyness here as well. Each sip is completed with a not-too-dry and not-too-bitter finish. Nice lingering hop flavors and malty sweetness sticking to the tongue. This isn't too heavy but certainly has some bigger flavors. 


Overall - this beast has some bite but has an overall balanced temperement. Great hop flavors and aromas and a winter brew that doesn't taste like someting you'd rather eat than drink. This should appeal to the hopheads as well as the maltheads. Its big but not too scary. This is the type of monster that you're happy comes along with a few of his friends.


Note - you can check out more of Martin Ontiveros' artwork over on his website MartinHead.Com


Hops Scale:
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Abominable Winter Ale
Style: American Strong Ale
Brewery: Hopworks Urban Brewery
Portland, Oregon  
United States  
Container: 16 oz. can
Malts: ???
Hops: Cascade, Centennial and Chinook
ABV: 7.3%
IBUs: 70
Date: December 16th, 2012

Posted by Russ

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Monday, December 6th 2010

Fireside Chat
(21st Amendment Brewery)

Just a few days ago, December 4th, marked the 77th anniversary of the repealing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution with the almighty 21st Amendment! Thus ending the era of prohibition. What better way to mark the occasion than by enjoying 21st Amendment Brewery's latest release!

With this new canned offering, 21st Amendment has again managed to be the first to can a certain style of beer with this Winter Warmer (or Spiced Winter Ale). I have to say that the graphics for this can are great, they really show how far we've come with canned beer in the past 75 years! FDR sitting down with a drink and talking to an elf. Awesome!

From the 21st Amendment site:

"Like FDR's Depression-era radio addresses, which were like a kick in the butt and a hug at the same time, our Fireside Chat is a subtle twist on the traditional seasonal brew. We begin with a rich, dark, English-style ale and then we improvise with spices until we know we have a beer worth sharing with the nation.

Fireside Chat is our early winter seasonal brew available from October through December in six pack cans and on draft. Brewed like a classic, warming Strong Ale but with a subtle blend of hand-selected spices for just the right festive flair."

Here we go...


Pour - dark amber with some nice reddish hues when held to the light. A rather thin off-white head fades to a ring of film rather quickly. Very deep and dark in appearance. Perfect for a winter brew.


Aroma - malty, sweet and sour, light caramel, apples and cloves. Reminds me a bit of warmed red wine and spices. 


Taste - sweet and sour on the tongue sort of like the aroma. It has some bitterness, some black cherry, a bit of apple cider, not a whole lot of those spices maybe just some hints at nutmeg or cloves with a very vinous in the finish. By that I mean it has a dryness on the tongue similar to red wine. At almost 8% its a bit boozy too which is nice as it does a good job with the winter warming bit.


Overall - I really dig this beer as its quite unique. The flavors may not mesh completely perfectly but each sip brings something new and once this warms it really has some complexity. If you've got some red wine loving friends that stray away from beer you might want to share this with them.


Would I buy more of it? - sure. I'm glad it comes in a six-pack and I will look forward to trying more of it next winter (or maybe later this winter as its a long one here in New England). 


Note - Fireside Chat is brewed with assorted spices as well a cocoa nibs. This is the first winter they've released this beer and it will be quickly followed by their other seasonal release, Monk's Blood.


Can Scale:
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Fireside Chat
Style: Winter Warmer
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
San Francisco, California  
United States  
Container: 12 oz. can
Malts: Pale, Munich, Wheat, Crystal, Aromatic, Chocolate Malt and De-Bittered Black
Hops: Magnum, Goldings
ABV: 7.9%
IBUs: 45
Date: December 6th, 2010

Posted by Russ

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