Flying Monkeys City and Colour Imperial Maple Wheat (after 62 weeks ageing in my cellar)

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Pours a cloudy/muddy dark brown. The nose has grown stronger and the maple more pungent. On the palate though it suffers from the same imbalance as the aged BNL Imperial Chocolate Stout—the maple and the alcohol have gone in different directions creating an unruliness on the palate. It swerves from unctuous syrupy sweetness to bitter, alcoholic bite. While definitely still drinkable it has not improved over it’s original tasting.

My original review:
Dark brown. Like walking into a pancake breakfast at the church hall, the smell of butter melting into maple syrup on hot flapjacks leaps out of the glass and follow onto the palate. The sensation is balance with a pleasant baker’s chocolate bitterness that comes through on the finish. One of the best maple-infused beers I’ve ever tasted. Highly recommended.

Radical Road Brewing Canny Man Scotch Barrel Aged Wee Heavy (after 87 weeks ageing in my cellar)

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Pours a slightly cloudy dark amber brown. Still plenty of smoke on the nose but there a burnt caramel sweetness reminiscent of sponge toffee. On the palate the smoke doesn’t seems as strong as I remembered. I would no longer call this the Lagavulin of craftbeer but still a well peated scotch. The finish is smooth, starting off smokey ending with a lingering sweetness balanced with some faint bitter notes. Definitely still enjoyable but probably best that I cracked this open now rather leaving it for another few months. Highly recommended.

My Original Review:
Tons of smoke on nose & palate (think Lagavulin as craftbeer) balanced by sweet molasses malt.

Beau’s Happy Pilsner (Wild Oats Series No.7)

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Pours pale yellow with lots of head—like it’s designed to spill out of a large stein. Classic Pilsner nose. Hints of honey on the palate. Nice heft with malty backbone. Becomes a bit more ‘green’ on the palate with subsequent sips. All-round very pleasant pilsner.

Non-Alcoholic Beer Round-Up

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Well, it took me a while, but I finally made it through all of the 12 non-alcoholic beer samples that were generously provided to me by Ted Fleming, founder of PremiumNearBeer.com

While it is heartening to see that the breadth of choice for beer drinkers looking to reduce their alcohol intake has greatly increased, sadly, many of the offerings available are still more near than beer when it comes to truly replicating the taste of a full alcohol brew.

Nevertheless, there were some standout bottles and one clear winner—which, as it turned out, was also the last sample I tried.

Krombacher Weizen Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage (Germany) WINNER
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Pours a cloudy deep yellow. Sweet cereals on the nose with a hint of banana. The inescapable near-beer sweetness on the palate actually works in this beer’s favour and compliments the plentiful banana notes. A great summer guzzler sipper.

Krombacher Pils Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage (Germany)
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In my books, Krombacher is the industry leader when it comes to low-alcohol beer. (Although I wouldn’t recommend their Radler unless you like the taste of sickly-sweet lemonade splashed with beer foam.) I’m not a huge fan of German Pils, but this near beer does a great impression of a real one. Lots of grains on the nose and palate with the sweetness well tempered.

Texas Select Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage (USA)
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Smooth and easy drinking. Not too sweet on the palate and highly reminiscent of Coors Light. Perfect for staying hydrated in the hot Texas sun while clearing brush on your ranch under the watchful eye of your Secret Service detail.

Super Bock Pilsner Alcohol Free (Portugal)
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Pours clear yellow. Hint of classic pilsner grain on the nose. Very light on the palate with a lasting finish.

All of these and more are available for purchase at PremiumNearBeer.com

Trillium Brewing Co. Congress St. IPA


Cloudy dark yellow. Tropical passion fruit, mango & lychee (almost sherbet) on the nose with a hint of pine lurking in the background. On the palate the pine steps to the foreground on a wave of pleasant hop bitterness leading to a long finish. Where as Trillium’s Grass Hopper Pale Ale didn’t overly impress me, this IPA is a World Series winning home run definitely worthy of the biggest ticker-tape parade.

Trillium Brewing Co. Grass Hopper Pale Ale


Cloudy deep amber. Pine resin hop notes on the nose. An incredibly balanced beer. Perhaps too perfectly balanced to make a splash in the current craftbeer zeitgeist. On the palate the hops and malt are present but almost indistinguishable. It’s smooth and easy drinking. The length begins to build after the 3rd or 4th sip. This is a beer that could easily get lost in a tasting flight since there is no stratospheric IBU presence or big roasted malt notes to smack you around. Grass Hopper was brewed with 100% Massachusetts-grown/sourced malts and hops, and I imagine the goal was to craft a beer that allowed the ingredients to support each other rather than having one aspect standout. I’d say Trillium has definitely accomplished that with this pale ale, although the result is more a subtle “good job” nod rather than a ticker-tape parade.