Beer/Cigar Review Wednesday 12/28/16

Welcome to beer/cigar review Wednesday where I review any notable (and some not so notable) beers I’ve drunk or cigars I’ve smoked over the past seven days. As always, these are just my subjective opinions and everyone’s palate is different so what I like you might not and vice versa. I always encourage participation in the comments with your own reviews

So let’s get things kicked off, as always starting with this week’s beer selections.

Rahr Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer

Last week we featured Rahr Winter Warmer, a lovely beer in its own right. This is the same beer but aged in bourbon barrels, which kicks the ABV up to a whopping 10.5%* and keeping the IBUs at 44. You’d think the beers would be very similar but they are actually totally different!

Pours the same reddish-brown with a thin tan head that recedes quickly, but this one leaves a thin ring and minimal lacing. Bourbon and alcohol astringency hits the nose up front with the roasted and caramel malt in the background and a hint of vanilla. Flavor consists of the same core of roasted malt and sweet molasses but the bourbon barrel aging adds a whole new level of smoothness, taming the hops (vs. the regular) and introducing a decadent vanilla flavor. Slight burn on the way down rounds out the bourbon aged experience. Thick body and low carbonation, drinks very smooth and almost chuggable.

Though both are great beers in their own respects, this bourbon barrel aged version is in a league of its own and is (at least to my palate) a superior product. I enjoyed the regular, but this just kicks it up. Rating: 4.5/5.

Rabbit Hole Rapture Fusion Brown Ale 

From Rabbit Hole Brewing in Justin, Texas hails this “Fusion” brown ale, described by the brewer as an English brown ale with an American attitude. It weighs in at 6.4% ABV and 33 IBU.

Pours very fizzy from the can (maybe it’s bottle/can conditioned?) but eventually settles into a dark brown with a tinge of red in the light. Aromas of green apple, caramel malt and a subtle citrus hoppiness. Palate pretty much follows identically with a green apple tartness on the front which gives way into a roasted and caramel malt body and a sharp lemony finish. Light in body and high in carbonation and resembles a light beer in terms of mouthfeel so it could easily be chugged.

Definitely an interesting beer of sorts. I did enjoy it and it would make a fine session beer, even if not the most complex beer around. This is one to take with you to the speedway to kill on a day of racing. Rating: 3.5/5.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Celebration Ale is a fresh hopped India Pale Ale haling from Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, California. It weighs in at 6.8% ABV, 65 IBU, 16 Plato OG and the brewer is kind enough to include the final gravity, 4 Plato.

Pours a bright, vibrant red-orange from the bottle with a substantial 2 fingers of head that sticks around and laces the glass like crazy. Very strong, citrusy grapefruit hops on the aroma with a slight undertone of pale and caramel malt. Flavor is practically fresh squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice – crisp and refreshing. The beer benefitted from a little salt (not beer salt, just plain NaCl) according to my palate preference for salted grapefruit (it might be a southern thing, but if I’m going to have a grapefruit with breakfast or something I like it with a bit of salt). A little bit of a burn on the way down. Medium in body and high in carbonation. Drinks well, a little too bitter to chug but not harsh.

If you like grapefruit juice you’re going to love this beer. That’s all there is to it. I’m generally not a huge IPA fan but I do enjoy certain ones and this is one I did and I’m sure IPA fans will enjoy it too. Rating: 4/5.

And now for this week’s lone cigar pick (haven’t had the opportunity to try anything new this week):

Romeo y Julieta Romeo Gorditas

This (approximately) 4″ x 60 RG (couldn’t find an exact size on this vitola) features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and Dominican long filler. I couldn’t find much else on this cigar so we’ll have to go with that.

First light revealed a loose draw producing airy mild/medium bodied smoke with a very musty earth on both the draw and finish and a hint of caramel on the retrohale. About 1/2″ in the body flavors come up to medium and a very soft, aromatic cedar joins in on the retrohale. 1/2 way in the caramel starts taking on more of a sweet spice, almost nutmeg flavor. The final third goes entirely woody throughout bringing a charred wood through the draw, finish and retrohale. Ending at 50 minutes as the smoke starts to go hot and acrid, this was a fairly short smoke with a very mild nicotine strength.

Performance was above average for a 60 ring gauge – a wavy burn requiring one correction at about the 1/2 way point but that’s to be expected with large ring gauges. Otherwise performance was normal.

Not an overly complex or strong cigar but one that would go great with coffee in the morning or for a quick lunch break smoke (assuming you get a 1 hour lunch). Won’t blow you away but won’t disappoint  you. Rating: 3.5/5.