Dan's Beer Reviews
Christmas 2013

O.K., let me start by putting the record straight -- I'm not much of a beer drinker anymore (since the late 80's or so...now I'll typically drink a beer, oh, maybe once every year or two!), and I'm far from a connoisseur. However, a friend of mine from long ago gave me a mixed six-pack of beers he likes as a present this last Christmas (thanks, Paul!), so I figured the least I could do was record my impressions of each.

So, here we go...enjoy!

Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce
(Yards Brewing Company)

From the bottle label, "Poor Richard's Tavern Spruce is based on Franklin's original recipe. Enjoy a taste of history courtesy of Yards Brewing Company. Malt beverage brewed with natural flavors (molasses, spruce tips and sprigs)."

The friend who gave me this beer (no, I'm sorry, it's a malt beverage) said it would be like drinking a pine tree. Actually, the flavor wasn't nearly that strong. It tasted to me like a perfectly normal medium dry beer or ale, with some detectable flavor of molasses, and with an interesting aftertaste, that with some imagination could have been spruce. I liked it, and would drink it again, but wouldn't go out of my way to find it.

Samuel Adams Winter Lager
(The Boston Beer Company)

Billed as a "dark wheat bock subtly spiced with fresh ground cinnamon, ginger, and orange peel," what I noticed was that it was too subtly spiced! I couldn't taste any of the spice...but it was still a pretty good beer. Fairly substantial flavor for a lager (which it's named, after all), but not quite what I'd call a "dark bock." Still, I liked it...I would try it again in a future winter, but again, I wouldn't go out of my way to find it.

Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat Ale
(The Boston Beer Company)

This one lived up to its name. I could definitely taste the cherry and the sweetness that was claimed to be from a touch of honey. Interestingly, the cherry flavor (which appeared right away) seemed to be floating over the wheat ale flavor (which was good, and came through more on the aftertaste). A unique and fun combination, well suited for Christmas time. I liked this one enough that I would make an effort to find it again.

Pilsner Urquell
(Plzeňský Prazdroj brewery)

Pilsner Urquell was the first pilsner beer in the world, and is still made in the town of Plzen, Czech Republic. (Of course, today it's a pasteurized, carbonated bottle beer like most others.) Pilsners are pale beers...to me it tasted like most other lagers, but somewhat more flavorful, with a definite hops-y flavor. I like it well enough, for a pale beer, and I would drink it again. I'd pick it if it were readily available, but wouldn't specifically search it out.

Amber Lager
(Third Shift Band of Brewers)

A good solid straightforward beer; somewhat bitter, but in a good way. It reminded me of the George Killian's Irish Red I liked to drink about 30 years ago (which is also an amber lager). A richer flavor than the pale lagers. I liked it! I would buy it and drink it again.

Hofbräu Dunkel
(Hofbräu München)

To my taste, this was the real winner of this set of six. Called a "dark Munich specialty," it's a great beer! Good solid dark flavor, but very smooth, almost sweet, with little if any bitterness, even on the aftertaste. I think it's now on my (admittedly short) list of exceptional beers, along with Bass Ale and my personal all-time favorite, Guinness Stout (which tells you something about my taste in beer, I suppose...). I liked it a lot, and I would search it out to buy again (which is my highest possible rating)!