Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Brew Thursday - Double Tap . . . Switchback Ale and Honker's Ale

One of our favorite restaurants, Red Park Steakhouse and Pub, has a hoppin' pub with some fantastic bartenders.  The bar is so much fun we normally dine in there instead of the restaurant.  

The pub has a large selection of standard beers with few rotating taps.  There's always something interesting and new to try.  They had two new (to us) ales on tap so we decided try a pair of ales.  Both were distinctly different with completely disparate flavors.

First up to bat was Switchback Ale.

Switchback Brewing was founded in 2002 by a couple of friends and is located in Burlington, Vermont.  I'm a big fan of small breweries, so anytime I get the chance to try a new microbrew I'm all over it.  This one didn't disappoint.  

Switchback Ale is brewed with five different malts, select hop varieties, and their own specially cultivated yeast.  The special brewing process uses the yeast to naturally carbonate the beer, and it is left unfiltered. 5.0% alcohol by volume. 

When the beer was set in front of me by the bartender I was immediately struck by the color . . . a beautiful reddish gold.   It was fairly clear for an unfiltered ale. The taste was refreshing; not overly hoppy, clean and fresh tasting with a nice malty flavor on the tail end.   It wasn't in-yer-face remarkable but overall it yummy and very drinkable.   If you're looking for something different to try, I'd say give it a go.

For more information you can find Switchback Brewing Company on Facebook.

Second in the line up was a beer by a fun name that couldn't be denied . . . Honker's Ale.  Brewed by Goose Island Beer Co. hailing from Chicago Illinois.  

Goose Island started out a single brewpub 1988 but was eventually sold to a better known brewery . . .  Anheuser-Busch . . . in 2011.  

The beer is distributed throughout the United States and England, but interestingly the Honker's Ale we enjoyed is made a little closer to home.  This variety and their IPA brewed specifically for the east coast in New Hampshire.  Does that make it a microbrew?  Mmm . . . I'm not so sure.

Honker's Ale is categorized as an English Bitter.  To me that brings to mind an acerbic hoppy taste but, in fact, this isn't the case at all.  British bitters are much milder than IPA's and are generally considered the mildest of English bitter ales . . . as opposed to best and premium bitter ales.

I would say that describes Honker's Ale pretty well.  It had a mild hoppy taste and was surprisingly light tasting . . . in other words, it is not a strong tasting beer.  It actually had what I would say was a hollow finish . . . not much flavor at all at the end.  4.7% alcohol by volume. 

Did I like it?  It thought it was good but not exceptional.  I can't say that I would buy it again; however, I wouldn't turn one down if someone handed me a glass.

Visit the Goose Island website for more information on this or their other offerings.

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