Howdy fellow snobs!
FALL! Football! Fall beer! I know many of us aren’t hot on the pumpkin beers that we start seeing in the summer BUT there are so many other great beers that accompany the fall season. I can also appreciate the fact that many breweries are looking to set themselves apart from the pumpkin madness (that and apparently pumpkin is a bit hard to come by this year). In this case, our friends at Starr Hill Brewery decided to try something a bit different – a variety pack with two newbies in the mix – Basketcase American Helles and Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale.
Now, these two newbies are joined by two old favorites, Northern Lights IPA and Whiter Shade White IPA. Being as we’ve checked those two out previously, we’ve hyperlinked to them. Don’t worry, quality control is our middle name, if the current examples didn’t live up to the previous posts, we’d let you know – however, we all know that’s not how Starr Hill rolls!
So, newbies, let’s check ’em out:
Basketcase American Helles
A highly attenuated pale malty European lager, yes please! It’s fun to get something a little different and in this case, Helles just isn’t a style you find too terribly often. On the nose the malt notes take center stage – grainy, hay, a little bit of bread. The hops are there, but they are certainly the backup singers here with a touch of spice – and everything nice. Color is a brilliant gold and even with the chill haze on the glass it’s wonderfully clear, nice head as well – at least initially. While it has died down to be non-existent, there are still plenty of carbonation bubbles and, like your old football coach, it is easily agitated. Flavor – malty sweetness – grainy with a subtle bitterness from the hops. The beer finishes sweet and lingers…and lingers….until you take that next sip. Refreshing, crisp, clean.
Final snobs: while this may be in the fall line up, where was this beer this summer?! Ok, so maybe an early fall beer. Very crisp, refreshing and nicely done. This is definitely a beer you could easily go through 3-4 of during the first half of the game. As there are only 3 in this 12 pack, you should probably plan on getting two 12-packs or spring for the sixer…in addition to the 12 pack of course.
Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale
Next up we have a traditional English Brown Ale. Color is an amber-brown with a medium to low head as it was poured. As this beer touts the inclusion of real Virginia maple syrup, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as sometimes beer like this can be overdone. I’ll be honest in that as the head dissipated I had to hunt a little bit to find the maple syrup on the nose but once I did I have to say it’s very inviting – it’s also now center stage! Malt was the first thing I found – bread, toast – then a little vanilla. Once I found the maple though, wow, feels like breakfast. You know that magical moment when you look at your plate to find that the syrup has invaded the bacon’s space and now you’ve got maple bacon – EUREKA! Yeah, that’s what I’m finding with this beer. On the palate toast is the first thing I find but it quickly gives way to the maple sweetness that coats the palate but not aggressively so. There’s also still just a bit of a spice note from the hops. Medium body, low to medium carbonation that lingers at the side of the glass.
Final snobs: I am about to go find the waffle iron and pop another one of these. This is a remarkably smooth brown ale and while the maple isn’t subtle, it’s not crazy either. At 6.1% ABV this is a wonderful beer for a fall Saturday, paired with afternoon football or with breakfast.
Final, final snobs: this is an awesome variety pack from our friends in Crozet, VA. Each beer stands alone and are a welcome pairing with fall, football and friends. Robbie O’Cain is a top notch Brewmaster and it shows in each one of these beers.