Last Updated: October 1, 2020
These are my own notes, but perhaps they will be of use to someone else. They reflect my personal tastes. I have no connection to any of the beers I review here.
|9 - 10||In my list of favorite beers. I buy or will buy regularly.|
|7 - 8.9||Really like this and would buy it again / seek it out.|
|5 - 6.9||Wouldn't turn it down, but wouldn't seek it out.|
|3 - 4.9||Dislike this but don't hate it. Would drink it out of politeness or if I already paid.|
|0 - 2.9||This beer pisses me off.|
|DRAINPOUR||This beer is disgusting and undrinkable.|
|PUNT||I don't feel right about rating this beer because I am not a fan of the style generally.|
A beer in two acts: First, sweet malt, with mild but present hops on the finish. Light copper color. Hops is far more muted than most pale ales, which is welcome. Few pale ales I have had have been as malty up front. Like this one a lot. One of Tucson's stand-outs and a pale ale for people who think they don't like pale ale. I wish they made it more frequently. Could drink a lot of this. A welcome alternative to the tedious march of indistinguishable West Coast IPAs. Would like the beer to have just a little more body. I don't believe this has a higher IBU than, say, Deschutes's Mirror Pond.
Shocker. A Tucson Belgian I actually dig. Neither excessively fruity/cidery, nor particularly sweet, the real surprise is the aftershock, which is a savory yeast note which pops up seconds after you swallow and coats the tongue in a way which surprises.
And I do love yeast. It's my favorite beer constituent.
Beer is golden and cloudy, and becomes less translucent and a few steps darker (orange) in the middle of the glass. Smell is yeast, and hops has stepped back to the give the yeast center stage (hops is perfect here). This is less bright than most imports, but this is not a weakness, but rather an interesting variant on the style. No trub here, but would not mind a few floaties. Sometimes, they are my only friends.
Keyword here is savory.
Tucson brewers routinely screw this style up in ways which depress me. Way to go Iron John's. Dang.
Bold foamy white head. Golden. Cloudy. Definitely a chardonnay note here, and just a trace of booze, which is unexpected at this elevated but not particularly extreme ABV. Sweeter than Angel of Antwerp with more fruit. Caps off the hat trick for Iron John's on this Saturday Night. This is a really nice looking beer, and you ought to seek out a good tulip or wine glass to show it off. Tastes like a Belgian beer rather than a bullshit American take on a Belgian beer. Front is fruit, and back end is slightly vinuous (this is a surprise), and while sweetness is there, it does not overwhelm.
The first few bottles I bought from Iron John's (forget the brews/styles) weren't that great. They have clearly hit their stride. What I like about this one is they've put their signature on it, which is that chardonnay/vinuous note which plays well with the classical flavors of this old style of beer.
I don't know what it is about this well-regarded/well-rated beer. It's the second time I've had it and I just don't like its flavor profile. Not much else to say. Would prefer it to be more malty or more fruity. Or something.
A cracking saison. I cannot imagine any fan of this style disliking this outstanding beer. Exactly what you expect in a saison; balanced funk, present but not excessive brett, spicy finish. Refreshing and delicious. Unqualified recommendation. I will return to the Tucson Hop Shop this weekend in search for more. One of three saisons I've had from this brewery; all were excellent. Compares well with index saison, Dupont.
This breaks the rules for me. I'm not a hops guy but I cannot fade this oily, substantial, funky, hoppy beer from Odell. Excellent straight from the can, this beer is a bitterness-sparing bomb of hops. The bitterness is there but plays a lesser role as all of the other hops flavors assert themselves in ways they don't in other pale ales. This is difficult to describe: One would think what I'd look for in a pale ale is muted hops (for the style). This is different. The hops are all over the place here but there are more dimensions than I'm used to in a pale ale. The beer is almost vegetal and greasy with plant oils.
Do not serve this too cold, or you'll be cheating yourself. If you had a can of this and weren't impressed, try it warmer.
Finally, something to try in the criminally obscure Kellerbier/Zwickelbier style. Somewhere between golden and brown, this excellent beer has both savory and sweet notes, and it is the savory ones I'm after. There is a difficult-to-describe yeastiness that hits the back sides of the tongue which I cannot quit. Every few weeks I go down to Plaza Liquors (one of my happy places) and clean them out of whatever bottles I can find. One of my favorites. Hops is nowhere to be found here, but if you swirl the bottle before you pour the last of what is contained therein, the beer goes completely cloudy from trub. Held up to the light, dark particles can be seen suspended in the beer. This is a feature, not a bug. All hail yeast, my favorite beer constituent. More than most beers, I strongly recommend you do not leave the trub in the bottle (not that I ever do; fuck that.)
Sweeter than the Kellerbier, this is a malt-forward, sweet, accessible beer I think almost anyone would like. "Landbier," according to the Internet, translates roughly to "country lager", which is a sort of "house beer" for breweries. While the style varies (and is described in other articles as a marketing term), this particular one is indeed a dunkel, with all of what one expects from that style. Sweet, malty, and unchallenging, you could serve this to anyone and they'd probably enjoy it. Not a bad beer to give someone who has only ever had domestics. Not a bad beer to give to someone who doesn't like beer. Not a bad beer to give to someone who loves beer.
One more from Tucson's mad beer scientists. Iron John's is hilarious. The sheer number of beers coming out of this nanobrewery is mind-boggling. They re-use their bottles, so every time you buy one, you can see the off-center, pasted-on label describing whatever they've refilled it with. It's adorable. But more to the point, Iron John's has, more than any brewery I know, stepped up their game over time. I really disliked the first beers they put out but was entranced by their label (they have the best branding of any Tucson brewery by far). No longer a problem. They have graduated, and at this point, I buy bottles of their beer having little idea what to expect, but once again, unsurprisingly, I find myself smiling.
I am normally not a fan of vegetable or fruit in beer. Not my thing. The one exception is green chiles and by that I mean something like Hatch chiles, and that's what we have here. Upon cracking the bottle open, the strong scent of a New Mexico roadside diner - and if you are not familiar with what I mean, this is a very good thing - fills not only the nose but the whole danged space around the bottle. Red, green, or Christmas style? The beer carrying the chile flavor is perhaps a tad sweeter than I would prefer (though I suspect others would find this agreeable), but as to the taste and scent of the chile essence itself, I have to say, they have really pulled it off. I should emphasize, this is not a spicy beer in terms of capsaicin - rather, they've somehow captured all of the other beautiful flavors of chile, so if you're afraid of heat, there's no need to avoid this one.
Would like to see a version of this same beer with the sugar content reduced a bit.
As a rule I do not display brands on tee shirts or bumper stickers, but the two I might make an exception for are Commodore Business Machines, and Iron John's, the bright burning soul of Tucson craft beer.
Completely opaque black porter. Porter was the first non-macrobrew style I ever liked, which is odd because for years I was convinced I didn't like dark beers, and let me tell you - this is really dark, and opaque even with the brightest flashlight I could find (I collect them), hence the apt name. Conspicuously less sweet than its American counterparts, and with its low ABV aside, this is the sort of thing Stout drinkers would like: roasty, almost burnt, Guinness-like notes. Low sugar, low bitterness, only light years of dark roasted malts to consider here. Viscuous, as its label says. Not particularly chocolatey or coffee-like, nonetheless this beer stands on its own as a celebration of roasted malts. Very British; nothing like the sweeter, milkshake-like porters and stouts in the US.
Weird. Has an aftertaste I do not dig. There are far better Pilsners out there. Love Iron John's but would not buy this one again. Not what I expect from a Pislner. You know what the problem here is? It's malt. Malt is a part of any beer but "maltiness" is not ordinarily something one looks for in what should be a crisp, refreshing, clipped Pilsner. Wrong taste profile for the style.
Easily one of my top five beers of any style: crisp, refreshing, present but muted funk. The ultimate hot weather beer. This beer has an excellent reputation and it is fully deserved. The ultimate in drinkability, it always puts a smile on my face. Outstanding.
In my opinion, this is the best beer produced on the North American continent. This roaring bottle-conditioned beast from Quebec is packed with carbonation, yeast, and overwhelming deliciousness. At 9%, this beer can knock you on your ass, but you couldn't tell the ABV was that high by the taste. This beer stands up to any Belgium-produced tripel and avoids the stupid mistakes American breweries make when attempting the style. Widely available here in Arizona and reasonably priced, it would not be the most terrible thing if for some reason I was stuck drinking this, and only this, for the rest of my life. I give it my highest recommendation. The label is fantastic, too. Perfection. One of my top 5 beers in the world.
Biggest discovery? I like Dunkels. I thought I hated Dunkels. I do not hate Dunkels. I quite like Dunkels. This is a Dunkel. This one is somewhere between copper and brown. Malt, a little caramel, a little bread. People always talk about "dark fruits" but I don't get that here. It's not sweet enough and there's no sense of acidity. Perhaps what I can say is notable about it is it is a little less sweet than other Dunkels I have had, and that is not at all unwelcome.
Perhaps a welcome hint of nuttiness.
Pretty good; would drink again. Unpretentious and conservative, and that is a good thing.
An average but not-bad lager. Slightly odd savory finish with a little more hops than I expected.
I like the fact that it is not very sweet.
Nothing to write home about but I'd drink it again.
I would let this warm a little next time. Delicious. Yeast, malts, just a touch of sweetness. Caramel color.
This is one of my favorite breweries.
Delicious. Highly recommended.
Apparently not super-popular online, I liked it. Grassy notes similar to Weihenstephaner Original Premium. Refreshing.
Not complex at all but goes down easy. Well-balanced for a simple lager.
Would drink it again.
Not an IPA fan.
It reminds me a bit of Odell Rupture in that it expresses the full flavor spectrum of hops without being overwhelmingly bitter.
Resplendent with the flavors and aromas of citrus peel and juice, this is downright delicious. I mean hell it tastes nutritious like orange juice does.
But then again - Deschutes. I always expect the best. The craft brewery at the end of time.
I really wish more breweries understood balance and elegance and harmony like Deschutes does. I really do.
Please bless Deschutes and all the people who make it a thing.
When I drink a blonde ale, kinda what I don't want is a hops element.
Kinda tart. Not what I expected or what I wanted.
Not horrible but I wouldn't buy it again.
It was alright. Wouldn't turn it down but wouldn't seek it out.
A somewhat average European lager. Nothing offensive.
Smooth, easy-drinking and balanced.
Fairly standard Euro-lager with that "something" taste you find in lagers from this part of the world. Not bad, but nothing special.
Surprisingly good, and not what I expected, as I don't like Foster's Lager. This marked-as-Australian brand is actually brewed in Texas. Although an ale, tastes like an adjunct lager, but a little heavier, less sweet, with perceivable but mild bitterness, it reminds me a little of beers like Asahi Super Dry. Those looking for a fizzy, sessionable, hot weather beer but want something less sweet and with perceivable but muted grassy hops. Its simplicity is actually its virtue. A huge improvement over the blue can Foster's Lager.
Roaring, roiling beer with massive ice-cream like head which keeps expanding. The only beer I've seen bubble like this is Weihenstephaner Kristall. A kinetic sculpture of a beer which is almost violent in the glass, it's got all of the stuff you want in a hefeweizen with the classic hefeweizen flavors, especially clove. The beer is not excessively sweet and compares well with my favorite, Weihenstephaner. If you see this, buy it. (That's a note to you, and a note to self.) This is one to give someone new to beer even though they don't deserve it. There are no off-notes here.
Strongly suspect fans of this style would prefer it warmer than I prefer to drink it, which is ice cold, to mute the sweetness of the malt a little bit. Tasty beer for drinking lots of, it nonetheless packed an unexpected punch as I felt the alcohol after only two. Cellar-y and aged-tasting, a half step toward brown, very muted bitterness. Malt dominates. Can drink a lot of this in one session. Am fairly new to Märzens, that may be typical of the style. Good. Would buy again.
Drank over a quart of this in a giant can that came with a large dimpled tankard in a gift set. This says a lot: this is an uncomplex beer for drinking in large quantities. Nothing special but I can't say anything negative about it either: clean, crisp, and balanced with no off-taste. Lager for gulping.
Wonderful biscuity lager, my only regret is I bought only one. Wonderful scent. Very sessionable; will buy a six pack next time. Information online says this is owned by Anheuser Busch InBev, but I have no idea why. It shouldn't keep anyone away. UPDATE: This is now my regular / go-to. I always keep it stocked.
An oddity. This is apparently brewed in the United States (for our consumption), however it is an European lager through-and-through. They make the point that the beer is brewed in accordance with Reinheitsgebot, and it tastes like that (no adjunct notes at all). Pleasantly bitter and biscuity, I seem to enjoy this more than some of the reviews I've read online. It reminds me of Heineken. Nothing wrong here. Some report a skunkiness to this beer but I didn't detect any of that. Finishes dry; I would have expected something sweeter and maltier. As I say, I liked this more than I thought I would and I would buy it again.
Sweeter and maltier than the other German beers I bought on the same day (St. Pauli Girl, Spaten), a perfectly servicable beer. Easy drinking.
Complicated label and assumptions about what was meant by "Berliner Weisse" meant it wasn't clear that this was a sour when I bought it. I don't like sours but I have to say I didn't mind this one, probably because it was not overpowering. When I opened the bottle it immediately foamed over as if the yeast had a feast after the bottle was capped. My first sip detected the lactic acid and, I thought, brettanomyces, perhaps, and while initially disappointed I had to admit I didn't mind the beer much after that. The last glug from the bottle was full of particulate matter. I probably wouldn't buy this again...but maybe. Certainly of the sours I've tried I dislike this one the least. If you like sours you should definitely try this one.
Big yeasty Tripel from the Duvel folks. Wonderful flavors, heavy alcohol. Highly recommended.
It has been a few years since I've had any Bocks. Wasn't a fan then, and am definitely not a fan now. I love Spaten's lager offering, so I'm going to punt here as I don't think I'm qualified to rate this style. Do not want malt here. DO NOT WANT.
Much like Spaten's offering, biscuits and wonderful quaffable, gulpable, sessionable drinkability. Can drink this with some regularity. Simplicity. Great hot weather beer.
Insipid and unmemorable European lager. This would probably go well with food (especially seafood), but I wouldn't probably choose it if there were other offerings. Nothing wrong with it - no odd aftertaste or off-notes; just bland and unexceptional.
OK beer for this style. Less sweetness than I would prefer from the malts. There are better options in this style. Crisp, carbonated finish. Not bad but, eh.
This was the craft beer I tried and loved. For once, balanced hops which are significant and present but not overpowering. Easy-drinking, delicious. A particular characteristic of this beer is you can see foam lines around the edge of the glass marking each sip. This is a beer I would recommend to people who find hops overpowering or want to understand why people love hops. A counterpoint to unbalanced, overpowering American IPAs. Still wonderful after all these years.
Better than I expected, Labatt Blue, one of the more widely available Canadian beers, is sweet in the cream ale sense of sweet, though well-carbonated. Of the American adjunct lagers I've had, this is one of the better ones. Simple, easy-drinking, no strange flavors. Would make a great session beer.
Living up to its name, this dry, slightly bitter, eververscent beer goes incredibly well with food, especially spicy food. Guzzlable and simple. If you took an American adjunct lager, decreased the sweetness and increased the bitterness a little bit, you'd arrive here. I buy this regularly for drinking with a meal.