Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Russell House, Cambridge, MA

Last night, I was treated to dinner at The Russell House in Cambridge, MA. I knew going in that the restaurant had an excellent beer selection, so I was really excited to see what they had there. I was even more excited when Claire handed me a scrap of paper and a pen and said, "well don't you want to review them?" What a lovely lady :) Here's what I tried:

Beer: Brooklyn Pennant '55 Ale
Category: English Pale Ale
Subcategory: Extra Special/Premium Bitter, aka English Pale Ale

I should start out by saying that this beer was served on cask, which unlike keg and bottle beer is unfiltered (read: still some active yeast in there), unpasteurized, and served at cellar temperatures. What a treat, for few places in the US serve cask ale, and it is really a wonderful way to have fresh beer that is has a bit more character to it.

Appearance: Beer pours a pretty golden, light amber color with the smallest amount of haze and a nice smallish white head that leaves great lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Floral and earthy English hops, slight yeastiness and a little bit of grainy sweetness

Flavor: Mmm, nice English hops, biscuity cereal grains, and a bit of yeastiness with a slight residual sweetness. Very much like the aroma, but better!

Mouthfeel: Pleasant, light carbonation, medium-light bodied

Drinkability/overall: Wonderful, drinkable ale that is a total treat to have on cask. Balanced and flavorful, yet simple and perfect. I have no idea how to get my homebrew on cask, but I'm going to have to look into it. I know that some people have done it.

and up next...

Beer: Blue Hills Brewery Black Hops Ale
Category: Specialty Beer
Subcategory: Cascadian Dark Ale (Otherwise known as Black IPA)

This style is just what it sounds like. It is a higher gravity, dark ale with the hop content of an American IPA. This style is very much in vogue this year, and this was the first time I had ever actually tried the style.

Appearance: very dark brown, almost black but with some pretty reddish hues, head is cream colored and disappears very quickly

Aroma: toffee, coffee, a little roastiness and a hint of citrusy American hops

Flavor: lots of flavor, toffee and roasty espresso combine really interestingly with a decidedly citrusy hop flavor...great how this style of beer combines the dark toffee and coffee flavors with the very bright American hop flavor...very nice and balanced, quite enjoyable

Mouthfeel: medium body, relatively high carbonation (clearly IPA carbonation rather than porter carbonation...interesting choice for sure)

Drinkability: This beer is balanced and flavorful, but it doesn't overwhelm the palate too much. It is definitely an interesting style that I would be interested in brewing this year (especially since all the cool kids are doing it)

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