Sunday, May 31, 2009

New Summer Beer from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's is selling a kolsch-style beer. It's called Trader Joe's Josef Brau Summer brew and it is rather good for the buck a bottle price. It's a bright straw-colored brew with a light toasted malt smell that has a crisp cracker-like malt flavor along with a slighty spicy, hoppiness and mineral-like, toasted malt finish. Not too bad.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mission Possible: affordable hoppy ales

I consider $7 a six-pack for what could be considered a craft beer pretty good these days, so when I spotted Mission Street Pale and India Pale Ale at my local Trader Joe's I had to pick up a couple bottles and give it a try.

First up is the Mission Street Pale, which is probably the palest pale ale I've ever seen, shining a bright straw yellow. It smells spicy and citrusy hoppy which is reassuring and the head looks decent. The taste is very smooth and a bit watery for a pale ale, but with a decent spicy hop note in the finish. A touch of peppery alcohol is a bit of surprise for a beer seemingly so benign and drinkable. A hint of toasted malt surfaces as the beer warms up. This would be an excellent "gateway" beer those wondering what hops are supposed to really taste like, without scaring said person away from hoppy beer. I would also note that the drinkability factor and low alcohol by volume (4.6 percent by volume) of this beer should qualify it as the official pale ale of the summer of 2009.

The Mission Street IPA is oddly not as hoppy in the aroma as the Pale Ale. The hops are there, but as pronounced and more grassy than citrus-like. The color is a bit darker than the pale. It is rather malt forward, too, with spicy hops sort of riding on top of the malt towards the finish. The bitter hops seem to struggle through the malt in the finish, but end up winning, coating the tongue with a latent bitterness. Not too bad, but the Pale Ale seemed a little cleaner, as there seem to be even more fusels here.