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Possibly All The Beers I've Ever Had, Reviewed (A-M, June 2022)


Beer, beer, beer... There's so much that can be said and quoted about the stuff, ranging from the old standard, attributed to Ben Franklin, that "Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy," to the new standard from Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing: “I like beer. I don’t know if you do. Do you like beer, Senator, or not? What do you like to drink?”


I like it, too. I used to brew my own and experiment with tweaking the fermentation process. Sometimes it turned out, ehh, okay, and other times uncapping a bottle was reminiscent of one of those grade school science fair volcanos. These days, I'm more a consumer than a creator, always in search of the perfect (to me) product. I like to keep a record both as a hobby and so if the question ever arises, "Wait, have I had this?" it's not hard to find out.


As of 2022, I'm still getting used to the IBU (International Bitterness Units) scale, which ranges from 0 to a normal ceiling of 120. If you need an intro or a refresher, here's the gist:

IBUs of some common styles

​Beer style

IBU rating

Lambic

0-10

Wheat beer

8-18

American lager

8-26

Irish red ale

15-30

20-30

Pilsner

24-44

Porter

18-50

Bitter

24-50

Pale ale

30-50

Stout

30-90

Barleywine

34-120

India pale ale

40-120

Sure, every style isn't exactly precise, but it's helpful enough that I will probably stay away from the single and triple digits.


Now, if you happen to be looking for honest and independent reviews of anything and everything from a regular (and slightly trained via hobby brewing) sipper, this can be a good resource. And it's probably helpful to note that my preference generally (but not always) leans toward the slightly sweeter side.


Each beer is rating on a scale from 0 to 5. The higher the number, the better. I try to avoid decimals, but sometimes they feel necessary.

 

BREWS REVIEWED (Most have photos and some don't, but this post is a work in progress!)



21st Amendment Brew Free Or Die beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​21st Amendment (San Leandro, California)

"Brew Free! or Die" blood orange IPA

7% ABV, 70 IBU, can


Hey, a nice, easy drinking IPA! The hoppiness isn't overwhelming, the blood orange essence is nice and so is the mild sweetness. This actually feels like it could be a cousin of a radler or shandy. Ah, taking a big whiff before a gulp enhances the experience.


Rating: 4 out of 5


Abita Mardi Gras Bock beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Abita Brewing Co. (Covington, Louisiana, USA)

"Mardi Gras Bock"

6.5% ABV, bottle


Delicious. That's all I have to say while enjoying this beer, sorry.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5


(picture owed here!)

​Afanasy Marochnoye

dark lager

4.5% ABV, bottle


Pretty good and in a swing top bottle, which gives it style points. This one is dark and semi sweet and reminds me of a mild Zwiecky or a sweeter Guinness. My wife doesn't care for it, but it made her think of a vanilla latte. I don’t get that exactly. This is nice and a good one to sip on.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5



Alaskan Amber Ale bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Alaskan Brewing Company

"Alaskan Amber" ale

5.3% ABV, bottle


Hey, this one is good! The Alaskan Amber has a mild caramel swirl candy (or “cow tail”) taste and feel. This kind of beer I most associate with being 100% refreshing after mowing the grass with a push mower on a hot summer day. I could probably drink a few of these back-to-back on a non-summer day, as well. It’s good. And I like the story the Alaskan rep told me at a tasting (circa Jan. 2018). He said the company is more widespread now but used to exclusively come from Alaska, passing through Seattle, where some of the beer would go missing, en route to distributors further away. Despite the beer theft, people were trying it, enjoying it, and talking about it. That may or may not be a myth, but it’s a fun story attesting to the power of word of mouth.

Rating: 4 out of 5


​(Yup, I owe a photo.)

​Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Maine)

"Curieux"golden ale

11% ABV


Oh yeah! This one is sweet... and dangerous. It's a nice treat from time to time, and the high, 11% ABV means my good friend wasn't able to order it as a full yard at Yard House. It's a Tripel aged in oak bourbon barrels, giving it a nice complexity and subtleness compared to the sweetness of, say, the New Belgium Trippel.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5



Allagash River Trip beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Maine)

"River Trip"Belgian-style session ale

4.8% ABV


Meh. This one is officially described as conjuring up notes of grapefruit and stone fruits... and I'm unfamiliar with Allagash's use of the term "table beer", which seems derogatory, like it's on par with the pitchers of PBR you may have split with a buddy at the pizza parlor while in college because it was the cheapest option.


This beer meant nothing to me. I loooooove Allagash's "White" and "Curieux"offerings, but the "River Trip" had, sure, a fruit essence and a bitter component to it. I will fully acknowledge that this one possibly could have earned a higher rating on a different day.... On this particular one, dinner was at The Prince in L.A.'s Koreatown neighborhood. Without getting into specifics, as this is a beer review, the overall experience was bad, and I was downing the "River Trip" with the hope it would provide some relief from the capsaicin burning my mouth while eating the spicy chicken. It didn't, because it's not milk. Even while sipping after the burning went away, meh, but again, the overall environment may have influenced the not-so-great impression of this "table beer".


Rating: 2 out of 5



Allagash White beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, Maine)

"White" Beglian-style wheat beer

5.2% ABV, bottle


I dig it. This hazy beer is nice and wheaty and citrus-fruity (it's brewed with orange peel). It has some hoppy bitterness but the beer is well-rounded, light, and refreshing.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5



Azores Juicy IPA beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Azores Juicy IPA (Azores, Portugal)

5.5% ABV, bottle


It’s an IPA, so the expectations were low. However, this tastes like a solid, well rounded offering of that variety. It very much reminds me of one specific Kona (Hawaii) beers. Which one I can’t say at the moment, but this is almost identical.


4/5 (maybe the highest rating I will ever give an IPA)



Baltika 6 Porter beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Baltika Brewery (St. Petersburg, Russia)

#6 Porter

7% ABV, bottle


This is nice. It’s my second Baltika, and I’ve enjoyed both flavors. This porter isn’t too sweet and has a nice chocolate and coffee essence.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5


​(I need to revisit one day, in order to get a photo... but that'll be after Russia ends this war I don't understand.)

​Baltika Brewery (St. Petersburg, Russia)

#8 wheat ale

5% ABV, bottle


As I suspected it would be, this wheat ale is reminiscent of one of my favorites - the Hofbrauhaus Hefeweizen. It has that distinct banana and cloves taste, but it’s not a perfect replacement for the Hofbrauhaus version. It’s close, though.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Baltika Grade # 9 Beer Bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Baltika Brewery (St. Petersburg, Russia)

#9 Extra lager

8% ABV, bottle


I’m discovering Baltika is my favorite brand among the offerings at the “international grocery” near me. This particular one is no bland American lager, that’s for sure. I’m not really sure exactly what “extra lager” means, but maybe that’s why it’s more tasty than an American version. It has maybe a little more of a wheat feel and fruity flavor than I’d expect. As a side note, this has some nice bubbles and might be a good one for product photos, without having to pay $6 for a bottle of Weihenstephaner Kristall.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Bandida do Pomar Sidra apple cider bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Bandida Do Pomar sidra

4.5% ABV, bottle


I didn’t know what I was ordering, here in the Azores, since it was under the beer section. However, it’s very good and less sweet than the shrill we’re used to in the US (ahem, Angry Orchard). I will be ordering this again, at another time, at another meal. Otherwise, it tastes like an apple cider. I don’t know what more there is to say.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5



Belikin beer bucket in Belize - photo by KilmerMedia

​Belikin (Belize)

chocolate stout


This was my go-to beer in Belize - the Belikin lager just didn't do it for me. The chocolate stout was incredible on those hot summer days, and it's probably for the best that it wasn't available everywhere since I would have grown tired of that one.


Rating: 5 of 5



Big Brother Hard Root Beer bottles at a grocery store - photo by KilmerMedia

​Big Brother (Monroe, Wisconsin)

"Hard Root Beer"

5.8% ABV, bottle


I absolutely hate this hard root beer, which I've only seen at the local Aldi. It earns half a star for not being as repulsive as the Brewyard "I Am Root" root beer lager. Big Brother should get back to the drawing board and figure out how to reverse engineer "Not Your Father's Root Beer". Sure, that one has its own questionable quirks (starting here is a slippery slope), but at least the taste (of whatever it is) is good. The amount of wintergreen flavor in the Big Brother product is off-putting, and eliminating that would be the first place to start a reformulation. Is it there to mask another flavor? Does drinking a root beer immediately after brushing your teeth sound like fun?


Rating: 0.5 out of 5


​(the basic review was noted before getting in the habit of snapping supplemental pics)

​Blue Moon

"Belgian White"

5.4% ABV


It has nice citrusy-sweetness, with a really nice, mellow smoothness.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Bochkovoe pale beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Bochkovoe (Poltava, Ukraine)

pale beer

4.6% ABV, bottle


I was expecting more of a bitter, pale ale kind of bite that I’ve been experiencing lately with Ukrainian beers, but that’s not the case with this one. It has a mellow citrus/vanilla/wheat flavor and feel. It’s not all that flavorful, but it would be a really lovely beer on a hot day, after mowing the grass out in the sun. Aside from that, I am enjoying it as-is, but I just think that might be the perfect scenario for this one.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5



Bohemia Original (Portugal) beer poured from a bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Bohemia (Portugal)

“Original” marzen

6.2%, bottle


It’s a marzen… if you’re looking for something that has a sweet essence of caramel, corn, and malt, this should do the trick. It’s good but lacks some sort of magical umami I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s just that it’s slightly too sweet.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Bohemian Mountain Brianda beer poured from a bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​​Bohemian Mountain (Azores, Portugal)

"Brianda" pilsner lager

5.2% ABV, bottle


Interesting lager, like a little bit of the Peter Francisco from this same brewer splashed in this one. It’s good and more complex than a normal Pilsner or lager.


Rating: 4.2 out of 5


Bohemian Mountain Peter Francisco beer poured from a bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Bohemian Mountain (Azores, Portugal)

"Peter Francisco"




Bohemia Regent Prezident beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Bohemia Regent (Trebon, Czech Republic)

Prezident pilsner

6% ABV, bottle


Not feeling it... It's bitter but without the bite you get from an IPA... so just bitter. I did get this half liter bottle for .99 cents, so I’m not too heartbroken over not enjoying it.


Rating: 2 out of 5



​Brecken / State of Brewing (Waunakee, Wisconsin)

Hefeweizen

5% ABV, bottle


This is another one of those brands found at Aldi that I haven't seen anywhere else. So far, what they all have in common is that they aren't anything special. At least the hefeweizen 6 pack was $6.49, and that's a L.A. price. This one isn't bad - it's just on the bland side and reminds me of the Mr. Beer kit I used to have, when it was like "it feels kind of weird to be brewing in plastic, but at least I'm kind of making something on my own, yet it's not great."



Breckenridge Vanilla Porter bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Breckenridge Brewery (Littleton, Colorado, USA)

“Vanilla Porter”

5.4% ABV, bottle


Maybe my nose is off, but the first sniff brings to mind pool water with a vanilla essence. Flavor: toasted malt with vanilla, just as the description says. I expected the sweetness to last, but the aftertaste brings up a slightly bitter hoppiness, then nothing. I like the flavor just fine, but it’s intriguing how the character / profile of this one just vanishes so quickly after each sip. Otherwise, the was once a beer that brought a standard cola to mind, like Coke or Dr. Pepper - this is a little bit like that… a little bit but enough to make me think of it.


Rating: 3.8 out of 5



Brewery X Dublin My Vision Irish Stout beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Brewery X (Anaheim, California)

Irish Dry Nitro Stout

5% ABV, can


If, for some reason, you want an alternative to Guinness, this is it. This one is pretty standard for the style, with notes of coffee, tobacco, toasted bread, and malt. I think it might have slightly less of a flavor profile than the standard draft Guinness, but it’s nice nonetheless. This stout came from Trader Joe’s in SoCal in 2023.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Brewyard I Am Root Root Beer Lager can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Brewyard Beer Company (Glendale, CA)

I Am Root, Root Beer Lager

5.5% ABV, can

Wow, this is gross. Like probably most people, I love a good root beer, so I was looking forward to trying this one. The can mentions vanilla, wintergreen, licorice root, and anise, which sounds agreeable. However, the only other hard root beer I've had that specifically noted wintergreen (Big Brother from Aldi) was gross. So is this one. The notes on the Brewyard can also mention that no sugar is added, and that's probably the problem. Sure, it has a root beer essence, but it's so bitter on the tongue and feels kind of chalky. Yuck. This is literally one of the worst things I have ever poured. The woman working at the beer shop said "Oh, I can recommend that one - it's delightful." It's not at all. She has bad taste.

Rating: 0 out of 5



Brianda (Azores) beer poured from a bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Brianda (Azores, Portugal)

Pilsner lager

5.2% ABV, bottle


Interesting lager, like a little bit of the Peter Francisco from this same brewer splashed in this one. It’s good and more complex than a normal Pilsner or lager.


Rating: 4.2 out of 5



Bronx Brewery World Gone Hazy IPA in a glass - photo by KilmerMedia

​Bronx Brewery (New York)

"World Gone Hazy", Hazy IPA

7% ABV, draft


Gross. And what makes it worse is that this glass is over 12 bucks at the Newark Airport. Glug, glug, with a pinch of the nose it shall be. I don’t appreciate the sourness.


Rating: 2 out of 5



Piwo Na Miodzie honey beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Browaru Joblonowo (Jablonowo, Poland)

"Piwo na miodzie" honey beer

5.2% ABV, bottle


During my time in Poland, it didn't take long to learn "piwo" translates to "beer." From the label on this one, I was expecting an essence of honey. This is so sweet that it tastes like it’s 75% honey and 25% beer. This could be really good and enjoyable if the sweetness were dialed back. The front of the label does say “Taste the best with dessert and ice-cream.” It might be okay ON ice cream, or to counter food that’s so spicy you wonder if it’s going to kill you. This beer gets 1 star for providing some indicator about its sweetness and, since I'm able to fight my way through it, it gets another half-star.


Rating: 1.5 out of 5




Bud Light

lager

4.2% ABV, can


Who hasn't had this? Alas, everyone has a different opinion about classic American lagers, and I'll share mine. I don't care that much for a Miller or a Coors, but Bud Light is different. It's less malty, and the difference between this and the others has to be the rice. Yeah, it might take about 33 cans to get a happy little buzz going... but BL can work as a compromise if you generally avoid having alcohol during the week but want to nurse something while a big football game is on during that time.


Rating: 4 out of 5​



Cracking Clapper beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Campanology (Wisconsin, USA)

"Cracking Clapper" barleywine ale

9% ABV, bottle


This is my first "barleywine" experience, so I had no idea what to expect, or really what the term even meant/means. It turns out the style dates back to the late 1800s, and the "wine" part just comes from comparing the alcohol content to some wines.


This particular offering is a Trader Joe's exclusive label. As for what it's like, the taste is literally bittersweet, with the sweetness and feel of a porter that's been given an extra complexity with some hoppy bitterness. It kind of feels like a cherry cola. The other essence is malty caramel... and dark chocolate as it touches the palate. To me, this ale also brings to mind the added complexity of barrel aging (although I doubt it is). I like this one just fine, and being halfway through the bottle on this lazy Sunday, I'm about ready for an afternoon nap.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Chorne dark lager beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Chorne (Lviv, Ukraine)

dark lager

7% ABV, bottle


This initially has a chocolate and coffee flavor, as I thought it might. However, I’m discovering these Ukrainian beers have a mildly unpleasant rubbing alcohol aftertaste. It’s certainly unique and unusual. Otherwise, the beer has a nice sweetness and not overly so.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5



Cigar City Maduro brown ale can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Cigar City (Tampa, Florida)

"Maduro Brown Ale"

5.5% ABV, 25 IBU, can

Sweet and chocolatey, this is one of my favorites. However, I went a little overboard on my birthday one year, buying 24 cans (they're sold in 6 packs) to take home. I slowly savored them over the following few months and was burned out well before pulling out that last can from the back of the fridge.

Rating: 5 out of 5



Deep Ellum Manic Confidence IPA can poured

​Deep Ellum Brewing (Dallas, TX/Monster Beverage Co.)

"Manic Confidence" "hazy enough IPA"

6.5% ABV, can


My wife bought 36 summery beers on sale and, honestly, they’re mostly starting to taste the same. This one is good and fine, but the fruitiness is bringing to mind the trio of Cali Squeeze hefeweizens and the Mimosa beer. It’s not a knock on this offering per say, but right now it’s just kind of tasting like everything else with an orange/pineapple/maybe some vanilla/maybe the bittersweet of kiwi/IPA bitterness essence.


Rating: 3.8 out of 5



Dragon's Milk "White" bourbon barrel-aged stout beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Dragon's Milk

“White” Bourbon Barrel-Aged White Stout

6% ABV, can


As described on the can, this has flavors of the bourbon barrel it was aged in, coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. It’s tasty, yet the flavor is kind of muted. It somehow feels like it wants to be sweeter, like caramel, but has been dialed back.


Rating: 4.2 out of 5


​(Oh no! I'm gonna have to revisit, in order to take a photo.)

​EFES (Istanbul, Turkey)

pilsner

5% ABV, bottle


The labels touts “no. 1 MEDITERRANEAN beer”. Yup, it’s tastes like a Mediterranean beer which, honestly, isn’t too far off from an American lager. As it warms up, this one presents a floral and something like a very slight caramel essence. It has a bit of a complexity to it, and it brings back fond memories of drinking Mythos while on a boat floating in the Aegean Sea on a beautiful summer day.


Rating: 4 out of 5




​Efes Brewery (Moscow)

​Stary Melnik Iz Bochonka Myagkoe ale

4.3% ABV


This beer tastes very light, with a little sweetness to it. The light flavor profile is something interesting, of maybe caramel, vanilla, and creamsicle. Don’t let that throw you off, as this brew is completely lacking any strong presence at all. The flavor isn’t bad, but it just needs to be a little more bold. My wife doesn’t get any of those notes. She agrees about it being too light, says I’m over analyzing the beer, and that she would pay “maybe a dollar for a bottle, certainly not two.” Her other note is that it’s like a typical Pilsner with a golden wheat flavor.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5


​Embolden Beer Company (San Diego, CA, USA)

Litehouse Blonde Ale

5% ABV, can


It's an ale and not that distinct from the American standards: Bud Light, Coors, Miller, etc. Maybe there would be something slightly unique to point out in a head-to-head taste test, but there isn't at the present. For "fortune favors the bold" to be printed on the can, it feels more like a motivational quote rather than having anything to do with this beer. This was $2 for a 16 oz. can from Trader Joe's in 2023.


Rating: 3 out of 5




​Erebuni (Armenia)

pale lager

6.4% ABV


This is a pretty basic lager type of beer, with a slight bite to it. It’s not bad, although I’m just not feeling it.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5



Estrella Jalisco Mango Michelada beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Estrella Jalisco

"Mango Michelada"

3.5% ABV, can


This tastes familiar. Have I had this before? Or is it exactly what I thought it might be? The clamato part, meh. Just give me the mango beer with some tanginess of Tajin or similar spice mix. On sale, this big can was relatively expensive, on sale at Ralphs for $3.49 in 2023.


Rating: 2.8 out of 5



​(photo to come!)

​Firestone Walker 805


I love it... Specific review to come, when I buy this one again.


​Firestone Walker

“Cali Squeeze” blood orange hefeweizen


It tastes how I would expect, like blood orange flavor in a nice, wheaty beer. I do wish the blood orange flavor were a little less intense, though, because it borderline feels artificial. I appreciate the experimentation, as beer fans are certainly living in a unique time right now, but I sometimes feel like we’re jumping the shark.


Rating: 4 out of 5


​Firestone Walker

“Cali Squeeze” tropical P.O.G. hefeweizen


The first whiff is sweet and reminds me of the potpourri my mom had at home when I was a teen. The first sip is like an unidentifiable fruit juice. It’s like a cocktail of every tropical fruit you could imagine - pineapple, papaya, orange, lemon, grapefruit, kiwi. In other words, it’s like the juice at the bottom of a fruit salad, with the earthiness of kiwi. I would order this in, say, Hawaii, and probably nowhere else.


Rating: 3.8 out of 5


​(will get a pic next time!)

​​Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, California)

Cerveza lime lager

4.5% ABV, can


I was hesitant to buy a 12 pack of this new beer and instead opted for a 24 oz. can, when I finally spotted one. This brew is like a lager with both a lemon and lime essence. It’s like Bud Light Lime, with a step down in flavor. That’s not entirely a bad thing, as I like BLL, but it also doesn’t take long for me to grow tired of it. An 805 Cerveza would be great on a hot, summer day after mowing the yard…. but it’s currently Sept. 28.


Rating: 3 out of 5



Foster's beer oil can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Fosters (Australia)

lager 5% ABV, can


My dad almost never imbibes, but he does have a tradition of ordering a Fosters at Outback Steakhouse. I like the standard ale, too, and pick up the 24 oz. "oil can" from the grocery store from time to time. The wheat essence is enjoyable, and the beer is nice and smooth, until it warms up. After that, it feels more bitter on the tongue, so I generally keep the second half of the can in the fridge until it's time to refill the glass.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Fremont Brewing Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout draft beer in a cup - photo by KilmerMedia

Fremont Brewing (Seattle, Washington)

"Dark Star" Imperial Oatmeal Stout

8% ABV, draft


Leaves a lingering feel in my mouth of bitter chocolate. It has a feel like the ABV, with a borderline rubbing alcohol essence, but faint enough that it isn't off-putting. There's a hint of oatmeal and coffee in the flavor. This isn't my favorite stout, but it's fine.


Rating 3.5 out of 5




​Golden Pheasant (Hurbanovo, Slovakia)

lager

4.7% ABV, bottle


Judging initially by the American, or perhaps British-sounding name for a beer, the thought crossed my mind that it might be along the lines of an American style. It definitely isn't, but I would pick this over something like a Coors. To me, these Russian bloc beers impart the same, similar flavor, which is okay but not great.


Rating: 3 out of 5



Golden Road Brewing hazy IPA draft beer in a cup (2022) - photo by KilmerMedia

​Golden Road Brewing

"Ride On" hazy IPA


Mild bite, like usual IPAs. Smooth, sweet finish. Someone new to IPAs would probably find this appealing, as it’s not bitter.

"Not much haze for a hazy IPA and a bit too sweet," says my wife, who ordered this drink.


3.5 out of 5


​Golden Road Brewing

"Spicy Mango Cart"

4% ABV, can


Okay, without having a specific review of it (I was out on a golf course), I have consumed a regular "Mango Cart" by Golden Road. I love mango, but the beer just wasn't that special. At the Glendale brewpub recently (in 2023), I ordered a flight that included this alternative, spicy version, and now we're talkin'. The peppery spiciness (reminiscent of a Tajin-rimmed michelada) hits the back of your throat and is a nice counterbalance to the sweetness of the mango. I like it, and kicking up the ABV would make it a even more fun.


Rating: 4.2 out of 5




​Guinness (Dublin)

Draught Stout

4.2% ABV, bottle

Is it really necessary to review something so standard? Alas, here we are, and the list isn't true if I don't make an assessment. So, maybe it's because I grew up in a city that revolves around the steel industry, but every time I have a Guinness, iron comes to mind. I know it was one of those "it's good for you" points noted during the factory tour I once took in Dublin.

Rating: 4 out of 5



Guinness Extra Stout beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Guinness (Dublin, Ireland)

Extra Stout

5.6% ABV, bottle


This one has a profile similar to the traditional stout but with a hoppy boldness. In other words, it's a little less smooth and a little more bitter. I don't like this one quite as much as the traditional stout.


Rating: 3.7 out of 5



Harland Brewing Co. Hazy IPA beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Harland Brewing Co. (San Diego, California)

“Hazy IPA”

6.5% ABV, can


Yuck. It gets a point for having a predictable flavor of a hazy IPA. However, this one has a chalky bitterness. It’s not good. I won’t buy this one again.


Rating: 1 out of 5




Hofbrauhaus Hefeweizen in a glass - photo by KilmerMedia

​Hofbrau (Munich, Germany)

Hefeweizen

5.1% ABV, draft


This is probably my favorite beer of all time. I have a deep love and long association with it. When I first turned 21, many weekends I ended up in Cincinnati, then right across the Ohio river, at Hofbrauhaus Newport. Time after time, my friends and I listened to the live polka music and shouted to each other across the table, straining to hear over the hustle and bustle at the social hotspot. My go-to was always the Hefeweizen. I loved the sweetness, subtly cut by an earthy spiciness ("brewed with bananas and cloves," they always make known). I've since also had this at the original Hofbrau, in Munich, and it was 100% the same. The bottled version just is nowhere near the same.


Rating: 5 out of 5




​Hofbrau (Germany)

"Dunkel"

5.5% ABV, draft


For me, this is easily the runner-up at Hofbrauhaus. In my early 20s, my fascination with the Hefeweizen didn't allow me to appreciate this one, but now I certainly do. With both styles, the Hofbrau quality is consistent, and they taste the same on draft wherever you may be. My German is subpar so, while in Munich, I perused the English menu. "Hmm, do you have Dunkel," I asked the waitress? She pointed at a large picture on the menu, captioned "dark beer." Ohhh! Hah! For years, I though Dunkel was a style. Nope, "dunkel" just means "dark" in German.


Sorry I didn't take a photo of the beer. Hopefully this photo from the Hofbrauhaus in Munich makes up for it.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5



Hofbrau Original beer in a bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Hofbrau (Munich, Germany)

"Original" Helles Lager

5.1% ABV, bottle


Overall, Hofbrau is one of the rare brands that, for me, is a reliable go-to. However, this is the one brew of theirs I'm just not crazy about. It's not bad - it just doesn't make me say "Yuuummmmmm." I think it's just that I'm not crazy about helles (translates from German as "pale" or "bright") lagers.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5




Josephsbrau (San Jose, California)

Oktoberfest German style lager

5.3% ABV, 25 IBU, bottle


I always expect Trader Joes store brand products to be not great, but decent, and this is no different. This Oktoberfest has a nice malty-sweetness. It's enjoyable and borderline "really good".... Alas, it is "good".


Rating: 4.2 out of 5


​(Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo before dumping the rest of this one out.)

​Iron Line Brewing (Monroe, Ohio)

Belgian-style wheat ale


I liked the first sip. I really did. It tasted like a citrusy (orange) weizen. The following tastes were very different, as this leaves an odd note on the back of the tongue like plastic... more specifically, a soft plastic that’s mixed with Play Doh. Don’t ask me how I know what Play Doh might taste like. This one is very unfiltered. I’m okay with that, as I like such German beers, but this is one of those rare beers I can't finish. It's in the running for one of the worst I've ever had. Hopefully it's just a bad bottle, instead of someone thinking this is good enough to make customers happy.


Rating: 0 out of 5




​Karl Strauss + Sierra Nevada

"What's Cooler Than Being Cool?" Cold IPA

6.9% ABV, can


The whole thing about the newer "cold IPA" style is that it's supposed to be "clean", focusing on the profile of the hops. If you long to just bite right into one, this is the perfect beer for you. I've never fallen madly in love with any IPA but, from time to time, still feel the need to experience the nuances and see if my palate has changed. It hasn't.


To me, this has the light floral and citrus essence you would expect from a standard IPA. The flavor profile is certainly hoppy, and it stays with you. But this is one of those instances where you can tell all varieties of hops aren't the same. This one is on the mellow side. Overall, not bad and not great.


Rating: 3 out of 5


​(jotted down the basic review before getting in the habit of taking supplemental photos)

​Kentucky Bourbon Barrel

"Cream Ale"


Easy drinking. Tastes like a watered down cream soda.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Imperial Milk Stout beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Kentucky Bourbon Barrel

“Imperial Milk Stout”

12% ABV, bottle


Wow, it’s sweet! There’s a nice smoothness with, of course, a nice flavor of bourbon. This is a craft beer for sure, but the syrupy sweetness should be more enjoyable for the wine cooler fans than regular beer and/or whiskey drinkers. On my birthday in 2023, this bottle was $4.99 from a grocery store in Dripping Springs, Texas.


Rating: I hate to write this, but 3 out of 5



Kilikia beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Kilikia (Armenia)

lager

4.8% ABV, bottle


A light feeling beer with slightly bitter, IPA-ish aftertaste. This one could be on the refreshing side on a hot, summer day, but this isn’t the day for that. It’s not exactly bad... it just makes me wonder if it’s an off batch or if it’s just that people in Armenia have a different palate.


Rating: 2 out of 5



Killarney Brewing Company Helles Lager bottle (2019) - photo by KilmerMedia

​Killarney Brewing Company

Helles Lager

4.2% ABV, bottle


There isn't much to this one. It's a clean-tasting lager that's basic and simple and neutral. In other words, it's okay but not particularly enjoyable.


Rating: 2.5 out 5



Kona Brewing Company Big Wave Golden Ale beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Kona Brewing Company

"Big Wave" Golden Lager

4.4% ABV, 21 IBU, bottle

It's like liquid sunshine. Okay, okay, for actual details... It packs in more flavor than a standard lager and is sort of like if a Hefeweizen were brewed with mangos. The fun flavor mellows out as the beer warms up.

Rating: 4 out of 5


​Kona Brewing Company (Hawaii)

"Gold Coast IPA"


It’s the middle of summer 2022, and I’m bored with fruity beers. It feels like I’m typing the same thing every week. This has a nice scent and a medium, hoppy bite. I’m just not feeling it, though. I’m bored with IPAs, and I’m bored with fruit-forward beers. Lord willing, we get to autumn which, for me, is when the fun begins.


Rating: 3 out of 5



Kona Hanalei Island IPA beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

Kona Brewing Company (Hawaii)

​"Hanalei Island IPA"


This is more neutral and less of a punch to the tongue than the Gold Coast IPA. Although this has been the summer of way-too-many tropical fruity beers (just here and there is fine), the Hanalei IPA is okay and moderately enjoyable.


Rating: 4 out of 5




​Kona Brewing Company

"Longboard Island Lager"

4.6% ABV, 20 IBU, bottle

Meh. This seems to be the standard offering from Kona. It has a mellow orange blossom sort of flavor, with like a very slight feel of cinnamon on the front of the tongue and a very light smoothness of honey in the center. If that sounds ideal, don't get too excited - it's hardly there. On another day, what this brings to mind is a Bud Light with a splash of mango and pineapple juice mixed in.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5



Korisca Brown Ale (Azores) beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Korisca (Cabouco, Azores, Portugal)

brown ale

5.5%, bottle


Very good, getting into stout territory. Nice sweetness and borderline too much.


While on this topic, I have a story to tell. I don't know if it has to do with "the great resignation" or "island life" or what, but I tried to visit this brewery once, it was closed, and why was a complete mystery. Before venturing that way, Google showed regular business hours, and the Korisca official website (a Facebook page) didn't mention anything unusual. Upon making a special trip while on vacation, there wasn't any sign posted on the gate explaining the closure, nor did anyone answer the phone when I made an international call to the number listed. I need to find a business like this to invest in - one that offers a good product, but the owners bring only a half-assed approach to it... You just brew, and I'll make sure the customers are happy.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Lagunitas. A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' IPA beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Lagunitas Brewing Co.

“A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’” - “smooth and silky wheat IPA”

7.5% ABV, can


Just as promised, this has a little bit of a hoppy bite that’s mellowed out by a mellow wheat flavor. Right out of the gate, I really enjoyed it yet have grown bored with this one and wish it were just a 12 oz. can.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Lagunitas IPA beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Lagunitas Brewing Co.

IPA

6.2% ABV, can


This one promises to be delicately balanced, and it is. It isn’t overly-hoppy, and it has a nice but mellow citrusy sweetness.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Lagunitas Maximus Colossal IPA beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Lagunitas Brewing Co.

“Maximus Colossal IPA”

9% ABV, can


My wife says it “tastes green” and spicy and hoppy. I agree completely. We have never used “green” as a descriptor, but the earthiness is just that. It’s literally like chewing on a hop cone. It’s has some floral and citrusy notes, but the hops are definitely predominant. I have a hard time believing people who say they enjoy really hoppy beers. Are they maybe instead fooling themselves and really just like high ABV beers?


Rating: 2 out of 5



Leffe Rouge beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Leffe

“Rouge”

6.6% ABV, bottle


Hey, it’s like the original Leffe but with a complexity of malt and caramel and cinnamon. The standard version is very much a sweet, dessert type beer, but this one I could probably have a couple of. Probably. It’s very good.


Rating: 4.2 out of 5




​Leffe

“Tripel”

8.5% ABV, bottle


This seems to be the standard Leffe, and it's awesome. I love it. It's a sweet, excellent, after-dinner/dessert kind of beer that you probably wouldn't want more than one of.... but in the moment, the caramel flavor this has is lovely.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5



Lincoln Beer Company Big Blueberry Waffle imperial wheat beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Lincoln Beer Company (Burbank, CA)

"Big Blueberry Waffle" ale

8% ABV, draft and can


This temporary delight is billed as “Maple on top of puréed blueberry on top of a creamy, wheat-heavy malt bill makes for a smooth and flavorful drinking experience.” It’s really intriguing. I get all of that - the maple, the blueberry, the waffle. It has the sweetness of a Hefeweizen, no surprise. After a softball game, it really hits the spot, but at $10 for 10 oz., I don’t know if I would get it again… so for now I’m savoring every drop. Interestingly, some sips have a slightly skunky flavor of Stella Artois. It’s not off putting - it’s just a question of how this unique beer came to be. As the for the price, buy a four pack of 16 oz. cans for $20. I’ll do the math, so you don’t have to waste a second on such a frivolous thing - it costs $1.25 per oz. for the privilege of having your beer poured into a glass at the brewery. Buying a four pack from the fridge that’s five steps to the left of the counter breaks down to $.31 per oz.!


Rating: 4 out of 5


​(hoping this comes back in late 2022 and, if so, will get a photo then)

​Lincoln Beer Company (Burbank, CA)

"Sticks and Beans" cinnamon-vanilla stout

8.2% ABV, draft


I will have to review this again, but it was really great before, among the company of others. For a second beer, I tried the Black Forest (pastry porter) and regretted not just getting the Sticks and Beans again. This brew is almost a little too sweet, but I do love it. I thought I loved the Big Blueberry Waffle from Lincoln, but pouring the last drop from my last can of that particular beer wasn't as disappointing as when the Sticks and Beans wasn't on the menu any longer.


Rating: 4.8 out of 5


​(photo owed.... one day)

​Lvivske (Ukraine)

porter

8% ABV, bottle


Malty chocolate sort of taste that I’m just not really in the mood for right now, so my rating could be a little higher on a different day. It’s not as bad as it may seem, but there’s a slight, odd rubbing alcohol aftertaste, followed by a lingering aftertaste of a marijuana-infused piece of chocolate. NOW the reviews are getting complex. Interesting beer. I’ll keep trying other beers before putting it on my “to revisit” list.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5


Mammoth Brewing Co. Double Nut Brown beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Mammoth Brewing Co. (Mammoth Lakes, California)

"Double Nut Brown"

5.5% ABV, 24 IBU, can


I'm sipping this on my birthday, and it's enjoyable. Yeah, I agree with the notes mentioned on the can - chocolate, coffee, and a toffee-nutty character - yet brewed without any nuts. This beer is smooth and malty and very nice. I think I paid $5 (in 2022) for this 1 pint can at a liquor store down the street, which I visited for the first time yesterday and seemed to have a hefty markup on just about everything. I'll be looking for this at the beer shop in North Hollywood instead!


Rating: 4.5 out of 5



Martens Gold beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Martens (Belgium)

“Gold”

4.6% ABV, can


Ugh. This one has an aftertaste that reminds me of how dry dog food smells. Take that away and this would be similar to a standard lager.


Rating: 1.5 out of 5



Maui Brewing Company Coconut Hiwa Porter in a glass - photo by KilmerMedia

​Maui Brewing Company (Hawaii)

Coconut Hiwa Porter

6% ABV, draft


This is a draft beer, being reviewed at the Maui brewery. I love it. I really do. It’s coffee, it’s chocolate, it’s coconut. This brew isn’t too sweet, and it reminds me of the Belikin chocolate stout that's all over Belize... but let’s not get too obscure here. Maui Brewing Company beers are at the big name retailers in L.A. and, presumably, far beyond now. I’m now wondering how much this offering costs there. Here, in Hawaii, it’s $2.89 for a can or $8.99 for a 4 pack. I originally thought it was for a standard 6 pack. Good thing that wasn’t the case, because I would otherwise have been drinking the same beer over and over and over on this trip.


Rating: 5 out of 5



Melo Abreu (Azores) black stout beer poured from a bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Melo Abreu (Azores, Portugal)

"Munich" (aka “black” on Azores menus)

5.3%, bottle


Weird, has notes of orange citrus and tobacco. After each sip, it’s like I’ve taken a puff of a Black and Mild cigar. This essence it too odd to want to repeat.


Rating: 2 out of 5



Melo Abreu Extra Especial beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Melo Abreu (Azores, Portugal)

“Extra Especial” cerveja

8.5%, bottle


This has a nice, malty sweetness with an oats cereal essence. It's the end of a long day on vacation, so I'm going to bed instead of writing more!


Ratings: 4 out of 5



Melo Abreu Preta Doce non-alcoholic beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Melo Abreu (Azores, Portugal)

"Preta Doce"


I picked this up while visiting Sao Miguel, Azores, and my first thought was “This is beer?” I double checked the label, and yup, it says on the front “beer - cerveja - bierre”. It’s heavy on the molasses flavor and cereal-type grains. But wait, while looking for the AVB, it says “sans alcool” on the side. The labeling sure is deceptive. It should say “BEER STYLE” at the top of the label, on the front… not “yes it’s beer on the front” and “Well, it’s sorta beer” on the side. Well, this is my first foray into NA beer, which I’m not opposed to - it just wasn’t my intention this time. If I were a brewer, I would want to formulate a really amazing NA beer as part of the product line, but this wouldn’t be it. It too syrupy sweet.


Rating: 2 out of 5



Michelob Ultra beer poured from a can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Michelob Ultra

4.7% ABV, can


Okay, okay, I know an airplane isn’t the best place for a beer tasting, but this isn’t exactly a premium beer, so here goes…. I get a corn essence, maybe a little citrus on the nose. It’s like a traditional American lager. At least what I can taste of it at 40,000 feet, this probably wouldn’t be distinguishable in a blind taste test from Coors, Miller, etc.


Rating: 3 out of 5



Mississippi Mud Black & Tan beer jug - photo by KilmerMedia

Mississippi Mud

"Black and Tan"

5% ABV, glass jug


I like this unique beer, which combines and English porter with a pilsner. The flavor if it sure is interesting. To me, it brings to mind a slightly-sweet tea. I love the unique bottle, the beer goes down easily, and it’s on the cheaper side for the quantity. It certainly doesn't have a bold taste but provides a nice break from more traditional beers.


Rating: 3.7 out of 5



Modelo Chelada Pina Picante beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

Modelo

"Piña Picante" chelada

3.5% ABV, can


​This was a bad idea on a day like today. My sugar consumption is through the roof… Today is Watermelon Fest in L.A., and I gobbled down a decent number of slices, then had a watermelon-rita. I liked how the spices of the Tajin-rimmed cup cut the sweetness of the drink. Upon leaving the event, I had a hankering for more of the same, so I stopped by the grocery and grabbed a big can of this Modelo Pina Picante chelada. Bleh. You get the flavor of the Tajin-type seasoning, but when it doesn’t have that grit, it’s just weird. It doesn’t have the same effect, and in this one, it almost brings and essence of dirt, or garbage. Otherwise, I like the pineapple flavor, although it’s too sweet. I just got back from the Azores a few days ago and loved the pineapple there. I’ve never had anything like it, and it turns out Dole sucks. Corporate behemoth pineapples are too sweet, and this beer taste like a Dole pineapple. I do love that particular fruit but now know they aren’t all the same, and some varieties are better than others. The TL;DR version that I’m intentionally wrapping up with is that this drink tastes literally like a beer infused with a lot of Dole pineapple juice and a Tajin knockoff.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5



Mother Earth Brew Co. Cali Creamin' Creamsicle beer can - photo by KilmerMedia

​Mother Earth Brew Co. (Vista, California, USA)

“Cali Creamin’ creamsicle vanilla cream ale”

5% ABV, can


Ohhh yeah. I like this one. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, but after the vanilla version being a bland letdown, I didn’t want to pay $12 to test out a six pack at Aldi. Fortunately, I found a single, lonely can at Trader Joe’s. Still, $12 for any six pack of 12 oz. cans is too much, but the creamsicle style is what I hoped it would be.


Rating: 4 out of 5



Mother Earth Nitro Cali Creamin' beer can (2022) - photo by Kilmer Media

​Mother Earth Brew Co. (Vista, California, USA)

"Nitro Cali Creamin'" vanilla cream ale

5% ABV


It seems like I'm suddenly seeing this brand all over the place now and, specifically, it's really just the "Cali Creamin'" that seems to be everything. Not wanting to sample via a six pack, I bought this can of the nitro version at the local beer shop.


Getting to the first sip requires jumping through a bunch of hoops. The instructions are, roughly, to rotate the can three times, open, pour hard ("don't drink from the can" they say), take a break, then pour the rest.

The initial sip was confusing. It was sweet but not too much… but almost… there's some vanilla bean… and some tartness… My first thought was "I really don't care for this." Then I had another sip and thought "Eh, it's a little better," and it just kept improving, maybe as it warmed up a little. I never loved working my way through the glass, but it was worth a one-time shot.


Rating: 2.5 out of 5



Mt. Carmel Brewing Company Winter Ale beer bottle - photo by KilmerMedia

​Mt. Carmel Brewing Company (Cincinnati, Ohio)

"Winter Ale"


My initial note was cinnamon and milk chocolate, followed by some sweetness (the bottle does say it was brewed with maple syrup), and the finish is a bitter IPA feel. This one has to much going on for me to really enjoy.


Rating: 2 out of 5



Murphy's Irish Stout draft beer poured in a glass - photo by KilmerMedia

​Murphy's Irish Stout

4% ABV, draft (in Ireland)


As an Irish stout, it's similar to a standard Guinness, but I found this one to be a little more bitter. Nonetheless, it's still an enjoyable choice if a standard version of this stye is what you're after.


Rating: 4 out of 5


 

Written by Justin Kilmer. All trade names, logo, and graphics are property of their respective owners. You know that, but it's just one of those things I'm supposed to reiterate. Otherwise, the reviews and depictions presented on this page are copyright © by Justin Kilmer.

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