Beer

While I appreciate a good cold one, I wouldn't call myself a beer connoisseur or a professional blogger. I'm more like a beer influencer. My reviews are written in simple English without a lot of technical industry jargon. I can't tell you much about hops, brewing temperature, or flavor notes, but I can tell you whether I like or dislike a beer and why. I hope you enjoy and learn from my beer reviews.

12-ounce bottle of Long Trail Ale by Long Trail Brewing Company with a Vermont house and woods in the background.

Long Trail Ale a review made easy

My family and I spend a lot of time in Vermont at my in-laws’ house during the fall and winter. For me, it’s a chance to slow down and rest while also doing computer-related work. That means sitting on the couch, catching up on TV shows, drinking beers and whiskey while I write content and update multiple websites.

During my most recent “mini-vacation,” I decided to review a beer from a Vermont brewer. I made my job easier by selecting one of the brands found in my brother-in-law’s refrigerator. The Long Trail Ale by Long Trail Brewing Company was my choice.

I found it malty and sweet, borderline smooth. For me, the beer is borderline tasty because it clashes with bitterness. It has a strong showing on my personal one-bottle buzz meter. After only one bottle, I was nice and relaxed before my whisky chaser.

It’s not a fantastic beer, but it’s adequate. While visiting Vermont, I would gladly order it on draft at any of the local restaurants.

VT IPA ABV: 6% – Available in 12-ounce cans and bottles.

12-ounce bottle of Samuel Adams Jack-O Pumpkin Ale taste tested for a review of the best pumpkin beers

Samuel Adams Jack-O Pumpkin Ale review

I’ve never had a Samuel Adams beer that I didn’t like. This one was different because it was the first time a Sam Adams beer amazed me. I was taken because it was so flavorful. I’m not a pumpkin lover. In fact, this was my first pumpkin beer, and I went into this taste test with the attitude, “Let’s get this over with, so I can at least say I tried it.”

I took the first swallow. My brain got confused. The pumpkin and cinnamon flavors were blowing up inside my mouth. I was having a drink, but it felt like I should really be chewing. It tasted like I was drinking pumpkin pie.

The Samuel Adams Jack-O Pumpkin Ale really knocked my socks off and has started me on a quest to try and review other pumpkin beers. I mean, if there’s another beer out there that’s better, I have to find it.

Poking around the internet, I came across this hilarious SNL parody of a Sam Adams commercial starring Bill Burr. It is also a must-see.

A Saturday Night Live parody of a Sam Adams Jack-O Pumpkin Ale beer commercial featuring Bill Burr

How many beers are so tasty that they deserve a Saturday Night Live skit? I remember laughing at this sketch when I first saw it a few years ago, but today I fully appreciate it. There’s a line about a beer sitting in the fridge for 8 months that hits home. If you haven’t seen this hilarious skit, check it out. And then go out and try Samuel Adams Jack-O Pumpkin Ale. It is a must-buy, must-try seasonal beer.

12 ounce bottle of Tsingtao Beer for review
12 ounce bottle of Tsingtao Beer - Lager ABV: 4.7% brewed in Qingdao, China

If you’ve ever been to China you know Tsingtao beer

If you’ve ever had a beer in China or visited an authentic Chinese restaurant in a densely populated Chinese area in the United States, you’ve probably come across Tsingtao Beer. It is the number one beer brand in China and is currently the sixth largest brewer in the world.

Unlike most really big beer brands, it is a good-tasting, respectable beer. Tsingtao starts and finishes cleanly. I can’t think of anything negative to say about it. However, nowadays I do find the price a little higher than it should be. That probably has more to do with the politics of the moment.

In my experience, apart from being a popular drink in mainland China, Tsingtao beer is also an important part of Chinese hospitality and a helpful marketing tool for the country’s businesses. Almost every factory that I have ever visited in China would take me to lunch, dinner, or a bar and would call for a toast that would go around the table. The boss would call for Tsingtao, and everyone would be served a small glass. With each declaration of “cheers”, the beer had to be downed to the last drop, ending with the slamming of the glass on the table. As time passed, the slams became louder and harder. At parties of at least 8 or more, which was about the norm, you couldn’t help but experience (for me in my youth) a healthy buzz within the first half-hour or so. During evening dinners, it was common to see people being helped out of restaurants. You can only imagine the late nights at the bars, and the commonality of vomiting guests being held up by colleagues shortly after inhaling the first bit of fresh night air.

Tsingtao Beer is a premium pale lager beer, pronounced “Qingdao.” The beer is brewed in Qingdao, China, by the Tsingtao Brewery Co., Ltd. One of the first breweries in China, Germania-Brauerei Tsingtao Co., Ltd. was established in 1903 by German and British merchants, combining Chinese and Western influences.

2010, hanging out late nights in China enjoying pre-dawn snacks with Tsingtao beer.
Magic Hat # 9 beers six-pack of 12-oz. bottles in case
6-pack of Magic Hat # 9 not quite pale ale beer

Magic Hat #9 – One of my Top-10 Beers

Magic Hat #9 is truly a unique-tasting beer. And I’m not saying that just for dramatic effect. Most beers tend to have a taste that’s not too far off from some other beer. With #9, I could taste-test 100 beers and easily pick out the #9. It has a pleasant uniquely striking taste, and nothing comes close.

I first discovered it around 2005 or 2006 while bar hopping in my neighborhood of Williamsburg. Around that time my preference was drinking and discovering new wheat beers. One of my favorite watering holes featured Magic Hat’s “Citrus Boy” on draft. It was Love At First Sip!

Citrus Boy is still one of my favorites. Although, I find it not as easily found as much as #9. I treat Citrus Boy like an exotic sports car that’s taken out of the garage once in a while. While #9 is the dependable luxury sedan that gets me to and from work and everyday tasks.

12-oz. bottle of Magic Hat # 9 beer

Anyway, one day the bar was out of Citrus Boy, so I thought I’d give the other beer from the same brewery a try. #9 has been in my Top-10 beers ever since.

Jack’s Abby Grapefruit Radler and Pineapple, Guava Passion Radler in cans.

Jack’s Abby Grapefruit & Pineapple, Guava Passion Radler review

Strolling through the refrigerated section of the beers I came across Jack’s Abby craft lagers. Jack had a wide selection of tasty-looking fruity beers to choose from. I had never heard of this brand. The cans look like there was something delicious to behold so I decided to go for the Grapefruit Radler and Pineapple, Guava Passion Radler.

I may have mentioned this before, but I’m not really into the light beers but I decided to give these radlers a try. If you are new to this type of beer (like me), they are basically about a 2-to-1 mix of beer and some other juice, soda, tea, etc. They are intended to be light summery, easy-going beers with 2 to 4% alcohol.

I decided to first start with one of my favorite fruit, the Grapefruit Radler. My first impression…light. Very light. I was waiting for the hint of grapefruit, but I never tasted it. Honestly, if you blindfolded me and ask me to choose which was the favored beer, the Grapefruit Radler or a Coors Light, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.

I wasn’t that enthused to try the Pineapple, Guava Passion Radler, so it took a few days to taste test. It did have a little more flavor than the Grapefruit, but I couldn’t place the favor.

My verdict. It’s almost seltzer-like and far too light for my taste. However, very light could be what it is meant to be.

Best beers review of Longboard Island Lager features 6 pack of 12-oz. bottles by Kona Brewing Company of Hawaii Kai
Kona Brewing Company Longboard Island Lager beer

My favorite beers: Kona Longboard Island Lager

Kona Longboard Island Lager is currently one of my favorite beers. Since this is the blog’s first beer post, there are no Top 10 or 20 Lists yet. However, the fact that I choose the Longboard Island Lager as one of my first posts should tell you something.

Longboard Island Lager 12-oz. bottle of beer by Kona Brewing Company of Hawaii Kai
Longboard Island Lager 12-oz. bottle of beer by Kona Brewing Company of Hawaii Kai

If I had to estimate where it would fall, I’d say it makes my Top 15 list. I will also add that one of the Kona Brewing Co.’s beers easily cracks my Top 5. However, that story is for a future post.

I discovered this beer while on vacation in Hawaii in July 2021 because it was everywhere. I’m really picky about beers, so I grew frustrated there were not more beer choices at the hotel bar and all the stores I checked. I was looking for some of my favorite craft beers to stock in my hotel room fridge, but all I saw were Kona Brewing Company selections, the usual mass-market brands, and a few popular Japanese brands, Sapporo, Asahi, and Kirin. I settle for tall cans of Sapporo and Kirin.

Near the end of my trip, I grabbed a local draft from the bar because it was offered at a lower price. I was on the run and didn’t think to remember the name. I told the bartender what I liked (lagers, ales, fruity, not too heavy, not too light) and let him select my beer. I do remember as I walked around at the pool thinking, damn, this beer is kind of good.

A week after my vacation, I was home shopping in the beer section of my nearby grocery store. “Humm, what do I feel like today,” I asked myself?
“A Shiner Strawberry Blonde, Sam Adams Summer Ale, UFO White.” You get the picture of what I was in the mood for. Just then, I noticed on the store shelf for the first time the beer I saw all in Hawaii.

They had a pilsner, lager, and IPA. I usually don’t go for pilsners, unless I’m in the mood for something light. I drink IPAs even less than pilsners. I don’t dislike them. In general, I feel like the taste is too aggressive. It’s like my tongue is on a date that wants to get right to it! That left the lager as the obvious choice.

I usually have two beers with dinner. And, I prefer to drink beer from a glass (frosted is a plus). I feel like I get a more uninterrupted taste.

All I remember is thinking, My God! What a missed opportunity in Hawaii. This is an incredibly good beer! This was that beer from the bar.

There’s something very clean and clear about the Longboard’s taste. Straight-forward delight, vibrant and charming.

I read other reviews before writing this review to see what beer influencers thought about it. In general, nearly all said the same thing. Clean taste, and without any characteristics to complain about. In other words, a great-tasting beer!