94 Gordon Imperial Red Ale, Oskar Blues Brewery (CO). 8.7% ABV (1/11)
Brilliant amber color. Delicious hoppy aromas of buttery, honeyed pound cake slathered in orange and peach marmalades with a rich, zesty, fruity-yet-dry medium-full body and a long, lightly peppery and warming green leafy vegetable-like hop and earth finish. Fantastic!
93 Bridge Burner Special Reserve Ale, Lakefront Brewery (WI). 8% ABV (1/11)
Deep copper brown color with a tan head. Hoppy aromas suggestive of sweet apricot and citrus pastries with a supple, finely carbonated dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a roasted root vegetable, onion and citrus marmalades, roasted nut and earth finish. An impressively rich, flavorful and gracefully balanced beer for sipping or hearty roasts.
92 Imperial Porter, Rogue Ales (OR) 2008. 8.2% ABV (1/09)
Brown black color with a rocky reddish tan head. Dark chocolate, roasted nut, creamy and melon aromas follow through on rich, supple entry to a dryish medium-full body with delicious dark nut toast notes and a long, tart, kumquat, cocoa and pepper fade with vibrant astringency. A delicious and food friendly porter to serve with charred steaks.
91 Labyrinth Black Ale, Uinta Brewing Co. (UT). 13.2% ABV (1/11)
Opaque black brown color. Rich dark chocolate-covered lemon and orange peel and pretzels aromas have faint hint of licorice with a chewy, round fruity-yet-dry medium body and a vibrant, mocha, buttery toasted raisin bread, okra, soy and citrus zest flourish. A zesty, scintillating dark ale that will be great with grilled meats.
91 Berlot Strong Ale, Great Lakes Brewing Co.-Cellar Rat Brewing (OH). 9% ABV (1/11)
Golden amber color. Baked peach compote and creamy warm tapioca aromas with a supple, frothy, fruity medium-to-full body and a banana-raisin bread pudding, delicate spice and grassy hop twang on the generous, warming finish. Delicious and stylish.
88 Wreck the Halls Ale, Full Sail Brewing Co. (OR) Brewmaster Reserve 2010. 6.5% ABV (1/11)
Deep copper color. Bright honeyed citrus and pine aromas have a baklava and lemon curd-like character with a soft, silky dry-yet-fruity medium body and a smooth, pine bark, Meyer lemon and white nut-accented finish. A pleasant hop-laced lighter-styled winter warmer.
88 Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, Alltech Lexington Brewing (KY). 7.9% ABV (1/11)
Bright golden color. Rich coconut buttercream and white chocolate chip with macadamia cookie aromas with a round, frothy fruity-yet-dry medium-to-full body and a pineapple upside down cake, clementine and grassy earth-accented finish. A robustly flavorful, yet highly drinkable barrel-aged ale.
87 Winter Warmer, SanTan Brewing Company (AZ). 9.5% ABV (1/11)
Dark copper mahogany color. Aromas of ginger cookies and honeyed tea with a crisp, finely carbonated dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tangy ginger-drive kiwi, roasted nut and pepper-accented finish.
87 Double Kilt Lifter Ale, Moylan’s Brewing Co. (CA). 11.3% ABV (1/11)
Deep reddish copper brown color with no head. Aromas of molasses, cherry liqueur bonbons, catsup and honeyed raisin toast with an almost flat, fruity medium-to-full body and a fig-date bar, mocha sorbet, red licorice and smoky roasted pepper-accented finish. Curious and “Utopias-light”-like.
86 DeadHead Double Red Ale, Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works (IL). 9.2% ABV (1/11)
Deep reddish mahogany color. Bright grapefruit and pinecone-like hops aromas with a onion marmalade on pumpernickel backnote. Chewy and satiny on the palate with a dry-yet-fruity medium-full body and a medley of roasted coffee bean and grilled root vegetables accents on the lingering, astringent, piney hop finish. A nicely done, hop forward strong ale; try with spicy nachos.
85 Strong Ale, Theresianer (Italy). 8.5% ABV (1/11)
Rich buttery roasted hazelnut and wax poached pear aromas with a crisp, frothy dry-yet-fruity medium-full body and grainy rye dough, nutskin, peppercorn and starfruit-accented finish. Rather doppelbock-like in flavor, style and crispness.