Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Mt. Carmel Springtime.


As the weather warms, I yearn for session beers and outdoor lounging. I'm a newly minted homeowner, and I look forward to relaxing on the porch, sipping a refreshing session beer and grilling something delicious. It's the small things in warm weather that mean the most, and I think the folks at Mt. Carmel Brewing know it. After all, their motto is "Come porch-sit with us."
I first became acquainted with Mt. Carmel upon my arrival in the area a few years back. Since 2005, they've been brewing solid, reliable beers in the Eastern Cincinnati neighborhood of Mt. Carmel. Working out of the basement of an old farmhouse, the brewery was started by Kathleen and Mike Dewey with a goal to make more local craft beer available to the Cincinnati area.

In 2005, the selections available in Cincinnati were sparse, and Mt. Carmel's work helped foster an early sense of local craft selection. After building a larger brewhouse on the back of the farmhouse later (And most recently upgrading to a completely new brewhouse), their production has increased and availability of their beer is at an all-time high. While Mt. Carmel makes some one-off specialty beers in their Snapshot Series, by and large their brews are standard, great representations of classic styles like American stout, summer wheat and amber ale.

The Springtime ale, which I graciously drank for this review, is an interesting item. It's a lighter-bodied, higher carbonated, low-alcohol take on the standard Scottish ale (Obvious from the tartan print on the label). Sessionable and refreshing, it's a really easy-drinking beer that doesn't skimp on flavor, which is what I expect from a session beer. Speaking of what I expect...

Springtime ale has a nice hue to it. A bright fizzy copper, it pours into a pint glass with a finger-thick off-white head that dissipated quite a bit before I could even take a picture. The little bit of foam that remains laces in short rings all the way down the glass.

The smell is reminiscent of a classic Scottish ale, with lots of sweet malt and earthy tones in the nose, along with some bits of chocolate here and there. Caramel flavors follow, with a spicy wisp of hops only in the deepest of smells. Overall, the aroma is kind of faint, and while interesting, doesn't really do the beer justice.

The flavor is very typical of a Scottish ale too. Fresh-picked apple flavor hits on the front of the sip, followed by light notes of sweet white chocolate and toffee. There is a hint of pecan flavor in the beer as well. Earthy, heavy flavors take over the beer halfway through, and they become more pronounced as the beer warms. Burnt sugar and caramel flavors accompany the earth tones. Grass comes through near the end, reminding me I'm drinking a beer, not just a delicious glass of carbonated syrup. The beer finishes on a really fantastic fresh bread flavor, something kind of like a fresh boule of pumpernickel. Super delicious.

This beer, as might have been gleaned from previous paragraphs, this beer is low in alcohol. It's only a 4.5 ABV, just catching the high cutoff for what is defined as a session beer. As a result, it has a lighter body than one would expect from a Scottish ale. The mouthfeel is somewhat thin, but the nice amount of carbonation in the beer really makes up for it, and also makes the beer intensely refreshing. It's a nice departure from what is typically kind of a boozy, heavy, put-you-to-sleep kind of beer, and it brought a smile to my face. I can't recommend drinking it enough. The best part is, drinking two or three won't knock me out!

Springtime ale was purchased in a 6-pack of bottles for $8.99 at the Party Source in Bellevue, KY. It was chilled to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit before pouring into a standard shaker pint (Don't judge me, it's a session beer).

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