Pink ale and other brews I’ve enjoyed recently


This past weekend, our glorious nation was awash in green beer. I meanwhile found myself tasting a pink ale. Before you judge—hear me out.

I was making my way through the grocery store, cart overflowing with jugs of milk, Goldfish crackers, string cheese, and all the fine eats a father of four could be expected to purchase. My three-year old was relentlessly pleading for me to get him a doughnut from the bakery. So. Much. Winning.

And there she was: a brunette rep for Old Ox Brewery of Virginia. Pouring samples. 

Admittedly, the bright pink color gave me pause, but I was desperate.

What a pleasant surprise. This saison ale (5% alcohol by volume) is dry and pleasant, and the cherry juice they used adds only a gentle fruity aroma. A treacly beer Old Ox Festivale Cherry Saison is not. I bought a four-pack of the 16-ounce cans.

Pink beer is not the only interesting beer I have stumbled on to recently. Bell’s Oarsman Ale was a pleasant surprise. I have enjoyed their stouts and hearty ales, and this “tart wheat beer” (4% ABV) is a peach that will be especially enjoyable once the mercury gets above 70 degree.

After reading so many doom and gloom predictions about Sam Adams’ future, it was nice to see the folks at Boston Beer Company bring out a new brew that is receiving acclaim. Sam ‘76 (4.7% ABV) is billed as a cross between lager and ale. I bought a 12-pack for $16, and enjoyed it so much that I nabbed another.

Speaking of well-known brands doing something different, Guinness offers a Rye Pale Ale. As best I can tell, folks either love it or hate it. This light-bodied beer (5% ABV) is a touch sour, herbal, and definitely shows the rye. Most peculiar!

Last among my recent beer-ventures is Grand Teton Brewing Company’s Double Vision Dopplebock. I’ve previously raved about other Grand Teton beers, but I tried not to set my hopes high before I took a sip of this brew. Which proved needless, because… Oh. My. Goodness. This potent, dark lager (8% ABV) from Montana floods the mouth with chocolate and coffee notes. The more Double Vision warms, the richer the flavors become.

Kevin R. Kosar is the author of Whiskey: A Global History and Moonshine: A Global History. He is the editor and founder of This column also was published by the American Spectator.


Harpoon Cider

A neighbor brought us four bottles of this—he and his wife had tried a couple and decided “it wasn’t for them.”  They are more J.K Scrumpy sorts of folks.

Everything about Harpoon Cider looks right—its pretty in a glass.  Its brown bottle is wrapped in a handsome and colorful label, with text on the back declaring, “What is craft cider? We wanted a cider that let freshly pressed apples speak for themselves. So we crafted one.”

Sadly, these apples apparently did not have much to say.

This cider is thin, rather flat, and utterly without nuance. It feels and tastes watered down.  Had we tasted this at a meeting of homebrewers, we’d have said, “Not bad. But what types of apples are you using?  And did you pitch Champagne yeast or something else?”

The lone merit of Harpoon Cider is that it isn’t a sugar-bomb.  Still, you won’t catch us buying it. (Rating **1/2)  And we’re not the only ones who were not much impressed.


Harpoon Brewery UFO Hefeweizen

How does this American-made wheat beer compare to the great wheat beers of the old world? Not badly. Unlike, say, Schneider Weisse, this hefeweizen lacks the wild clove and bubble gum notes. Nonetheless, at the end of a hot day, UFO is awfully satisfying. The wheat profile is evident; the head is robust. And at $23 for 24 12-ounce bottles (the price we paid at at a Costco), it’s a bargain. (Rating***3/4)

To see if our retailer can send you UFO HEFEWEIZEN, click SHOP and type “HARPOON” in the search engine and click the magnifying glass. Otherwise, surf to