A new addition to the local beer market, Ass Kisser Ales hails from a contract brewing partnership with Hermitage Brewery in San Jose, California.
As you can see from the bottle, their logo is quite literal, although I can only assume that no animal cruelty was involved in the production of their beer. Although, I suppose it’d be more aligned with human cruelty forcing some hapless brewer to pucker up for a donkey’s ass.
Either way, I grabbed three of their beers recently to test out the new kid on the block. Should you put on your chap stick and ready your lips for some sweet libation love? One of these might be for you…
Vanilla Pale Ale
Coming from a West Coast brewery, it’s nice to see a little restraint, and even innovation, with a pale ale. Ass Kisser’s Vanilla Pale Ale is sparsely hopped in aroma and flavor and would be best described as “vanilla-forward.”
The use of vanilla beans is hard to miss in either the smell or taste. While things can be a little muddled at first, the beer takes on a very sweet, almost white chocolate-like aroma after warming for a few minutes.
Vanilla is incredibly prominent on each sip – the first and last thing I tasted. The flavor was akin to a Funfetti cupcake thanks to a sugary-sweet aftertaste. I guess there was some malt in there somewhere, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what it was or how it might’ve been used.
Unless you’re seeking something of a dessert beer, avoid.
It’s really hard to get honest-to-goodness fruit flavor from solely using fruit in a beer, which is why you’ll typically see “natural flavoring” on a bottle alongside some descriptor emphasizing the use of fruit. It’s easy to get sweetness, but hard to pluck the same kind of fruit taste in a beer.
I explain this because the Strawberry Wit tastes like soda. It’s appropriately carbonated for a witbier, but the smell is like strawberry candy you’d buy from the corner store. Ass Kisser also uses orange and coriander, which is common for this style, but I’ll be damned if I could really sense it.
If that’s any indication, the taste wasn’t any different. Strawberry is very present up front and offers a lingering taste of tart berry, as if you were eating a piece of fruit that just wasn’t quite ripe yet. There’s a touch of bitterness at the end – perhaps from the hops – but that’s easy to forget when your next sip offers up a jab of strawberry flavor.
The fruit taste and smell did settle down after my palate adjusted, but by then the beer just tasted bland. Like Blue Moon but not trying as hard.
On their page for this beer, Ass Kisser proudly displays their 95 rating on Rate Beer, which I believe is deservedly earned. If you can’t find Alaskan Smoked Porter near you because of distribution, this honestly came across as an OK substitute.
If you like smoky beers, this is for you. The aroma is intense, like a campfire. I’d love to know what smoked malt they used because it isn’t “meaty” like malt you’ll find other breweries producing in order to duplicate some kind of bacon-like aroma or flavor. This is pleasant, warm and the smoke hides light smells of chocolate that jump out late on each whiff.
While the taste is initially very acidic and bitter, it gets really good after a few sips, replacing that coffee-like complexion with dark roast and chocolate flavors. It’s got a heavy body that makes it a little chewy on the mouthfeel, but that’s OK because it lets any smoke tastes cascade on the taste buds.
The most important takeaway from these beers is that Ass Kisser doesn’t skimp on adjuncts. If they put a descriptive word on the bottle, it’s going to taste like that. You want vanilla, strawberry or smoke? You got it.
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac