Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop IPA (2014)

type: fresh hop IPA
origin: Chico, CA
price: $3.50/24oz
ABV: 6.7%
NSP: 13.6
website

This has a really interesting hop-flavor I'm struggling to pin down.  The base is slightly sweet with a medium body, as you can come to expect from Sierra, and it nicely complements the fresh-hop character.  The hops are at the same time spicy and citrusy, which is really interesting.  Overall this is a really smooth, pleasant beer to drink on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Now, I'm about to begin a mild rant because I just watched Stone's propaganda piece to raise money for their brewing adventures in Berlin, which makes me want to ask what made you think you could get away with a "grassroots" effort at fundraising $1M??

I went on that mini-rant because -- in contrast with Stone -- Sierra seems like a brewery producing complicated brews while also exercising some humility.  They're good at the fundamentals too.

I've never bought into the whole "you're not worthy" bullshit coming out of the gargoyle's mouth, so I'm glad Sierra stays on the mellow.  For that, you get a NSB thumbs up.  Easy choice, folks.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Evil Twin Ashtray Heart

type: smoked porter
origin: Stratford, CT (Two Roads Brewing)
price: $3.99/12oz
ABV: 8.9%
NSP: 7.9
website

Most rauchbiers are overly smokey.  And most porters taste like headache to me.  Smoked porter??  Sounds like a bad fucking idea...

In this case the beer is smokey, as expected, and I can tell it's a porter.  But it works.  Really well.

The smoke balances out the boozy porter base in a rather pleasing way.  The body is really light, and the finish is clean, too.  So this is just plain good.

I can picture myself finishing a four-pack if it weren't so goddamn expensive.  Then again... the NSP is actually pretty good.  Damn you, Evil Twin!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

off color brewing Troublesome

type: gose
origin: Chicago, IL
price: $10.99/4-pack at Beltramos
ABV: 4.3%
NSP: 5.6
website

A while back I had a serious Norske-chub.  Well, that's turned into a gose-chub.  I flipping love gose for so many reasons: it's light and refreshing, a bit more acidic than most ale (but not too sour), complex favors but not overtly complex, and it's lightly salty.  I'm a little obsessed at this point, because it occurs to me that this style is difficult to pull off.  It may not seem difficult, given the relative simplicity of the ingredients, but the trick is getting the balance and delicacy correct.

This could easily be one of the best ones I've had so far, the key being it's balance tips a little towards the coriander/floral side.  It's still salty, it's still slightly sour, and it's still completely refreshing, but this tastes a lot more sessionable than usual.

Off color brewing appears to be doing things correctly, and I'm really digging the packaging.  Their product looks very "artisan", which can be the beer-equivalent of a red herring; but inside I've found nothing but legit beer.  I'll not be second guessing ocb purchases in the future.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lagunitas Night Time

type: black IPA
origin: Peta-fucking-luma, CA
price: $3.60/22 at Costco in Redwood City
ABV: 8.2%
NSP: 14.8
website

Lagunitas rarely misses.  Don't worry: this doesn't miss.  I just wanted to say how impressive it is that they can make style, after style, after style, after style; deliciously and with great NSPs.

I really had no idea what was inside this bottle, besides something that I should probably consume late at night.  I don't generally "fear the dark," but cracking a 22 of unknown substance sort of gives me nightmares: imagine having to finish that much BCBS.  Nope.

This pours perfectly (no surprise), and resembles more of a deep porter in color, rather than, say, any CDA out there.  But it's wonderfully hoppy, as you should expect from Lag, and has an extremely crushable body, with very little trace of blerg-inducing porter flavors (I still despise the style, obviously).

No blerg-action here: this ain't no goddamn porter.
It was the night time when I drank this, and I can't think of another beer I should've drank instead.  I think a "wild" version of this would be a near masterpiece.  Or they could back the hops off and sour it completely -- any way they choose, though, I'm sold:
Instead, this ^ is more fitting ...
and, obviously, this ^.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Calicraft The City

type: IPA
origin: San Jose, CA
price: $6.50/22oz
ABV: 6.4%
NSP: 6.4
website

I think this beer has the most obnoxious head ever, if only because it retains so well.  It took me about ten sips to get to actual beer.  But then it smells like a nice English style IPA.

The label says this was "bittered" with blackberry root, and although I can't say I understand what that means, I think I taste some faint blackberry essence, which actually complements the hop aromas nicely.  The bitterness is heavy but not puckering or overwhelming, which is a very good thing.

It's not the most amazing IPA around, and I would like to taste a bit more fruitiness from the hops, but that's just me reminiscing about old times in SD.  Overall, thumbs up.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

off color brewing Apex Predator

type: "third trophic level" farmhouse ale
origin: Chicago, IL
price: $13/4-pack 12oz
ABV: 6.5%
NSP: 7.1
website

Here's a situation where the guy with the aesthetically pleasing packaging wins:  I know next to nothing about this brewery, and yet somehow the excellent bottle design allows my brain to take the leap of faith and purchase a rather expensive pack of beer (although the NSP is decent).

But this doesn't disappoint.  The aromas are subtle, but appetizing; I get some fruity hops, some honey, and "wild" yeastie flavors.  The flavors are not terribly complex, but the beer is well executed.  The acidity is nice, and the body is suitable mild, with just a touch of hops.  Very nice.  In fact, nice enough for me to ignore the fact that apex predators are actually at the fifth trophic level -- DUH.

This would absolutely crush the doldrums from a long, hard day of manual labor.  The bad thing about being a scientist, though, is that the only manual labor I ever have to do is some typing on my super low-profile Apple keyboard -- man my fingers are tired.  Oh well, at least I can pretend I make a difference in this world.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend

Type: lambic
Origin: Beersel, Belgium
Price: $21.99 per 375 mL
ABV: 6%
NSP: 1.02
Website

My last trip down to San Diego, I stopped in Best Damn Beer Store and saw this turding up the shelves, so I picked up two and an Oude Kriek. The Golden Blend is a special edition that is not made anymore; it consists of 1, 2, 3, and 4 year old lambics, aged in oak and carefully blended. Artfully crafted for a spectacularly low NSP (probably a record for something with alcohol in it). This was bottled in 2011, so some of the beer inside is 7+ years old. After tasting some of 3Fs other offerings (Doejsel and Hommage), I decided I should give this mega-whale a cracking.

First impression on this: perfect. It is exactly where you want a good lambic to be. It is nice and dry and incredibly well balanced. The sour is not outrageous but definitely there to kick your nards. The flavors are delicate, but you definitely get some green apple and lemon and a faint bitterness that I can't pin down, but I think offsets some of the more sour qualities. The smells are even more delicate; you really need to snob-quaff this beast to pick out some peach. Very little sour on the smell. All in all, this is a hard beer to find a substitute at any price point, so I will give 3F a pass on the low NSP.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Alesmith Speedway Stout (bourbon barrel aged, 2014)

type: coffee imperial stout
origin: San Diego, CA
price $30/750ml
ABV: 12%
NSP: 3.0
website

El Presidente came to town for Adolph's wedding, which happened to nicely coincide with the release of this gem.  So after a long 30 hours of Tecate/tequila soaked Tijuana madness, we capped off the event (and the act of coming back across "la linea") with one hell of a beer...

Normally, Speedway is a phenomenal accomplishment of smoothness, and richness of coffee and roasted malt flavors, in a style most brewers try to make it as goddamn imperial as possible (for the sake of arrogant imperialism).   But, add some tempered barrel aging, which imparts some bourbon essence to it, and, well, you don't need me to tell you how good this is.  'Good' is a major understatement, and so is 'great'; but, 'world class' is not.

This wasn't my purchase, but it has an almost painfully low NSP.  Considering how good it is, though, everyone should try this at least once.  I would wager this is one of the finest of its breed -- I can't think of anything as good, really.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Freigeist Geisterzug

type: Gose
origin:  Cologne, Germany
price: $6/500ml
ABV: 5%
NSP: 4.2
website

The last gose I reviewed -- Golden Gate Gose -- made me a little bit obsessed with the style.  Yet I was still slightly hesitant to buy this, because I can still imagine what a 'bad' gose might taste like and I'd very much like to avoid that experience.

This is wonderful though.  The faint spruce essence nicely complements the lightly soured wheat.  It's definitely salty, but well balanced.  My mouth puckered a bit initially, but so does cramming a dozen sour gummy worms in your mouth.

In summary: very refreshing, and very crushable, brah

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Latitude 33 Camel Corps IPA

type: IPA
origin: San Diego, CA
ABV: 6.8%
price: $5.09/22oz
NSP: 8.7
website (Cool name, bro.  No, actually, there's a pretty cool story about the name.)

First impressions are important.  The first thing you notice is the over carbonation along with a mild buttery smell -- a combination which is definitely off putting.  Meh.

The flavor is somewhere in between a good english IPA, with fruity hops, and a boring East Coast malt bomb, with stale hops.  Oddly, the flavors seem to be going back and forth: at one sip I'm enjoying it, and at the next the aromas are weighing me down.  Meh.

 After a while, though, my qualms have faded into a mild case of beer apathy, which means I'd pick this up over most unknown IPAs, but probably never over an established SD IPA.  So, again, meh, which brings the grand total to three.

This has potential, but it's also flawed, and it seems to me that new SD brewers can't afford to make meh.  Let's hope they get this straightened out.