Thursday, September 18, 2014

Central Waters Sixeen

Type: barrel aged imperial stout
Origin: Amherst, Wisconsin
Price: $15 per bottle ($5 ticket for bottle sale and event)
ABV: 11%
NSP: 4.77
Website

Got this from my brother and pops who went to the release on a ball-crushingly cold January in Wisconsin. And I probably would have done the same if I knew how good this was. All you really need to do is think of a slightly thinner Parabola with the only defect being a slight burn on the finish. The most dominant notes are chocolate, vanilla and the bourbon soaked oak. Think about just holding a super decadent chocolate truffle in your mouth while taking a tiny sip of bourbon. That is CW 16 in a nutshell. Not quite on par with Parabola or BCBS but pretty damn close. I could definitely drink this all day if it was ever sold again :(

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Almanac Farmers Reserve Blackberry

Type: blackberry sour
Origin: San Francisco, CA
Price: $11.59 per 375 mL
ABV: 7%
NSP: 2.26
Website

As you can tell, I'm getting more into sours. It seems to be the style becoming most en vogue these days, and I'm just jumping balls first into them. One of the more prominent sour purveyors in these parts is Almanac, and while the NSP is not roaringly high, the smaller bottle format makes them slightly more affordable in the sour game. I have had the chance to try several other offerings that I didn't review (Brandy Barrel Peche and Dogpatch Sour), and they were both superb. Not best in show, but if this were a dog show, they would be the ones running straight through the barriers to the finish line. They just want to get you to the finale without fucking around. Like, here is a sour beer and bam, fucking peaches. Fucking peaches...

So riddle me this, have I ever had a blackberry beer? No.

Am I qualified to review this? Probably not, but that never stopped me before. I know what is supposed to taste good and I know what's poisonous.

First thing I note is this has got a pinkish hue. Definitely odd, but whatever, it looks pretty. The smell has got a nice sour funk on it. A slight berry presence of indiscriminate origin (I guess blackberries, but I've never giving a good solid whiff into a bowl of blackberries). The taste is a nice dry sour, although not a huge berry punch. Its definitely not 'loads of coastal Blackberries from Swanton Berry Farm in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains' per the Almanac website, although that might be a good thing, preventing this from entering Cascade style canker sore territory. I also think the wine barrel aging may take away some of the strong berry flavors, and this kind of drinks like a carbonated chardonnay. All in all, not a bad offering, and if you like some more subtle sours, this will be up your alley.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Deschutes The Dissident (2012)

Type: Oud Bruin
Origin: Bend, Oregon
Price: $17.59 per 22 oz
ABV: 11.4%
NSP: 4.21
Website

I was able to pick up a few of these at Chucks' cellar sale a few months back, which was definitely nice since The Dissident is brewed every few years and wasn't able to grab some back in 2012 or 2010.

First impression is this is a boozed up, albeit more subdued version of Hommage from Cantillion. Yeah I know Hommage is with raspberries and cherries and who knows what else, but the defining dry formaldehyde sour notes are apparent in both (I read somewhere that's indicative of methanol, but the solution to methanol poisoning is drinking some more ethanol...you can believe me, I'm a doctor of the earth). The sour on this is really nice and not canker sore inducing. Also, this completely hides the alcohol. Its strange that I compare this to a 6% sour, but it really is similar. This may be my favorite offering from Deschutes and I will be buying up any and all stores of the 2014 when it comes out.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Belgium / Cigar City (Lips of Faith)

type: chili Belgian IPA
origin: Fort Collins, CO
price: $7/22oz
ABV: 8.5%
NSP: 7.9
website

I firmly believe that chili-infused beers should not be attempted by anyone except for the finest of brewers.  It's just plain frightening to think about how badly overloaded with capsaicin they can be.  Even though Cigar City is on the label, and this is a member of the Lips of Faith series, I'm still weary...

This pours, looks, and tastes like a really wonderful, well-attenuated, hoppy IPA.  To my pleasant surprise, the chili additions aren't overwhelming, and even add a nice complementary kick (as you'd hope!).  There seems to be almost a bit of cherry essence, which may be from the Spanish oak contribution.  No clue, but either way, this shit is rocking my face off because it's highly drinkable and it's strong as punk.  My only beef is that only a faint aromatic presence from the IPA is detectable.  If it were blossoming with hoppy aromas, I would be straight torqued.  I'm still very down with this.  Most everything else New Belgium offsers, however, I am not.  For example: this.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Uinta Hop Nosh

type: IPA
origin: Salt Lake City, UT
price: $10/6-pack
ABV: 7.3%
NSP: 15.5
website

Malt bomb IPA, incoming!  Sorry, but I'm just not totally feeling this.  It's good I suppose (and getting plenty of teat-suckage on BA): it's not quite flawed, per say, but it also is not rocking my balls in any manner besides the NSP.  If there were a non-snob metric for ball rocking beers, we would've figured out that malty IPA don't rock no balls.  There's a bit of peanut butter and ash on the finish, which I've tasted before in more forgettable IPA, and is undoubtedly a malt/hop combo. Maybe next time, Uinta.  Or am I totally off base here?  I feel like I'm being too harsh on it, but that's because the ethanol is going to my brain.  So I guess it aint so bad after all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blaugies / Hill Farmstead la Vermontoise

type: saison
origin: Dour, Belgium
price: $12/750ml
ABV: 6.0%
NSP: 3.8
website

I ran across this at Beltramos, but it was quite old at that point.  Regardless, it's an easy beer-decision to make when you see Hill Farmstead on the bottle, even if the NSP is dreadful.

The lack of freshness was definitely an issue: the excess yeast was hard at work, and produced abundant head/carbonation; and there's a faint skunkiness rushing out of the bottle. Oh well, got me some drinkin' to do.

It is indeed a farmhouse saison, apparently brewed with 'spelt', and Amarillo hops.  Aside from the age-induced problems, this gives off a rich and intense aromatic experience, that's also loaded with pepper, earthy, fruity, saison'y goodness -- yum. The body quite nice too.

Overall, I'd say this is a very clean tasting, refreshing saison, and it would probably be world class at it's peak freshness too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bear Republic Cafe 15 Racer

type: double IPA
origin: Cloverdale, CA
price: $8/22oz
ABV: 9.75%
NSP: 7.9
website

Does Bear Republic have a new facility in Cloverdale?  Probably not -- I've had the blinders on for a while, and didn't realize they're a lot bigger than I thought.  Whatever, this is a badass DIPA.  It's big and juicy, and loaded with fruity hop action.  But there's still a deep bitterness to it, and although the malt base is on the heavy side, it's still very pleasant and not overdone.  Not much else to say here: it's a great all-around double IPA that's very nearly in the this-is-damn-near-a-triple-IPA-if-you-ask-me classification.  And just what the hell is a cafĂ© racer?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Brew Rebellion Amber Ann

type: imperial amber/red ale
origin: Yucaipa, CA
price: $9/22oz
ABV: 10.4%
NSP: 7.5
website

I wanted to publish on my birthday as a sign of respect to BR, because this reminds me of drinking Perdition: rough around the edges, but interesting and completely delicious.  There's a tremendous amount of complexity here -- as much as a nice barleywine might impart.  Raisins, molasses, and booooooze.  This is damn near the finest of this style I've ever had, although I can't say there've been many I can compare this too (that I can remember).  And it's purty.

If I'd complain at all it would be the alcohol wafting up my nose, and there's a little too much carb for the head-retention qualities.  Although, all that carb may be what keeps the ridiculous ABV in check when you're drinking it.  And, it was full of yeast dregs just churning away at the beer, which means it was probably a lot less carb'd when I bought it, and it's probably significantly stronger now after all those yeast-dumps.

These days it's become increasingly difficult to stick out from the competition.  But it's clear that these guys have tremendous potential, and a great deal of love for the craft.  When I tried their stuff at this year's North Park Festival of Arts, I was sold.  The quality of their bottled brew was the last check for me: these guys stick out like a sore thumb (in a good way), and are a welcome breath of fresh air.  What's interesting too is that they're apparently operating out of the back of Mexican market.  Pretty ironic, huh?
When your beer looks like an ice cream cone, you've got pretty good head retention.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mendocino 30th Anniversary Ale (Cascade single hop pale ale)

type: single-hop pale ale
origin: Ukiah, CA
price: $4/22oz
ABV: 7%
NSP: 11.4
website

What does it say about a brewery that after thirty years in the game, they decide to make a mildly boring single-hop pale ale?  Not sure, but emphasis on the boring.

Yes, the hop character is very one-note and Cascadian (Brats hates Cascade hops because their overused in the PNW).  Yes, the beer is malty, sweet, but it also tastes slightly metallic.  Good lacing, but not much aroma.  Whoop-dee-fucking-doo!

It seems the only thing that makes this reasonably unique is the ABV; but then again, Ballast makes a 7% hoppy lager in regular production that blows the goddamn lid off most hop-centric beers, including this.

I'm recommending you try this, if only because it's a great value, but I would say search for this like you would search for a shitty, faded tattoo-giving "artist." It's not that this beer is bad, but it's just not interesting, and certainly not worthy of a 30-year celebration other than perhaps after getting that old, shitty, faded tattoo lasered off your body.  No ragrets.

Still in the game after thirty years, BRO.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Deschutes Foray IPA

type: Belgian-style IPA
origin: Bend, OR
price: $5.5/22oz
ABV: 6.4%
NSP: 7.6
website

Another beer in Deschutes' Bond Street Series, which joins the likes of the brilliant and genre-defining Hop in the Dark.  So this will probably rock balls...

Annnnd, it does.  It's effervescent and refreshing.  Light bodied, and a touch too carbonated, giving it the feel of an alcoholic Calistoga.  The strongest part of this brew, for me, is what the Belgian yeast add: unique fruit notes that aren't too overpowering, and complement the citrusy hops.  And then it finishes cleanly, with a twinge of acidity and cereal grains.

This is a fine accomplishment, and I could easily throw back a sixer on a school night.  Thumbs up for awesome, and for Deschutes not going the way of Boston Beer Co (read that as Banal Beer Co.).