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.).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Breakside Passionfruit Sour Ale

Type: flavored Berliner weisse
Origin: Portland, Oregon
Price: $6.59 per 22 oz
ABV: 4.4%
NSP: 4.34
Website

I bought this one completely on a whim. I'm an adjunct sucker, and what bigger adjunct can you get besides passionfruit. I must admit, I have never eaten a passionfruit on its own, so really have no ability to pick its characteristics out of a beer. All I know is this is a damn good beer, and quite interesting to boot. The first sip is sour. Like Cascade sour. Pure brett action just ripping your gums away. This is not barrel aged, so you don't get much subduing of the flavors. The predominant fruit coming through for me is apricot. Then a huge surprise: the finish is very much straight blonde ale. The sour disappears, giving your throat much needed relief. It completely baffles me how such a strong sour character disappears on the finish, but I am not complaining. This is definitely a unique brew and I think both the inexperienced sour drinker and the fanatic will both find qualities to enjoy in this.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fort George 3-Way IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Astoria, Oregon
Price: $10.99 per 4/16 oz cans
ABV: 7.2%
NSP: 12.4
Fort George Website
Block 15 Website
Boneyard Website

I heard about this beer and actively sought it out. Fort George is pretty decent in their own right, but the addition of IPA heavyweights Boneyard and Block 15 made this a must drink. And lets just cut to the chase: they knew this beer would rock. I mean, why else would they put their own brewery rock band on the side of the can. This may be one of the best IPAs I have had in the PacNW and I would drink this anytime given the opportunity. That being said, I think the Boneyard-only offerings may be a bit better, but not by much (I haven't had any Block 15 stuff and only a few Fort George offerings). The nose and flavors are dominated by a massive amount of grapefruit and a wee pinch of pineapple. That being said, it surprises you by drinking incredibly dry and light; most IPAs with this massive of a grapefruit quality are well into the imperial range and are definitely very sweet. The finish is a bit harsh, not from the alcohol, but from an egregious bitterness. That is probably the only thing keeping this from best-in-show, but if you are a hophead, you won't even notice.

Fort George is not as heroin chic as Block 15
...or Boneyard

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Firestone Double Jack

type: double IPA
origin: Paso Robles, CA
price: $6/22oz
ABV: 9.5%
NSP: 10.3
website

I stand by my claim that Union Jack is one of my favorite go-to IPAs of all time, and needless to say I expect big things from Firestone's dry-hopped "double" IPA.

This is really an imperial IPA, though, folks.  It's big, dry, slightly acidic, and the hop resins coat your tongue like a dog eating peanut butter.

Like drinking hop-resin bombs on the Best Coast.


Ultra West Coasty brah, and I'm giving it major props.  They must use a metric fuckton of hops during the dry-hop stage, because this tastes super fresh.

Featured in the pic: tasty chimichurri from el Valle de Guadalupe.  Hecka tasty yo!

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.