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.).

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.