Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Brew Dog 5 A.M. Saint

type: hoppy red ale
origin: Ellon, Aberdeenshire (Scotland)
price: $5/4-pack
ABV: 5%
NSP: 13.3

Beer from Brew Dog?  I was soured early on by a piss poor attempt at an IPA that was backed by some bullshit dick swagging (on the label).  But then I made a visit to Brew Dog in Firenze (Florence), Italy, and I decided to revisit their beers.

This is their "hoppy red ale", which is hoppy enough to make me forget about the under-attenuated malt base (it should be about 7%) and the dirty water / metallic sips and the slight funk on the tongue.  It's a good beer, to be sure, but I find myself projecting quality into the future, imagining that after just a few months of extra shelf time, this will taste like shit (once the hops have degraded in "freshness").  It may be perfect for a nice day in Scotland, though.

This is imported by Anchor, so I'm wondering if we see it more ofter in the bay area than, say, San Diego.  Maybe not, but at least it's at the local Trader Joes at a very reasonable price. So I'll buy it, but mostly because I rarely have access to Blazing World; and Hop Head Red is 8%.  And I'm not totally convinced it should be in the Lotion Club.

Finally, here's proof that I'm willing to give them another chance:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Napa Smith Crush

type: amber lager "with grapes"
origin: Napa, CA
price: $3/22oz
ABV: 6%
NSP: 13.0

Napa Smith was knocked out of the IPA Tournament early, and brutally.  That organic IPA of theirs was a fat pile of bullshit, and so I've come to expect very little from them.  But, for some reason this caught my eye, and I'm rather enjoying it.

On the surface it's just a boring-ass amber lager that faintly reminds me of Oktoberfest, without the blacking-out.  But it's nothing that any German brewery couldn't blow out of the water with a small bit of [insert German word for precision stoic effort].

The trick here is the "with grapes" thing.  The only thing I can figure out is they used some small amount of trash red-wine grapes from this year's harvest, if only because of the maroon label, and the tinge of red in the appearance.  The addition works though.  There's a nice acidity that masks a bit of the harshness of the lager, and an essence of grape that mixes nicely with the carbonation.  It's got a nice ABV too.  (In terms of a harvest celebrator, it's nowhere near Great Beer... Great Wine though.)

The wifey said it "tastes like water", but then added "although... I have been drinking wine, so who knows."  Way to pony up and acknowledge any potential bias, Lyn!  That makes perfect sense though: this isn't a wine-grape lager.  No, it's a lager "with grapes", strictly as advertised.  Still, I think this qualifies for the Lotion Club, and is one (small) step towards me respecting NS.  Welcome to the club, friends.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Knee Deep Hop-De-Ranged

type: quadruple IPA, or an imperial as fuck imperial IPA
origin: Lincoln, CA
price: ~$10/22ox
ABV: 13.1%
NSP: 8.5

None of us have ever tried to hide the fact that we love Knee Deep.  They rank highly with us because of their excessive-hopping skills: they make the entire gambit of IPA taste about as hoppy/dank/attenuated as you've ever had, all while maintaining a good level of distribution.

And this takes the cake as their most potent offering. Just look at those stats!  FUG THIS SHIB.  But it's actually not as oppressive as I thought it would be, so in a sense it's not all that "insane" of a beer -- unless you're planning on making a night out of it.  I would recommend against that, Stretch.

There are a few things plainly obvious here: ultra high ABV layered over a not-so-dry body.  And you can be damn sure the level of hops ain't gonna disappoint.  Actually, they've achieved a wonderful balance between all of those things, so much so that I would venture this would beat Expo in a blind taste.  The hops impart a fantastic tropical flavor that makes me think I'm at the Tonga Room wailing down 15 dollar buckets of blue blackout juice.  NOICE!

Well hot diggity looks like we got ourselves a Ken Caminiti style beer-slugger.  Although, instead of calling this a IIIIPA, as the wonks would have it, let's just call it an after-a-couple-sips-I'm-drunk-PA. And I'm thinking this wont die from going too hard on speedballs.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Freigeist Ottekolong

type: kolsch
origin: Cologne, Germany
price: $6/0.5l
ABV: 4.8%
NSP: 4

There's an art to achieving something simple and also fantastic.  Cologne's thirst quenching drink -- the "Kolsch" as we call it -- can have both of those traits.  But it can also suck a fat one depending on the quality of the brewing operation.

This strikes a pleasing chord with me.  The malts are on full display, and yet it remains light-bodied with major croosh.  There is a bit too much residual sweetness for me, but shit it's hard to argue with a good kolsch.  No flaws as far as I can tell, and given that this has been imported, I'd be surprised if the beer at the source isn't phenomenal.

So I guess I'm pretty much in agreement with this reviewer, but the NSP is dreadful.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Epic Pumpkin Pie Gose

Type: Flavored Gose
Origin: Seattle, WA
Price: $9ish per 22 oz
ABV: 6%

How could I not buy and review this beer. The description just screams disgusting since no part of pumpkin pie should be salty except for the refluxed turkey and gravy during dessert. I have only had one beer from Epic Ales before, the balsamic mushroom masterpiece, and it was definitely an interesting experience. I must also mention the artwork makes no sense. The name is very simple, 'pumpkin pie gose', but the picture depicts a slice of pie viciously clubbing his pumpkin brothers from whence he came. The slice of pie looks a little Hitlerjugend, so maybe that's what they were going trying for with this classic German style.

Anyways, is this beer as god-awful as it sounds? The smell is horrendous. It smells exactly like an over-skunked Miller High Life. The taste on the other hand is quite pleasant. A good funky sour more in line with some of the Russian River sours and just a tinge of saltiness that somewhat clears the palate. Pumpkin spices or essence are completely non-existent however. Maybe a little bit of nutmeg/cinnamon heat but none of the flavor. As a gose, this is a tremendous offering. As a pumpkin seasonal, I would move along, although no one really enjoys pumpkin beers all that much so maybe this is a good thing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

off color brewing Scurry

type: Kottbusser (dark honey ale)
origin: Chicago, IL
price: $12/4-pack
ABV: 5.3%
NSP: 6.4

This is a style I've not had before--"Kottbusser"--and it reminds me of one of those true kola-root sodas, but with booze in it -- like if Michelob Ultra'd a good porter, or something like that.  It's like an Alt beer, but with excessively light body.  And the minimal carbonation is key ingredient to this: I'd wager that any higher levels of carb would mute the delicate flavors.

I ended up plowing through 3 of these bottles in 15 minutes because it was so ri-goddamn-diculously refreshing.  It was pretty warm outside and it absolutely crushed my thirst.

After tasting only two other beers make by off color, and now this, I'm completely sold on their abilities.  They seem to make unique, and well executed beers, with an impeccable taste for good design.

Overall: A very satisfying beer from an excellent brewery.  I'm planning to take down the entire four-pack on my next Caltrain ride to SF.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Evil twin: sour bikini

type: Sour pale
origin: Mount Pleasant, SC
price: $13/22oz at Ale Arsenal
ABV: 3%
NSP: : 1.5

What does a sour bikini taste like? Lightly salted. If it was ever hoppy, those flavors are long gone, except a hint of bitter. A little tangy fruit. Light and crisp, best served cold. Slightly cloudy, mild carbonation.

evil twin

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

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

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

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.