Friday, April 27, 2012

Dempsey's Ugly Dog Stout

type: chocolate stout
origin: Petaluma, Ca
price: $4.29/22oz
ABV: 6.7%
NSP: 10.2

Petaluma is home to a northern California powerhouse, Lagunitas, but Sonoma county also has it's fair share of smaller operating brewpub/breweries (Moylan's, Marin, etc.) that are producing quality beer, including Dempsey's.

As a chocolate stout, this is pretty enjoyable.  It could use a bit more head-retention (gone in a few tens of seconds), but otherwise the classic flavors you expect are here.  Roasted and carmel malts are present, but somewhat subdued, which - at this ABV - blurs the line between a stout and porter.  I secretly wish this was an imperial porter, especially since it's less stout, strictly speaking, than most any IPA you'll find these days, but if you're in the P-town go ahead and get down at D-town.

And since I just saw Tupac perform live at Coachella, with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dizzle, and I sort-of rapped in the last paragraph, I'll leave you with this: WEST SIDE!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mission Brewery

1441 L Street 
 San Diego, CA 92101 
(619) 544-0555

 Despite it's proximity to the recently-gentrified East Village of Downtown, San Diego, this brewery/tasting-room feels unpretentious and fun.  It's easy to get to if you have access to the trolley, or if you're near the ballpark, and the atmosphere is interesting: Late nineties alternative blasting (lots of Sublime), a random dog is strolling around coaxing people to rub her belly, and shuffleboard.  The grain silo and the history of the warehouse are the best part I think.  The retrofitted Wonderbread factory signage is a nice touch.  

I also noted to the others that this was a cougar den (and I think they agree) - hands down most females in a tasting room I've ever seen (normally the ratio is 70/30 men).  But, and maybe consequently, we did see a bunch of fuckface bros on a bachelor party try and start a fight with a bunch of non-fuckface guys.  That would've been the first fight I've seen at a beer establishment since I can even remember, but I guess that's the nature of downtown San Diego.

The beer lineup is solid: all of them I tried and none failed.  I really enjoyed their Kolsch-style blonde ale, but the seasonal pilsner and single/double IPAs were great too.  They also have a stout, wheat, and amber ale.  Again, all tasty.

Sambo and Brats talking about boobs beer.
So I heartily recommend this place.  It's probably shithouse during a Padres homegame, but there's so much space you could probably show up with a bunch of friends and still have a great time.  And they even let us bring in a bunch of deep-dish za from Berkeley.  Nom nom all around.

!!WARNING!! The images below represent what happens on the Trolley after a night at a fun, beer-serving establishment.  Here we each tried drawing a naked woman and the results are mixed but definitely offensive.
Duckface smoking a joint (left), and upside-down, doing the splits while vomiting (right). 
The best of the lot (left) and a figure potentially representing a man (right).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lost Coast Indica IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Eureka, CA
Price: $4.99/22 oz
ABV: 6.5%
NSP: 8.47 (unscaled)

Decided to pick up a bottle of IPA from a semi-obscure NorCal brewery. Eureka is on northern end of the Lost Coast (hence the brewery's moniker) area of California, so named because the topography's so rough that nobody wanted to build roads there and as a result it's relatively undeveloped. I don't really care too much about that, I just wanted to see how this compared to the IPAs from the NorCal heavyweights.

Right out of the bottle, I thought this looked more like an English IPA than a West Coaster. Smells like it too- there's some citrus and pine from the hops, but also a whole lot of malt. The flavor fits the same profile, though the citrus from the hops seems a bit muted relative to the pine, and with that and the fairly hefty malt backbone, it definitely veers in the English direction. It's kind of sweet too, which gives it a bit of a cidery aspect. The body's light, which keeps it more refreshing than most English IPAs, and the finish is pretty clean, so there's a couple of feathers in its cap.

I don't know. This isn't bad, but there's not really anything to make it stand out. That's a big problem if you're in a market with the big dogs in Sonoma County. Why would I buy this when Racer 5 is on the shelf nearby for the same price? I won't, that's why. Wait, that doesn't make sense. What?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Funkwerks Brett Dream

Type: Saison
Origin: Fort Collins, CO
Price: $11.99/750 mL
ABV: 7.2%
NSP: 4.50 (unscaled)

Since the Crooked Stave Fertile Soil was brewed at Funkwerks and was pretty tasty, I decided to go for something from Funkwerks itself. And since I'm on the lookout for brett saisons, this seemed like a perfect choice. But, cutting to the chase- yuck. And I mean really fucking yuck.

It kind of looks like Sapporo in the glass, which may be the best thing it has going for it. Minimal head. The smell is initially fairly light, with a bunch of brett funk and a bit of apple. As it sat in the glass, it started to pick up steam. My mom said it kind of smelled like ice that's been in the freezer for way too long. I guess she was feeling charitable. I struggled to identify particular aromas (odors) for a bit, mainly because what I ended up coming up with isn't usually identified with beer or anything I wanted to smell. Outside of that little apple note hiding in the corner, it basically just ended up smelling like a combination of cat piss and something rancid that resembled vomit, plus a little bit of barnyard/manure. Oh, and rubber bands. No, I'm not kidding.

You can imagine that I was not looking forward to tasting it. The flavor's a bit better than the smell, but has similar hallmarks. There's apple in there, but it also tastes like vomity rubber. Instead of complementing the saison flavors, the brett just wrecks anything good this could've had going for it, and I had trouble finishing it.

Well, if Logsdon has set the high end of the scale, this certainly sets the low end. While the brett in Logsdon's version brought a lot of delicious citrusy tartness to the table, it brings nothing but putrid ass in this case. I can't believe they charge what they do for this, because it's pretty much completely heinous. Maybe it'd mellow with some cellaring, but I'm not going to bother trying.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Epic Brewing Sour Apple Saison

Type: Saison
Origin: Salt Lake City, UT
Price: $8.99/22 oz
ABV: 8.1%
NSP: 8.56 (unscaled)

I enjoyed Epic's Hopulent enough last time I was in Colorado that I thought I'd try another Epic brew. Given that I'm on a bit of a saison/Belgian kick, this one caught my eye. It's part of release #9 (recall that Epic provides details of every single specific release of their beers). Now, I'm not usually one for fruity beer, but I figured sour apple flavors would complement the spiciness of a saison well- sort of like brett, but minus the funk.

This looks exactly like a glass of apple cider. And as it sat in front of me while I wrote the first paragraph, I kept getting powerful wafts of the spices that they brew this with- cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, coriander, anise, grains of paradise...hell, why not just toss some fennel and szechuan pepper in there and make it a five-spice apple pie blend? There is apple in there too, but not in a tart kind of way- it's more like an apple Jolly Rancher. Combined with the potent spice aromas, it's pretty cloying.

The flavor's much more tart than the smell, but damn are those spices strong. I would've appreciated a lighter touch with them, because they completely overwhelm most of the saison flavors. The apple does indeed complement what is there, and thankfully it's not Jolly Rancher-sweet; it's somewhat malty but quite dry, which is definitely of benefit, because if it was sweet it'd be almost unpalatable. There's a little bit of hop bitterness in there, but it's just sort of hanging out in the background. The finish isn't terribly pleasant because it tastes like I just failed the cinnamon challenge.

Basically, this tastes like heavily spiced, slightly hopped dry apple cider, so I guess the first impression from the pour wasn't too far off. Aside from the maltiness and weak bitterness, it's almost unrecognizable as beer. And I just can't get past the spices- it has the same effect as someone wearing too much perfume (i.e. it's hard to notice anything else). I'd be much happier with it if they'd just not bothered with the spices, or at least minimized their impact, just to see what saison+apple would taste my imagination, it'd taste pretty good. I hope that in subsequent releases they've found a better balance, because at least for this one they should've called it Christmas Spice Saison With a Bit of Apple In There Too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

St Joseph's MOA

type: tripel
origin: Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand
price: 3.90/12.7oz
ABV: 9.5
NSP: 9.2

The Moa, putting the MOA in MAORI, but without the ass-kicking of an All-Blacks haka.  I admit to buying this out of sheer curiosity: A strong Belgian-style tripel, from New Zealand, costing less than $4 (and also a "limited edition" according to the label).  I don't know though, honestly.  With each swig I "flip-flop" from oh, that's alright to ugh, that tastes like amateur homebrew (we're good at amateur homebrewing 'round these parts, so I know what I'm talking about).  My brain feels a bit like how the decider sounds fumbling over simple concepts.  Clearly this should be drunk in a tulip glass, because really it's really alcoholic.  So for that I give props, since it's not oppressive in that sense, but I keep reminding myself of perhaps the most important part of evaluating beer: Would you buy it again, at the same price, or in a bar for even more?  Not a damn chance.  There are too many options to be fooling around with beers like this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dry Dock Hefeweizen

Type: Hefeweizen
Origin: Aurora, CO
Price: $5.49/22 oz
ABV: 4.3%
NSP: 5.09 (unscaled)

I needed something a little less challenging/drunk-making, but still delicious, for run-of-the-mill beering purposes while in Colorado. Commence Operation Hefeweizen. This one's from a local brewery in Aurora, to which some of us Coloradans refer as Saudi Aurora. I'm sure Samer knows a guy there.

The head's pretty much nonexistent, which is sort of odd. Nice cloudy yellow color, exactly as it should be. It smells a lot like Thunderweizen (i.e. banana smoothie), which could never be a bad thing, but this seems a bit thinner or slightly watered-down. And the flavor's got all of the Thunderweizen goodness, bananas and cloves and some citrus, but again thinned out, with a bit more wheaty funk.

Well, this is pretty much exactly what I wanted when I was after something tasty with a lower booze factor. I realize it's kind of lame to just say it's a lighter version of Thunderweizen, but since the latter is pretty much the best hefeweizen available in the US of A, it's a favorable comparison.

By the way, the label's pretty weak. There's a very small picture of what appears to be either a pretzel or a very poorly made palmier on the side with no explanation why. I'm confused.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Boulevard Long Strange Tripel

Type: Tripel
Origin: Kansas City, MO
Price: $8.99/750 mL
ABV: 9.0%
NSP: 7.51 (unscaled)

Back in Colorado for my brother's wedding. Drinking galore, so expect lots of reviews. The first is from Boulevard, from which I reviewed two beers previously, Double Wide (which was decent) and Tank 7 (which was quite good). This one's got a great name. Apparently it's a tribute to their longest-tenured employee. His picture is on the front of the bottle, and he kind of looks like a zombie. I was in such a hurry to crack a beer that I completely forgot to take a picture, so credit to BR Beer Scene for the photo.

The head's interesting- large fizzy bubbles like a lager, rather than the usual fine-bubbled frothy Belgian head. Turns out that's sort of a harbinger. It smells fairly Belgian-yeasty, quite fruity with a whole bunch of apple aroma and citrus in particular. But it's not particularly Belgian-spicy, nor does it have much in the way of hop aromas. It's really fizzy, tastebud-stinging fizzy, and that's not usually a good thing. The flavor's fruity and fairly bitter- at least the hops aren't entirely missing. But, as with the nose, I don't get many of the Belgian spiciness (cloves and such) on the flavor that one would expect in a tripel. It's also pretty sweet, clearly the yeast didn't get the gravity down. The alcohol punch is pretty strong, but whatever, that's no big deal.

All in all, I'm not too impressed with this. The carbonation is way too dominant, a lot of the Belgian flavors are muted or absent, and it's too sweet. It actually ends up tasting more like a wheated imperial lager or pilsner than a tripel. Not to the extent of the infamous and totally heinous Lion Imperial (or Imperoal in Andy's lexicon), but it still moves a bit in that direction, and that ain't a good thing since it's clearly not the intent.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Anchorage Brewing The Tide and its Takers

Type: Tripel
Origin: Anchorage, AK
Price: $15.59/750 mL
ABV: 9.0%
NSP: 4.33 (unscaled)

When I reviewed the incredible Logsdon Seizoen Bretta, I solicited recommendations for other brett saisons. Reader Jeff suggested Lost Abbey Carnevale (bottle dutifully acquired and queued for review) and Anchorage Love Buzz. Unfortunately, the latter hasn't yet appeared on our shores down here in San Diego. However, two other non-saison Anchorage brews have, and this is one of them.
Anchorage is a new brewery (less than a year old) that's already taking on some challenging styles (saison, tripel, IPA among them) and adding an extra degree of difficulty by barrel fermenting all of them with brettanomyces. Kudos for effort. However, all that effort comes at a steep price- this is easily the most expensive beer I've reviewed.

The name for this one is kind of interesting. Apparently it's titled after an album by Anchorage metalcore band 36 Crazyfists, about whom I know nothing because I'm not a metalcore aficionado. I'm not sure what the name is supposed to mean in either case. Maybe it's a tribute to the participants of the huge laundry detergent theft crime wave sweeping the country.

On to the beer. If I hadn't been gripping the cork tightly, it would've hit the ceiling. It's got the nice cloudy yellow/orange color you'd expect from a tripel. The brett is the primary thing I get on the nose- it brings a strong orange/lemon scent. I only get a faint sense of regular tripel aromas because of the funky tartness coming from the brett- they're there, but it takes some study. There's also something floral/vegetal in there, but I can't quite identify it.

Well, as I sort of expected, this is kind of a mindfuck, but in a good way. There's so many different flavors swimming around in there that it's difficult to disentangle them, and I'm really only trying to do so because I'm reviewing it. The brett funk is the first thing I taste. The barrels used for fermenting this were french oak chardonnay casks, and both the wine and the oak come in next. The finish is tripel through and through, with wheaty sourness and funk, plus a little alcoholic sharpness. The citrusy sourness from the brett pervades everything...of course, if it didn't, what would be the point?

The primary reason I like this is because it's a palate-challenger. My tastebuds don't know what the hell's going on in there. From a straight beer-drankin' perspective I like it again and it's got great flavor, but there's something there that I find a touch off-putting. As I make my way through the glass, I keep getting something vaguely chemical. Maybe it's just the combination of the lemony funk from the brett and the alcohol tinge on the finish. I'm not saying it tastes like Lemon Pledge or anything, it's just something a little odd. In the end, I don't at all mind having paid a premium for this because it stretches my beer knowledge. Since that's the whole point of writing for this blog in the first place (i.e. becoming a borderline alcoholic but justifying it in the name of education), I'm on board, and I'll be going after the Galaxy IPA next.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unibroue La Fin du Monde

Type: Tripel
Origin: Chambly, Quebec, Canada
Price: $8.49/750 mL
ABV: 9.0%
NSP: 7.95 (unscaled)

Another surprising one in that it hasn't been reviewed yet, given that it's pretty much the easiest-to-find tripel in the US. I think every grocery and liquor store I've ever been in sells this. Should I expect that it's going to be the macrobrew of tripels, then? Though I'm not really sure what that would even mean.

The name translates to "The End of the World". Maybe I should've saved this for December of this year. I suppose I can just buy another, though. The pour looks pretty tripely, nice and orange and hazy. It sounded highly carbonated when I poured it, fizzy in a Rice Krispie sort of way. It smells like a down-the-middle tripel, fruity, spicy, a touch tart, plus a bit of alcohol sharpness. There's also something kind of coconutty in there, though it's fleeting enough that I could be hallucinating. It's smooth and really easy to drink, though it's a touch sweeter than, say, the glorious Karmeliet. The carbonation and mouthfeel are right on point, and all of the delicious tripel flavors are there, including the alcohol, which for me is just part of the game with tripels and not at all a negative. It's nicely crisp, with the hops providing just enough sourness to keep that sweetness reined in.

Well, this is pretty damn delicious, and really hits the tripel-craving spot, which at this point in my drinking career is a large and omnipresent spot. I'll say that Karmeliet trumps it purely on quality (as it does most things). But, and this is not a but to scoff at, you could buy this and a 500 mL of Franziskaner for the same price as a 750 of Karmeliet. Tough call (of course the equation changes if you're in fuckin' Bruges). What's a non-snob to do?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir Black Lager

Type: Schwarzbier/black lager
Origin: Newport, OR
Price: $5.99/22 oz
ABV: 6.0%
NSP: 6.51 (unscaled)

The third of the Chatoe Rogue series, and by far the heftiest of the three. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I opened this. I haven't had many schwarzbiers (Kostritzer is the only one I can think of off the top of my head), but I've had a black ale or two (namely New Belgium's 1554), and based on this also being called a black lager I figured this would have similar flavors, but maybe be a bit lighter in body and more crisp. What I found was...well, not that.

Interesting head, very dark with sort of a reddish tinge. The beer looks like very stouty, completely opaque. It smells like strong espresso, with a bit of a fruity tinge. Taking a sip, I find that this is definitely not just a lighter version of a black ale.
The body's sort of ale-like, but that's about it. The flavor's very much like a stout, dark (to the point of burnt) roasty malt and chocolate, with a bit of bitterness that as with many stouts and porters feels like it's more from dark chocolate than from hops. The finish is surprising in that it's exceptionally clean- the dark chocolate sticks around for quite some time, but with a very light touch. So while the flavors are pretty potent, it's pretty easy to drink and isn't filling like a stout.

This one's kind of fascinating. Not because anything in it is individually unique necessarily, but because it covers a range of styles. It's flavored like a stout, has the body of an ale, and finishes like a lager. That by itself makes it stand out. If I was generally more of a stout/porter type of fella, I'd probably keep some of this around for those nights when I wanted to go a bit towards the lighter side. Not bad, Rogue. Toss some vanilla in this and it'd be incredible.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Anderson Valley Poleeko Gold

type: pale ale
origin: Boonville, CA
price: ~4.50/22
ABV: 5.25%
NSP: 7.6

This is a surprisingly complex beer for being so simple, but it shouldn't surprise anyone given AVBC's reputation around here.  Serious bitterness (though only at 28 IBU) pierces right through the maltiness, yet with minimal hop intrusion.  So, really this should be proclaimed to be an English-style bitter (even though they make a separate 'ESB'), because 'pale ale' doesn't do it any justice besides an accurate description of the body and color.  Despite it being so good, I still have to compare to Harpoon's single-hop ESB.  No contest, sorry.  Regardless, I can see why the English have a fondness for bitters:  They make it easy to camp out in a pub, playing snooooker and eating boiled foods with Mrs. Featherbottom.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chatoe Rogue Single Malt Ale

Type: Blonde ale
Origin: Newport, OR
Price: $5.99/22 oz
ABV: 5.3%
NSP: 5.75 (unscaled)

The second beer of the Chatoe Rogue line, following the Good Chit Pilsner of which I thought highly. "Single Malt Ale" doesn't really refer to a specific style, but the website says it's a blonde ale. The Good Chit is made using floor malting. And since single malt whisky is usually made via the same process, I presume that a "single malt" ale is as well. But the website doesn't state that, so I'm not sure.

This smells like a blonde ale, malty and fruity and sweet but also fairly light. There's also a nice bitter hop note in there that's well-sustained by the head, plus a bit of citrus. The flavor's a lot more bitter than I'd anticipated, on a similar level as a well-hopped pale ale. I'm surprised by it, because I expected the malt to play the lead given the name. But the hops are definitely the big dog here. The citrusy flavors aren't as strong as, say, a west coast IPA. They're there, and they're pretty tasty, but this is more piny than citrusy. I wouldn't call it crisp, because the malt gives it just a bit too much body for that. While the hoppiness is a nice surprise to my now bitter-friendly palate, it also prevents any of the malt complexity from showing as much as it does in the Good Chit, which makes it seem like the name is a bit misleading (especially from a whisky-drinker's perspective).

In the end, I find this beer pretty tasty, but also a bit confusing because it wasn't at all what I was expecting. I'm not sure if there's anything to really distinguish it when you're beer shopping, though. I mean, it's nice that they use all Rogue-grown ingredients, but dedication to homegrown grain and hops doesn't necessarily mean the flavor is going to blow you out of the water. So it's good, but there are a lot of beers that are good. I'd be interested to see what would happen if they added some wheat to the base grain bill. Of course, they couldn't call it a single malt ale anymore (I guess it'd be a blended ale?), but wheat could add some enhanced fruity/sour complexity that could take this up a notch.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Caldera IPA

type: IPA
origin: Ashland, OR
price: ~9/6-pack/12oz (??)
ABV: 6.1%
NSP: ~14

The canning trend continues, this time with an IPA from Oregon.  According to my top-secret sources Caldera has been canning since 2005, and was the first brewery in Oregon to do so.  And it's been shown already that there's nothing wrong with good beer in a can.  In fact, the best IPA I've had in a while, Happy Camper, was also in a can.  But for a style like IPA, where aromatics are so important, don't expect that drinking it out of the can will provide the same experience as drinking it out of a glass.

This beer is no exception to that rule, but it turns out to be not too big a deal.  The color is wonderful, and the flavors remind me of the Southern Tier, with the same ultra-high IBU paired with a serious lack of moistness (it's dry is what I mean).  The obviously muted alcohol content, though, makes your mouth feel like it's had a blast of cold, dry, winter air.  So it's wholly enjoyable, but will probably give you severe cottonmouth if you drink more than--oh, let's say--eight.

The can instructs us to go biking, rafting, skiing, fishing, and snowboarding.  But, honestly, can we not even enjoy outdoor sports without beer?  Of course we can.  What they really mean is once you're done doing all those things (all you hyper-active sporting folk) you should have a beer -- this beer.  I'll certainly agree to that.

Self-proclaimed +1 for using 'moist' to describe a beer.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Telegraph Brewing White Ale

Type: White Ale
Origin: Santa Barbara, CA
Price: $7.99/750 mL
ABV: 4.5% (really?)
NSP: 4.22 (unscaled)

I originally had a bottle of Telegraph's Robust Ale in line for a review. But I let it sit in the queue for a bit too long, and as far as I could tell it had spoiled once I finally got around to it. At least I hope it spoiled, because it was foul. So I felt like I had to make it up to Telegraph (not that they care), and I picked this one up. It's brewed with orange peel, coriander, and chamomile. The bottle says this should be eaten with fresh farmer's market cuisine. Sorry, lads, but I'm going to hammer some pollo asado instead.

The pour told me this is pretty highly carbonated, as it yielded a pretty thick head even with some gentle treatment. And it had a weird bubble vortex thing coming off the bottom of the glass for a good ten minutes after I poured it. The nose is nicely Belgiany, actually a lot like Horny Devil, but with a notable orange note (which makes sense) and a bit more pilsnery skunk.

The flavor's very nice, light and refreshing, and it's got a really light body that's buoyed by a nice tartness. The coriander and orange peel are there, the latter more than the former, though both are lighter than I'd expected. I'm not aware of any chamomile, but I don't wander around grazing on chamomile flowers and I don't really like tea so I don't know what it's supposed to taste like. There isn't anything floral that I can pick up, though. It's well-balanced and easy to drink, while at the same time having good flavor. All in all, it's a nice expression of a white ale. I'm not sure they achieved the level of complexity they were aiming for, but that doesn't mean it's bad.

I feel kind of bad about this one. Because, like I said, I like the flavor, and it's a pretty good version of a white ale. But as I drink it, I find myself wishing it was Horny Devil- it's got a lot of the same flavors, but HD just has everything amplified, including the ABV. I know that's completely unfair to Telegraph, especially given that this isn't supposed to be a strong ale, but that's where I am with it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

White Birch: Hop Session Ale

Type: Session Ale
Origin: Hooksett, NH
Price: $6/22oz
ABV: 5.3%
NSP: 5.74 (unscaled)

Damn I think I bought all the White Birch I could find the last time I hit up Smiley's. Which, did I mention, has unfortunately GONE OUT OF BUSINESS?! Sonofabitch, that was one awesome booze shop: sweet beer selection, hot pizza, both delivered to your door with a smile. Hooligans valiantly dueling with empty beer cases and otherwise messing around like all honest beer shop workers should. Damn, we'll miss you smiley's. This is a sad day, but hopefully they'll come back better than ever soon.

But... I digress. This fine beer is a testament to the east coast IPA (ie malt bomb), with a lower alcohol content (but not too much), and apparently dry hopped. That's right, after all these years of 'traditional' pale ale and 'traditional' IPA, these guys have either visited San Diego and tasted the awesome there, or they've independently had a fit of wonder and decided to just pitch some hops in the fermenter for a good time. One way or another, they got around to this great beverage we know as the session ale, but they're still pitching a bit closer to the east coast malty identity than they are to the west coast hopfest identity. Regardless, the hops shine through in a fit of green wonder. Another fine beverage.

So if you're having a rough day with the snizzle (snow/drizzle), just park it, crack a session open, and see what happens. It'll probably still snizzle all over, but you'll at least have a tasty beverage for the occasion.

White Birch: Night Falls

Type: American Wild Ale
Origin: Hooksett, NH
Price: $8/750 mL
ABV: 7.5%
NSP: 7.03 (unscaled)

Another beer from a small craft brewery up here in NH. Once again, these guys have delivered a stellar bottle of get your booze on. I was a bit worried when the cork didn't come blasting away, and even needed some coercion, but there was a nice pop when I finally wormed it out. It pours with a pretty thin head, and a fairly dark color I'd typically expect from a porter.

On the tongue, this ale is a nice full bodied brew with a touch of sweetness and a solid grip of sour which hits nicely. There's just a hint of bitter on the back, but otherwise you'd never know there are any hops in there. The barrel flavor isn't really there unless you're looking for it, but the beer tastes fine even without. I'm not the most acquainted with wild ales, but if they're all like this one, I'll definitely be coming back soon. Among the sours I've had, I'd rank this one right up there with Vichtenaar and the Philadelphia Monk Cafe house sour, two other sours I've thoroughly enjoyed.

And oh yeah, that's right: bottle 53 of 156. These guys are into small batches, which means you might not ever get a chance to sample this one, but if you do run into a bottle of white birch on the shelf and are in the mood for some fine flavor, dig in. Also, if you are a bear-o-dactyl lounging and in need of a brew, hit this one up, and then get your enchanting thong ready.