Wednesday, August 29, 2012

North Coast Acme

type: IPA
origin: Fort Bragg, CA
price: ?
ABV: 6.9%
NSP: ?

Holy flipping hell!  This is one bitter bastard of an IPA.  It treats you like you're in an abusive relationship, so take a sip and say to yourself that's too tongue bucklin' - no way I'm enjoying this..., but then you go back for more.  Some people enjoy dependency I guess.

I think maybe North Coast should develop this into a new style of beer: imperial ESB.  Why?  Even though it's not one, this IPA beats the living crap out of any ESB I've ever had, even my beloved 100 Barrel.

Even though the bitterness is the featured player here, it still reminds of a solid California IPA (with some fruitiness from the hops, and a nice medium body malt), so it seems they could even step up the ABV and create a heavyweight DIPA.

I'm a really big fan of this, but unfortunately I think it's only going to be called on for certain occasions; like when I feel like having my taste-buds forcefully removed from my mouth, and I don't feel like eating a big batch of Sour Patch Kids.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon

Type: American Hefeweizen
Origin: San Francisco, CA
Price: $10/6 pack
ABV: 4.9%
NSP: 10.1

Okay, wait a second? You mean to tell me they flavored that hef with watermelon? WTF? Sounds awful and potentially delicious at the same time. The verdict? GOOD. It's very very light. And well done. This could have easily become as crappy as watermelon flavored Smirnoff Ice. Instead, its a yummy wheat beer with an interesting twist that many homebrewers must have tried, and likely failed to pull off. Give it a go next time you can find it. It's not widely distributed and a seasonal release. Sambo approved.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid

type: double IPA (just an 'ale' according to Lag.)
origin: Petaluma, CA
price: $5/22oz
ABV: 8%
NSP: 10.4

Everything about this is designed to take hops to the limit.  The label is deep green and highlights the 102 IBU*, preparing you for the beast within.  Although they stray from using the phrase, this is really a double IPA.  It's more inline with the full-bodied, highly bittered type of DIPAs; whereas Pure Hoppiness is much more aromatic,  Tower 20 is just plain boring, and Double Daddy is just unbalanced and shitty.  The malt backbone is deep on this one, and it's nicely tempered by the ridiculous level of hopping.  In the spectrum of fine DIPAs, this treads more towards The Elder it seems to me, and unless you've been living in the barn shown on the label, that's obviously a high compliment.  The best part is that nearly any store carries this, and the NSP is high.  So drink up, and up, and UP!

* This is, apparently, the limit to human bitterness tasteability.  Me fail English?  That's unpossible.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Beers in Down Under: Sorely Lacking...

Oh Australia, with your reputation for drunken violence, hot babes, expensive everything, beautiful beaches, aboriginals, and stupid animals. I was lucky enough to be afforded a free trip down under, and I made the most of it beer wise. I found the country sorely lacking in good commercially available beer. But this is no fault of the people, rather the excessively tax happy government that makes it virtually impossible for craft breweries to exist. But lets just see what it is people here like to drink.

Being drunk
The answer? Who gives a shit, because clearly Aussies don't. Every beer tastes exactly the fucking same. Whether it's a lager, or an ale, its pretty hard to differentiate which is which. And in the end, I stopped caring too. There are definitely quality breweries around, but it requires serious effort to get their beer, and usually entails making a trip out to the brewery itself if you are fortunate enough to be near one. I didn't have the luxury to seek them out, so I had to rely on bars and liquor shops. In the end, the options, even those from "craft" breweries, were all the same exact style, and the same exact flavor profile. Light, easy drinking, crisp, fizzy yellow beer. The good news is... you still get drunk. My favorite beer of the trip... Paulaner. No comparison.

Best beer in Australia. Note: not Australian.

Take home message? Don't go to Australia for beer. Even worse, if you love wine, which I most certainly do, it costs almost twice as much for an Aussie produced bottle in the damn country as it does back home in good 'ole San Diego. At least they had other things to offer. Besides boobs, my personal favorite is kangaroo scrotum bottle openers. Enjoy.

PS: Fun fact, you can't find Foster's anywhere down under, seems to be only exported. Oh, and a 6 pack of Heineken is $18. A 24 pack of MGD? $45.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ballast Point Dorado

type: double IPA
origin: San Diego, CA
price: $6/22 at mutha fuckin Costco!
ABV: 10%
NSP: 10.8

Lets get some preliminaries out of the way:  This has a great NSP, and is obviously a very well-crafted, highly anticipated DIPA.  Now let me get my opinion out of the way: I don't like this, and I don't understand why it's rated "exceptional" on BA, or why anyone would claw their way to buy a case.

I get very little enjoyment out of more than about 6 oz of this, so getting through a 22 is a chore.  You know that booze-breath and heartburn you get after a long night of Bourbon drinkin'?  Yeah, I had that by the end of the bottle and needed a Silver Bullet for mouthwash.  It's too alcoholic for its own good, so no matter how ridiculous the hopping is (Hop Heads are beer snobs too), you just cant escape its cloy-inducing malt backbone.

I do appreciate that this might be the biggest, most aggressive DIPA I've ever tasted, which could be interpreted as a feather in Ballast's cap, and a giant "F YOU" to Stone.  But please, Ballast, can you just call it a triple IPA so I don't compare it in my head to Pure Hoppiness, Hoptologist, or Heady Topper?  It's not fair, and certainly not good competition for Dorado.  And I don't think it would've finished well in the DIPA blind tasting, but who knows.

So if you find my opinion objectionable, do state so.  But please don't just say "Why don't you like this? It's from Ballast!!! You're dumb." like this is the barren wasteland that is the comment section of Youtube, because then you'd be dumb, dummy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Firestone Pale 31

type: pale ale, dry hopped
origin: Paso Robles, CA
price: $8/6 pack
ABV: 4.9% (?)
NSP: 13.4

I've said time and time again XP is the best american pale ale, and I don't think I was wrong until now -- I hadn't tried this.

It was hot as balls, I needed some maximum refreshment, and this looks and sounds so appealing.  Given how generally good Firestone is and how relatively cheap this was (consider that Stone Levitation is upwards of $12 for the same amount) I had to give it a shot.

Crap, my beloved XP has been dethroned!  The aromas are not subtle, and give off wondrous, sense-awakening hop character.  But the bittering is not overly oppressive, so it remains just a really pleasant-to-drink, light bodied ale with lots of character.  It's perfectly carbonated which means that it drinks similar to Calistoga (And I fucking LOVE Calistoga).  And according to this page, it has won at least a bronze every year since 2002.  Jesus, where was I when all that was happening?!

I'm completely sold, but also completely disappointed it's taken me so long to appreciate Firestone as a major player in California beer-making.  I attribute that to my brain confusing their name with the Firehouse Brewery here in SD (which should be named Shithouse Brewery), and that meathead/twat-factory called the Firehouse in Pacific Beach.  Fuck, I need a Pale 31 to cleanse my palate of the thought of those monstrosities.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Unibroue Maudite

Type: Belgian Strong Red/Dark Ale
Origin: Chambly, Quebec, Canada
Price: $8.49/4-pack (sampler)
ABV: 8.0%
NSP: 15.07 (unscaled)

Now that I've finished off the craft beer club reviews, I can get back to a less alcoholic beer schedule.  I think I'll celebrate by having a beer.  And what the hell, Unibroue?  You put three 9-percenters in the sampler pack, and then this weak-ass 8-percenter?  That's some short-changing bullshit.  

Just kidding, of course.  The Unibroue website calls this a strong amber-red ale.  That sounds like a made-up category, so I'll go with the strong dark ale that BA uses.  However, it's obvious this isn't the same kind of dark strong ale as Trois Pistoles- it's not as dark and not as strong.  I don't think I'll be able to tell if it's not as ale too, but I'll try.  

By the nose, it's clearly a red ale and not a straight strong dark ale.  And right off the bat, it demonstrates a good way to make a red ale more interesting- Belgium it up.  The weighty malt is still there, but it's balanced nicely by a whole bunch of Belgian spice and fruitiness.  While the fruit aromas are mostly dark, there's a delicate touch of some citrusy sourness that ups the complexity level even further.  The Belgianity helps the base red ale flavor too.  The maltiness, which I wouldn't enjoy by itself, is initially boxed out by the hefty yeastiness.  It makes a comeback later on, though, and the combination makes for a relatively heavy body.  The Belgian fruit and spice is just as strong in the flavor as in the nose, but behind it lurks a touch of mustiness that brings it down a notch.

I think of the four Unibroue samples I've had, this is probably my least favorite.  But that's not because the beer's poorly crafted, not even a little bit.  It's just because the base style is not my favorite.  These guys really know what they're doing; they're experts at wrapping this impeccably-tailored yeast-profile suit around a range of body types.  In this case, they've wrapped it around a sweaty fat guy, and in doing so made him look almost debonair.  Unfortunately, at heart he's still a sweaty fat guy.  But the suit is pimpin'.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kona Wailua Wheat

type: wheat ale
origin: Kailua Kona, HI
price: $9/6-pack (guess)
ABV: 5.4%
NSP: 12.8

This one's an easy one: Budweiser and passion fruit.  There's no need to be verbose about something so lackluster as this.  But it's not bad per say, just uninteresting.  Drinkable, yes, but just boring.

I suspect this beer can suffer majorly once it loses freshness, but the opposite is probably true too.  And I can also imagine putting away a few of these on a sandy beach somewhere, but at about Wailua number six I'd probably be over the novelty of the faint puke-like smells unavoidable with something like passion fruit.  But who cares?   As the bumper stickers say: "Life's a Beach", and "No Bad Days".  Cheers, brah. Mahalo. Da Kine Brew.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Boulder Sweaty Betty Blonde Ale

Type: Hefeweizen
Origin: Boulder, CO
Price: $9/6-pack (craft beer club)
ABV: 5.2% 
NSP: 12.31

Wrapping up the craft beer's been a long time coming.  Closing it out with a hometowner.  The name of this one reminds me of a term some British friends used once, in regards to a certain affliction that men must endure during humid summer months- 'Betty Swollocks' (in case it's not obvious, switch the 'sw' and the 'b' sounds).  The website says this is an unfiltered hef, but if that's unfiltered I'm wondering how the hell else they got it so clear.

Hefs are tough.  Well, tough isn't the right word...more like unfair.  Because my baseline hef is the incredible Thunderweizen.  But hey, as they say, if you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best.  Or at least hire someone to jump out and hammer them in the knee with a tire iron.  It smells nice and wheaty, sweetish and a bit funky.  Definitely more summery than the previous effort.  It also smells lightly vanilla-y, which is a nice touch.  There's only a very light touch of the banana/spice aromas, which are always pleasant when generously applied and missed when they're not.

Remember how the Dry Dock Hefeweizen was like a watered-down Thunderweizen (yeah, probably not)?  This is like a watered-down Dry Dock.  The wheaty funk is light, the spiciness is light, the fruitiness is light, everything is just really light.  But it's still tasty, super easy-to-drink, and very refreshing.  It's pretty much the Coors Light version of a hef.  Which means you could polish off a baker's half dozen and still feel spry enough to do some ill-advised parkour.  After you peed for about six minutes, of course.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Magic Hat Humdinger: Over the Pils

type: imperial pilner
origin: Burlington, VT
price: $10/750ml at the MH brewery
ABV: 8.1%
NSP: 6.1

Bought this a few months back on my trip to Vermont.  The bottle and packaging are awesome, bu the problem is it makes you want to save this for a "special" occasion.  Really this should be drank-up ASAP; I'm pretty sure a lager would age terribly, so don't even try it.

Shonks scoffed at the idea of an "imperial" pilsner awhile back, but what he may not yet appreciate is that they can be really good and thoroughly refreshing.  Seriously, do you understand the difference between lager and ale?  Yeast strain, and fermentation temperature.  So there's no need to turn your nose up at a beer because it's not an "ale".  Onto the beer...

For me the trick to great lagers,  Pilsners especially, is to balance a fair amount of sweetness with some tongue-buckling bitterness and without hop aromas.  This does exactly that and packs a nice ABV in with it.  If the alcohol were backed off here, the balance I need would be shot.  The flavors are simple, and clean.

This isn't my favorite beer ever, but it's damn tasty and packs a nice punch.  And right now the extra booze is kicking in so it looks like we've got a winner here.

Tilted Smile is apparently the only other imperial pilsner any of us have reviewed though, so let's get busy gents!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pennsylvania Brewing Overlook IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Pittsburgh, PA
Price: $9/6-pack
ABV: 6.0%
NSP: 14.20

Not sure how many Pennsylvania beers we've reviewed around here.  I can't think of any off the top of my head.  Oh, wait, Lancaster Amish Pale and Milk Stout.  Those were pretty good.  So Pennsylvania's doing OK so far.  This one's a seasonal IPA from the accurately but dully named Pennsylvania Brewing Company, or Penn Brewery for when you're sick of writing 'sylvania'.  I have to admit that I cracked into one of these in a fridge raid a couple of weeks ago and was not a fan.  But let's see how it does under the tighter scrutiny of the reviewoscope.

It's surprisingly west coasty in color- pale yellow/orange rather than the red/amber I've come to expect from these eastern IPAs.  The smell is kind of odd.  There's not a whole lot of malt oomph, which I like.  But the hops come off more astringent than anything else, there's not much florality or citrus or anything else in there.  When you get right down to it, it smells kind of nasty, more like a glass of diluted ammonia than a tasty beer.

Yeah, not so good.  The flavor's in line with the nose- very light body, but a major excess of bitterness without much redeeming hop flavor.  Or much flavor at all, for that matter.  It just tastes bitter, almost bile-ish, and if there's anything else there, it doesn't stand a chance in hell.  Oh, and as it warmed a bit, the nose took on a Brett Dream-like piss odor.  Awesome.  Overall, probably the worst of the craft beer club beers.  Give me a bad red ale over this any day.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Geary's Summer Ale

Type: Kolsch
Origin: Portland, ME
Price: $9/6-pack (craft beer club)
ABV: 6.0% 
NSP: 14.20

Coming down to my last few craft beer club offerings, because I gave three to Brendan to review at some point.  BA calls this a kolsch.  If that's a kolsch, it's the darkest kolsch I've ever seen. Compare the photo to this.  Or even this.  At least the Geary's website says it's 'similar to a German kolsch' without actually calling it a kolsch. Let's see how many more times I can say kolsch. Kolsch. Kolsch. I'm hoping if I keep saying it, this beer will actually turn into a kolsch. Kolsch. Kolsch?  Dammit.

The nose is pretty light, just a bit of musty malt and a twang of hops.  Not much else there.  The flavor's pretty much the same thing.  It's got a nice light body and a relatively clean finish, but the excess of malt, combined with the fact that the malt is musty and stale, prevents this from being anywhere as delicious or easy-to-drink as a kolsch. Drinking one kolsch makes you want to drink eight more. Drinking this...well, in my case it makes me want to drink something else. Considering that my ideal summer beer is something like Nelson, or at the very least Franziskaner, that's not really any surprise.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Madison River Irresistible Amber Ale

Type: Amber Ale
Origin: Belgrade, MT
Price: $9/6-pack (craft beer club)
ABV: 5.5% 
NSP: 13.02

Another poorly lit photo.  Apparently I need to drink during the day more often.  Anyway, another beer style I don't like! Hooray!  This one's from the same folks who offer the Salmon Fly Honey Rye that I quite enjoyed, though, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

It's got more of that iced tea coloration that I find ever so uninviting.  And it smells quite sweet and heavy.  But there are a couple of positives to be found- namely a nice vanilla-caramel scent (which brings to mind the malt character of Great Divide Samurai, Sweetwater 420, and the beloved Lagunitas Sucks, though those are completely different styles).  And, thankfully as always, it's not musty or stale smelling.

The caramel sticks around in the flavor, though it's cut by some surprisingly sharp (especially for a basement-level 28 IBU) hop bitterness.  The hops and a fairly high carbonation level give it a light body that isn't at all evident from the nose and the color- which makes it a good thing I drank it instead of just smelling and looking at it.  The finish is nice and clean, so that's good.

Well, as you may be able to tell from the dispassionate review, while I didn't hate this I didn't really like it all that much either.  I'm sort of indifferent towards it.  If you have a cookout, and you invite me, and you have some of this around I'll happily drink it.  But don't go buying any on my account.  And there you have it- a boring review for a boring beer.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Boulder Flashback India Brown Ale

Type: India Brown Ale
Origin: Boulder, CO
Price: $9/6-pack
ABV: 6.8%
NSP: 16.09 (unscaled)


I'm kind of torn by this one in advance. I want to like it because it's one of my hometown breweries, and I grew up on Boulder Beer's Buffalo Gold.  But India brown ales, while intriguing in principle, frequently devolve into a muddled mess of excessive malt, simplistic bitterness, and musty, out-of-whack craptitude.  So while I want to like it I'm pretty sure I'm not going to pull it off.

It's got a red ale/ESB iced tea/diet Coke sort of look.  It doesn't smell all that unlike tea, either, though tea with malt extract added for sweetness rather than honey or sugar.  The malt is quite strong on the nose, and while there's hops there too, they're not very inviting because they don't offer any sort of complexity.  And riding over top of all of it is the flaw that's always fatal to malty beers- the stale musty cardboard smell.  There's nothing about the smell of a beer that can tell me in stronger terms that I'm not going to enjoy drinking it.  Well, maybe vomity cat piss.

But yeah, I don't enjoy it.  It's musty and stale, and the hops yield a dirty-seeming bitterness that in no way balances the malt.  It's ever-so-slightly past the enjoy-by date, but not so much that it would affect it this much.  I'm really struggling to find anything that I like about it.  The ABV is OK, I suppose.  But that falls way short of saving it.  To my palate, it fails as a brown ale, it fails as an India style, and it fails as a hybrid.  Don't really have anything else to say about it.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug Black Lager

Type: Schwarzbier/black lager
Origin: Forth Worth, TX
Price: ?
ABV: 4.5%
NSP: ?

Had a nice houseguest bring me a selection of beers from Rahr and Sons in Fort Worth, so here's the first review of three.  The last schwarzbier I had was Chatoe Rogue's Dirtoir.  I can't honestly say that I remember a lot about that one other than what's in the review.  But this one's only 4.5%, while Dirtoir was 6%.  This better be tasty, dammit.  The label's kind of funny, with a picture of, you guessed it, a butt-ugly pug.  With an eye patch.  And to the right of the pug, it says in big bold lettering, BEER.  Thanks for reminding me, I'd forgotten what I was drinking.

It looks like what I expected, sort of like a fizzy porter.  It smells pretty tasty- nice coffee bitterness- actually almost exactly like iced coffee (to begin with), now that I think about it.  I say almost because there's something a little starchy about it, kind of like dried pasta or uncooked beans.  As it warmed a bit, the iced coffee smell transitioned into, yup, refried beans.  I don't know if that made me more or less excited to drink it.  I love refried beans, but I'm not sure how I feel about the idea of refrito-flavored beer.

It really does taste like refried beans- refried black beans in particular.  I mean, if you could ferment frijoles negros, this is what I'd expect it to taste like.  I know that probably seems overly specific, but to me it's a strong enough feature that it leaves no doubt.  The coffee's there too, along with a light bitterness (coffee bitterness as opposed to hop bitterness).  But the starchiness takes it away from the porter-type flavors and towards bean territory.  Definitely one of the weirdest things I've tasted beer-wise.  But it doesn't make it off-putting since I dig refried beans.  The body's light, the flavor's robust, and in the end I didn't mind it in the slightest.  I think I'll save the other two I have for other Non-Snobbers to try, because I'm curious if they'll have the same opinion.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

type: Maple Ale
origin: Newport, Oregon
price: $8.99/22oz

Holy Bacon Doughnut!  If you have ever watched the food channels lineup of terrible shows you would likely see the famous bacon doughnut made at voodoo doughnut in Portland.  So apparently Rogue decided to make a bacon maple ale out of this and put it in a pepto-bismol bottle.  My first thought was well I like bacon and doughnuts and beer so this has to be good.  This beer was made with 13 ingredients including hickory smoked bacon and pure maple flavoring so surprisingly it does taste just like the doughnut does. It is honestly too much to deal with, but I did enjoy and did feel bacon maple drunk.  It is a good thing though that I split this with a friend because otherwise I probably would of passed out and had crazy bacon dreams.  Bacon!

I give them credit for pulling this one off, however it was just a bad idea.  The beer is so thick and full of so much maple and bacon flavor you couldn't really taste much of the remaining 11 ingredients.  I am sure Voodoo Doughnut store is happy about this though and the idea of a doughnut and bacon beer sounds interesting.  This morning though even looking at it makes me regret drinking it.  I am still bacon maple drunk off Bacon Maple Ale.

Geary's Hampshire Special Ale

Type: English Strong Ale
Origin: Portland, ME
Price: $9/6-pack (craft beer club)
ABV: 7.0% 
NSP: 16.57


There seems to be a strong Maine trend in the craft beer club.  Two offerings from Sebago (winter warmer and IPA), two from Casco Bay (red and brown ales), and now two from Geary's (the second review will appear at some point).  If the offerings from Sebago and Casco Bay are at all representative of the beer in Maine, they like their shit malty up there.  And this one definitely slots right into that trend.

I'm noticing a pattern in my beer drinking- the more a beer looks like iced tea, the less likely it is that I'll enjoy it.  Pale, yellow, golden, anything like that and I'll probably be cool with it.  Cola-colored or dark as midnight?  No problem.  But right down the middle is not my bag.  And this one's an iced-tea-lookin' MFer.  Malt is numero uno in the smell, and dos, and tres, and pretty much all the other numeros too because no hay mucho else there.  But at the same time, it doesn't smell overwhelmingly malty- it's not really all up in your face with it.  And it's not musty, so that's good.  As the beer warms, the nose takes on a bit of root-beerishness, which is an unexpected nice touch.

But as I expected, it's not something that I was ever going to really like.  It's really malty, and while there's a fairly potent hop presence, it takes the form of flat bitterness and not much flavor.  The body can't help but be pretty heavy with all that malt, but of course that's just characteristic of the style.  The booze is definitely noticeable, and I don't think that's a bad thing. It reminds you that you're not just drinking an ESB or a red ale- it's a strong ale, so it should and does taste strong.

Again, this isn't really anything I'd ever buy because it's just not my thing.  At the same time, I feel like this is a pretty good expression of the style.  It avoids all of the pitfalls that can ruin this type of beer (namely the musty/cardboardy malt thing).  It's something that would fit right in on the tap line at your local pub, and nobody would scoff at you if you put a few pints of it down your gullet.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

R.J. Rockers Bald Eagle Brown Ale

Type: Brown Ale
Origin: Spartanburg, SC

Price: $9/6-pack
ABV: 5.6%
NSP: 13.25


Keepin' on keepin' on with the craft beer club.  We're down to stuff that I left to the end because they're all styles I generally avoid.  This one's from a South Carolina brewery with a name I'm a bit confused by.  The owner/founder/head brewer goes by Mark, not R.J.  And his last name is Johnson, not Rockers.  Rockers would be a tough name to live up to, wouldn't it?  You have to constantly be rocking out or else people would be disappointed in you.

I've already presented my views on brown ales, so I won't go over them again.  The color and the smell both resemble a light porter- less dark, less opaque, similar roasty chocolate and coffee but, well, lighter.  I also get a bit of hop scent in there, which is a nice feature because such things frequently get lost in brown ales.

This is definitely the best brown ale I've had in the last three months.  I'm honestly surprised by the fact that I actually enjoy it a little bit.  I think it's because it tastes like a light porter too- the roasty flavors prevail over just basic malt.  It's nice and dry up front, it's well-balanced, and there's a touch of hop bitterness that adds an extra layer.  The only thing I find a bit flawed is that the finish turns a bit sweet and mouth-coating.

Well, alright, I guess the stuff I left to the end didn't start off too badly.  Probably not something I'd buy, but for the brown ale style I didn't mind it too much.  Nice job, R.J., whoever you are.

P.S. I should mention that the craft beer club sent me some of R.J. Rockers' Patriot Pale Ale along with the Bald Eagle.  It was quite delicious, another sterling example of beer-flavored beer.  But I managed to drink the one I was saving for the review during a semi-drunken fridge raid.  Sorry about that, R.J.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Kern River Just Outstanding IPA

type: IPA
origin: Kernville, CA
price: $6-8(?)/22 oz
ABV: 6.8
NSP: 7.4 (at $6)

So the Non Snob crew is balls deep into this massive IPA tasting, but also in a hiatus (Sambo is traveling).  Because of this I get the privilege of staring at full bottles of presumably wonderful tasting IPA sitting in my fridge.  And that's fucking hard to do when (a) you still have no idea how many of them taste (Chris is being a results Nazi), and (b) it's beer in the fridge (why would you let it temp you?!).  Fortunate for me, though, because we made a collective decision to restock before resuming future rounds - you know, because of that whole hop-spoilage/muting thing.  And tonight I finally said screw it, I'm drinking that damn Kern River.

This was one of the hardest beers for us to get thus far, so I'm not going to write my usual two sentence, semi-coherent ramblings.  This beer has been gaining in reputation (94/100 BA,  99/100 RB) because, apparently, their shit's good - real good.  Honestly, part of me is wondering: How much, if any, of this hype comes from the name?

The aromas streaming out of the bottle reminded me of sticking my nose deep into a pile of fresh hop-pellets.  I don't really have the nose or the palate to pick out the varietal of hop, (and I don't give a shit if you can or can't,) but the bottle says they used Simcoe and Amarillo.  A while back I pretty emphatically claimed Amarillo was the winner of the Hermitage single-hop series.

But it's the taste that makes a beer-believer, and I think this is directly on point with an "outstanding" IPA.  I nearly shit my pants with the Blind Pig review, and this clearly has similar qualities: straight forward flavors in a medium body backbone, all well-balanced by hop bitterness and aromas.   In short, a beautiful IPA with some amazing lacing qualities.
If your glass looks like this, you're drinking a well-crafted beer.
Our first blind IPA tasting resulted in a shocker: Dogfish 60 and 90 were by far not our favorite beers, even though they proudly print the "best IPA" quote on the bottle.  So we will see how this beer holds in the blind tasting, if we ever finish it.  Until then, I'll just go ahead and say this lives up to the hype.