Thursday, February 28, 2013

Prof Fritz Breim: Berliner Weisse

type: Berliner
origin: Germany
price: $6.99/12oz
ABV: 5%
NSP: ?

To this day, I still don't really know what to make of Berliner weisse, or what the style is even supposed to taste like. My prior experiences with the odd bottle had varying degrees of sour, and generally a light body, which this beer seems to match. The difference in this bottle is the outstanding apple flavor. I seriously thought this was made from apples at first, but after glancing through the label it appears to be only malts. Those magic germans.

Maine Beer Co.: Mo pale ale

type: Pale ale
origin: Maine
ABV: 4%
NSP: 4.29

Trader Joe's doesn't usually carry this, but they accidentally got a case in a recent shipment and put it on the shelves. It's pretty unfortunate that this can't be more of a standard, because it has a really nice citrusy piney type nose on the pour, and the body isn't too overwhelmingly malty. Where other beers might bury the hop flavors and fragrances under a malt mountain, these guys kept the hops up top where you can get a good strong whif of them. Compliments homemade pizza nicely.

Keep on keepin' it real MBC.

Maui CoCoNut PorTer

type: porter
origin: Lahaina, HI
price: $10/4-pack
ABV: 6.0%
NSP: 8.5

I'm so glad I dove into Maui's beer lineup on my recent trip to Oahu, because this is one of the first porters I've enjoyed immensely in a really long time.  As with Mana, the amount of additive (in this case toasted coconut) is spot-on perfect.  The pairing between nutty, roasted-barley flavors commonly found in porters, and the toasted coconut is exceptional.  The porter backbone is not too heavy so you can manage to slug back quite a bit of this.

I realize it's hard to justify buying four-packs of beer, but I think this is too good to pass up.  After my first sip I wondered: Why isn't every porter isn't made this way?  Because then I might actually like porters and beer-lord knows we can't have that...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Six point: Diesel

type: Black IPA
origin: Brooklyn, New Yawk City? Git a rope.
price: $2/16oz
ABV: 6.3%
NSP: 17

There's some shpeel about diesel and pine in the winter on the side of this can, but I'm pretty sure those aren't supposed to be ingredients. They probably just put that on there to scare you so there's more beer for the New Yorkers.

The foam and carbonation on this pour was fully appropriate and neither excessive or flat. If I used my imagination I could maybe trick myself into thinking there's some pine and/or deisely smell in there, but I prefer to think of it as a solid hopping and maybe some smoked barley on the grain bill. These go down real nice and easy regardless.

A nice warmer for if you're buried in the snow or another variety of blizzardy condition.

Boulevard Dark Truth Stout

Type: Imperial Stout
Origin: Kansas City, MO
Price: $3.75/12oz
ABV: 9.7%
NSP: 9.18

Nice sunny day here in San Diego, and I was about to crack into one of my BDS Duponts.  But then the clouds rolled in, accompanied by a bit of a chill, so fuck it, imperial stout time.  This is the last of the unreviewed year-round Boulevard Smokestack beers.  I really want to like Boulevard, but so far that desire hasn't borne fruit.

It smells pretty delicious, plenty of coffee, chocolate, and caramel.  There's also a little bit of rootbeeriness, and something that almost smells like dark rum.  I see on the website that this is Belgian-yeasted, and there's definitely some quad-like dark fruitiness floating around too.  A lot going on in there, and I dig it.

The coffee flavors are pretty strong in the flavor initially, but it's almost immediately swamped by a potent bitterness.  It's not hoppy bitterness at's more like super strong two-day-old coffee.  There's also some pretty powerful booze-carried astringency, as well as a metallic flavor.  And unfortunately, when you put all of that together, it completely swamps all everything I was hoping for after smelling it.  I can't find much fruitiness from the yeast, and whatever chocolate and toffee stouty flavors might be in there are concealed by this overwhelming mouth-coating metallic bitterness- and thus so too is the enjoyment of the beer.

Dammit, Boulevard.  It's hard for me to understand how the smell of a beer can be so inviting, while the flavor can be such a letdown.  While I'm glad that a non-local brewery has the stones to try and break into the San Diego craft beer market (as Boulevard has done in the past few months), as far as imperial stouts are concerned, there's no reason to buy this when Speedway's waiting just a couple of feet away on the shelf.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Maui Mana Wheat

type: wheat ale
origin: Lahaina, HI
price: $10/6-pack
ABV: 5.5%
NSP: 11.7

I recently got a chance to spend some time in Hawaii, more specifically on the island of Oahu.  Beer drinkers there  will quickly realize there are essentially three breweries among the islands: Kona, Maui, and Primo (the biggest by far).  So I took the opportunity to sample as many offering from Maui as possible, which was nicely facilitated by the Whole Foods in Kailua.

Meet "Mana": a traditional, unfiltered wheat ale that is light bodied and refreshing.  But, Maui takes it an extra step by including real Hawaiian pineapples in the brewing process, and that makes this really flippin' delicious.  This kind of additive could create a foul tasting ale, or simply an unbalanced one if used improperly, but Maui has impressively pulled it off.  The results speak for themselves: and average wheat ale is transformed into and excellent and memorable one.  I would also argue that the pineapple addition is even better than using oranges from Redlands.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Aztec Noche de los Muertos Imperial Stout

Type: Imperial Stout
Origin: Vista, CA
Price: $7.99/22oz
ABV: 10.2%
NSP: 8.28


Just a few nights after my Czar review got bucked by a hefty ABV, I decided to get back in the saddle with another imperial stout.  Glutton for punishment, I suppose.  Though this one's a diet beer relative to the Czar, just a stately 10.2%.  Apparently it's brewed with whole cinnamon sticks, which gives me hope that this might end up with a whole Mexican chocolate sort of thing going on.

Smells pretty delightful, nice and rich with a bit of a hop twang and some good depth with the cinnamon and a touch of vanilla.  It really makes me think a sprinkle of cayenne might be interesting in it...maybe I'll try that at the end.

Wow, that's pretty damn good. It's got a nice hefty down-the-middle stouty foundation.   The cinnamon's there, and it's tasty, but I feel like it's sort of fighting with the alcohol (though that's not to say the booze is overpowering like it was in the Czar- it's right at the proper level- noticeable but not ruinous).  If they'd intended it to be anything more than a light accent flavor they probably should've boosted it a bit.  I'd expect as the beer warms it'll gain steam.  But even with the cinnamon muted, this is a really nice beer that'll hit pretty much every facet of whatever stout craving you're having.

A lot of new breweries stumble out of the gate, but judging by this and Sacrifice, Aztec seems to have their ducks in a pretty tidy row.  Not bad, folks.

P.S. The cinnamon does amplify as it warms.  Probably would've helped if I'd remembered that imperial stouts shouldn't be consumed directly out of the fridge.  But it still never quite becomes anything more than a pretty delicate accent.

P.P.S. I added a pinch of cayenne to the last ~4oz of beer, just out of curiosity.  It did add a nice bit of heat, which I enjoyed a lot.  But of course, the cayenne just floats on top of the beer, so it never really integrates or adds much flavor, which I suppose should've been expected.  And it makes the beer gritty, which is kind of awful.  Oh well.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Avery The Czar Imperial Stout

Type: Imperial Stout
Origin: Boulder, CO
Price: $7.99/22oz
ABV: 11.1%
NSP: 9.03

One thing for which we've never fully given Avery credit around here- they really don't fuck around with their ABVs.  If you check out the full roster of Avery reviews we've done- not a single one's under 8.1%, and we haven't even touched their crushing Demons of Ale line, which top off around 17% (I've got a special release in the cellar that hits even harder than that).  This one's sort of in the middle of their range, which is a both frightening and admirable.

The first thing I notice from the smell is that it seems remarkably light. There's some nice roasty scents and a pretty good amount of toffee and chocolate, plus a light hop florality.  But you know what?  I'm surprised, because I expected the nose to beat me about the head, especially since the bottle calls it a "tyrannical monster".  It seems like that's wrong on two counts, because it smells not all that unlike a brown ale.

Well, the nose is a bit of a red herring, I guess, because the flavor is a hell of a lot more powerful than some gimpy little brown ale.  There's alcohol all over it, but that's not really surprising.  And as I've said before, in an imperial stout, a hefty booze punch is usually a welcome flavor accent rather than a detriment (if for no other reason than it provides a warning shot across the bow).  In this case, though, I'm having a bit of trouble tracking down a lot of notable complexity beyond the alcohol.  I mean, there's the expected roasty flavors with toffee and chocolate, and some interesting nuttiness in the finish.  But after about a half a glass, the alcohol made up about 80% of what I could manage to taste.  And after a full glass, my drunkenness had outpaced my palate.  I just ended up tasting chocolatey booze.  Not that I minded it.  I was just too buzzed to care anymore.  Go Avery!

Wow, that review derailed fast.  Maybe I should've had a sandwich before I drank that one.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Alesmith Decadence 2012

type: varies, but this season it's a fucking massive quad
origin: San Diego, CA
price: $15/32-oz growler
ABV: 12%
NSP: 7.6

Quadruppel ales are a tricky beast.  They're so incredibly unique--in terms of flavor--that it's hard to pick between the good ones, but especially easy to identify bad ones.  Alesmith is always solid, and their seasonal quad follows suit.  This year's Decadence is absolutely wonderful.

For this tasting I bought a brewery fresh quart-size growler because, damnit, if Chris can drink a quart of 10% beer, then so can I.  The first thing you notice is how absolutely massive this is, relative to most ales.  The high alcohol content* is  tempered by a huge-but-distinct barley backbone.  Once that little joyride is over, though, you notice how rapidly it's dispatching the Crunk-for-God police to commit some police brutality on your ass.  But Workaholics is on in 30 min, so it's time to #getweird with this #boybody.

I love the head on this beer.  It lingers nicely on the glass, and has a really beautiful tan/white color:
[htmljoke](in-between #F5FAFA and #E8D0A9)[/htmljoke]

Drinking this when it's at out-of-the-fridge temperatures, you can still taste the roasted malts and brown sugar flavors; but, those are quickly dominated by the followup: a huge wallop of booze (Duh, it's 12 damn percent!).  At higher temps you get the classic quad experience without the slap on the face.  The moral: this should definitely be consumed at temperatures just below room; otherwise, don't be surprised if the last half of your glass tastes better than the first half.

It's hard to top a quad like Baby Tree, but this is pretty close.  I hear that Chris was able to dive into a Westy 12 recently, so we'll have to wait and see how that compares.

* At this ABV, nearly 2oz of your 16oz pint is pure ethanol!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dogfish Head Burton Baton

Type: Imperial IPA
Origin: Milton, DE
Price: $3.95/12 oz
ABV: 10%
NSP: 8.99

I've got a weird relationship with DFH.  90 Minute was the beer that got me into IPA in the first place.  But since then, my tastes have changed, and I pretty much always opt for a lighter-bodied California IPA over DFH's heavier fare.  Of course, it doesn't help that DFH beers are a bit on the pricey side, particularly their specialties, when a sixer of Lagunitas or Stone can be had for about 8 bucks.  But I've heard many good things about this beer in particular, so I scooped one up while I was in Oregon, since I don't actually think I've seen it in San Diego even though it's a year-rounder.

Well, it certainly is malty.  But the smell coming out of the glass is vanilla-y and caramelly, with no mustiness at all, so that's a good start.  I see on the bottle that this is oak-aged, and that's undoubtedly bringing some of that vanilla in.  I also see by the website that this is actually an imperial IPA blended with an old ale- which is why it tastes like a hoppy scotch ale on steroids.  The hops and malt seem to have achieved an interesting balance here, but I'm not sure I like it, mainly because the malt's strong enough that the hops don't bring much beyond bitterness.  To me, the key component of this beer is, somewhat strangely, the alcohol.  And no, not in an I-don't-give-a-shit-it'll-get-you-drunk kind of way.  This is one of those cases where alcohol provides an extra layer of flavor and complexity, and it makes the beer a fully stable tripod along with the malt and hops.  Without that alcohol punch, I feel like I'd just be drinking a morbidly obese amber ale.  The oak also brings some good stuff to the party- the woodsy vanilla softens the impact of all that muscle a little bit.

All in all, not bad.  Not something I'm going to buy every day, certainly not at this price.  But now I've got a fresh example of alcohol as a flavor enhancer, which is good, because I sure as hell don't remember the last one.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Boulevard Rye-On-Rye

Type: Rye ale
Origin: Kansas City, MO
Price: $13.95/750mL
ABV: 12.0%
NSP: 6.45


Another beer, another forgotten picture, so thanks to A Tattooed Tale for theirs.  This is definitely not the way to wind down an inadvertent Beer Plow- a rye ale aged in rye whiskey casks, sitting at a brain-bashing 12%.   As I've said before, Boulevard kind of confounds me.  I've had each of their year-round Smokestack series beers (Tank 7, Sixth Glass, Double-Wide, Long Strange Tripel, and Dark Truth, with a review of the last waiting in the wings), and I've been underwhelmed by all but Tank 7 (by which I was evenly whelmed), despite Boulevard's sterling reputation.  But their limited release Smokestacks are supposed to be world-class, so when I saw this at Bridgetown Beerhouse in Portland, I thought I'd go for it. 

It's a highly attractive beer.  The head makes it look Belgiany, which makes it even more inviting.  The smell makes me think it's Belgian too- in addition to the spicy ryeness and obvious fruity/oaky/sweet whiskey aromas, there's an additional fruit layer that makes me think of bananas.

I'm not generally a big fan of whiskey barrel aging (see below)- but this is pretty good as far as that technique goes.  The rye brings a strong peppery spiciness, and since this is fairly lightly hopped, it doesn't come out dirty-tasting like some rye-PAs you find.  The whiskey contributes the most potent flavors to the party, particularly in the form of some pungent booziness and a bunch of sweet brown sugary flavor. There's a nice vanilla accent floating around in there, which might be my favorite part of the whole deal.  It leans pretty heavily to the sweet side, making me worry that I may have trouble finishing the bottle (but Chris, why are you trying to drink a whole 750 of 12% Rye-On-Rye by yourself in the first place?  Because I'm a goddamn Non-Snobber, that's why), but that's a common characteristic of these barrel-aged SOBs.  From the flavor, this ain't Belgian (the banana thing isn't there)- but it makes me think a Belgian version of this could be worth a shot.

So I do enjoy this.  But here's my problem with whiskey barrel-aged beers.  The beer ends up tasting like whiskey   Obviously that's the point.  But if I want something that tastes like whiskey  I'll just drink a glass of whiskey.  I want beer that tastes like beer.  I don't say that to pick on this beer- it's one of the better barrel-aged ones I've had.  It's more about the philosophy- I just can't say that I think that barrel-aging in general elevates beer to a higher plane (with a few exceptions- KBS being the first that comes to mind).  As far as Boulevard's limited Smokestacks go, I'll hold my opinion in reserve until I get to the bottle of Saison Brett I've had cellared in Colorado for many months.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Gigantic IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Portland
Price: $6.99/22oz
ABV: 7.3%
NSP: 6.79

Shit, I just realized I'm on another fucking Beer Plow.  Since I've divided my trip between Olympia and Portland, it snuck past me.  I told myself I'd take it easy while I was up here.  I guess Hop Venom lit a fire under my ass, though, because here I am on my sixth review in four days.  I guess it was wearing me down a bit because I forgot to take a picture, so credit to The Brew Site for this one.

This is my last beer from Gravity, which proved to be an outstanding beer outpost.  Gigantic just opened in May; Roma at Gravity told me that it was a new brewery by somebody who I hadn't heard of, but who is apparently a bigwig of Pacific Northwest brewing.  As Christian Bale says, good for you.

Unfortunately, I decided to open this right after I'd chopped up an onion, so the beer smells like onion.  But hey, that's not necessarily a bad accent smell to an IPA, particularly if there's Summit hops in there.  Which is not the case with this beer as far as I can tell, so it's not really relevant.  Suffice to say that it smells like onions, but that's my fault and not the beer's.  There's some decent citrus in there, and a touch of sweet maltiness.  There's also a somewhat sharp bitterness that tells me that this probably isn't going to be a Hop Venom-level IPA.

The flavor's not far off from being in the upper echelon, with some nice citrus and a light drinkability.  The malt flavors don't disrupt things at all, providing necessary but not intrusive body.  But there's a fatal flaw- the bitterness is too strong and dirty.

These guys aren't too far off the mark, I think.  The foundation of this beer is pretty much exactly what you need to have a world-class IPA.  But they haven't quite figured out the hops yet.  The dirtiness, in particular, is too much to ignore.  With a bit more time, they could elevate this and have a heavy-hitter in the Portland IPA market.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Birrificio Del Ducato: My blueberry nightmare

type: Sour imperial stout
origin: Italia
price: $free/4oz?
ABV: 11%
NSP: infinity

On Halloween in Providence, Rhode Island I was lucky enough to find this fine brew on tap at
Julian's. I ordered up a glass and the keg kicked immediately, spitting a blast of foam all over her face... the bartendress I mean. After that bout of abuse she was even kind enough to give me the pour for free while I browsed the menu for another, and holy damn was it tasty.

Generally, I wouldn't imagine blueberry flavor showing up much in an imperial stout since it would probably just get buried in chocolaty flavors. Make that a sour stout though, and now we're talking. The sour really makes the blueberry rip through, and it's a pretty dominant flavor as a result. There's still the huge imperial stout flavor and mouth feel, but in addition you get blueberry, and some serious tart. Even the foam was solid.

Between at least hurricane Sandy, Halloween, and this beer, there were all sorts of awesome things going on in Providence that week. If you ever see this one, give it a swing! Unless you don't like good beer or something.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sound Monk's Indiscretion Belgian Ale

Type: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
Origin: Poulsbo, WA
Price: $8.99/22oz
ABV: 10%
NSP: 7.23


The one and only Belgian I grabbed at Gravity.  I actually had Sound's tripel in my basket, but Roma insisted I get this one instead, and at a dollar less so I guess she's pretty serious about it.  The name of this one makes me think of that fake movie trailer with Robert Downey Jr. and Tobey Maguire at the beginning of Tropic Thunder- Satan's Alley.

Right out of the bottle it's clear that this is one of those highly dangerous Belgians- the color looks demure, but there's 10% ABV waiting in ambush.  The nose is a bit of a rabbit warren, in the best possible way- there's so many aromas in there it's hard to untangle them.  A lot of spice and richness from the yeast that makes this smell (as with a lot of Belgians) a bit like summer sausage.  I also keep getting something that reminds me of Bazooka bubble gum, which is strange but enjoyable in a nostalgia-y kind of way.  And way back in the back, I'm picking up a slightly off-putting ammonia-like note.  It's not strong enough to overpower anything, but it keeps popping its ugly little head up.

Sound's website says this is dry-hopped, but maybe my palate's thrown off by all the IPA I've been drinking because I barely detect any bitterness or obvious hop-driven citrus or pine in either the nose or the flavor.  Or maybe I'm incorrectly chalking most of the flavors up to the yeast, I don't know.  But it tastes pretty damn good.  The yeastiness is pretty potent (as it should be), with all of the same spice and fruit.  And that bubble gum thing is still sort of there, as is, unfortunately, a little bit of the ammonia.  But the latter doesn't get in the way, it's just a minor flaw.  I can't say that this is on the level of, say, Don De Dieu, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.

Incidentally, just in case you have some laying around (which you should at all times), this beer is well complemented by Tillamook sharp cheddar- it removes the ammonia and makes it taste more fruity.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hangar 24 Orange Wheat

type: wheat ale
origin: Redlands, CA
price: $11/6-pack
ABV: 4.6%
NSP: 8.9

Without a doubt this is the flagship beer from Redland's Hangar 24.  If you've ever been to the brewery, you'll have passed through the city and know exactly why this has a wonderful orange essence.  Redlands was once a major orange producer in California but the almighty urban sprawl has taken over.  Still, Hangar uses oranges from nearby orchards in this light bodied wheat ale.  According to our resident Redlands expert, and famed beer snob Brent, the locals love the idea too.    I hear they've started a new activist group too: Occupy Orchards!

With a nice level of carbonation, and aromas from the wheat and (obviously) the orange, this is exceptionally easy drinking beer.  It's tough getting through more than a few of these because of those orange flavors, and the relative lack of complexity, but it's pretty damn delicious.

I would say this should the go-to beer during any brunch, as it would fit perfectly next to a mimosa and might convince any friend who "doesn't like beer" that, in fact, they do.

Orange tree fun fact: Over watering produces less-sweet fruit!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pelican India Pelican Ale

Type: IPA
Origin: Pacific City, OR
Price: $5.99/22oz
ABV: 7.5%
NSP: 8.14

Apparently the folks at Pelican Pub & Brewery can't get enough pelicans, because calling this a straight IPA wasn't good enough- they had to pun that bitch up.  This place is on the sort-of-BFE coast of Oregon- but you can go through Tillamook to get there and pick up some delicious cheese on the way so it's probably worth a visit.

Anyway, IPA, with an ABV on the high end of the IPA range, up there with thumpers like Union Jack and Knee Deep.  Smells pretty delightful, lightly malty with a nice apricoty-apple thing.  There's a boozy licorice scent in there if you really bury your nose in the glass, a bit like Jagermeister in beer form.  There's also a bit of astringency, probably a result of the alcohol.

There's some licorice in there flavor-wise too.  Usually that's something you run into in a strong ale, not an IPA.  But that doesn't make it off-putting, just unique (and tasty if you like licorice), because it's an accent and not a dominant flavor.  My palate might be blown, but I think I also taste a sour cherry/raspberry something or other.  Add to these unique flavors (which may or may not be figments of my imagination) some nice light body and a good bitterness level, and we're on track for something really interesting.  It's a bit on the sweet side, but I keep getting the cherry/raspberry thing, which puts a sightly tart twist on what I'd ordinarily might think is cloying.

I can't really figure this beer out.  It's an IPA at heart, and a tasty one at that, but it's got several levels of unique flavors that I've never encountered in an IPA, so I have no idea what's going on.  I should probably just drink it slightly more clean-palated so I can trust my judgment.  But I think I'm still able to confidently say that it's good.  Quite good.  And who knows, maybe pelicans actually taste like licorice and raspberries and booze, in which case I'm going to throw one on my smoker and do it up low and slow.

Friday, February 8, 2013

HUB (Hopworks Urban Brewery) Abominable Winter Ale

Type: Imperial red ale
Origin: Portland, OR
Price: $6.99/22oz
ABV: 7.3%
NSP: 6.79

See what I mean by cartoony/ClipArt labels?

I had HUB's IPA during my Portland Beerplow last year, and it was one of the better beers I had there.  I thought (and hoped) that this was going to be a winter seasonal IPA in the fashion of Lagunitas Sucks.  But turns out it's a red ale.  At least it's got ABV and IBU (70) boosted to IPA levels.

Of course, not knowing it was a red ale when I opened it (the bottle doesn't specify the style), I was a bit put off by the color.  But it's got pretty sharp hoppy aromas with a good bit of grapefruit, and that's good at least.  Unfortunately, I detect a fair amount of mustiness, particularly as it warms, and that throws the whole thing awry.

The mustiness stays there in the flavor too, and unfortunately masks most of the higher qualities- in particular, a peppery hoppiness that kind of makes me think of Ruthless Rye (I don't know if there's any actually rye in there), and a well-balanced malt back that holds up to the bitterness without being overly sweet.  As far as red ales go, this one's quite good.  But the mustiness holds it back from being top flight.  Oh well.  They can't all be as good as Hop Venom.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Terminal Gravity IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Enterprise, OR
Price: $1.79/12oz
ABV: 6.9%
NSP: 13.68

Another pickup from Gravity Beer Market in Olympia (though not on Roma's recommendation).  You know what I've noticed about a lot of Pacific Northwest beers?  Their bottle labels can be really cartoony, like they were put together with ClipArt.  I bought this one specifically because it broke that mold.  Shows the power of packaging, I suppose.

Maybe I'm becoming more observant (or more picky) in my beer-drinking dotage, but at this point I think it says something when my first thought upon pouring a beer is that it looks overcarbonated.  It might be a completely inaccurate impression, but I don't recall having the density of bubbles rising through the beer stand out to me this much in an IPA.  Smell-wise- an amplified pilsner.  Nothing in terms of floral or citrus hoppiness.  Just a bunch of pilsnery funk with a fair bit of sweetness.

Hmm.  I probably should've gone with a cartoony one.  If this was marketed as some sort of genre-crossing amber pilsner, maybe it wouldn't be a so much of a disappointment.  As an IPA, it's a half a step above shit.  The hops in an IPA should never come across as pilsner funk on steroids, marinated in dirt.  And then add some fairly mouth-coating sweetness.  Oh yeah, it's indeed overcarbonated as well.  I try not to judge a brewery's portfolio based on a single beer, but as far as this beer goes, it's certainly at terminal gravity, but the chute ain't opening.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Boneyard Hop Venom DIPA

Type: Double IPA
Origin: Bend, OR
Price: $8.00/32oz
ABV: 10.0%
NSP: 11.83

Is it a bad thing, sitting outside a beer shop on a Tuesday morning waiting for the place to open?  If so, don't judge me.  It's what I found myself doing on a trip to visit some family in Olympia, WA.  A stop at Gravity Beer Market for some local fare seemed warranted, that's all.  They had this on draft for growler/jar fill- hence no bottle in the picture.  Hell yes, I drank it out of the jar.  The lady who ran the joint, Roma (who really knows her IPA, by the way), gave out samples, and after a couple of sips I knew I wasn't leaving without it.  

This shit smells delicious.  Heavily citrusy with a honey back, with a nice green weediness (couldn't think of another way to put it).  You know what it smells like?  Lagunitas Sucks (and that ain't no small thing), but slightly less rich.

I'll just put it right out there- this is easily comparable to Pure Hoppiness.  It's immaculately well-balanced, with just enough malt to hold up to the hops.  A lot of DIPA-makers love to plaster 100+ IBU all over their labels as if excessive, tastebud-dissolving bitterness is a badge of honor.  This one comes in at a tidy 80 IBU, but don't take that to mean that this is lightly hopped.  It's just light enough on the malt that it doesn't need an overabundance of hops to counter it.  It's got the ideal formula of hop-driven citrus without bitterness overload.  And I'm highly impressed that they manage to ramp it up to 10% without it becoming even remotely cloying (it tastes like it's about 6%)- it means they've figured out just how much sugar to put in so the optimal amount is consumed during fermentation, leaving the result dry and delightful while also stealthily boozy as all git-out.  The only miniscule flaw is that the carb is the slightest bit on the low side- but that's really just a grain of sand on Mt. Everest.

Highest marks on this one- as Andy said with Noble IPA, this one's kind of a game changer, because it means someone in the Pacific Northwest is making proper, perfectly-executed west coast-style double IPA.  I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for more of Boneyard's stuff next time I'm up that way.  And thanks to Gravity for having this so I could drink the fuck out of a whole quart of it.

Friday, February 1, 2013

BD in a Flying Dog: Snake Dog IPA

type: IPA
origin: Frederick, MA
price: $11/6-pack
ABV: 7.1%
NSP: 13.8

My Flying Dog BD series continues--as does the streak of Steadman originals. (That certainly looks like a snake-headed dog!)  Here we have my first taste of an IPA by Flying Dog.

A bit disappointed I was, upon pouring, for there was not much aroma to speak of.  (How eloquent that was.)  But there's flavor in this IPA: the taste is malty, edging towards sweet.  These are hard flavors to pull out though, as they're essentially hidden behind a huge hop bitterness.  The hopping is by no means floral--just some brute force alpha acids coating the back of your throat.

I suppose the description I just gave rings true to my claim in the Doggy Style review: that they're no bones.  There's certainly no gimmick here, and no false advertisement.  It's just a mouthblasting IPA.  Unfortunately, I think I need a few more bones with my IPA, especially after taking part in the most massive and badass IPA-tasting tournament that has ever occurred.  For my liking it's a little too heavy on the bittering hops, and so it's with great melancholy that I'll claim one should pass on this; but, hopefully that shows the level of respect I have for FD.