Tuesday, April 30, 2013

BD in a Flying Dog: Kujo

type: imperial stout
origin: Frederick, MD
price: $2.50/12oz
ABV: 8.9%
NSP: 12.2

As a result of doing this BD series, I have officially developed high expectations for anything by Flying Dog I haven't yet tasted.  This was definitely not an exception.  An imperial stout with coffee from FD??  Could it possibly contend with Speedway Stout??

Nope.  Not a chance.  Speedway is simply on another level of amazing.  This, however, has something odd to it I can't quite pin down.  It certainly has all the components of a successful imperial stout: a pour that scares the crap out of you, tan-brown head, deep roasted malt flavors, and high ABV.  But the finish is so weak that I'm having a hard time not tasting the ethanol, or tannins from the coffee beans, or whatever the source is.  And there's a Vegetal-like flavor I can't escape.  (Homebrewers will note that this is a definite flaw.)  It's not a complete fuck this set of flavors--that goes to Stone's Belgo Anise IRS, which has a special place in hell reserved for it.  I have to recommend a pass, but I'd be willing to give it another chance in the future.

To wrap up this review, I say we take a look at the most popular definition of 'kujo' on Urban Dictionary:
When a dog is acting crazy and insane. It usually doesn't mean anything except for the fact that the dog is getting a hit of energy. Symptoms include running around and away from people, excessive growling, and frequently a mean-ass bite. The kujo state will probably last for about 5-10 minutes depending on how well you can handle the dog. A good way to take care of it is to grab the dog, put him on his back, and put your face up against his and firmly tell him to stop. And if necessary bite his ear and show him who the fucking boss is.  
Damn it, stop acting all kujo on me you fucking dog.

Looks pretty damn 'kujo' to me.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Iron Fist Imperial Rebellion

Type: Saison/Farmhouse Ale (Imperialized)
Origin: Vista, CA
Price: $11.50/750mL
ABV: 9.3%
NSP: 6.07
website (can't seem to find anything specifically discussion Imperial Rebellion)

I think I speak for all of the Non-Snobbers when I say that we have a soft spot for Iron Fist because they were nice and classy to us when we had our 1-year anniversary brewery trip and stormed their place with about 35 people at once.  It helps that they make a bunch of kick-ass beer too, and in beautiful 750mL bottles to kick.  So when they come out with something new, I tend to seek it out.

This smells...odd.  A lot of citrus (hop-driven and otherwise) and a bunch of yeasty funk up front.  There's a healthy layer of a slightly odd scent in there, something sharply sour...the bottle says it's brewed with kaffir lime, so maybe that's it.  I can't quite figure out if I like it or not.  It's definitely unique.

The flavor's undeniably more pleasant than the smell.  It's nicely saisony, but hopped up on...hops.  It's extremely citrusy, and the kaffir lime (which is far more obvious in the flavor than in the smell) puts a nice twist on typical saison flavors.  The hops are nicely potent and bring a good level of complexity to the show.  I kind of wish the yeast was a bit more potent because after drinking Dupont's work I crave yeasty flavor in my saisons, and in this case it's sort of hidden behind the hops and citrus.  

I'm not sure about this one.  I like the flavor a lot, but in the end I don't think I like the nose very much.  Which is unfortunate, because it's not really possible to avoid the nose when you're taking a sip.  That weird sour smell kind of throws it out of whack for me because it keeps making me think of pineapple juice that's been left out for too long or something.   Oh well.  You're still my boy, Iron Fist. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Green Flash Palate Wrecker

type: double-to-triple-ish IPA
origin: San Diego, CA
price: $12/4-pack
ABV: 9.5%
NSP: 11.2

Chuck Silva and Scot Blair, the owner of Monkey PawSmall Bar, and Hamilton's; are buddies.  They got together and, yada yada, nine months later a fucking awesome triple IPA is born.

I remember when used to be a rare beer: Where can I get it?? was on your mind back then.  Nowhere was the answer.  But fortunately this is now in GF's regular brewing schedule.  It's a major hop bomb with some butteriness, a deep malt base, heavy hopping, and the acidity is in check.  This is a mother-bastard of an IPA that reminds me of Expo, but in terms of wrecking a palate, I'd say Ballast's Tongue Buckler does a better job.  Certainly, though, this will ruin the capacity of your poor, unsuspecting tastebuds to taste lesser IPA--from there you can only go to whiskey, and then to Kelly's Pub to get kicked out for throwing Bud Heavy on people, as a certain unnamed person recently did.  Ahem, ROBERT.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon

Type: Russian Imperial Stout
Origin: Ipswich, MA
Price: $10.97/22oz
ABV: 12.5%
NSP: 7.41

I don't know why I keep doing this to myself.  By that I mean deciding that taking on a 10%+ imperial stout myself is a good idea.  Oh well, at least I know I won't be hungry afterwards.  Anyway, the label for this one is kind of ridiculously awesome/lame. Apparently the folks at Clown Shoes couldn't decide if they wanted to name the beer after a black dragon or a unicorn, so they just mashed them together and depicted the result on the label.  OK then.

The smell's nice and roasty, but it also immediately tells you that you're probably going to have a headache after drinking it, because it smells almost candy sweet.  My first thought?  I bet this is absolutely awful to vomit (at least as much as Brent's favorite dubbel).  I suppose most beers aren't pleasant in that respect, but you can launch nine Coors Lights and just pat yourself on the back, swirl some Scope around, and move on with your life.  This stuff would definitely make that impossible because it'll a) make it look like you just brought up a batch of pure evil and b) probably still have that same sweetness on the return trip, which'll ruin the whole rest of your day because the only way to get rid out it would be toothpaste or mouthwash made by Clorox.

Now that I've put that delightful portrait in your head, let's proceed, shall we?  The first sip brings mainly regret- because I once again realize that this bottle's going to be a major trial to finish.  It's mouth-coatingly, slap-in-the-face sweet (beyond candy, even) and boozy as all hell.  There's some good roasty flavor limping around in there, and a pretty hefty bitterness that keeps it from going completely off the reservation.  But man, it's a fucking bear.  Thankfully, the bitterness seems to pick up as it warms- or maybe it's just that the sweet receptors in your tastebuds have cut their losses and gone to bed.

Let the buyer beware- this is a double-black mogul-laden knee-shredder of a beer.  Everything about it is hard to deal with- but that most likely means Clown Shoes accomplished what they were aiming for, because a beer like this doesn't happen by accident.  So if you like playing with fire, or more specifically a giant inferno-breathing beast that comes with its own horn-spit to roast you on, have at it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Maui Big Swell IPA

type: IPA
origin: Lahaina, HI
price: $10/6-pack
ABV: 6.8%
NSP: 14.5

Further down my More from Maui series.  Up now: Big Swell.

Look at that picture.  It makes you think of a Pipeline drainer exploding hops out of the can, into the glass, and down into your gullet.  But it ain't--it's spewing boredom all over my tastebuds.  It's not a terrible beer, just reminiscent of all things Kona.  This has a very plain malt bill and nothing exceptional in terms of hops (and mostly bittering hops).  Even so, this is probably the best IPA you can find on the Islands, and especially from any of the other Hawaiian microbreweries.  Can you guess which those might be?  Hint: there's only one other.

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Belgium Lips of Faith Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout

Type: Imperial Stout
Origin: Fort Collins, CO
Price: $6.99/22oz
ABV: 9.0%
NSP: 8.37

I bought this purely on the basis of NSP- $6.99 and 9% is a good combo.  Normally I stroll right on by New Belgium, but their Lips of Faith line seems to have something to offer far beyond their regular order of boredom.

I finally had the sense to take a stout out of the fridge 30 minutes or so before I cracked it.  And I immediately noted the difference in the smell, which seemed to be a lot more intense than a cold one.  Smelled pretty damn good- lots of chocolate and coffee...imagine that?  Not a lot of hops, a little bit sweet- pretty much a nice straightforward stout with some good adjunct flavors.

Straightforward indeed flavor-wise, and that's a good thing.  Nicely balanced, lots of flavor with chocolate and coffee everywhere, a little fruity, and nothing overwhelming, including the booze, which isn't even remotely noticeable.

Just a good stout that pretty much hits all of the hallmarks right on the nose.  Not much more to say than that, and nothing needed.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Brasserie Dupont La Biere de Beloeil

Type: Belgian Strong Pale/Amber Ale
Origin: Tourpes, Belgium
Price: $12.49/750mL
ABV: 8.5%
NSP: 5.10

Now that's how you fill a giant Karmeliet tulip.  Turns out this glass is optimally scaled for full 750 consumption- you can put the whole bottle in there, minus the last centimeter or so, which is perfect for Belgians because you'd throw that part out anyway unless you like your flatulence to smell like grim death.

Anyway, back to the BDS.  This one doesn't fall in the saison category- the website just calls it an amber.  It's named after the town and chateau a few miles away from the brewery.  I live pretty near Ballast Point's Bay Park outpost, but I don't hear them naming any of their beers after Chateau Chris, goddamn it.

Smell-wise- yeah, it's definitely an amber ale.  It's pretty fruity, but in this case it seems to come more from the malt than the yeast- more's the pity, because Dupont's yeast is is responsible for some of the best beer aromas on Earth.  But that's not to say that it doesn't smell inviting- the malt and yeast combine to form an interesting and very distinct red apple scent.

As you'd expect from the color and the style, it's way more malt-heavy than Dupont's saison fare.  The carb level is pretty high, which in this case is a good thing because it lightens up the malt without being prickly.  Still, though, after a 750 of this I'm going to be pretty full, at least until I vent-belch.  It's quite fruity, maintaining the appleness all the way along.  There's a touch of yeasty funk, which is a nice counterpoint without which the beer would be pretty one-note.  And it's not musty- when you're talking about a brewery of this caliber, there's little chance it'd be otherwise.  But above all, it tastes like an amber ale- a good one, made with delicious yeast and very good balance- but still an amber ale.

Not my favorite Dupont, but that's a tough race in which to take the lead at this point, plus the fact that this is an amber makes it akin to getting hit with a banana peel in Mario Kart.  If you like amber ales, then by all means give this one a shot because as far as ambers go it's top-notch.  But for me, Biere de Miel will be my pick every time.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go burp for 15 minutes straight.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sierra Nevada Narwhal

Type: Imperial Stout
Origin: Chico, CA
ABV: 10.2%
Price: $2.60/12oz
NSP: 13.93

I've had this one hanging out (maybe lurking is a better word) in the back of my fridge for a few months, and as always, a random weekday is the best time for a lurker.  Sierra Nevada obviously tends towards hop-forward beers, so I'm expecting this to be one of those in-your-face bitter, bone-dry SOBs.

It's definitely another of those ugly, inky black imperial stouts like Zhukov.  There's very little to say about it other than it looks dark.  The smell, though, is surprisingly mellow.  It's got all of the coffee and chocolate you'd expect/hope for in something in this category, but it's not really a nostril-ripping experience.  There's a fair bit of sweetness, and altogether it's not unlike coffee ice cream (maybe with a bit of Irishness added).

Indeed, this is actually a decently mellow imperial stout, and I mean that in a good way.  It's not one of those 110+ IBU 12% fuckers that make you sick of drinking it after three ounces.  The coffee-ish bitterness is somewhat strong, but countered by a nice little sweetness so it's not really palate-destroying.  Oh wait, check that- the bitterness far outlasts the sweetness in the finish, so after 12 oz or more of this it might be a bit challenging to maintain any higher flavor-sensing function.  There's no booziness whatsoever, which is pretty impressive, and the body's relatively light, which is equally so.  

In short, this is a goddamn good stout.  However, it doesn't quite have the same ridiculous smoothness as Zhukov and thus can't surpass it at the top of my current imperial stout ranking.  Still, though, having a 12 oz of this lurking in the back of the fridge for a random Thursday is a good way to grab a ticket to stouty happiness without going on malt overload.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Brasserie Dupont Biere de Miel

Type: Saison/Farmhouse Ale
Origin: Tourpes, Belgium
ABV: 8.0%
Price: $11.35/750mL
NSP: 5.29

Got a pot of ragu simmering on the stove for Sunday dinner, the wife's making pasta and jamming out to Turandot (no, I didn't know what it was called without looking at the Pandora feed...I only remember it as the music playing when the good guys sign a peace treaty and the bad guys all get whacked at the end of "The Sum of All Fears" in a relatively heavyhanded example of cinematic juxtaposition).  I figure there's no better time to get BD in Dupont again.  Apparently Biere de Miel likes Italian opera a lot because the head exploded even though I poured it pretty gently.  And then I had to wait 10 minutes before I could drink it.  I hate it when that happens.

Dupont strikes gold again (do they ever not?) with the nose.  Nice Belgian funk, but not in a nostril-stripping way, and some lightly green (and incredibly fresh-seeming) hoppiness that's almost pilsnery.  Behind that is a nice honeyed sweetness- which is supposed to be there, of course, given that Miel translates to honey.

I'm so glad I picked Dupont for my BDS.  Because I feel lucky every time I get to drink one of their beers.  This is absolutely delicious.  Just a perfectly balanced, light-bodied, carb-poppy refreshing saison- right in line with the other Dupont efforts in that respect.  Where this differs, though, is the honey (again, as it should, because otherwise why call it Biere de Miel?).  It provides a bit more richness than the other Duponts I've sampled, taking the beer slightly in the tripel direction.  I also feel like it's a touch sweeter than the other ones, though it's been long enough since the last one that I could be making that up.  And it's strange- every time I go to take a sip, I keep smelling and tasting something that's almost like spearmint toothpaste at the very end.  I know that probably sounds awful/hallucinatory (the wife confirmed it, so I don't think it's the latter), but I'm pretty sure it's just a random confluence of scents and flavors, and given that it's sort of an entertaining bit of complexity.  Not off-putting in the slightest.  Anyway, in the end, this beer comes off like a really interesting hybrid- a German pilsner somehow made with Belgian ale yeast.  Obviously that's not something that exists in the real world, but if you want to taste what it might be like, go grab a bottle of this.

This BDS keeps getting better and better.  Well, for me, at least.  I think this is my favorite Dupont yet.  Once I have more space, this may become one of those always-in-the-fridge beers.  Unless of course it's topped by one of the several other Duponts I have to work on, which isn't necessarily a long shot.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lost Abbey BDS Avant Garde

Type: Beire De Garde (Beer for Keeping)
Origin: San Marcos, CA
Price: 9.99
ABV: 6.5%
NSP: 4.06

First off yes that is a red solo cup. I know classy right? Please insert your you suck comments below or go to snobbeer.com to see the review in a proper glass. Hopefully no one gives a shit, even though it may of tasted worse in this cup it wasn't that great anyways. Also, I have had this beer in a proper glass plenty of times. I was forced to do this because I was camping at San Elijo in Encinitas and this was in the cooler. Yes forced.

One thing interesting I noticed on this bottle is the bottled date of 09/14/12. Maybe because they want you to age this or maybe due to freshness. After noticing a huge difference in taste of beers from our IPA tourney this is definitely a good thing. Especially to be able to tell which beer store sells the freshest and which sells the oldest. I would say from Chris's recommendation Bine and Vine and Bottlecraft are the freshest, while places like Pacific and other mom and pops liquor stores are the oldest.

Okay about the Beer. Nice copper golden color that really shines in the red solo cup and lots of head because I poured it in the dark while drunk. Goes well with El Indio chips apparently and likely brats (other plastic bag). Taste full of apples, peaches, biscuit, and fresh bread. Tasted more like a lager then a pale ale to me. Again not too impressed by this one even though I did enjoy it again it was too expensive. I did however notice last time I was at whole foods they dropped the price on the lower alcohol content Lost Abbey beers to $8.49. Maybe they are listening to us, ya right.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Figueroa Mountain Hoppy Poppy IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Buellton, California
Price: $6.59 per 22 oz
ABV: 6.5%
NSP: 6.4

This is one of those beers that you see on the shelves and just have to try because of some gimmick.  In this case, the gimmick is using poppy seeds in the brewing process.  And I must say, you can really sense the poppy seeds.  It seriously tastes like eating a poppy seed muffin mixed with some indifferent hops.  The hops are so indifferent that you can't actually smell anything coming off of this beer. This really has the chance to be an astonishing IPA if they added some more floral hops.  As it stands now, its like an english bitter mixed with a poppy seed muffin.   

A side note Adrian thinks this is an excellent beer, but then again, his review would read "This is a good beer".  He is seriously the most casual frenchman.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kern River Winter Ale

Type: Rye Ale
Origin: Kernville, CA
Price: $7.35/22oz
ABV: 7.0%
NSP: 6.19

I bought this almost entirely because Just Outstanding is so just outstanding.  But I haven't bought their Isabella Blonde, which has been readily available in stores around here.  Call me inconsistent.

Anyway, ordinarily the term "winter ale" is enough to make me walk on by.  And here we come to the second reason I bought this- because Lagunitas Sucks has singlehandedly made me reconsider my previous nose-upturning at winter seasonals.  Kern's website is pretty short with the details on this one- it has rye in it, and some hops.  Which doesn't give me any basis on which to form any sort of expectations or idea of the beer's style.  But the smell is enough to quell any misgivings that this might be a winter warmer- the hops are nice and punchy with a good amount of citrus, and it's got a honeyed/caramelly malt scent that brings me right back to Sucks again.  There's a little bit of rye spiciness there too...or maybe more accurately, there's some spiciness that I can attribute to the rye that I already know is in there because I looked at the website.

Tasting this, I'll admit that I'm at fault here to an extent.  I let this sit in my fridge for a bit too long.  Because the flavor's telling me that this is probably really excellent when fresh.  The hops are pretty flavorful and citrusy without being overly bitter (initially), the rye is fairly potent without being dirty or musty, the body's nicely light- it's a very well-crafted rye IPA.  The flavors are well balanced, again initially- but after a bit the bitterness becomes a bit heavy and the citrus flavors (and aromas) dissipate, unfortunately.  Despite those flaws it's still a nicely drinkable and tasty beer.

But I also have to lay some blame for my overcellaring, and thus some of the flaws of the beer, at Kern's feet.  Nowhere on the bottle does this say that this is an IPA.  There's no label information whatsoever about the style or ingredients, other than some cartoony hops and grain, which obviously don't tell me a damn thing.  No born-on or drink-by date either.  The only concrete things I could learn from the bottle is that it's brewed in Kernville, on the northern tip of Lake Isabella (which tells you immediately why the aforementioned blonde ale is named as such), and that I shouldn't drink this before driving/operating machinery or if I'm pregnant.

So, the take-home from this overly bitchy review is: this beer is good- if you like rye IPAs, definitely try it, but don't expect it to compete with Nelson- but it would've been better had Kern told me I needed to drink it right away in order to maximize my beerjoyment.  Good thing you have Non-Snob Beer here to provide you with such important information so you don't make the same mistake if you happen to be in one of the few beer stores that happens to carry Kern River and they actually manage to get a minimally-distributed seasonal and you've had Lagunitas Sucks so you no longer hate winter seasonals in general and you've had Just Outstanding so you know how good Kern River can be so you'll be happy to try one of their other beers in the first place.

P.S. Some of the BA reviews of this beer say that it's a "rich" or "dark" brown.  Uhhh...is it possible to be colorblind with brown?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Uinta Detour Double IPA

Type: Double IPA
Origin: Salt Lake City, Utah
Price: $9.99 per 750 mL
ABV: 9.5%
NSP: 7.1

This is the second Uinta beer I've had off the Crooked Line, the other being the Tilted Smile Imperial Pilsner.  While I had that one long ago, I do remember it being quite tasty.  I bought this one months ago and just found it at the back of the fridge (the bottle on date is 6/13/12).  The pour on this one is very cloudy, but it is the perfect golden orange color you want on a DIPA.  Still a decent amount of carbonation, so my inadvertent aging experiment seems to not have impacted the beer too much (although the cork was quite a bitch to get out...note to amateurs, don't store beer on its side, unless your fridge doesn't have adequate vertical clearance).  When I opened it, I was hit with some pleasant hop aromas, nothing out of the ordinary, but still nice.  After pouring, the smell is pure toasted malts.  The hops get quite overpowered by the malts, a characteristic that transfers over to the taste.  It is quite the malt bomb.  I can tell there are hops in there (probably my sixth, or even my seventh sense), but the malts are pulling a Kanye on Taylor Swift (shes the hops in this scenario).  This is such a departure from the DIPA's I normally have.  The beer is certainly not flawed (in fact its exceptionally crafted) , but I would prefer a bit more citrusy or floral hop character.  On the plus side, it is pretty easy to drink if you like more malt character.

I must further note that others on BA and ratebeer sense more hop aromas and flavors.  It could be my 7 month accidental aging leading to more subdued hop character.  Others have also noted its quite boozy, which I don't really agree with.  That one is probably due to me running a beer website.  Also, I think I recently saw this selling for $16 at either BevMo or Bine and Vine (I bought this at BevMo on October 20th...yes I save my receipts).  I could be completely wrong on this point.  At $10, try it if you are into maltier IPAs.  At $16, buy 2 Hoptologists instead and call it a day.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

BD in a Flying Dog: Wildeman IPA

type: farmhouse IPA
origin: Frederick, MD
price: $12/6-pack
ABV: 7.5%
NSP: 13.3

My BD series down the Flying Dog rabbit hole continues, this time with a farmhouse-style IPA.

Essentially, this is has the base of an IPA, and the yeastie flavors (and aromas!) from a saison yeast strain.  You get some lemon zest acidity that accents the hop bittering perfectly, and cuts right through the malt base.  It's pretty damn good, and tastes how I wish Snake Dog did.  There are some similaries to Snake Dog, though.  For instance, the potent bitterness of Snake Dog is still here, and floral hop aromas are absent; but, the farmhouseyness takes care of that, and makes it incredibly delicious.

This reminds me of the fantastic and refreshing Cali Belgique (which I hear is just Stone's IPA fermented with belgian yeast) but at 7.5% it's definitely making me consider which to choose from in the stores.  And clearly the artwork is better, mostly because it reminds me of the Beetlejuice scene with the long faces. You know the one.

If any of you ask if I'm qualified to make this review, here's my response, courtesy of Beetlegeuse himself:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Anchorage Love Buzz

Type: Saison/Farmhouse ale (w/ brett)
Origin: Anchorage, AK
Price: Don't quite remember, but it in the ballpark of $15.99/750mL
ABV: 8.0%
NSP: 3.75

Way back when I had my first Seizoen Bretta, reader Jeff suggested I try this one as a paragon of the brett saison style.  I've had this sitting in my fridge for four or five months, and I thought a random Tuesday in February would be the best time to drink it.

The nose on this thing is really remarkable.  There's brett, both in tart and funky form, in nearly equal portions, though I give the edge to the tartness.  The beer's aged in pinot noir barrels, which shows up slightly in the color (a bit of a reddish tinge), but also as a nice winy depth in the smell.  I also detect a touch of pineapple scent....citrus makes sense because there's orange peel included in the brewing process.  It's also pretty floral (the bottle says there's rose hips in there), and...OK, fuck smelling it, it's too inviting to not dive in.

Hey Jeff- excellent call.  This is outstanding.  The brett's a bit more funky in the flavor than on the nose, but it's not that overwhelming garbage/manure funk.  It's just the right amount of accent.  Otherwise, the beer's nice and tart and refreshing.  There's a very light touch of bitterness (it's Citra dry-hopped), and after a bit I get a bit of the pepper with which it's brewed.  Yeah, pinot noir, orange peel, rose hips, peppercorns, and Citra dry hopping- that's a lot of shit for one beer.  But it's crafted expertly enough that you can pick out each accent, while they also come together in a delicious balance.

I'd put this up there with Seizoen Bretta at the top of the brett saison category.  My only complaint is that it's so drinkable that you can fire down a whole bottle before you remember that it's really damn expensive.

P.S. Hey Anchorage- the story on the back of your bottles is approaching Stone in terms of pretentiousness.  Cut that shit, please.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Baird The Carpenter's Mikan Ale

Type: fruit ale?
Origin: Nihon
Price ?
ABV 6%

The boys bought me 4 Baird brews for my bday back in December since I loved the brewery when I was in Japan a while back. I don't review much these days because I mostly drink homebrew and repeats, to be honest. Most the new stuff I consume is from good 'ole Regal Beagle.

This beer is different. Mild malt smell, but not much else. It has interesting acidity, must be from the fruit. It's well balanced, with bitterness in the back. Perfect carbonation. A bit of an alcohol burn. In the end, it's just not that exciting. I guess since I don't know what Mikan smells or tastes like... I would bet this tastes better fresh from the tap.

Friday, April 5, 2013

John Henry Colonial Cream and Brown Ale

Type: cream ale, brown ale, wood aged
Origin: Cold Spring, MN
Price: $7.99 per 750 mL
ABV: 9.3%
NSP: 8.7

I have been on somewhat of an oak barrel aged kick (not really a kick, more just trying to find one I really like), so when I saw this at Best Damn Beer Store, I had to have it for the price. I believe all of John Henry's beers are barrel aged in a variety of styles (I also have a rum barrel aged pale ale in my fridge). Before I start, I should note this is from Cold Spring Brewing, the makers of the Big Fucking Can (BFC) you may have seen before and were surprisingly tasty. They also do some contract brewing for 21st Amendment, so you know they are good at following a recipe.

Let me start off by saying this is a tricky combination for me.  I absolutely have fallen in love with cream ales.  Thats good.  I absolutely hate brown ales.  Thats bad. I like brandy.  Thats good.  I am very impartial to oak barrel aging....Thats bad I guess. It comes with your free choice of topping....and thats enough.  This isn't a beer that is going to change the way you look at beer, but its pretty good and really easy to drink.  The thing I really like about this is you can really taste the cream ale half of the beer, and the brown ale just brings over the malts to play without the dirty dog taste so ubiquitous with brown ales. The cream ale half is not overly sweet though like with some cream ales, probably due to the brown ale mellowing.  I have a real tough time picking out the brandy oak and it seems that it was only added in order to smooth out the beer's rough edges.  You can slightly smell it if you get your nose really deep in the glass, but then you look like a snob, and thats not the point of this website.  All in all, I am kinda looking forward to the pale ale just to see what the rum barrels do to it.  If someone gave this to me at a party, I would definitely oblige.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Lost Abbey BDS Devotion Ale

The Lost Abbey Devotion BDS

Type: Belgian Pale Ale
Origin: San Marcos, CA
Price: 9.99
ABV: 6.5%
NSP: 4.06

Since this is a "Balls Deep Series" I was going to provide you with some history of how Lost Abbey started, however their site is down and has been for a while (way to go). Off the top of my head Lost Abbey was started by the guys at Pizza Port at the old Stone brewing location in San Marcos after their massive expansion. The brewery itself is one of the best in San Diego because it has Pizza Port and Lost Abbey beers on tap, along with 800 or so bourbon barrels, aging future tasty beers for our enjoyment. Another great thing about the Brewery itself is the beers are priced around $4-6 and tastings range from $1-2. 

Now the Bad, their beer is too expensive, $10 for a 6% beer, come on. Their NSP ratings are going to be terrible, likely why we have only reviewed a few. At $10 for every non-seasonal beer at Lost Abbey and even more for their seasonal beers (found one 12 oz for $14) it gets rather expensive. Really the best way to enjoy these beers would be at a bar or at their brewery. 

I will be reviewing all these beers from low to high alcohol percentage non-seasonal first, followed by whatever seasonal ones I can get my hands on. Likely the seasonal beers will be in small tastings at the brewery otherwise I will go broke. 

The first beer I reviewed was Lost Abbey Devotion. Samer reviewed Lost Abbey Devotion several years ago and I too upon first sip was shocked at the "Kaplow" as Samer would say with this low percentage alcohol beer.  The beer has a strong floral and pilsner like bite, but really just not to exciting, in fact it's pretty boring.  For $10 there are better beers I could get similar to this style. 0 for 1 Lost Abbey.

I think they used devotion for this beerfest...bad idea 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Just Beer Horseneck Golden IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Westport, MA
Price: $6.97/22oz
ABV: 6.1%
NSP: 5.69

I bought this based entirely on the cool/weird label.  That practice has been shown to be a bad idea before, but whatever, I'm not one to learn from past failures.  I'd never heard of the beer or the brewery before, so I have no idea what to expect.  And just what the hell is "Golden IPA" supposed to mean?  Is that an actual style, or is it just a color scheme intended differentiate it from a "Diluted Coffee IPA"?  Oh, and what happened to the rest of the horse?  Are they trying to make someone an offer they can't refuse?

The color looks good to me as far as IPAs go.  Not one o' them malty SOBs.  But it doesn't smell like much of anything.  There's a little bit of slightly musty malt, and a little bit of slightly dirty bitterness.  Not a great start.

The bitterness is dirty indeed.  It seems like it's hopped like a super malty English-style IPA, where the hops are heavy on bitterness and light on flavor.  But it's not malty, so the flaws in the hopping are completely exposed.  The body's very California-y, light and slightly honey-ish with a touch of citrus, which I like.  But the hops are just to rough for this to be all that enjoyable.

Well, if these guys get the hops right, they'll be on to something.  The malt's more or less spot on, at least as far as my IPA tastes go.  And that's a good start.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Maui Bikini Blonde

type: Helles lager
origin: Lahaina, HI
price: $10/6-pack
ABV: 5.1%
NSP: 10.8

Further down my More from Maui series.  Up now: Bikini Blonde.

Besides being able to look at a sexy hula girl on the can (she has blond hair, obviously), this is actually a pretty attractive Helles lager.  There's definitely a straw-like flavor profile consistent with the Helles classification, and it is easy to drink.  Strangely, I can't escape the peanut butter and ash qualities that cut through.  Even though those flavors should be unappealing and might technically be considered flaws, I actually enjoyed their presence.  The NSP is high enough to enjoy again, but Longfin is much better.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Clown Shoes Muffin Top

Type: Tripel IPA
Origin: Ipswich, MA
Price: $8.97/22oz
ABV: 10.0%
NSP: 7.27

Another brewery that's starting to break into the SoCal market.  I've heard of these guys before, but I can't recall where or when; they stuck in my mind not only because I'd heard they make pretty good beer, but obviously also due to their fairly ridiculous company name.  The label on this one's pretty funny, depicting a couple of obese folks (hence Muffin Top) walking on a beach toward a pair of clown shoes.  The beer's name brings to mind both FUPAs and this.

It smells funkily sweet (almost bretty), with a good hoppy punch.  It's fairly citrusy and a bit astringent.  It's pretty straightforward- if you poured a good tripel and a good Califonia IPA in the same glass (or even better, in a quart jar), this is what you'd smell.

It's damn good flavor-wise.  Hop bitterness provides the first shot, with a yeasty slap right behind it, a delicious jab-hook combo.  There's a lot of fruitiness along for the ride, some citrus from the IPA side and something that at least fools me into thinking it's strawberry from the tripel side.  Last up is an amazingly clean finish that allows you to keep gulping it down even though it's 10% (there's no booziness at all)- as does the super light body.  It's a touch metallic as it warms, but at that point your palate's probably behind the 8-ball and it doesn't matter any more. 

To me, this is a pretty ideal blend of the tripel and IPA styles.  A lot of breweries try Belgian IPAs only to fumble around and fuck them up.  Not these folks.  This is flavorful and drunk-making without being filling.  I'd drink it again in a heartbeat.