Wednesday, July 31, 2013

21st Amendment Lower De Boom Barleywine

Type: Barleywine
Origin: San Francisco, California
Price: $2.99 per 8.4 oz
ABV: 11.5%
NSP: 9.5
Website

I bought this one solely based on packaging. My first thought was 'this is a nondescript beer in a red bull can'. Sure enough, the cashier at Chuck's 85th informed me this was his favorite street drinking beer due to its packaging and high ABV.  And let me tell you, I should be reviewing this while street drinking because this sure is easy drinkin'. This reminds me most of a belgian dubbel in terms of malt character (not with yeast), with a light amount of dark berries and raisins popping through. It isn't sweet at all and tastes nowhere near 11.5%. Its not overly complex or even interesting, but might be the first barleywine I want to drink on a hot day.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cellar series: Het Anker Gouden Carolus Van de Keizer (Red, 2008)

type: belgian strong ale
origin: Belgium
price: $13/ 750ml
ABV: 10%
NSP: 5.8
website

If you're at any beer fest and they have either of the Gouden Carolus', do yourself a favor and gorge. It's delicious when it's fresh, but here we are--five years out from a 2008 vintage Cuvee Van De Keizer (Red)--wondering...does beer even keep that long??  Well, let's find out.

This was a Belgian strong blonde ale, originally, and since 2008 the yeast have added an overwhelming level of fruit on the nose and tongue: apple and peach, mostly.  The yeast didn't destroy the beer, they just wore out their welcome a bit.  But, hey, what else should we expect from little microorganisms that like to swim in their own excrement?  Besides the fruit, there was still plenty of carbonation, and so signs of spoilage (it was a corked bottle).

Chris was convinced they used candy sugar to make the beer, but the website is not overly forthcoming on the recipe, and it's hard to judge with such substantial modification (the aforementioned fruit).  We did come to find, through the web, that they lager it for three weeks.  Huh??  Anyone care to explain why you would do that for such an apparently short period of time?  The website also claims the tenability of cellaring is 3 years (they did not give error bounds so I'll say +2 years is reasonable), so I'm surprised this lasted so long.  There was some metallic taste to it, but it's five damn years old!  And at least it didn't give me a hangover the next day.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Brasserie Dupont Avril

Type: Saison/Biere de Table
Origin: Tourpes, Belgium
Price: $9.49/22oz
ABV: 3.5%
NSP: 2.77
website (once again, no beer-specific site)

3.5%?  Shit.  These are the lengths to which I go for my BDS.  I can't tell you how long I resisted buying this- almost $10 for a beer that's little stronger than gas station Bud Light. This had better be packed with flavor, because that's the only way this'll be anything more than useless.

I figured the name was a reference to the time of year it's brewed, but since I can't find any website for the beer, I have to go with BA, which says it's year round.  I'll just assume, then, that the folks at Dupont are NFL fans, and they named this after Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril.  OK, that may be a reach.

Anyway, there aren't many beers that you can hear quite loudly after you pour them, but that's the case here- it's carby as hell, enough that it sounds like it's going to sizzle your trigeminal nerve right into insensibility.  The smell from the pour brings pilsnery funk to mind, but as it settles a bit, the wonderful Dupont yeast comes through (as it thankfully always does with Dupont), plus a bit of herbaceousness.  Overall, it smells pretty delicious.

As you'd imagine, it's light as hell- not just comparable to gas station Bud Light in terms of price but body as well.  Of course, it tastes nothing like Bud Light, because that would be...well, tragic.  The main flavor is the yeast, but there's just enough hop bitterness in there to clean it out fairly quickly- not quite as fast as the Cuvee Dry Hopping, but close.  There's a bit of lemon in there, but mainly it's just a nice, light yeast flavor.  It's clean and dry and very highly drinkable.

Well, I'm sure as hell not buying this again.  But that's not at all because it's bad- it's actually quite tasty.  However, the slightly heavier body of the regular Dupont saisons are far more appealing, and that's before you even consider NSP.  What I will say, though, is that this is a very good vehicle for familiarizing oneself with the smell and flavor of Dupont yeast- because there's pretty much nothing else there.  So let's just call this what it is- a light beer made with the world's greatest yeast.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Weyerbacher Insanity

Type: Barrel-aged barleywine
Origin: Easton, PA
Price: ?
ABV: 11.1%
NSP: ?
website

Andy grabbed me this one on his and Dr. President Brendan's east coast trip a while back, as a return-the-favor recon beer.  Ever since I started paying attention to my baseball gear back in high school, I assumed that Easton, PA was the headquarters of the Easton sporting goods company.  Couldn't have been more wrong.  The founder's name is Easton, and the sporting goods company is based in porn country (Van Nuys, CA).  I still always liked their gear, though.  Easton, not Van Nuys, I mean.  But that's neither here nor there as far as the beer's concerned, of course.

Anyway, barleywine.  I'll say it right up front- I'm not on the barleywine train.  I've never had one I even remotely enjoyed- I just find them to be beyond overboard on sweetness and malt, with little other flavor that makes them worth drinking.  Sure, their ABVs are through the roof, but I'd at least like to enjoy the experience of drinking as I'm getting drunk.  It's not supposed to be a grind, this whole beer-drinking thing.  I guess the other guys more or less agree, because of the previous 800+ reviews we've done so far, only four are barleywines.

Apparently this is the barrel-aged version of Weyerbacher's Blithering Idiot, which I haven't had either (good name, though).  The beer looks like murky, flat, diluted Diet Coke or strong iced tea. It smells like an amped-up amber ale, but with a good number of complexities- booze, vanilla, and oak.  Above all, the main component is what I'd expected- loads of sweet malt.

Flavor-wise, it's really boozy, and that more or less dominates the flavor.  It's incredibly sweet...put sweet and boozy together, and it makes me feel like I might end up with diabeetus or gout if I finish the whole bottle (and that's just a 12 oz).  There's no hop character to speak of, nor really anything you'd ordinarily associate with "beer"- even the malt character is pummeled by the sweetness overload.  There's some barrel flavor managing to exert itself, at least.  But it's a struggle to finish the entire thing.

So while the barrel does manage to add something (particularly in the nose, which is decently interesting), I can't help but question the point.  It feels like a "hey, we can do this, so let's do it" kind of situation.  But it seems like a good barrel would be better combined with a beer that's not just over-the-top sweet and one-note- because then the barrel flavors wouldn't just feel like an afterthought.  I dunno, maybe I just don't understand barleywines, and if that's the case there's no way I'll understand a barrel-aged version.  Can anyone recommend one that might change my mind?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Epic Hopulent IPA

Type: Imperial IPA
Origin: Salt Lake City, UT
Price: ?
ABV: 8.4%
NSP: ?
Website

We randomly popped this one open one evening because we ran out of utility beers and had to raid the stash. I was too lazy to write out a review at the time, but this beer left a super vivid imprint on my memory, so I figured I could write it at a later date. I can sum this up in 1 sentence:

This is the first IPA I've ever had that is both too malty and too hoppy.

Makes no sense, but who cares. This is non-snob beer. And yes, I drink my beers out of crystal Tiffany's beer mugs. Why? Because fuck you, thats why.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DC Brau On The Wings of Armageddon

Type: Imperial IPA
Origin: Washington, DC
Price: ?
ABV: 9.2%
NSP: ?
website

Fresh off a big cleaning binge and looking for something refreshing.  But of course, when you're dying for a Sapporo or some other ideal shower beer, there isn't one to be found.  The best substitute I could come up with is this entertainingly titled SOB. The label's equally entertaining- a dude that looks a bit like the Emperor when he decided to Strike Back, with some huge devil wings and a pair of claymores (I don't know if they're actually proper claymores, but claymore is a cool word so I'm going with it).  Oh, and some hops, because when the devil emperor decides to swoop in and cleave the shit out of some people, he's sure as hell bringing some hop flowers along.

The color is very appealing, sort of a hazy-as-LA pumpkiny shade.  There's a hell of a lot of silt in there, and you can tell that the beer's going to be pretty viscous because the silt stays suspended, actually more or less immobile, even when you swirl it around a bit (so it almost looks a bit Jello-y).  Smells pretty nice, lots of citrus (grapefruit in particular) and pine, backed by just a touch of caramelly sweetness.

Well, another brewery has hit the bitterness-sweetness ratio right on the head.  The balance is perfect- it's hoppy as hell, and there's enough malt behind it to keep it from derailing but not so much that it's heavy.  It's a lot like chewing on a piece of grapefruit rind.  The 9.2% is almost completely imperceptible, so these guys clearly have their shit down.  I can't overstate how much I appreciate a brewery that controls their process well enough to produce a dry, citrusy imperial IPA- and I equally appreciate how few breweries pull it off.

Good stuff here, and one that would make me look for them next time I'm out in DC.  By next time, I mean the first time.  This seems like a proper beer for some heavy shonking followed by a swim in the Reflecting Pool.  You can do that, right?  It is a pool, after all. Unless that's what they mean by reflecting- when you jump in, you just bounce right back off like a racquetball.

P.S. I'm going grammar/spelling police here, so stop reading if you don't care.  The website says "Brewed with just enough etc. etc. etc. to carry the intense hop character onto the pallet."  You're not putting the hop character onto a wooden platform so you can move it around with a forklift.  It's palate, dammit.  Palate.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Upslope IPA

type: IPA
origin: Boulder, CO
price: 1.25/12oz
ABV: 7.2
NSP: 20.5
website

My brother Panda Pat lives in Boulder, Colorado, and recently brought me a box of local beers to try (and two sixers of Happy Camper!).  Unfortunately, I think the Colorado craft brew scene has had to claw it's way out from under the scourge of New Belgium, even though it's been thriving for a long time now partly because of NB.  Given the status of NB as the third largest producing craft brewery in the US [2012], I welcome any opportunity to try new malted beverages from the little guys around town.

I'll keep it short and sweet though: Everything about this is spot on in terms of a straight up IPA.  As the can reads, it's "Bold, Deep, and Bitter", and I can't say it any better.  The ingredients are at the bare minimum, and scream class:
  1. snowmelt (cold as the Rockies, obviously)
  2. malt
  3. Patagonian hops (Huh?)
  4. yeast
I don't make the following claim lightly, but this is easily better than Big Eye (one of my favorites around these parts). Everything just works, and at the end you're ready for the upward directed slopes.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic Bio

Type: Kriek
Origin: Anderlecht, Belgium
Price: ?
ABV: 5.0%
NSP: ?
website

Maybe it's a little strange that we haven't reviewed any Cantillon beers around here, given that they're pretty much the most sought-after sours on the planet, at least as far as I can tell...which is probably a big reason why we haven't reviewed them- they're in such high demand that they disappear from the shelves instantly.  Cantillon's process is about as traditional as you can get, including the use of a coolship- basically a huge open copper baking pan into which wort is pumped to chill overnight, allowing all sorts of bacteria and wild yeast to wander in looking for snacks like a Hot Pocket-crazed stoner. Most breweries try their damnedest to avoid exposure to the ambient environment and long chilling times, but at Cantillon, the coolship is where the beer begins to get its character.

It has that cherry juice- or cough syrup-mixed-with-beer look common to a lot of krieks/lambics.  The carbonation level in traditional sours seems pretty variable (whether intentional or not), but there's some decent bubbliness to this one judging by the head. It smells incredibly floral, almost like there's rose water added to it.  There's a nice sourness (as expected), and it comes off almost ginger-beery, albeit with some cherry juice added, for obvious reasons.  It also smells very clean, with no interference from anything that could be called "off".

The flavor's nicely puckery, but it's not as sour as I'd expected, or as I remember Hanssens being.  There's a bit of brettiness that adds a nice yeasty complexity to the party.  It's fruity, but initially in a non-specific way (i.e. the cherry flavor doesn't blast you right of the bat)- as it warms, the cherry comes out a lot stronger.  If you mentally separate the sourness from the other flavors, there's almost a Jolly Rancher or Tootsie Roll Pop cherry candy aspect to it- obviously not as sweet, but sort of reminiscent of the flavor.  At the end, a little salt component comes in...John said he thought it tasted like olives; I didn't get anything that specific, just some salt.

As the bottle says, this is a really good thirst quencher of a beer.  And as expected, it was a perfect palate cleanser.  Delicious, sour, and extremely clean.  And while the base flavors are simple and approachable enough to just sit back and enjoy it, there's also enough complexity to warrant taking your time to dig around looking for buried treasure.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Bruery Five Golden Rings

Type: Belgian Golden Ale
Origin: Placentia, CA
Price: $11.49/750mL
ABV: 11.5%
NSP: 7.51
website

We haven't really reviewed too many of the Bruery's fare around here, probably because pretty much everything they offer is absurdly expensive.  But this one's relatively reasonable, especially along with a hefty ABV.  Five Golden Rings is, as you might imagine, a Christmas release, but even in June you can come across it in some of the smaller liquor stores.  And of course, this is the fifth in a presumably 12-beer series following the traditional carol.  I hear they're cellaring a bit of each one, so if you time it right you could get a massive vertical tasting.

Anyway, this one's brewed with pineapple juice, which is really only Christmas-y in Hawaii.  It actually smells like a sour, light-bodied, a bit yeasty, and quite tart.  You can tell right off the bat that it'd be a perfect summer beer (not for sessioning though, of course)...I guess you could celebrate half-Christmas with it?

I had this when it came out and thought it was really tasty, kind of like Horny Devil plus pineapple.  Six months after the fact, it's pretty boozy, enough so that it interferes with the other components.  The pineapple and yeast flavors are still there, but the latter in particular feels like it's withered a bit.   Since the pineapple remains pretty strong, and the yeast is on the weak side, it feels a little imbalanced and sharp, kind of like a pineapple mimosa with too much vodka.  The bottle says this is suitable for aging up to seven years, and I have no doubt that's true, but I hope the decay function of the yeast flavors isn't linear.  

So I'd counter the bottle and say drink this fresh.  But obviously at this point that's entirely impossible, so it's not helpful at all.  Still, if you come across a bottle, give it a whirl because it's a worthwhile effort and the pineapple is tasty.  And really, once you've had a half a glass or so, the alcohol has dulled your tastebuds enough that you don't really care about the flaws anyway.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Foothills Seeing Double IPA

type: double IPA
origin: Winston-Salem, NC
price: $7/22oz
ABV: 9.5%
NSP: 8.8
website

'Big, yet restrained' seems to be modus operandi of Foothills Brewing Co., out of North Carolina.  This is their double IPA, and it's fairly malty but very hoppy, wherein the hopping is mostly for bittering purposes (similar to Rampage,  for example).  Towards the end of the taste you get standard hop-cone/piney flavors.  There is some citrusy type hop flavors going on too, but I also taste something that reminds me of pith.  (Trust me on the pith thing: we tried to make a cider--the wrong way--and it ended up tasting like, well, pith.)
It's also 126 IBU so it'll have the same wreckness on your palate as Palate Wrecker would, given a chance to wreck.

Overall, this is a well made, traditional American DIPA (screw East vs West beef).  I find this quite easy to consume, though I wish the bottle price was a tad bit lower.  I am, again, impressed with Foothills.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

North Coast Old Stock Ale 2010

Type: Old Ale
Origin: Fort Bragg, CA
Price: ?
ABV: 11.7%
NSP: ?
website

Had this beer presented to me by Andy and Carey for some occasion that was long enough ago that I don't remember the when or the why, just the who.  Since John's been a big-ass bag of beer-sharing, I thought I'd try and return the favor with this one.  North Coast is and interesting brewery, in that they seem to be forgotten in discussions of California brewing- perhaps because their IPA isn't really known (though Andy reviewed it quite positively).  It probably doesn't help that they're in a part of California that you'd never really find yourself wandering through- it's BFE enough that if you're there it was most certainly your intended destination.  But at the same time, they're known to some reputable beer, among them Pranqster, Brother Thelonious, Old Rasputin, and this bad boy, which has been released as a vintage since...well, at least 2010.

"Old Stock Ale" isn't really a usual style, but you can kind of figure out what it's supposed to be by simply removing "Stock".  And then when you pour it, you can immediately identify what you're dealing with- if it's a malty English-style SOB with a hefty ABV, it's pretty much a given that it's an old ale.  Or you can look it up on BA if you want a shortcut.  Anyway, it certainly smells like an old ale- sweet and malty, with lots of cola/root beer aspects.  It's not noticeably boozy in the nose, which is not something you can say about a lot of 11%+ beers.

Well, it looks rich and malty, it smells rich and malty, so guess how it tastes?  The cola thing comes through again, or maybe more specifically rum and Coke (the wife said rum raisins), plus there's a good bit of the vanilla/toffee flavors that you hope come along with this style but frequently don't show up due to overwhelming sweetness.  The carb's nice and high, which keeps it feeling light despite the rich flavors- and it also means North Coast's bottle capper works really well because it hasn't lost anything over the intervening three years.  There's a bit of booze, but I'd never guess it's 11.7%.  And the best thing about it- it's not overly sweet.

I kind of think of old ales as brown ales on steroids, but using a term like that for this one would be insulting.  I'm highly impressed here, because they've taken a style that I'm not even remotely predisposed to enjoy, and have made something I like a lot.  It's drinkable and complex, and highly dangerous to boot.  If I was looking for a beer to drink while sitting in front of a fire with the rain blowing sideways outside, I'd take this over most of the stouts and porters I've had in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

BD in a Flying Dog: Citra Single Hop Imperial IPA

type: single hop triple IPA
origin: Frederick, MD
price: $14/6-pack
ABV: 10%
NSP: 15.2
website

This is beast.  A mighty, delicious beast.  It's well balanced, even with only a single hop varietal in the mix.  As the name suggests, the Citra hops give it a nice citrusy twist, and complement it's medium body.  That combination makes it taste more like a extra burly saison (minus the belgian yeast factor): Nice and light on the tongue, easy to throw back a few, and packing a punch.  It'll slap you in the face hard.  Real hard.

Two different Citra single-hop beers come to mind from this: Hermitage's IPA, and Knee Deep's "pale ale".  After reviewing my reviews, it seems clear that this type of hop need to be used properly.  Fortunately Flying Dog has their wits about them and didn't try to do too much with the grain bill.  Certainly this isn't the most complex IIPA ever, but it would destroy most other breweries' attempts.

Finally, this marks the first time I've been completely unimpressed with Ralph Steadman's work.  Exhibit A:

Uh, Steadman, are you awake?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Central Waters Peruvian Morning

Type: Bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout
Origin: Amherst, WI
Price: ?
ABV: 8.5...?
NSP: ?
website

Lotta question marks in the header of this one, gifted to me by John (hence no price/NSP) and no specification of ABV on the bottle or website (BA says 8.5%, RB says 8%...whatever, it's not 11% and that's really all that matters).  As far as I know, this is Central Waters' most highly thought-of and sought-after beers.

Right off the bat, I like that it doesn't smell like one of those super-sweet roundhouse-to-the-face bourbon-aged stouts.  And unlike most of the others, the barrel aromas are riding shotgun with the bourbon instead of being tied up and gagged in the trunk.  The coffee's there too, as is a slightly salty aspect (sort of a soy sauce thing).  It's pretty remarkable that they've managed to have all of those complexities play relatively equal roles.

The flavor is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from the nose- the coffee, bourbon, barrel, and salty flavors all intermingle nicely, with none dominating the others.  The roasted malt is a nice foundation for everything else (and brings a bit of chocolate into the party), and as far as bourbon-aged stouts go it's supremely dry and clean-finishing.   The sweetness that is there just adds to the balance.  The carbonation's pretty low, and I can't figure out if that's a good thing or if I'd like it ramped up a touch.

Well, this is pretty damn good.  I heard there was a bad batch of this floating around out there, so I'm happy that this was a good one.  If you're a bourbon-barrel aged stout fan, and you're in the mood for something almost sessionable (again, as far as the style goes), definitely keep your eye out for it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pretty Things Lovely Saint Winefride

type: brown lager
origin: Westport, MA
price: $9/22oz
ABV: 7%
NSP: 5.1
website

Anyone who reads the blog regularly knows how much I enjoy Pretty Things, even if their NSP levels are generally dismal; although, prices for their beers have gone down in the last year.  And, they inspire me to find amazing GIFs, like this one.  So here's a "spoiler" alert: it's delicious!

This is a fairly rare beer style (brown lager) that, according to the bottle, is brewed using a decoction method to "mark the end of winter".  It's lagered over the winter, and served at the beginning of spring.

What's decoction?  I'm hoping the Crute-meister will weigh in here to correct my ignorance, but decoction is a primitive, time intensive way to ensure proper mash temperatures.  The idea is to boil a portion of the mash for a short period of time, and return it back to the full batch.  In the age before fancy electronics, this was really the only way to control temperature.  Got it?  Yeah, sure you do.

Who's St Winefride?  Lore has it that in Wales, around 600AD, she was beheaded and then returned miraculously.  I'm not sure what the connection is to the beer though.  Maybe it's supposed to represent the decoction method (beheading wort?), or the lagering, or the hibernation of the brew.  Who knows.

What does the beer taste like?  Here are my notes:
fuck me this is good
drink it slow... it tastes good all the way to the end (almost better at the end)
color is very deep amber (trust me, hold it up to the light) with a perfectly colored head (espresso crema)
tastes like a brown ale that you actually want to drink, but instead it's a lager.  absolutely perfect level of maltiness
Some brown sugar and a nice acidic finish with some bitterness really takes care of the 7% alcohol.
Would probably go damn well with some bbq
I can't say I fully appreciate what the decoction does to this.  It would make more sense for Pretty Things to do a non-decoction version, so we could taste them side-by-side.  Or, maybe they've figured out that a non-decoction brown lager isn't all that great.  Either way, Pretty Things is, yet again, Doin it Right...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pavo Tripel

Type: Tripel
Origin: Zichron Ya'akov, Israel
ABV: 9.0%
Price: ?
NSP: ?
website

Apparently Pavo caters to English-speakers, because this is the first beer of the mega-recon that has a label I can read, and the brewery website's entirely in English.  The label says that this is a merger of Belgian and American styles.  I don't know what that means...if an American tripel style even exists, it's certainly fashioned after the Belgian style.  Whatever.

The color's not like any tripel I've ever seen.  Well, maybe Iron Fist's Uprising, but that was an anomaly too.  It looks like iced tea or diluted maple syrup.  And there's no head- where's that marshmallowy Belgian foam?

It smells like a strong ale more than anything.  Raisiny, maply, dark-fruity, and sweet.  There isn't much Belgian yeastiness to speak of, which is disappointing because when I'm drinking a tripel, that's what I'm after.

It tastes kind of weird.  Pretty specific, I know.  There's just a whole lot of sweetness initially.  The bitterness is at a higher level than most tripels I've had, probably due at least in part to the lack of yeastiness to balance the hops out.  And unfortunately, in a beer of this type, a lack of yeastiness translates to a lack of complexity.  The carb level is dangerously low as well- so it ends up tasting like bitter diluted malt extract.  Somehow, even with all of the sweetness and absence of much of anything to hide it, they've suppressed the alcohol astringency, which is sort of impressive.  But that doesn't keep it from being boring and one-note, or just not very good.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

HaDubim Yonek HaDvash Belgian Dark Ale

Type: Belgian Dark Ale
Origin: Even Yehuda, Israel
ABV: 8.0%
Price: ?
NSP:?
website

I'm really glad that RateBeer has these Israeli mega-recon beer names translated into English characters, because I'm fairly certain if I tried to translate it from Hebrew myself with Google I'd end up titling a post "Bears Frantic BackSweat Racism Ale" or something.  This one's a little more poetic than that- Hummingbird, according to Ronen (Google says Sunbird).  Anyway, the label depicts what appears to be a naked woman with a hummingbird poised to drink from her apparently deliciously pollen-filled elbow.

It says on the bottle that this tastes like cloves.  By the smell, they ain't kidding- it smells like clove puree.  There's a lot of nice fruitiness, as well as plenty of root-beeriness, which I like a lot.  There's a touch of cardboard must in there- not like a bad amber ale because there's a lot of other things to mask it, but it's there.

The flavor's not nearly as rich as the smell, which could be a good or a bad thing based on your personal preference.  The bitterness is surprisingly strong because it didn't really show up in the smell.  There's still decent root-beeriness...actually, I'd call that the strongest flavor.  The Belgian-yeasty fruitiness is pretty muted.  It's got a light body for a Belgian dark, but the bitterness makes it a fair bit less drinkable than, say, Trois Pistoles.

Not bad at all.  It served very well as a bit of light stretching before a bout with Decadence.  Based on this and HaDoctor, I'd say the folks at HaDubim have some skills.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Manzanita Chaotic Double IPA

Manzanita Brewing Chaotic Double IPA

Type: Double IPA
origin: Santee, CA
cost: $6.49 for 22oz
website

Hopefully this review will be better then the blank slate I provided earlier. Ooops, moving has got the best of me. 

For a double IPA in the capital of hoppy IPAs this beer is rather boring. It still has a hop taste, but is mostly malty with a slight red ale bite. Nothing special, but definitely drinkable. Compare this other standout IIPAs and it's a joke. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

HaDubim HaDoctor Pale Ale

Type: Pale ale
Origin: Even Yehuda, Israel
ABV: 4.8%
Price: ?
NSP: ?

website (can't find a beer-specific site, apparently it's a special edition)

The next beer up in the Israel mega-recon by Jesslyn & Ronen.  Apparently this one's a tribute to some dude (a doctor of some sort) who introduced the brewers at HaDubim (which apparently translates to Bears...Jay Cutler sucks) to beer-making.

It's cloudy and silty as hell...I guess the filtering didn't go too well, or wasn't tried at all.  But it smells exactly like a pale ale should- a bit malty, with a nice bitterness.  There's also a good amount of citrus, which shows that these guys have a decent handle on pale ale craft.

This is amazingly clean and light.  There's a moderate level of bitterness, but it fades off of your tongue quickly, leaving some nice honey and citrus on the finisk.  The carb's nice and poppy without being belch-inducing.  There aren't a lot of advanced complex flavors, but it's very well-crafted, nicely balanced and easy-drinkin'.  It'd be a hell of a session pale...if only it were possible to get more in San Diego.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Alexander Green IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Emek Hefer, Israel
Price: ?
ABV: 6.0%
NSP: ?
website

The second Israeli mega-recon beer from J&R, this from a "boutique" brewery.  There's very little information on the bottle- including the beer style, which I only found out after looking at their website.  So this review was put together with no prior knowledge of what it was supposed to be.

It looks like Sapporo (that's OK), and it smells a bit like burnt hair (that's not).  Or maybe it's more the smell of a hair salon?  You know, when you'd have to go to the salon with your mom when you were a kid, and there were all sorts of weird chemical odors and hair dryer-like fumes from the ladies getting their perms?  That's sort of what this smells like.  Slightly chemically burnt hair.

There's pretty much no body, just some sweetness- maybe it's rice based?  The bitterness is heavy and pretty sharp.  Is this supposed a lager or a pilsner (the bitterness is a bit funky, which brought the latter to mind)?  No, it's too sweet to be sessionable or refreshing like a good lager/pilsner.  And the bitterness is too strong- maybe it's imperialized?  What the hell is this?

It's suprising, then, to find that the website lists this as an IPA.  This would be pedestrian as a lager.  But as an IPA, it's a disaster.  IPA isn't supposed to taste like hopped malt liquor.  Maybe these guys need to call the folks at Srigim so they can learn the basics of the IPA style.  Because this ain't it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Natty Greene's Southern Pale Ale

type: pale ale
origin: Greensboro, NC
price: $1.50/12oz
ABV: 5.2%
NSP: 12.3
website

At the bottle shops in Raleigh in May I noticed a few offerings from Natty Greene.  We all know that judging things by their label is the best way to live your life, so I went full on ignorant and walked right past their stuff (the label reminds me of all the shit Chris used to get in his craft-beer box).  Later in the week, I noticed a few dudes around town wearing Natty Greene t-shirts and finally got the message: if they were proud enough to sport a local brewery, that brewery probably makes some pretty good beer, right?  Methinks yes, so it was back to the bottle shop...

Not much room in the suitcase, so I only picked up the "Southern Pale Ale".  What in the eff does an SPA tastes like?  Anyway, yeah, that's some serious over-carbonation right there, which is generally not a good sign because of the way carbonation changes your tasting ability; but, yikes this is tasty. Delicious even.  It's malty, as you'd expect from a pale ale, but certainly not shy on the hops.  They're pungent and bitter, but with a tempering quality that doesn't obscure the unique malt backbone.  I also taste a light skunkiness that I somewhat enjoy, but that could be just a quirk of mine.

My expectations for this were pretty low.  For some reason the classification makes me think of an overly sweet headache bomb, but this is no such thing.  In fact, I'd say this is better than a lot of breweries' IPA.  It leaves your mouth quivering... maybe even trembling with anticipation for the next sip.  That makes up for any amount of over carbonation, so I guess those dudes in the t-shirts were on to something.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Srigim Ronen HaHodit HaMekhoeret IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Srigim (Li On), Israel
Price: ?
ABV: 6.5
NSP: ?
website (good luck reading it)

My earliest interaction with Non-Snob was reconnaissance/forward observation, namely due to my frequent trips to Colorado and acquisition of local specialties not found in San Diego.  But I've been totally outclassed by my friends Jesslyn and Ronen, who made a recent trip to Israel and brought me back a bunch of local craft beer.  Did you know that Israel has a burgeoning craft beer scene?  Neither did I.  


Obviously I'm incapable of reading the label on this one, but per J&R, the name translates to "The Ugly Indian Beer", and it's a "Special Beer for Special People".  Ronen was very excited about it because the beer shares his name.  It apparently won a BIRA (Beer International Recognition Awards) 2011 Gold Medal.


It's definitely unfiltered, because there's little yeasty bits floating around.  It smells fairly malty (as the color would also suggest).  There's also a bit of unexpected Belgian-like funk.  Not a whole lot of green hop blast initially, but after it warms up a bit, some citrus shows up.  Grapefruit in particular, a nice bit of complexity that a even a lot of American IPAs fail to achieve.  And no mustiness in the malt, another pitfall they've deftly avoided.


Flavor wise, this treads the line between the West Coast and English IPA styles.  Intermediate in body, with a nice bitterness level that's neither overpowering or underwhelming.  It's pretty much a right-down-Main-Street IPA, and I say that as a compliment, because it nails the basic IPA hallmarks.  I didn't find a single flaw in craft- it's well-balanced, with a decently complex hop profile and a good malt back.  It's not necessarily my ideal IPA style, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy it in a pinch.  And given what's on the shelves out here in San Diego, that's no faint praise.