Thursday, August 29, 2013

Left Hand vs. Odell: Sawtooth vs. Levity (amber ales)

I was working my way through the Panda Pat parade of Colorado brews and realized I had the perfect opportunity to test my preconceptions about Left Hand vs Odell: LH beers are slightly overrated, and Odell's are just plain delicious.  A quick note on amber ales (the beers in consideration presently): I find they taste like dank bathwater--metallic and stale.  Needless to say, it's hardly a style I look forward to drinking.

The competitors...

Left Hand's Sawtooth

ABV: 5.3%

Odell's Levity

ABV: 5.0%

There can be only one.  Levity.

Those are some gorgeous looking amber ales, and they both made me surprised to be enjoying an amber ale.  But there must be a winner, and that would be Levity, by far.  There's just something about Levity that makes it much, much better than Sawtooth.  The flavors are brighter, and more punctuated; whereas, Sawtooth makes a good effort but just falls flat under the light of competition.  I should emphasize that both are enjoyable ales, but, as they say, 'to the victor go the spoils'.  The spoils being a stronger selection bias on my behalf.

1-0 Odell.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wild Onion Hop Slayer

type: double IPA
origin: Lake Barrington, IL
price: $7/12oz
ABV: 8 %
NSP: 4.1
website

Firstly, just look at that shit.  By all standards that is one disgusting looking beer.  It might not even pass for an Arnold Palmer (lemonade + iced tea), either.  In case you were curious, that look does translate directly into taste.  It smells very malty and feels a bit like silt which for me is a deadly combination.  There's a sufficient level of bitterness, although bitterness for bitterness' sake is no way to craft DIPAs.

Props for a sweet-ass can though:  A skeleton man driving a '57 Chevy with phrases like '420' and 'viva la lupulo'.  Classy stuff right there.

One the whole I'd say walk right past this.  No, it's not the worst thing ever made, but it has some major issues.  There are some interesting peppercorn and spicy notes at the end; but, it's one of those beers you can't wait to finish so you can try something better.  And call me superficial, but having 'onion' in the name is a major turnoff too.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Renegade Ryeteous

type: rye IPA
origin: Denver, CO
price: ?
ABV: 7%
NSP: ?
website

Chris has it from a reputable source that normal beer drinkers are unable to distinguish the characteristics of the addition of rye to an ale.  Yeah, probably so; but, in this case it's gosh darn clear how the rye has been totally overused.  It gives you whisky throat, where your breath feels like fire, feels like death, and probably smells like ripe shit.  It brings a very caustic nature to the beer, and makes it relatively hard to drink.  In fact, I really didn't look forward to successive sips.  Too bad, but that's what this website is all about.  +1 for aluminum cans though.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ballast Point Fathom

type: IPL
origin: San Diego, CA
price: $4.99/22oz
ABV: 7%
NSP: 9.1
website

Sitting at my desk. Working late.  Realize why my productivity was sagging: no Fathom in my belly.  Yes, Fathom, the beer I've been raving about like a lunatic on many of my previous posts.  I've been waiting patiently and it's finally here as an official release from San Diego's Ballast Point.  Queue Team America logic.

In case you've been under a rock for the last few years, an IPL is an India Pale Lager.  Think of your favorite IPA, except with a light bodied lager base.  In this case I figure Fathom is basically a Longfin with the amount of hops used in Big Eye.  I'll venture and say there's absolutely nothing off or wrong about this beer.  It's purely delicious, and doesn't overwhelm your tastebuds.  Perfection.

I went all Pavlov after trying Nühell, which means we can make a nice comparison between the two.  Fathom is not as dry as Nühell, which isn't necessarily a bad thing because it goes down just as easily and is just as hoppy.  Nühell has a slight edge on the aromas, though; however, considering Fathom is a few NSP higher, I think we know who the winner is.  Thank you, NSP rating.  And... finally... thank you, Ballast Point.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Alpine Ugly

Type: Black IPA
Origin: Alpine, CA
Price: Something like $12.96/64oz (yeah, it's that cheap)
ABV: 7.5%
NSP: 10.95
website (Doesn't even look like Ugly's on there)

Got a pork shoulder blade roast and a big-ass chicken on the smoker, which of course requires that beer be consumed.  And what could be better for that than a growler of, well, really anything from Alpine?  Ugly is their not-all-that-often available black IPA, only accessible at the brewery in growler form.  Don't think I didn't almost pour it in a jar- but I'm supposed to share it so pacing a bit is a virtue.

Guess what this smells like?  Alpine.  Sweet, blessed Alpine.  As with everything else they make, there's an absolutely amazing hop aroma. Lots of orange, in particular. It's not often that you have a black beer that's still citrusy, but if anyone's going to pull it off, it's these folks.  There's a touch of roastiness, particularly if you get your nose deep in the glass.  But this is still a hop-driven beer, no doubt about it.

Clearly Alpine's used the bare minimum of dark malt in this, just enough to achieve the desired color but not add any of the heft.  I even wonder if they just added the dark malts directly to the lauter instead of mashing with them.  Because while there's an appreciable roasted flavor, as there should be, there's just no weight to it.  This is by far the lightest-bodied black IPA I've ever had (not that I've had many, to be honest), and I have a hard time imagining it's possible to get it lighter.  It's certainly no heavier than Duet or Nelson, and that's a hell of an accomplishment.

For me, this is another beer made by Alpine that sets the standard.  I love that there's just enough roastiness to notice, and otherwise it's another delicious citrusy IPA.  But I can see that for someone else's tastes- someone who likes porters and stouts and really enjoys some hefty roasted flavor- this may fall short.  So, I guess it depends- are you drinking a black IPA because you like dark beers but want to try something IPA-y, or is it because you like IPA and felt like something a little darker than normal?  I'm the latter, so this is pretty much spot-on perfect.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Anchorage Darkest Hour

Style: Barrel-aged Belgian-style Imperial Stout
Origin: Anchorage, AK
Price: $15.40/750mL
ABV: 13.0%
NSP: 6.33
website

Yup, prepare yourself for another unnecessarily long-winded review, because Anchorage is back.  This one's a Belgian-style imperial stout, triple-fermented as usual- Belgian, barrel, bottle- with the second stage using both pinot noir and rye whiskey barrels.  That sounds like quite a maze, and relative to other breweries, it certainly is- but for Anchorage, the degree of difficulty may be slightly lower on this one, because I don't see any mention of brett or bacterial (lacto or pedio) fermentation anywhere.  Of course, that has no impact on the degree of difficulty of being sober after drinking it, which is impossibly high.  A random little thing I found entertaining about this version of Anchorage's always-cool labels- if you look very closely at the picture, where the style is noted under the "Darkest Hour" at the top- they spelled "Belgian" without the "l".  I guess there's no spell-check for bottle labels.

I'll say in advance that I have little hope or expectation of finding any pinot character in here, because it was so swamped in the Anadromous, and that one didn't have any of this rye whiskey barrel business going on.  The pour made me very unhappy- even with pretty aggressive glugging, there was no head whatsoever.  With this much alcohol, plus whiskey, flatness is almost inevitably a deal-breaker.  The smell is very coffee-heavy, plus a touch of spice from the whiskey, though the latter's not as potent as I expected.  It's also pretty astringent, though part of that could certainly be from the roasted malt instead of the whiskey...not that it matters where it's from.  The Belgian yeast aromas are pretty much nowhere to be found.  I admit, not a great start, especially compared to all other Anchorages I've had.

And...it's flat.  The seal on the cork seemed perfectly intact, but there's no carbonation.  I'm pretty close to stopping right here, because I don't know if I'm prepared to do battle with a 750 of flat 13% whiskey-aged imperial stout.  But I can't dump it.  Fuck.  Welp, shonk time.  The flavor's actually quite nice- lots of good stouty roastiness, really good rye flavors, some nice spice and vanilla from the rye.  And the stout's dry enough that the whiskey doesn't throw it into overboard sweetness, so it's decently well-balanced. As I expected, the pinot's kind of lost in the shuffle- there is a bit of winy fruitiness, but it's hard to identify as pinot-specific, since both the stout and whiskey bring similar enough dark-fruity flavors to mask it.  I don't really detect any obvious Belgian yeast flavors, but those might also just be melding with everything else so they're hard to pick out.  The alcohol's noticeable (hard to avoid that at 13%), but not intrusive.  All in all, I enjoy the flavor.

So, I really want to like this, but the lack of carbonation is just a killer.  I've only had the bottle for a couple of weeks, so something definitely went wrong in the corking stage. The flavor's really nice, though maybe not quite up to par with the other Anchorage beers I've had in terms of delightful confusion- it sort of feels like a beer that most good imperial stout makers could put together, provided they can get their hands on a good rye whiskey barrel or two.  Add flatness to it, and you're basically drinking a 750 of whiskey-stout liqueur, and nobody wants to do that.  I don't want to either, but such is the life of a Non-Snobber.  I'd say give this a whirl, but have some soda water (or Miller Lite, as Andy suggested) on hand just in case.

P.S. Or, as my wife did, you can use this in a really delicious Darkest Hour chocolate cake.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brendan's SIP: Silver City Whoop Pass Double IPA

Type: Double IPA
Origin: Bremerton, Washington
Price: $6.49 per 22 oz
ABV: 8.5%
NSP: 8.51
Website

Another DIPA in the IPA plow, and another pretty average beer. Silver City Brewery is located just on the other side of Puget Sound from Seattle, so I guess it technically qualifies as a Seattle brewery. This beer starts out quite promising with quite a pungent bouquet of hop aromas and a nice booze kick. The taste is actually quite sweet, but not overly malty as you would expect. Its almost as if they use candy sugar but don't ferment it all. There are some nice grapefruit flavors coming from the hops, and that should be expected since they claim to use 50 lbs of Cascade and Columbus hops per each 15 barrel batch. This beer has some serious potential, and I think if they are able to reduce the sweetness and up the ABV into the 9.5 range, it would be top notch. I would definitely drink this again if offered, but it isn't in the "outstanding" category.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break

Type: Imperial Stout
Origin: ?
Price: $18.49/22oz
ABV: 11.5%
NSP: 4.04
website

I've had this beer in my queue for friggin' ages, and decided that tonight's the night- not only because it's taking up much-needed space in my fridge, but because my beloved sister-in-law requested a dark beer for sampling.  Tonight being the night for the IBB presents a problem- I had Hunaphu last night, and there's absolutely no way I can avoid what will most likely be an unfair comparison.  But what are you going to do?  I'm a little confused by this one, hence the question mark in the origin header- as far as I know, Evil Twin was founded in Denmark.  But per the website, their headquarters and distribution center are in Brooklyn.  And then, on the bottle label, it says that it was produced and bottled by Westbrook Brewing Company in Sakerlina, which I guess means Evil Twin's doing some contract brewing- but at least it's with a brewery that's got a good reputation in its own right.  In the end, I don't really give two shits where it's from, but I've got a header to complete, dammit.

The color's nice, but there's an immediate concern- there's no head unless you really vigorously dump the beer in the glass.  Flat imperial stouts are a bit unapproachable in my opinion, because the lack of carbonation takes away a critical part of the system of checks and balances required to prevent the beer from becoming a totalitarian state governed by sweetness.  And the smell is indeed really sweet- a good amount of vanilla, and an intense chocolate syrup aroma.  The inclusion of 'biscotti' in the name makes me think there should be some sort of almond cookie quality, but I'm not really getting it.  I do think that dunking a biscotti (or hell, even a Soft Baked) in it would work pretty well, though.


It's pretty much alcoholic Hershey's syrup plus some good associated complexity (coffee, vanilla, some roastiness) which is very interesting, but the lack of carbonation is indeed a bit of a problem.  Don't get me wrong, the flavor's really nice and there's plenty of stuff in there to ponder, but (and this may be a first for me) I'm a bit thrown off by the mouthfeel.  There's nothing to combat the coating feeling, and it makes it come off a bit cloying- just a bit less than a mouthful of chocolate syrup would be.  The finish is just a bunch of residual sweetness, and I'm not a huge fan of that.  And, just as I thought, having Hunaphu so recently puts this at an immediate and significant disadvantage- though it'd do that for anything short of Parabola or Abyss.


Maybe I let this sit too long- but at the same time, the seal on the bottle should be sufficient to maintain carb for as long as I've had this (e.g. the 5-year-aged Gouden Carolus Andy reviewed).  I really like the flavors, but, as I've said ad nauseam at this point, I need something to check the sweetness in my stouts- or, like Hunaphu, Zhukov, etc.- a drier stout to begin with.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Brendan's SIP: Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Seattle, Washington
Price: $4.49 per 22 oz
ABV: 6.3%
NSP: 9.12
Website

Third IPA into the plow, and quite a miss this one is. Ann says this smells like goose poop and swamp water. I guess my nose isn't that refined, but it doesn't smell great to me. The taste on this is almost sickening, with way too much jasmine tea flavor completely drowning out any positive aspects. It is actually giving me a stomach ache, which makes drinking a full 22 a daunting task (but since this is nonsnobbeer, I will shonk the hell out of this and move onto something I know is good). I really was expecting much better from Elysian since their blood orange pale ale (Superfuzz) is quite an enjoyable brew.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Cigar City Hunaphu's Imperial Stout

Type: Imperial Stout
Origin: Tampa, FL
Price: ?
ABV: 11%
NSP: ?
website

That's right, it's Hunaphu Day, San Diego style.  BA's #19 beer in the world, and the most sought-after beer in Cigar City's amazing portfolio, released only at the brewery on a single day each year.  And of course, John managed to wrangle some.  I swear, he's like Red in Shawshank, minus the Morgan Freeman-ness. Anyway, the story behind the name involves a mythological Mayan hero, Hun Hunaphu. This fellow was betrayed and sacrificed by the Dark Lords, and had his severed head hung on a tree as a trophy. Apparently decapitation was only a minor annoyance, because he managed to posthumously impregnate a maiden, daughter of one of the Dark Lords, by spitting on her hand.  She gave birth to twins, Hunaphu and Xbalanque, who then went on to defeat the Dark Lords (I don't know if there's an implicit competition with Three Floyds there) and become the sun and moon. How does this Mayan mythology relate to beer?  Because apparently Hun Hunaphu's unattached head was suspended in a cacao tree.  So yeah, the beer's aged on cacao nibs...and ancho/pasilla chiles, and cinnamon, and Madagascar vanilla beans, though I'm not sure how all those other things have anything to do with Mr. Hunaphu.

Inky black, but not as viscous as I'd thought it'd be.  The aroma is about as complex as beer gets.  Every little bit of the ingredients on the label are clearly in there and intricately balanced, and it smells absolutely fucking incredible.  I mean, of all imperial stouts to smell and smell and smell, and then smell some more, this is the one.  I can't speak highly enough of the aroma of this beer, don't think I've ever had anything that compares.

This is...a bit indescribable.  Up front, it resembles Marshal Zhukov (chocolate/coffee/vanilla), with a slightly less viscous mouthfeel, at least as I can recall it.  It's a strong enough flavor punch that you may not notice all the complexities trailing along behind, until your palate gets used to it.  The vanilla's more potent than I remember it being in the Zhukov, which is really nice, because it provides a different sort of richness than the dark malt flavors.  And those late-appearing complexities- the cinnamon and the chiles- they pop up and round off the richness, with a nice little heat persisting until you take another sip.

This beer is everything it's reputed to be.  As I've said many times before, it's a shame that Cigar City doesn't have a wider distribution area, because there's no doubt that they're among the country's finest breweries.  I was wondering if I'd find an imperial stout that'd trump Zhukov, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the beer that does it is made by the same folks.  There's no doubt in my mind that this deserves is place among the lords of imperial stouts, along with the Parabolas and the Abysses and the KBS-s.  Just absolutely, scale-defining delicious.
Just thought I'd include this to show that John brought some of Hunaphu's friends along.  The first person to correctly identify all three compatriots gets...absolutely fuck all.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Russian River Sanctification

Type: Sour Blonde/Wild Ale
Origin: Santa Rosa, CA
Price: ?
ABV: 6.75%
NSP: ?
website

My first foray into the Russian River sour portfolio.  Yeah, yeah, I know, how could I have never had a Russian River sour before?  Because they're damn expensive, that's why.  I am definitely aware of their reputation as sour makers, though (notwithstanding their obvious IPA skills), because it's pretty much impossible not to be if you're a craft beer drinker.  I also absolutely love their naming conventions for their Belgians and sours, all the biblical "-ation"s...well, biblical aside from Defenestration, which just means chucking some poor SOB out of a window.  Oh wait, Wikipedia says that Jezebel was defenestrated.  So that's biblical too then.

The nose is tart without being full-blown acid overload, plus a good amount of fruit- peaches, I'd say, and maybe some orange/tangerines.  Maybe even a bit of strawberry. There's very little brettiness (though it picks up as the beer warms), and it comes off amazingly clean.

Flavorwise, yeah, it's pretty damn clean.  There's more brett and more acidity in there than the nose led me to believe, welcome on both counts.  But the brett is still pretty muted, likely because it's a 100% brett fermentation (counterintuitive, I know- read this nice little blog post from Modern Times for some info on that), and adds the perfect level of funk.  There's fruit there, but instead of the peach/tangerine thing I smelled, it's like munching on a Granny Smith, minus most of that 'green' flavor.  It's incredibly dry, and combining that with the acidity, there's pretty much nothing left on the palate a couple of minutes after a sip...that is, until you burp, of course, which you will because the carb level's pretty high.

I had no doubt that this was going to be tasty, and it met all my expectations.  Just a delicious, clean, easy-drinkin' sour.  Just kind of a bummer that it requires going to the brewery to get it, along with pretty much every other sour Russian River makes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ironfire Nühell IPL

type: IPL (India Pale Lager)
origin: Temecula, CA
price: $6.5/22
ABV: 6%
NSP: 6
website

OH YES, another IPL!   Double 'Oh yes' because it's unbelievably good.  Triple 'Oh yes' because it's my birthday and I'm having a beer as you read this.

The first thing you notice is the incredible, complex aromas wafting into your sniff hole.  They make you salivate like Pavlov's dog (actually, they remind me of Duet's aromas).  The graininess of the beer is not in the fore, as it should not be, and then fades fairly rapidly; but, the hoppiness lingers for just enough time to get to your next sip.  All that means the beer is waaaay too easy to drink. (Read that as, waaaay too easy to to get blasted.)

We now have a record of the bookends of quality IPL.  A boring IPL tastes like this, and a great IPL tastes like Nühell.  The formula is simple, but probably difficult to pull off: Take a Helles lager and make it as wonderfully hoppy as you can--as hoppy as most anything you'll get from Alpine, Green Flash, etc.  It's simple, it's wonderful, and it'll save you from that blazing Temecula heat.  This is definitely a contender for best IPL, although the category seems to be just catching on (And I told you so!).  We need to add Ironfire to the seemingly endless list of skilled hopsmiths.  This job is too damn hard, so I'll probably just pull a Samer and not do it.

Ivan Pavlov is not impressed with my reaction to hoppy goodness; he expected that to happen.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Epic Bog

Type: Mushroom flavored malt beverage
Origin: Seattle, Washington
Price: ? - I think around $7
ABV: 7%
Website

I brought this back to San Diego in April and I had to share this with the guys (actually just Chris and Andy). I popped this open at a party at my place, and boy I remember what this tastes like 2 months after the tasting. We did jot down some notes, so here is the unedited transcription:

My notes:
Tastes like Kalamata olives mixed with Imperial Stout. Very salty, soy sauce action going on here. This shouldn't be good, but surprisingly good.  Makes no sense.

I think Chris' notes, but could be Andy:

Porter, technically, but the ingredients make it much more enjoyable. Towards the end  (aka warmer) I get the smoked (rauch) malt, which reminds you its just beer and not some magical brew.

Truffle this bitch up!

So yeah, if you like olives and Imperial Stouts and you want to cut out the middle man, opt for one of these.




Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Brendan's SIP: Reuben's Imperial Rye IPA

Type: Imperial rye IPA
Origin: Seattle, Washington
Price: $7.99 per 22 oz
ABV: 8.4%
NSP: 6.83
Website

Second IPA of the Seattle IPA Plow and a huge improvement over the last one. Ann pointed out Reuben's Brews to me on a walk through Ballard because their website was completely dominated by rye beers. They even make a rye hefeweisen. Ever since, she has been pointing out their beers in stores, so I finally had to buy one. I knew I was in for a treat when the bottle cap smelled like it was soaking in some dank weed. After the pour, I smelled it and knew it would taste great, just like we knew the winners of some rounds of the California IPA tournament by smell alone. The taste reminded me of the first time having a San Diego IPA: complete hop overload, almost to the point of not liking it. After smacking myself upside the head for such a foolish viewpoint, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  The hop character is solely pine with almost no citrus notes to speak of.  It does have quite a boozy whollop and is slightly unbalanced (especially comparing to Alpine Nelson), and smelling intently gives a paint thinner quality to it. For my first foray into Reuben's Brews, I am most certainly impressed and will definitely try everything else out, especially their normal Imperial IPA to include in the 'plow'.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Rogue Double Dead Guy

Type: strong ale (or strong maibock)
Origin: Newport, Oregon
Price: ?
ABV: 9%
Website

I have a confession to make: I have never purchased a bottle of Rogue beer ever. The NSPs are generally too low given other comparable beers. My streak is still alive however because I got this as a going away gift. I have another confession: I haven't even had Dead Guy, their flagship beer, on tap. The only beer from Rogue I know I have consumed is the Chocolate Stout at the Rogue alehouse in San Francisco. I guess part of my reluctance to not trying Rogue beers is Andy's extreme aversion to Dead Guy. Since I didn't buy this and have no idea what it costs, I can do a completely unbiased review.

On the pour, this seems like a pretty reasonable brew. It pours a slightly less Boone's Farmish red with a good finger head. On my first taste, I have a tough time getting inspiration, positive or negative. It does have some nice smooth caramel malts and nothing too roasty. I guess the only word to describe it is smooth. The 9% doesn't really show at all and there is a velvety texture. It is not too terribly sweet for this category (it could taste like candy sugar like some other maibock/doppelbocks). Really, the slightly sweet caramel is the only major characteristic popping through. No appreciable hop character either, even though its 60 IBUs. I will probably never get this again since there are just too many better beers and I would prefer a ton more hops.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Anchorage Anadromous

Type: Black Sour Ale/Wild Ale
Origin: Anchorage, AK
Price: $15.40/750mL
ABV: 8.5%
NSP: 4.14
website (no specific Anadromous site)

Another one from my favorite low-NSP but high-mindfuckery brewery, Anchorage.  By mindfuckery, I mean that I haven't had anything from Anchorage that hasn't been both completely baffling and highly educational.  'Anadromous' isn't exactly a word that's in common usage, so I had to look it up- apparently it refers to fish that spend most of their lives in salt water but migrate to fresh water to breed.  I'm not sure how that relates to beer, but I'll take some creative license and assume that it refers in some manner to swimming against the current- and that's definitely something a lot of brewers seem to take pride in attempting (even if a lot of them end up getting exhausted and drowning, or just munched by a big-ass bear).  It also explains why there's a nightmarish piranha-looking SOB on the bottle.

So, a black sour.  That's definitely not something you see every day.  The Bruery's Tart of Darkness is the only other one that I can think of off the top of my head.  As is Anchorage's hallmark, there's an intricate fermentation process- three stages, first in stainless with a regular Belgian yeast, second in pinot noir barrels with lactobacillus, pediococcus, and brett, and then finished in the bottle.  Put all that together, and it smells like exactly what I'd ensmellened (the smell version of envisioned...I hope I just coined that word) it- a sour porter.  There's a good tanginess, a bit of bretty funk, and a whole bunch of roasty malt.  It immediately tells you it's not going to be a simple beer, but of course if you wanted that you sure as hell wouldn't be buying Anchorage.  Unfortunately, though, I found the pinot character to be a bit concealed- not much fruitiness or anything associated to speak of.

The flavor follows the nose closely- it's nice and sour, but countered by the roasted flavors, with some funky brett.   The pinot character again falls by the wayside to an extent- you can faintly detect it, but the roastiness stifles it enough that you have to dig a bit.  Even though this is my first run at this style, it's immediately clear that there's a very, very thin wire to be Wallenda-ed here, representing a precarious balance between mouth-coating roastiness and palate-cleansing sourness.  And it does indeed seem to walk the tightrope successfully.  But there's also a deeper issue- if the balance reflects real complementation, or if it's more of a stalemate.  The wife felt like it was the former, but I thought it was more the latter- as if the roastiness and the sourness were combatting each other.  The sourness is doing its damnedest to cut through the porter flavors, but the roastiness just keeps punching it down, sort of an unstoppable force vs. an immovable object kind of deal.  That's nitpicky as hell, and has little to no bearing on the enjoyment of the beer, but it was a sentiment to which I kept returning.  I do feel like an enhanced pinot character (or maybe barrels from a weightier wine) could be a good mediator here, since winy dark fruit flavors can be commonly found naturally in both porters and sours.  

Well, that review got way more philosophical than it needed to be.  I could've just cut to the chase and said that the beer's really excellent and is an impressive effort at expanding the frontiers.  But Anchorage just isn't one of those breweries that lends itself to brevity...which is unfortunate when your wife is sitting next to you wondering why she ever agreed to stop by Bottlecraft with you in the first place.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Brendan's SIP: Schooner Exact Three Grid IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Seattle, Washington
Price: $3.99 per 22 oz
ABV: 6.7%
NSP: 10.91
Website

The Mrs. and I just went to try and conjure up some Mikkeller for my first Balls Deep Series, but I was informed that they do not distribute to Washington at all. So after getting over my disappointment, I decided to start a new series: find a reputable IPA from Seattle. I will label it the "Seattle IPA Plow, or SIP". So 6 bottles later, here I am having my first Schooner Exact brew.

Schooner Exact is one of the larger Seattle breweries, along with Fremont, Hales, and Elysian, so I am quite excited to try some stuff from them. My first impression of this is actually quite positive. Some nice citrus hop aromas popped right out of the glass, so I definitely got excited. On the taste, some of that citrus hop flavor is evident, but it is edged out a little bit in the malts, but not by much. The finish is thin and dry, which is appreciated over an overly malty, sugary finish. I think this beer has definite potential, and if they dry hopped the hell out of it with the same recipe, it would be phenomenal. I do want to try the rest of their offerings since this is the best IPA I have had so far from Seattle (out of like 10 completely underwhelming beers).

I should note that the description on the website is essentially the same as what I described: "A northwest-style IPA uses a blend of hops from Yakima to give it a big, juicy, tropical, citrus flavor. The light caramel and soft bready malts balance but don't interfere with the big hop character. It finishes dry leaving you ready for more".