Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Firestone Union Jack

type: IPA
origin: Paso Robles, CA
price: $12/6-pack
ABV: 7.5%
NSP: 13.3

I get a warm feeling every time I see this in the store.  Perhaps it's the bright red colors on the label, beckoning you to be fearful of what's inside like a Coral snake; more likely, though, those warm feelings inside stem from consuming copious amounts of an incredibly well-crafted IPA.  It's double dry-hopped (properly) and sits at a hefty 7.5%, which means it'll hit you right in the feel-goods.  Every time.

Did you even look at the website bro?  If not, take a look at all the damn awards this beer has.  More importantly, this is produced in great volumes (you can find it damn near everywhere), and the NSPs are always very high: I have a hard time buying any other IPA when this is on the shelf.

Even under intense competition this beer did very well in our epic Cali IPA tournament.  It's not the most complex IPA you'll find, but it's damn near the top among others from California.  And it's always on tap at Shakespeare's, served in proper British pints nonetheless.  Cheers mate!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Deschutes The Abyss Release and Vertical Profile 2009-2013

The wife and I skipped work and headed down to Portland to do some tax free shopping and get our hands on an entire case of The Abyss. We got to the Portland brew pub about 40 minutes early and there were already about 10 people in line for the 11 am opening. Upon opening, we were greeted with free tasters of the 2013 Abyss and we were in heaven. Twelve bottles and $204 later, we were seated at a table with our newly purchased love-child. They had a special menu for the day that was heavily influenced by the Abyss. I got a Kobe burger with Abyss sauteed onions and some other Abyssy thing. I could eat that fucking burger everyday for every meal for the rest of my life. I also decided to do the 6-taster vertical profile, which consisted of the 2009-2013 editions and the 2013 edition on nitro. We also got a full goblet of nitro 2013. The taster was $24, but the tasters were full 4 oz pours of all the editions and included a Abyss chocolate truffle (which was fantastic). The goblet of nitro was a reasonable $7. Also, no tax on that. Gotta love living in Washington with no income tax and being able to shop in Oregon with no sales tax. We also picked up something completely obscene at Williams-Sonoma, but I would rather not share that with you (hey, we didn't have a wedding registry, so I guess that counts for something).

Looking like a doofus, but I have a case and you don't

Anyways, onto the vertical profile. I thought this would be a hard task since they were all exceptional, but was surprisingly easy using Chris' greater than/less than approach. It was too hard to pick out minute details when drinking them all next to each other, but the major qualities of the aging popped out nicely. So without further ado, from best to worst: 2010, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2011. The nitro 2013 was between the 2009 and 2012. Heres my notes:

2009: Everything has mellowed, similar to 2010, but lighter
2010: Perfect combo of bourbon/coffee, stronger on the bourbon
2011: The inflection point between coffee dominated and bourbon dominated
2012: More coffee than others
2013: Needs some time. Not as strong on coffee as 2012, but rough around the edges still
2013 Nitro: Everything is better on nitro

So thats all. Come visit me in November 2014 and lets do it again.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale (revisited, three years later)

type: pale ale
origin: Newport, OR
price: $7/22
ABV: 4.8%
NSP: 4.5

It's been almost three years (!) since I first formed an opinion of this beer.  The price has ticked up substantially, unfortunately; but, I'm just glad to be seeing this again because my opinion remains unchanged.

This is, simply, a fantastic beer that I wish was served at sushi restaurants.  The soba adds, I think, a welcomed complexity to an otherwise basic beer formula that's already requires a delicate touch to get right (a basic, non-hoppy pale ale).  Morimoto and Rogue have accomplished something great with this beer, which makes me OK with the whole "Free Range Coastal Water" thing.  Yeah, seriously, wtf?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ironfire Synner

type: pale ale
origin: Temecula, CA
price: $5.40/22oz at Bottlecraft
ABV: 5%
NSP: 6.0

Ironfire is a brewery that needs a bit more maturing, it seems.  They are able to produce shockingly good beers (e.g., Nuhell), but in this case I'm not terribly impressed, and even somewhat disappointed.

The base of beer has a lot of potential, but the most disappointing aspect is the aroma.  Unfortunately, it's not 'correct', meaning there is an inescapable off-putting character to it that obliterates the pleasure of beer consumption.  I don't think this is the "fruitiness" they claim it should have; rather, I think it's a defect, which may also explain the excessive carbonation.  Of course, all this could be from some shelf-life effect, or poor handling by Bottlecraft (I'd be surprised if it was the latter because then it usually just tastes stale and papery); and so, for those reasons, I remain open to trying this again.

But, in the end, it just seems like this is a beer that's trying to hard to be something it's not.  Surely that sounds vague and rarefied, but we're all about being enigmatic around here... and using big words.  Anyway, there are much better hoppy pale ales around that are easier to find, and have better NSP (Pale 31XPDoggie Style, Mirror Pond(s), Sierra Nevada, ...).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Odell Myrcenary

type: double IPA
origin: Fort Collins, CO
price: ?
ABV: 9.3%
NSP: ?

The American DIPA field is wide, and deep, which means impressive beers of the style can be (1) very hard to find, and (2) very impressive.  This happens to have both traits: we hardly get anything from Odell in San Diego, and it is fantastic.  Flavors created by the hops, and yeast, combine to give subtle--yet complementary--fruitiness, and an incredible set of aromas with a nice medium body.  And you can hardly tell it's a whopping 9.3%, which makes this all that much better.  This would be a definite contender in the next installment of the DIPA blind tasting.

In case it was not, let me make my opinion a little more clear...  If this beer is not in your list of 'Top 10 DIPAs' of all time, go ahead and beat yourself over the head with a large mallet, Babyfart McGeezaks.  Or, more succinctly: Wow, just... wow.

Thank you, Odell.  Thank you.  And thanks again to you too, Panda Pat.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Maui Sobrehumano Palena'ole

The can was a wee-bit small next to my glass,
so I had to prop it up with an apple, obviously.
type: red ale brewed with fruit
origin: Maui, HI
price: ?
ABV: 6%
NSP: ?

If there's one thing that Maui B.C. is proficient at, it's brewing beer with real fruit additives.  They manage to find the correct balance of additives (the pineapple in Mana, for example), so that it lends a nice hand to an already quality beer (I fully converted after CoCoNut PorTer) rather than dominate the flavors..

This is no exception.  It was apparently brewed with passion fruit and cherries, a combination which is exceptionally tasty.  The aromas are strong and appetizing, and while it tastes a bit sweet, it's tempered with a nice acidity and cherry essence.  I found it to be delicious after eating dinner, although I would be happier if the carbonation persisted longer.

This was a collaboration with Jolly Pumpkin, out of Michigan (who provided the cherries), and I'd be surprised if you see it again.  But hey, if you do, snatch that shit up: your better half with thank you.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Nøgne Ø #500: Imperial IPA

type: imperial IPA
origin: Grimstad, Norway
price: $9/0.5l at Maria's Packaged Goods
ABV: 10%
NSP: 5.6

Once again Nøgne Ø has created an exceptional beer, and the Norske semi-torque continues.  This time it's a complex, rich imperial IPA.  Their combination of barley, wheat, rye, and oats has created a beer with an absolutely massive malt body approaching a barleywine in character: molasses, caramel, apricot, and wheat bread flavors swirling around running train on your senses.  Unfortunately the aromas are not really what I expect, or hope for, in an IIPA of this magnitude, but this is Nøgne-mutha-fuggin-Ø and they can do whatever the hell they want.

It's a bit on the 'sure-as-fuck-isnt-dry' side, so it can drag a bit; but, I still think it's fantastic.  And, I'm sure this is much more enjoyable when fresh (the Nelson hop characteristics are probably brighter), but I'll take what I can get.  (Thanks, Luis Alberto Diaz Chavez de Michuacan, for recommending a quality haunt on the southside.)  It reminds me quite a bit of Old Tempest, but hoppier (bittering mostly) a tough to finish, although I can imagine it developing (even greater) complexity with time.

If you can find this in a bottleshop, I highly recommend you try it; but, I wouldn't order it at Toro, for example, because it'll knock you--and your tastebuds--straight on your ass.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Evil twin: bikini beer

type:IPA Lite
price:$3.50/12oz at Trappist, Oakland, CA

First post in a long time for a new favorite beer (in it's class). Never before have I had a truly hoppy 2.8% abv beer. This is the bud light of IPA. You could drink it all day and never get wasted. The nose has maybe some citra and the hop profile is definitely IPA, but the body is super lite beer style.

The story on the can is also entertaining:
Named after an atom bomb test grounds, designed by a French car engineer - the bikini was to many a disturbing and degrading creation but fortunately for others a symbol of emancipation. This attractively light-bodied, seductively well balanced and very drinkable Bikini Beer is anything but a sissy beer.

Some might argue about the sissyness of such a small beer, but regardless this is definitely the hoppiest of the lite beers I've ever had. And how can you say no to a bikini anyway?

St. Florian's IPA

type: IPA
origin: Windsor, CA
price: ~$7/22
ABV: 7.3%
NSP: 6.8

The beer: very good.  It's an English style IPA that's been somewhat Californicated.  It's a big, delicious burst of caramel malts, a heavy dose of booze, and substantial bitterness, which goes down quite easily.  I think the only thing that could be improved upon is the aroma: it's somewhere between lacking and nonexistent.  Give it a hefty wallop of dry hopping and take it to 11.

The brewery: It's new, and it's small.  There's no tasting room (yet), and they apparently only brew this and a California Common.  I appreciate the idea of starting with a small lineup, where each is delicious, and well crafted.  I don't care if you can make fifty different beers, I only care that you can make high quality beers; if that means you only make two, then so be it!

Legend has it that the Patron St. Florian used the water saved for the next day's brew to "extinguish a catastrophic fire", and is now the protector of firefighters everywhere.  Let us hope St Florian continues to protect this brewery, because they've got some real talent.  I'm looking forward to seeing them grow.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Brendan's SIP: Port Townsend Hop Diggidy IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Port Townsend, Washington
Price: $4.19 per 22 oz
ABV: 5.9%
NSP: 9.2

Port Townsend is another Puget Sound city that I am including in this Seattle IPA plow since I am desperate to add more go-to beers into my repertoire. I picked this one up more as an impulse due to the price and the absurd punnery of 'thar she brews' written on the bottom. As I sit here writing this review, I am more and more confused with why they wrote that on the bottle and what a random hippy lady wearing a crown of hops has to do with the name 'Hop Diggidy'. Fuck it, this is America, so I approve.

As an IPA goes, there is just a little something missing. It has a decent malt/hop ratio (a bit on the malty side, but not absurd), but doesn't include any overpowering citrus or floral hop flavors. It is also quite light, understandable given the 5.9%. As a session beer, this might do, but for a complex interesting beer, look elsewhere.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Brendan's SIP: Big Al Big Hoppa IPA

Type: IPA
Origin: Seattle, WA
Price: $4.99 per 22 oz
ABV: 7.3%
NSP: 9.5

Another pick up on the Seattle IPA plow, another slight disappointment. Contains five types of hops, although this seems like some destructive interference, with just too much malt character blasting through with some brown ale notes popping through. On the plus side, the NSP is pretty good and it doesnt taste like water. Nothing else to say, just move along.