Thursday, January 30, 2014

Half Moon Bay's Mavericks Princeton by the Sea IPA

type: IPA
origin: Half Moon Bay, CA
price: ?
ABV: 6.1%
NSP: ?

My brother, who used to live in Petaluma (read that as "default yearly trips to Lagunitas and Russian River"), just moved to Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco (now read that as "the end of my default yearly trips to Lagunitas and Russian River").

On my visit over the holidays, he was awesome enough to pick up a nice set of the only local brewery's product, including this IPA.  I find this to be a very nice English-style IPA (think Big Eye), with an appropriately level of hops for being brewed literally on the western edge of the U.S..  The aromas are pleasant, but not outstanding.  The cloudiness of the beer is a little off-putting, but overall it was very enjoyable.

It's definitely not the finest IPA in the land, but I would be very happy if I was a local and this was brewed just up the road (read that as "new default yearly trips to HMBBC").

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Noble Citra Showers

type: double IPA
origin: Anaheim, CA
price: $9/22oz
ABV: 8.8%
NSP: 6.4

The Citra hop has been used extensively by nearly any brewery worth their salt.  It's a hop where the flavors suggested by its name actually show up in the beer.  People like citrusy shit so why not use the hell out of a citrusy hop, right?

This is Cup of Coffee in the Big Time, folks.  Big, bountiful aromas of sweet fruity hops, followed by bountiful sweet, fruity hop flavors laid over a really clean, crisp malt base.  This is a single-hop beer that really works, but more than that I could find myself buying this regularly if the NSP comes up a bit.  Until then, Flying Dog has the best valued Citra-hopped beast.

Noble's done quite well around this blog, and this is further proof that -- as the Macho Man might say -- the CREAM RISES TO THE TOP!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pizza Port Ponto

type: session IPA
origin: San Diego (Carlsbad location), CA
price: $10/6-pack 16oz
ABV: 4.5%
NSP: 12.8

Nice light body with mellow malt backbone, and a solid punch of bitterness and floral, hoppy aromas.  Even though the ABV is low, it still has noticeable booziness to it because the malt backbone is, well, really fuggin' mellow.  It tastes a tad buttery, which I'm sure is not supposed to be there, but those flavors aren't overwhelming and may disappear over time.

Surely this is not the best session IPA around, but it's probably the best value around for the style.  It's simply a no-brainer purchase in a time when newish breweries and ebay hawks find it amusing to inflate prices.

The Patron St. Egman recently asked me for a recommendation for a low alcohol beer to take with him on a trip to Norway (you're allowed to bring beer under something like 4.6%), and all I could think of was Fractional IPA.  Fractional is delicious, but it's more-or-less a seasonal release; now I can whole-heartedly recommend this to him.  Although I doubt it will be found in other cities, Stone threw a party for their release, so it has a good chance of getting out of SD, brah.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Perfect Crime Hollow Point

type: quad
origin: Belgium
price: $5.75/12oz
ABV: 10%
NSP: 6.2
website (Do they even have one?? Probably not.)

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but The Perfect Crime is a brewing outfit comprised of the leaders of Stillwater and Evil Twin, apparently contract brewing around the country, spreading their gypsy brewing tears.  The name likely stuck after the Stone collab, and after tasting this I hope they continue.

How is it as a quad?  Not as massive as Decadence '12, far less clingy and unique than to the Stoic, and not as "refined" as Baby Tree -- somewhere in the middle, lets say.  All the flavors you'd expect are there in large amounts: raisin, molasses, booze, wheat bread, spice, tempered acidity, and more.  It's also super easy to slug back (read that as "dangerous to your social skills in public").

By far I can't rank this as best in class, but it's pretty damn good.  If the NSP ticks up slightly, I'd say pounce on it; and definitely pounce if you see it at your corner beer bar (note my previous comments though).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fremont Bourbon Abominable (BBOMB)

Type: Barrel aged ale
Origin: Seattle, Washington
Price: $15 per 22 oz
ABV: 11%
NSP: 4.8

Searching around all the 'beer-talk' blogs, the only beers from Seattle proper that people really want are this and another Fremont offering, the Kentucky Dark Star. I decided to pick up a few of these to send back home and since they are still selling this around town, I decided to crack it open to see if I should buy some more before its sold out. Long story short, I think I will pick up a few more to age. This thing absolutely reeks and tastes of bourbon, which is good since the base beer is a winter ale and that is normally not my thing. There is quite a strong essence of vanilla as well. Even though the flavors are bold, there is not a lot of alcohol heat on it and everything is very well balanced. With a year or two of aging, the nut-punch of bourbon should be mellowed out a bit and this will be a phenomenal beer.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Big Boss Aces and Ates

Type: coffee stout
Origin: Raleigh, North Carolina
Price: ?
ABV: 8%

The lady got me this in Asheville when she was hiking the AT back in June. I think she just went to a coffee roaster, so she had coffee on the brain and decided to buy me the first thing local with coffee in it. I definitely have no problem with that train of thought. And double plus for getting me a beer from a brewery that I have never seen before.

So onto the beer. First impression: this is well balanced. Everything is in check, no flavors are off-putting, it has just the right amount of flavor and complexity to keep you interested. The coffee is incredibly subtle and reminds me of a mild cold brewed ice coffee. The roastiness is also very mellow. Its definitely bitter, but doesn't leave a bad aftertaste. It reminds me most of having a slice of tiramisu with cup of coffee, except its better cause it gets you drunk. The only downside is I don't have more of it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cervecería Mexicana's Dia De Los Muertos: Death Rides a Pale Horse Blonde

type: blonde ale
origin: Tecate, Mexico
price: $7/6-pack of 330ml
ABV: 5.6%
NSP: 17.8

My first experience with CM's craft beer--their IPA--forced me to give it the hose.  And, because that was my first experience of CM, I went into this tasting with essentially negative expectations: this is going to be dogshit, again I thought.

I'm pleasantly surprised though!  It starts of with some nice, mild "beer" aromas, followed by light, biscuity malt flavors, and finishing with clean, mild-yet-floral hops.  It's refreshing too.

There's not much else to say because, well, it's not that interesting of a beer; but, with nearly the same NSP as most macrobrew, I'd gladly buy this again, especially given the flavor/quality.

A note to CM: can you please shorten up your damn titles?  Nobody cares, and it makes the title extra bloated.  Well, maybe someone does care, but it ain't me.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Accidental Age Series: Great Divide Old Ruffian Barleywine

Type: Barleywine
Origin: Denver, Colorado
ABV: 10.2%

We've all done it. Bought a beer because it looked cool, but never got the motivation to drink. Gets put in the back of the fridge and easier beers whore their way up front in the queue. This one has made the trip between my last three apartments, with a bottled date of October 2010. I actually bought this when I just bought anything and didn't really care for the reputation, so I am pleased to at least see a 94 on BeerAdvocate and 99 on RateBeer. I should also note that this is the first Great Divide beer I have actually drank (I know blasphemy), so lets pop the cherry.

I will start by just saying this does not taste old at all. In fact, it is still quite fucking hoppy. There is also still a little bit of carbonation left, which is impressive for a barleywine. The flavor has a bit of cherry in it, but it is not sickly sweet or very thick. It is somewhat of a chameleon when it comes to hops versus malts; some sips are an ass-blast of hops, others a light roasted malt. Its honestly a very beautiful beer and I am glad that I finally opened it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cervecería Mexicana's Dia De Los Muertos: DOA IPA

type: IPA
origin: Tecate, Mexico
price: $7/6-pack 330ml
ABV: 6.8%
NSP: 19.2

Let's just get this right out of the way: thumbs waay the hell down on this.  In fact, I'll even say this is nearly repulsive.

It does pour beautifully, and the aromas aren't bad--they make me think of malty-sweet IPA--but the flavor is utterly dominated by acrid, overused, non-complementary hops.  It tastes like drinking a sludgy bag of boiled hop pellets, even though the body is nice (it's not sludgy at all).

And so, unfortunately, it's too much to handle in its current incarnation; however, if CM can revise their hop schedules so that it doesn't taste of concentrated grass, they may be on to something.  I'll not be holding my breath though.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fort George North the Seventh

Type: Barrel aged belgo-DIPA
Origin: Astoria, Oregon
Price: $7.59 per 22 oz
ABV: 9%
NSP: 7.7

I was at Chucks and I realized it had been months since I last had anything with Belgian yeast and I had been craving it ever since I saw this Jean-Claude video. I have also been on a barrel aged kick since its getting cold and rainy out. I saw this and can honestly say is the only barrel aged belgo-DIPA I have ever seen. The only other belgo-DIPA I have had was the belgo-Hoptologist, which I loved since it was able to keep the strong hop characteristics of Hoptologist with the strong overtones of belgian yeast. So basically, for this one, I am expecting Belgo-Hoptologist with some bourbon on top.

This beer is quite a conundrum. The bourbon comes and goes at random. The belgian yeast characteristics are the most obvious quality. The hops are apparent, but are blanketed too much by the belgian side. The balance of these three might come into better focus with some aging. The best quality of this is that it is dry and crisp and not sweet. Also, when you dig deep, you can start to pick out the IPA part of the beer and it is definitely west-coast influenced, which is a huge plus. I give Fort George credit for attempting this beer and actually making a fairly enjoyable and complex beer at a good price. I would definitely like to see a bit more of the barrel pop through and some more citrusy hop varietals.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Almanac Extra Pale Ale

type: American pale ale
origin: San Jose, CA
price: $3/12-oz
ABV: 6.0%
NSP: 7.1

I've had quite a few find offerings from Almanac (e.g., Honey Saison) and although their NSPs are generally pretty low, it's mostly because of their commitment to using local agriculture, and I still give major props for that.  So, I was excited to see this at Bine & Vine on a recent beer-craving inspired trip to the shop--I wanted something easy to drink and flavorful.  I noted from the package that it was a "Belgian" pale ale (and "brewed with this, and that", yada yada) and was completely sold.

Get it home...  Crack it open...  No Belgian flavors.  WHA DA FUG??  Apparently the package labeling is wrong because the bottle reads "aromatic" rather than "Belgian". (And the website reads "American", so who the fug knows.)
Get your labeling straight, Almanac.  I feel cheated!
Oh well.  Let's see what this beer has to offer.  Firstly, it's 6% so it'll hit you harder than a Bud Heavy, for example.  It's mostly a malty, but not too dry, pale ale with a substantial level of bitterness.  Pretty good beer actually, but all the oak/mandarin notes the labeling also describes are essentially relegated to the very end of the line (but noticeable if you try, or at least convince yourself).  And the NSP is surprisingly high for Almanac, so I'd say give it a chance; and, if they do end up making a "Belgian" version, I'll really be sold.