Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Freigeist Geisterzug

type: Gose
origin:  Cologne, Germany
price: $6/500ml
ABV: 5%
NSP: 4.2

The last gose I reviewed -- Golden Gate Gose -- made me a little bit obsessed with the style.  Yet I was still slightly hesitant to buy this, because I can still imagine what a 'bad' gose might taste like and I'd very much like to avoid that experience.

This is wonderful though.  The faint spruce essence nicely complements the lightly soured wheat.  It's definitely salty, but well balanced.  My mouth puckered a bit initially, but so does cramming a dozen sour gummy worms in your mouth.

In summary: very refreshing, and very crushable, brah

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Latitude 33 Camel Corps IPA

type: IPA
origin: San Diego, CA
ABV: 6.8%
price: $5.09/22oz
NSP: 8.7
website (Cool name, bro.  No, actually, there's a pretty cool story about the name.)

First impressions are important.  The first thing you notice is the over carbonation along with a mild buttery smell -- a combination which is definitely off putting.  Meh.

The flavor is somewhere in between a good english IPA, with fruity hops, and a boring East Coast malt bomb, with stale hops.  Oddly, the flavors seem to be going back and forth: at one sip I'm enjoying it, and at the next the aromas are weighing me down.  Meh.

 After a while, though, my qualms have faded into a mild case of beer apathy, which means I'd pick this up over most unknown IPAs, but probably never over an established SD IPA.  So, again, meh, which brings the grand total to three.

This has potential, but it's also flawed, and it seems to me that new SD brewers can't afford to make meh.  Let's hope they get this straightened out.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sante Adairius Bright Sea Blonde

type: BA sour Belgian blonde
origin: Capitola, CA (near Santa Cruz)
price: $15/750ml
ABV: 6.2%
NSP: 3.1

At a recent visit (my first), I flipped out over Cap'n Ron, their sour imperial stout.  Ron was the reason I bought everything I could, but it turns out the quota is a single bottle, if they even have a style for sale.  But, with beer this good, I'm just happy to have had the chance.

Bright Sea is a lightly soured, barrel aged, Belgian blonde ale.  Plain and simple: it's tart, juicy, pleasantly aromatic, easy on the tongue, and gorgeous to look at.  Nay a flaw to be found either.

The key to this being so goddamn drinkable is, I think, the gentle sourness and the mild carbonation.  The combination adds some nice, light acidity, which masks any heaviness you might mind in the common unfiltered Belgian blonde.  It's just flipping fantastic.

From what I've been able to taste, I'd say that Sante is absolutely crushing their competition.  Well... except that the NSP is about as dogshit as they come (OK, well not this bad).  But I don't really care because they're like a chia pet: just water, and watch them grow!  My only issue is that I live too damn far from this magic gem of a brewery.

And the other side because these labels kick ass.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Founders Centennial IPA

type: IPA
origin: Grand Rapids, MI
price: ~$10/6-pack (est.)
ABV: 7.2%
NSP: 14.9

No, this is not brewed once per century.  It's brewed with Centennial hops, ya dingus!

The IPA field is tough one these days.  Everyone and their brother has the IPA to end all IPAs, right?  What I think is clear, though, is when a brewery is good at making beer across the board; Founders is definitely one of those.

Their Double Trouble is a ridiculously good DIPA, and for the money and style, this is definitely comparable in quality.  Not too bitter, and the hopping gives a very straightforward set of flavors.  Is it a single-hop beer?  I cant tell, but the nose is mildly sweet, and it's going down like water in this 90 degree heat (I'm in the shade obviously).

This one's simple: if you can find it, pug it.

But I cant, so until then I'll just give props to my East Coast hookup.  CK, thanks for another fine Northeast recon beer!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Seattle Beer Week: Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen Night

Seattle beer week is quite the event. 10 days, countless events, and absolute ridiculous tap lists all around town. Out of all the events, one stood out in particular: Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen at Urban Family Public House. UFPH is a brewery in their own right, but they also are a distributor that is one of the few to bring Cantillon over from Belgium. They basically decided to blow their entire Belgian mega-torque on one night. Look at this Insta-Whale list: From Cantillon - Iris, Fou'Foune and Mamouche; From Drie Fonteinen - Hommage and Golden Doesjel. The Cantillons were all on tap for the event, the 3Fs were bottles. All were $9 for 6 oz glasses (which when considering the retail prices of some of these, is not a terrible deal). With the wife and a buddy we met in line during the hour wait to get in, we were able to get multiples of everything we wanted and tried all 5.

So what did we think of them? The winner of the night was Mamouche. This is the most unique thing I've had in quite some time. Its a lambic made with Elder Flowers. The flowers give off an incredible dry and spicy note that is ball-tingling good. You get a little berry coming through, but its the floral notes that shine on this. Its a sour where the sour part is not the prime player, which is a nice change from fruity sours. Don't get me wrong, this is still mouth puckering sour, but those Elder flowers, hot damn.

Second for me was Fou'Foune, for the others Hommage. Fou was a really nice, well balanced apricot sour. More sour than The Bruery's SitR (and Logsdon's Peche n Brett), less than Cascade's Apricot. More balanced than all three and drier as well (everything was actually quite dry and not cloying at all). A few people in the place said it was not as fruity as the times they had it in bottles. Still, fantastic. For me, Hommage had a formaldehyde smell to it that I couldn't get over. It contains a mix of cherries and raspberries, and the flavors are quite decadent (the formaldehyde is not on the taste, just the nose). The mouthfeel reminded me kind of like a melted raspberry sorbet.

The bottom two were both new 'lambics', so they were less sour. The Golden Doesjel was much better than Iris. The difference is Iris is dry hopped whereas Doesjel is not. The Iris just tasted flat and not very sour. Kind of like a pale ale bretted up with no carb. I could go around town and probably pick up 20 sours better than it for less than $15, so kinda disappointing. The Doesjel is a perfectly crafted lambic. The only downside was it was done against Fou, Mamouche, and Hommage, and would have probably ranked higher with some type of adjunct like the others. Still, if in a bar, I would not hesitate to order it.

From left, Hommage, Iris and Fou. Got too lazy for subsequent pics.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Barrelhouse IPA

type: IPA (duh)
origin: Paso Robles, CA
price: $6.50/22oz
ABV: 7%
NSP: 7

Guess what?  The New Kids on the Paso Block (it's a short block) are giving their first show.  What I want to know before we start is if this beer is the Mark, or Donnie, of the Wahlbergs?  At the moment Firestone is certainly running El Paso Roble, but I'm not above changing my mind, so let's see where this takes us...

Firstly, I have to give credit to their bottle design: in a sea awash with egomaniacal, hop-stroking, self-gratification (lookin' at you, Stone), BBC* has made a classy and inviting presentation.  And, here's an interesting feature seen on their website: this is, apparently, "well made" craft beer.  So, I guess this means they wish to distinguish themselves from "poorly made" craft beer.  Funny how things have changed.  "Macro beer" used to be the dirty word.  Now, the majority of "craft beer" is, I guess.

But what about the beer?  Very nice, mild hop aromas.  Malty, but adequately balanced (and then some) by the hops.  Interestingly,  if you take big gulps the beer is nicely refreshing, and indicates the proper hop to malt ratio; if you take small sips, however, there's some ash on the finish.  Is this because of a certain hop?  Dunno, but either way I think Barrelhouse is poised to compete in a town absolutely dominated by amazing wine, and Firestone.  Welcome to the game, BBC.

* Never thought I write that acronym down in the public domain.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Evil Twin Falco

type: IPA
origin: Stratford, CT
price: $3.25/12oz
ABV: 7%
NSP: 7.6

First things first:

  1. How can I drink this not listening to Falco?   
  2. Is there an intended connection between the famous German pop artist and this masterful IPA from a famous Danish gypsy brewer (brewed at Two Roads in Stratford, CT.)?   
  3. Who knows, and who cares, right?
  4. I'll wait while you get the following Falco video playing...

Got it?  Good.  Some appropriate background music.

I almost screwed the pooch on this beer.  Why?  Well, when I saw this at Bottlecraft, I didn't notice the bottling date was in November of last year.  So we're looking at a nearly six month old IPA.  Normally such a blunder spells major trouble, but it looks like I dodged a bullet though because this has the most appetizing aroma of any IPA I can think of in recent history.

Alex quite enjoyed Bikini Beer, a very sessionable IPA, which is part of the reason I immediately grabbed this off the shelf.  After that wonderful aroma, I taste a citrusy and slightly smoky hop presence, layered over a spicy, rye (?) malt base.  This taste like the bastard child of Nelson and Heady Topper, just backed off a bit in body.  Hell, even the appearance is reminiscent of both of those beers.

Really tasty, friends.  I think I may be obsessed.  Evil Twin, I'm calling on you: Can we please get some fresh Falco 'round here??