Thursday, June 26, 2014

Calicraft The City

type: IPA
origin: San Jose, CA
price: $6.50/22oz
ABV: 6.4%
NSP: 6.4
website

I think this beer has the most obnoxious head ever, if only because it retains so well.  It took me about ten sips to get to actual beer.  But then it smells like a nice English style IPA.

The label says this was "bittered" with blackberry root, and although I can't say I understand what that means, I think I taste some faint blackberry essence, which actually complements the hop aromas nicely.  The bitterness is heavy but not puckering or overwhelming, which is a very good thing.

It's not the most amazing IPA around, and I would like to taste a bit more fruitiness from the hops, but that's just me reminiscing about old times in SD.  Overall, thumbs up.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

off color brewing Apex Predator

type: "third trophic level" farmhouse ale
origin: Chicago, IL
price: $13/4-pack 12oz
ABV: 6.5%
NSP: 7.1
website

Here's a situation where the guy with the aesthetically pleasing packaging wins:  I know next to nothing about this brewery, and yet somehow the excellent bottle design allows my brain to take the leap of faith and purchase a rather expensive pack of beer (although the NSP is decent).

But this doesn't disappoint.  The aromas are subtle, but appetizing; I get some fruity hops, some honey, and "wild" yeastie flavors.  The flavors are not terribly complex, but the beer is well executed.  The acidity is nice, and the body is suitable mild, with just a touch of hops.  Very nice.  In fact, nice enough for me to ignore the fact that apex predators are actually at the fifth trophic level -- DUH.

This would absolutely crush the doldrums from a long, hard day of manual labor.  The bad thing about being a scientist, though, is that the only manual labor I ever have to do is some typing on my super low-profile Apple keyboard -- man my fingers are tired.  Oh well, at least I can pretend I make a difference in this world.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze Golden Blend

Type: lambic
Origin: Beersel, Belgium
Price: $21.99 per 375 mL
ABV: 6%
NSP: 1.02
Website

My last trip down to San Diego, I stopped in Best Damn Beer Store and saw this turding up the shelves, so I picked up two and an Oude Kriek. The Golden Blend is a special edition that is not made anymore; it consists of 1, 2, 3, and 4 year old lambics, aged in oak and carefully blended. Artfully crafted for a spectacularly low NSP (probably a record for something with alcohol in it). This was bottled in 2011, so some of the beer inside is 7+ years old. After tasting some of 3Fs other offerings (Doejsel and Hommage), I decided I should give this mega-whale a cracking.

First impression on this: perfect. It is exactly where you want a good lambic to be. It is nice and dry and incredibly well balanced. The sour is not outrageous but definitely there to kick your nards. The flavors are delicate, but you definitely get some green apple and lemon and a faint bitterness that I can't pin down, but I think offsets some of the more sour qualities. The smells are even more delicate; you really need to snob-quaff this beast to pick out some peach. Very little sour on the smell. All in all, this is a hard beer to find a substitute at any price point, so I will give 3F a pass on the low NSP.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Alesmith Speedway Stout (bourbon barrel aged, 2014)

type: coffee imperial stout
origin: San Diego, CA
price $30/750ml
ABV: 12%
NSP: 3.0
website

El Presidente came to town for Adolph's wedding, which happened to nicely coincide with the release of this gem.  So after a long 30 hours of Tecate/tequila soaked Tijuana madness, we capped off the event (and the act of coming back across "la linea") with one hell of a beer...

Normally, Speedway is a phenomenal accomplishment of smoothness, and richness of coffee and roasted malt flavors, in a style most brewers try to make it as goddamn imperial as possible (for the sake of arrogant imperialism).   But, add some tempered barrel aging, which imparts some bourbon essence to it, and, well, you don't need me to tell you how good this is.  'Good' is a major understatement, and so is 'great'; but, 'world class' is not.

This wasn't my purchase, but it has an almost painfully low NSP.  Considering how good it is, though, everyone should try this at least once.  I would wager this is one of the finest of its breed -- I can't think of anything as good, really.