Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dogfish Head | 90 Minute IPA

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA:  Poured into a pint glass from a 12 oz bottle.  This is another east coast style IPA which Esquire Magazine called "perhaps the best IPA in America."  This is quite a lofty claim considering the sheer amount of high quality IPA's being produced by countless craft brewers around the country.  We know right off the bat that this one is going to be a heavy-hitter considering the 9% alcohol content and the 90 IBU rating.  Another interesting tidbit on this IPA and all Dogfish IPA's for that matter is the continuous hop addition during the brew process.  Whether it is 60 Minute, 90 Minute or the completely over-the-top 120 Minute, the number in the name refers to the amount of time they are continuously hopped as well as the IBU's of that particular offering.

Ok, on to the beer...this Imperial IPA pours a nice light golden amber color.  There is a good half finger of frothy head which slowly recedes with a ton of lacing left sticking to the sides of the glass.  A continuous stream of bubbles continues to rise from the entire bottom of the glass.

The aromas are of floral and resiny, oily, citrusy hops.  The bitterness of this ale is also quite apparent. There is a slight smell of sweet malts detectible too as well as a slight alcohol smell.  Overall not quite as good of a nose as some Imperial IPA's but it still smells good and hoppy.

The taste is actually quite balanced, considering the extreme hopping this ale undergoes.  The hops are definitely at the forefront, but the malts do actually stand up with the hops and most likely keep this ale from being too hoppy.  The hops are a citrusy raisinated taste that are somewhat sweet yet mostly bitter at the same time.  It just tastes very fresh sweet malts and hops up front with a balanced bitter finish that easily overpowers the buffalo flavored pretzels I am eating and continues to linger.

An overall great example of an Imperial IPA.  I'm not quite sure I would call it the best IPA in America, (as I could easily name a few better examples), but this is definitely a world class brew that can stand up to the majority of IPA's on the American market.  Personal 8/10 and style 8.5/10.

Ok Esquire Magazine, just popped open a Lagunitas Sucks Ale and I think that is definitely better than the 90 Minute.  There's one that's better already.  Guess they never tried that one...

Caldera | IPA

Caldera Brewing's IPA, coming from Ashland, Oregon, is yet another small craft brew offered in a can. Boasting Simcoe, Centennial, and Amarillo hops, at 94 IBU's, this one is sure to please.

Half poured into a pint glass for Pat, and half into a Stella chalice for Eric (fancy man), this beer has a very nice golden amber color with a good amount of fluffy beige colored head and good retention. Lots of lacing around the sides of the glass too, especially on that chalice.

The aroma is rather bittersweet with a decent amount of pale and crystal malt. Lets not leave out the wonderful hop aroma too, lots of citrus hops, both sweet and floral and a ton of bitterness.

The taste is where the hops really come through, starting out somewhat balanced, and then getting more and more bitter towards the finish. At the first sip the bitterness is almost overwhelming, but as we keep drinking, it mellows out some (or destroyed our tastebuds) and is quite smooth. The hop flavor is very citrusy, with tons of grapefruit and a bit of grassy flavor.

This one is a typical west coast style IPA, not a lot of sweet hop flavor that is common on the east coast, just a bold, bitter hop bomb. For how bitter it is, it goes down quite easy and there is little evidence of the 6.1% abv present in the taste. A very enjoyable IPA from a small tap house brewery. Personal 8/10 & Style 8.5/10.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Brooklyn Brewing | Local 1

Brooklyn Brewery's Local 1, the American made "Belgian style strong pale ale" with German malts & hops, raw cane sugar from Mauritius, and a Belgian yeast strain...... yes please!

Poured into a Chimay chalice glass, this ale has a slightly hazy golden straw color, and a big puffy cloud of thick white foam on top. The lacing is very thick, almost like a bubbly spider web coating the whole glass.

The aroma has a very German scent; bananas and spice (clove/coriander) with a yeasty funk to it. Grassy and citrus hops also play a role here, which isn't all that common for the style, but then again this is America, and we love hops. Although the nose is loaded with complex aromas, the variety of fruit is what stands out the most here: banana, orange, lemon, apple, and pineapple.

Very smooth and subtle on the palate. Banana and spice up front with the rest of the fruit bouquet following closely behind. Moderate alcohol sweetness (thanks to that raw cane sugar) is present with a little warmth, but only adds to how delicious this beer is. There is a definite yeast funk in the taste that might be off-putting to those unfamiliar with the style, but it's one of those things that the more you drink it, the more you like it. There is just enough European hop character in here to keep everything perfectly balanced, not too bitter, malty, or sweet.

As light and fluffy as it appears, Local 1 has a decent amount of body to it, and plenty of fizzy champagne-like carbonation. Honestly one of the best examples you will find of a bottle conditioned Belgian pale ale in the US, not to mention on the east coast. If you're taking your beer game to the next level, do not pass this one up, an incredibly exceptional brew. Personal 10/10, Style 9.5/10

Southern Tier | Unearthly Imperial IPA

Southern Tier Unearthly IPA...poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass from a 22 oz. bomber.  What differentiates an Imperial IPA/Double IPA from an IPA?  Let's just say hops, hops, higher alcohol content, and oh yeah...more hops!  Imperials/Doubles are much more aggressively hopped and will always have more alcohol than regular IPA's.  This is usually a good thing for us hop lovers considering that these ales usually push the limits of hop flavors and IBU's.  For anyone who doesn't know, the IBU (International Bitterness Unit) is a scientific scale used to rate the bitterness of a given beer.  A beer rated at say 35 IBU's will not be bitter at all, where as a beer rated at 75 will be quite bitter.  Many Imperial IPA's take it a step further and may top the 100 mark.

Ok, enough about that stuff, let's get to the good stuff!  Unearthly is an unfiltered Imperial IPA which pours a very hazy golden hue.  About an inch of head was left behind which quickly begins to disappear.  After a few minutes there is some retention with a thin layer still remaining.  The lacing on the sides of the glass after a sip or two is quite impressive.  The aroma is of sweet hops and alcohol.  Not too much citrus here as it has more of a resinous pine smell.

Before we continue, another point to touch upon is the difference between West Coast and East Coast IPA's.  There are always going to be some exceptions to the rule, but for the most part West coast versions tend to have more of a bitter taste where as East Coast versions tend to have more of a sweet hop taste and are slightly less bitter.  This offering follows along with that rule.  This ale is sweet hops to start with a slightly bitter finish.  Not too much in the way of bitter citrus, just more of a sweet resinous piney taste and sweet malts as well. If you prefer your IPA's to have this style, this one will not let you down.  Just an all-around almost perfect representation of an East Coast style Imperial IPA!  This one is highly recommended!  Personal: 9.5/10, for the style: 9/10.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

River Horse | Oatmeal Milk Stout

River Horse Oatmeal Milk Stout... you might be saying to yourself right now, "what makes an oatmeal milk stout different from just a stout, or an imperial stout?" Well, (obviously) it's as simple as, this beer contains... you guessed it, OATMEAL. Brewers add oatmeal to the grain bill because it is known for creating a silky smooth mouthfeel and mild hints of sweetness. Next the "milk", which is an addition of unfermentable sugars, namely, lactose. Since the lactose sugars can't be fermented by the yeast, they essentially go straight to the bottle, making your stout nice and sweet. Now, lets drink this thing!

Poured into a pint glass from a 12oz. bottle, this stout is an opaque black color with a foamy tan colored head. Not much head on this beer, just about a cm or so, and tiny bits of lacing. The aroma is of dark roasted malts, with scents of sweet milk chocolate, lactose, oats, and the slightest hint of coffee.

The flavor starts smooth, sweet, and chocolatey. Hops start to kick in and add some bitterness to the flavors, giving it more of a dark chocolate taste. There is a lingering milk sugar sweetness from the lactose in the finish.

Wow, this is one smooth beer. Medium-full bodied with mild carbonation, and a full on silk mouthfeel. When you see those lame commercials about over-priced chocolate or yogurt or whatever and they keep saying "smooth, rich decadence" ooolala. Well.... River Horse Oatmeal Milk Stout is like that. Personal 8.5/10 For the style 9/10.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rogue | Yellow Snow IPA

Rogue Yellow Snow IPA, poured into a pint glass from a 12oz. bottle. This one has a cloudy golden-orange color with a foamy off-white head. There is a fair bit of sediment floating around too. Decent head retention and lots of soapy lacing around the glass. The aroma is of bitter citrus fruit and a good amount of sweet caramel malt. Almost balanced, but leaning towards the hoppier side of things.

The taste is of bitter citrus fruit, grapefruit really dominates with hints of pine resin. The pale malt tries to mix in but the dry bitterness of the Amarillo hops are really overpowering it. The finish is almost flavorless with nothing but bitterness riding over the taste buds. Medium bodied with a decent bite of carbonation.

Rogue Yellow Snow IPA is a real showcase for the Amarillo hop, which might hint at where the beer derived its name. If you're a hop head looking for a kick in the mouth, this is the beer for you! It's loaded with crushing hop bitterness (pretty intense for 70 IBU). Personal: 7.5 / Style: 6.5

Friday, December 16, 2011

Weyerbacher | Hops Infusion IPA

Ahhh Weyerbacher.... a rather local brewery (Easton, PA) known for their bold "Double Simcoe IPA" and their many European style ales. This one however, seems to have slipped under the radar a bit, so lets take a closer look at Weyerbacher's Hops Infusion IPA. 6.2%abv, brewed with 7 hop varieties, and a "strong foundation of toasted caramel malts."

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass, this IPA has a deep amber color with the slightest bit of haze, and a thick fluffy white head. Decent head retention throughout sipping, and little bits of sticky lacing. The aroma is really interesting on this one, with all the hops that are in there you get your standard IPA aroma (pine, grapefruit, other citrus), but there is a strong aroma of sweet sugary candy. It's different than sweet malt, more of a sugar coated hop.

The taste is a barrage of hops from all angles, ranging from juicy and sweet to floral, to bitter and citric. A dry bitterness rides in and out through the middle, mixing with flavors of juicy fruit. Hints of malt come into play, smoothing it out in the finish. There is a certain twang to the flavor in this ale, as opposed to most IPA's, which can only be attributed to the sweetness that is present, or the overabundance of hops. It's definitely not a bad thing! Just a unique characteristic of this beer.

This IPA has a light-medium body with carbonation on the low end, adding to its smoothness. While there is a lot of hop flavor going on (there are still hops resonating in my mouth 10 minutes after finishing the beer), it's not overly bitter, and this one goes down pretty easily.

All in all Hops Infusion is an extremely unique IPA that deserves a try from any hop-head, especially since it's brewed only a couple hours away along the Delaware River. If you're looking for a hop forward beer, well, almost a hop-only beer, pick this one up, and get it while it's still fresh! Personal 6/10, for the style 7/10.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mikkeller | Barrel Aged Chipotle Porter

Mikkeller Barrel Aged Porter, poured into a pint glass from a 12.7oz bottle. This will be our first review of an import; and this one comes to us from Belgium. The story behind Mikkeller is that he is a Danish roaming brewer. He does not own his own facility and he actually uses other brewer's facilities to concoct his creations.

The appearance is of espresso: a very dark brown color with minimal head and lacing left behind. The viscosity is of used motor oil. This is so thick that if you tilt your glass it takes a good few seconds for the beer to make it's way back down the glass.

The aromas are reminiscent of coffee, chocolate, chili peppers, slight alcohol and slight oakiness.Being that this was aged in Speyside Scotch Whiskey barrels, there is definite smoky aroma that compliments the alcohol smell.

Above everything else that is going on in this complex porter, the taste is most dominated by smoky, chocolatey, chili peppery coffee flavor, with a semi-sweet finish that lingers mostly as a dark chocolate. With just a moderate ABV for a barrel aged ale and for as thick as it is this was highly drinkable and would go well with a nice slab of red meat.

If you are looking for a dark beer with more complexity than your standard porter, you should definitely give this one a try. There is just a ton of flavor in this one! Our score for style is a 9 and for personal preference also a 9.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Troegs | Flying Mouflan

Troegs Flying Mouflan, poured into a pint glass from a 22oz bomber. This barleywine style ale is a dark ruby red with a frothy light amber head, the color is reminiscent of transmission fluid, yum!

The aroma is strong BOOZE and candied sugar, as you might expect from a 9.3% beer. Dark fruit and candy up front with little to no hops at all. The sticky sweetness from this beer is so strong it's almost sickening; completely typical of a barleywine. It's not for everybody, but those that love this style will not be disappointed.

The taste, like the nose, is strong sweet booze, dark fruit (raisins, plums, figs, etc.), darker sweet malts, and molasses. This beer is definitely a sipper, I dare anyone to chug this. The mouthfeel is heavy, syrupy, sticky, and lower in carbonation.

Cellaring this beer for a year or so might do wonders for the flavors to fully develop and mellow out, as the sweetness from the high ABV can be a bit much at times. That being said, the beer is still enjoyable if you take it easy and sip, or it will kick you in the ass. We give this one a 5/10, but for the style: 8.5/10. Not for the faint of heart (ie: Coors Light drinkers).

New Holland | The Poet Oatmeal Stout

New Holland The Poet, poured into a pint glass from a 12oz bottle, this stout is pitch black with a frothy, one-finger tan head. Chunky bits of lacing are stuck all around the glass. Excellent head retention.

The aroma is full of toasted oats, semi-sweet chocolate, coffee; all things typical of a well made stout. Chocolate and oats are the most dominant in the aroma, but hints of very slight alcohol and roasted dark malts are also present.

The flavor starts out slightly dry with coffee and chocolate mixing together, followed by a mellow toasted oat and sweeter chocolate finish. This is a great, and highly drinkable representation of an oatmeal stout. Slightly lower ABV and smooth/complex dark malts add to the mystique of "The Poet." This is a beer Edgar Allen Poe would appreciate. If you're looking for a good stout, without venturing into the high alcohol content of Imperial Stouts, do not pass this one up. We give this an 8 out of 10, based on the style, 8/10.

Schlafly | Christmas Ale

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. This Christmas ale pours a deep copper color with a minimal off-white head. Very slight lacing left on the glass after a short time. The nose is overpowered by the spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and coriander and orange peel). The sweet boozy smell of the high alcohol content (8%) is just detectible. Smells like your typical high end spiced holiday ale.

We both agree that this one smells better than it tastes. Once again as with the nose, the spices are at the forefront in the taste. The spices mask most of the hop taste, and the malts are now more detectable and rather sweet. Or is that the cinnamon and nutmeg? It's hard to tell.

This is a smooth drinker with low carbonation and leaves some what of a warming effect from the alcohol. If you are looking for a Christmas ale of this style you will not be let down. This type of seasonal ale is not our cup of tea... oops I meant beer. But if we had to compare it to other beers of this style, we would give it a 7 out of 10. Personally, 4/10. That being said, this would be a great beer to share a 6 pack with friends and family during the holidays. It's just not much of a session beer, and is a little too spicy for our liking.

Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale (Brown Shugga' Substitute)

We were both very excited about this one. This ale is a first brew from one of our favorite breweries. Immediately upon smelling it we knew we were not going to be let down!

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass, this ale has a pale amber color with a minimal foamy white head. Bits of sticky lacing are left on the glass after each sip. The aroma is incredibly hoppy....almost sticky with fresh sweet citrus fruit, floral, pine, and some sweet sugar, this beer has got it all. Wow!

This ale tastes like chewing on a bitter version of Juicy Fruit gum. The sweet citrus hops and the floral hops really come through separately but mesh together perfectly. There is a very slight hint of pale malts, but this one is pretty much completely dominated by hops. Offsetting the fruity up-front taste is a slightly bitter and dry piney finish. This brew really showcases the complexity of hops and how you can get many different flavors out of them. The balance between the hop flavors and bitterness is almost perfect. If you're a hop head looking for that blast of hop flavor, this is the right choice for you... tons of hops, but still insanely drinkable. Hurry up before it's gone! We give this ale a 9 out of 10 for both ratings. Very impressive.

Anderson Valley | Boont Amber Ale

Upon pouring into the pint glass, (out of a can) this ale has a slightly hazy amber (hence the name amber ale) appearance. The color of the beer actually was quite similar to the color of the can. It started off with one finger's worth of off-white head which quickly receded. Very minimal lacing was left behind. The nose is reminiscent of sweet caramel, dried raisins and sugary dough. This is a very malt forward ale with not much hop intensity. The hops are detectable but are over powered by the maltiness.

This is a highly drinkable version of an amber ale. The taste has a very smooth mouth feel with bready/doughy malts. The hops didn't show through when smelling this brew, but they were more noticeable upon consumption. Not overly bitter with hints of floral and herbal notes. This ale wants to be more intense but it just doesn't quite make it over the hump.

Overall, this would make a good entry-level Amber Ale for someone not familiar with the style but is looking to try something new. Personally, 6/10, for the style, 6/10.