Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lagunitas | Maximus IPA

After what felt like an eternity, we finally got a fresh shipment of pretty much every pale beer from Lagunitas that comes in six packs. And I'll admit, I've been jonesing. The one up for review today:
Lagunitas Maximus IPA, essentially, it's their standard Double IPA. As they put it, "At the height of the heat in the heart of the summer, we felt the only cure was a raging mouthful of fresh Hops and Malt. Caution: May remove enamel from teeth."

Poured into a pint glass, Maximus has a crystal clear deep orange color, and a frothy off-white head. The head recedes pretty fast but leaves nice bits of sticky lacing all around.

The aroma is the first indication that you are drinking a Lagunitas beer. I don't know what they do differently, but all of their hoppy beers have a distinct aroma that is just freakin awesome. Maximus in particular has that trademark Lagunitas tropical fruit/mango aroma, but also has a boozy sweetness, and some spice added. Definitely hints at how beastly this inexpensive beer is.

The taste is no different, with a whopping blast of citrus, floral, and tropical fruit hop flavor. Pineapple, peppery spice, and sweet boozy alcohol warmth come into play nicely. The malt is definitely bumped up quite a bit compared to other hoppy beers from Lagunitas, but it still only plays a supporting role here. Which in my opinion, makes it perfectly balanced for an IPA; noticeable malt character, but only enhances the hop showcase. With a somewhat heavy mouthfeel, Maximus finishes semi-dry with lots of resinous hop bitterness.

This isn't my first time drinking Maximus, but it is the first time in a while, since I've been purchasing Lil' Sumpin Sumpin from Lagunitas as of late. That being said, I forgot just how delicious this beer is. It's strong, amazingly hoppy, viscous, and (as with all Lagunitas beer) very cheap!

Personal 9.5/10
Style: 9/10

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Divide | Rumble IPA

Rumble IPA, an oak aged IPA from one of my all time favorite breweries, Great Divide out of Denver, Colorado. Rumble is a seasonal IPA, that is "gently aged on French and American oak resulting in a wonderful balance of bitterness, caramel sweetness, vanilla, and undertones of pine and citrus."

Poured into a pint glass, Rumble has a deep orange amber color and a frothy finger of beige head. Full on sticky lacing coats the glass.

The aroma is an even blend of slightly bitter citrus and spicy hops mixed with a very biscuity/doughy malt character. The oak adds a hint of vanilla to the mix, but there isn't too much else to notice from the oak.

The taste starts with that hint of vanilla becoming a little more prominent, and it mixes up front with resinous hop bitterness. The doughy malt flavor takes over with some nuttiness and more vanilla thrown in. Rumble regains its bitterness in the finish, but still relatively smooth. Great mouthfeel on this beer, a good summer sipper.

Rumble is an interesting beer. It's an oak aged IPA, but the oak isn't very strong, and the hops aren't too intense either. The end product is more like a complex pale ale with a hint of oak. Definitely worth a try, since just about everything Great Divide brews is good, but not really a home run.

Personal: 8/10
Style: 7.5/10

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Liefmans | Goudenband Oud Bruin

Yes! A couple new sours in at the store makes me a happy camper! One of the new ales is Liefmans Goudenband, a Flanders Oud Bruin, which is a sour brown ale from Belgium. And it comes wrapped in blue paper…. how fancy.

Now I know many people are freaked out by sour ales, first off, they are Belgian, and as such, have traditional labels that are very unappealing. Secondly, who wants a "sour" beer? But I'm slowly coming to the realization that I enjoy my sour beers much like I enjoy my IPA's. You start off with a hint of hops, but soon you want to find the most intense bitter hop bomb you can get your hands on because you're addicted to that punch in the face; similar to people addicted to spice and hot sauces. So, I guess in a way it's a challenge to your taste buds, and once you get accustomed to it, which really only takes a few sips, you realize just how delicious the beer can be. With that in mind, switch out the bitter hops, and try punishing a new part of your tongue with sour ale!

Poured into a tall pilsner glass, Goudenband has an almost opaque dark red brick color that is only noticeable when held into the light. The head is tan and noticeably frothier than I expect with sours. Lots of patchy lacing all around my glass.

The aroma is strong of tart cherries, leather, vanilla, oak, and earthy brown sugar.

The first sip bites strong with carbonation, sort of a prelude to the sourness that flows in. Lactobacillus yeast, tart cherries and grapes dominate for a moment, but are pretty subdued by a very solid malt presence. The oak aging of Goudenband really takes the edge off the sourness, adding a delicious creamy sweetness. Perhaps my favorite part of drinking these sour ales is the mouthwatering effect they have after each sip. Even with a crisp and dry finish, Goudenband makes me salivate uncontrollably. Incredibly refreshing, even as it warms to room temperature.

A great beer to try if you're interested in sour ales, but don't want to feel like you're drinking pure vinegar. Still by all means a sour ale, but balanced well by rich malt flavor.

Personal 8.5/10
For the style (Flanders Oud Bruin): 9/10

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Uinta Brewing | Hop Notch IPA

Uinta Brewing's Hop Notch IPA, a relatively new year-round release from an eclectic brewery based out of Utah.

What sets Uinta apart as a brewery, aside from being located in Utah, is their motto "Earth, wind, and beer." They strive to keep everything as earth friendly as possible, as well as promoting the outdoors. From their bottles which are all adorned with a compass around the neck, to their brewery being 100% solar and wind powered, and even all of their spent grain used in brewing, is donated to local farms as feed for livestock. So yeah, they really like doing things the right way. Plus the label design and branding for the company is phenomenal; created by a great Colorado design firm, Tenfold Collective. The only thing about this brewery... I can't figure out how to pronounce the name. Yoo-ween-tah?  Ween-tah? Yoo-nee-tah?

Poured into a tulip glass, Hop Notch has a really nice looking deep amber color, with about two fingers of cream colored soapy frothy head. It's leaving behind touches of sticky web-like lacing, but not a whole lot.

Hop Notch's aroma is amazing. Big piney bitterness, big citrus, grapefruit, some sweeter fruit like apricot and pineapple, and still a nice amount of grainy malt in there. There's also a slight pepper aroma on the malt.

The flavor is no different, with a nice smack of hop bitterness and citrus flavors stinging the tastebuds. The first hop assault subsides momentarily to allow some caramel and mild peppery malt  flavors to shine. The hop intensity regains its dominance in the finish with resiny bitterness lingering long after each sip.

I'm extremely impressed by Hop Notch, it is a solid IPA with an abundance of bold hop flavor, balanced perfectly by a solid malt backbone, and it maintains a very drinkable creamy mouthfeel. Plus I love that it's right on the boundary of an IPA and a double IPA, which helps it stand out quite a bit against its regular IPA brethren. If you like IPA's, this is a must try.

Personal: 9/10
Style: 9.5/10