Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Great Lakes Alchemy Hour Double IPA

Here's a new brew from Great Lakes Brewing Company. This one is a seasonal that is taking the place of DoppleRock (a dopple bock beer that was good but didn't sell very well). This beer follows in the current up trend in IPAs, which we are all big fans of here. This particular seasonal is a big, rich malty double IPA. As Great Lakes says "Our Alchemy Hour Double India Pale Ale pays tribute to the North Coast's unlikely surf bums and the ancient quest for liquid gold, wherever it may live: in the ocean, in the lake, in a bottle.". This sounds like a good switch to me, Dopple Bock for Double IPA!

What exactly is the Alchemy Hour? On the West Coast, surfers have a term for that perfect time of day, when the waves are breaking just right and they feel like they can ride forever. They call it Alchemy Hour. I bet a few of these and you will be riding the couch for hours. This brew clocks in at 9.4% which is pretty normal for the style. Upon cracking this beer, I am immediately hit by a nice blend of west coast style hops. Good citrus, grapefruit, kiwi and pineapple aromas with just a hint of herbs. The beer is very amber in color which suggests a pretty rich malt blend. On the palate, this beer has a nice hoppy balance with the malt blend that they used. It comes off with a blend on bitter hops on the front of the palate with a sweetness that washes away the bitter notes. Personally, I'm a huge fan of that lingering bitter hop flavor so I was a little disappointed by the semi-sweet finish. Overall a great double IPA that is a solid buy for Hop Heads! Enjoy this one while its here.

Personal Rating: 8/10
Style Rating: 9.5/10

Wanna try it now? Order it online at:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Victory Swing Session Saison

A new Spring seasonal from Victory Brewing Company. This is a "Session" Saison which means it is lower in alcohol then most beers so you can drink alot of it in one "session". This sounds like a very promising beer.
Saisons are light citrus driven beers that are very refreshing and perfect for warm weather drinking. Hopped with German and American Hops and then spiced with peppercorns, orange peel and fresh lemon zest, this beer has potential to beer a great Summer sipper. Full disclosure, Victory's Summer Love is one of my favorite Summer beers as it is easy drinking but hoppy enough to satisfy so I have high hopes for this brew.
When I first cracked this beer, I was expecting to be hit with the classic citrus aromas of a typical Saison or at least a little citrus hop aroma. Neither are present even when poured into a nice Sam Adams glass (engineered to bring out more of the subtle aromas found in beer). The aromatics are more woody, with light pepper spice and a slight almond smell. The first sip is interesting. It is not light and crisp, which would be great for a Spring beer. It is also not hoppy enough to satisfy a hop head as a lighter pale ale. I find this beer neither refreshing nor enjoyable. I have to say that I like a lot of Victory's beers, but this one falls way short of my expectations and severely disappoints. I really thought this would be another home run from one of our local breweries. Great idea but poor execution.

Personal Rating: 2/10
Style Rating: 4/10

Wanna try it now? Order it online at:

Friday, March 8, 2013

Blue Mountain Barrel House Local Species

Here's a really cool edition to our craft beer shelves. This brewery is very new on the craft scene. It started in 2011 out of Nelson County, Virginia by the Smack family (great name right?) as a sister brewery to the original Blue Mountain Brewery. Blue Mountain introduced the concept of the rural craft brewery and set the standard for great beer in Virginia. As the new production arm of the Blue Mountain family, the Barrel House focuses on the higher-end beers from Blue Mountain that require special processes, special ingredients, and a whole lot of patience (most being barrel aged).
The first beer we will be tasting from this brewery is the Local Species. This brew is a blend of "deep-drawn well water, special barley malts, American hops and Belgian yeast". This says Belgian Pale Ale to me, but then it's aged in heavily charred white oak barrels for a unique twist. It clocks in at 6.6% but with only 24 IBUs. When first cracked open, this beer has some mild hop aromas but mostly it has a classic Belgian spice nose. The Belgian spice is then backed up by some rich oak flavor and a slight coconut/vanilla aroma. On the first sip it floods your mouth with a subtle but seductive flavor of spicy Belgian pale ales with a balanced oak smoothness. This is a great example when breweries should spend the time to put their beers in barrel. It costs more, but the result is well worth it. This first beer from Blue Mountain's Barrel House is well worth the price. I hope the rest of their beers are as delicious as this one. I look forward to see what else they have in their line up! Enjoy!

Personal Rating: 9.5/10
Style Rating: 9/10

Wanna try it now? Order it online at:

Founders All Day IPA

Hmmm. A super hoppy but light IPA? I'm skeptical, but if anyone could do it right Founders has a good chance at it. This hopped up IPA is clocking in at only 4.7% and is described by the brewery as: "The beer you’ve been waiting for. Keeps your taste satisfied while keeping your senses sharp. An all-day IPA naturally brewed with a complex array of malts, grains and hops. Balanced for optimal aromatics and a clean finish. The perfect reward for an honest day’s work and the ultimate companion to celebrate life’s simple pleasures." I was interested enough to crack a bottle at the end of a long day.
The aromas coming out of the glass are amazing! Really spot on for a killer IPA. Nice grapefruit, citrus notes with a rich herbal hop aroma. This reminders me alot of a Lagunitas or Stone beer (both known for their amazing work with hops). As much as I am blown away by the aromas the first sip is decent, but very light. From the nose, I was expecting a bitter hop kick after the first sip but it never hit. The flavor is light with a hint of hoppiness (42 IBUs). Overall, it's a nice beer to drink out of a nice glass because you definitely want to get all the aromatics of this beer. I would drink this all summer long, especially when mowing the lawn (gotta stay sharp for that). The biggest drawback is Founders put the price of this beer up with the rest of its everyday line ($10.49). I think this is pretty pricey considering this is a beer you would want to buy by the case for drinking all day long. I would say if your in the mood for an aromatic IPA and have things to do the rest of the day, it is a great choice. I would even say it beats Stone's classic levitation IPA if put to the test. Perhaps that will be a nice choice for a hot middle of summer post. Cheers!

Personal Rating: 6.5/10
Style Rating: 5/10

Wanna try it now? Order it online at: