Thursday, December 31, 2009

184. Rogue Yellow Snow IPA

Our sixth beer from Rogue Brewing in Newport, OR. We’ve run through Chipotle Ale, First Growth Wet Hop Ale, Juniper Pale Ale, Maierfest and Capt’n Sig’s Northwestern Ale. Elli found a mini-keg of this last year, and jumped on it lickety-split. And who wouldn’t? The mini-keg is a completely under-utilized option in American brewing. If it wasn’t for Bell’s and Rogue, we’d have nothing, so we salute both breweries for their dedication to the mini-keg.

Buddy wanted to get in on the picture—he liked the dog theme...

Yellow Snow IPA is, at least in the mini-keg version, a hazy yellowish brown. We drove the mini-keg up to North Carolina for the New Year’s, so the overly-abundant white head may have been a product of “agitation.” You can’t blame me that I-40 was closed and we had to roll through Smoky Mountain National Forest to get to Franklin, NC. Needless to say, 24+ hours of rest prior to popping this open was not enough to calm down the carbonation—it was spouting out the release valve at the top like nobody’s business (check that photo). Coupled with the fact that this mini-keg is at least a year old (yes, we’ve been waiting for the right occasion to drink this bad boy—just remember, I know that you are jealous that we have a Rogue mini-keg and you don’t), we’ve got some over-carbonation issues. Let’s just say that that the beer was ready to get put down. But anyway—the lacy white head and the hazy color set up the hoppy nose that has spicy and piney aromas with light malt elements. Yellow Snow has a slight grainy taste on the front end, with some malt sweetness, but it moves quickly into hop bitterness coupled with some Douglass fir on a sunny winter day—that means there are pine flavors—and finishes with a light amount of grapefruit, the slightest amount of malt sweetness, and a big fat chunk of lingering bitterness. Yellow Snow has a soft, creamy mouthfeel and a medium body with a decent amount of carbonation bite to round out the profile. There is also a fair amount of puckering via the bitterness—the bitterness appears in the tongue and the back of the throat. Overall, an excellent beer, even after a year plus sitting in our basement. We’ve had this on tap as of late—while fresher tasting, specifically in regards to the hop profile, it is still in the same basic parameters—bitter and enjoyable. As Elli says, don’t eat the yellow snow—drink it.

From the Rogue website: “Pale golden in color with a hoppy fruity aroma. Big hop flavor up front complemented by medium body and hoppyness mid-pallet. Finishes with a characteristic lingering bitterness. Yellow Snow IPA was originally introduced for the 2000 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Yellow Snow is Rogue’s tribute to winter sports everywhere—downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross country, ice hockey, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and even curling.”

IBU: 70
OG: 15° P
Malts: 2-row, Cara Foam & Melanoidin
Hops: Amarillo


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

183. Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA

Our second beer from Starr Hill Brewing; our last one was Jomo Lager. Northern Lights IPA begins with a skunky hop nose (Elli said she wanted to trademark that term), mostly, it would seem, from the large volume of hops in the beer. It has a soft copper color with a light haze, a light white head, and it leaves some lacing on the glass. Northern Lights IPA has a dry biscuit malt front that moves into a big bitterness and finishes with a clean, lingering bitterness, and has a decent carbonation bite. It is slightly astringent in the mouth; the bitterness in the beer curls the tongue and the back of the throat. Overall, it is a bit heavy handed with the bitterness; the focus on bitterness limits the balance and diminishes the malt presence, which is not evident across the flavor profile. While the beer is very drinkable, it is very one dimensional, with the bitterness cutting out other elements of the beer.

From the Starr Hill website: “Northern Lights is an extra-special India Pale Ale that is now available year-round. Characterized by its full-flavored bitterness and floral aroma, a perfect blend of barley and hops make this a very balanced IPA. For the craftbrew connoisseur, Northern Lights is a deliciously crafted piece of the heavens.”

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 52
Malts: 2-row, Caramel, Munich, & Wheat
Hops: Cascade


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

182. Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale

Our second beer from Half Acre Beer Company; our last one was Baumé, their hoppy rye stout. Daisy Cutter has a pleasant hop and malt nose; the hop aroma is floral and slightly spicy, and the malt is pretty straight forward malt—there is not any real bready or biscuit aromas, and no real fruit either. The beer pours a hazy copper, although it could potentially be much clearer—I didn’t realize this was bottle conditioned, so I just dumped it all in; the head is an off-white ivory with decent retention. Daisy Cutter starts with a soft sweet malt front, along with some light biscuit flavors. As Elli offers, “it’s not as good as I would have hoped; it’s like a biscuit with too much sugar on it.” The sweetness does dominate the front, but I am not so sure it is egregious as Elli implies. The middle is characterized by mild bitterness and some spicy hop flavor, and Daisy Cutter finishes dry and biscuity—there is more biscuit in the end than in the front—with some lingering spiciness. Medium bodied with medium carbonation; the carbonation bite merges nicely with the bitterness to create a delightful tang in the mouth. Solid and very drinkable across the board. Elli is more disgruntled than I am about this beer; she thinks it is a bit too mild all around, although most of her comments did center on “why this is not an IPA.” When I reminded her it wasn’t an IPA, she sneered and said that this confirmed that we should be drinking more IPAs. She did concede that she would be happy to have this served to her on tap. Me, I like this as it is—the hoppiness is pretty big, but not for an American Pale Ale, although it does taste more West Coast than Chicago. The front is a bit soft, and it could use a bit more complex malt flavor to build the body, but overall, it was very enjoyable, and the spiciness of the hops gave it a nice touch.

From the Half Acre website: “A West Coast Pale Ale chock-full of dank, aromatic hops. This one's a screamer, horde it.”

I guess I get bonus points for calling that one...

ABV: 5.2%


Monday, December 28, 2009

181. Stoudts Winter Ale

We’re hitting Stoudts up again pretty quick, I know, this being our sixth Stoudts beer and all, although I did miss number five. We’ve tried Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout, Oktoberfest, American Pale Ale, Scarlet Lady ESB, and Heifer-in-Wheat. And now it’s time for Winter Ale. I was also recovering from some sort of viral infection, most likely an unintentional Christmas gift from my nieces and nephew, who have a history of spreading plagues during the holidays. But anyway, as I tried to contribute some sort of input on this beer, Elli looked at me and said “you’re sick, you don’t know what you’re tasting.” Ah, true love.

Winter Ale is a clear dark amber with a thin ivory head. The nose is a combination of malt and slightly musty dark fruits, and the front starts rich and sweet with dry chocolate in the middle, finishing chalky and dry with hop bitterness. There is also some slight lager-esque graininess at the end, and some bready flavors to accompany the dry chocolate in the middle. Winter Ale has a creamy mouthfeel with a medium body and medium carbonation; the dryness and bitterness at the end are nice, although the dryness is a bit too alkaline. A good beer, especially as it doesn’t go on the usual spice tear that many winter beers do, but nothing particularly stands out—some of the darker fruits in the nose could have helped flesh out the body.

From the Stoudts website: “Although we change recipes every year, this winter warmer will always be a full bodied ale. ” [I saw this described elsewhere as a hoppy red ale, hence my label choice below.]


Sunday, December 27, 2009

180. Bluegrass American Pale Ale

Bluegrass Brewing Company is in Louisville, KY. This beer marks the end of our solo beer drinking holiday tours, as I am back in Dayton and ready for more Midwest hijinx. Described on the bottle as a “hoppy full-bodied American Pale Ale,” Bluegrass’s Pale Ale is a cloudy copper with a rocky, large head. There is not much overall aroma: slightly sweet and slightly bready malt aromas combine with spicy and piney hops. It starts fairly sweet, with a prominent crystal malt character, and then moves into a more well-rounded, definitely American malt profile, and finishes on the sweet side, but cleanly. Hop bitterness and flavor appears in the middle, with grassy, piney, and floral/citrus notes. The grassiness lingers through the ending, which is appropriately bitter. Medium bodied mouthfeel that is slightly creamy, smooth, and well carbonated. A decent beer overall—a bit more sweetness than we’d like, but not overdone. Technically ok, but not compelling; they could up the hop presence all around to better balance out the malt profile.

From the BBC website: “An American standard, BBC APA is a full bodied and heavily hopped American Ale. It is copper in color and brewed with a blend of pale and crystal malts, balancing the citrus and pine flavors from large doses of American and English hops to create a very drinkable, hoppy ale. BBC APA is a hophead’s dream!”

Bad pour! Bad pour!
ABV: 5.79%
IBU: 55.2


Saturday, December 26, 2009

179b. Victory Baltic Thunder

Our third beer from Victory, and our first non-HopDevil varietal—besides HopDevil we’ve had WildDevil. You’re also probably wondering why I came to the West Coast to drink an East Coast beer (yes, I’m still in Seattle). Easy—because I’ve never seen this beer before, and I’m one not to pass up an opportunity. Plus Victory is the bomb. And yes, I know I’m marking myself as ten years behind by using that phrase. Wack as hell, too. I’ll live. I’ve got the beer.

Baltic Thunder is a Baltic Porter; the nose is caramel, roasted malt with a touch of burnt, and a generous helping of dark fruits to round things out. In the glass, it is is deep brown with rich red highlights. With warmth, the caramel, toffee, and fruitiness of the nose increases, and a secondary toasty warm aroma also emerges. Baltic Thunder starts sweet and bready with rich dark fruit flavors—primarily cherry, plum, and raisin—before moving into a roasted rich malt flavor in the middle. The finish brings with it a return of the dark fruits, ending clean & crisp. With a medium to light body, Baltic Thunder also has a medium to low level of carbonation; while rich, there is also some light creaminess to the mouthfeel. A delicious, well-balanced, and smooth drinking beer. The complexity of flavor for a lighter bodied beer is a big plus—it compares very nicely with Alaskan Baltic Porter, for example, although a bit brighter on the palate. Definitely a delicious beer, making me correct in my assumptions that I should grab a bottle now so I didn’t regret it later.

From the Victory website: “Truly a world beer, Baltic Thunder represents the Baltic Porter style admirably. Exhibiting the enticing, toffee roast of the British porters that originated the style in the 18th century, and the soothing, subtle fruit nuance of contemporary brews that flourish from Helsinki to Vilnius today, this dark lager honors the Baltic god of thunder. Created by an inspired collaboration of brewers and tempered with a touch of turmoil, Baltic Thunder rolls on to bring you enchanting light as the darkness fades.”

ABV: 8.5%
Malt: imported German 2-row and roasted malts
Hops: European whole flower


179a. Brooklyn East India Pale Ale

Brooklyn’s in the house, what’cha gonna do? We’re finally back to Brooklyn—our last selection from Brooklyn Brewing was Pennant Ale ’55, a delightful and delicious beer in its own right. I need to head back to check out the Brooklyn Brewery again, now that I’ve got my intel correct...

East India Pale Ale sits a crystal clear copper color in the glass, sporting a thin white head. With a bready malty nose that also has some biscuit, and piney and floral hop aromas, the beer smells fresh, bright, and very British. Beginning with biscuit malt and sweetness at the start, East India Pale Ale moves to fruitiness in the middle, which could be from either hops or esters (or maybe a combination of both). The finish is piney and resiny accompanied by some dry malt and a slightly astringent hop bitterness. There is only slight to moderate bitterness at the end, with a very clean finish and an understated malt profile. Lively and fresh on the palate; there are some slight slick sensations, and a good bite from the carbonation. A good, drinkable beer

From the Brooklyn website: “Available all year round. Brooklyn East India Pale Ale is inspired by the original East India Pale Ales brewed in England in the early 1800s for the troops in India. Everyday English ales were spoiling during shipment from London, around Africas Cape of Good Hope, to Calcutta. Using extra malt and hops, British brewer George Hodgson developed an ale with the bitterness and strength to endure the long sea voyage, giving rise to a great beer style. Our East India Pale Ale is a deep golden beer brewed from British malt and a blend of hops featuring the choice East kent Golding variety. It is traditionally dry-hopped for a bright aroma of hops, lemongrass, pine, and citrus fruit, and has a robust bitterness, a warming malt palate and a clean hoppy finish. We think Hodgson would be rather pleased.”

Garret Oliver is the man
ABV: 6.9%
OG: 17 P
Malts: British Pale Ale
Hops: Kent Golding, Willamette, Northdown, Centennial, & Amarillo


Friday, December 25, 2009

178b. Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale

Well, it is the holidays, and I am in Seattle, so can you blame me for indulging my Deschutes fix? Mirror Pond marks our (well, at least my) fifth Deschutes beer: the last four are Black Butte Porter (from a couple of days ago), Hop Trip, Inversion, and Red Chair IPA. I’m only sad that there are so few more Deschutes beers to try, although I did score bottles of The Abyss and Black Butte Porter XXI to take home with me, but I couldn’t find Mirror Mirror. And The Dissident? Pure dreaminess. Plus, Mirror Pond is about as close to a Christmas beer as I need to get today.

Mirror Pond has a citrus and floral hop nose backed by some bready malt aromas. It pours an ambient hazy copper with a fine white head that leaves some lacing, but is pretty minimal. Opening with a dry malt front combining biscuit and bready flavors, Mirror Pond moves into a lightly bitter middle with pine and floral hop flavors before finishing dry with some lingering bitterness. Medium bodied with a good carbonation bite, Mirror Pond also has some dryness on the mouth with low levels of puckering on the back of the tongue from bitterness. Clean, citrusy, and bitter; well balanced in favor of hops, but still with a lowered presence—this is what a pale ale should be, and is the beer that began my long standing affair with Deschutes during my undergraduate days. It’s a benchmark for what an American Pale Ale should be; I can only add that it is our newest Top 10 Best contender.

From the bottle: “Just a short walk from the Deschutes Brewery & Public House, Bend’s historic Mirror Pond reflects the Three Sisters Mountains—Faith, Hope, and Charity. This scenic spot is the favorite gathering place for local festivals and concerts. A classic American Pale Ale, Mirror Pond Pale Ale uses generous quantities of Cascade hops, offering a lush floral aroma with a balanced malt body. Settled on the banks of the wild and scenic Deschutes River, Deschutes Brewery’s handcrafted ales are naturally made with pristine water from the Cascade Mountains. A fine layer of yeast in each bottle is a result of the krausening process, creating natural carbonation and distinct flavor.”

From the Deschutes website: “Mirror Pond Pale Ale is a quintessential American pale ale. Mirror Pond elegantly blends the sweetness of malted barley with the bite of hops (which add bitterness and aroma). It’s refreshing, loaded with strong hop flavors, and perfectly balanced. Mirror Pond is just a short walk from the Deschutes Brewery & Public House in downtown Bend and reflects the Three Sisters Mountains. This scenic spot alongside the Deschutes River is the locals’ choice for summer festivals and concerts.”

ABV: 5.0%
IBU: 40
170 calories per 12 oz. serving


178a. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

Just like I’ve been riding Deschutes, Elli’s been riding Sierra Nevada. And let’s be honest—there are far worse things to be riding than Sierra Nevada. The one problem, however, is that Elli took very spotty notes on this beer. In fact, spotty would be kind, as the overall commentary amounted to a couple of comments on the flavor and hoppiness, and that’s about it. I guess this harkens back to some of our previous conversations, where Elli reminded me that “we have to drink a beer for the day, but we don’t have to talk about it.” So since I wasn’t there to harp on her for either talking or not talking, writing down notes or not, she did as she pleased. And, let’s be honest: it was Christmas. I had my family to distract me (which of course means you are all lucky I didn’t write a monograph on Deschutes), while Elli was on the solo tip (although our friends Scott and Heidi had Elli over, so she wasn’t completely abandoned). So I understand. Here’s what we’ve got: Celebration Ale has a darker malt than is usual for Sierra Nevada beers, both in aroma and flavor. There is a slight hop aroma, spicy hop flavor in the middle, and strong bitterness at the finish. Amen to that...

From the Sierra Nevada website: “The long, cold nights of winter are a little brighter with Celebration® Ale. Wonderfully robust and rich, Celebration® Ale is dry-hopped for a lively, intense aroma. Brewed especially for the holidays, it is perfect for a festive gathering or for a quiet evening at home.”

ABV: 6.8%
IBU: 65
OG: 16° P
FG: 4° P
Malts: 2-row Pale & English Caramel
Bittering Hops: Chinook
Finishing Hops: Cascade & Centennial
Dry Hops: Cascade & Centennial


Thursday, December 24, 2009

177b. North Coast Old No. 38 Stout

Old No. 38 Stout clocks in as our fourth beer from North Coast Brewing Company, although it was really only me drinking it. The last three from North Coast have been Red Seal Ale, Cru d’Or Organic Belgian Style Ale and Old Rasputin XII.

Old No. 38 is a clear deep brown with red highlights; the light head dissipates quickly, and is a tannish/brown color. The nose is pretty clean and neutral; there are low levels of burnt malt discernable, but not a lot else. The beer begins with chocolate and burnt malt flavors before moving onto some light cola sweetness and a richer chocolate falvor accompanied by some coffee hints in the middle. The finish is lightly chalky and alkaline to start, but then the burnt malt returns, closing with lingering roastiness and bitterness. The mouthfeel is very dry; there is some creaminess in the second half, and medium to low carbonation with a minimal bite. Old No. 38 is light to medium bodied, as well as smooth and rounded across the palate—it is well balanced and very drinkable, light enough to take down all night long.

From the North Coast website: “Named for a retired California Western Railroad steam engine on the Fort Bragg to Willits run through the Redwoods, Old No. 38 Stout is a smooth, firm-bodied stout with the toasted character and coffee notes of dark malts and roasted barley.”

ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 53


177a. Lion Stout

Our first beer from Ceylon Brewing, as well as our first beer from Sri Lanka. Take that, European supremacy. What did colonialism get you? Just the rest of the world taking revenge by stealing your beer brewing skills and making them their own. Consider that my anti-colonial rant for the month.

Starting with an alcoholic, chocolaty, roasted malt, coffee, and sweet malt nose, Lion Stout pours an opaque dark brown with a thin tan head. Starts sweet with a roasted malt character before moving into a rich chocolaty middle. It finishes with a strong alcohol character that is almost medicinal. Lion Stout has a rich body that is smooth and creamy with a warm alcohol presence. A good, strong beer overall—there is little to no bitterness or burnt character to the beer, and the finish gets sweeter and slightly fruity as the beer warms.

From the bottle: “...soft, fresh, and delicious, top-fermenting Lion Stout is bottle-conditioned and has an extraordinary chocolaty, mocha character.” Michael Jackson

And if you don’t know who the Michael Jackson they’re talking about is, you should probably be beaten with a tack hammer.

(and by the way, that’s Michael Jackson)

The Ceylon website is currently under construction, so all you get today is our stunning witty prose. And if that is not a reward in itself, I don’t know what is...

ABV: 8.0%


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

176b. Hood Canal Dabob Bay IPA

Dabob Bay IPA (like how that rhymes?) comes from the Hood Canal Brewery in Kingston, WA. There’s also a nice oyster that comes from Dabob Bay—give me two dozen of those and a couple of bottles of this, and I’ll call it a good evening.

Dabob Bay IPA has a grassy hop and slightly metallic nose; flowing a clear and slightly light copper into the glass, it also has a light white head. Beginning with a dry, flat biscuit malt front, Dabob Bay IPA moves into bitterness in the middle without any discernable hop flavor. The finish is dry & crisp with more bitterness that lingers nicely on the palate. Medium bodied with a dry but lightly creamy mouthfeel; the carbonation was medium to low, leaving the work to the flavor profile. Dabob Bay IPA was enjoyable, but not extremely exciting. The hops are mostly in the bitterness, making this more of an English IPA, especially with the lower levels of carbonation.

From the Hood Canal website: “Dabob Bay IPA has a golden color and prominent hop flavor provided by numerous hop additions during the boil and dry hopping in the kegs. The supportive malt flavors and body make this ale a great multi-dimensional beer.”

ABV: 6.7%
IBU: 63
OG: 1.066
FG: 1.016


176a. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

Another beer from Sierra Nevada—this is our third, following the Anniversary Ale 2009 and the Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2008. And since Elli is channeling her love for me through beer, she’s choosing to hit up some West Coast ales while I am away.

Torpedo is a hazy copper with a lacy ivory head. The nose is dominated by hops—herbal, resiny, and skunky (a good skunky)—with some biscuit malt in the background. The flavor profile is hoppy throughout, with grapefruit and piney flavors in the middle, and ending with resiny, tongue curling bitterness. The malt profile is substantial enough to balance the aggressive hop-load, but not distinctive or distracting. There is crystal (slight sweetness at the start) and perhaps some biscuit flavors, with a dry, clean finish. Torpedo has a medium body, a creamy mouthfeel, and some astringency at the finish. A well balanced beer overall, with the malt body existing to carry the hops without overwhelming them, although the sweetness does become more apparent as the beer warms. Tasty and enjoyable—we’ll be drinking this one again.

From the bottle: “A big American IPA, perfectly balanced yet full of flavor and aromas highlighting the complex citrus, pine, and herbal character of whole-cone American hops.”

From the Sierra Nevada website: “Torpedo celebrates the brewery’s dedication to 100% whole-cone hops all the way through the brewing process. The name itself comes from a device called the “hop torpedo” that was conceived, designed and developed at the brewery. The result is a revolutionary method of dry-hopping that harnesses the vital hop oils and resins that lead to an unusually flavorful and aromatic beer featuring the full, nuanced range of spicy complexity that hops have to offer. Designed with a mixture of hop varietals, each with their own unique character, Torpedo Extra IPA has layers of flavors ranging from citrus, herbs, black pepper and pine, with delicate hints of tropical fruit. Torpedo is an assertive American IPA deep reddish-gold in color, with a smooth and bready malt presence and over-the-top hop aromas. The beer has a solid bitterness and a massive hop flavor, yet remains easy drinking with a pleasant dry finish. Torpedo Extra IPA will be available for hop fans nationwide in 6-pack bottles starting late January 2009.”

ABV: 7.2%
IBU: 65
OG: 17.3° P
FG: 4.2° P
Malts: 2-row, Pale, & Crystal
Bittering Hops: Magnum
Finishing Hops: Magnum & Crystal
Dry Hops: Magnum, Crystal, & Citra


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

175b. Midnight Sun Sockeye Red IPA

Sockeye Red IPA is from the Midnight Sun Brewing Company in Anchorage, AK. I first had Midnight Sun and Sockeye Red IPA during a trip to Alaska in around 2002 or so (Jay, a little help here?). During that trip, I sampled pretty much any Alaskan beer I could find (including this one), and we put almost 2,500 miles on our rental car during our two week trip. Top of the World Highway? Drove it. Dawson City rocks, by the way. Artic Circle? Made it up there, too. We didn’t quite follow the no dirt road rule for the rental car. Our bad...

Sockeye Red IPA pours a deep red copper; there is a pillow-y and creamy tan head that laces the glass well. The nose is dominated by hoppiness—there are floral, citrus, and resin hop aromas in the nose—and while there are some slight malt aromas that make it through, they are wandering and lost in the hoppiness of the nose. Opening with a caramel malt combines with roasty and toasty biscuit flavors, Sockeye Red IPA quickly moves into bitterness; the malt flavors segue smoothly in a bitter middle almost seamlessly. There are some floral and grapefruit/citrus flavors as the beer rounds to home, and it ends with a reassertion of bitterness that lingers with a slight citrus hop tinge. The body is characterized by creaminess and low levels of tannic and hop astringency that marry well with the flavor profile; it is medium bodied and lightly slick and viscous. Sockeye Red IPA is smooth and well-balanced; it is very drinkable, even with the large hop profile. This is very much in the Northwest IPA style with a citrus & grapefruit Cascade presence. I was more pleased with this beer than I remembered from the last time I had it, which is saying something, because I was glad to find it again. The roasty flavors in the front offer a nice lead into the bitterness—it’s a bit different, but it works well as a transition across the flavor profile.

From the bottle: “It bites—hook, line, & sinker! Instinctively bold, Sockeye Red IPA is a beautifully crafted Pacific Northwest-style IPA with a real bite. Specialty malts impart a spawning red hue to its fresh, firm body but the predominant character of this incredible catch comes from outlandish hops. Snag it!”

Wait, are you using fishing imagery and language to make a sales pitch about your beer? Oh, I get it. And your advertising copy sucks as it cuts.

From the Midnight Sun website: “Brewed in the bold spirit of Alaska, Sockeye Red IPA is a finely crafted Pacific Northwest-style India Pale Ale with a real bite. Ample pale two-row malt creates a fresh, firm body while specialty malts impart a spawning red hue. The predominant character of this fiesty catch comes from outlandish portions of Centennial, Cascade and Simcoe hops, giving this beer tremendous citrus and floral aroma and flavor. Determined and bitter but amazingly balanced, Sockeye Red IPA is gnarly enough to take you hook, line and sinker. Forget about a bigger rig; grab a bigger glass.”

ABV: 5.7%
IBU: 70


175a. Mt. Carmel India Pale Ale

Mt. Carmel Brewing Company is located in Cincinnati, OH, and more specifically at 4362 Mt. Carmel-Tobasco Road in Cincinnati. Speaking for both of us, we’re pretty glad they decided against utilizing both the names from their road in the beer. While they’re not in the Over-the-Rhine area in downtown Cincinnati (which was where I was for Bockfest), they’re still part of Cincinnati’s current brewing revival.

Mt. Carmel IPA has a sweet bready nose mixed with brown sugar aromas and no hop smell; it pours a cloudy copper with very little head. The front is sweet caramel, moving into bready and biscuity malt with fruit and raisin notes; sugary sweetness carries the beer from beginning through the finish, despite the somewhat dry biscuit malt in the middle and end. There is some slight hop bitterness at the finish, but not enough to balance the syrupy malt flavors. Mt. Carmel IPA has a soft, syrupy mouthfeel that is both under-carbonated and sticky; if it were drier, it would be an O.K. British IPA, but as it stands it is not very well crafted, and Elli wouldn’t drink it again. Which means that I am giving it a wide berth.

From the bottle: “Orange in color. Entering with a pine hop aroma, followed by a rich malty body with hints of sweet biscuit. Leaving with a lasting spicy hop finish.”

The website had pictures of the labels, but no information about the different styles that I could find. Maybe next time...

ABV: 7.0%
IBU: 56
OG: 1.066


Monday, December 21, 2009

174b. Moylan’s IPA

Day three of solo holiday season beer drinking finds me opening up Moylan’s IPA, brewed by Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant in Novato, CA, the one time home of Brian Dunderdale.

Moylan’s IPA is a clear light copper color with a minimal white head; the nose is mostly hops, with pine and grassy hop aroma covering the light biscuit malt. There is also a bit of metallic sharpness, which I am guessing is from the hops. The beer opens with a low dry malt profile to start that is quickly overcome by the big hop bitterness and pine and grass flavors of the middle; the finish is clean and dry with a good amount of lingering bitterness. Moylan’s IPA is light bodied and a bit thin on the sweetness; there is definite tongue curling from the big bitterness and hop body of the beer, which also gives it a bit of creaminess in the body. Much more an American IPA than British; there is not much balance between the hops and malt. While it could a bit more of a malt backbone, this is still a solid and enjoyable beer, and is an excellent vehicle for hops & bitterness. To quote Elli, it’s “totally one-dimensional, but it’s my favorite dimension.”

From the bottle: “Exciting and provocative, India Pale Ale provides a stimulating assault on all senses. Our version of the IPA style possesses a deep golden hue that nearly winks at you from the glass. Extremely full-bodied, its rich flavor wraps your tongue in a lush blanket of sweet malt with a spicy finish. Two hop varieties in the Dry Hopping provide an enticing floral bouquet, with notes of resin and herbs, creating a delightfully quaffable and refreshing ale we’re sure you’ll love!”

From the Moylan’s website: “Exciting and provacative, India Pale Ale provides a stimulating assault on all senses. Our version of the IPA style possesses a deep golden hue that nearly winks at you from the glass. Extremely full-bodied, its rich flavor wraps your tongue in a lush blanket of sweet malt with a spicy hop finish. Two hop varieties in the Dry Hopping provide an enticing floral bouquet, with notes of resin and herbs,creating a delightfully quaffable and refreshing ale we’re sure you’ll love!”

And yes, I realize the bottle and the website say the exact same thing. I was seeing if all y’all noticed...

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 70
Malts: American 2-row, Crystal 15 L, Munich & Acidulated Malt
Hops: Yakima Chinook, Simcoe, Columbus, & Ahtanum
Yeast: White Labs 001 - Chico


174a. Avery Ellie’s Brown Ale

Ellie’s Brown Ale clocks in as our third beer from Avery; the last two were the 16th Anniversary Ale and duganA IPA. Who didn’t see this beer coming down the pipeline at some point during our year long fiasco?

Buddy is less excited by this beer...

Ellie’s Brown Ale pours a clear, cola-colored brown with a thin ivory head, and has a roasted, chocolate-y, and nutty nose—there might be a slight hint of hops, and perhaps a floral/spicy hint. Starting with dark sweet malt flavors, Ellie’s Brown Ale turns nutty and chocolate-y (just slightly) in the middle. It finishes fairly dry, with a roasted flavor along with some bitterness and low levels of grassiness. Ellie’s has a light, smooth body with light carbonation; a very mild beer overall, with notes of roasted, chocolate, and nutty flavors that contribute, but never stand out or overwhelm the beer—it has good balance. The darker malt profile is well tempered by dryness and hop bitterness at the end. Elli says she would drink Ellie’s again, especially since it is her namesake and features a dog on the label. After all, when don’t dogs on the label make something better?

From the bottle: “Ellie’s Brown Ale is a chocolate colored and mild-mannered brew, with a medium body and a slight nutty character, just like our dog. And, of course, it’s been ‘Lab-Tested.’ Brewed with Rocky Mountain water, malted barley, hops, and yeast.”

From the Avery website: “This beautiful, deep russet brew has the sweet and somewhat nutty character of Adam Avery’s late (1992-2002) Chocolate Lab, for which it is named. Crystal and chocolate malts give this beer a brown sugar maltiness with hints of vanilla and nuts, while subtle hopping gives it an overall drinkability that’s second to none, just like Ellie!”

ABV: 5.5%
OG: 1.056
IBU: 17
Malts: 2-row, Chocolate, Munich 10L, & Caramel 120L
Hops: Bullion, Cascade, & Fuggles


The Biggest Loser: Worst Beer Label Ever

A couple of months ago, I provided two examples of some of the worst beer labels in all of existence (included here). To that, I’m certain Elli would add the general leanings towards wine-label-influenced beer labels, which, as she argues, will be the downfall of the brewing industry (see her comments on the label for Deschutes Red Chair IPA), or at least will herald the rise of a level of pretentiousness in beer marketing and consumption that will require all of us who consume such products to collectively kick our own asses.

With that in mind, what other contenders for the worst label of all time are out there? Send me your examples of crappy labels, and tell me why they suck. If we actually get any viable candidates (since I am still under the basic assumption that this blog is really just a fancy version of me talking to myself), we’ll have a vote to determine which one is the crappiest beer label in the history of the universe (the worst examples of inflated beer hyperbole will come later). Otherwise, I’ll just exert my despotic powers and choose which label annoys me the most. So stand up to fascism, and send me something.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

173b. Laurelwood Prevale India Pale Ale

Laurelwood Public House & Brewery is in Portland, OR; they have six locations in Portland, including two at Portland International Airport—one in Concourse A and another in Concourse E. My first pint of Laurelwood was in Concourse A when I flew into PDX to visit some friends in September; I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered they weren’t just some cheesy airport bar, but a real microbrewery—and this realization came with my first sip of their beer.

Prevale pours a deep, lustrous copper with a minimal head that quickly dissipates; the nose is predominantly pine hops with a bready malt coming in underneath the hop aroma. The beer begins with bready, crackery, and dry biscuity malt flavors before moving into a hoppy middle, with pine and resin hop flavors and a good dose of bitterness; Prevale finishes dry with some lingering bitterness on the back of the tongue. Light bodied with a little creaminess, and there is a decent amount of tongue curling and pleasant bitterness in the mouth. The carbonation is medium to low, but still present in rounding and shaping the beer. Prevale comes across as more British than American as an IPA; while there is hop flavor and aroma, the breadiness and the low carbonation have more of an influence on the overall beer. The lingering bitterness is an enjoyable feature of the beer—dry and pasty, but delicious.

From the bottle: “Because we will Prevail! A portion of the proceeds from each bottle of Prevale will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Dedicated to Nancy Driscoll.”

There’s nothing on Prevale on the Laurelwood website; I’m guessing that’s because this was specially brewed (see the poster). You can find more details about Prevale at Beer Advocate.

ABV: 6.7%
IBU: circa 70
OG: 15° P


173a. Lilja Hop Nest Monster IPA

“Bold brazen beer brewed behind the Cheddar Curtain.”
Can someone say alliteration?

Elli’s choice for day two of our solo tours is our second beer from Sand Creek Brewing Company in Black River Falls, WI—our last one was Lilja’s Argosy IPA. And like that one, there is no information about the beer on the Sand Creek website. The only connection we found is through the Beer Advocate site.

Hop Nest Monster, described on the label as a “primordial extra pale India Pale Ale,” pours a slightly hazy gold color and has a thin white head. The nose exudes a bready malt aroma with no evident hop presence and a slight DMS smell. Hop Nest Monster has a well rounded malt flavor that is more crystal than bready (well, there is some bready); there is no hop flavor, but it does finish very bitter and slightly resiny. The body is medium, with decent bite from the carbonation. While it is a decent beer, Hop Nest is rather nondescript—the fault might lie in the disconnect between the malty body and the bitter finish. The label, however is totally awesome, and is a Top 10 Best Label contender.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

172b. Deschutes Black Butte Porter

I’ve made my pilgrimage to Seattle for the holidays, which means it’s time for more delicious Northwest beer. I’m hitting up Deschutes again, mainly because it is so so good. This is our fourth beer from Deschutes—we’ve had Hop Trip, Inversion, and Red Chair IPA. And we can add Black Butte Porter to that list. Or at least I can—Elli will have her own beer solo escapades that may cause me beer envy as well.

Black Butte Porter has a light roasted and chocolate malt nose; it pours a deep chocolate brown with red/orange highlights, and has a creamy tan head that leaves behind a decent lace trail. Dry roasted malt dominates the front, before moving into chocolate and biscuit malt mixed with some bitterness in the middle and ending with a slight soap flavor that is quickly covered by a reassertion of the roasted & chocolate flavors that both linger pleasantly. The chocolate flavor rises throughout the course of the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is creamy but dry, with a medium to medium-light body and a medium carbonation that rounds the beer. There is some bitterness and bite in the second half of the beer, but it is balanced well with the chocolate and biscuit flavors. Black Butte Porter is a clean, drinkable, and well crafted beer—this is what I expect from Deschutes. The chocolate and roasted flavors are excellent, but never dominate, and the creamy dry rounded flavors go down smooth—nothing but light and easy drinking.

From the bottle: “Towering above Central Oregon, jutting into clear blue skies, Black Butte can be seen for miles. From its base flows the legendary Metolius River—with its source hidden deep beneath ancient lava flows. Dark and distinctive like Black Butte itself, Black Butte Porter uses chocolate and crystal malts, crafting a rich, approachable porter. Settled on the banks of the wild and scenic Deschutes River, Deschutes Brewery’s handcrafted ales are naturally made with pristine water from the Cascade Mountains. A fine layer of yeast in each bottle is a result of the krausening process, creating natural carbonation and distinct flavor.”

From the Deschutes website: “Black Butte Porter, crafted from chocolate and crystal malts, is Deschutes Brewery’s flagship brand. With a rich and distinctive flavor, this porter has enjoyed a loyal and passionate following since its first pint in 1988. One of Deschutes’s original triumvirate of craft beers and still the best reason on record to visit Bend, Oregon. If you can’t taste one over a hot baked pretzel at their mid-Oregon brewpub, the company obligingly ships it southward to those of us thirsting for maltbased honesty and integrity. Completely free of that disappointing wet-newspaper-in-the-mouth taste of lesser porters, it’s a vibrant, elastic brew that goes the distance with power, style and Lance Armstrong-like pacing. ”

ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 30
192 calories per 12 oz. serving