Monday, May 31, 2010

335. Port 3rd Anniversary Ale

This is our fourth beer from Port Brewing; I brought this back to Dayton via my recent trip to San Francisco—after all, travel means more beer fun, right? Previous beers from Port include 2nd Anniversary Ale, High Tide Fresh Hop, and Hop-15. I’m sensing a hop-based theme, aren't you?

Pouring a hazy orangish copper, Port 3rd Anniversary Ale has a very minimal white head and a big citrus and spicy hop nose along with a light backbone of caramel and biscuit. The beer starts with a dry caramel and biscuit malt flavor before turning to a spicy hoppy bitterness in the middle—there is more spiciness than bitterness, and smaller amounts of citrus hop flavor as well. The finish is hoppy, with a spicy fresh taste and only a slight amount of bitterness. As well, the biscuit flavors from the front return, but are more bready at the finish. With warmth, there are some grassy flavors that emerges in the middle and the end. Port 3AA has a medium-heavy to heavy body with medium to light carbonation; there is a fair amount of puckering on the back of the tongue from the bitterness, and some dryness on the palate via the hoppiness. A restrained and very well balanced beer—neither the malt nor the hops are overbearing, and work together in a fantastic union. While this is not a fast-drinking beer via the body, it is an easy and smooth drinking beer. There is not much in the way of alcohol flavor or warmth, which is pretty impressive for a 10.0% ABV beer. Port 3rd Anniversary Ale is a delicious and enjoyable beer—I’m glad I brought another bottle home with me to enjoy.

From the bottle: “In your hands, you are holding yet another hop monster of a beer brewed in San Diego County. Yes, we know this is hardly original. Butm we love hops as much as you do so let’s party! This beer oozes hop oils, aromas and flavors. We hope it’s a worthy addition to the riches that is the Port Brewing family of beers. We look forward to the annual release each May and hope you will too.”

From the Port website: “A massively hopped strong pale ale brewed to celebrate our anniversary each year. Anniversary Ale is light gold to pale orange in color and offers a potent aroma of fresh pine and citrus with some warming alcohols present. The taste is a thick, chewy hop presence only barely contained by balancing malts. The finish is pure hop expression with a moderate warming alcohol sensation.”

ABV: 10.0%
OG: 1.090
Hops: Columbus, Amarillo, & Simcoe
Dry Hops: Columbus & Amarillo
Bottled: 4/28/10


Sunday, May 30, 2010

334. Great Lakes Burning River

My fabulous San Francisco sojourn ended with my somewhat predictable return to Dayton International (yep, that one flight to Toronto makes D-town internationale—make sure you say it with the appropriate French accent, or it doesn’t work). And what better way to celebrate my return than by rolling down to South Park Tavern to cleanse that taste of California out of my mouth with something more local? Keeping with our (or at least my) promise to punch our collective Great Lakes ticket, we both chose Burning River and called it beer of the day, making this ol’ number four from Great Lakes and adding it to Holy Moses, Lake Erie Monster and Oktoberfest.

Burning River arrived at our table a bright, clear copper with a creamy ivory head, a head that hung around and laced the glass quite impressively. After my first big pull (I did just get off a cross-country flight, and damn did I need a beer), we settled down to business—the nose had light fruity, citrus, and spicy hop aromas coupled with a bit of bready maltiness. Flavors begin with bread crust and slightly sweet maltiness before moving into low levels of bitterness and fruity and almost juicy citrus hop flavors, finishing with just enough lingering bitterness to clean up and dry out the returning dry sweetness. Burning River has a medium body and a soft, chewy mouthfeel that is accentuated in the final third by some crisp carbonation, helping to round the beer on the palate. There is some dryness in the mouth, probably a combination of hops and carbonation, but only enough, as noted before, to help clean up the finish. A well crafted and delicious beer, with a balance not found in many of the pale ales out on the market right now.

From the Great Lakes website: “This American Pale Ale garners its fair share of attention around the world—just as the Cuyahoga River did when it suddenly caught fire in 1969 and spurred the introduction of the Clean Water Act of 1972. Pale ales gradually evolved from an English town called Burton-upon-Trent that was known for its distinctive hard water supply and propensity to brew a lighter-colored beer than was common at the time. Assertively hopped with citrusy and piney Cascade hops.”

I will admit that we both think the name of the beer is totally awesome—and unlike my snarky comments about Holy Moses, this one takes a low point in Cleveland history and uses it to raise social consciousness. Kudos, Great Lakes. Don’t miss Burning River Fest on June 24th and 25th!

ABV: 6.0%
Malts: Harrington 2-Row, Crystal 45, Crystal 77, & Biscuit
Hops: Northern Brewer & Cascade


Saturday, May 29, 2010

333b. BridgePort Hop Czar

Our third beer from BridgePort; the last two were Hop Harvest and their IPA. As the label informs us, “This robust golden monarch requires a king’s ransom of hops.” However, none of them seem to have been used in the last five minutes of the boil—it’s all bittering hops with this one, which seems the most irresponsible part of their irresponsible hop usage.

Hop Czar pours a crystal clear copper (I can read these words on the screen through the glass—it’s that crystal clear) with a minimal ivory head and a bready malt and spicy hop nose accompanied by grassy hints. The front is a dry biscuit malt that quickly moves into bitterness along with some grassy and slightly medicinal and/or metallic flavors. Hop Czar finishes dry and lightly paper-y with some slight return of malt sweetness and much more of the lingering bitterness. There is a fair amount of drying and tongue curling on the palate, along with some grassy astringency. While the carbonation is rather low, the bitterness does help dry the beer out. Hop Czar has a solid malt profile and good bitterness; it could use more in the way of flavor and aroma hops, since without them the Hop Czar seems a little too one dimensional—Hop Czar is interesting, but the lack of larger payoff comes from this being more British than American in the hop profile.

From the bottle: “Hop Czar is brewed with an irresponsible amount of hops and balanced by a robust malt backbone. Bridgeport revolutionized the IPA style and this Imperial India Pale Ale is a worthy bloodline to our award winning heritage.”

From the Bridgeport website: “BridgePort Hop Czar, an Imperial IPA brewed from our award winning IPA recipe, first introduced to rave reviews in 2008. It is a triple-hopped bottle-conditioned, Imperial-style IPA that carries a deep malt background with enthusiastic citrus and floral notes paired with high hop bitterness. The newest in our permenant 6-pack line, the Hop Czar recipe blends copious amounts of Nugget, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops. ”

ABV: 7.5%
IBU: 87

As today was my last day in San Francisco, Bill and I took our usual walk up to Coit Hill to see the view, and then down through Washington Park to visit the Rogue Brewpub, and their delighful on tap list. I got to have Rogue John John Juniper on tap, and also New Belgium Lips of Faith Eric’s Ale. We then went out with my friend Scott for a nice South Indian dinner. Ah, San Francisco...


333a. Victory Prima Pils

More from Victory; this is our fourth beer from them, including Baltic Thunder, HopDevil, and WildDevil. Elli calls this beer her happy beer discovery of the summer—while she is not normally a big fan of lagers, this one has sufficient hoppiness to keep her interest. She described Prima Pils as just about perfect after a day of gardening. Prima Pils has a clear yellow appearance with a thick white head and a spicy, skunky (grainy and herbal, not spoiled or skunked) nose with just a touch of malt. An overall clean, soft malt profile that is not really sweet, with the sweetness in the beer most present at the start. The middle is where the aggressive hop profile emerges; there are herbal and spicy flavors in the middle, and a distinct bitterness at the end, finishing very crisp, clean, and dry. Low levels of graininess emerge in the front and middle as the beer warms. Prima Pils has a light and dry body with a slight puckering hop component; the vigorous carbonation compliments the beer and contributes to the crispness. As well, the softness of the body in terms of the malt profile is bolstered by the carbonation and closing bitterness. Very refreshing—Prima Pils has an enjoyable hop presence, and lacks (but is not missing) the grainy breadiness of many lagers. Excellent and thirst quenching after a few hours of yard work. From the Victory website: “Heaps of hops give this pale lager a bracing, herbal bite over layers of soft and smooth malt flavor. This refreshing combination of tastes makes Prima a classy quencher in the tradition of the great pilsners of Europe.” ABV: 5.3%

Malts: 2-row German Pilsner

Hops: German and Czech whole flowers (5/29/2010)

Friday, May 28, 2010

332b. Firestone Walker Solace

This is our second beer from Firestone Walker (well, third if you count Nectar IPA, which I don’t, because I am beer company purist, and that’s how we roll)—the last one was Union Jack IPA. And I still assert that the bear is gonna kick the crap out of that lion—I know Elli won’t buy it, but I can see it happening.

Described on the label as a “craftily unfiltered ale,” Solace pours a hazy gold with a light creamy white head and small tight carbonation. The nose is slightly sharp—there is a bit of a sour tang to it—grainy and husky along with some underlying malt sweetness. The front is soft and lightly creamy on the palate with grainy sweetness and what I’d guess would be some wheat malt flavor; the middle is a bit musty and drying with a bit of a lager-like taste and light bitterness, while the finish has a bit more of the lager character and a mix of light lingering sweetness and a slightly sour flavor. Solace is light bodied with a medium carbonation that rounds more than bites on the palate. Interesting beer, although I am not sure what it is—there was nothing on the label or the package besides the “craftily unfiltered beer” and that this is a Limited Release by Firestone Walker. So I guess I’ll have to let my fingers do the walking to pull up some information on this one.

From the Firestone Walker website: “Firestone Walker presents Solace, an ode to warmer weather in the northern hemisphere. A hint of citrus fruit and clove aroma are followed by tangy dry malt flavor and a silky finish making it an approachable and refreshing session beer. We bring you this beer unfettered, a craftily unfiltered ale full of flavor and perfectly constructed to compliment those lazy warm days ahead. Ideal for washing down fish tacos or other south o’ the border-inspired dishes.”

From Mutineer Magazine: “Firestone Walker Brewing Company has announced the upcoming release of a seasonal beer called Solace. This is the brewery’s first bottled release of a seasonal ale. It is scheduled to debut on April 1st. While Solace is somewhat devoid of style, Brewmaster Matt Brynildson said it will be a sort of unfiltered fusion of a Hefeweizen and a Belgian Saison. Subtle hints of banana and clove aroma, characteristic fruity esters produced by Belgian yeast, merge with a sweet fruit flavor, a medium body and tangy finish to make this beer an ideal sipper for the Spring and Summer seasons.”

ABV: 6.0%
Malts: 2-Row, White Wheat, Toasted Wheat, Munich, Acidulated Malt, Cara-Wheat, & Cara-Foam
Hops: Yakima Valley Willamette & French Strissel Spalt


332a. Anchor Porter

Another beer from Anchor Brewing; we’ve sampled Liberty Ale, Anchor Steam and Christmas Ale 2009, which means this is our fourth beer from Anchor Brewing. Since I was still in San Francisco, this was Elli’s way of both sharing the moment and drinking a good beer from a good brewery so that we didn’t have to share it later. And I understand—after all, I was in San Francisco.

Out of the bottle, Anchor Porter pours a dark brown with red hints and a voluminous tan head; the nose is equal parts roasted and chocolate aromas. There is not much sweetness in the flavor; starting with a chocolate malt flavor that continues throughout the course of the beer, Anchor Porter has a roasty, nutty middle with hints of burnt malt flavor before finishing dry and bitter. The body is medium with a medium to low carbonation and a fairly dry mouthfeel throughout. A very tasty and enjoyable beer—another winner from Anchor Steam.

From the Anchor website: “Anchor Porter is a unique dark brew, which was introduced by Anchor in the early 1970s. Anchor Porter, like all of Anchor Brewing Company’s products, is brewed with only natural ingredients. Specially roasted dark malts are used, along with a top-fermenting yeast. The brew is hopped at a very high rate, and is naturally carbonated to produce an intensely rich flavor and thick creamy head. The rich flavor of Anchor Porter has earned this delicious and unique brew a worldwide reputation for outstanding quality. We use specially roasted malts, a top-fermenting yeast, and only fresh whole hops, which are added liberally. All this combines to produce a rich and intense flavor with subtle notes of chocolate, toffee, and coffee.”

ABV: 5.6%


Thursday, May 27, 2010

331b. Midnight Sun Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter

Another beer from Midnight Sun; this makes our third Midnight Sun beer, with CoHoHo Imperial IPA and Sockeye Red IPA being our last two. I bought this at City Beer in San Francisco yesterday to take with me after Bill and I got our drink on.

Pouring a deep chocolate brown with a light tan head, Arctic Rhino has a coffee, roasted, and sweet dark malt nose. The front begins with a brown malt flavor and a fair amount of dryness before moving into coffee and roasted malt in the middle—the big coffee roasted flavors are rich, complex, and nuanced. Arctic Rhino has dry and lightly alkaline finish that is light and clean; the body is, somewhat paradoxically, both light and substantial—there is a rich and flavorful mouthfeel that is dry, and even a bit light for a porter, yet still has good substance. The medium carbonation provides some crispness at the end. A good beer overall—more interesting than I anticipated, with good coffee flavors that are solid across the beer profile, although they are a bit synthetic in the nose as it warms. The nuance and richness is what sets this beer apart—probably the best of the beers we’ve had from them.

From the bottle: “Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter combines two quintessential Pacific Northwest favorites: coffee and ale. The result is wonderfully romantic and robust – a duel-fueled porter that melds charismatic dark malt with freshly roasted coffee beans. The (un)rest is up to you.”

From the Midnight Sun website: “Inspired by local artist & roaster Michael Allen’s eccentricly-named blend of coffee beans, Midnight Sun’s brewers designed a beer recipe and flavor infusion process that perfectly captures the alluring aroma, satisfying flavor and curious legend of Allen’s Arctic Rhino Coffee Blend. Arctic Rhino Coffee Porter combines two quintessential Pacific Northwest favorites: coffee and ale. The result is wonderfully romantic and robust – a duel-fueled porter that melds charismatic dark malt with freshly roasted coffee beans. The (un)rest is up to you.”

ABV: 5.0%
IBU: 20


331a. Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale

More from Smuttynose, and another dog-themed beer for Elli. We’ve run through Baltic Porter, Imperial Stout, Shoals Pale Ale, Finestkind IPA and Farmhouse Ale, making this el numero seis.

Old Brown Dog pours a reddish brown color—just about the color of a chocolate lab—and has a thin khaki head; the beer is slightly hazy, but mainly translucent. With a sweet, toasted, and nutty melanoidin malt nose, Old Brown Dog has none of the normal hoppy aroma of an American brown, which of course would then make this a British brown. Flavors start pretty clean and neutral, with a sweet brown and bready flavor. There is a nutty, fruity flavor in the middle and a touch of spiciness in the finish, although there is no hop bitterness of character anywhere else in the beer. As well, there are dunkel and bock-like characteristics to the beer flavor profile. Old Brown Dog has a medium body with minimal carbonation—it is adequate to keep the beer clean and not sticky, but there is not much more than that. A well crafted beer overall—clean, smooth, and well balanced with good darker malt characteristics that are subtle and well-developed—but it is not really one of the styles we love, so we’ll just call it good and leave it at that.

From the Smuttynose website: “Old Brown Dog has been cited as a classic example of the ‘American Brown Ale’ style of beer. Compared to a typical English Brown Ale, Old Brown Dog is fuller-bodied and more strongly hopped. Old Brown Dog has been around for many years. It was first brewed in 1988 at the Northampton Brewery. In 1989 it won a silver medal in its category (American Brown Ale) at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.”

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 15
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.016
Hops: Cascade & Willamette
Malts: Pale Brewers, Munich, Crystal 60°L, & Chocolate


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

330b. Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

Since I was in San Francisco, I figured it proper to test the local wares, and Speakeasy most certainly fits the bill; my friend Bill and I visited the brewery on a similar jaunt several years back, and the restaurant we hit after arriving—the Royal Exchange on Sacramento—had Big Daddy IPA on task. Consider my speculations and concerns resolved. Oh, and need I remind all you out there in TV land that Speakeasy is located in San Francisco, CA? I didn’t think so...

Big Daddy IPA has a grassy, piney, and spicy hop nose with malt sweetness and caramel hidden away under the hops. Flavors begin with sweet malt and caramel, quickly moving into a bitter middle with good hop flavor—spicy, piney, and some resin flavors all mingling with the bitterness. The finish is relatively clean with some lingering bitterness; the bite from the carbonation helps dry and round the flavors to smooth out the beer on the palate. Big Daddy IPA has a medium body with medium carbonation; while there is some slight puckering from the hosp on the tongue, the fresh hop flavors do mitigate some of the bitterness. Overall, a good beer—enjoyable, well-balanced between the caramel sweetness, and very very American.

From the Speakeasy website: “No lightweight, Big Daddy IPA tips the scales with a huge hop flavor and a clean, dry finish that leaves the scene without a trace.”

ABV: 6.5%

Bill and I also wandered down to City Beer after dinner; among the many gems that we sampled during the course of the evening, the Lagunitas Lil’ Sumpin’ Wild IPA stood out. Bretty yummy goodness. We just missed getting the Dogfish Head/Victory/Stone Saison du Buff “collabo” on tap. Stupid other beer nerds...


330a. Left Hand 400 Pound Monkey

I flew off to San Francisco today, leaving Elli on her own for a couple of days of sampling on the solo tip. Her opening choice was another beer from Left Hand Brewing, located in Longmont, CO. And as she observes, the “label art would be funny, if you liked monkeys. Which I don’t.” Poor monkeys. Our previous beers from Left Hand include Fade to Black and Milk Stout.

400 Pound Monkey is a clear, light copper with a thin, ivory head. The malty and bready nose carries with it a touch of fruitiness, and there is no hop aroma, making this very English; as well, it could be the nose of an ESB, as it is slightly toasty as well. Starting with a slight sweetness, 400 Pound Monkey is bready and malty rather than caramel flavored; as well, there is a bit of a lake-y/wet dog flavor at first. There are fruity flavors in the middle that linger into the finish, as well as bitterness; the finish is biscuit-y and dry. There are no noticeable toffee, butter, or diacetyl flavors, although the overall breadiness of the beer grows as the beer warms. As well, there is not much in the way of hop flavor; there is some spiciness in the middle, and good bitterness across the flavor profile. 400 Pound Monkey has a light to medium body with substantial carbonation; overall, a very good beer—it is a good example of the English IPA style (although it might not be quite malty enough), and I’d happily drink it again.

From the Left Hand website (which is on a temporary haitus; this is from the blogspot temporary site): “Why does the world need another IPA? Becasue this one ain’t like them others. We use hops of a different color, earthy and herbal, vell-balanced by bready malt. The result? An English-style IPA that separates itself form the ubiquitous-bunch. Cartloads of bitter monkeys flinging wasteful amounts of bananas into the jungle...we’re so done with that.”

ABV: 6.8%
OG: 14.2° P
Malts: Pale 2-row, Crystal, Munich, & Malted Wheat
Hops: Magnum, Boadicea, & Sovereign
Bottled: 4/26/2010


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

329. Two Brothers Resistance IPA

Described on the bottle as an ale aged in French Oak Foudres, Resistance IPA is the first beer from Two Brothers’ new J Series: “What is the J Series? A fusion of updated styles and techniques with old brewing traditions. These are beers that age in our French oak foudres. The tanks impart a complex character to the beer. The depth of vanilla and the subtlety of oak cannot be achieved by using oak chips or even small oak casks. Our J Series beers spend at least 4 weeks in oak to develop these flavors. The beers we produce in these foudres are designed to be enhanced by these complexities as well as evolve the styles by adding our Two Brothers signature to them. Why the J Series? Two Brothers is a family owned and operated brewery. It just so happens that everyone in our family has a first name that starts with the letter J. So this is a simple nod to our family for having sacrificed for years so Jim and Jason could follow their dreams and bring these great beers to market.” This is our sixth beer from Two Brothers; we’ve had Domaine DuPage, Bitter End, Heavier-Handed, Moaten, and Cane & Ebel. We certainly haven’t resisted the subtle allure of Two Brothers.

Resistance IPA pours a hazy copper with a creamy white head; the nose has a sweet malt and lightly hoppy aroma with just a touch of oak in the background. Flavors begin with caramel and light sweetness—the bottle describes it as honey malt, but I’m not sure we could pick that out without having been told—before moving into a bitter middle with a small tannic bite and some pine and evergreen hop flavors; the finish is dry and oaky with lingering bitterness and more of the tannic oak bite. Resistance has a medium body and a medium to high carbonation—there is a decent bite at the end that combines with the tannic oak flavors to dry out the finish. As well, there is fair amount of puckering via the combination of hops and oak. Nonetheless, Resistance is a delicious and delightful beer; the oak and hops balance well in the beer, creating nuanced flavor while also contributing to the crisp, dry finish. This beer is just another reason why we love Two Brother Brewing.

From the bottle: “Complex aromas of oak, honeyed malt sweetness, and piney citrus hops, leads to a full hoppy middle and a finish that’s crisp, oaky, and pleasantly lingering. Why, oh why did we resist the subtle allure of IPA so long?”

ABV: 6.9%
IBU: 70


Monday, May 24, 2010

328. Short’s Pandemonium Pale Ale

“Behold the Bitter Hysteria”

Our second beer from Short’s, although from the same road trip as the last one, which was Huma-Lupa-Licious. Everything can’t always be fancy and original and stuff. As well, we’re not quite sure what the relation between the contemplative devil and pandemonium is, well, unless that devil is contemplating the best way to create pandemonium. Oh, and fair warning: I’m hitting myself with a cheesy prose warning for the following write-up.

Pandemonium pours a reddish copper with a minimal head. The nose is fruity and bready with no discernable hop aroma. Starting with light sweetness and biscuit malt flavor, Pandemonium gets out of control in the middle with low levels of bitterness and a toasted biscuit malt flavor. All hell breaks loose in the finish—the sweetness and biscuit from the front are back and the bitterness from the middle keeps on growing, lingering lightly on the palate with a darker roasted biscuit flavor. It’s pretty much a little something like what brimstone would taste like. Pandemonium has a medium body with medium carbonation that doesn’t have much bite. There is also some dryness in the mouthfeel, probably a combination of the biscuit and the hops—you know, from some sort of Charlie Daniels “The Devil Went Down to Georgia-esque” deal with the devil. And now I’m just annoying myself. We’ll close by noting that Pandemonium is much more a British than an American version of a pale ale. Which is really another way of saying that hell is England, and not other people like Sartre tried to convince us.

From the Short’s website: “Our classic American pale ale lends its copper color to the rich specialty grains. This craft ale is balanced with four kettle hop additions to a near IPA quality. It is one of the few beers we finish through whole leaf hops lending a nice fresh earthy aroma and flavor.”

ABV: 5.4%
IBU: 49


Sunday, May 23, 2010

327. Great Lakes Holy Moses!

Our third beer from Great Lakes—we’ve renewed our efforts to give love to Cleveland and the great state of Ohio, even if it means less beer from the West Coast. Don’t worry, we’ll pull a Benedict Arnold by the end of the week, since I have a trip to San Francisco planned next week anyway. The last two from Great Lakes were Lake Erie Monster and Oktoberfest. Oh, and we had this on tap at the Dublin Pub. And for all you haters who don’t know, Holy Moses is named for Moses Cleaveland, a surveyor (and soldier—go colonialism!) from Connecticut who was part of the surveying party that founded Cleveland on July 22, 1796. Parts those seas and make it safe for whitey, Holy Moses!

Holy Moses has a slightly yeasty and perfume-y nose that carried with it low levels of wheat and bread malt aroma; in the glass, it was a hazy golden color with a thin white head. Flavors start with a soft clean light wheat malt; there is some graininess in the middle, as well as a light citrus and orange flavor—both are accompanied by some light spiciness, which carries on into the end. The finish is slightly bready and clean. Holy Moses has a light body with a soft and creamy mouthfeel; the carbonation is medium, but helps provide a bit of brightness in the mouthfeel, and helps the beer end bright on the palate. An excellent summer time beer that is crisp and refreshing; not too bad for a brewery known more for their dark beers.

From the Great Lakes website: “Known for its crisp and clean taste spiced with orange peel, chamomile and coriander, this is truly a unique brew. Much like a certain city and its founder: Moses Cleaveland.”

ABV: 5.4%
IBU: 30
Malts: Harrington 2-row, Wheat, & Oats
Hops: Hallertau
Other: coriander, chamomile, & orange peel

Incidentially, Moly Moses is also a German thrash metal band; I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t make any thing this good up.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

326. Bear Republic Ryevalry Rye

More from Bear Republic, the brewery that seems to be quite the big fan of rye beers; our previous beers from them include Red Rocket, Racer 5 IPA and Hop Rod Rye. We had this on tap at South Park Tavern. Ah yeah...

Ryevalry pours a soft lightly hazy gold with a thin white head and a floral and citrus hop nose that a bit of spiciness in the backdrop. The beer begins with a soft chewy malt that shifts to spiciness and citrus hop flavor along with a fair amount of bitterness and some graininess from the rye (well, along with the spiciness) before ending with a citrus and tangerine flavor accompanied by a lingering spicy bitterness. Ryevalry has a light soft mouthfeel; the body is slightly creamy and grainy, and the carbonation is medium, but picks up in the second third to help clean up the finish, ending crisp and dry on the palate. An interesting mix of components here; the hop profile is pretty big for a rye beer, but the flavors balance well and help accentuate the rye elements of the beer—the spicy and the citrus meld well in building the overall profile, and the soft mouthfeel allows the flavors to define Ryevalry’s larger structure. As well, subdued alcohol flavor for an 8.2% ABV beer; overall, very fresh and clean tasting, and light and bright on the palate. Yummy and delicious.

From the Santa Rosa Craft Beer Examiner: “Ryevalry is a Rye-infused hopped-up double IPA with a twist. The twist is the use of a Belgian yeast strain. The result is a beer full of bright flavors (lemon, vanilla) a searing hop finish and a slight yeasty funk that brings out the rough edges of this beer to provide a contrast to the sweet and floral beginning. Beware though, this beer goes down easy but it weighs in at over 8%. You have been warned.”

ABV: 8.2%


Bloat Open Beer Judging

At the crack of way too early, Dave Williamson arrived at my door to squire yours truly to Cincinnati to judge at the Bloatarian Brewing League’s club-only Bloat Open. And for a club only, an impressive turn out: 135 beers all told for the day. Nice showing.

In the morning session, I judged American Pale Ales (10A); there were 11 entries in this category, making it pretty much a category on it’s own. I will admit, however, the simplicity of having just one type of beer to consider made this much smoother. No so with the afternoon session, however, where I judged a combined category of German Wheat (15A) and Belgian and French Ales (16). Our category included:

15A. Weizen/Weissbier
16A. Witbier
16B. Belgian Pale Ale
16C. Saison
16D. Bière de Garde
16E. Belgian Specialty Ale

We did, however, run this this with two sets of judges, so it was a bit quicker than the morning session; after our six and their five, we each pushed beers to a mini BOS and ranked the top 4. This round, however, had a beer in pretty much every category in the range, including two from 16E, so the wide range let for some interesting parsing and discussion during the mini BOS. Both of the 16E beers were quite interesting: one was a Belgian Blond with American hops, and the other was a witbier with rye, and both were excellent.

With that done and done, Dave and I jumped in the car and headed North to D-town. Hello late afternoon napping!


Friday, May 21, 2010

325. New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale

This beer gets bonus points from Elli both because it is named after a dog (see below) and it features a dog on the label. One of Elli’s most cherished beliefs is that any album with a dog on the back cover is always good. In making this claim, she is willing and able to cite albums and cover art, rating albums in relation to the dogs adorning the back covers. But I digress; this is our gazzillionth beer from New Belgium; our list includes Ranger, Le Fleur, Misseur?, Transatlantique Kriek, Biere de Mars, Fat Tire, 1554 Enlightened Black Ale and La Folie. In the word of my man MF Doom, New Belgium is in effect like alternate side of the street parking rules.

Mighty Arrow pours a crystal clear golden copper with a creamy white head and a hoppy nose made up of predominantly floral, citrus, and spicy hop aromas. Starting bready with some malt sweetness, Mighty Arrow moves into low levels of hop bitterness in middle along with citrus hop flavor and more sweetness (without the earlier breadiness this time), finishing with a stronger lingering bitterness than in the middle and some spicy hop flavors. Mighty Aroma has a medium body with carbonation that starts soft but then finishes bright and crisp on the palate; it picks up in the second third of the beer, and continues on into the finish. A very well-balanced and clean pale ale, one that would be a nice introduction to beginning pale ale drinkers, but also offers significant rewards for those with a more developed and nuanced palate.

From the bottle: “Mighty Arrow Pale Ale provides lots of pleasurable sniffs from Cascade, Amarillo, and Golding hops with fetching honey malt base. This is our brewed tribute to Arrow, Kim’s Aussie/border collie mix who ran (literally) New Belgium for 12 years. When she wasn’t patrolling the brewery grounds, she was famous for her office visits. She never met a tummy rub she didn’t like. Atta girl Arrow.”

Seasonal availability: February, March, and April. So this one is only slightly late...

ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 35

And in keeping with our tradition of having contests that no even bothers to acknowledge, we’re offering a “Super-Secret”™ prize package to the first person who can correctly identify both albums pictured here. So give it shot, or a go, or something like that.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

324. Three Floyds Rabbid Rabbit

Another possibly “overly aged” beer from Three Floyds, although like with BrooDoo, since neither of us had tried Rabbid Rabbit before, we figured it was worth the risk. Plus, saisons do age a bit better than fresh hop beers. And by a little bit, we mean a whole bunch. This makes eight from Three Floyds (see BrooDoo for the last seven), and while some may say eight is enough, since we’re talking about beer and not kids, I say those people are full of shit. I will also add that after our most recent experience with these two beers, we might actually learn to hold off when we find an awesome beer selection in a small, rural, out-of-the-way place. We laud the dedication, but not so much the ag-ed beer. Proper aging matters.

Pouring a hazy gold, Rabbid Rabbit has a minimal white head and a spicy, clove-y, and Belgian yeast nose. The beer begins with candy and spicy yeast flavors before giving way to chamomile in the middle, along with some clove flavors that help transition into the end, which includes fruit esters (specifically banana) and more candy sweetness. In the words of Adam Sills, this beer is a bit “too busy” with the flavors—there is a bit too much going on all at once that is not sufficiently married or mixed together, and the beer would benefit from a more judicious use of chamomile. Rabbid Rabbit is medium bodied with medium carbonation; it could stand to be a bit drier in the mouthfeel, as it tastes a bit underattenuated and sweet for a saison. At the same time, it also has something of a Belgian golden ale taste to it, although even as a golden ale, it should still be a bit drier in the overall mouthfeel. Not the best we’ve had from Three Floyds; this one comes together less that their other beers.

Silly rabbit, choking out Smurfs is for kids...

From the bottle: “Rabbid Rabbit is a deep golden, complex, spiced Belgian style ale. Chamomile and rock candy are added to the brewkettle, giving the Rabbit a mysterious and refreshing mouthfeel and flavor. The slight haze in the bottle is from bottle-conditioning, where yeast is added to the bottle for a secondary fermentation. ‘Saison’ is French for season. Enjoy!”

From the Three Floyds website: “This Franco-Belgian style Farmhouse Ale has an effervescent body and a light straw color. Rabbid Rabbit, with it’s light malt body, augmented by spices, is a complex and frothy beverage with a deceptively high alcohol content. March release.”

ABV: 7.4%
IBU: 25


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

323. Dark Horse ROD

We scored a growler of this at the Dark Horse Brewery on Sunday; we saved it to bring it back to D-town and share it with the peoples. The Dark Horse taproom was nice; we especially liked the picture of the monkeys brewing, and the Alf doll on one of the bar pillars. Plus, we got to wander into the back and get an impromptu tour from Bryan Wiggs, who is described on the website as a “brewer/hippie.” So all in all, an awesome and eclectic visit to the brewery. And we would like to note for the record: the tap handle for ROD was only slightly phallic. Those two nuts aren’t supposed to be taken as balls. Previously, we’ve tried Double Crooked Tree, Plead the 5th, Fore Smoked Stout, Too Cream Stout, One Oatmeal Stout and Crooked Tree IPA. Oh, and we’d not be doing our job if we didn’t mention that Marshall is also home to the world famous Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub. Elli remembers having their cheese spread from her childhood.

ROD pours a reddish brown with a minimal head; the nose was a mix between a subtle, slight & bright floral and herbal aroma and a red malt smell—balanced, nuanced, and delicious. The body medium, with some dryness from the herbs and floral components, and had a medium carbonation. Starting with a red ale flavor, ROD also has a light malt biscuit component to the front before moving into a middle characterized by a herbal and floral mélange; while we are not sure about all of the different herbs and flavors, it was subtle, delicate, and well-balanced. There is an earthy and spicy character towards the end, and the finish is dry, ending rather clean. A nicely balanced beer between the red and herbal components—delicate and subtle, ROD is a study in understatement, one that other beers could learn a lot from. Next time we’re back in Marshall, we’ll be scoring more ROD.

Monkeys brewing beer? That’s ridiculous!

From the menu at Dark Horse: “Aphrodisiac herb infused American red ale. Crisp and dry without hop bitterness. Slight herbal flavor & aroma from Rose Hips, Gingko, Hibiscus, Diamiana, and Passion Flower.”

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 10


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

322. Three Floyds BrooDoo Harvest Ale

More from Three Floyds, although this fresh hop beer may actually not be so fresh. Nonetheless, our love of fresh hop beers compels us to try it, no matter that it may no longer be the freshest or the freshmaker (to quote Mentos). Previously on what we’re drinking, we’ve chug-a-lugged Brian Boru, Gumballhead Wheat, Robert the Bruce, Dreadnaught, Black Sun Stout and Blackheart IPA, making this our seventh beer from Three Floyds. Bring it.

While the “hops for hair” is a good look, the troll is still creepy as hell.

BrooDoo pours a hazy bright copper with small amounts of a white head. The nose is mainly a bready, caramel malt; while there is some spicy hop aromas, they are pretty subdued, hence the above comments about our willingness to risk the not so fresh fresh hop beer. Broodoo starts with caramel and bread malt, which bleeds into the middle as well. There is also a spicy hop bite in the middle, along with a slight metallic taste; the finish brings with a fair amount of grassy hop flavor and some lingering spicy bitterness. Medium-bodied with a lightly chewy mouthfeel, BrooDoo has some light puckering from the residual bitterness. The carbonation is medium with a bit of a crisp bite at the end. Our gamble here didn’t really pay off, although neither of us regret taking a chance on this beer. BrooDoo currently drinks more like a moderate British pale ale, which isn’t surprising considering that it is at least six months past the prime time for fall fresh hops beers. We look forward to trying a fresher bottle of this during the upcoming fall fresh hop season.

From the bottle: “BrooDoo Harvest Ale is a seasonal ale that glorifies American hops. BrooDoo is brewed using fresh green ‘wet’ hops picked right from the vine and put into our beer vats, from vine to brew house in 1 day! BrooDoo also uses the best Anerican [sic] malt money can buy. Enjoy.”

From the Three Floyds website: “This beer is brewed during the hop harvest with a portion of unkilned or ‘wet’ hops fresh off the vine. Apricot in color, Broo Doo’s nose has dominant orange, pine sap and floral notes, balanced by a glazed nut and toffee malt body. This celebration of the hop harvest has intense tropical fruit, citrus and spicy accents that showcase the complexity of the hops we all love. October release.”

October? Awesome!

ABV: 7.0%
IBU: 80


Monday, May 17, 2010

321. Arcadia Sky High Rye 12th Anniversary Ale

Arcadia Brewing Company is in Battle Creek, MI—this is our first beer from them, and we’re trying to figure out if the beer we just poured is from the actual 12th Anniversary (which was around December 2008), or a more recent remake of the beer. No clear information yet. We’ll keep you posted...

Pouring a slightly hazy copper, Sky High Rye has a creamy white head and a spicy, skunky, and hoppy nose with just a touch of citrus. The beer opens with some soft spicy rye and bread malt, followed by hop bitterness mixed with a touch of citrus flavor in the middle; the finish is dry with more of the rye spiciness, and relatively clean with a small amount of lingering bitterness. Sky High Rye has a medium body with a bit of a richly textured but also creamy mouthfeel. Carbonation is medium, but still rather soft on the palate, especially at the end. A well crafted beer; there is a nice balance between the rye, hops, and malt. We’d happily drink Sky High Rye again, even if it is almost 18 months old.

From the bottle: “Government warning: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects, (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.”

The Arcadia website is a little bit too flashy without the reciprocal functionality. In otherwords, while I could get to the page where their beers were listed, anything beyond the image of slow rotating bottles didn’t happen. And I tried two different computers. Solid work. Let me know if it works for you.

ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 55


Sunday, May 16, 2010

320. Short’s Huma-Lupa-Licious IPA

“A complex malt and hop theme park in your mouth.”

This is our first beer from Short’s Brewing Company in Elk Rapids, MI. We can just add them to the list of awesome Michigan breweries, although they do not seem as stout-obsessed as Bell’s, Founders, and Dark Horse (when you start taking a closer look at the seasonal list, that opinion does change a bit, but peercentage-wise they still seem to be well below the minimum Michigan brewery stout threshold—and yes, they have people that keep track of that sorta thing).

Huma-Lupa-Licious pours an orange-ish copper with a minimal white head that quickly disappears; the nose is all hops: citrus, floral, spicy, and grassy hop aromas along with a bit of a dank vegetal smell. Beginning with small amounts of bready malt flavor before being swallowed by the hoppiness, Huma-Lupa-Licious has a lightly bitter middle with grassy, citrus, and floral hop flavors that are delicate and balanced. The finish starts with a slightly vegetal flavor before giving way to a chalky, dry bitterness that lingers nicely on the palate. The body is medium with a decent amount of puckering from the hops as well as a good amount of astringency in the mouthfeel, both of which contribute to the dryness at the end. In terms of carbonation, it is about medium, but not very noteworthy otherwise in relation to the overall mouthfeel. Huma-Lupa-Licious does a good job of foregrounding the hops, both in flavor and bitterness, but not making the rest of the beer outlandish at the same time—the hop flavor is excellent and even, as noted above, delicate, and the malt has sufficient backbone to keep up and yet remain in the background—the dry puckering hop bitterness is not tempered with a dose of caramel malt, just more delicious delicious hops. We’re making this one a Top 10 Best contender.

From the Short’s website: “Named after the hop flower Humulus Lupulus, this best selling India pale ale style beer has enormous amounts of hops which really seems like a punch in the face. Hop flowers from the numerous strains used in this recipe render a delicious bitter taste and enticing citrus aroma. Flavors from a hearty malt bill meld with the hops to balance this ale and provide a ridiculous urge to sample more.”

ABV: 6.6%