Beers in Review: Dark Collaborations

A pair of big time collaborations are on tap for today's BiR. They are a couple of Imperial Stouts that truly blew me away.

First up is And I Shut My Mouth Imperial Stout, from Columbia's River Rat Brewery and Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, FL. Pouring a very hazy dark brown (though the place I was drinking at was a little low-lit to make a fully accurate determination), I got notes of chocolate and spice, but to me, the prevalent flavor notes were raisins, as well as a fruit cake note. With just the mild amount of booziness, the beer is 9.6% ABV, I could almost reclassify the last note as rum cake or something similar. Some other fruits, such as plums, joined the raisin note. This was a tremendous beer to drink, but was only part of Imperial Stout experience this weekend.

My next collaboration was between Westbrook Brewing Company in Mt. Pleasant, SC and Denmark's eccentric Evil Twin Brewing. They essentially brought their own Imperial Stouts together to form a new Imperial Stout. Evil Twin combined their Imperial Biscotti Break with Westbrook's amazing Mexican Cake, slammed all the words together, and created Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break, and I'm about 95% sure I got all those words in the right order. As expected, this Imperial Stout pours near pitch black, and had a pretty tan head. This beer is 10.5% ABV, but that alcohol blends into the flavor profile very well. Flavor notes include lots of chocolate and vanilla, as well as cinnamon and perhaps some brown sugar (perhaps I am detecting this from another type of spice). There was also a bit of coffee on the back end of the drinking experience. Just like the beer above, this was another excellent drinking experience.

Beers in Review: Sextet

With the upcoming series of Irish beers this week, I don't want to leave any kind of backlog of pending beer reviews. So, I'll be knocking out six different beers in today's review. Let's get to it!

Leading off is Goose Island Beer Company's Green Line Pale Ale. It pours a crystal clear gold or honey color. Generally mild and well-balanced, initial impressions are of piney and citrusy hops and a hint of fruitiness. This all leads to a mild maltiness in the finish, along with some herbal flavors. The ABV is slightly high to fit into this category, but this pale ale otherwise falls into the "sessionable" category.

Next up is Brewery 85's Quittin' Time. Pouring a pale gold with a moderate amount of body and a notable amount of carbonation (with a white, pillowy head), this beer had some grassy and biscuit or grainy notes, but the most notable flavors were that of banana, and some kind of spice, something in the clove/all-spice vein (though, that may just be me interpreting the banana flavor).

Westbrook Brewing Company's Bearded Farmer #5 (also called "Thornhill") is a combination of sour and non-sour ales. Westbrook's Bearded Farmer series is a series of Saisons, which makes this all add up to quite a complex beer. A pale-yellow color, the first thing that hits are the citrusy notes from the sour side. The sour kick is noticeable but pretty mild, not overwhelming like some sours (this is helped by the "hybridness" of the ale). Eventually, the flavors transform into some very light grains as well as some funky Belgian notes along with some fruity Belgian sweetness. I would have called this one of the most complex beers I've had recently, if not for what came after this last night...

Evil Twin Brewing always makes stuff that's out there. It's not a surprise--they're from Denmark. Their collaboration with Connecticut's Two Roads Brewing Company resulted in Two Evil Geyser Goze. Now, because I don't think you'll believe my impressions, I feel the need to quote the Two Roads website's description of this beer, where they used "Icelandic moss, rye, herbs, sea kelp, skyr (Icelandic yogurt) and birch-smoked sea salt" in creating this beer. The Geyser Goze pours a light lemon color, and has very little body. Flavor notes? Smoky. Vegetal. Seaweed, of course. Peas (like, the vegetable). Once my palate started to adapt a little bit, I got some sweet hints, most notably of strawberries, but it was very faint. It wasn't sour, and only barely sweet. I can appreciate what Evil Twin and Two Roads were going for, but at the end of the day, it wasn't a beer for me.

Alpine Beer Company's Duet IPA brought me back down to earth a bit. Maybe it was just my palate recovering, but I found this beer to be quite straight-forward. A nice golden color with some body, I got a strong grassy aroma. Flavors of piney hops and sweet fruitiness. Pretty light overall. I enjoyed this beer, but I probably need to give it a second chance considering how extreme its predecessor was.

Finally, Southern Tier Brewing Company's 2X Smash, a Double IPA. Again, this is a beer I may need to revisit at a later date, but my local watering hole seemed to be excited about it, and had it in very short supply. I found the color beautiful, a rose gold (reddish-gold) hue. The DIPA led off with mild dank hops that leads to lots of nice tropical fruit notes--things like passion fruit, mango, and maybe some citrus. The hops were present but there was no bite; a bit of hop sweetness blended well with these tropical notes. The result was pleasantly sweet without being overwhelming.

Beers in Review: A couple of hoppy beers

We start off with a collaboration. Evil Twin Brewing has always been among the more eccentric entities in the craft beer scene. This weekend, I tried a collaboration with 7venth Sun Brewery, their Citra Sunshine Slacker. Hops take center stage in this session IPA with complex flavors and a very delicate balance. Citrus fruits, especially grapefruit, and a little bit of dankness came out of the hops. There wasn't a ton of bitterness, and no sweetness at all to me. As the IPA warmed up, the hops opened up, and there was almost a hint of smokiness, but it wasn't at all off-putting.

Next up was Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's Hoppy Roots. Given Sierra Nevada's typical beer crafting, and with this beer's name, I was very surprised to find this beer wasn't super-hoppy! In fact, I found this beer to be incredibly balanced, almost to the point of being malt-forward pale ale. Dank and swampy hops contributed to the flavor, and opened and bittered up a bit as it warmed. There was also a dark fruit or almost red wine flavor in the back end. Overall, a pleasantly surprising beer from one of the craft beer titans.

Beers in Review: The night is dank, and full of hops

If I were better at this internet personality/blogger thing, I'd definitely have the "Game of Thrones" theme running in the background of this page. It's fine. Just sing it in your head. I know you know it. Anyway, we'll get to that.

Low Life Pilsner, another in Evil Twin's eclectic line-up, produces grainy, straw-like notes combined with some hoppy sweet notes that set it apart from your typical Pilsner. Initially, I thought I detected some citrusy hop varietals, but these quickly fell into more herbal notes as the beer warmed up.

As folks living in the crossover of the craft beer fan/"Game of Thrones" Venn diagram are no doubt aware, Cooperstown, New York's Ommegang has been producing "GoT"-inspired beers on an annual basis, with Three-Eyed Raven Dark Saison marking their 5th release. Three-Eyed Raven is nearly pitch-black with a thick tan head. Hints of red wine mix with sweet chocolate notes and a fairly strong alcoholic note, pretty surprising given the relatively low ABV of 7.2%. Pretty dry finish.

New Belgium Ranger IPA featured a strong piney hop profile. This hop bitterness dominates, especially in the middle and end of the sip, along with a powerful hop aftertaste. Not for the casual IPA drinkers (whatever that means), in my opinion, but I enjoyed it well enough. It did kill my pallet a bit for  the beer that followed (which was Terrapin Hopsecutioner, which I will retry before giving a fair review).