Beers in Review: Odds and Ends

5 beers up for review today, including a couple of homebrews from a family friend. Let's get to it!

We start off with River Falls Red Ale from Thomas Creek Brewery. Their award-winning flagship ale pours a nice copper color, and is medium-bodied. It features a solid malt backbone with dark fruit flavor notes, along with some nice additional caramel and toffee notes. As I said, I am big on malt-forward beers, and this is one of my favorites. A really tasty red ale.

Next up is Firestone Walker Brewing Company's summer seasonal session IPA, called Easy Jack. It's a nice gold color, and opens delightfully grapefruity with a mild hop presence. Citrus notes dominate, with orange joining the initial grapefruit notes. It is an IPA that's pretty smooth, with a pretty clean finish. With a great citrus flavor, and checking in at just 4.5% ABV, this beer nails the definition of "sessionable".

Schlafly Beer's/The Saint Louis Brewery's summer seasonal American IPA pours a nice, hazy golden color. It has a complex flavor profile, leading off with spicy and hoppy notes. This gives way to assorted special citrus notes, including sweet orange candies and orange rind. There is an initially mild hop bitterness, which ramps up big time as it warms. A really nice AIPA.

Finally, two home-brewed beers made by a friend of the family, called Coyote Cool Brewing. The first was supposed to be a Double IPA, though it poured a brownish-copper color. This beer really seems to be more of a brown ale, featuring a nice maltiness and cocoa notes. There was also a minor red wine note, along with some kind of candy. I really enjoyed this beer--it's absolutely delicious. But it was not a Double IPA.

The second offering was a Black IPA with Cocoa Nibs. Pouring a pitch black, this beer had a really good malt/hop balance, with mild bitterness and mild unsweetened cocoa notes towards the back. In talking with the homebrewer, he acknowledged that he wanted more cocoa out of it, and I agree. But I really enjoyed the balance in this beer. I feel like Black IPAs can be tough to nail, but this was a really solid first effort.

Beers in Review: Beers from the Western USA

So, earlier this week, I brought you three beers from a northern Nevada brewery, Great Basin. We will continue today with several more beers from the western half of the United States.

Up first is Red-Headed Stranger from Brasserie St. James. Formally a farmhouse ale, it played like a combination of a more traditional malty red ale and something even more Belgian than a farmhouse tends to be. The flavors tends to lean towards fruity sweetness and heavy malt notes. There was also a slight crackery or bready note going on, but it very much paled in comparision to the first two notes. There was also a little bit of funkiness that isn't a bad thing--it tends to be a result of Belgian yeast strains and other ingredients that lean towards these more Belgian styles. It was a pretty beer (a reddish bronze color) with some very different flavors that I really enjoyed. This Red Headed Stranger was one of my favorite beers in recent memory.

Next up is Ranch Hand American Ale from The Depot Craft Brewery and Distillery. This strikes me as their equivalent of the "pale lager" that so many American beer drinkers are used to, but there is so much more going on with this Ranch Hand. As expected, it pours a light/pale straw color and has a generally light body. There are no exceptionally strong notes with this ale, but plenty of flavor notes to go around, especially for the style. Early on, malt notes can be detected, which then leads to maybe a hint of hops as well as mild berry notes. Crisp throughout, with a clean finish, this beer does a very good job of doing what it wants to do.

Big Daddy IPA is from Speakeasy Brewing Company (who picked up the excellent web address of, and has a fascinating complexity of flavor. Pouring a golden-orange color, the hop profile is prominent, with piney and dank flavors. The initial hop bitterness is fairly mild but ramps up as it warms. There is also a strong impression of dark fruity sweetness that almost makes this ale play like a Double IPA, but the ABV (6.5%) doesn't really support that. I also got a hint of perhaps some kind of mild spice, but I couldn't place it exactly.

Finally, an English-style ale from Firestone Walker. Their flagship beer is called DBA, or Double Barrel Ale. A straight forward ale that pours a pretty copper color, DBA has a medium body with initial malty and grainy notes. These notes eventually lead into sweet notes of caramel and toffee. DBA is well-executed and very enjoyable.

Beers in Review: A miscellaneous pair

Another beer I had while at the parents' place for the holidays was Philadelphia-based Yards Brewing Company's Love Stout. Really solid overall, it pours a beautiful inky black, and doesn't have a ton of body. Flavors are fairly standard for stouts, but really quite delicious; cocoa notes take the lead, along with a hint of coffee. Toasted malts are also integrated into the flavor profile. A really well done stout.

Now, we cross 3 time zones to the West Coast's Firestone Walker Brewing Company, and their well-regarded Union Jack IPA. A pale gold-ish color, there are some hops with dank and citrus notes. The Union Jack sports lots of flavor with mild fruit and malty sweetness. Maybe a bit of alcohol is present (7.5% ABV), but it certainly doesn't detract. If it were any sweeter, it might push into the Double IPA territory. Overall, really great with a major hop punch.