Beers in Review: 4 from the weekend

It was a holiday weekend, which of course led to numerous drinking opportunities, and a fresh set of beers to review. Let's dive in!

We start with the Coulter IPA from Cismontane Brewing Company, which pours a deep gold color and has very little head when poured. Strong citrus and pine hops notes are the first things to hit my palate when I take a sip, along with a strong but overpowering bitterness. It's fruity with, to me, a juicy mouthfeel. There is a slight bit of booziness (the beer checks in at 7.2% ABV), and the beer finishes quite clean, given how powerful all the flavors are.

Next up is Unknown Brewing Company's Bound for Carolina Imperial Brown Ale. The ale had a light cola color, and amazing powerful flavors, including tons of cocoa and chocolate, dark fruits, and cola. I also got some brownie or chocolate cake notes and a toasted note that crossed with the brownie to taste like the burnt or better-done edges of the brownie pan. Despite a fairly high ABV of 8.7%, there was no booziness to detect--it likely blended well into the numerous sweeter flavor notes. I also want to say that despite these numerous sweet flavors, it wasn't too sweet. It was close, but Unknown did a really nice job hitting the apex of tolerance, at least for my palate.

Next is Red Banshee by Fort Collins Brewery. Pouring a reddish-copper color, Red Banshee has straight forward flavors, including chocolate malts and hints of cola and possibly sweet caramel or some other sugary substance. Very malty, which is right up my alley.

Finally, from Founders Brewing Company, I had the Mango Magnifico con Calor, a part of Founders' experimental Backstage Series. A fruit beer (mango, obviously) brewed with habanero peppers, the result is a beer that is quite sweet, and can push that edge into overpowering. Fortunately, the mangoes have a cozy relationship with the peppers, each tempering the other just enough that neither the sweetness nor the spiciness kills the beer. There is a spice note that starts out as slight and grows perfectly, never going overboard, as so many pepper-infused beers do. Clocking in at 10%, there is also a slight booziness, especially as it warms, but most of that booziness blends into the sweet mango notes. This is a fantastic offering from Founders.

Beers in Review: In which we define "palate wrecker"

Three very different beers on tap for review today. We'll get into what the post title means in a bit.

Leading off is the Shot Down Chocolate Stout from Fort Collins Brewery. As expected, the stout is a dark brown to cola color (the brewery calls it "light black", which made me laugh a bit). I normally struggle to pull a lot out of the aroma, but lots of roasty and toasty notes were detectable in the Shot Down. The roast and toast continue in the flavors, along with the expected present-but-not-overpowering chocolate. There were also hints of smoke and coffee, and as I drank, I discovered the cocoa and chocolate notes tended to hang around on the palate after drinking.

Next up is a small batch single IPA from Weyerbacher Brewing Company simply known as IPA #1. Pouring a pretty gold color, 4 different hops used in the making of this IPA result in a massive and complex hop flavor profile. Dank and funky along with some tropical notes all powered to the front of the sip, and I also detected some herbal notes further on in the sip. The bitter notes are very prominent and linger after drinking. To me, this is what's known as a "palate wrecker": a beer where the flavors are so overwhelming that you can't really have any more beers and expect to get any accurate flavors from them. Some IPAs with strong hop profiles, such as this Weyerbacher IPA #1, can fall into this category (and one such IPA is actually called "Palate Wrecker"). You just hope it doesn't fall at the beginning of a drinking session, like it did for me. I enjoyed this beer, but I found my taste buds overwhelmed after the fact.

Finally, a live tasting of Sierra Nevada's wheat ale, called Kellerweis. It pours a fairly clear pale gold color, and had about a quarter-inch of pure white head (foam) that has mostly dissipated after sitting about 10 minutes, though a surface layer still exists. Upon the first sip, sweet flavors, including mild grape and lots of spice notes are heavily present. Cloves, among the spices, is at the forefront, as is common in many hefeweisens/wheat ales. Notes of banana are also present nearing the end of the sip, along with some bready and mealy notes. This is a fairly well-executed example of the hefeweisen style.