Beers in Review: A good beer night

Last night was a really good beer night for me. We'll get to them in the back half of this review. We'll be starting with a seasonal from SweetWater Brewing Company.

Goin' Coastal is their summer seasonal, an IPA with pineapple. Surprisingly, the citrusy hops used in the beer are what I picked up first, getting some grapefruit notes. A blend of tropical notes, including the aforementioned pineapple. The beer didn't have a ton of body, but I found it to be really juicy, especially in the finish, which I attribute to the fruit used in the process. Overall, though, I felt like I got more citrus (citrus and pineapple can be a bit similar, right?), along with some piney hop notes.

Next up was a "Star Trek"-themed beer, one of several being made this year in honor of the franchise's 50th anniversary in 2016. Brewing by Shmaltz Brewing under the fictional "Federation of Beer" banner, this particular was called Vulcan Ale (Genesis Effect), after "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock". After getting over the gimmick--seriously, check out this bottle:

--I dove into the beer. It's a bit hard to tell on the bottle, but it's a red session IPA, and it pulled off the balance very well. Pouring a reddish-copper color, I found the beer to be pretty malt forward with some dark fruit notes, and mild pine hop notes.

Getting into some beers from last night, I first had the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Lexington Brewing and Distilling. This beer pours a reddish copper hue, and spends up to six weeks in bourbon barrels, yielding many delightful flavor notes. I initially got vanilla, followed by some burnt sugar, and malted milk balls towards the end. It also contains a very small amount of booziness, but it's not even close to overpowering.

Finally, Founders Brewing's Kentucky Breakfast Stout, another beer spending time in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, though this beer is aged for a full year before bottling and release. Between this and the style (Imperial Stout), the result is tons of flavor and lots of alcohol (12% ABV). Lots of coffee, and TONS of chocolate flavor notes. I got a mild amount of bourbon booziness, though less than I expected. It was pretty sweet overall, with some smoke hints throughout and a bit of a smoky aftertaste. This was my first time having this highly-regarded, and it was truly terrific.

Programming note: Tomorrow (June 20th) is the first day of Summer, and as a result, I will be doing a video about some of my favorite summer beers, including a new beer review or two! Stay tuned!

Beers in Review: Best Beer Week Ever!

Today I have three beers that are all over the place, style-wise, and are some of the most dynamic beers I've ever tried. This will include one of a few upcoming beers from Lagunitas, thanks to the magic of a local tap takeover.

But before we get into that, let's start with Fuego del Otono by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. It pours a deep, dark golden color, and while listed as a saison or beire de garde, at its soul this is a funky sour ale. Lemon notes are present, as is a hint of grapefruit. The root of this beer is a mighty Belgian funkiness that persists throughout the entire sip and even strengthens as it warms. I also got an aftertaste of lemon rind. I enjoyed this beer, but after about 3/4ths of a glass the warming funkiness combined with the sour notes overwhelmed me a bit.

Next up is Sumatra Mountain Brown from Founders Brewing Company. "Sumatra" is referring to the Indonesian island that provides a considerable amount of the coffee we drink today. Pouring a very dark brown with a light tan head, I drew a roasted coffee aroma (the descriptors that came to my mind were "mighty" or "hefty", reflecting how powerful that aroma was). This beer has plenty of roasty and earthy flavors along with straight up coffee, especially in the aftertaste and when breathing out after drinking. I also detected a mild amount of chocolate and some moderate coffee bitterness. A tremendous beer.

Finally, The Waldos' Special Ale by Lagunitas Brewing Company. This is a TRIPLE IPA that pours a deep gold leaning towards copper color and has a good amount of body. Lagunitas describes it as the "dankest and hoppiest beer" they brew, and it delivers. Powerful aromas of dank grapefruit and grapefruit rind. Flavors are similar, but also include a little bit of dark fruit, and a little bit of hop bite as well as a citrus hop aftertaste. Considering the ABV (11.5%), the booziness stays in the background fairly well, only pushing forward a little bit as it warms up.

It's a fairly rare occurrence to have such a trio of high quality and highly regarded beers in the span of a week. This may have been my best beer week ever.

Beers in Review: Pale Ales

For this week's written blog entries, I have a quartet of pale ales to write about. We'll cover the first two right now.

After checking my notes, I realized I reviewed this beer in December. It's quite a bit sooner than I would want to repeat a beer, but as a year-round release, I'm fairly confident it's from a different production batch, so let's do it. Lagunitas Brewing Company's Daytime Fractional IPA is a high quality sessionable IPA. It pours a pretty clear gold color and has a pretty low body. Big, bold citrus flavors are very strong on the palate, along with some dank and piney hop flavors. Overall, it is very well-balanced, bright, crisp, and easily drinkable.

I also had Founders Brewing Company's seasonal fruity IPA, Azacca. Having medium body and pouring a red-gold, similar to a dark ruby red grapefruit, this pretty color sets the tone for the flavor of the beer. It is quite crisp and features flavors of fruits and tropical fruits, including passion fruit and papaya. I feel like there was also some mango and maybe peach there, as well, but there was less of the two latter than the two former. The tropical fruits are well-balanced against a mild amount of hoppy bitterness. This is a really neat beer with a really neat flavor profile--it's not a profile you see often in a lot of readily available IPAs. The last one with such a strong tropical profile was the Sierra Nevada Tropical IPA.

Later this week, more pales from a couple of lesser-known breweries. Also, expect the first of the week's two video reviews tomorrow!

Beers in Review: 3 beers, including an oldie and an oh-so-goodie

Red Hare Cotton Tail Pale Ale: A solid pale with largely piney hops, maybe with a hint of citrus (unless that was just hop bite). Pretty refreshing overall with a clean finish. Again, solid all around, but nothing too deep. At just 5% ABV, also fairly sessionable for a quality craft pale.

From time to time, beers tend to unintentionally stay in my pantry or fridge for a little too long. As a general rule, I tend to not publish reviews for these beers, as it can represent an unfair view of the beers' qualities. Rest assured, in a situation such as this one, I will always publicly make a note of it. While I have no doubt this beer's flavor changed, I found it still held up well, flavor-wise. The beer in question is Founders Centennial IPA. The hop profile tended to be in the background compared to flavors of dark fruit, possibly plum, and some caramel. There was also a fairly noticable booze note (7.2% ABV). The bottle was right at one year old, and I wonder if that contributed to some of sweetness, or at least the lesser hop notes. But I found it to still be a quite drinkable beer.

The final beer in this review is a simply legendary Abbey Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus. St. Bernardus Abt 12 is a Belgian Quad, and one of the original, long-time tentpoles of the craft beer industry. Coming in a 10% ABV, the boozy note comes through at the end of the sip as it warms up, but the flavor is dominated by dark fruit, red wine notes, and a solid cherry sweetness. It's exceptionally smooth, as those dark fruits follow all the way through the sip until the beer leaves your mouth. An excellent beer, to put it mildly, and one I can put on my imaginary top shelf of great beers I've tasted.