Beers in Review: A Pair of Pale Ales

Opening up today’s BiR is a highly-regarded offering that comes out every February from NoDa Brewing Company in Charlotte. Hop Cakes Imperial IPA comes out of their bi-monthly Specialty IPA series, and stays true to the name, with loads of Vermont maple syrup included in this recipe. The numbers on this beer are massive: 10.2% ABV, somewhere in the neighborhood of 110+ IBU. It pours a clear solid gold color, and the maple syrup first comes through in a powerfully sweet aroma. In the beer itself, I found plenty of booy sweetness and maple syrup notes, but they surprisingly didn’t overwhelm me (and I’m one that can be overwhelmed by that sweetness fairly easily). Other flavor notes include just a hint of pine and a mild hop bite, and the booziness ramps up as it warms.

Second up today is COAST Brewing Company and their Dead Arm American Pale Ale. 6% ABV, this beer pours a pale gold color with a very slight haze. I found the beer to be fairly light in flavors and body, with citrus and other fruit notes. A mild hop bite with some nice grassy and crackery notes are also present—that hop bite tended to really come through in the finish.

Beers in Review: Two from NoDa, one from Coast

Let's dive right in.

A have a pair of beers from NoDa Brewing Company. First up is the Ramble on Red, pouring a reddish-copper hue. Leading off, flavor-wise, were some bready malts and some fruity notes. I also detected a little bit of funkiness and some mild hop bitterness. Overall, I found it quite straight-forward, flavor-wise.

Next up from NoDa is the Woody and Wilcox IPA. Similarly straight-forward in flavor, there were some pine hop notes at the start leading to some citrus and just a hint of dankness as well. A very hop-forward beer, it tends to bring a lot of hop bitterness that carries through the entire sip.

For the final beer of this post, I just poured Coast Brewing Company's Dead Arm APA (American Pale Ale). The Dead Arm pours a hazy lemon-gold color with a decent amount of fluffy, white head. The first sip yields a complex hop variety--dank and piney hops lead off but very quickly lead into juicy, fruity notes, most notably apricot. Some citrus notes are also hanging around, mostly orange and slight grapefruit. There's maybe a little bit of a white wine hit there, but it's very faint. The end brings some mild bitterness, nothing too off-putting, along with some spiciness. I was delightfully surprised by the flavor complexities in this beer. It is a well done APA.

Beers in Review: Miscellaneous Trio

After the WBF posts, I have a bit of a backlog of beers from pre-festival.

In one of the festival posts, I professed my love for NoDa Brewing Company's Jam Session Pale Ale (which I'd mistakenly called an IPA). Earlier in the week, I had their winter seasonal, called Cold Crash. It pours a reddish-bronze hue, and has a moderate to full body. I caught a hint of a nutty aroma, and a good amount of dark fruit flavors along with some malty hints and maybe a bit of hops. Pretty tasty beer. I've generally enjoyed the beers of NoDa.

Another solid brewery, I find, is Lonerider Brewing Company, and their Sweet Josie is a top-flight Brown Ale, in my opinion. Pouring a deep, dark brown, this full-bodied Brown has a ton of flavors going on: nutty flavors, caramel, cola, sweet chocolate. Really, really tasty. This Brown stands out in a category that can be a little stagnant.

Finally, a collaboration between Tradesman Brewing Company and the World of Beer bar chain. Called Boil Advisory (as a fundraiser for Columbia's disastrous flooding late last year), it was a very dark brown to nearly pitch black--to the point that I needed to basically look at it directly through the afternoon sun to get any color through it. Pretty complex flavors throughout this Black IPA, as a coffee hint combines with the hops to make the beer quite bitter to start. From there, it resolves to assorted sweetness (some cocoa, a bit of fruit) and some hints of spice.

Recovery and Reflection: World Beer Fest Highlights, Part 1

Well, here we are again. I am recovered from Saturday's boozy experience and Sunday's football insanity to return to the blogosphere.

Columbia's version of the World Beer Festival was held on Saturday. I could never remember everything I had, and I have notes on many beers, but I just want to give some highlights from my drinking experiences.

First, I think NoDa Brewing's Jam Session IPA might be my favorite IPA right now, and is up there on my favorite beer list (or at least, favorite regularly-available beer list). It's loaded with grapefruit flavor and aroma that blends well with the hop bitterness. It has big bold flavors, but didn't really seem to be much of a palate wrecker to me.

Swamp Cabbage Brewing had their Anniversary Ale on hand. It had a nice malt sweetness with mild hop and fruit flavors. Very nice.

Prior to and at the festival, I tried out Catawba Brewing Company from Morganton, NC after just recently starting to see them around Columbia. I had the Farmer Ted's Cream Ale (which seems to be the base beer to appeal to the pale lager drinkers of the world) at a local bar and the White Zombie White Ale at the festival. They both had fairly similar characteristics--a lot of grain and generally mild flavors. This was expected in the Cream Ale, but I'd have liked a little more out of the White Zombie. Still, I'll give them another try if/when I see them around here.

One of the first beers I had was D9 Brewing Company's Black Ice Imperial Black Ale. Aged in various sorts of barrels, including Canadian whiskey barrels, this ale had lots of booze and boozy sweetness (it checks in at 10% ABV), along with some coffee notes and maybe a hint of chocolate, though that may have just blended in with the booze.

This seems like a good stopping point for today. Tomorrow, I'll comment on a few other beers I had, along with some interesting ciders, if you'll indulge me on some Pourly Reviewed Ciders. Cheers.