Friday, June 5, 2009

Beer Review: Weyerbacher Unfiltered Double Simcoe IPA

In a fairly recent Beer Advocate review of Boulevard Brewing Double Wide IPA, I noted that more Double IPAs should be offered in Bottle Conditioned corked and caged bottles. It just makes them that much more tasty! I have to think that just maybe someone at Weyerbacher stumbled upon my review because just a few weeks later they announced that they would be doing a limited release of an unfiltered version of their Double Simcoe IPA, which is brewed using only Simcoe hops. I have been a fan of this beer for several years, but had not had it in while, so I was anxious to see what bottle conditioning does to it. I poured the beer into a Duvel snifter a nice hazy dark amber with a very frothy abundant light tan head. I had to wait and let the head die down and then top it off again, and even then, the head lasted nicely. Aroma was a decent amount of nicely balanced pine hops and caramel hops. The taste was a wonderful abundance of pine hops and burnt caramel malts with a nice touch of yeast all blending together very well and leaving a nice bitter but smooth finish, absolutely exceptional! The beer is certainly on the heavy side with a decent amount of sticky alcohol, but it is matched nicely with a smooth slight dryness and decent carbonation that makes it fairly tolerable. Overall, this is certainly a huge step up for an already very special beer. I have to beg Weyerbacher to not just leave this as a limited release, retire the filtered version and just release it like this from now on! In fact, I would hope that many other breweries that brew tasty Double IPAs; Victory, Bell's, Moylan's, Avery, Great Divide, and numerous others, please follow suit, at least do a limited release of your Double IPAs unfiltered in corked and caged bottles!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beer Review: Big Boss Monkey Bizz-ness

Support your local brewery! Big Boss Brewing Company has been around for several years now after a rebranding of Edenton Brewing Company. The only beer that survived the rebranding with the same name was their Belgian Farmhouse ale known as Surrender Monkey. The name sounds innocent enough but it is actually an offensive racial slur against the French that originated in the aftermath of World War II, most famously used by Grounskeeper Willy in an old episode of The Simpsons. I don't know if that had any factor in the new name this year, but I'm sure it didn't help. Anyway, even under a new name, this one always makes for a great beer. The beer is a little different every year, and many times pushes the limits of the style, sometimes so much it can be debated it is not a Saison, but its always a very refreshing beer that I could certainly see farmhands coming home to after a long day working in the hot sun. This year the beer is known as Monkey Bizz-ness and clocks in at 9.3% ABV and it certainly shows the next morning! This is my second growler of this years batch and it was poured into a Dogfish Head Signature glass a hazy pale orange with a nice off-white head that diminishes to a ring and leaves slight lacing. Aroma is a nice blend of sweet malts, orange peel, slight citrus and a touch of booze. The taste is a nice crisp complex blend of sweet malts and spice with just a hint of sourness, a bit of citrus hops make their presence known while keeping a low profile. The beer is medium bodied with a decent alcohol presence that is not overbearing at all, the beer still possesses all the refreshment you expect from the style. This is where the hangover potential comes in, while there is slight alcohol presence the refreshment hides the alcohol very well and it can certainly sneak up on you. I've always looked forward to the release of Surrender Monkey, and even under its new name, this one doesn't disappoint. Rumor has it another batch will be brewed shorlty and a limited bottle release will hopefully happen. I certainly hope so, as a recent vertical release of recent batches at the brewery shows, this one ages well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Beer Review: Ballast Point Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

Ballast Point Brewing Company is the latest West Coast brewery to be available here in central NC. So far, I've only seen two of their beers on-tap in the area, but both of them have been oak-aged, so that's certainly a good thing! Their Brandy-barrel aged Navigator Dopplebock was the best Dopplebock I have ever had. I also got to try their Bourbon-barrel aged Black Marlin porter, however, as it was the day of the World Beer Festival, Woody's City Market was serving all of their beers in plastic cups. Needless to say, even in a plastic cup, this one was very enjoyable. I hope to make it back there to try it from a glass. This review, however, is of their Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter. I have to say, Porters have always been some of my favorite beer. When I ordered my first homebrew kit in 2006 and got to pick the style of my first batch to be included in the cost, I chose Robust Porter with no hesitation. I even added some iced coffee to the batch and had it turn out great! This was in early April, however, and I quickly learned that my taste for dark beers, along with the taste of most other craft beer drinkers, tends to diminish as Summer takes hold and the temperatures rise. It's now more than a week into May of 2009 and here in NC, we didn't even get a Spring this year, it skipped straight into summer about a month ago. Surprisingly to me, my taste for dark beer has yet to be affected. The beer was poured from a 22oz bomber into a Duvel snifter a nearly opaque black with a nice lasting frothy light tan head that leaves great lacing on the glass. Aroma is fresh ground coffee up-front with plenty of brown malts, cocoa and a hint of vanilla. The taste is a nice blend of fresh coffee and brown malts and chocolate, quite intriguing as many coffee porter's don't tend to pull the balance off like most coffee stouts, this one is certainly an exception! The beer is medium bodied with the 10% ABV very well hidden. I have to say, Ballast Point makes some very unique and enjoyable beers! I'm glad that they're available in this area and look forward to trying more of their great brews!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Beer Review: Wedge Belgian Abbey

Asheville had emerged over the past several years as one of the top Craft Beer towns of the South East. Last Autumn Wedge brewing opened becoming the sixth brewery in Buncombe county. So far, three of their beers have been released in 1 Liter swing-top bottles; Golem, a Belgian style Strong Pale Ale, Super Saison, and today's subject, Belgian Abbey Ale, a Dubel. I poured this one into a Duvel snifter a crisp dark copper with a nice lasting khaki head that leaves great lacing on the glass. Aroma is a nice amount of dried fruits, caramel and a touch of molasses. The taste is a nice complex blend of dried fruits and caramel malts with a nice lingering touch of Belgian spice. The beer is medium bodied with light carbonation and it's 7.6% alcohol content very well hidden, this one is quite refreshing. So far I have been fairly impressed with the beers I've had from Wedge. The first beer I had from them was a truly wonderful Raspberry Imperial Stout that successfully treaded the fine line of raspberry and traditional Stout flavors that many brewers cross too far one way or another in flavored beers. They also make a very tasty IPA as well as a smooth refreshing Pale Ale. While I was personally a little disapointed by Golem, I did still find it enjoyable, and many others who have had it seem to love it. I must say, I was truly impressed with this Abbey Ale. Dubels are not one of my favorite Belgian styles, but I do enjoy properly brewed ones when the mood hits, and not many American Breweres get the style right. I'm very pleased to say that Wedge did, and I look forward to drinking this one again!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beer Review: Lagunitas Hop Stoopid

I got my first taste of Lagunitas about two years ago and I have been a fan ever since. I was psyched last summer when I found out that Mims Distributing would be carrying their beers in out area. Mims is the local distributor of Miller, Sam Addams, Sierra Nevada among others including Big Boss. I had picked up several of there beers while passing through Virginia and had especially enjoyed their seasonals. Much to my dismay, their seasonals have been rather few and far between in this area. I can find thier IPA at Harris Teeter, but the only seasonals I've seen in Raleigh were their Lucky 13 and one of their Frank Zappa series "We're Only In It For The Money." Bruisin' Ales in Asheville (who uses a different distributor) gets all of their seasonals. Needless to say, I was pleased to see Hop Stoopid at Sam's Blue Light in Durham, hopefully this is a sign of things to come. I first tried this beer at Tyler's in Durham while Lagunitas was their featured brewery and remember enjoying it. I poured the bomber into a Duvel snifter to reveal a nice crisp bubbly orange with a great frothy eggshell head. The aroma was a nice amount of crisp citrus hops with a hint of pine and a nice backing of sweet malts. The taste wass a nice balance of crisp citrus and pine hops with a decent amount of sweet malts backing them up but leaving a nice bitter hop finish. The beer was fairly light, crisp and refreshing with well hidden alcohol that shows a little stronger in the finish. This one was very enjoyable on a hot summer-like night, and hopefully it and Lagunitas' other seasonals will become easier to find.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Torpedo

The last of my new beer reviews (for now) is Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, the first new year-round release by Sierra Nevada in over a decade, and just as interesting, the brewery that is known for its distinctive West-coast hop profile that is present in nearly all of their beers, has produced its first year-round IPA in its 30 years of existence. I first tasted this brew in an early incarnation about a year ago when it was one of the most memorable beers I sampled at the 2008 Raleigh World Beer Fest. Later that summer, a limited draft run found its way to the Raleigh Flying Saucer, and I was lucky enough to enjoy a pint on a $2.75 Monday pint night. I was very excited earlier this year to learn it would become a year-round release, and it has now become one of the few beers I try to always have on hand, especially at $8.99 a sixer. For this review I poured a 12oz bottle into a Corsendonk tulip. The beer pours a crisp bubbly orange with a nice frothy head that leaves great lacing. The aroma is loads of citrus and pine hops with predominant sweet malts backing them up. The taste is a wonderful amount of bitter pine hops dancing nicely with burnt caramel malts. The beer has a touch of dryness along with its medium body that provides nice refreshment and leaves you craving that next sip. This time last year, Bell's Two Hearted was my go-to IPA, and I was paying $38.99 a case for it at Total Wine, or $9.75 a sixer, I am exstatic that I can now get a better beer for less and I can find it at my local Harris Teeter. Keep up the great work Sierra Nevada, and for God's sake, offer this one on draft again already!

Beer Review: Victory Wild Devil (Hops Gone Wild!!!)

There's no denying I love my IPAs. While Victory Hop Devil has not been that high on my list, I do enjoy it every now and then. I'm certainly more of a fan of their yearly Fresh Hop Double IPA Hop Wollop. I have also been a fan of the many wonderful funky sour ales that are being produced with Brettanomyces yeast, a strain which wine makers consider to be an infection, but many brewers now carefully cultivate to produce some very intriguing brews. My first beer brewed with Brett was Russian River Temptation, which was reminded me of Eye Poppers candy, a very interesting and enjoyable beer. Ommegang Ommegedon is a Wild Ale that is becoming not that hard to find, it has some qualities of a Belgian Saison with a nice Brett funkiness. This is the first IPA I have seen that is brewed with Brett, so I am very intrigued to try it. I poured the beer into a Duvel snifter and a soft pour produced an abundant frothy head that was very slow to diminish. Aroma was a nice blend of funky spice, Earthy hops and the German malts that are familiar to Hop Devil. Taste was an absolute plethora of flavor, crisp citrus hops, funky Brett sourness and sweet malts dance nicely together and leave a nice sour bitterness on the tongue. The beer is quite light and refreshing with decent carbonation and is very refreshing. I came into this one expecting to be intrigued, but surprisingly, I REALLY like this beer, this is one of the best beers I've had yet from Victory. I have to say, I would LOVE to see a limited release of Wild Wollop this fall.