Monday, May 22, 2017

This mixed six is entirely random.

Barrel Chest has been my favorite Roanoke beer store for a few years now. They have a great bottle selection and plenty to choose from on tap, by the glass or for your growler. Just lately they've been brewing their own beers. I've not sampled every one of the house brews, but I've tried several, and I have not yet had a bad one. This one right here is my favorite so far.

Entire Double Brunch is an imperial stout aged in maple syrup rye whiskey barrels with coffee, cinnamon, and vanilla beans. Yes, that is a lot to pack into a stout. No, I can't pick up on each distinct flavor. But, damn, this thing amounts to a big, warm, rich, absolutely delicious stout that I would buy regularly if I could. It's only available at the location right now, and they aren't filling growlers, but I'm glad I had a glass during my last visit. This beer is very dark brown with a lot of foam. The aroma is warm and sweet and very inviting. The barrel and the cinnamon are what dominate the aroma and the flavor, in my opinion. But that isn't to say this beer is all barrel or all spice. It folds together into something really unique. Entire Double Brunch would make a great dessert, but it's pleanty big enough to make a meal of. Just remember that the ABV (something like 11% if I remember correctly) might sneak up on you.

Petrus Aged Red sour ale is absolutely delicious beer. Just outstanding. It pours copper/brown with a fair amount of foam. The aroma is sweet caramel malt, cherries, and some character from the barrel. The short-hand description is that it kinda smells like Dr. Pepper. The flavor has the tart cherries and the sweet malt, but the barrel shows up with a lot more clarity. Oak and vanilla add to the complexity. As it warms the tartness becomes stronger, but the 8.5% ABV is never present at all. This goes down like candy.

I had hoped that Sierra Nevada River Ryed Rye IPA would be a stealth return of the lamented, long lost Ruthless Rye. It isn’t. It’s not bad, but I can’t help but compare it to Ruthless, and it’s no Ruthless. River Ryed pours a pekoe tea brown, the foam is average. The aroma is an herbal IPA with a very faint rye in the background. The flavor is the same. The rye comes in slightly stronger on the finish, but still in an ultimately understated, sedate way. It’s almost hard to detect, at least in comparison to what I’d hoped for. This is OK. I don’t mind it. I don’t love it. I loved Ruthless, and this ain’t Ruthless. This is ... eh. Not bad. I guess.

Stone's new Revolver IPA series is apparently going to be a series of showcases for single-hop beers. This bottle is from Series 2, which features mosaic hops. Single hop mosaic beers are a good gateway from pale ales to stronger and more complex IPA. This beer shows off mosaic hops in standard fashion. It pours dark yellow with average head, the aroma is dominated by herbal/floral quality of the hops. The flavor is a mellow malt that finishes with bright, clean hops. Not particularly bitter, not the mouth-stomp of the best Stone IPAs. But not bad at all.

Apparently Left Hand's Fade To Black is another series of beers. This series is stouts, and the one I had is Volume One, brewed in the foreign stout style. This beer makes a good argument that a solid stout doesn’t need barrel aging, coffee beans, or other ancillary affectations to stand out. It pours black as hell with an average head that fades quickly. The aroma is anise, strong herbal notes, some lemon and molasses. The flavor is really big, very dark roasted malts and some coriander atop everything in the aroma. I’m still gonna seek out my barrel aged favorites, but stouts like Fade To Black Volume One are a great reminder that there are wonderful beers that never touch oak.

It sounds like a slight, or maybe a back-handed compliment, to say that Deschutes The Abyss Imperial Stout is another good example of a barrel aged imperial stout. But it’s a style that I love when it is done well, and it’s done well here, so my assessment is intended as praise. This beer pours black with a little bit of tan head. There is heavy licorice on the aroma, along with the usual oak/vanilla barrel notes and an herbal quality. The flavor adds some bitter malt/baker’s chocolate stuff to that mix, and it all goes down very smoothly. There is nothing about this that I don’t like.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

This is a mixed six-pack of beers from DuClaw Brewing.

I don’t love the Blood Orange version of DuClaw's Neon Gypsy IPA, but I do like it better than the regular version. The blood orange in this variation seems artificial, but it covers up the astringent quality that put me off the original. This pours bright rust/orange with a fair amount of foam. The aroma is dominated by the sweet orange flavoring, but there is also a little bit of pine/citrus hops character, too. The flavor is big on the orange, but the finish has a little bit of kick. It’s alright.

Sometimes I really don't know. Sometimes I think the problem may be the way I’ve conditioned my palate. Gigantic sledgehammer IPAs and steamroller stouts may have left me ill-tuned to appreciate milder styles. There’s nothing really wrong with DuClaw's Morgazm Blonde Ale. It just doesn’t do anything for me. It pours slightly cloudy yellow/orange with a little foam. The aroma is mild, sweet citrus. The label says grapefruit but this reminds me more of tangerine. The flavor is the same, tangerine, maybe a little lemon, but more sweet than anything. It doesn’t taste bad but I don’t want any more of it.

I was initially underwhelmed by Sweet Baby Jesus, DuClaw's peanut butter porter, the first time I tasted it. I have come to like it more over the years, its a pretty good dessert beer. This coffee infused version, called Sweet Baby Java, sounded like my kind of thing, but the coffee is hardly there at all. To my taste this is basically no different from SBJ. It pours dark brown with quick fading head and smells like a standard porter; chocolate roasty malt with a little bit of coffee (and, yes, some peanut butter). The flavor is the same, and it closes sweet. Sure, there’s a mild coffee quality, but I already picked up on something like coffee in the original recipe. This isn’t bad, its just not really anything new.

Now, with this beer, you can taste the coffee. And I like it. DuClaw's 865cc is a fairly simple, straight-forward coffee stout, but that's a good thing. It pours black with a little bit of fast-fading suds. The aroma is coffee, rich malt, a little bit of chocolate. The flavor is all coffee and malt, but that's what I was hoping for. Some of the coffee stouts I’ve tasted recently have played the coffee card delicately. This one is unapologetically coffee forward. Nothing wrong with that.

Midnight Due is DuClaw's barrel aged sour. It smells very good but somehow fades on the flavor, and that's disappointing. This beer pours dark brown with copper highlights and little foam. The aroma is really nice, oak barrel aging and sour tone combine into a mix of red wine vinegar, vanilla, rock candy and spice. But the flavor is ultimately a little flat, only a fairly straight-forward tart blast comes through with no complexity at all. Ultimately, between the tempting aroma and the so-so taste, this is an ale that writes a check it can’t cash.

This last one is the best of the six, and easily the best thing I've ever had from DuClaw. Hell On Wood barrel aged barley wine is a fantastic example of a high ABV, oak aged barley wine. Strong, rich, and smooth without being overtly hot or medicinal. My bottle was from last year's brewing. I don’t know if it would have been this good had it not been aged a bit, but as it is right now, this is a damn fine bottle of beer. It pours bronze/brown with a bit of foam that quickly fades. The aroma is great; bourbon, oak, vanilla, butterscotch, a little pepper, a little bit of citrus. The flavor is all of that and closes strong and very rich, with a little alcohol curl in the nostrils. I completely enjoyed every drop of this beer. The ABV, just north of 13%, is as well hidden as it could be.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mixed six, all Virginia brews.

I’ve been curious to try Chaos Mountain's Belgian strong ale, Theory of Chaos, but I’d been bracing myself for a superhot alcohol bomb. At 18% ABV, I'm told that Theory of Chaos is the strongest beer brewed in the commonwealth. My expectations for taste were low, it just sounded like a stunt beer. This beer surpasses ... hell, it really just destroys my cynical expectations. Theory of Chaos really tastes good, and the heat is minimal. You could get into a lot of trouble with a four-pack of this thing.

ToC pours very dark brown with crimson/rust hightlights and almost no foam. The aroma is brown sugar, candied dark fruit, something like ginger and figs. The flavor is slightly sweet and warm. Molasses and apples add to the mix on the tongue, each sip is more complex. But sip it slowly. This beer is one seductive piledriver.

Brothers Fire Thief Imperial IPA pours very dark brown to black with a little bit of caramel colored foam. The aroma is really nice, the smoked malt is undeniable. The flavor is heavy on classic stout character, chocolate and roasted malt, a little bit of spice. The smoke is subdued on the flavor, but adds some nice character. Somewhat chewy mouthfeel. Tasty stuff. Some of Brothers imperials often seem a little hot to me. This one is dialed in just right.

Three Notch'd describes Minute Man IPA with words like juicy, fruity, and strong. I think that’s just about right. This beer seems to me to live somewhere between a NE style juice bomb and a classic West Coast hop-monster, and I like it quite a bit. It pours cloudy orange with a decent amount of foam. Aroma is sweet citrus... oranges, tangerines, and the like. The flavor is the same. Not complex at all, just a ton of mildly sweet citrus, but absolutely delicious..

South Street's Acoustic Kitty is a fairly standard double IPA in terms of aroma and flavor, but with a slightly creamy mouthfeel that sets it apart a bit. Pours very cloudy orange with an average to big pile of foam. The aroma is pine resin, some citrus, some notes of green pepper. The flavor starts out malty and closes big and bitter. I’d buy this again.

Young Veterans Jet Noise Imperial IPA appears to be unfiltered, it is a hazy golden color with average head. The aroma is pungent and dense; grapefruit, new cut grass, sour apple, some caramel. The flavor is punctuated with pine resin and cracker malts. A fairly forward double IPA, and not a bad beer at all.

Young Veterans Semper FI P.A. is a tasty, rich, and smooth IPA. It pours cloudy orange with average head. The aroma is a nice combination of rich malt and citra hops, vanilla notes and citrus, with a richer and more herbal hop finish. I enjoyed this beer.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Since I started running a couple of years ago, I've tried to have time for at least one race a month. Sometimes that's tricky, given the demands that shiftwork makes on my schedule. Then there are other times when I can fit in two or even three races in a month. For May of this year I had time for two races. They were my thirty-third and thirty-fourth races since I started racing.

The Huckleberry Jam is a unique race. It's a 7.4 mile long, point-to-point race along the Huckleberry Trail, from Blacksburg to Christiansburg. The race organizers provide shuttle service back to the starting place in Blacksburg after the race. Lucky had planned to run a trail marathon on the morning of the Huckleberry Jam, but a combination of bad weather and a sinus infection changed her plans. So she came along with me, as she's done before, and provided support for my race. This time the support was mostly provided by driving to the finish line so I wouldn't have to take the shuttle back. By the time the race was over, I was really grateful. This race turned out to be on a memorably, unseasonably cold day in early May. And it wasn't just cold, it was also rainy. Running in that stuff turned out to be kinda fun... but standing around sweaty in a parking lot after the race, in cold wind and rain, is not what I would call fun.

There were a lot of challenges that came with this race, besides the wind and rain. The distance was a tricky needle to thread. Last month I ran what I swore, at the time, would be my last 10K. 10K's are hard races, you have to run pretty fast for what feels like a long time, and by the time I finish a 10K I'm usually absolutely beat. This race was very much like a 10K, except a little more than a mile longer, and I surprised myself by finding the wherewithal to maintain my 10K pace for most of the race. This was especially demanding during the last couple of miles of the Huckleberry Jam, which are predominately uphill. (Well, the last two miles are rolling hills, trending upward. Every time you "roll up" again, you roll a little further up than you did last time.)

When it was over, I'd managed to finish 24th in a field of 120 fit, capable runners. My personal goal was to finish the race in less than an hour, and my final time of fifty-six and a half minutes was music to my ears. I didn't place in the open or in my age-group, and doing so would have been nice. But ultimately I was OK with my numbers (my splits were imperfect, but you can't have everything, every time, right?) A couple of the members of my running club were there, too, and it was good to get to see them and run with them. This club is probably the best thing that running has brought into my life. The improvements to my health and well-being are obvious, but my favorite part of this running thing is the good, kind, genuine people that I've met over the past couple of years.

The following weekend I ran the Gallop For The Greenways in Roanoke, Virginia. The Roanoke Greenways is a system of paved and gravel-lined jogging trails, and it's just about my favorite place to run in the world. There are several different greenway trails that make up the entire network, but the Roanoke River Greenway in specific is my favorite. That is where I did my twenty-mile runs during my marathon training last year. That is where I ran the first race (The Roanoke River 8K) that felt like a real success for me. The Roanoke River Greenway is where I found myself as a runner. I cannot guess how many miles I have run on that greenway in total. I've had bad runs there, I've had painful runs there, but I have always felt at home running there. I was very happy to get to run a four mile race on the greenway, the proceeds from which actually went toward the upkeep of the Roanoke greenway system.

I went into the race with a fairly modest goal, to finish the four mile run in anything less than half an hour. My time was almost exactly twenty-nine minutes, so I managed to meet my personal goal. I was the fourteenth runner to cross the finish line in a field of 164, and I won my age group. It felt meaningful and satisfying to me to have such a successful run on the simple, modest jogging trail that I have come to think of as "my greenway."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Here's a megaset of Ballast Point reviews. Not the normal six, this is a mixed twelve-pack.

Wahoo White is a typical wheat beer. It pours cloudy yellow with lots of carbonation and an average head. The smell is of lemon mild cereal malt. The taste is more of the lemon and malt, a little bit of floral hops, and that usual sweet, banana like wheat beer quality. OK, whatever.

There’s nothing wrong with Bonito Blonde Ale, but it isn’t memorable. It pours slightly cloudy yellow with an average head. The aroma is mildly citrus hops and a creamy malt, some notes of straw and bread are there too. The flavor is all of that, and there’s a little hoppy zing in the finish. It’s fine, but I don't want any more of it.

I think that Sea Rose, a tart wheat ale, is just right. It’s crisp and light and very refreshing, the ABV is low, and this thing could become a favorite summertime yardwork beer for me. The color is dark pink/purple/copper colored. Somewhere on that spectrum. The aroma is appetizing. It reminds me of a light wheat ale, a cherry tart, and a little bit of lemon. That’s the flavor, too. The finish is a little more tart, a little bright, and really nice. I enjoyed every drop.

Nitro Red Velvet is a golden stout. It's an interesting experiment, but ultimately not very good. It pours more copper than red, and there isn’t much foam. The aroma is mild vanilla, sweet malt, some citrus. The flavor reminds me of overly sweetened candied yams. I don’t pick up on the promised ancillary flavors, like beets and chocolate. In fact, I don’t pick up on anything I enjoy. This is kind of a crap beer.

Manta Ray Imperial IPA is very good beer. It's well balanced, but still unmistakably imperial. This beer pours hazy yellow without much head. The aroma is citrus, pine resin, buttered bread. The flavor is slightly sweet and malty right at the front, but quickly turns to very big, bitter hop notes. Some onion and vinegar in the mix, too. One of Ballast Point’s best.

I’ve come to like Sculpin quite a lot, and I like Unfiltered Sculpin even more. It pours cloudier orange than the original version (obviously) with average foam. The aroma is tangerines and lemon and buttery malt, but it’s danker and more aggressive than the original version. That sums up the flavor, too. The finish is funky and strong. Ballast Point says this is a limited release. I hope it becomes at least semi-regular.

Big Eye IPA is a cloudy orange with average foam and carbonation. The aroma is slightly dank and a little malty. It’s big, but it isn't outright to the hoppy side. The flavor has that same balance... Grapefruit and malt and floral hops. It isn’t a bit bad, I could have it again, but Ballast Point has better IPAs and far better beers in other styles.

Longfin Lager is a relatively run of the mill lager, and it’s too sweet for me. It pours yellow with a little foam. The aroma is standard lager. Hay, sugar, a little vanilla, a little bit of grassy hops. The flavor is like the aroma, but the finish is sweet enough for this beer to wear out it’s welcome with me pretty quickly.

California Kolsch is actually decent. I'm not a fan of the kolsch style, so I like it more than I expected to. It pours clear yellow/orange with a quick fading bit of foam. The aroma is to the malty side, sort of a just slightly sugary vanilla, plus notes like roses and citrus. The flavor is slightly malty, too. Not overly malty, but this beer isn’t a hop explosion. I could drink this again.

Tart Peach Kolsch isn't really as good as the original California Kolsch. I don't think the tart peach adds anything. It still pours clear yellow/orange with a average to sligght head. The aroma is still malty and floral, but the tart peach notes are there. Maybe a bit too much. It seems like artificial flavoring. It works a little better in the flavor. Slightly malty, slightly grassy, and the peach is slightly tart as promised. But I liked the original California Kolsch better, and found it more surprising.

For a session ale, Even Keel is actually pretty good. It pours orange with a lot of foam. The aroma is citrus and grassy/floral hops. The flavor is actually ... well, the flavor is there. You can taste it. There isn’t a lot on the front, but the finish is a pretty drinkable mix of malt and hops. Most session ales close like water. This one closes like beer. Hell, it actually tastes like an IPA. I like it.

I think I like Mango Even Keel every bit as much as regular Even Keel. It pours clear, bright orange... maybe a little more of a copper color than the original, with a fair amount of foam. The aroma is citrus hops, and the mango is there in the aroma. It smells like something really refreshing. That’s how it tastes, too. Bright, clean and crisp citrus, and more of the mango on the finish. I can’t complain one bit about this beer. I may even drink more of it over the summer.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Six beer reviews, with an emphasis on Brothers Craft Brewing and their collaborators.

Citra Spective Sour IPA is a collaboration between Brothers and NoDA. It is pale, slightly cloudy yellow with a thin head. The aroma is lemons, tangerine, some vegetable notes. I like the flavor, it is strongly sour mid-tongue but there is a little malt character on the finish that reminds me of popcorn. Good beer.

Brothers worked with Ocelot to make Us And Them, an IPA. I’d look for a reason to give this beer a positive review just because of the Pink Floyd themed name and label. Thankfully, I didn’t have to look far. This is a dry, tight IPA that hits the right notes. It pours cloudy yellow with a gigantic head. The aroma is grapefruit, pine resin, garlic. The flavor is mellow at first but closes with a bitter kick. Overall, well balance and tasty.

Night Cap is a porter brewed by Brothers and Crooked Run. This beer pours dark brown with average suds. The aroma is subtle, malty, and slightly sweet. Some dark bread, a little bit of cherry. I like that the cherry doesn’t dominate the flavor, it’s there on the finish and not an overplayed card. This is pretty good.

Of the four beers in this set so far, this one is definitely the winner. (Spoiler alert: it's also the best thing in this whole set of six.) Coconut Shy is a Brothers stout with coconut, and it's really good. It pours black with tan/orange foam and highlights. The aroma is great. The coconut is strong but it isn’t too much. It blends with the malty, chocolaty stout very well. The flavor is a little bit like drinking a Mounds bar. Coconut and dark chocolate and a little coffee. When it comes to sweet stouts, it seems like I either don't like them at all or like them a whole lot. I like this a whole lot.

Brothers Drunken Mornings is an imperial stout. It isn’t bad, but it's really hot. This stout pours dark brown to black with little foam. The aroma is oak barrel in a big, unmistakable quality. The flavor is boozy. Boozy may be understating it. I’ve had booze that wasn’t this boozy. It’s good, don’t get me wrong. Obviously a lot of work went into this thing, and the craft shows. But at more than 12% ABV, it might not hurt to let this one mellow for a fair bit.

Soft Serv is an imperial porter from South Street. It pours chocolate brown with average head. The aroma is rich porter malt character, and some chocolate, but I pick up on more of other notes, like vanilla and some caramel and coffee. The flavor is the same as the aroma, but more so. It’s fairly big and aggressive, and not as overly sweet as I’d worried that it might be.

Six beer reviews.

Southern Tier's 2XSmash Double IPA pours clear orange with a lot of carbonation and foam. The aroma is spicy, bright citrus. I don’t pick up on much, malt-wise, in the aroma. The malt is very subtle on the flavor. This thing is all about the mosaic hop load that dominates the tongue front to back. Slightly dank, bitter, with pine and floral character, pepper and garlic notes, and a slightly oily mouthfeel. Pretty good.

Nu Skool, an IPA by Southern Tier, is a dry, resinous IPA that’s brewed in the west coast style. It doesn’t really add much to the approach, but it’s a faithful rendition. It pours bright, clear yellow with average foam and carbonation. The aroma is strong on the mosiac hops, with pepper and pine character and a little malt sweetness in the background. The flavor is hops up front and then bigger hops on the finish. Pepper, pine and floral notes, and a little bit of burn. It’s fine.

Southern Tier's Raspberry Wheat Beer is a light, slightly malty beer with subtle hops and raspberries that would probably be tasty after a hot day in the summer. Pours purple/pink with a little bit of foam and carbonation. The aroma is yeasty, malty wheat beer with the raspberries in the background. The taste is the same.

Sixth Circle is an IPA/sour hybrid brewed as a collaboration between Parkway Brewing and Devil's Backbone. I like this quite a lot, it’s among the best things I’ve had from Devil’s Backbone. It pours bright, clear amber color with an average to slight amount of foam. Average carbonation. The aroma is funkier than I’d expected. A little salty and sweaty and tangy, reminds me of a gose. The is piercingly tart up front and on the swallow, lemons and sour grapes show up, then floral hops on the finish. I liked this so much when I sampled it in a flight at the brewery that I bought a growler and got a fill right then and there.

Elysian Brewing's Immortal IPA is deep golden in color with a lot of foam that hangs around for a long time. The aroma is mild but there is some bitter hop character and a little bit of autumn squash and mustiness. The flavor is mild malt and then a very average wash of west coast hops. This isn’t bad.

Split Shot is a coffee/milk stout by Elysian Brewing. This would be a damn good dessert/after dinner beer. It pours dark chocolate brown with a little bit of foam. While pouring it the aroma is noticeably sweet, like chocolate milk. The flavor is sweet up front, the chocolate milk quality is still there, but then the coffee hits big on the finish.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Osprey 10K was held at Smith Mountain Lake State Park in Huddleston on  April 8, 2017.  It was my thirty-second race since June of 2015. I'm not sure where it falls with regard to how many 10K races I have run, and I'm just too lazy to count. I haven't run very many of 10K's, I'm sure of that, in spite of the fact that I usually run them fairly well. A 10K is a tough distance ... you have to run hard to be able to compete, but it's difficult to really run hard for 6.2 miles. About six miles is what I run for my daily workout, and I typically run that distance in 50 or 52 minutes. But I knew that in order to finish well at this race, I'd need to run a little faster than that. I went into the race well rested, well fueled, and ready to run. It actually went pretty well.

I managed to finish third place overall, with a final time just under 47 minutes. I feel certain right now that that's just about as fast as I will ever run a 10K. I got close to the front early and managed to stay right behind the leader until the half way mark. Half way through the race, a better runner got around me and I dropped back to third place. But I was able to hold on to third and I finished generally satisfied with my time and my performance.

I'm not sure yet what my May race is going to be. Right now I'm primarily concerned with the marathon I have registered for in June. I'm trying to train for that race, with the modest goal of finishing in anything less than four hours. My May race will ultimately just be another training run toward the June marathon.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Six more, like before.

I love that each installment of Stone's Enjoy By Imperial IPA is usually a little different from the previous one. I thought that the Christmas 2015 release was the best one I've had yet, with a little more juicy punch than the beer sometimes features. But each release of regular Enjoy By (as opposed to some of the variants with ancillary ingredients) has been good. This first offering of Enjoy By (4-20-17) from the relatively new Stone facility in Richmond is another tasty one, as expected. I am indebted to my friend Adam for bringing me a crowler to sample, as is often the case. This iteration of Enjoy By pours bright orange/yellow with a fair amount of foam. The aroma is the usual bitter, citrus hop punch with explicitly lemon and tangerine notes. The flavor is bitter up front and closes with a great combination of that lemon from the aroma with a hint of sweet malt. It amounts to kind of a lemon meringue finish after a big, imperial IPA hop front end. As expected, this round of regulation Enjoy By is delicious, and shows no change my palate can discern from the San Diego brewery versions. You're nailing it here, Stone. Stay away from the chocolate and coffee and tangerine variants and keep turning this thing out.

Stone's Richmond staff collaborated with Richmond's upstart Triple Crossing for Fulton Rising, a New England IPA so-named for the fact that Stone and Triple Crossing are both in the Fulton section of Richmond. As Triple Crossing is doing the release, I expected this beer to be typical of their IPAs. And it is, and that's a damn good thing. Fulton Rising looks like a New England IPA, cloudy orange with average head and lace. The aroma is big and juicy, tangerine and lemon and peaches, lots of fruity notes all mingling together. On the tongue, it is juicy up front, too, and then closes lean and bitter. I’d stop short of calling the finish dry, but it is crisper and cleaner than some NEIPAs. Maybe Stone contributed the elements that amount to that subtle quality on the back end? I’d love to see Stone themselves turn out a few beers like this rather than their usual big, biting west coast thing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, either... but this combo certainly works well.

The Mango Grapefruit version of Waxing Poetic, Triple Crossing's Berliner Weisse, is just delicious. It's the kind of low ABV beer (4%) that I could drink all summer long. Mango Grapefruit Waxing Poetic pours cloudy yellow with a little bit of foam. The aroma is tangy tropical fruit juice, mango and grapefruit in concert with yeasty, banana type notes. The flavor is tart, tart, tart, top to bottom. I don’t notice the mango as much on the tongue, but the grapefruit is bright and refreshing ad juicy. Just wonderful tasting beer.

New Belgium's Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Pale Ale is one of New Belgium’s better grocery store beers. Often it seems like New Belgium doesn't take their second string very seriously, at least not when compared to beers like the Lips Of Faith series. But this one, like VooDoo Ranger IPA, is tasty. It pours bright yellow with average carbonation and foam. The aroma is hoppy and comparable to other industry standard pale ales, like SNPA. The flavor is hoppy, too, but not clearly into IPA category. The malt is there, and obvious. It isn’t drowned out by the big hops, but it has to compete with it. The finish is slightly sweet. I can see me buying this again.

Whizbang is a hoppy blonde ale from New Belgium, and it isn't a show stopper. But it ain't bad. This beer pours clear, light orange with average head and a lot of carbonation. The aroma is like other hoppy pale ales, a little bit of bitter, floral hop blends well with a smooth malt. The taste is very mild up front but on the finish the hop/floral combo from the aroma comes back a little stronger. I can't bitch about it, but probably won't have it again.

I'll say up front that I'm not in love with Rogue. I know they have their fans, but I typically haven't been one of them. I think Rogue is average at best. But this beer is above average. 7 Hop is a dense, brawling IPA that approaches beers like Palate Wrecker and RuinTen in terms of dankness, huge mouthfeel, and curb-stomping aroma. I’m amazed that the ABV is relatively low, given this beer’s forwardness. It pours dark, clear orange with thin foam. The aroma is pugnacious. The deeply bitter hop profile does not drown out the heaps of malt on the smell. The flavor is a giant blast of that aroma for the tongue, and the finish is very heavy and aggressive. This is a lot of hoppy anger to pack into a bottle with less than 8% ABV. Rogue has done something surprising here. 7 Hop a fine beer by any metric.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Mixed six, totally random, with no common thread.

Lagunitas Citrusinensis is a pale ale brewed with blood orange juice concentrate. My bottle of this was probably a little too old to be ideal, but I still thought it tasted good. It poured bright orange with average head. The aroma is sweet, tangy blood oranges up front, but a warm wheat malt is still there in the background. The flavor is mostly about the sweet citrus. It’s very sweet, but not bad at all. The finish is mild and malty, and if the hop character isn’t as lively as it might have been, it’s probably because I let this bottle sit a little too long. I’d like to have this again fresh.

Stone Stochasticity Project Quadrotriticale is a nice quad, it is rich and warm and strong, and finishes with some distinctly Stone hop qualities. It pours dark amber brown with little head. The aroma is cherries, cloves, bananas, black walnuts... lots of desert like qualities. The flavor is rich and smooth upfront, with some herbal tea character and all of those flavors from the aroma. It blends with molasses and a little caramel, and it closes with west coast/floral hoppiness. I’d almost describe this as a naked version of Vertical Epic.

Sweetwater's Dank Tank Pulled Pork Porter is a porter with smoked bacon flavoring added. I know, right? But, it's better than I thought it would be. I tried it mostly out of curiosity, expecting a novelty beer. But it’s actually pretty good, even if it is odd. It pours very dark brown with a lot of foam. The aroma is a rich, smoky malt with some spicy notes, black pepper and a little bit of hoppy tingle. The flavor is very much a standard smoked porter up front, but on the swallow there definitely is a bacony, tangy barbecued pork quality. A little sweet spice, some coffee, a hint of honey and salt, and big smokiness on the finish.

This is the most I have enjoyed an IPA from Parkway. I think that some of their malty beers (For Lovers Only Imperial Stout and Fortification Barley Wine) are fantastic, but I’ve previously only thought that Parkway’s IPAs were OK at best. Save The Galaxy IPA is more than OK. It’s a damn good beer. It pours bright yellow/orange with a decent amount of foam. The aroma is a bit dank with a sort of piercing citrus quality. The flavor is just great. Especially on the finish, where a warm malt blends with a very bright, very dry, clean, aggressive hoppiness. I like this very much.

I like South Street's American strong ale, Satan's Pony. And I like this barrel aged imperial version very, very much. I think it might be the best thing I’ve had from the brewery. This beer pours copper brown with average foam. The aroma is all barrel; sweet and rich and very smooth. A ton of vanilla, a little bit of spice, some orange peel in there, all of it blending with the malt. Really nice. The flavor is as good as the aroma. While it tilts heavily to the sweet side, it's so smooth and so complex that it never gets old. All that vanilla and malt from the nose mixes with caramel, maple, a little hint of the orange and maybe some cranberry. Oh, yeah, and some boozy character to make that barrel aging worth the time and expense. It was worth my expense, too. I will buy this again.

10 Barrel's Joe IPA is a serviceable IPA, and I can’t complain about it. It pours hazy yellow with average but tenacious foam. The aroma is fairly standard IPA, a little on the dank side, with some lemon and wild onion notes. The flavor is bright up front and closes with a fairly straightforward hop load. Not bad at all. You could knock down three or four of these over the course of a movie without ever getting tired of it.