Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Flying Dog has been a hit or miss brewery with me. SnakeDog IPA is one of the hits. This IPA pours a clear, glossy burnt umber with a little bit of persistent, creamy head. The aroma is sweet; juicy and fruity, and mingled with strong floral/citrus hops. There is a little caramel and a lot of pineapple and something that reminds me of leather. I love those earthy notes in a beer aroma. The flavor is juicy, too. Lemon and maybe rye seem to be present mid-tongue, with buttery malt sneaking in at the finish. Twang of bitterness at the end is a nice punctuation. I had two IPAs tonight. This is better than the other one.

White Stag, Devil's Backbone's new wheat IPA, pours a cloudy brown/orange with little head. The aroma is a nice combination of sweet malt and citrus hops. A little bit of bred, a little banana, too. The flavor doesn’t quite deliver on the aroma. Not much balance. A strong, medicinal bitter finish dominates. Little else to mention. I have had eight or ten of Devil's Backbone's beers now, and still haven't had one I like more than their year-round Eight Point IPA offering. Devil's Backbone does best when they play it right down the middle. I think that's what they should keep doing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Several people have suggested I check out Douthat State Park, which is right in my back yard. I'm ashamed to admit that I've ignored it for years. I've spent a fair amount of time there over the past few days, though, and I feel certain I'll be getting the most out of these gorgeous trails. This trail network is pretty much perfect for quick hikes and for longer and longer ones, and I hope to have all of a day off to spend at Douthat soon. These pictures are among the best I've ever taken, and really show how gorgeous Douthat is in October.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My last several walks have legitimately been hikes. I can't boast about an improvement to my time because I haven't exactly been hauling ass. I've just been exploring and having a good time. I've been staying in the woods a long time, too, averaging five miles each time, and MapMyWalk indicates that I've really burned some calories. This is where the hobby really gets good, it's as much fun as it is good for me. I'm having a great time. Here are some autumn scenes from the Alleghany mountains. Click the pics to see bigger versions.

I'm not a fan of pumpkin beer, so I liked New Belgium's PumpKick more than I thought I would. It's copper colored with a thin head. This beer smells a little like Fat Tire, with ginger and nutmeg. That's kind of the taste, too, plus cinnamon and allspice. The pumpkin in the flavor actually tastes like real pumpkin rather than something artificial. Pumpkin beer is still not my kind of thing, but this is not bad.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Belgium's fall seasonal is Tour de Fall, a pale ale. I think a pale ale is kind of an odd choice for an autumn beer, but hey... anything that isn't loaded with freakin' pumpkin this time of year is welcome in my fridge. Tour de Fall pours a golden brown that gets clearer after a minute, and leaves some sticky lace. The aroma is a lot like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale; I’m probably picking up on the cascade hops.

If you're gonna talk like Sierra Nevada, you better walk like Sierra Nevada. And this beer falls short on the tongue. Tour de Fall is dryer and more acerbic than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and those aren't necessarily bad qualities. But this ale doesn’t have SNPA’s rich, tart, fruity character. Or much character at all. It's got no grit. It just kinda lays there. Not a bad beer, but nothing special. Especially for a seasonal. It does get points for not being another pumpkin beer or another Octoberfest, though.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My recent walks have mostly been around my hometown area. Nothing all that special or remarkable in terms of location. I'm averaging four or five miles each time, and my times are still in the 17 minute mile area. I think I could be a little faster, but I tend to stop a lot to take pictures. I do not, and probably never will, get tired of autumn foliage. It's one of life's simple pleasures that always does it for me. Here are a few of the pictures I've taken in my hometown area over the last week or so. You can click any of these to see a larger version.

I like Samuel Adams more than not, and their Octoberfest seasonal is one of their better beers. It pours a slightly orange-brown with an average head. There is toffee and roasted nuts and a little bit of grassy hops in the smell. The flavor backs off the sweetness from the aroma a little bit. The hops are pronounced, just over the caramel malt on the tongue.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Stone's 18th Anniversary IPA pours a dark, but not opaque, ochre brown. The head is average. The smell is a really rich, really awesome caramel and coffee and smooth, lemony citrus. And the taste is just perfect. Really, really wonderful. This is might be the best balanced IPA Stone has released in years*. The rich, caramel malt and the slightly candied, tangy hop fight it out for dominance from front to back. There is some alcohol vapor and a little coffee again on the finish. The distinct, spacious El Dorado hops take up residence in your nose and on the back of the tongue, and just stay there for ages. Every sip is brighter and bigger than the last one.

2013 was a lackluster year for Stone. 2014 has been hit or miss. Matt's Burning Rosids was a bland saison that (I'm sure) was only released as a tribute to a beloved brewery employee. Go-To IPA and Sprocket Beer were disappointing, too. On the other hand, Unapologetic IPA and Collective Distortion were home-runs by any standard. Now, we also have a strong anniversary release. This one is much better than the 17th, and almost as good as the 16th. When Stone gets it right, nobody does it better.

*Note: I'm perfectly aware that Stone "doesn't do" balanced beer. But this beer is really well balanced. So, sue me.