Thursday, July 23, 2015

Here's another mixed six-pack of beer reviews in one post.

Before I tasted Ballast Point's Fathom IPL (an India Pale Lager), I wondered how it would compare to Sierra Nevada's Hoppy Lager. Well, Fathom is really good, but no where near as good as Hoppy Lager, and it makes me realize what an accomplishment that Sierra Nevada Beer Camp offering really was. Hoppy Lager is very much a lager. In contrast, I don’t know if I’d have guessed that this was a lager if you’d served it to me blind. The hops are huge and up front in the aroma and flavor, the lager yeast that shows up on the tongue is very reserved. This beer pours a clear, golden color with a lot of suds. The aroma is slightly sweet, but mostly grassy/pine hops. That’s the flavor, too, but if you know to reach for it, you might pick up on a sweet, caramel lager character. Not bad, but not the best thing I’ve had from the brewery... and not as good as Hoppy Lager at all.

Great Divide's Oatmeal version of Yeti Imperial Stout doesn't have a pronounced oatmeal character. The best oatmeal stouts are dense, chewy. This one doesn't quite have that exact oatmeal stout thing going on. I don’t taste a tremendous amount of difference between any of the different variations of Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stouts. But I’ve really enjoyed all of them, so I’m not complaining. Oatmeal Yeti might be a little less sweet than the Chocolate and Espresso variations of this stout, but it’s just as rich and seems to have just as much dark chocolate presence. It pours jet black with a thin, brown head. The aroma is coffee and malt and hops. That strong, typically Yeti bitter, dark chocolate is there in the flavor. The vapor on the finish plays the 9.5% ABV card pretty clearly.

Left Coast's Voo Doo American Stout isn't bad. It might be little light, as stouts go, but it's still pretty good. It pours very deep brown with average head. The aroma is coffee and plenty of hops. I've noticed that "American" on a beer label just means that it's hopped all to hell. I'm fine with that. This thing still has some malt character in the flavor, though, and some chocolate. It's a decent little beer.

I don't always like the lighter beer styles; pilsner is entirely lost on me, and I'm often stumped about what I'm supposed to get out of a saison. But I do have a taste for good hefeweizen, and Flying Dog's Hefeweizen is not a good one. It's bland. It pours cloudy yellow, the head is thin. The aroma is malty but a little medicinal. The flavor is a little like a dry white wine up front; slightly fruity, but without much to comment on one way or another in the finish. It just isn’t much of a beer.

Parkways's The Remedy Brown Ale is ok. It pours a clear brown, average head. The aroma is slightly sweet and malty, and so is the flavor. There is a mild molasses, apple butter quality in the background. Not one I'll have again. Very average.

Maybe coffee stout has just been done to death, but for one to impress me these days it has to be really very good. Evolution's Rise Up Stout is not really very good. It pours dark brown, the head is average, the aroma is maybe a little burnt. There's something slightly off. The flavor is a little better; that burnt quality doesn't transfer to the tongue. After each sip I said "eh." Life is to short for very many glasses of "eh."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Starr Hill's Reviver Red IPA is like a muted version of Sierra Nevada's Flipside. It pours deep copper red with a lot of suds. The aroma is where this thing gets closest to Flipside, that same caramel malt and pine hops is right there on the nose. But Reviver can't quite deliver that same big, bright, delicious taste. This beer's flavor is a little dead up front. The pine comes through at the end, but it isn't enough to really carry this thing to the same great heights as Flipside. Not bad, but not special.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Oculto is a malt liquor that's brewed by AB-InBev, although they try to hide their association by marketing it as a product of something called Broken Barrel Brewing in Houston. The bottle says it's tequila flavored. Oculto pours pale yellow with average head, the aroma is extremely sweet. Agave, lime, artificial candy notes in the aroma. The flavor is like Budweiser with miscellaneous Jolly Rancher’s dissolving in it. It doesn't really taste like tequila, but I doubt the sorority sisters who buy it really care. This beer is highly carbonated, very sweet, and not very good.

I am not in the target demographic for Evil Twin's Bikini Beer, an ultra-light IPA. So I tried to keep that in mind and review it objectively. It doesn't suck. In fact, this is far better tasting beer than I’d have expected, given that there’s just nothing in the can. Bikini Beer pours light yellow, with heavy carbonation and a fairly foamy head. The aroma is a little like sweet cornbread, there is some citrus hop in the smell, too. The flavor is dry, which is just amazing for a 2.7% ABV beer. There are noticeable pine hops, too. The finish is as clean as pure water, but the fact that there is anything at all to taste in this thing amazes me. I won't have it again, I drank it out of curiosity. It isn't my kind of thing, but it isn't bad.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The last several beers I've had have all been more or less OK. Nothing to write home about, but not bad enough to have fun writing a really pissy review. I just haven't had much to say about any of them. But I figured I needed to either post the pictures and get the reviews on the blog, or delete the pics from my phone. So, here they are; a bunch of OK beers, reviewed briefly.

JP Ale is an American pale ale brewed by Charlottesville's South Street Brewery. It pours brown/orange, there is a brief and small head, and no real lace. The aroma is bready, a little bit of pine. The flavor is malty, a little musty, the centennial hops are right there. There’s a slightly citrus aftertaste.

Bouncy House by Smuttynose is the rare session IPA that I think is pretty good. It pours light orange, there isn’t much head. Citrus and grassy hops on the aroma, and a little buttery malt in the flavor. The finish is slightly watery, but not enough to ruin it. Most session IPA’s are entirely watery. This one has a little more going on than that. The best thing about this beer is it has an ugly old bald dude on the label. As an ugly old bald dude, I see far too few of my spiritual kin on beer labels. I endorse this bizarre marketing indiscretion on the part of Smuttynose.

Bells Brewery usually either knocks it out of the park... or swings and misses entirely. This is an exception for Bells, it's an only OK beer. Mercury, The Winged Messenger is a fairly average Belgian, and there's just not a lot going on. Pours a bright yellow, average head. The aroma is Belgian yeast, primarily, some spice, some bread. The flavor isn’t bad, it just isn’t anything revolutionary. Bananas, slightly floral hops, etc, etc.

Hardywood Single ... yeah, more of the same. This is very average Belgian. It pours a bright, clear, golden color. Medium head. The aroma is bananas and a little citrus, the malt is subdued. The flavor is typical for a Belgian; bananas, candied nuts, warm, bready malt, that classic Belgian yeast. It’s an OK beer. Whatever.

Epic Brewery makes my second favorite beer of all time, Big Bad Baptist Stout (only Stone's RuinTen IPA tops it, in my book). So I'm always excited to try a new stout from Epic. This one... eh. It's alright. Epic says that each release of 825 State Stout might be a little different from the previous one. I had a bottle from release #54, at 6% ABV. This stout pours thin but very dark, the head dissipates very quickly. Aroma is baker’s chocolate and a little coffee, faint, piney hops. More baker’s chocolate on the flavor, a little bit of mint, a little bit of caramel. Slightly watery finish. Not bad. Fine. OK.

The Boston Brewery's Samuel Adams Honey Queen is billed as a mead. It's probably the best beer in this small batch of reviews. That is to say, it's slightly better than OK. Honey Queen pours blonde in color with a fair amount of carbonation and foamy head. The aroma is heavy on the honey. A little bit of lemon and floral hops on the nose, too. The flavor is sweet but not cloying. Mild wheat, a slightly tart honey finish. I thought this was pretty good. It's not expensive, so what the hell, I might even buy this one again.