Beer reviews. Six of 'em.
The current Beer Camp offering from Sierra Nevada is Tropical IPA. It pours a bright, clear, light orange color with a ton of carbonation and a mountain of foam that lasts forever. The aroma has all the tropical notes that the name implies; every kind of citrus, pineapple, etc. The sweetness on the nose is understated in the flavor, in favor of a sharp, dry, hoppy bitterness. The malt on the back end is where the sweetness comes back, but not in a strong way. This is pretty good. Not the outstanding surprise of last year's Hoppy Lager, but still a good beer.
Apocalypse Ale Works Wrath of the Lamb is an imperial stout. This beer pours very dark brown to black with a tan head that leaves a stubborn lace. The aroma is sweet, rich coffee, vanilla, and a little tingle, too. The flavor is absolutely delicious. Sweet, but not so sweet that I get tired of it. As it warms there is something like caramel malt and bread on the back end. Mouth-feel is thick and chewey. Sometimes, very strong, high-ABV imperial stouts can grow medicinal toward the end. This beer isn't bashful (10.2% ABV), but it was delicious until the last drop. I enjoyed it a lot and hope to try some of the variants I've heard about.
Ballast Point has become one of my reliable, favorite breweries. Their Tongue Buckler is an American strong ale, and it's good stuff. This beer is amber brown, like pekoe iced tea. The sudsy head hangs around for a while. The aroma is very mild, but there are notes of brown sugar on the nose. The flavor is much stronger than the aroma gives away. There’s molasses and rich, woody, whiskey-like malt. Strong hops on the back of the tongue, but the finish is really clean. This is an aggressive, tasty beer.
DuClaw's For Pete's Sake! Imperial Porter is kind of an industrial strength version of that brewery's popular Sweet Baby Jesus! porter (a chocolate-peanut-butter flavored beer). I wasn’t wild about SBJ the first time I tried it, but it’s grown on me some over the last couple of years, and I think I like this beer a little more. It’s dark brown with a light head, and it has the same peanut butter Cap’n Crunch smell as SBJ. The flavor isn’t that distinct from SBJ ... in fact, I didn’t notice much difference at all when I first tried this beer. On the second sample I did pick up on more alcohol and a slightly more oaky character than is really present in the regular porter. This is pretty good.
Anastasia's Chocolate Fantasy is an imperial stout by Charlottesville's South Street Brewery. It's a strong, sweet, rich stout that is never so strong, nor so sweet, that I quite get tired of it. I had a glass at the brewery restaurant and I liked it enough to bring home a 32 oz. growler full of the stuff... but, admittedly, that growler never made it past the hotel room that night. This beer pours black with a tan head, and the aroma is sweet chocolate and a little coffee. The flavor is chocolate and more chocolate, but it’s crisp and bright rather than syrupy or cloying. A little tingle at the end keeps each sip enjoyable.
Because of the name, I was worried that 21st Amendment's Toaster Pastry (a red IPA) would be too sweet for my liking. It isn't. This beer pours a dark but very clean burnt-amber color with an average head. The aroma is citrus, bready malts, lemon, sugar. The flavor is rich, sweet, and spicy. Strong, bitter finish. I liked this.