Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Here's six with an emphasis on Sierra Nevada.

Sidecar is an Orange Pale Ale from Sierra Nevada. The orange is very subtle, which is good. Orange is one of those flavors that can ruin a beer if the brewer gets heavy handed with it. This beer pours clear orange/yellow, about the color of SNPA, with a lot of foam and carbonation. The aroma is where the orange comes through strongest, coasting atop something very similar to the wonderful blend of malt and hops that characterizes SNPA. The flavor brings the orange to the background in favor of buttery malt and the expected west coat hop thing. I won’t need to have this again, but I liked this bottle.

Another example of Sierra Nevada doing the fruit thing right. The peach isn’t a forward presence in Peach IPA, thankfully. The peach flavor just adds a slight, mellow sweetness to the aroma and taste. This is still an IPA. It pours dark golden in color with average to more-than-average foam. The aroma is slightly fruity, but mostly about a classic SN hop profile. The peach is a little stronger on the flavor but still not dominant. This is a legit IPA that closes with a hint of sugary, mild peach sweetness. I cringe a little bit when I see peaches mentioned on a beer label, but this is better than I thought it would be.

Sierra Nevada's German Style IPA isn’t bad at all, but I think it plays the German yeast card pretty heavily to the exclusion of much IPA quality. Had they called this a hoppy kolsch I'd probably be on board to a greater degree. This beer pours slightly cloudy yellow with average head. The aroma is like a kolsch, or maybe even like a witbier. There are honey notes, maybe berries and bread, kind of a dessert thing. The flavor has that, too... reminds me a little bit of berry cobbler. There is some hop tingle in the finish, but more akin to classic SNPA than any of the brewery’s IPAs. I guess this is alright.

By the way, I'm digging the slightly retro look of the labels in the current Sierra Nevada IPA mixed twelve. I got that box mostly looking forward to this Black IPA, because I really loved Sierra Nevada's Blindfold Black IPA a few years ago. This beer is good, but not as good as Blindfold. It pours very dark brown with a lot of foam. The aroma is really nice. It combines a pine hop profile with a rich, dark, pumpernickel type of malt character. The flavor is good, too, and has that same dark bread and tingly hops blend, but it closes slightly thin. I remember loving Blindfold for it’s strong, persistent finish. I don’t think I quite pick up on that kind of distinguishing character here.

I swore off lambic five years ago after tasting some variations on the style by the commonly found Lindemans brewery and finding them to be really disgusting. But since then my taste has changed and I’ve come to love sour and tart beers. A member of the staff at a Blacksburg beer store suggested I try Oude Geuze Boon after I told him that I’ve come to love La Folie and some other sours. This is a lambic made without fruit at all, and the Gueuze style, to my understanding, is traditionally a blend of two concurrent vintages. This beer pours cloudy yellow with average head. The aroma is great. Like a sour it has a really nice complexity, with tones of sweet citrus, such as pineapple, blending with funky, cheesy notes. The flavor brings all of the stuff on the nose straight to the tongue, although I found the finish to be a little too subdued. It closes rather quietly, and while each last sip invites the first, I’d have enjoyed a little more clamor. Still, when each sip is as good as the previous, it’s silly to complain.

Hanssens Oude Gueuze ppours slightly hazy golden yellow with no head and basically no carbonation. Other reviews mention average carbonation, so I wonder if my bottle just was not properly sealed. The aroma is tart and funky, reminding me of kombucha, sour apples, some hints of the aging. The flavor is very good in spite of this bottle being mostly flat. It is very sour and strong, with pear and citrus and lemon qualities, and the close is bright and pungent. I liked this.

OK, so that's two lambic reviews, both of them positive, in a week's time. Hell, the second one was flat and I still liked it. This is a style I need to rethink.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Here's six more beer reviews.

SeaQuench Ale is a Kolsch/Gose/Berlinerweiss hybrid by Dogfish Head. It's pretty low ABV and it's also pretty damn good. I was surprised at how much I like it. It pours slightly cloudy brownish yellow with an average amount of foam. The aroma is citrusy and salty and has a little malt in the background. The flavor is tart upfront... heck, it’s actually sour. The lime and sea salt are there, but so is the malt, and the sour quality doesn’t taste synthetic or entirely contrived by ancillary ingredients. It’s a real sour, and it’s really good, and I will buy it again.

Fearless Fifty Saison is a Trader Joe’s exclusive, brewed by Green Flash to mark the grocery store’s fiftieth anniversary. It’s pretty good, as saisons go, although the style isn’t my favorite. It pours clear yellow, there is a huge amount of foam, and the carbonation is extreme, too. The aroma is typical of a saison. Citrus, bananas, pears and peaches, all that usual sweet and yeasty stuff. The flavor is sweet and mellow and closes with crackery malt. Not bad.

I don’t know anything about Track Town USA, but I do know that Ninkasi's Beer Run is a tasty IPA, and probably the best thing I’ve had from Ninkasi. This beer is the official beer of Track Town USA. OK, whatever. I'm a runner, I read a lot of stuff aimed at runners, and I don't know about Track Town. I assume it's regional and only noteworthy in the pacific northwest, where Ninkasi is located. Whatever. My bottle was probably a little too old. In spite of that, or maybe even because of that, it was dank, strong, bitter, and really tasty. It poured a cloudy orange with average head. The aroma was lemons, buttery bread, and something that reminded me of slightly under-ripe berries. Tangy, with a lot of bite. The flavor was smoother than the aroma implied, and far maltier, but still had strong, up-front hoppiness. The finish had citrus vapor and a little bit of dank punch. This was a darn good bottle of beer.

I looked for the Chocolate and Coffee variation of Blue Mountain's Dark Hollow at beer stores in Charlottesville and Roanoke and couldn’t find it. Then it turned up at a Kroger grocery store, right next to a bunch of six-packs of the formerly elusive HopSlam. It’s really an odd time to be a craft beer fan, but hey, I'll take it. This beer pours black with very little foam. The aroma is just baker’s chocolate, dark and rich and sweet and bitter. The flavor is huge dark chocolate too, I don’t pick up on the coffee. The finish has a really nice, roasty, slightly hoppy twist. It’s delicious.

Stone brews Megawheat Double IPA as a collaboration with Marble and Odell. This beer doesn’t have the sweet, buttery, or rich notes I’d expect from a wheat beer, but it’s a tasty IPA all the same. It pours clear, golden in color with a lot of fast-fading head and a small amount of splotchy foam. The aroma is dry and floral, mildly fruity, and clean. The aroma is bright and bitter and crisp. The wheat comes through a bit in the finish but this is very much a classic Stone double IPA, and it focus on bright, angry hops. It is good. I like it.

Stone's Tangerine Express IPA is a bright and light IPA with a lot of citrus on the aroma and a typically big Stone Brewery west coast hophead flavor. The body is a clear yellow, the head is about average, and so is the carbonation. The aroma is another example of Stone doing secondary ingredients just right. This isn’t too different from Stone’s flagship IPA, plus a little bit of sweet and tangy orange zest or tangerine mixed in. The flavor does not hit you over the head with the citrus. It’s there, but it’s a minor quality. For the most part, this thing drinks like a classic Stone IPA. Which is to say it is not hard to finish at all.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blacksburg Classic 10 Mile Race, Blacksburg, VA, February 12, 2017 ... (Time: 1:49:52)

Not every race can be a PR. Some races have to be disasters. This race was the down side of the scale. This race was a disaster ... both for me and for Lucky, too, and we both look forward to moving on from it and hopefully doing better next time.

Not that we're blameless as per our bad results.

Lucky and I had a delicious, big, carb-load lunch on the day before this race. We decided that we would probably both like to have some sushi for dinner later that night. So we went to a super-market in our area that happens to make and sell fantastic sushi. Where we made our mistake was in riding around and running errands for several hours after we picked up the sushi. By the time we got home, the sushi was... well, warm. It didn't even smell very appetizing. But I insisted, because I wanted it to be true, that unless sushi stinks, it is fine to eat.

Given the next day's issues, I may have been entirely wrong.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Two from Triple Crossing, two from The Veil, and two from Stone.

Clever Girl, by Triple Crossing, is a really nice, bright, lemony IPA. Pours coudy yellow with average head and carbonation. The aroma is slightly sweet with lemon and orange overtones. That’s also the flavor, and the finish is clean and crisp. This would be a wonderful warm weather beer.

Like Falcon Smash, this imperial version of Triple Crossing's IPA is sweet without ever getting too sweet. And it has a punch from the ABV that is really nice. Double Falcon is hazy orange, not a ton of foam, average carbonation. The aroma is citrus, a little hint of white wine, a bit of pepper in there, too. The flavor is huge up front, grapefruit, a little vegetable quality, some crackery malt. The finish hints at sourdough and delivers some vapor from the big ABV. This is excellent.

Fake People Imperial IPA pours the color of grapefruit juice, cloudy, with very little foam. The aroma is funky and strong. Citrus, vinegar, strong fresh-cut grass notes. The flavor is also funky and dank, but well balanced. Hoppy, bitter notes up front are followed by a malty wash in the finish. Not a lot of indication of the big ABV. This is a rich and bitter beer, and typical of The Veil’s aggressive, delicious IPAs.

Fake Love, another of The Veil's fine imperial IPAs, pours lemon/orange, cloudy, with a lot of foam. Sweet, citrusy aroma. Clementines, lemongrass, some spice, some starch, but mostly dank/tart. Delicious flavor, grapefruit and other fruit, a little bit of melon. Buttery, bready malt in the background. Very, very good.

I guess Stone's Ripper Pale Ale is OK. It’s somewhere between a pale ale and an IPA, with an aroma that kind of evokes Arrogant Bastard. But it doesn’t really hit any of the spots that any of those beers might hit. It pours copper brown with a fair amount of foam. The aroma is like a strong ale, Arrogant Bastard and the like. A combination of hops and caramel and citrus, some apples, some spice. That’s the flavor, too. The finish is a little malty. It’s not bad. I don’t really want it again.

I guess Stone's Coffee Milk Stout, with Peppermint and Chocolate Mint, is decent. It isn’t something I’d want again, but I finished this bottle. It pours dark brown and has a good bit of foam. The aroma is heavy on the mint. The sweet malt, lactic acid, and chocolate are there, but the mint is atop it all. The mouthfeel is creamy and smooth and the flavor is rich and sweet. Chocolate and mint are just about all there is to taste, but it doesn’t taste bad. Like a chocolate peppermint patty in a glass.