Tuesday, August 8, 2017

I absolutely loved Sixth Circle, the recent collaborative sour IPA that Devil's Backbone brewed with Parkway. I decided to pick up a few of DB's other 2017 collabs. Some of these bottles may have been a little too old to be ideal, but none of them were ancient.

DB collaborated with Golden Road on No Problemo, a Mexican take on a Schwarzbier. This doesn’t have the slight smoke I expect in a dark lager, but I actually like this more than most dark lagers, so that's not a complaint. It pours copper brown with average foam. Aroma is some caramel, some herbal tea, a little pepper. I get a little of the chocolate on the flavor. The pepper subtly kicks in on the finish and ends up being the thing I like best about this beer.

This one doesn’t really work as well for me, but if you like sweet, southern-style iced tea, you might enjoy this more than I did. Crystall Brett, a Belgian that Devil's Backbone brewed with Three Notch'd, reminds me of sweet tea more than anything else. It pours fairly clear dark orange with a little bit of head. The aroma is typical of a Brett beer. That mildly funky Brett thing is here on the aroma. But The taste is sweet, floral, herbal, and very much like orange pekoe tea with too much sweetener. More of an artificial sweetener than real sugar. This one isn't really my kind of thing but I can imagine that others would enjoy it very much.

Cross Eyed Stranger is a DIPA collaboration between Devil's Backbone and Ocelot. It’s big, it’s different, and I like that. But there is something here that doesn’t quite hit me right. It pours cloudy lemon yellow with average foam. The aroma is pine, salt, some of the malt is there, too. The flavor is strong on the front with the pine resin character coming through, but the finish is slightly minty and a little medicinal. It isn't bad, but it's not for me. The rest of the beers in this set were better.

DB and Breckenridge call Agave Double Pils an Imperial Pilsner. I don't know if I've ever used those two words in the same sentence. First, the negative... this beer is a little too sweet. But even through the sweetness, a fairly big ABV (7%) is the dominant note. The sweetness and the ABV make it almost impossible for me to search for and try to discern specifically pilsner qualities. But pilsners are usually too damn delicate for me anyway. Once I stopped trying to be a half-ass pilsner reviewer I ended up liking this beer. It pours fairly clear yellow with average head. The aroma is the sweetness from the agave and a fairly typical American lager, corn kind of quality. The flavor hits hard with the agave up front and then the alcohol is all over the finish. I don’t know that I would want this regularly, but this bottle made me happy.

Yakima Hop Fight is a DIPA collab, DB and Four Peaks. It's clear amber/orange with a brief head and a lot of carbonation. The aroma is sweet, primarily. Corn, some spice and sugar, a little bit of squash and other vegetable notes. Flavor is bitter and citrusy on the front of the tongue. The sweet maltiness from the aroma pops up again on the finish. This is a down the middle DIPA, but there is nothing wrong with a down the middle DIPA. I could drink this again.

Glitter Bomb is a sour that Devil's Backbone brewed with Ten Barrel. Pours a very light clear yellow with heavy carbonation and a little head. The aroma is grape musk and hops. The label doesn’t say it’s a brett beer but it reminds me a little bit of brett beers. The favor is piercing and tart. A little bit of the grape juice comes through. On occasion this wouldn’t be a bad summer beer.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A truly mixed, entirely random six.

There is a lot going on with this collab between Evil Twin and Westbrook, called Imperial Mexican Biscotti Cake Break Imperial Stout. With a name like that, you'd expect a lot to be going on. Some of it bordered on overload in the first few sips. but as it warms the different parts of the recipe distinguish themselves from the whole, and none of it really feels wasted. This stout pours black with a little tan colored foam. Rich roasted malt, typical of a big stout, is most of the aroma, but the cocoa and cinnamon is there, too. The aroma is an indication of the flavor initially, though the pepper comes through on the finish. As it warms the pepper moves to the front and the vanilla becomes a big, rich presence. I don’t get specific almonds, but there is kind of a general warm nuttiness throughout. This is an expensive stout and it’s not something I would want every day. But I liked all of it this first time around.

Lagunitas Dark Swan Sour Ale is dark purple while pouring. It looks almost black in the glass with little foam. The aroma is rich and tart. Dark berries, sugar, and lean hops in the background. The flavor is very sour and complex. Dark fruit like black cherries and blackberries are on the front of the tongue, with a finish that hints of lime and melon and onion. But this beer is rich without woody notes, no oak or vanilla or any of the things that would show up with a barrel aged beer... just dark, rich, strong, tanginess.

Bolshevik Bastard is a Russian Stout from Nickel Brook. This is a rich, dense, hearty stout. It pours black with practically no foam. Aroma is huge on bakers chocolate, with raisins, coffee, some nutty character, too. The finish is all about the chocolate and bitter roasted malt. No hint of the 8% ABV.

Doom is an oak barrel aged imperial IPA by Founders. And it's good beer, but a classic example of why it is hard to age an IPA in Bourbon barrels. You either lose the hop character, or the bourbon barrel does not have time to make an impression. With Doom, The barrel is all up in your face. The sacrifice is the hop character that typically defines an IPA.

Doom pours a bright hazy copper color with very little head. This beer smells sweet and malty, with some vanilla and some caramel. Oak is present on the aroma. The flavor is like a bourbon barrel-aged pale ale. It has enough malt to stand up to barrel aging, and conveys the typical bourbon notes competently. What I do not get here is any distinct hoppy quality. Maybe better tuned palates than mine can find the hops, but they're lost on me. Admittedly, it might be that this bottle is a little too old. But I cannot imagine the hops having been a distinct presence at all, based on what I have here. It is a fine beer. I recommend it to fans of pale ales aged in bourbon barrels. But billing this as an IPA does not make sense to me. Had they billed this as just a barrel aged ale I'd have sat here and enjoyed it, rather than trying to solve a taste puzzle while drinking it.

Southern Tier's 2X Unfiltered IPA Color is hazy, dark orange color with an average amount of foam. Aroma is lemons and grapefruit, some crackery malt, a little bit of spice. The flavor is pretty well-balanced. The malt is rich and slightly sweet up front, then the hops pop and tingle on the finish. Creamy mouthfeel. This is pretty good.

So, they re-released Zima. I only tasted this stuff once, back in the day. I couldn't remember really having any reaction to it at all. I was surprised at the nostalgic re-release, and kept thinking I ought to pick up a bottle just out of curiosity. So I finally did that. It's not bad. It pours like carbonated sugary soda. And it basically smells and tastes like grapefruit Sprite. It goes down like candy, and more than one bottle would have eventually become far too sweet for me. But, yeah... I enjoyed this glass of Zima. Maybe I'll have another one in 25 more years.