A Little Crazy, Santilli, Black Tulip 1/31/2017

Hey everyone!  I’m back again with another panel!  In my ongoing quest to sample new and interesting beers, this week I decided to throw two styles into the blind panel that I have not reviewed on my blog yet: a Belgian pale ale and a Belgian-style tripel.  Furthermore, I thought it would be fun to throw breweries into the mix who are noted for their exceptional hoppy beers.   I want to give my thanks to the Malted Barley in Providence for being the new host to these panels (our previous home was abruptly closed).  Lastly, I want to thanks Dr. Alex for stepping in at the last minute to participate on this panel when one of my participants could not make it.  Anyway, I hope you all enjoy what I have to offer!

Remember, none of the participants know what beer is being given to them (myself excluded)- this is a blind taste test, and I only inform them of what style of beer they are drinking.  Not every person on every panel is an expert at reviewing beer, and nobody’s palate is ever wrong- taste is purely subjective.

Panelist Profiles

Name: Dr. Alex Name: Colin Name: Brad
Age: 29 Age: 28 Age: 31
Occupation: Chemist Occupation: Investment Management Occupation: Realtor
Level of Beer Appreciation (1-5): 5 Level of Beer Appreciation (1-5):  4 Level of Beer Appreciation (1-5): 5
Favorite Beer/Beer Style: IPA, Pale Ale, German Lagers, Barrel Aged Stouts, Sours Favorite Beer/Beer Style: Good beer! Favorite Beer/Beer Style: Pale Ale, IPA, DIPA
Additional Qualifications/Info: BJCP Rank pending/National Judge Additional Qualifications/Info: Is half Irish (definite bump to his qualifications).  Usually not a fan of fruit beer (with some exceptions) Additional Qualifications/Info: General beer enthusiast.


Revolution Brewing Company: A Little Crazy

Beer Name: A Little Crazy

Brewery: Revolution Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Chicago, IL

Beer Style: Belgian Pale Ale

ABV: 6.7%

IBU: 35

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Belgian pale ales are always interesting beers to try because one never knows how the brewer is going to balance the esters from the Belgian yeast with the hops that one might expect from a pale ale.  Stylistically speaking, a Belgian pale ale tends to be less hop focused like their American cousins, and seeks more balance between the hops, malt, and yeast flavors.  That said there’s nothing stopping a brewery from making a hop forward American style pale ale and fermenting it with Belgian yeast (that type of freedom is half the fun of craft beer).  Let’s see what we got here:

A Little Crazy poured a light golden color, with a slight haze, and thin white lacing that dissipates slowly over time.  The entire group picked up on notes of fruit on the nose, however there were a wide variety of descriptors.  Alex and I picked up on notes of orange and lemon in the aroma.  Alex, in his propensity for epic amounts of detail, went on to note hints of grape and grapefruit.  Brad detected bananas and strawberry, while Colin detected apples or pear accompanied by a hint of vanilla.

There was also a fair amount of variability in terms of the individual tasting notes.  The group noted that the beer was pretty bitter upfront with some lingering bitterness on the finish (which some could find more tolerable than others).  Alex, Colin, and I noted that the beer had a sort of spicy characteristic  (Colin was thinking something related to nutmeg, while I was thinking something more like black pepper).  Alex and I thought that there was definitely an orange-like flavor present (to me it seemed kind of like orange seltzer without the spritzy carbonation).  Brad and Colin thought that the beer had a sort of metallic aftertaste, which was a turnoff for Brad, but it did not bother Colin.

The overall opinions of this beer seemed to vary as well.  Alex and Brad both strongly disliked the beer.  Alex thought the beer was way too out of balance (too hop forward) for a Belgian pale ale (and he was not a fan of the lingering bitterness that the beer offered).  Colin enjoyed the beer and thought it would be a good “door-opener” for people who typically don’t flock to IPAs.  I agreed with Brad and Alex that the bitterness could have been dialed back, but I actually did enjoy this beer.  It was an interesting mix of American hops and Belgian yeast.

Night Shift Brewing: Santilli

Beer Name: Santilli

Brewery: Night Shift Brewing

Brewery Location: Everett, MA

Beer Style: IPA

ABV: 6%

IBU: N/A

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The next beer on the docket was Night Shift’s: Santilli IPA- Bronze Medal Winner at the 2016 World Beer Cup.  Night Shift Brewery (and their beers) currently have a lot of hype behind them, so I thought it would be interesting to get my panel’s opinions without any hype swaying their tasting notes.  All of us have had Night Shift beer before (and some of us had even had this beer prior to the tasting), so this was the perfect opportunity to give a completely unbiased opinion!

Santilli poured a hazy golden color with a persistent white head.  Everybody’s notes on the aroma were both different yet similar (stay with me here).  The entire group picked up on some variation or another of fruit/citrus (individuals’ descriptors included orange, lemon, watermelon, grapefruit, and pineapple).  Alex picked up on aromatic notes of pine, Colin thought there was a definite juniper-like quality present, and Brad detected a raisin-like quality.  One area of overlap that did occur on the aroma (independently in the individual tasting notes) was that both Alex and I both picked up on a slight cheesy aroma (akin to parmesan).  This quality can present itself when a brewer has a bad or an old batch of hops that ends up being used in the beer.  This type of aroma can be more acceptable in a lambic (brewers traditionally used aged hops in that style of beer), but not in an IPA.

The group pretty much agreed that the flavor of the beer more or less matched the aromas they perceived.  The cheesy quality that I picked up in the aroma didn’t really show up in the flavor of the beer for me, but Alex still noticed it.  The beer was citrusy, piney, and grassy with a huge bitter backbone to it.  The bitterness was actually a turnoff for the entire group because it was somewhat astringent, lingering, and unpleasant.  Colin thought that the aftertaste was borderline chalky, and Brad felt that the beer was too imbalanced towards the overly-bitter side of the IPA spectrum.  Overall, nobody in the group was particularly fond of this beer, and everyone was surprised when I revealed what they were drinking.  Those who had drank this beer previously were especially shocked, and we all seemed to conclude that this was just a subpar batch of this particular beer.  But keep in mind that observations like the ones we made are why I keep the participants blind to what they are tasting in the first place.  It is possible that the reviews may have been more positive had they known what beer they were drinking from the start- simply because we are all fans of Night Shift Brewing.

New Holland: Black Tulip

Beer Name: Black Tulip

Brewery: New Holland Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Holland, MI

Beer Style: Belgian Tripel

ABV: 8.8%

IBU: 21

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For the last beer on this tasting panel, I wanted to steer the group away from hops, and more towards a style that is more malt and yeast driven.  I’ll admit that I’m more partial towards Belgian-style beers, but if my memory serves me correctly, I do not think that I nor any of my panels have reviewed a Belgian-style Tripel yet.  With that in mind, I settled on New Holland’s Black Tulip.  I think it made for a good change of pace.  Check it out:

Black Tulip poured a slightly hazy light golden color with a very light white head that dissipated very quickly (presumably due to the high alcohol content).  The entire group picked up on a banana-like aroma to some degree (some more than others).  Alex also detected some heavy bubblegum-like notes, Brad detected cherries, Colin thought it smelled oaky, and I picked up on some pear-like qualities.  Furthermore, the entire group could tell that they were about to have a strong beer based on the way the alcohol stung their nostrils.

Similar to the aroma, the banana flavors were pretty apparent.  Colin said that the beer reminded him of Portuguese “S” cookies (sort of like a biscotti) with a vanilla aftertaste.  He described the beer as a sort of “banana milkshake” only much thinner.  Alex picked up on similar qualities in terms of the malt character (calling it biscuity), and later agreed with Colin’s observations on the vanilla qualities when we went back and compared notes.  To me, the beer’s malty characteristics were sort of similar to a sourdough bread flavor with elements of pear shining through as well.  Alex also picked up on the pear-like qualities as the beer warmed up.  The most surprising thing for Brad (and the rest of us, for that matter) was how subtle the alcohol was in this beer.  We all smelled the alcohol immediately from the aroma, but it was not very perceptible in the actual flavor of the beer, which made this beer dangerously smooth.  Overall, Alex thought this beer was well executed and would order several more pints.  I thought the beer was pretty solid, but was a bit two-dimensional and could have used a bit of something more to put it over the top (I couldn’t tell you what exactly).  Colin thought that the beer was solid but not his style because it was a bit too sweet and fruity for his tastes.  Brad actually liked the beer a lot, which surprised him because he throws himself heavily into the hoppy beers corner- he would order another pint.

New Belgium Brewing Company: Accumulation 1/27/2017

Today after one of my shifts behind the bar, I had some extra time to kill, so I decided to dissect one of the beers we currently have on tap.  I decided to go with a beer that is one of my wife’s current favorites: New Belgium’s Accumulation.  Accumulation is a white IPA- a sort of cross between an IPA and a Belgian wit; and in my opinion I think this style of beer is underdone and underappreciated.  This is a shame because I am actually a big fan of the style and it is really refreshing and flavorful style of beer to have (provided it is done well).  Here’s the scoop:

Beer Name: Accumulation

Brewery: New Belgium Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Fort Colins, CO

Beer Style: White IPA

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: 70

Appearance

Accumulation pours a straw golden color with a creamy white head that lasts and lasts.  The beer was a bit opaque, but the keg kicked in the middle of my pour, so I probably got the bottom of one keg and the top of the other.

accumulation

Aroma

I picked up on a citrusy (mostly lemony) character, accompanied by some herbal notes.  I also got a very light and vague hint of garlic on the nose (commonly associated with certain hops).

Taste & Aftertaste

Accumulation has a medium, yet creamy, body with the same distinct citrusy (mostly lemony) character that you got on the nose (which I find really pleasant).  When you pair the lemon flavor with the fruity/spicy characteristics that you get from the yeast, you get a sort of herbal quality from the beer (a similar quality that I often find in certain teas, though to don’t be confused- this beer doesn’t taste like tea).  The malt character is like taking a bite out of an English muffin, and the hop bitterness is assertive enough to let you know that you’re drinking an IPA, but it doesn’t dominate your palate.  I’m actually surprised to learn that this beer is 70 IBUs (it tastes lower than that).  Overall, this is a very easy drinking beer!

Overall Impressions

I am of the opinion that white IPAs are very overlooked.  They don’t seem to command the same respect in the IPA community that a typical IPA/DIPA would garner.  As somebody who loves both Belgian wits and IPAs, I think they make a good bridge between the two (as the style is a sort of hybrid of the two styles).  I would recommend this beer to a hop head maybe looking to try out Belgian wits, or a wit lover looking to try out hops.  This beer is not so overly bitter that somebody who is typically averse to trying IPAs would dislike it.  Personally, I love this style of beer (including this beer), and would happily recommend this beer to most people.  It’s really easy to drink!  Well done!

Dark Horse Brewing Co: Scotty Karate 1/14/2017

So we are just into the second week of 2017, and I am already sick (2017 is off to a fantastic start, isn’t it?).  Part of the challenges that I face as a beer blogger is maintaining a variety in terms of the styles of beer that I review- and when I get sick, that challenge becomes harder because there are some beer styles that I simply will not be able to taste because my senses are compromised (the pilsner I had in mind will have to wait).  So this week I decided to pick something bold with some assertive flavors and lots of alcohol (alcohol kills germs, right?).  This week I decided to taste Dark Horse Brewing Co’s Scotty Karate: their Scotch Ale that won a silver medal at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival.  Here’s the scoop:

Beer Name: Scotty Karate

Brewery: Dark Horse Brewing Co

Brewery Location: Marshall, MI

Beer Style: Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy

ABV: 9.75%

IBU: 26

Appearance

Scotty Karate pours an opaque brown color, with a cream colored head that slowly fades over time (likely due to the high alcohol content).

scotty-karate

Aroma

The dominant aroma I picked up from this beer were caramel with hints of cherry in the background, as well as some notes of alcohol.

Taste & Aftertaste

This beer is rich, sweet, and thick with a lot of caramel as the dominant flavor.  I taste some notes of maraschino cherries in there too, which compliments the caramel really nicely.  I also detect some hints of smoke immediately after swallowing when I breathe out through my nose (emphasis on smoky- not burnt or ashy).  The alcohol is certainly present in the beer, but it’s not overbearing.  But at 9.75%, this beer will definitely sweep the legs after more than one pint (Karate Kid anyone? Anyone?).  There is a slight bitter/astringent aftertaste, but it’s far from a deal breaker.  The flavors of this beer continue to blend more and smooth out as it gets warmer  Overall, this beer has a great balance of flavors in that no one element of this beer dominates the others.

Overall Impressions

This is an excellent scotch ale and I can understand why this beer won a silver medal in its category at the 2007 GABF.  It’s boozy, but doesn’t hit you over the head with it, and the flavors are very well balanced with each other.  So when you’re sick like I am, and need a beer with bold flavors to help kill the germs and open up your nasal passages, a beer like Scotty Karate will certainly do the trick.

Night Shift Brewing: Furth 1/5/2017

Happy BREW year everybody (check horrible pun off the list).  I hope everybody’s new year was filled with good beer.  At least at the bar where I work, New Year’s Eve 2016 was filled with lots of people looking to utterly forget 2016 (who am I to judge?).  So it’s a new year, with new beer!  I’ve decided to pick a beer from Night Shift Brewing Company, who has been turning out quality beer since 2012.  I’ve been to their tap room a number of times and have yet to be disappointed by them.  Today, I decided to review Furth, their hefeweizen.  Check out my…FURTH review of the New Year (…yup, more bad puns!):

Beer Name: Furth

Brewery: Night Shift Brewing

Brewery Location: Everett, MA

Beer Style: Hefeweizen

ABV: 5.5%

IBU: N/A

Appearance

Furth pours a cloudy yellow color with a creamy white head that persists all the way down the glass.

furth-1-5-17

Aroma

Up front I noticed notes of Banana, citrus (orange?), and light notes of black pepper.

Taste & Aftertaste

I usually expect at least some notes of banana and cloves when I drink hefeweizens, but with Furth, I got light-moderate notes of banana and no notes of clove whatsoever (not a bad thing, just different than expected).  One strong flavor that I am picking up on, which I am a really big fan of, is a clementine-like orangey flavor (reminiscent of a Belgian wit).  The malt character is very bready (I’m thinking whole wheat bread here); and on the back of my palate, I get a light hint of black pepper.  There is a slightly bitter aftertaste that does linger a little, but is far from unpleasant.  Overall the beer is medium-bodied (leaning more towards the heavy side) with barely noticeable hop character.  The fruity/citrusy notes are the clear star of this beer.  It is very easy to drink, and I easily could sit at a bar enjoying multiple pints of this beer.  Very well done!

Overall Impressions

This beer is an excellent German-style hefeweizen.  I especially love the notes of orange in the flavor- it accentuates the banana and bready flavors of the beer.  Style snobs might not be accepting of the citrusy flavors that are present in this beer, but I’m more in favor of good flavor than style accuracy.  This beer is excellent.  It’s an awesome German hefeweizen that has a slight twist to it.

Christmas With The In-Laws: Snow Blind, Secret Stairs, Quad 12/30/2016

Welcome back everyone!  I hope you are all having a restful holiday season with lots of great beer!  I know I did.  This past week I went down to the Lehigh Valley in Eastern Pennsylvania to visit my in-laws for Christmas.  For some people, this might mean awkward dinner time conversations about politics and religion, but for me this meant a captive audience to put on a tasting panel (and later play drunk Mario Kart).  I was very excited for this panel because there was a lot of variation in my participants in terms of beer knowledge, appreciation, and preferences; and it helped reinforce why I wanted to start this blog in the first place.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

Remember, none of the participants know what beer is being given to them (myself excluded)- this is a blind taste test and I only inform them of what style of beer they are drinking.  Not every person on every panel is an expert at reviewing beer and nobody’s palate is ever wrong- taste is purely subjective.

12-30-2016-tasting

Panelist Profiles

Name: Rae Name: Ben Name: Lori
Age: 30 Age: 30 Age: 59
Occupation: Music Teacher Occupation: Sales Manager Occupation: Insurance New Business Coordinator
Level of Beer Appreciation (1-5): 5 Level of Beer Appreciation (1-5):  5 Level of Beer Appreciation (1-5): 3 (Wine is better)
Favorite Beer/Beer Style:

Wheat Beers, Lagers, Ales

Favorite Beer/Beer Style: Originally a Budweiser guy, but is now also a fan of IPAs.  Still enjoys Bud. Favorite Beer/Beer Style: Porters and Stouts

Dislikes macro lagers

Additional Qualifications/Info: Rich’s sister-in-law.  Married to Ben. Additional Qualifications/Info: Rich’s brother-in-law.  Married to Rae.

 

Additional Qualifications/Info: Rich’s mother-in-law.  Rae’s mother.


Starr Hill: Snow Blind

Beer Name: Snow Blind

Brewery: Starr Hill Brewery

Brewery Location: Crozet, VA

Beer Style: Doppelbock

ABV: 7.7%

IBU: 13

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When I was deciding what beers to pick for this particular panel, I wanted to include a beer that I can’t find or buy in my home state of Rhode Island, a beer that my in-laws couldn’t find or buy in Pennsylvania, and a beer that was right in their own backyard.  So I decided to start the tasting off with Snow Blind Doppelbock from Starr Hill Brewery (slightly ironic considering Christmas Day was 45 degrees and sunny).  Snow Blind poured a dark red-brown color with a little bit of head that slowly dissipated.  The entire group picked up on hints of sweet caramel/toffee in the aroma, while Ben and I also detected some fruity notes (which reminded me of maraschino cherries).

The group was more or less on the same page in terms of the flavors that were being picked up.  The beer started off sweet on the palate, but quickly dried out in the finish with a slightly bitter/astringent aftertaste.  It’s difficult to assess where this bitterness is coming from considering the IBUs of this beer are pretty low (I don’t think we were tasting hop bitterness).  Rae picked up notes of burnt sugar, while Lori detected caramel.  Consistent with his observations from the aroma, Ben said he tasted some slight fruitiness in the aftertaste which reminded him of blueberries.  I thought I tasted slight notes of cherries, which reminded me of cough syrup; and when I shared this observation to the group, Ben and Lori both took another sip and agreed.  I can’t be certain whether this fruity characteristic is a yeast ester or a result of oxidation, but most of the group picked up on this nevertheless.  The consensus among the group was that this beer was good enough, but none of us would order a second pint- except for Lori who said she enjoyed the beer, especially as it warmed up.

 

Trillium: Secret Stairs

Beer Name: Secret Stairs

Brewery: Trillium Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Boston, MA

Beer Style: American Stout

ABV: 6.5%

IBU: N/A

secret-stairs

For the next beer in the tasting panel, I wanted to give them something from my neck of the woods.  Trillium is notable right now for being among the leading breweries setting the standard for the hazy “New England Style” IPA.  Because of that, it seems like many people hold Trillium (and other such breweries) in such high regard that they can do no wrong.  So I wanted to sneak one of their beers onto this panel because they have never even heard of Trillium or its hype (they’re not beer geeks like me, so they’re REALLY unbiased).  I’ll tell you right now that I didn’t do an IPA from Trillium because two out of my three panelists do not like IPAs.

Secret Stairs pours an opaque black color with an off-white/tan head that sticks around as you drink it.  The entire group detected coffee in the aroma.  Ben noted that he also tasted notes of sweet milk chocolate in the aroma, and Rae picked up on black licorice.  To me, there was a sort of burnt quality in the aroma (though not smoky).  The most assertive flavor in this beer was definitely the coffee (that was the first note on everybody’s tasting sheet).  Rae and I said that the beer had a thick mouthfeel, but also finished very dry.  Rae and Ben also picked up on hints of vanilla, and had a slight bitter aftertaste.  Lori said that the coffee notes became more amplified as the beer warmed up over time.  Considering my entire panel consisted of big coffee drinkers, everyone loved this beer and said that they would buy another pint.  I, on the other hand, drink coffee much less frequently and while I did enjoy the coffee flavor, I could only drink one of these at a time.  To me the flavors were a bit too ashy and acrid for me to drink this beer over and over again.  However, it’s still a great tasting beer in my opinion.

 

Weyerbacher: Quad

Beer Name: Quad

Brewery: Weyerbacher Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Easton, PA

Beer Style: Belgian-style Quad

ABV: 11.9%

IBU: 39

weyerbacher-quad

For the last beer in this panel, I decided that I wanted to sneak something from my in-laws’ backyard (almost literally).  I absolutely love Belgian-style Quadrupels (Quads)- when done right, they’re a boozy marriage of dark fruit and spice flavors that I absolutely love.  That said, I forgot that both Rae and Ben are not fans of high alcohol Belgian-style beers (whoops), so they had some *ahem* colorful observations for this beer.  So just a heads up- you’re going to get the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of tasting notes for this beer.

Weyerbacher Quad pours a hazy amber color with very minimal lacing that disappears almost instantaneously (likely from the high alcohol content).  Lori and I both picked up on a fig characteristic that reminded Lori of a Fig Newton.  Additionally I detected notes of raisins, plum, black cherry, and a heavy alcohol aroma (reminiscent of paint thinner).  Ben said that the beer smelled first like turpentine, then like the glue he uses to make model trains (and he also agreed with my paint thinner analogy).  After smelling for several minutes, the glue smell gave way to some fruit and spice aromas for him (though he struggled to identify specific fruits/spices).  Rae said that the beer smelled like the inside of a shoe (I told you this would get ugly).  I was unsatisfied with such a general answer (was it a running shoe? Work boots?  Ballerina slippers?), so Rae said it smelled like the inside of a leather sandal after I pushed her for details.  The tasting session paused for several minutes of laughter.  Just remember- taste is purely subjective (that was my mantra in that moment).

In terms of flavor, Lori and I both picked up on the dark fruit qualities of the beer (black cherry, dates, and especially fig).  Lori picked up on a note that made the beer almost seem lightly sour (tart).  Similarly, both Lori and Ben thought the beer had a cidery feel to it (it didn’t taste like cider, but there were qualities to it that reminded them of cider).  The entire group agreed that the alcohol did not hide in this beer, which was fine for Lori and myself, but not so much for Rae and Ben (Rae described this beer as borderline liquor).  The beer definitely had a burn to it as it went down your throat.  When asked if they would buy a second pint of this, there was a resounding no from Rae and Ben, while Lori said she would buy this beer again.  I also liked this beer, though if I am going to be nitpicky, I would prefer that this beer be somewhere closer to 9% (the alcohol in this was quite intense at nearly 12%).  That said, I found it quite tasty!

 

Lost Nation Brewing: Gose 12/22/2016

For my recruiter review posts, I have generally tried to maintain a variety of styles of beer, as well as pick beers that are seasonally appropriate (or correspond to a certain holiday).  So it would make sense that for a post so close to Christmas, I would pick a Christmas/winter beer (darker and higher alcohol), right?  Well, I did a bit of a 180 today and picked a Gose (lighter and lower alcohol).  The main reason I did it is because Lost Nation Brewing is making their debut in my home state of Rhode Island, and when I was looking for a beer to review on the shelf of my local bottle shop, this beer stood out and curiosity got the best of me.  So Merry Christmas, everyone!  Here’s your…holiday gose:

Beer Name: Gose

Brewery: Lost Nation Brewing

Brewery Location: Morrisville, VT

Beer Style: Gose

ABV: 4.5%

IBU: 8

Appearance

Lost Nation: Gose pours a hazy straw color with an effervescent white head that dissipates as you continue to drink it.

lost-nation-gose

Aroma

A strong, lemony-orange characteristic is prominent on the nose with some slight earthy funk supporting in the background.  It’s interesting- sour is not something that is perceptible by smell, but when I sniff it, I can tell that there is some acidity present in this beer (similar to if you took a big whiff of orange juice).

Taste & Aftertaste

The first sip I took felt like I was taking a big bite from multi-grain bread.  This beer is lightly tart- less tart and citrusy than I was anticipating, and certainly less tart than other goses that I’ve had (which isn’t a bad thing at all).  I think there is a big misconception with sour beers that all sours are bold, mouth puckering, borderline vinegar-bombs (this is not always the case).  On the contrary, sour beers vary in both sour character and intensity.  A traditional gose is a wheat beer first, with some very light notes of tartness, citrus (from the coriander), and sea salt in the background.  This beer fits this description perfectly.  The breadiness of this beer is supported by hints of lemon and orange with a small hit of sea salt that accentuates the flavors of the beer (as well as helps to dry your palate out making you want to take another sip).  The light citrus and tartness of this beer are both very pleasant and not overbearing.  Furthermore, the low alcohol of this beer makes it very approachable, and, dare I say, crushable.  I’ll have to keep this beer in mind for my fridge next summer- it’s the perfect warm-weather thirst-quencher.

Overall Impressions

If you want to know what a traditional gose should taste like, you should get this beer.  It’s a straight forward gose without the bells and whistles (no added fruit or flavor to make it more “interesting”)- that’s a good thing in my opinion because it’s a sign of good craftsmanship.  In other words, this beer doesn’t try to be fancy to distract you from potential brewing flaws- it’s a basic (though not boring) and well crafted gose with fantastic citrus flavors.  I think people who are afraid of sour beers assume that all sour beers are going to be mouth puckering and unpleasant.  This beer is the perfect tool to help dispel that myth- the tartness is very mild and actually gives the beer a nice fruit-juice-like quality when coupled with the citrus flavors.  I could drink several of these on a warm summer day.  The only thing I have left to say is directed to Lost Nation Brewing: Welcome to the Ocean State!  Your beer is excellent.

Tired Hands Brewing Company: High Road 12/14/2016

What do you get when you have an older brother who brings back awesome beer from the Mid-Atlantic states?  A happy Brew Recruiter, that’s what.  It’s always refreshing to receive beers that are not otherwise available in my local beer market, so I have decided to share my recent acquisitions with all of you.  Today I’ve decided to review Tired Hands: High Road- a wonderfully fruity Double IPA that packs a serious flavor punch.  Yes I’m aware that I’ve gone on a bit of a hop binge as of late, but when you have good New England style IPAs available to you, you can’t help yourself but indulge a bit.  Please indulge with me:

Beer Name: High Road

Brewery: Tired Hands Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Ardmore, PA

Beer Style: Double IPA

ABV: 8%

IBU: N/A

Appearance

High Road pours an opaque…basically murky deep orange color (bordering on light brown) with a creamy white head that laces the glass all the way down as you drink it.

high-road

Aroma

I picked up grapefruit and floral notes from the aroma primarily, with some notes of pineapple in the background as well.  The hop aroma is present but not aggressive.

Taste & Aftertaste

With my first sip, I immediately detected grapefruit and pineapple.  The beer has some bitterness to it, though it’s a soft bitterness that does not linger at all in the aftertaste.  This is also surprisingly sweet (perhaps too sweet)- there are definitely some notes of sweet caramel present in the malt character of this beer.  The floral hop notes that I perceived in the aroma are not as prominent in the actual flavor of the beer- they give way to the tropical fruit and sweet caramel notes that I detailed above.  What’s scary to me is that this beer clocks in at 8% ABV- this beer does not taste like it has that much alcohol in it at all.  I could easily drink a few of these without even batting an eye- this beer can get a person in trouble.  True to the style of the typical New England IPA, this beer is an awesome hybrid of IPA and fruit juice.  It highlights the fruity character of its hops while avoiding being aggressively bitter  Well done!

Overall Impressions

The combination of fruity flavors and mild bitterness (for an IPA) makes this beer a good example of a New England style IPA (and maybe even a bridge for those who typically don’t find IPAs to be very palatable).  However, because this beer is so sweet and because of its alcohol level, I, personally, could only limit myself to one of these in a single sitting before moving on to something else.  The flavor is really amazing, but it’s also just too sweet for me to be perfectly honest.  This is a well brewed beer, and if you can tolerate sweetness and/or are looking to bridge into the IPA scene without excessive bitterness, then this is the beer for you.  The fruity hop flavors will blow you away.  Cheers!

Tree House Brewing Company: Green 12/13/2016

As many of you know (if you read the About Me section), the beer that turned me from a craft beer drinker to a craft beer fanatic was Heady Topper by The Alchemist.  Heady Topper is known as the original “New England Style IPA” (or Vermont IPA…depending on how much you care about labels).  There are many people out there who love the “hazy” IPAs, and many who absolutely despise them- I’m part of the former.  The New England style IPA is known for being an opaque color, with a softer bitterness compared to a traditional IPA, and bursting with citrus and tropical fruit flavors derived from the hops.  Tree House Brewing Company is one of the up-and-coming breweries that has not only joined the hazy IPA trend, but they are among those leading the charge (in a very big way for that matter).  I hate waiting in lines for beer, but there are some beers that are deserving of the lines they generate (short story: I sucked it up).  Here is my take on one of their many hop forward beers: Green.  Check it out:

Beer Name: Green

Brewery: Tree House Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Monson, MA

Beer Style: IPA

ABV: 7.5%

IBU: 90

Appearance

Green pours an opaque light-orange color with a creamy white head.  Actually opaque doesn’t do the description justice.  It’s like somebody took orange juice and added milk to it- that’s the appearance.  In short: it looks like a New England style IPA.

green

Aroma

Orange, grassy, mango, and other tropical fruits.  The hop character of this beer is really, really pungent.

Taste & Aftertaste

Traditional to the New England IPA style, this beer has a creamy mouthfeel without being too sweet.  Up front, the bitterness is soft and smooth- which is in contrast to traditional IPAs that are less afraid of a sharper bitterness.  The hop flavor of this beer is pretty consistent with its aroma- I picked up some pineapple, mango, and tropical fruits with a bitter, grassy finish (almost like fresh lawn clippings).  Uber fans of this beer style will call them “juicy”- referring to the combination of the creamy mouthfeel paired with the intense fruit flavors (it’s like drinking juice).  In that respect, I will call this beer “juicy”, but know that I despise the term because it’s overused now and it really doesn’t tell you anything about the specifics of the beer’s actual flavor.  Moving on.

The bitterness lingers in the aftertaste some (like one might expect), but it’s not remotely harsh or unpleasant.  The one critique I have of this beer is that there is a slight bite/burn on the back corners of my palate in the aftertaste of this beer that I don’t typically attribute to hop bitterness or high alcohol burn.  Some might say that this is a “yeast bite” (some New England style IPAs allegedly have yeast still in suspension- giving it its signature hazy appearance, but consequentially also a slight burn/bite).  That said: I did not look at this beer under a microscope, so I am not saying with any certainty why I perceive this quality (I’m a drinker, not a scientist dammit).  We can leave this note open for debate.

Overall Impressions

What we have here is the epitome of the New England style IPA- a murky, silky-smooth IPA bursting with citrusy and tropical-fruity hop characteristics.  I absolutely love this beer, and it’s one of my favorite IPAs.  This beer is absolutely stellar, and I can easily understand why Tree House has long lines every single day that they are open for business.  Tree House has not merely followed in the footsteps of the Alchemist, they have made the New England style IPA all their own and are now among the shining examples of the style.  If you have the patience to wait in a long line, and you’re in the area on a release date… Get. This. Beer.

Alpine Beer Company: Hoppy Birthday 12/2/2016

I think it goes without saying that the holiday season is stressful on everybody (what with all of the parties, planning, and gift giving).  This is true for me too, but then add a lot of birthdays into that mix (fortunately, I like gift giving).  For the first three weeks of December leading up to Christmas, every member of my immediate family has a birthday…including my wife (welcome to the family, honey).  My wife leads off the pack with her birthday in the beginning of December and pale ale is her favorite style of beer, so this review goes out to her.  Hoppy birthday, Becky!  Check it out:

Beer Name: Hoppy Birthday

Brewery: Alpine Beer Company

Brewery Location: San Diego, CA

Beer Style: American Pale Ale

ABV: 5.3%

IBU: 60

Appearance

Hoppy Birthday pours a crystal clear golden color with thin white lacing that follows the beer down as you drink it.  It looks very inviting.

hoppy-birthday

Aroma

On the nose I get notes of pine, orange, and herbal qualities.  The overall aroma is not too pungent, though present enough to let you know what to expect in terms of flavor.

Taste & Aftertaste

Up front, the beer has a distinct grassy/piney (like pine needles) flavor with a big bitter backbone to it.  I also get a definite tea-like quality to it (almost like Earl Grey) with notes of orange prominent in the background.  I detected very light notes of caramel as well, but any malt characteristics present in this beer take a back seat to the hops.  This beer leaves a strong bitter aftertaste in my mouth that lingers long after each sip.  In my opinion, this beer is too hoppy to be considered a pale ale because it’s hopped more like an IPA.  The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) lists the guidelines for pale ale in the 30-50 IBU range, and this clocks in above that (60 IBUs), making it a touch out of balance.  Overall, however, the flavor of this beer is very solid, and a nice step away from all the super-fruit/citrusy IPAs that are all the rage right now.

Overall Impressions

Like I just said, this beer is good, but there are elements of it that I am not too keen on.  My main issue with this beer is the bitterness- I like my pale ales to be more balanced between the hops and the malt.  The hops, in my opinion, should still be the star, but it shouldn’t dominate the malt like this beer does.  Furthermore, the bitterness is way too high and lingers way too long considering this is billed as a pale ale (this is more like a session IPA to be perfectly frank).  For me to like this better, the bitterness would need to be scaled back and more in balance with the malt profile (especially when you consider the lower alcohol of this beer).  I also prefer the fruity/citrusy flavors that hops can bring (as opposed to the piney/herbal flavors in this beer), but everybody has their own preferences in that respect, and the hop flavors are actually quite nice in this beer.  Honestly, if you go into this beer expecting a lower alcohol IPA rather than a pale ale, then I think you will enjoy this beer a lot- the overall flavors are definitely good.  Cheers!

Allagash Brewing Company: Farm to Face (2016) 11/26/2016

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  I hope you all managed to find good beer in between having awkward political conversations with your family!  Despite all the craziness that is happening around us, we all have a lot to be thankful for, and, as usual, I am thankful for good beer!  This Thanksgiving I decided to treat myself with a beer from one of my all time favorite breweries in the world: Allagash Brewing Company.  Farm To Face is a fantastic sour beer brewed with local New England peaches and is perfect for the sour beer lovers out there.  Pucker up for the scoop:

Beer Name: Farm To Face (2016)

Brewery: Allagash Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Portland, ME

Beer Style: American Wild Ale

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: N/A

Appearance

Farm To Face pours a golden yellow color with a thick white head.  There is a slight haze to the beer, but it is otherwise crystal clear.

farm-to-face

Aroma

Right off the bat, you can tell this is a sour beer.  An earthy-funk dominates the aroma (akin to a sort of barnyard-like aroma), accompanied by a light acetobacter aroma (vinegary) as well as some light fruit notes.

Taste & Aftertaste

For a beer that is advertised as a peach sour, the peach/apricot type of fruitiness in the taste is more restrained than I expected (though it’s definitely present).  The earthy funk that I perceived in the aroma is not as present in the taste and is dominated by the fruit character and sourness.  I also picked up light sourdough-like qualities in the malt character, alongside some grass-like flavors (reminiscent of fresh lawn clippings).  The sourness in this beer is prominent but not too overbearing.  I mentioned in the aroma that I detected some acetobacter, but this beer does not taste like that.  There is a soft lactic acid character present in the beer blended with a much more pungent and complex sour character.  Very simply, to easily differentiate the difference between lactic sourness and acetic sourness (which are very common in many sours), think of the difference between orange juice (a soft, tart lactic sourness) versus vinegar (mouth puckering acetic sourness).  There are other types of acids and sourness that I could get into, but for the sake of simplicity, I will leave it at that.  In short, when people say they dislike sour beers, this is the type of beer they are thinking about- this beer does not hide the sour.

Overall Impressions

This is a phenomenal sour beer.  Honestly- I know that this is not a “beginners” beer, or a beer that is particularly easy to find…but it’s Thanksgiving and I had to treat myself.  This is the perfect beer for sour beer lovers.  The sourness is very prominent, but not overbearing (the enamel on your teeth can rejoice).  Furthermore the fruitiness in this beer is very pleasant, and makes for a very enjoyable sour beer.  If you are a fan of sour beer, and you see this beer on the shelf- grab it! Don’t even think twice about it.