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!

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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.

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!