Archive for the ‘Tasting Notes’ Category

Hop Candy?

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011


Yeah, I know, kind of a weird idea, but hear me out: This stuff rocks! It’s sweet with unbelievable hop flavor! I tried a few different varieties at NHC, but I can only find the Cascade flavor on the interwebs. I tried to locate the company’s website, but they don’t seem to have one, which is really weird in this day and age, but who am I to judge? Northern Brewer has it, although at the time of this writing it seems to be out of stock. QUIT EATING ALL OF IT, NB EMPLOYEES!! It’s seriously good stuff. $5 may seem a bit much for some folks, but it’s basically hop crack. You’d pay $5 for hop crack, trust me! Or if you prefer, think of it as the Jolly Rancher for hopheads. Whatever makes you happy.

Sierra Nevada – Tumbler

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
I picked up a six-pack of Tumbler out of a desire to not have to think about what beer I wanted, but still get a seasonal that I knew would probably be good. I know Sierra, I like Sierra, I bought Sierra. I’m sure you’ve done this more than once yourself. Over the past month, I’ve knocked down (with help) three six-packs of this little bad boy and in doing so, figured I really should give it a proper write-up. When I think of Brown Ale, I typically think of Newcastle (meh) and Downtown Brown (yay!), by Lost Coast Brewing. Newcastle being a thin, drinkable English Brown and Downtown being a bit more malt forward in character. Tumbler follows after the
American Brown tradition and like Downtown is a malty, but not cloying. However, being Sierra, they just can’t help themselves and they THROWINASHITTONOFHOPS WEEEEE! Now that’s not to say that it’s over hopped, or extravagantly bitter in nature, but it is just a touch “out of style” for the American Brown Ale category. It’s not really a flaw though. In fact I find that after my initial tasting, I was more than happy to dig in for more. The real test came when my wife, notorious hop hater that she is, tried it and found it quite drinkable. There’s a definite taste of “biscuity”, “roasty” flavor before the hop bombardment and that carries through after the bitterness subsides on your pallet. It makes itself very available to the non-hopheads in your life. As Fall seasonals go, I’ve yet to find another that’s quite so drinkable.

21st Amendment – Back in Black

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

These tasting notes on the 21A Back in Black come with a bit of an interesting story.  It’s a Friday night in San Francisco and I’m off to see a show at the Great American Music Hall called WootStock.  It’s basically a geekfest nerdcore show staring none other than Wil (Wesley Crusher) Wheaton, Adam (Mythbusters) Savage, and a musical duo called Paul and Storm.  Lolz were had and I was able to meet Wil and Grant Imahara (also of Mythbusters), which was all very cool.  My friend had made Wil a shirt (back story here) and so as thanks he bought us a round.  That’s right, Westley Crusher paid for our beer.  It was awesome.  Nuff said.  By this point you’ve guessed that the beer I selected was the 21A’s Back in Black, Black India Ale.

Other than the fact that I love the 21A and nearly everything they produce, my primary interest here was to try another commercial example of a Black India Ale/Cascadian Dark Ale (whichever you prefer) and compare it to my own attempt at the style, which is now a nicely matured brew of its own. Back in Black has a very nice, but not overbearing roast malt flavor that you would expect from the dark malt additions. It’s a bit more malt forward than the one I brewed, and I admit, I rather liked the upfront dark roast character. As expected, the dark roast quickly gave way to the the hops and it faded fast into a IPA feel and flavor, which I still find somewhat magical and is why I’m so enamored with this style of beer. The hops were exactly what you’d expect from an IPA, I’m guessing
somewhere in the 70-ish IBU range with definite citrus notes of the Pacific Northwest hops. I ended up sucking down 5 of these over the course of the evening, discretion being the only reason I didn’t rage on with more.

As with many of the 21A’s beers, this one came in a can, which is really starting to catch on with the craft brew world, and rightly so. I’ve had their Brew Free or Die IPA and Water Mellon Wheat in both the can and fresh off the tap without noticing much difference between the two. Cans really are mini-kegs.

Cascadian Dark Ale – First impressions

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I was able to keg my CDA today and a took a quick sample to see how it came out. A few points before I give my tasting notes: This was the first fermentation I’ve been able to do with full temperature control.  It maintained 67 F for 10 days then I dropped it to 44 F for another 10 days.

The bad news – nothing serious, but it turns out that the Carafa II that I picked up was 320 L when I had it set in my brew software as 400 L.  This resulted in creating a deep brown color instead of the black that one would expect from a “Black India Ale”.  No biggie.  I’ve corrected the data in my software so next time I’ll at that extra 1/2 ounce to get to the deep black color I was intending.

The good news – It tastes crisp and clean with just a hint of dark roast character in the malt and with a very big citrus/resin hop profile.  The hop aroma is not very deep, but it’s not carbonated yet either, which may enhance the hop aroma in a few days when it hits the proper CO2 level.  There are some definite differences here from an IPA, the hint of deep roast flavor in the malt character, but it’s not overpowering at all.  In fact, if I don’t look at the beer while I’m drinking it, I would certainly have guessed this to be an IPA.  I’m not picking up any real yeast flavors or aromas at all.  It came out very clean.  I look forward to tasting this in a week or so to see how it matures!

Michigan breweries – Tasting notes

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

During my high-speed posting while at the breweries and brewpubs last week, I really didn’t give proper tasting notes for much of what we had.  I thought I’d rectify that with an overview of my favorite beer from each of the places I visited:

Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
While I was very fond of the Bourbon Apple Cream Ale, the Looking Glass Double IPA came away as my favorite. Seems when people do a 2xIPA they tend to come out a bit sweet, regardless of the truckload of hops that go in to them. Looking Glass, despite clocking in at 11% ABV, had a residual sweetness, but the hop character still came through, keeping this an outstanding IPA rather than an over hopped barley wine.
New Holland Brewing Co., Holland
I’m going with the Smoked Hatter as my favorite this time. Not just for the guts it takes to monkey with your main beer, but for the truly excellent malt and smoke flavor of this beer. If you’ve had a Rauchbier from Germany, the smoke flavor can be overwhelming, but this one added such a nice compliment to the beer while not dominating the malt and hop character that I love in the original Mad Hatter IPA.
Hideout Brewing, Grand Rapids
The Ginger Lee narrowly beats out their Belgian style sour beer for my favorite this time out. The ginger was well pronounced, perhaps even dominating over the malt and hops, but since I’m such a ginger fanatic, I loved it! The base beer is a pale ale, brewed with a light malt and hop character, not doubt to allow the ginger to knock this one out of the park. It was a very nice spice finish with no residual sweetness to cover the mild citrus hop character.