Friday, March 28, 2008

Founder's Devil Dancer

Beer: Founder's Devil Dancer
Brewery Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Beer Style: Double/Imperial IPA
ABV: 13%

I was trying to figure out how to start this post about this beer, but Founder's sums it up pretty damn well.

"Founders most complex, most innovative, most feared and yet most revered ale produced. Massive in complexity the huge malt character balances the insane amount of alpha's used to create this monster. More IBU's than any brewery has documented, more than you would believe and dry-hopped for twenty-six days straight with a combination of 10 hop varieties. Dangerously drinkable and deliciously evil. We dare you to dance with the Devil."

I missed the boat getting a bottle of this last time it came out, but I wasn't going to miss the boat this year. I bought the very first four pack that Party Pak had before it even hit the shelves (at least that is what the guy told me as he handed me a four pack of it from the box on the floor).

Founder's stock is quickly rising in my book. I have yet to have a beer from Founder's that I wasn't a fan of. Even beer styles that I thought I would hate, Founder's changed my mind on those styles. I am particularly thinking of Red Rye, Black Rye, and Rubaeus. Particularly I was thinking that Rubaeus would taste like a teenage malt beverage, but it is a great summer beer that delivers a great raspberry flavor with a solid ale base that is tart and not cloyingly sweet. I dare say that Founders is my second favorite brewery behind Three Floyd's.

The beer pours a rusted orange/amber hue with a thin tan head. There is no lacing to speak of during the beer. The nose on this beer is about as complex as you will find in a beer. I think this smells more like a barleywine than an IIPA. The heaviest scents include the very rich maltiness with heavy tropical fruit, resinous pine, and sweet caramel. There is also a cognac like booze smell coming from this beer. Each time I put my nose into it I get something new! The nose is really well done on this one. The flavor profile is equally as intense. For an IIPA the taste is more malt based on this beer. The malt is the heavy hitter here with flavors of caramel and brown sugar and rum soaked raisins. The hop profile comes in after a few seconds but plays second to the malt profile. The hop profile tastes of fresh grapefruit rind and sticky pine. There is some sharp alcohol flavor as well, but in no ways takes away from this beer but adds another unique quality to this beer. This beer will challenge your palate. I don't think this beer crosses the "boozy" line on the mouthfeel, but I personally don't mind the alcohol on the mouthfeel. This beer is full-bodied and has a velvety texture. I will stop praising this beer when it comes to drinkability though. At 13% you wouldn't last very long with many of these. I had one 12 ounce bottle and that was enough for me for a while.

This beer was amazingly intense and well done. I still think it tasted more like a barleywine than an IIPA, but that is just my take. Another beer that would best enjoyed by "big beer" lovers. This is a little pricey at 15 bucks a four pack, but after having this beer I think it was well worth it.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Stoudt's Double IPA

Beer: Stoudt's Double IPA
Brewery Location: Adamstown, PA
Beer Style: Double IPA
Serving Style: Bottle
ABV: 10%

Spring is pretty much upon us and I am starting to get the itch for pale ales, IPA's, and double IPA's. I got this bottle in a trade a few weeks ago. I've never had or heard of any beers from Stoudt before, so this is my very first offering from them. I don't know much about Stoudt's other than they are from Pennsylvania, and their beers are available in Michigan and Ohio but nothing in Indiana.

This pours a bright and hazy orange color with two fingers of off-white head. The beer left minimal lacing on the walls of my pint glass. The nose presents itself while I pour this beer and I get the smell of overwhelming citrus fruit. As the beer settled a bit I get more bready malt coming through, but I was about half-way done with my beer before I got that. The flavor profile at first sip starts out with a clean citrus hop bite, but the very sweet malt comes into play very quickly and drowns out the hops in the flavor profile. The sweetness is a mixture of honey and caramel. The sweetness if very cloying to me. The mouthfeel is actually really nice and smooth with medium carbonation with a medium body. The drinkability wasn't really there for me in this beer. The sweetness would keep me away from it.

This beer had two good things going for it: esthetically it looks great, and the mouthfeel is really well done for a DIPA. I did not enjoy the cloying sweetness on this beer though. I like my DIPA's a little more bitter than this. Personally, this was a bit of a miss for me.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Victory Brewing Storm King Stout

Beer: Victory Brewing Storm King Stout
Brewery Location: Downingtown, PA
Beer Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Serving Style: Bottle
ABV: 9.1%

I've saved the best for last in my Victory Brewing trade. This beer is quite respected and is one of the top 100 beers on Beer Advocate and on Rate Beer. This is a seasonal offering from Victory and is usually available around the winter time, but according to their website it says available on draft and in bottles year round. My stout kick is starting to fade, but I still like stouts on the occasion anytime of the year.

This beer pours very dark brown, but not quite black, with a finger of creamy tan head that dissipated after a few minutes. It left great lacing for a Russian imperial stout on my pint glass. The aroma on this is a very unique combination of classic stout scents including coffee, espresso, dark fruit, and roasted grain, but also an earthy hoppy citrus scent that actually works itself in very well. The first sip brings on the roasted malt flavor upfront with secondary flavors of espresso and chocolate soaked coffee beans. The citrus hops make their appearance on the finish with just a slight grassy citrus kick at the end. This flavor profile is done very well with as much as is going on with the beer. The mouthfeel is velvety and smooth on the palate that leaves a slightly dry finish. The alcohol is very well hidden and only barely noticeable. The drink ability on this beer is good and I would have more than one of a cold night.

I really enjoyed this beer. I knew this stout used hops in it and I was afraid it was going to be like Black Sun Stout from Three Floyds. The floral aroma was just too strong with the Three Floyds offering, but this is pulled back and subdued and doesn't try to dominate the flavor profile, but only add a little something extra that a normal stout. That makes this an above average Russian imperial stout. If you find yourself down at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati it is certainly worth picking some up.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Deschutes Brewery Green Lakes Organic Ale

Beer: Deschutes Brewery Green Lake Organic Ale
Brewery Location: Bend, OR
Beer Style: Amber Ale
Serving Style: Bomber
ABV: 5.2%

If you read this enough you know one of my very favorite breweries is Deschutes Brewing in Bend, Oregon. We can't get it in Indiana, but it is well worth seeking out if you are on the west coast or ordering it through Liquid Solutions. This beer is currently available for $4.55 a bomber through Liquid Solutions, but I happened to trade for this bottle.

The idea behind this beer is a brewer being "green" with their beer. According to their website they worked on this beer for four years trying to find the right organic barley. Organic barley roasts differently than traditional barley does, and that was the cause for the holdup. I think it would be interesting to make this beer with both organic barley and regular barley and see if there is any taste differentiation in either beer. This beer beer is part of their Bond Street Series that commemorates their original location on Bond Street in Bend. Their website says this beer is available from January through April. I find it interesting that this beer is made using "salmon-safe" hops in it. I honestly didn't think hops would be much of an agricultural danger for river fish, but you learn something new every day.

This beer pours a very clear ruby hue with a fluffy two fingered white head. The head collapsed quite slowly and left a sheet of lace for the entire beer, and it left spotty lacing on the glass. The nose is a mix of bready malt with a caramel base and some earthy citrus smell is apparent. The flavor profile is unique for an amber ale. The first drink brings on flavors of caramel soaked bread but the bitter hops come in as well. I am not sure if it the organic hops here or the style of hops, but the earthiness if a different type of flavor. It is almost an astringent citrus flavor. It isn't a bad taste to me, but it just strikes me a little differently. Old and bitter black tea is the best way I can try and describe that. The mouthfeel is crisp, clean, and very smooth. I would drink this again if it were available locally.

I think Deschutes has a good beer here. It does make me feel differently (in a good way) about organic beer. I would say this is good middle of the road beer. It is just a good offering, but doesn't cross the great threshold.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

Beer: Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
Brewery Location: Healdsburg, CA
Beer Style: American IPA
Serving Style: Bomber
ABV: 8%

I've been trying to get some more Bear Republic offerings since I was pretty impessed with Racer 5, and this is my second offering from them. I never thought I would like any beer with rye in it, but Fouders Red Rye has got me convinced that I will always give something with rye in it a chance. The Founders offering is one of my favorites. I split this bottle with my best friend and beer drinking buddy Kevin.

This beer pours a deep mahogony hue with three fingers of very dense tan head on it. The head collapes fairly quickly, but does leave good spotty lacing on my pint glass. There is some significant amount of spent yeast and hop particles in this offering as well. I smell this beer as I pour it. The hop scent is extremley dominant on this offering with big wafts of grapefruit rind, sticky pine needles, and pineapple. The malt isn't as dominant as the hops but does present itself with scents of grain and caramel. The first taste brings on all of those hops with the grapefruit and pine flavors coming to the forefront, but the malt is much more pronounced in the flavor profile than in the nose. The malt has flavors of the caramel, grain, rye, candied fruit, and a certain honey sweetness is present as well. The flavors meld very well together and I think the rye is the perfect compliment to the bitterness of the hops and adds a fruity spicyness to the beer. The mouthfeel on this beer is super smooth and medium bodied. I can't say to much more about this beer other than I will purchase any time I have the opporutunity.

Overall I was pretty happy with this offering. I am not sure why they classify this as an american IPA. It walks and talks like a double IPA, and has the mouthfeel and finish of a top notch barleywine. This is worth getting your hands on if you can get it.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

St. Patrick's Party with the Hoosier Beer Geeks

Event: St. Patrick's Day Party with the Hoosier Beer Geeks
Location: Deano's Vino

I was out on Saturday night with the wife for evening out and we stopped by for the St. Patrick's day party with the Hoosier Beer Geeks at Deano's Vino in Fountain Square. It was really nice to just relax for a bit and have a couple of good beers and good conversation. They had three special beers on tap for the occasion. Brian Boru from Three Floyds, Brutal Bitter ESB from Rouge, and Black Majic Java Stout from Barley Island.

I started my evening off with Rouge's Brutal Bitter ESB. I've never had it on tap and that was lower in IBU's compared to the Three Floyds, so I started with that. The beer poured a nice orange/gold color with a small off-white head on it. It had a nice nose of hop and pine resin on it. It wasn't an overpowering nose, but it was nice. The flavor profile wasn't a big as I had hoped for. Solid flavors of sticky pine and some sweet caramel malt come through nicely. It was crisp on the mouthfeel with medium carbonation. Overall, this is a pretty good offering, but I am little ho-hum over it. It is almost like an IPA for beginners. I can't bitch that much, this was a good beer, and I was neither unsatisfied or had my socks knocked off by this beer.

My second beer of the night was Brian Boru from Three Floyds. I've had this beer in bomber form, but never on tap. I was told that there were only four kegs of this in Indiana and two of them were at Deano's. Pours a deep copper approaching an almost ruddy hue. Wonderful scents of sticky caramel, spicy floral aromatics, and pineapple are apparent. The taste is a well balanced combination of a toasted bready malt and sticky caramel with a nice compliment of hops in the flavor profile. This beer was my winner of the evening. Overall, just a very clean and easy drinking palate pleaser.

A big thanks to the Hoosier Beer Geeks for putting on another great event with some very tasty brews.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oskar Blues Grill and Brewery Ten Fidy

Beer: Oskar Blues Grill and Brewery Ten-Fidy
Brewery Location: Lyons, CO
Beer Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Serving Style: can
ABV: 10.0%

"This dog'll hunt"
This quote is on the back of the can, and for some reason I find amusement out of it.

I finally got my hands on this much sought after beer from a very generous trader. The thing I like about the beer community is that I've run across so many good people that want to share beer with other beerlovers in return for them sharing their beer with them. This beer has a big reputation behind it, and you can see it on Ebay where single cans can fetch fifty bucks or more. (I personally think that is disgusting and Ebay beer should be stopped.)

Oskar Blues is another company that is exclusively canning their beer instead of bottling it. They were actually the first micro-brewery to do it in 2002 according to their website. There are not many companies doing it, but Oskar Blues is reporting excellent growth and is expanding in other states. I guess it shows people that great beer can trump the stigma of beer coming in can instead of bottle form, but the can is actually superior to bottles for beer geeks. Needless to say that I am pretty excited to give this beer a try.

Pours an opaque black with one finer of dark mocha/tan head on it. It is very strange seeing a black beer pouring out of a can, and also not getting the canned "hiss" sound when opened. I rather like pouring this beer from can to glass. There is a ton of bittersweet chocolate in the nose with secondary scents of roasted coffee, molassas, hops, and some dark fruit. Quite the impressive nose on an imperial stout. The roasted coffee flavors come through at first sip, but other flavors intermingle quite well like powdered bitter cocoa, roasted grain, and burnt currants/plums. You notice all the flavors, but the bitter coffee/chocolate flavor comes through in every drink. I can barely detect any alcohol on the palate as well. This beer is velvety smooth and full bodied. The carbination is low, as it should be. The drinkability is top-notch for this beer, and I would stock my house with it if I could find it locally, but I would have to be in the mood for this beer and wouldn't drink it on all occassions.

Overall this is one of the best Russian Imperial Stouts I've had the pleasure of drinking, and I would put it in my top ten of overall beers I've ever had. It is very complex with a wonderful flavor profile, and just overall an amazingly well made beer. The complexity is my favorite aspect of this offering. This beer certainly isn't for everyone and would be most enjoyed by "big beer" fans. If you have some of this beer and want to trade me for some please let me know.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sierra Nevada 2007 Celebration Ale

Beer: Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Brewery Location: Chico, CA
Beer Style: American IPA
Serving Style: Bottle
ABV: 6.8%

I need to get better about my beer buying/consuming/stockpiling of beer. I can't go to the store and not bring something back or refuse a trade for something I haven't had before. Every now and then I find beer that I forgot about, and this is one of those beers. After consuming this I am thinking why the hell was I waiting?

I've said it before but Sierra Nevada is one of my favorite craft breweries. I've been very happy with almost all of their offerings, and they are very easy to find at very reasonable prices.

This beer pours a blazing copper color with two fingers of bubbly white head that collapsed down very quickly, but left a small blanket of head for the entire beer. It left really nice lacing on the walls of my pint glass. The smell is distinctly Sierra Nevada. Their robust use of cascade and chinook hops are not missed on the nose. Scents of ripe citrus fruit along with a certain grassy earthiness that I find appealing. A slight scent of caramel malt is also trying to reach my nose. The taste is a balance of the citrus flavor from the hops and the sweet caramel malt. Upfront is the flavor of the hops and the sweet malt rounds everything out just right. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and slightly above average carbonation that leaves a dry finish on the back of my palate. The drinkablity is nice on this beer and I am glad I got to this winter offering at what is hopefully the end of winter.

I really enjoyed this beer. It is a well made IPA that isn't a hop bomb, but a bold and well balanced beer that would be nice for hop-heads and beer lovers. I will look forward to this beer again next winter or more of this years offering because I am pretty sure Party Pak still has some of this beer left on their shelves.


Victory Brewing Company Hop Devil

Beer: Victory Brewing Hop Devil
Brewery Location: Downingtown, PA
Beer Style: American IPA
Serving Style: Bottle
ABV: 6.7%

I am working my way through about six offerings from Victory Brewing right now, and I've heard and read some great things about this beer, so I was pretty excited to give it a try.

This beer pours a deep amber with one finger of white head. This is a deeper color than most other IPA's I've encountered. It does leave very good lacing on my pint glass. Hops are the only thing I smell on this beer, but that isn't really a good thing. The hop scent is rather muted and not as bold as I was expecting. I don't really pick up any other secondary scents as well. The taste is very sweet upfront with a bit of caramel before the hops take over and assert themselves, but the hops fizzle out rather quickly and leave a tea-bitterness for the rest of the beer. I am rather unsatisfied with each passing drink. The mouthfeel is rather thin, but there is quite a bit of astringency that normally isn't found on IPA's.

Overall, this was a big miss for me. I am a big hop-head, but this one fizzled out, wasn't well balanced, and the astringency wasn't expected either. This beer is so highly regarded by the masses, and I am wondering what I am missing here. I am going to try it again if I make it down to Jungle Jim's and see if it was just an off bottle.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Victory Brewing Company Hop Wallop

Beer: Victory Brewing Hop Wallop
Brewery Location: Downingtown, PA
Beer Style: Double IPA
Serving Style: Bottle
ABV: 8.5%

I've just traded for quite a bit of Victory Brewing's beers. I first had Victory after a visit to Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati. My first beer from them was their Prima Pils. I am not usually a fan of the pilsener style, but I was really wowed by it, and I get some every chance that I get.

Victory has pretty good distribution across the county for a micro brewer, but doesn't come to Indiana. You can find this beer in almost every state that touches Indiana in Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan.

Hop Wallop is Victory's seasonal DIPA that comes out each year around November.

Pours a hazy golden-straw color with two fingers of fluffy white head. It left sheets of lacing on my pint glass. The nose is packed full of citrus hops scent. There is a subtle earthiness mixed, but I cannot pickup any malt background. I almost smell a bit of candied fruit as well. The flavor profile is heavy on the hops with flavors of ripe pink grapefruit and resinous pine dominate without much of a malt base to round things out. The beer is medium bodied with medium carbonation that left a very dry finish on the back of my palate. I would certainly purchase this beer again, but the unbalanced nature of the beer wouldn't make it part of my regular rotation.

Overall, this is a pretty good beer. I wanted a little more balance out of the beer, but that shouldn't deter any hop heads out there.