Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ballast Point Calico Copper Amber Ale

Beer: Ballast Point Calico Copper Amber Ale
Brewery Location: San Diego, CA
Beer Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 5%

I haven't written about Ballast Point very much, the beers I've had from them have all been excellent, and I really enjoyed their Big Eye IPA. They don't have a very extended distribution, but they are in California, Arizona, and Nevada. I was watching the Cubs game, and decided to finally get around to opening up this beer that I received in trade. It is nice to get away from my normal IPAs and DIPAs. I am ready for the colder months and heavier beers that I will be gravitating towards in the very near future.

This beer pours a nice amber (duh!) hue with three fingers worth of sticky white head that dissipated quickly, but left a very nice collar of lace for the rest of the beer. The nose on this beer is dominated by caramel, toasted grain, and some floral hops coming in to round everything out. The flavor profile starts out with the sweetness of the caramel malt upfront with a citrus bitterness of grapefruit rind that balances out the sweetness quite well. The mouthfeel is exceptionally smooth with moderate carbonation with no alcohol present as well. The drinkability is fantastic on this beer, and is one of the better amber ales I've ever had from any brewer.

I really enjoyed this beer. I think it sticks to the American amber ale style, but with more attitude with the hops in the nose and on the palate. I will certainly be trading for more beers from Ballast Point, and this will be one of them I will be after.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Anderson Valley 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA

Beer: Anderson Valley 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA
Brewery Location: Boonville, CA
Beer Style: DIPA/Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.7%

Yes, another California DIPA.

This beer pours a very dark amber color with a massive three fingers worth of white head on it and it left small and spotty lacing on the walls of my pint glass. The nose was a little strange. It has the usual players in it including: citrus fruit, slight earthiness, and floral hops, but I also smell a certain medicinal smell as well, and it is almost like what a bottle of asprin smells like. After the beer warmed up a bit I get more caramel malt in the nose than hops. The hops do not seem as prominent as I would have expected when the bottle says they used twenty varieties of hops. The flavor profile starts out with a decent amount of bitterness that is offset by the caramel malt. The hop flavors are again muted in the flavor profile when compared to the malt. I really get just two main flavors, and those are citrus fruit and dry pine. The malt though is really nice with plenty of toffee and caramel sweetness to it, but I think the malt is showcased over the hops here. The mouthfeel is slightly chewy that rendered itself to be quite dry with medium carbonation. The drinkability is decent for what it is, but I am not usually a big fan of malt driven DIPAs.

Overall this beer is just alright. I was neither wowed nor unsatisfied by this offering.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial IPA

Beer: Moylan's Hopsickle Imperial IPA
Brewery Location: Novato, CA
Beer Style: DIPA/Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.2%

I am still on my kick of California IPAs and DIPAs, and this is a beer I had plans of getting on my last trip to Chicago, but Binny's was out of it when I was there, and I ended up trading for it. This brand is available in Chicago, and I am not sure about the rest of Illinois. I've had this beer before, but it was just before I really got into craft beer and it wasn't up my alley at the time, and it is nice to revisit some things now that I didn't like before I really stared with craft beer.

This beer pours an amber hue with three fingers worth of head on it. It left great lacing on my pint glass. The nose is pretty potent on this beer with the the hop cone being the sole focus. There is plenty of citrus fruit, grapefruit peel, earthiness, and sticky pine as well. I am not getting much in the nose in the way of malt though. My first sips of this beer is a fairly intense rush of bitterness followed by a slight bit of syrupy sweetness as well. The hop bitterness is hard to pin down and is all over the place. I get quite a bit of oily hops, citrus fruit, tobacco, pink grapefruit, and lots of sweet caramel trying to balance the flavors out. This beer is just all over the place, and after about eight ounces really became too much for me. I couldn't really pin down any of the flavors and the malt sweetness was completely separate from the over the top hop bitterness. The mouthfeel was slick and oily that was medium bodied with the alcohol quite present. The drinkability is only good for me for about six ounces of this beer, and after that fell off quite quickly.

I think of myself as a hop-head, but this beer was a big miss for me. The flavor profile doesn't do a good job of combining the many flavors coming from the hops, and the malt sweetness doesn't meld together at all with the hop profile. This beer rates pretty well on the beer websites, but I personally didn't enjoy this one.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale

Beer: Duck-Rabbit Brown Ale
Brewery Location: Farmville, NC
Beer Style: Brown Ale
ABV: 5.6%

I've written about Duck-Rabbit several times, and have been a fan of the "dark beer specialist" quite a bit since first trying them. I find it quite interesting that their entire lineup of beer is a complete niche of nothing but dark beer. There is a good article in this months issue of Beer Advocate about Paul Philippon, who is the founder and brew master of DR. According to him, DR will never brew a pale ale or an IPA, and that is just the way he likes it. Just out of curiosity do you see a duck's head or a rabbit's head when you first look at their logo? I personally see the duck first, but that is just me, and if you can see both.....well.... look harder. I traded for this beer, and there was some tape on the label and it ripped and you can't really see the logo that well on the bottle anymore.

This beer pours a deep brown maybe chestnut color with a small fingers worth of tan head on it. The scent is dominant of malt and caramel with some background scents of earthy hops and nuts. The flavor profile is full of caramel and nutty chocolate upfront with roasted grain in the middle and a hop bitterness to finish. The flavors are all quite distinct and work well together. This beer has a nice and smooth creamy finish that left no alcohol on the mouth. The drinkability is great on this beer, and temperature be damned, it was very nice to have on an 80 degree day.

Overall this is a pretty solid brown ale with a little bit of hop bitterness to it. Another fine beer from The Duck-Rabbit. They are currently available in North Carolina and eastern Tennessee if you find yourself anywhere near there. I will continue to trade for Duck-Rabbit as often as I can.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russian River Pliny the Elder

Beer: Russian River Pliny the Elder
Brewery Location: Santa Rosa, CA
Beer Style: DIPA
ABV: 8.0%

I've had a pretty good few days. We had a tremendous party at the Brugge Brasserie for the Hoosier Beer Geeks 2nd anniversary party, things are good at home, and I've finally gotten to try my own bottle of Pliny the Elder. The downside to everything is that my refrigerator went out on Friday morning, and I had to wait until today to drink this beer. I didn't want to buy a new fridge, but once your compressor goes out and needs to be replaced and then they tack on labor it just doesn't pay to have something fixed these days.

A huge thank you to my friend Nate for bringing me back a bottle of this beer from his recent trip to California. It is really nice to have friends that know good beer and bring stuff like this back for you. Russian River just started their new bottling line for Pliny, and this doesn't get much fresher than this bottle unless it would have been from the tap.

This beer pours a very hazy orange color with a decent sized solid white head. The head died down a bit, but it left patchy lacing on my tulip glass. The nose on this beer is very fresh and vibrant. The citrus scent is the most dominant with plenty of earthiness and pine scents nipping at the heels of the citrus scent, but no malt to really speak of in the nose. The flavor profile starts out with loads of hop bitterness leaning towards pine bitterness with the citrus fruit and tropical fruits flavors really coming in about mid-drink. The flavors are very pronounced, but they do not overpower you in anyway, but rather combine for a very pleasant flavor profile. The initial rush of hop bitterness if huge, but somehow the finish is soft and clean. I am very surprised as well at how low the malt flavor is, but still supports the hops brilliantly. The drinkability is really amazing for a DIPA with the alcohol well hidden, and I would have gladly had another bottle of this beer.

I wish I had another bottle of this beer for another go around. This was indeed one of the better DIPA's I've encountered, but I need to have a few more to know where to place this beer on my top DIPA list. Either way I really enjoyed this beer a great deal, and hopefully can land some more of it the future. Thanks again Nate.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Terrapin Rye Squared DIPA

Beer: Terrapin Rye Squared DIPA
Brewery Location: Athens, GA
Beer Style: DIPA
ABV: 8.5%

I wasn't all that impressed with my last selection from Terrapin, but I have high hopes for this beer. I've enjoyed their special series of beers that they have done seasonally, and I only have one more to try out of the four they do. Their Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal stout has been my favorite thus far. For this beer they took their regular rye pale ale and doubled up all of the ingredients.

This beer pours a nice golden orange color with a small off-white head on it. This beer left a thin blanket of head for most of the beer, and didn't really leave much lacing to speak of. The nose starts out fairly pungent with aromas of the rye malt being quite dominant with the floral/citrus scents of the hops coming in nicely after the initial rush of the malt scent. The flavor profile is quite unique and complex. I initially got mostly malt sweetness upfront, but the rye spice and bitter hops came in about mid-drink. I never got the heavy malt sweetness again though during the beer. There is a good deal of pine and grapefruit in the hop bitterness here, but the spicy rye also helps to keep things in check a little bit. This is quite interesting to say the least. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, but there is a good amount of alcohol kick in the finish as well. The drinkability is good even with the little shot of alcohol in finish.

I enjoyed this seasonal offering from Terrapin, but I still have to say that the Wake-n-Bake is still my personal favorite thus far. I don't know how long this will be on the shelves in the south, but if you can get any I would recommend it.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale

Beer: Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale
Brewery Location: Paso Robles, CA
Beer Style: English Bitter/Amber
ABV: 5%

I have to talk about the beer pricing again. I am not sure how California brewers keep their prices where they do, and beer prices in Indiana don't seem to be even in the same ballpark as them. This beer was only $2.99, and I received it in trade recently. I can't think of a bomber of beer that I can get in Indiana for only $2.99 that I would drink often if given the chance. Most of the beers I've been drinking from California (except Alesmith and Stone) have all been below $5 for a bomber of beer, and they have been some top notch and above average beer.

I've had several beers from Firestone Walker, and have been at least very satisfied with their offerings. The first beer I had from them was their Union Jack IPA which I really enjoyed and would like to be able to get some more of it. I am also not sure what style this beer is. The beer websites say it is an amber ale, and Firestone says it is an English bitter, and after having this beer I would go with an English bitter, but there must be a reason it isn't. I think it is because the amber style category is a catch-all for many beers that don't quite fit in somewhere. If anyone knows please let me know.

This beer pours a medium amber color, and it started with two fingers worth of head, but it quickly dissipated leaving a thin blanket of head for most of the beer. The nose isn't overpowering, but I did get scents of toasted malt and caramel, and an ever so modest "grain" scent coming in as well. The flavor profile is quite well balanced between the sweet malt and decent touch of bittering hops with secondary notes of oak, vanilla, bitter tea, and maybe even a little pine. The mouthfeel is a little watery for my liking with low carbonation, but the drinkability is really nice and sessionable at only 5% ABV.

This is a very solid session beer from Firestone Walker. I would only like to see a bit more bitterness and heavier mouthfeel. This was a good offering but nothing groundbreaking, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.