Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hook, line, and... Stinker?

Brewery: Red Hook Ale Brewery
Location: Woodinville, WA - Portsmouth, NH - Portland, OR. Take your pick I guess?
Name: Long Hammer IPA
Type: IPA
ABV: 6.5%
Ok, they got me. I bought this because of the bottle. I had had plenty of Long Hammer in the past but it was in an old, generic beer bottle. This, this was something new and bold! Plus, it was either this or PBR. And trust, faithful Brewbies (yep, that just happened. You got named.) an exhaustive critique of PBR is forthcoming. First warning sign: I noticed when I poured this was it didn't quite seem the color of a super solid IPA. The color screamed a golden straw color which produced a foamy white head. Quickly, the head sunk into a thin white halo which did little to lace the glass. Tons of carbonation made me think of a hyperactive lava lamp with tiny bubbles instead of long globs of gunk. It at least looks refreshing. Second warning sign: The nose is kind of like an IPA. There are some notes of hops, a noticeable amount of biscuit notes, and a "now you smell me, now you don't" dose of malt. I, being the (h)optomist that I am, gave the little IPA that could the benefit of the doubt and dove headlong into a mouthful of suds. Warning sign the third: The components of an IPA are there, much like the nose, but came up lacking. It's almost as if this IPA was created to gently introduce someone to hops. As if to say "Hey, you. I'm quiet and unassuming and you've heard of hops before, right?" Bready flavors dominate the pallet, so much so that it almost overpowers the hint of hops. After the wash comes the bitterness. It's unwarranted. I didn't even earn this bitter aftertaste! The lingering bitterness makes me long for something of a fuller body and more complex flavor profile. This is just ale that might have had a few more hop pellets added during the boil. The sad thing is that the label clearly states the fandom of dry hopping... For shame, Red Hook. Overall, Long Hammer is not fantastic. Take the training wheels off and hit something harder with more bite and more flavor like Stone Ruination, Victory Hop Devil, or Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA,As it warmed up it actually decreased in quality. If you're going to drink it, drink it fast.
More like a red herring.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The power of hops compels you!

Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Location: Escondido, CA
Name: Ruination IPA
Type: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.7%

The winged demon returns to spread the gospel of delicious damnation through this, a fine hoppy offering which makes lesser IPAs tremble in fear eventually causing their bottles and glasses to sweat prematurely. I have been indulging in this beer pretty regularly these days. It has become my default on nights that I can't quite figure out what to have at the Bier Garden in Portsmouth, VA. Ruination, like many of the other Stone brews, slows down for no mortal. Consuming this is basically saying that you’re down for allowing your taste buds to be consumed and held hostage by a hop colored demon. Erupting in a golden haze infused with orange tint, Ruination demands you notice it. The head is aggressive and long lasting which refuses to disappear completely as it leaves rest rings of lacing down whatever vessel it is being consumed from… Except for maybe a goblet made of bone. One smell and you’re done. Floral and citrus hops put your olfactory senses in a headlock and then proceeds to give them a noogie stopping just short of a wedgie. As the floral/citrus cocktail fades, a sweet, caramel-esque wave hits you. That sweetness lets you know that a healthy amount of alcohol is waiting in the wings. Punching through the head allows a torrent of silky nectar to be delivered to an anxious palate ready to devour with extreme prejudice. I would be lying to call this a complex beer when it comes to taste. This is an in-your-face (in-your-mouth, rather) IPA that makes no apologies. Once you cut through the sweet malt and alcohol, pine assaults your mouth in a devilish way. Imagine taking some hop buds, grinding it down with a pestle and mortar, adding carbonated water, and then drinking said tincture. The only thing Ruination is missing is the pulp that would be left behind. Some might call this astringent, they are obviously ignorant non-believers and the streets shall flow with their blood. Ok, that’s harsh. But seriously, this beer would kill if it had to. The taste dominates your experience as you barely notice you are drinking. The bitter aftertaste is well received and lets you know that you’re drinking a kick-ass IPA. This West Coast IPA can be enjoyed year round… I would know. Hop heads pay attention. If you have yet to enjoy a Stone Ruination then shame on you!  A shame on your whole house! Now, quit reading this. Drive to your nearest purveyor of fine beer goods and give yourself to the Yellow Demon!
No number of priests can exorcise this demon. Suck it, Father Merrin!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Because Little Thaw would have sounded silly.

Brewery: Old Dominion Brewery
Location: Dover, DE
Name: Big Thaw Bock
Style: Unsurprisingly a maibock. My-bock for the phonetics amongst us.
ABV: 7.5%
My first note on this beer says: "Holy liquid sunshine dipped in honey, Batman!" This beer almost glows once unleashed from its brown glass confinements. Vibrant and bright are two easy words to describe this beer. I suppose that this beer is perfect to shake off the grey winter days and give you hope of warmer, sunnier days to come. There's a snow white head that quickly melts down into thin suds which rest nicely atop the brew. There is also a significant amount of noticeable carbonation. There's something about watching bubbles cascade to the top of a vessel that brings me joy. The bouquet is as bright as the color! Get your nose in there and pick up a refreshing breeze of crisp flavors. Notes of citrus are supplied from a mild amount of hops. It's almost as if someone took an orange and zested the peel straight into the glass. Notes of biscuity malt are prominent yet not over powering. This beer is meant to refresh and satiate a thirst brought on by temperatures that creep into the mid 70s. Plenty of taste in this maibock. The bready notes of malt pop up first and then swiftly changes to citrusy hops which melts to a faintly honey-esque sweetness. The after taste is light and smacks of wheat. The mouthfeel is a little sticky and teeters on the fuller side. I was prepared to handle a lighter more effervescent brew. Much to my chagrin I got a fuller bodied and mildly alcoholic beer that tastes as good as it looks. I strongly suggest pairing this with something spicy! The sweetness of the malt and tang of the hops played nicely with the curried rice I ate while enjoying this beer. Find this seasonal release if you can! It's a worth while investment.
Makes me wanna say "Oh mai, mai!"

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ommegang, Becky! Look at that head... It is so big!

Brewery: Brewery Ommegang
Location: Cooperstown, NY
Name: Abbey Ale
Type: Belgian Dubbel
ABV: 8.5%
Someone in Cooperstown kidnapped a Trappist monk and forced him to make this beer. They had to have. Originally, I thought this to be an import of the highest caliber. Needless to say I was shocked to see that it's a domestic beer with massive ties to its foreign roots. When I was younger I went to Cooperstown for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and now that I'm older I want to go back for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and Brewery Ommegang. The beer? Right, I should probably get to that. Liquid leather! It pours out a rich and ruddy with a healthy splash of tawny tinting. Not Tawny Kitaen... Who would've thought there would be a Tawny Kitaen reference in a beer review?! So here I go again on my own. As the title of this post clearly foreshadowed, the head on this beer is massive. I'm talking foamtastic. There's a 2" thick beige head that hangs around until you can't take it anymore. The bouquet is pretty great. Multiple layers of dark fruit, malt, and tart notes swell up. It's sort of like Neapolitan ice cream for your nose, just using beer scents. Throw in some toffee notes and you've got yourself a damn fine smelling beer. After you plow through the craggy head you'll be pleasantly greeted by an effective amount of carbonation that awakens the taste buds to allow them the ability to receive Belgian (Belgic?) goodness. Sweet, dark fruits like plums and cherries are first to arrive then the malt arrives and rounding out the gang is a sweet honey-toffee fusion. The cherry and toffee linger the most as the slight warmth of alcohol drifts slowly to your belly. You know what? This is a good beer. It's not super expensive and you don't sound like a jerk when you order it as there are no umlauts for you to trip over. In fact, this is one of the best American Belgian beers I've ever had!
Suck it, Jean Claude Van Damme!