Sunday, February 13, 2011

Clipper City Heavy Seas Black Cannon IPA

Baltimore, Maryland's Clipper City Brewing Company has earned a special place in our stomachs. By producing their Heavy Seas line as well as their Mutiny Fleet, they have made mouths and our blood alcohol level happy. Their Small Craft Warning is one of our favorite pilsners and their Cabernet Barrel Aged Below Decks is Mike's favorite Barleywine. However, the only brew in their Heavy Seas line that is just average is their IPA, Loose Cannon. So when we saw the "black IPA" version, Black Cannon, we picked it up hoping they can redeem their subpar brew.

Black Cannon is a dark malt version based our their original Loose Cannon. The black IPA smells of citrus and floral hops and pours dark with a tan head. When the beer begins to head down the consumption vessel you immediately taste the roasted malts in what makes this IPA "black." However, the back end is all citrusy IPA goodness. Given the 7.25% ABV, this ale is light bodied and smooth. The flavors are so well put together that none stand out, which in most cases is a bad thing, but not with this brew.

Many brewers are releasing different versions of their original IPA's to keep consumers interested. By adding a different yeast strain, aging it in oak barrels, using darker malts or adding a special kind of hop, the companies market these versions as special and slightly superior to the original. However, few live up to that claim; i.e. Southern Tier's Oak-Aged Unearthly. Whether or not this a novelty or a market scheme to get you to buy their beer, it worked and it proved to be superior to the original. Heavy Seas, keep messing with your recipes and we'll keep buying them
Oz Scale: 8.0
Mike Scale: 8.2

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stone 10.10.10 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone Brewery knows how to make delicious beer. The are the masterminds behind Imperial Russian Stout and Ruination IPA, two of our favorite ales in their respective styles. None of their brews are below average and even the two lowest ABV beer's they've produced lately, Levitation and San Diego County Session Ale are incredibly flavorful. When we saw our sights on the 9th in the series of "Vertical Epic Ales," so we had to try it. 10.10.10 is a Belgian-style strong pale ale that is a combination of pale malt, German hops, wheat, rye and three types of grapes in the second fermentation. On this day we specifically decided to crack into this beer due to the 10" of snow we've had in the last day and a half, it seemed fitting.

10.10.10 pours a hazy, almost apple juice like color with a light white head. It smells of sweet grapes, much the same way Dogfish Head's Midas Touch does. When the beer hits the tongue, it comes out sweet AND sour. The sweetness of this Belgian-style ale hits the tongue initially but you are left with a sour flavor towards the back end. For being a 9.5% ABV brew, the body is incredibly light. The grapes seem to be a bit much as they take away from almost any other flavor.

This something that is a bit atypical from stone. Given their collaboration with DFH and Victory that produced a siason and they produce a Belgian-style IPA, Stone is not known for creating beers on this style. They are known for producing almost overly bitter, West-Coast style beers. Not that this is a terrible brew, it is a good attempt at creating something new. However, until Stone perfect's it, they should stick to the hoppy, West-Coast style beers we love.

Oz Scale: 6.6
Mike Scale: 7.0

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary Grand Cru

Sierra Nevada has been around for 30 years. That's pretty cool. They are like pretty old and stuff. Okay, okay. Trying to watch Beavis and Butt-head and write a beer review is really hard. Huh huh huh, I just said hard. We've got to sit down and do this. Alright... episode is over so time to get productive. Grand Cru is Sierra Nevada's fourth and final beer in their 30th Anniversary series. The three previous brew have been collaborative beers with legendary brewers. However, Grand Cru is a collaborative beer of its own- a combination of three of their most esteemed ales. It is an unfiltered 9.2% ABV mixture of Pale Ale, Celebration Ale and Oak-aged Bigfoot.

Grand Cru pours a dark amber color with a thick laced tan head. The ale smells of citrusy hops with a dark malt overtones. When the beer hits the tongue you immediately taste the piney west coast hops right away. It is definitely full bodied and all three beers are tasted and make their presence known at the right time. The hops from the Pale ale kick in at the beginning and the fullness of the Bigfoot comes in during the middle as you are left with the Celebration Ale-like finish with a wood (huh huh huh, I said wood) flavor lingering at the end. The warmer the beer gets, the more complex flavors come out.

This beer is what an anniversary ale should be- a look at the past but making a step forward. It takes three of their classic and best brews and combines them into beautiful harmony. The alcohol presence is known on the tongue on the back end so when splitting a bomber, it starts getting to your head (huh huh huh, I said head.) This is a beer that would satisfy the great Cornholio and it is the TP for our bungholes.

Oz Scale: 8.9
Mike Scale: 8.8

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dogfish Head Namaste

Dogfish Head is one of our favorite breweries (see Sah'tea, World Wide Stout & 90 Minute.) The brewery is probably the most innovative in the industry as they constantly push the boundaries of what a beer can be. So when we saw a new brew on the shelf, we had to pick it up. Namaste is a Belgian-style white ale brewed with orange slices, lemongrass and coriander.

The unfiltered Namaste pours a cloudy light yellow color with a frothy white head. Hints of coriander and a sweet orange tint hit the nose. The beer attacks the tongue with some sweetness but nothing too overpowering given the style. Namaste is well balanced and light bodied with a slightly tart flavor at first. As the beer flows down your throat, you are reminded of a light lemongrass flavor.

Dogfish Head keeps up their consistency by producing another delicious brew. While we might not be the biggest on the style (Oz appreciates white ales more than Mike,) Namaste is well above average.

Oz Scale: 8.0
Mike Scale: 7.7

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bell's The Oracle

Bell's Brewery is a hit or miss brewery. Hopslam and Hell Hath No Fury are ridiculously delicious but Third Coast Beer was one of the most disgusting things we've ever had. Their two most recent offerings, The Oarsman and 25th Anniversary Ale were both not up to par so we took a great interest in a release of their new double IPA, The Oracle.

The Oracle is a double IPA boasting a hefty 10% ABV. It has sweet citrus and pine smell to the nose. When the brew hits the tongue, the brew tastes of a sweet pine and light malt presence with sweet and bitter hops on the back end. It has a medium to heavy body that leaves a light tinge of alcohol on the tongue.

Bell's has proven that they know how to make a double IPA. The Oracle is an amazing example of an double American IPA. While there is nothing wrong with this IPA, it isn't quite Hopslam, though it is delicious. Bell's has created a slightly less equal brother. The Oracle is their an Eli Manning to their Hopslam, Peyton. Even if it isn't THE best beer, it'll help hold us over until January when they release their flagship brew.

Oz Scale: 8.8
Mike Scale: 9.0

Monday, September 6, 2010

Green Flash Imperial India Pale Ale

Green Flash, based out of Vista, CA, is a relatively new brewery to us. We have only had the opportunity to try their West Coast IPA and enjoyed it thoroughly. West coast style IPA's are a horse of a different color- a brutally bitter cousin to it's east coast counterpart. These are IPA's for IPA drinkers, something someone who usually swallows 60 Minute would spit back into their glass. We enjoy pretty much anything with the IPA name attached to it so naturally when Oz found Green Flash's Imperial IPA sitting on the shelf, he knew it had to be his.

IIPA is an amazingly bitter 101 IBU 9.4% ABV alcoholic beverage. It pours a nice light amber color and has a surprisingly sweet smell. When the happy juice hits the tongue you are left with bitter beer face. God, I love bitter beer face. This is nothing but hops and it isn't afraid to show you what it's got. This beer leaves your mouth dry begging for you to drink more of it's PineSol flavored brew.

This is a beer that is gladly merchandised in 22 oz bombers, a size best split with a good friend. A six pack or a four pack would leave you in some serious trouble as it is surprisingly drinkable for it's style and IBUs. This is a brutally bitter beer, not for the faint at heart, pregnant or nursing women or people unter the height of 60 inches. This is Slayer in a bottle- Jeff Hanneman shredding over some Kerry King licks while Dave Lombardo blasts over Tom Araya's shrieking wails.... but you know, with beer. Brutal.

Oz Scale: 8.0
Mike Scale: 8.0

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quick Sips: August 2010

Here is our first entry of Quick Sips, a super condensed and brief synopsis of some beers that we've had in the last few weeks. This one will include thoughts from the last few months.

  • Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA tastes amazing fresh (less than 2 1/2 weeks old)
  • Weyerbacher Tiny is incredibly delicious (on our fourth bomber)
  • Dogfish Head SahTea isn't as good as last years (not enough cinnamon, clove and ginger spices)
  • Southern Tier 2XIPA is amazing (but make sure it is fresh.) Blows away most IPAs.
  • Bell's Hopslam wasn't as good as last years. Like most IPA's- Make sure it's fresh.
  • Great Lakes Holy Moses was a great choice for a spring beer. Glad to see it back.
  • Thirsty Dog has come out with three new crap beers (Barktoberfest, Whippet Wheat and Twisted Kilt) and one decent one (Cerberus)
  • Some batches of Founders Devil Dancer taste like a THC producing plant.
  • Heavy Seas Below Decks Cabernet Barrel Aged is probably the best fresh barleywine out there.
  • Goose Island Green Line Pale Ale (Pub Exclusive) is just plain gross.
  • Heavy Seas Smoke on the Water wasn't as generic as it's name. Worth the buy.
  • Lagunitas A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale is a refreshing summer IPA.
  • Great Divide Brewing has some great beers out there (Colette, 16th Anniversary, Titan, Yeti.) We're excited to try more
  • Dark Horse has yet to come out with a beer I thought was above average (Crooked Tree, Sapient Trip, Scotty Karate)
  • Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster was great fresh but had a tinge too much alcohol flavor.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary - Charlie, Fred & Ken's Bock

Sierra Nevada is the second largest micro-brewery next to Boston Beer Co. (Samual Adams.) Both breweries are solid and are typically make beverages for session drinking. With the exception of Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot and Sam Adams Utopias, up until a year ago both breweries stayed out of the ever-growing-in-popularity "big" beer game. Sam Adams then came out with their Imperial line and Sierra Nevada has been coming out with some one-offs to compete in this ever expanding market.

Sierra Nevada's second 30th Anniversary beer is brewed with the of home-brew heroes, Charlie Papazian (author of "Joy of Brewing") and Fred Eckhardt (author of A Treatise of Lagers: How to Make Good Beers at Home) and Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman. Charlie, Fred & Ken's bock is an imperial helles bock with a surprising 8.3% ABV.

CFKB pour an amber color with a well carbonated white head and a smell much like a Diet 7-Up with a beer overtone. The taste is traditional for the style but with a light hop bitterness to it. This medium bodied brew is well balanced between malts and hops but it flows down easily given the helfy ABV.

Sierra Nevada proves once again that while they are one of the oldest ones out there, they can still come out with their own Chronic 2001 (Detox, please don't suck.) While they aren't entering a new territory with this beer, they are celebrating the style with something delicious and drinkable. After Ken & Fritz Ale and Life and Limb, we are anticipating any future Sierra Nevada collaboration. Sometimes those collaborations do not work so whatever you do, Sierra Nevada, please don't come out with a liquid version of Chris Cornell's Scream (or even Audioslave for that matter.) Stick to Bowie and Queen or Snoop and Dre. Ain't nothing but a beer thing, baby.

Oz Scale: 7.7
Mike Scale: 7.9