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