Laughing Dog Brewing Co – Alpha Dog Imperial IPA

Not too long ago I really decided to drink a lot of IPAs because I got invested in trying to think of how I wanted my recipe for an Imperial IPA to be.  Despite investing a lot of time, energy, and joy into it, it doesn’t seem to really want to carbonate.  Hopefully it will decide to carbonate relatively soon.  I’ve taken a few semi-drastic steps to see if I can force the carbonation; however, only time will tell me if I’ve started to develop carbonation or not.  Since the IPA time, I’ve gotten really into different Belgian beers and various other brews again.  Somehow, however, I managed to end up right back at IPAs.  I’ve documented on here how I managed to order six different imperial IPAs from an online site, so I happen to have a bunch of them in my possession right now.  Of course, I’ve also purchased a few as well.  I can’t seem to stay away from hops.  I don’t really feel all that bad though for buying what I certainly like!

I’ve happened to have one other brew from this craft brewery out of Idaho.  I can vouch for certain that their Dogfather Imperial Stout is quite good.  I think I may have also tasted their Sneaky Pete Imperial IPA as well; although, I can’t actually remember what that particular one tasted like.  All in all, this is definitely the first real time I’ve sat down and had a full beer from Laughing Dog.  This particular bottle was one of the ones that really drew me into purchasing the six pack.  This bottle had the most IBUs of any bottle in the pack.  It topped out at 127 IBUs.  Although I understand it’s really hard to judge how many IBUs there are over 100, they still have to be sure it’s over 100 to make the claim, and that is good enough to get me interested.  I’ve enjoyed quite a few beers that encroach upon, or surpass, the 100 IBU mark.  Some of these have managed to be quite bitter; however, many of them have also managed to seem surprisingly less hoppy than

expected.  Pliny the Elder really stuck out to me as a beer that had a lot of hops, but they were really well blended with hefty malts to hide the bountiful amount of hops.  I was quite curious to see which side of the hop coin this one fell on.

This beer poured out very light orange color with some big red and auburn colors mixed in as well.  There were a few things that immediately stuck out to me about this beer.  The color has me thinking it would be extremely hoppy because the malts seemed really light, and the clarity on it had me really surprised they had managed to create a hoppy beer that wasn’t cloudy.  You can make out a little visible carbonation; however, it’s basically the occasional bubbles that pop up.  There is some very light head on the pour, but you get a lot of great lacing and sticky residue.

There is a very big hop aroma on the nose.  This manages to dominate the majority of the aroma profile.  Some other lighter flavors that are mixed in are citrus and grapefruit notes.  There is a little bit of light malts that come through, but it led me to believe that this beer wouldn’t feature many malts in the flavor of the beer.  Overall, the smell seemed very crisp and clean with some light grassy and earthy notes.  There is a bit of a lingering fruit nature to it too.

There were many different factors that had me scared I was about to feel like I was sucking on a hop with my first sip, but I got a really well-balanced imperial IPA instead.  The beer starts with some very nice floral hops that have some very light pine as well.  Some big citrus, pineapple, and grapefruit flavors come in and combine with some lightly sweetened malts and fruit notes.  The hops are still working through this portion; however, the ending amps up the hops and malts once more.  This helps to smooth out the ending with only a little bit of light hop pine dominance.

The mouthfeel has a lot of ample carbonation at the start and moves into some light syrupy nature.  This beer uses pale malt, munich, and honey malts that give the appearance of being extremely light, but they really manage to balance out the big alpha acids found in the columbus and mt. hood hops.  The beer manages to be quite crisp and clean throughout.

I like the deceptive nature of this beer.  The beer seems to suggest at every turn that the malts won’t be big enough to challenge the big hops; however, in the end, they are more than enough to do the job.  If you want to delve into a beer that tips the hop scales, but is still rather drinkable, you can’t go wrong with this one.  It was a great beer that made me more than happy.  I may need to order another bottle.

Teacher Grade: A

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Oskar Blues Brewing Co – Deviant Dales

There is nothing better than sitting back with a good brew, a few friends, and discussing what has gone into the beer to make it amazing.  I have 750 ml bottles that I am specifically holding onto until I have an opportunity to drink it with someone.  It’s great taking a beer that you know is going to be good and sitting down for a discussion on what is right and wrong with the beer.  I suppose many would view this as beer geekery, but I see it as a discussion of a final product.  They probably are one in the same.  Unfortunately, when it comes to smaller beers, you don’t always have the opportunity to drink it with another person.  If they are around I’ll split one, but it is far easier to drink a 12 oz by yourself.  I’ve found, however, that the beer blogging community is a great place to learn more about the beers I have in my beer fridge and have that same virtual discussion.  Today’s beer is one that I have read two separate reviews on, and they are ironically done by two of the blogs I listed earlier this week as blogs I personally enjoy reading.  One of these reviews was just posted yesterday.  While my first thought is about being beaten to the punch, the reality is that I’m going to give you links to those reviews so you can have a second and third opinion on this product.  We aren’t in competition; we are a very small community of people who have a common interest.  Plus, beer reviewing is based solely on opinion, and I know my opinion can’t be king.

Oskar Blues is probably one of the biggest names in the craft canned beer game.  When I was first developing my interest in all things beer, I think it was the first one I shrugged off as a poor excuse for a craft beer.  Shortly thereafter, I saw more and more beers being put in to cans, and I realized the error of my ways.  Deviant Dales is the newest release from them, and it is essentially taking their most popular brew, Dale’s Pale Ale, and upping it it to an India Pale Ale.  They state that Dale’s Pale Ale sold it’s soul to balance the enormous aroma and flavor qualities of Deviant.  What really attracted me to this brew was its use of Columbus hops.  There are 5 different types of hops in my upcoming Imperial IPA, Pretentious Hopster, and I wanted to know how this beer handled the use of these hops with an incredibly high alpha acid percentage.  If I can manage to do half the job they did, I’ll be really proud of my beer.

This one pours out with some really dark auburn orangey colors.  You tend to judge a beer immediately upon pouring it out.  The color, amount of head, and clarity have you already forming an opinion on what you’re about to consume.  The pour had me liking what I was seeing.  There is an ample amount of white fluffy head that develops on top of the beer, which also gives you a little bit of the light foamy lacing and some sticky residue on the side of the glass as well.  The beer remains fairly foamy throughout the entirety of the beer tasting.  I was personally left with some thin foam at the bottom of the glass after finishing the beer.  The beer has a very hazy quality to it, but you can see some very light carbonation.

It was difficult to ignore the hop aroma coming off this one while trying to get a few notes down about the appearance.  The smell permeates your nostrils whether you want it to or not.  There are some really big floral hop aromas with a little pine burn attached to it as well.  The big hop aroma makes a hop head quite happy.  Combined with the hops you get some ample citrus aroma from plenty of grapefruit.  There is definitely that big sweet tangy quality that I associate with imperial IPAs as well.  Finally, I feel like I get a little bit of an herbal spice smell in there as well.  It’s probably associated to the hops, but it has a really earthy aroma to the herbs.

The beer starts out with a lot of deep rich malt flavor.  It creates a really good backbone for them to build the huge hop flavor on.  Beers that are lacking in malts aren’t balanced enough when you add this much hops.  This beer gives you a really strong malt foundation.  The sweetness of the malts has a very short period to dominate your palate before it is joined by huge hop flavors.  The hops have a really tangy flavor to them.  The tanginess is accompanied by a lot of grapefruit flavors which help ease the transition into the development of the hops into a big earthy pine flavor.  The flavors here only got me more excited for the maturation of my own brew.  The aftertaste has a lot of hops, some ample tang, and a little bit of that remnant herbal flavor that really lingers on the back of the throat.

This mouth is quite interesting.  They manage to achieve a really sweet and creamy intro to the brew.  This syrupy introduction gives way to a lot of carbonation.  The creamy syrupy nature once again creates a backbone for the really bitter and tangy nature of the hops.  It helps to create a well-balanced brew.  This beer is probably far too bitter for an individual with a moderate love of hops, but it is perfect for me!

I know I want to pick up another four pack of one of the great IPAs I’ve had lately.  It will be really hard to choose between this one and the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum.  They both give me the big hop flavor that I really want.  Regardless, I’m saving my last can of this to have in succession with my IPA.  I want to see how my use of Columbus hops compares to theirs.  If you love IPAs, you will adore this beer!

Teacher Grade: A+

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