Founders Brewing Co. – Doom

There is a big difference between a pain to get in your area and impossible to get in your area.  Living on the east coast you know it is doomgoing to be nearly impossible to find certain things.  I can’t find Deschutes, 3 Floyds, or Russian River.  Of course there are countless other items that are hard to find in this area, but those are a few of the big ones for sure.  Hard to find in this area is a much different challenge for sure.  I can’t even list the amount of times I’ve had to hear a beer store tell me they only got one case of something in.  I’d almost rather hear that something didn’t come into the area, than the fact that they got one box in but I just missed out one it.  It’s even more painful to know it was in the area but you couldn’t get it.  It seems like a lot of the bigger beers that come out of Founders tend to be of the hard to get variety.

All of the beers that come out of Founders are able to be found around here, but they are not alway easy to come by. Lately Founders has been coming out with some great brews in their Backstage Series, which makes me glad I live in an area that gets their brews, but I can’t stand how hard it is to get their stuff.  The first big brew I managed to get from them was their Canadian Breakfast Stout.  From there I managed to miss Better Half, get Frangelic Mountain, get Boltcutter, and grab one bottle of Doom.  I tried desperately to find another bottle of Doom so I could age my first bottle, but I couldn’t seem to find it anywhere.  Sometimes it’s just hit or miss on finding some of these rare offerings.  The Kentucky Breakfast stout was a pretty hard one to find, but you can find the regular breakfast stout anywhere.  So it ultimately seems to be about who you know in terms of the local beer stores.

Barrel aging beers isn’t anything really all that new to the craft beer industry.  People like to age lots of different brews in different types of barrels. I’ve enjoyed brews in all different types of barrels.  I’ve had beers in oak barrels, steel barrels, wine barrels, brandy barrels, bourbon barrels, whiskey barrels, and tequila barrels.  Ultimately each one has added some different aspect to the beer flavor.  I had a tripel in pinot gris barrels that was amazing and more than enough stouts in bourbon barrels that are all great.  This, however, is the first time I’ve had an IPA aged in bourbon barrels.  I’m not certain Founders is the first one to try this, since I have a few others in my collection right now, but I was very interested to see how it worked out.  Founders creates some really great beers, so I was hopeful they would set the precedent for the rest of the breweries out there.

As I’m sure you can see from the picture, this beer pours a rather bright orange color.  I wouldn’t call it a neon orange because it does have somewhat darker tones to it.  It’s almost visibly tangy.  There is some very light white head that develops.  This was equally surprising to the brighter color.  I figured time aging in the bourbon barrels would mean both darker beer and darker head.  doom glassThe beer has some pretty good clarity, which means you can see some very small floaters and the occasional evidence of visible carbonation as well.  Overall the beer has some pretty good lacing and quite a bit of sticky lacing.

Picking up a bourbon barrel aged double IPA, you have to figure the aroma will be dominated by one of two things: hops or barrel.  I can safely say that the bourbon barrel wins.  I’m not sure of the entire process on this bottle.  Someone said that they make the beer, age it, and then dry hop it after that.  Maybe that is true; I just don’t know.  Anyway, you get a very distinct oaky woodiness on the nose from the barrels.  The hops seem quite muted on the nose.  I would have to assume this is all due to the aging process.  There is definitely some vanilla in there somewhere as well.  The maltiness seems to win in the end, while the hops hide.  There is only a very slight lingering pine scent.

The flavors start with a mostly malt intro.  The malts have a very distinct tangy citrus quality to them.  The pine is very slightly there in the middle, but it really doesn’t take center stage.  The one distinct quality that traverses start to finish of the flavor profile is the booziness and oak qualities; however, both of these flavors really kick it up in the second half of the brew.  Interestingly the booziness takes a somewhat tangy turn near the end, which I would blame on the eventual influence of the hops in the brew.  The beer finishes with some slight pleasant vanilla notes.

Overall I would say the mouth of this beer is rather thick and slightly syrupy.  There is enough carbonation there to do some balancing, but it has a quite heavy body overall.  Between the overall thickness, big booze, and slight alcohol burn, this beer doesn’t let you forget you’ve got a big beer in your hand.

I am a huge IPA fan, and I’m also a pretty big barrel aged fan as well.  Therefore, I was quite interested to see what happened when those two worlds collided.  I wouldn’t say it’s something everybody should start doing, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.  Founder’s let me down a little bit with Frangelic Mountain and Boltcutter.  Frangelic tasted rather artificial and Boltcutter was way too sweet.  This one is definitely back on the right track.  Unfortunately for most of you, you’ll probably have a tough time picking it up.  I’d be surprised to find a single bottle hanging around a store’s shelf somewhere.

Teacher Grade: B+

Cisco Brewers – Indie Pale Ale

I know it’s been a little while since I was consistent at posting, so I figure this double posting in one week is kinda crazy for everyone.cisco brewers Guess I’m slowly working my way back into it.  Anyway, since it’s been so long since I posted, I can use the happenings of the past couple months as my intro material for my next few blogs.

I’m not sure what most beer geeks get for gifts over Christmas, but over the past couple I’ve ended up getting a few different things for my most prominent hobby.  I got a wort chiller and a few other components for homebrewing.  I also got a few little knickknacks for my beer collection.  However, I actually found myself coming back from my Christmas festivities with quite a bit of beer.  My sister got me a six pack of some Southern Tier IPA, and my friend Meg got one of her friends to pick up a variety of different big bottles from the Vermont area.  While beer gifts always get me excited, it also helped prove to me that I make it hard on other people to find beer for me that I haven’t had before.

The variety was of course really nice to get; however, I was really looking to find a few bottles I hadn’t had before.  There was the Merry Mischief from Sam Adams as well as a few bottles I’ve had or could get in my area.  However, I was very happy to pull out a few I hadn’t had before.  This bottle from Cisco Brewers and another from Switchback Brewing Co really stuck out to me.  Switchback isn’t a brewery I’ve very familiar with.  Looking into them online, it seems like they are a really small company that is really just producing a few noticeable beers.  I was more than happy to grab something that I knew I couldn’t get around here.

This bottle of Cisco, however, was one I’d heard of before.  I’ve looked into a lot of different and interesting breweries over the many different reviews I’ve done for this site.  Cisco may be one of the most interesting to date.  They got their start homebrewing like a lot of other people who go full time in the industry.  They however seemed to have quite the hippy demeanor.  They called themselves a Nano brewery and did almost all their brewing outside at the start.  According to their site, their head brewer hand capped 60,000 bottles in their first year.  That’s dedication!  Reading about dedication like that had me really excited to crack open this bottle.

This one pours out a nice bright orange color with some hints of darker red and brown in there as well.  A very nice fluffy white head develops on top.  As you can see in the picture, the head isn’t overwhelming, but it is definitely a nice moderate amount.  Interestingly, there isn’t much of any lacing or sticky residue left on the side of the glass after the swirl.   The beer is extremely hazy so it was a little difficult to get a feel for the clarity, but it didn’t seem like there was a lot of visual carbonation.

cisco glassThe aroma on the beer is mainly dominated by some nice orange citrusy scent.  Other than the citrus, the big floral hop smell also steals the show.  The aroma seems to be overrun by the floral hops, but there does seem to be some light piney scents as well.  In addition to some of the citrus is some nice big tropical fruit and pineapple notes.  The sweet malts appear to be rather light; however, I did get a little tang out of the aroma too.

The most noticeable aspect of the taste is that it is a rather big fresh tasting beer.  The malt introduction is rather short and really only slightly sweet.  While the malts sit back, the hops grab the reigns and take full control of this brew.  Following some of the light sweet malts, you get some big citrus and orange flavor.  Those flavors lead quite nicely into the huge floral notes.  The floral aspects dominate the majority of the flavor; however, the hops move from the herbal floral to the sharp pine flavor in the second half.  The back half also moves from orange to pineapple and tropical fruit.  The beer ends with just a little bit of nice tang.

Overall I wouldn’t say the mouthfeel is too heavy.  The flavors are overall quite light, and there really isn’t even any syrup on this one either.  The biggest problem I have with the beer would be that it seems a little over carbonated to me.  As an IPA, the hops give off a great flavor for a hop addict like myself.

I haven’t seen this beer in my area just yet, but if you do see it on the shelf, I would definitely pick it up.  I would really like to see what a few other beers in their line-up are like.  I’m not sure I’ve heard about too many other breweries that can match the passion of these guys, so I’m thinking that much heart can’t create bad beer.

Teacher Grade: A

Fort George Brewing Co – Sunrise OPA

I have recently been loving the hook-ups I’ve been getting from my very few connections I have on the West Coast.  My brother brought me some Ninkasi, I did a beer trade with Megan VS Beer, and now my brother brought me a sweet set of five tall boy cans from Fort George brewery.  When my brother last visited me, he brought me a bottle from Ninkasi, one from Rogue, and one from Pyramid.  While they are all good breweries, he was emphasizing that he loves this little brewery that is around the corner from him in Astoria, Oregon.  According to him, Astoria is known for only really one thing.  It’s the location where they filmed The Goonies.  While that is a pretty high feat, I suppose, I can assure you that Fort George Brewery is helping give Astoria something else to be known for.

Looking up details on Fort George, it sounds like they have actually only been in existence since 2010.  They only distribute their beers in the Northwest, so I’m glad to have had a brother who can make sure I’m hooked up. If you ever visit Astoria, you’ll find they house a 30 barrel brewhouse, canning line, and taproom.  Sounds like one of the best spots to check out in the little town.  I will point out that they have a beer featured on their site that I really want to try.  They had their customers pick the wild hops that are growing in their yards and on their own property and bring them into the brewery.  Fort George took those hops and produced a beer called Co-hoperative.  Ultimately it sounds like they have some fun ideas working over there.

There were five different beers I could choose from to do this first review.  I’m not sure I’ll do another one because I don’t want to bore my readers, but I knew I needed to start with this one for a review.  As far as I’m aware, this is the first ever OPA I’ve consumed.  The O in the OPA stands for oatmeal.  Therefore, this is an oatmeal pale ale.  I’ve certainly had oatmeal in beers before.  I really enjoy oatmeal stouts, but I was really interested to see what the oatmeal did to a very different style of beer.  I was highly doubtful it would do much to the taste of the brew, but I was sure it would have some affect on the appearance and the mouth.  I was really hoping the effect would be something surprisingly delightful.

This one pours out a nice yellow color with a slight orange tint.  There is a really big bubbly white head that develops on top of the beer.  The head has a super sudsy and soapy look to it.  As the bubbles subside you see a ton of really sticky lacing left on the side of the glass.  I think the super sticky nature is certainly due to the inclusion of the oatmeal.  Swirling the glass gives you some more sticky lacing and residue.  The beer is super hazy and it only gets more hazy as you pour out more of the beer.  There is lots of visible carbonation in the glass as well.

The aroma is dominated by really big bold hops.  There is some apparent tang to this beer as well.  The bold orangey citrus smell blends with some nice tropical fruit.  The tropical fruit aroma is dominated by big pineapple and light mango scents.  There is certainly a slight herbal smell to this one, and you get a slightly wild yeasty smell as well.

There are some really interesting aspects to the taste of this beer.  The hops are certainly at the forefront of this beer; however, it is also packed with lots of citrus and tropical fruits.  The beer starts out with some light sweet malts that only get a momentary chance to shine.  There is some very light pine notes that kick up to squash the sweetness right away; however, there is some light pineapple notes that lead the hops from light pine to big bold hop flavors.  The second stage of the hops have lots of big tangy pine flavor.  The big pine and tang linger slightly as the beer leads into a more dominant citrus flavor.  The beer ends with some slight citrus and lingering pine flavor.

The oatmeal component really plays huge into the mouthfeel of this beer.  The beer is by no means syrupy, but it has quite a heavy feel due to the use of the oatmeal.  There is a lightness in the flavor profile to counteract the thickness.  There is also an ample amount of carbonation to help fight the heavy nature of the beer.  The overall flavors all work great together.

The first sip made me question whether I really liked this beer; however, I realized it was a really nice fall OPA.  Fall tends to bring the thicker and heavier beers, and this is simply following suit.  It is a bit of a meatier hoppy beer.  I’m glad I have four other cans to check out from this brewery.  If you happen to find yourself looking at an OPA in future, I would certainly suggest giving it a shot.  This one is a little thick, but they did a great job still keeping it well-balanced.

Teacher Grade: B

Ninkasi Brewing Co – Tricerahops Double IPA

Last week I was with family at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos.  Since we are there with family, I try to cater to their taste buds, so I bought a six pack of Bell’s Oberon and a variety pack of Brooklyn Brewery to try and make sure I got something in there for everyone.  Ultimately, it means that I really didn’t drink anything that I wanted to blog about.  Therefore, I had to have something good this week to talk about.  Then, to top it all off, I got an email from Beer Advocate telling me today is IPA day!  If you’re a regular reader here, you have to know I am quite a big fan of hops.  I would have loved to devote an entire month to the style like I did stouts last February; however, I’m plenty happy with recognizing it for at least one day.  Of course I’ll be having a couple other IPA’s today to celebrate, but here is a review to say happy IPA Day!

I’ve done a review of the regular IPA from Ninkasi before; however, I don’t remember being 100% impressed with it.  Going back and thinking about it again, I’m not sure why I was kind of down on it.  I’ve realized that I hold beers I can’t get in my area on a pedestal.  It’s not that they are a second-rate brewery, it’s just that they are a good brewery in a different area.  I guess I’m just saying I need to make sure I’m fair and not think every hard to find beer is going to be Pliny the Elder.

I’ll also let you know that I am eagerly awaiting a beer trade with fellow blogger Meganvsbeer.  She is sending me a few things from her area of Oregon and she is getting a few things from me in DC. Therefore, I may have another one out of Ninkasi coming to you pretty soon.  Looking at their line up, there are definitely a few beers out of Ninkasi I would be interested in trying.  For now I just wait in great anticipation.

Talking about the pour is kind of a two-fold story.  The initial pour has a really nice reddish auburn color with a kind of copper hue.  This of course doesn’t really change too much throughout the various pours it took to fill my new Victory Brewing tulip glass.  Additionally, you consistently get a nice fluffy head, light lacing, and very slight sticky residue.  The big difference from the first pour to the last is in the clarity.  The first pour was really clear; however, the final pour was super cloudy.  I know DC Brau tells you to give their Imperial IPA a little shake to mix up that sediment before you pour their beer.  Cloudy or clear, it doesn’t really make a difference to me, but it was just something I noticed.

The smell was dominated by a nice floral hop aroma with some very light pine scents to it as well.  The floral is certainly more dominant on the nose than the pine.  Mixed in with the hops are some nice sticky sweet malts. The big sweetness of the malts almost challenge the big hop smell, but it is clear we have an imperial IPA with the hops winning out.  Mixed in there is some very rich citrus and tropical fruits as well.  The hops seem to go a little tangy in the aroma as well.

Just like with the pour, you kind of have a tale of two stories with the flavors as well.  This is set again not all that different from some other beers in the style.  If you drink this while it’s cold, you have a clear malt start and a clear hop finish; however, if you let it sit a little while, the two distinct flavors start blend together.  Most of my tasting was done cold.  There is a big hit of sweet malts at the start of the beer.  The hops start somewhat floral as they mix with the malts.  The floral flavors combine with the citrus and tropical fruits as the hops begin to develop.  As the citrus and floral drops off, the big pine comes in.  The pine has a slightly tangy flavor.  Cold the malts really back off and let the hops in the driver seat for the finish, but as I worked my way through the bottle, the malts come back to create a nice blend of hop and malt finish when warmed.

The mouth has lots of carbonation at the start of the beer to help give a little bit of body to the big sweet intro, then the sweet syrupy nature comes in to do battle with the hops.  They really got the composition right with the hops and malts.  Overall there is some really nice balance.  The flavors all work really well together, and the big malts work with the big hops to create a fairly easy drinking imperial IPA.

This isn’t really available on the east coast, so I think a lot of my readers will have a tough time finding this.  If you happen to come across something from Ninkasi I would certainly pick it up.  I’ve really enjoyed the few beers I’ve had out of this Oregon brewery, and I’m hopeful to experience a few more.  But, if you happen to find this particular bottle, you need to let it warm up a little to really let the malts and hops blend.

Now go out and have an IPA to celebrate the holiday!

Teacher Grade: B+

Hunting Beer Bottles & Yo-Ho Brewing Co – Aooni Review

I decided to use my beer bottle hunting in NYC post to also do a review of one of these beers I found in NYC.  As I said earlier this week, I found a bottle shop in Grand Central Station within an hour or two of being in NYC.  It had some interesting looking beers, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the pricing.  Thus, I decided I would wait and see what else I could find.  There were two other bottle shops I really wasnted to get to while I was in NY, but after dragging my wife to a brewery and a few bars, I couldn’t convince her to spend a lot of extra time trying to find these two stores.  The first store I really wanted to get to is called Good Beer.  The pictures I saw online led me to believe they had a pretty good selection.  The second one we almost got to was an interesting place called the Growler Station.  I don’t think I would have brought anything home from this place, but it sounded like a really interesting concept I would have wanted to check out.  Unfortunately the gay pride parade was going right by the store the day I wanted to go, so we got about a block away but didn’t see anything.

The store we did manage to find was a place called the Breukelen Bier Merchants.  We happened upon it not long after leaving Brooklyn Brewery.  It wasn’t a very big place, but they had a lot of stuff on tap and a fairly good selection of bottles as well.  Since I hadn’t been capable of finding too many good bottle options yet, I decided to do my shopping right here.  Browsing around a little, I decided to go with a few bottles I couldn’t find back home or a few I had never seen before.  I ended up picking up Speedway Stout from Alesmith, Dubhe from Unita Brewing Co, and Aooni from Yo-Ho Brewing Co in Japan.  This combined with a bottle of AMA Bionda from Amarcord Brewing Co I bought at Brooklyn Brewery were the only bottles I came home with.  I’ve had Unita before, but I love Black IPAs.  I’ve never had anything from Alesmith, and I’ve never seen anything from Yo-Ho or Amarcord before.  Like I said, I would have loved to do a little more bottle shopping, but I had already put my wife through enough.  Plus, I had to walk around for another few hours with all of these bottles in a backpack!

This can of Aooni really stuck out to me.  It was written all in Japanese and the English on it were just stickers over Japanese.  I guess you need to still put English warnings on things when you import them to the U.S.  At first I didn’t notice where it said it was an IPA, but I still decided to go with it anyway.  It seemed way to bizarre not to get.  I’ll tell you the small details I’ve been able to find; however, most of this is second-hand from other sites, so I’m not sure how accurate it is.  They are out of Karuizawa, Nagano Japan and their brewmaster COO Toshiyuki evidently interned at Stone Brewing co from 1998-2001.  He took what he learned there and went home to apply his knowledge to Yo-Ho.  Regardless of any information I was going to find on the brew, I was really excited to try it.

This one poured out a healthy orangey amber color.  There was some moderate head; however, while it wasn’t exactly plentiful, it lasted quite a while.  The lacing on the sides of the glass was huge, and it left a seemingly unending amount of long lasting residue as well.  The beer was extremely hazy and it had absolutely no visible carbonation either.

There was some very citrusy aroma that was most prominent on the nose.  The most obvious citrus smell was grapefruit, but I could pull out some orange and pineapple as well.  There is almost an apple cider aroma here as well.  A little bit of the floral hop aroma is present, but I wouldn’t say it is overpowering.  It certainly relies more on a citrus aroma than a hop aroma.  A little light pine can be pulled out.  I really couldn’t get much of any malts out of the aroma either.

The beer has an obvious malty intro that combines with some very light piney hops right at the start.  I was a little surprised that the hops came in so fast, but as an IPA fan, I certainly like it.  As the hops start to mellow, you get a very light vanilla taste that leads you into some hefty citrus flavors.  You get a little pineapple that is the gateway to a very heavy dose of grapefruit.  The harsher citrus notes of the grapefruit seems like the perfect lead into the bigger pine notes of the hops for the ending.  There are some light malts to help balance out the ending, but it is certainly quite hoppy.

The mouthfeel has some ample carbonation at the start, but that dissipates pretty quickly if you let it sit for any small period of time.  It really ends up being quite syrupy especially after sitting for a few minutes.  The malts and hops attempt to do battle here, but the hops are the clear victor.  The citrus and grapefruit notes are very complementary.

I have a feeling I would make this beer a regular at my house if I could find it.  I personally have never seen a can of this in my area before.  Perhaps you have an area they distribute too.  If you are able to get this, I would recommend you do just that.  I personally really enjoy it!

Teacher Grade: A

A Double Double IPA Review – The Great Hop Off

As I said earlier this week, I recently purchased 6 different Imperial IPAs from a store online; therefore, I have quite a few different hoppy beers to work through over the coming weeks. I had an opportunity to bust out two bottles when I had a few friends over the other night.  We had already enjoyed a few homebrews when we decided to drink through these, despite that, it seemed like a great time to enjoy some hoppy beers.  Plus, they were over for a food competition we have every once in a while, and the food tasting was over, so if we wrecked our palates with some hops it wouldn’t matter at that point anyway.  Either way, I’m glad I could crack open two different big bottles of beer.

The funny thing about these two bottles is that neither of them were in the package of six I ordered the other week.  I can actually say before drinking these two, I had 10 different bottles of Imperial IPA in my possession.  I certainly have a particular style of beer I happen to enjoy quite a bit.  I do need to branch out a little bit more.  Of course, the six that came in the one big package couldn’t be avoided .  They were a package deal.

Anyway, I decided to pull out two very different Imperial IPAs.  The first one we tried was from Moylan’s Brewing Co.  Let’s Pour has been continuously bombarding me with different beers they get in.  One that came up that I knew I could get at the store was Moylan’s Hopsickle.  They say it’s triple hoppy, but I think that is due to the three different types of hops they use and not that it is a triple IPA.  Let’s Pour also wrote it up as having, “jasmine, orange and lemon rind, dill, sage, apples, spruce, pine and anything else hop-related, all in a juicy, bright framework with massive aromatics”, which is why I really wanted to buy it at my local store. The other beer I really wanted to drink was Avery’s Maharaja Imperial IPA.  The big reason why I wanted to drink this one is because it was the clone recipe I used for my Imperial IPA homebrew: Pretentious Hopster.  Hopster is still struggling, but I gave up waiting to drink this one.  Avery states, “The Maharaja flaunts his authority over a deranged amount of hops: tangy, vibrant and pungent along with an insane amount of malted barley – fashioning a dark amber hue and exquisite malt essence”.  That says just about everything I needed to hear to be excited about this one!

Moylan’s Brewing Co – Hopsickle – This beer poured out a nice reddish orangey color with some light head and great clarity.  The smell was extremely herbal with a lot of big floral hops.  There is a ton of citrus and grapefruit on the nose as well.  The nose, however, also gives away that there seems to be no malts here at all.  It has a really crisp and clean aroma.  The first sip reveals that malts may not even take the backseat in this beer, I’m pretty sure they aren’t even riding in the same car.  There is a huge floral hop introduction to the beer.  There is a little light pine in there as well; however, the hop bomb goes from the start to the finish of the beer.  There is a lot of grapefruit and pineapple in there as well with a little light malts showing up late to the party.  The mouthfeel here is a lot of carbonation with only a little bit of syrup near the end.  It has a slightly dry feel which increases the hop intensity as well.

Avery Brewing Co – Maharaja The great king pours out a dark reddish color with hints of brown and light orange.  This beer is similar to Hopsickle in some of the appearance, but Maharaja has far more sticky residue and haziness to it. Point Avery!  This beer also has a very herbal aroma to it, but it has a lot of grassy nature to it as well.  Another really big difference is the huge malt aroma that comes off the nose.  It’s clear this beer would be a little more balanced than the last one.  Maharaja has a very big malty introduction to it.  This beer is far more piney than the last one, but it does become more floral and herbal near the middle section.  There is still a lot of grapefruit and citrus to the beer; however, it combines a ton of rich malts throughout with the huge hops flavors.  The mouthfeel of this one also has a lot more syrup throughout with some moderate to light carbonation.

The Winner:  I would have to choose Maharaja as the big winner in the Imperial IPA hop off.  Hopsickle is a good beer, and as a lover of hops, I appreciate the big herbal hop flavors they achieve.  I honestly thought I would rate it quite highly; however, following it up with Maharaja showed me how unbalanced Hopsickle really is.  Maharaja relies not only on big hops, but also huge malts as well.  It is this well-balanced nature that makes Maharaja the clear victor here.

I’m not sure if you can find one or both of these in your area.  If you can, I would certainly tell you they would be great beers to pick up; however, if faced with a choice, you need to go with the Maharaja.  It’s sweet, it’s hoppy, and it’s all around good!

Teacher Grades: 

Hopsickle: C-

Maharaja: A+

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+