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 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

Wild Onion Brewing Co – Hop Slayer

It’s been a little while since I’ve commented on the state of the canned beer industry; however, if you’ve looked around, it has only continued to grow like crazy.  A lot of big beer companies are realizing that this isn’t a fad that is going away, so they have started canning some of their more popular beers.  Next time you’re at a store, you may notice cans of Sierra Nevada – Torpedo or New Belgium – Fat Tire.  The companies are finally starting to see that canning beers doesn’t quite have the same stigma it used to have.  Yes there are still beers like Schlitz, Natty Boh, and PBR out there as well; however, they have started to seem fun and ironic to the hipster community.  Even though a lot of these brews have been doing this for a while, it’s still nice to mention some of the craft breweries that helped create the swing towards canned beers.

Wild Onion Brewing Co started back around 1996; however, they expanded into their current capacity back in 2003.  Located in Barrington, IL, they aren’t too far outside of the Chicago area.  They state on their site that they brew their ales and lagers in a 6,000 square-foot brewery, cellar, and packaging complex, directly below the bar. Brewing directly below their own bar sounds pretty good to me.  Ultimately this was the first beer I saw at the beer store I visited in Philly that I knew I absolutely wanted.  A canned beer I’d never seen before, from a company I’d never heard of before, and with a big double IPA named hop slayer inside was a sure sell.

I’ve consumed a few different imperial IPAs out of a can before. Just the other day I had my first Hop Crisis from 21st Amendment.  Aside from stouts, I think double/imperial IPAs are some of the most interesting beers to find in a can.  Hop Crisis was great and I absolutely loved Oskar Blues Deviant Dales brew as well.  Therefore, I had a lot of high hopes coming into this one.  Wild Onion states that this ale, “is so full of malt and hops that you can almost chew on it”, which I only find more exciting.  Coming in at 100 IBUs, it sounded like a perfect big craft canned beer.

This one pours a nice dark rich reddish color with some very light hints of orange.  It’s slightly coppery for sure.  There is some fairly plentiful white head that develops on top of the beer.  Some really good lacing develops on the side of the glass after the swirl, and you get a ton of sticky residue hanging around.  Although a little dark, it certainly seems to have a hazy tint to it.  You don’t really see any carbonation, but you can see some significant activity in the glass when you agitate its contents.

The huge tangy hop aroma dominates the nose for sure.  Combining with the tangy nature is some really big sticky sweet malts as well.  There is definitely a lot of citrus that comes out.  I think some of that may be due to a slight lemony quality the hops have to them.  The tang and slight boozy aroma definitely combine for some certain thickness on the nose.  You get some light fig, burnt sugar, and caramel mixing in there as well.  There is certainly some nice big hops and malts mixing here.

I normally start my talk of the flavor by saying there are some nice sweet malts.  This one instead decides to throw a tone of huge malts in right at the start to help create a hefty backbone for the upcoming onslaught of hops.  There is a nice little hint of citrus that comes in; however, this is just a slight lead into the hops.  The hops are not as huge as I was expecting.  You assume all beers that reach 100 IBUs are going to smack you in the face with the hops.  This one instead build up enough malts to really make the giant hop presence rather subdued.  The hops have a nice blend of both the pine and floral flavors.  I tend to think they lean more towards the tangy pine quality; however, the tang was bigger on the nose.  There is some sweet caramel and interesting light fruity flavors that bring the beer in for a landing.  The beer finishes with some of that residual hop and tang finish.

This is a really well-balanced big hop beer.  The mouthfeel is fairly syrupy overall; however, the carbonation is lighter but consistent all the way through.  The big malts help counteract the huge hops which help make this beer more drinkable for the moderate hop head out there.  Lots of hops, tang, and sweet malts here.

All in all I would say this may be quite high on the list of double IPAs I’ve had. It is certainly a fine example of a great beer that can be found in a can. The hops have a big malty backbone to build on; however, the malt doesn’t bury the hops.  The hops are still there for those who want to taste them, and yet, the beer is malty enough for someone who is only moderately a fan of the hops.  I wish I could find a few more of these around by me in DC.  If you see it out, I can not stress enough giving it a shot.

Teacher Grade: A

Bottle Shopping in Philly

This past weekend my wife took part in her third ever half marathon.  If you’ve been following me for a little while, you know I ran one with her last spring; however, I have taken a lot of time off since then.  I really need to get back to it because my girlish figure has really been suffering since then.  Anyway, she decided to run in her second Rock and Roll half marathon.  It means you get a medal for running in it, and you can get a second medal for doing two of them.  Anyway, we ran the one in DC back in March and this one was in Philly.  Philly is always near and dear to my heart.  I went to school out in Harrisburg PA, so we would travel into Philly nearly every week to go to hardcore and metal concerts.  We even went in to see Dashboard Confessional one time.  My wife used to live about 30-45 minutes outside in the suburbs, so we used to travel in when I visited her.  We’ve been there for the 4th of July, Live Aid, and a ton of Cinco De Mayo celebrations with our good friend Teresa.  We love Philly.   Thus, I was happy to have some time to walk around Philly while she went to the convention for her half marathon.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I like to search out different brews in the different states I visit.  Pennsylvania is the most frustrating place to do this.  They have laws that prevent you from purchasing a normal six pack very easily.  Almost everything you buy has to be in a case of 24.  It sucks if you’re looking for 750 mls or create your own six pack.  Thus, knowing I would have some time on my hands, I googled bottle stores in Philly where I could piece together a mixture of bottles I couldn’t find back home.  Although it was an hour walk from our hotel, I found a location known as The Bottle Shop.

We arrived in Philly around 2 pm, dropped our bags off at our hotel, and split up for our respective locations.  Google informed me I’d be in for a couple mile walk, so I put on the new Avett Brothers album and commenced with the walking.  It was a nice little walk, although I continued to wonder if I was really heading the right way; however, I eventually managed to find my way to the Bottle Shop.  It took a little under and hour, but I was very pleased to walk in and find that I could purchase beer to drink on the spot.  A very friendly place to sit and relax before my hike back up to Chinatown.

As with most beer geeks, I took a very long time perusing the selection before selecting my first beer for consumption.  There were quite a few I’d had before; however, I could certainly see a few selections I’d never managed to find before.  It came down to a debate of what was worthy of drinking on the spot and what needed to be purchased for the prospect of review at home.  I could see a few I knew I’d want to review, so I ultimately went with a bottle I thought would be refreshing and hoppy after a long walk on a slightly warm day: Fegley’s Brew Works – Hop Explosion.  I wasn’t sure if I was buying a regular IPA or a double because of the lack of IBU information.  I suppose I could have googled it, but I decided to wing it.  Looking it up later, I found out it was 7% ABV and 70 IBUs. It was a really well balanced IPA with some very good hop flavors.  Ultimately, I was glad I had selected something that wasn’t overwhelming but also had some really good hop flavor.

Unsure of where I wanted to go next, I perused the fridges once again trying to decipher what to select .  I didn’t want to select something I would be adding to a six pack later on, so I decided to allow myself to open up to the idea of drinking something from a brewery I’d had before.  Ultimately I landed on Sixpoint Brewing Co – Brownstone.   I had heard some good things about it, and I’ve been trying to give a few more beers from Sixpoint a try.  The Bottle Shop had a great line up from Sixpoint and it’s a big can so I felt like it was good value.  Having just about consumed all of my homebrewed Brown Ale, I was interested to compare flavors.  Brownstone may actually be one of the more enjoy about brown ales I’ve had recently.  I tend to get frustrated with browns that go too dark and heavy, and I think this one stayed nice and crisp.  It was good to prep me for my long walk back up to the hotel.

After spending a little time in the store, putting together my own six pack wasn’t hard at all.  I pretty much hung around the west coast section of their selection, but I did branch out with a few bottles.  I’ll share the picture of what I got so you can get a little preview, but I’m sure one or two of these bottles will show up in a review very shortly.  I walked my way back to my hotel where I popped open one I knew I wouldn’t review.  The Walt Wit from Philadelphia Brewing Co was a nice citrusy Wit beer from a local brewery I’ve actually never had before.  Plus, as an English teacher, how could I pass up a bottle with Walt Whitman on it?  Probably not my favorite Wit of all time, but I’m not actually a big fan of the wit style.  Regardless, it was the right beer at the right time.

I was quite pleased with my experience at The Bottle Shop.  The staff was friendly, the selection was great, and you can pop a beer and drink it right there.  It was quite a walk from my hotel, but I would gladly do it all over again the next time I’m in Philly.  It’s hard to find a good place to bottle shop in PA, but this is a gem for sure in a state that seems to think you need to buy beer in bulk.

Ninkasi Brewing Co – Maiden the Shade

As summer winds down, I am really trying to push through all of my summer beers I have remaining in my collection at this moment. I guess there would be nothing wrong with popping the top on a summer ale in January.  Sometimes it’s nice to have the option of drinking something a lot lighter.  However, I don’t want to be left with any misfit beers this year.  Anyway, I received this beer in a recent beer trade with Megan vs Beer.  As I’ve already reviewed one of the beers from the trade that immediately caught my eye, I jumped to this one second because of the style.  Friday I got home from school, looked through my big bottle options that were cold, and I went with the most refreshing looking one.  As this is my 4th different bottle from Ninkasi I’ve reviewed, you’d think this was a really easy brewery for me to get a hand on.  Guess I just have some awesome people helping me.

Ninkasi describes Maiden the Shade as a salute to the playful side of summer.  I am personally not a big fan of the summer.  As a teacher, I love that I get time off from work and can travel a bit more; however, I find it to be a miserably hot experience most of the time.  I love the winter.  None-the-less, I’m glad to see this particular playful side coming out of Ninkasi.  Typically when I brew, I try to make sure I have a variety of hops in my beer to give it character.  Ninkasi decided to really add some depth and character to this beer with 7 different variety of hops.  They have included  Summit, Centennial, Simcoe, Columbus, Crystal, Palisade, and Amarillo.  It seems like it would be a crazy double IPA or hop bomb with that many different competing hops.  Instead, they used a light hand to create a well balanced hop forward summer IPA. Since I’ve really never had anything other than hoppy beers from Ninkasi, I’m not terribly surprised by the hop forward take on this summer beer.

This one poured out a very light golden coppery color.  There was certainly a very nice fluffy white head that built on top of the beer that lasted and lingered for quite the extended period of time.  There was some really great lacing that developed on the sides of the beer with a ton of sticky residue.  There was some very clear clarity working here, and you can see a very ample amount of carbonation in the glass as well.

The most significant aroma you get is a ton of really fresh hop scents.  The hops have a slight pine smell with a lot of the floral scents as well.  The tropical fruit aromas are quite big here.  You get light pineapple, citrus, and other more topical aromas.  The maltiness takes a back seat for big hops; however, you do have some slight sweetness.  Overall it smells quite fresh and crisp.

While the sweetness of the malts doesn’t really come across on the aroma, you certainly get it at the onset of the flavor profile.  The sweetness is quickly overrun by some great pineapple, citrus, and topical fruit flavors.  This helps to bring a nice summer freshness to the beer, and it also helps to transition into the plentiful hop flavors.  The hops have an overall big fresh taste to them.  They start a little piney and are actually a little jarring.  The pine might be a little strong for a “summer brew”.  Regardless, I’m quite a big fan of the flavor.  The hops move from that jarring pine to a much more subtle floral flavor.  The hops mellow toward the end of the beer as the citrus kicks back up for a floral citrusy hop finish.

The mouthfeel starts somewhat syrupy; however, the carbonation builds as the hops gain momentum.  The carbonation and the hops reach the pinnacle at the same time.  It finishes with a lot of hops to help it feel fresh from nearly start to finish.  While there is a section right in the middle of the tasting that seems a little too piney for the style, I’m quite a big hop head, so I’m certainly pleased.

I have a feeling I say this almost all the time, but I’m sure this one will be hard to find if you’re on the east coast.  If you happen to know where some is, rescue it from potentially being left behind some big malty pumpkin beers.  I have a feeling this one could make a great beer for a warm labor day!

Teacher Grade: A

Terrapin Brewing Co – Samurai Krunkles

I want to start off by saying I have never purchased a beer because I thought I wouldn’t like it.  I will admit that I’ve had my doubts when purchasing some beers; however, I have always gone into consuming a brew with a positive mindset.  There are certain breweries I have come to realize I like less than others, but I’m still more than willing to give their beers a try when I see them become available.  Terrapin is quickly becoming a hit or miss brewery for me.  I originally didn’t realize this was the case, but as I look back at the beers I’ve reviewed of theirs for this site, I haven’t particularly enjoyed any of them.  The first beer I had was a beer using chili peppers.  I thought the base was great, but the chilies ended up giving me a stomach ache.  The other was a beer I thought may have gone bad.  I can tell you I’ve tried a few other beers that I haven’t reviewed, and I’ve liked them quite a bit.  So I’m thinking I need to review one of theirs that I’m more happy with so I don’t seem like such a downer.

This beer really stuck out to me because of the extra additives to it.  Terrapin has billed this as their Asian IPA.  While featuring five different varieties of hops in the brewing process, it also uses ginger, green tea, and jasmine rice.  I didn’t realize the rice was in there till I checked out their site.  Anyway, I thought this could be really interesting.  I added ginger to my own saison with some pretty good results.  I also had Stone’s green tea IPA last year and thought it was pretty good.  So I really thought I had picked up a Terrapin special release that was pretty good.

I know Terrapin has released more than a few brews with that title Krunkles in it.  Unsure of what this word is meant to mean, I headed to the Terrapin site to find out more.  Krunkles, evidently, is a legend they hold to about a man obsessed with brewing hoppy beers with tons of different types of hops.  He traveled the world looking for hops, and they have modeled these hoppy special releases to honor his memory. Ironically, I looked Krunkles up online for a definition.  The only definition I found was from an Urban Dictionary that said it meant to hit someone in the testicles.  That may actually work for me on this one as I had a tough time finishing it even with a friend’s assistance.

This one pours a rich darker orange color.  It already has a very syrupy quality in the glass.  There is a very light frothy white head that develops on top of the beer.  Swirling the glass reveals some light lacing and fairly good sticky residue.  There is a lot of haze to the beer as well; however, despite the syrupy nature and haze you can still make out the little amount of carbonation.

The overwhelming aroma is some big orange citrusy smell.  The light spice of the ginger is fairly obvious, and you can definitely pull out the herbal scent of the green tea leaves as well.  While you would think the green tea aroma is a good thing, I actually think the scents are a little off-putting.  A thought started to come to mind while I was analyzing the beer, what if the leaves for the green tea started to compost.  Personally I thought it had a little bit of stinky wet compost smell to it.  The hops are certainly there as well, and it may be some strange reaction between the hops, ginger, and green tea I’m getting, but it has a certain off-putting aroma.

The one review I read about this beer said it tasted buttery.  I can certainly agree with the buttery flavor at the onset of the tasting.  It has a light buttery malty flavor to start off.  The big orange flavors come in and linger throughout the entire tasting.  There is a very slight hit of hops and a little spice as well.  The big ginger works in well with that very slight spice.  It’s following the ginger that it all goes a little strange and funky to me.  The tea comes in for the finish, but it manages to take the flavors in the wrong direction.  It may once again be the odd combination of ginger, hops, and green tea, but it really has a strange compost aftertaste that really lingers.

The mouth is quite thick, syrupy and, buttery at the beginning.  There is a certain freshness in the middle as the carbonation builds.  The hops and ginger help to add to that fresh quality as well.  It’s the ending that goes strange for me.  It’s something about the flavors that don’t complement each other.  I have loved these individual flavors in different brews, but something is amiss in this concoction.

I really wanted to like this beer for a lot of different reasons; however, it just didn’t do it for me.  I would probably steer clear of this bottle if you happen to come across it.  Like I said earlier, I don’t buy beers I think I’ll hate, but I sometimes manage to get those very beers in the end.  I’m hoping to find a special release from Terrapin I can rant and rave about, but this is not that release.

Teacher Grade: F

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+

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