Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Avery Brewing Company: Maharaja Imperial IPA

First Impressions: The Maharaja Imperial IPA from Avery Brewing Company struck my eye in the store. Avery is in Boulder Colorado and the front of the label said something to the effect of "Bottled from 11th barrel of 2009." I had never heard of Avery and it looked good, and I'll never turn down an Imperial IPA, so I had to try it.
The Maharaja is the second from the left.

Smell: The Maharaja has an overwhelming hoppy smell. Imagine adding an ounce of cascade hops to the wort during the boil and then sticking your face over that for the smell. Thats exactly what the Maharaja smells like. Very strong aroma.

Taste: Once you get past the extra hoppy smell, get ready for more hops! This is like licking hops. This beer made me believe that there is such a thing as too many hops. I enjoyed sipping it, but it was just peeling away at my teeth. The hops did well to hide the high alcohol content of this. The bottle said 10.69%.

I'm a big fan of hops, but even I thought they went a bit overboard with this one. Since it peels away your enamel so much, you need about 6/10 golden grills to drink it.

That looks weird.

Great Lakes BC: Christmas Ale

Last Friday, Peter, Anne and myself bought six varieties of beer to each try at the same time and discuss. The six beers are all pictured next to the Christmas tree and they will all be blogged. The first beer of the night was the Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale. The beer has a spicy smell with a lot of cinnamon. There is also honey and ginger which you can smell after reading the bottle. Anne enjoyed the O! Christmas Ale song on the bottle as well as the environmental tips about what to do with your Christmas tree that were built in to the song. The beer was tasty and went well with the season, the spices weren't too much. I like this a bit more than winter lagers, but I don't really know what to compare it to since I don't usually drink spicy Christmas ales. Anne noted that it had a bittersweet ending at the back of the tongue.

Overall, I would give this beer 5/10 Recycling Signs.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stone India Pale Ale

I had heard many good things about the Stone Brewing Company's IPA but had never taken the opportunity to try one until this past weekend. I'm a sucker for a great IPA and this one does not disappoint, in fact it's quite amazing. Incredibly flavorful with the prefect amount of bitterness. Smooth going down but still very rich. Each gulp was better than the last, and i was quite disappointed when the final sip had come and gone. Probably not recommended for your average beer drinker, but if you enjoy IPAs this one should not be overlooked next time you're at the package store.

This really should get a 10 but because its my first review i'll give it a...............

9/10 Doug Fluties

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA

The Harpoon Leviathan Series was first produced at the company's two breweries (Boston, MA and Windsor, VT) in the summer of 2008. The series is available in draft and 4 packs and was an attempt by the brewery to take an "exploration in brewing big beers for adventurous palates." This series is a definite step up for the brewery which has focused mostly on its award winning IPA and UFO brand.

The series takes its name from the "leviathan" a mythical sea beast that has been alluded to in everything from literature (Paradise Lost, Moby Dick), philosophy (Thomas Hobbes 1651 work the Leviathan discussed the need for a social contract to create the ideal state), and religion (both in Judaism and Christianity). What this has to do with brewing beer we could only venture to guess, however, the series's Imperial IPA comes in living up to the stature of the Leviathan in terms of big taste and alcohol per volume (10%).

What's the scenario? Trip to East Ave Wegman's always begins and ends in its above average beer section. I was looking for something I had never had before, my interest were peaked when I found an Imperial IPA with an unusual name I had heard somewhere before. The name Leviathan sparked an aisle discussion of Thomas Hobbes early work on government formation (which I knew a lot about) and its religious connotations (which my girlfriend knew a lot about). After examining the blurbs about the beer on its packaging I knew this four pack was coming home with me.

Appearance: A really smooth finish, with a really solid head that pours nicely into any pint glass. A bit lighter than I had expected for an Imperial IPA.

Smell: As with IPA's of any variety, you get a huge smell of hops right away. However, there also something a bit fruity, even tropical at the back end. The hoppy smell is due to the fact the beer is made using 4 different types of hops. I am no beer making expert, but the website informs that the beer is also dry hopped at a rate of over 1 lb a barrel. All of which accounts for the brews smell.

Alright, alright how did it taste? First I have to admit I have a bit of a bias here. I would put IPA, and particularly Imperial IPAs, at the top of my beer list. With that being said, the Leviathan Imperial IPA deliver. The brew has a larger amount of bitterness which is expected, but is still extremely smooth and easy to drink. It is a big beer, but I would not call it overpowering at all. You get the bitterness upfront, but the hop flavor continues throughout with a nice bit of citrus at the end. All and all this is very well rounded beer and the drinker can tell everything about this beer was feel thought out and produced at an even higher standard.

Rating: With "1" being never ever ever go for this beer and "10" seek this beer out no matter the costs, I would have to give this beer 8.5 Thomas Hobbeses. This is definitely up there on my list of best beers, but I do not think it is an everyday beer given its apv.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dogfish Head India Brown Ale

This Brown Ale is brewed with some IPA-type methods such as dry hopping to make it a hybrid of sorts. It is one of the most widely available beers from my favorite brewery.

What's the Scenario?: It was a quick trip out to get dinner, an Italian Sub from Wegmans. With such a light dinner, I thought I would go for a heavier beer.

Appearance: As you can see in the picture, this beer pours with a luxurious, thick, light brown head.

Smell: A strong hoppy aroma, mixed with sweet sugaryness and maybe a hint of syrup or molasses?

Alright, alright, how did it taste: Sweet and malty, with almost some maple syrup type flavors. Plenty of hoppy bitterness, but the heavy maltiness balances it out so that the hops become fairly subtle. This is a beautifully balanced beer, giving you the satisfying full bodied flavor of a good nut brown combined with the pleasant bitterness and aroma of an IPA.

Rating: 8/10 Sam Calagiones

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

SteepleChase Brewing Company: Three Dead Red

This is the first beer we have homebrewed in a while, and I have the pleasure of being the first one to try it. The name comes from a disgusting story. I had left some dishes in the sink for a bit too long and last night I noticed some little red flies in the sink. So I did the dishes, killed a handful of flies, and cleaned the sink with bleach. I went to work in the morning and forgot about the flies.

On my way home I stopped at Wegman's to get some ingredients for a delicious dinner. When I arrived at home I was excited to try the freshly brewed beer, but before popping a sixer in the icebox, I noticed something in the sink. Three dead red flies. And Three Dead Red was born. [Fun Trivia: this is the second SBC beer to have Three in the name]

I had put one Three Dead Red in the fridge earlier and so I cracked it open as I prepared dinner. I didn't have much time to think about it as I prepared one of the best meals of my life. Let me set the scene:

The Scene:
Take Red, Yellow and Cayenne Peppers and saute them with some onions in a pan. Slice open a nice Angus steak and line it with pepperjack cheese. Stick the peppers and onions in there and throw the whole thing on the stovetop. Cook it like a man... rare.

The Result:The steak yielded some great gravy for the mashed potatoes and I waited until it was all done to open my second Three Dead Red.

The Beer:
The secondary fermentation did a great job and I could pour this bottle straight up. Perfect amount of carbonation, I should put it all in the fridge now so it doesn't get overcarb'ed. The smell is kind of light and pleasant. Pretty much what you would expect. The taste follows suit. Its nothing special, but it goes down easy. And with an ABV around only 4%, this is a beginner's homebrew. I'm no expert at pairing beer and food, but I feel like this went perfect with my dinner. It didn't try to push to the forefront and overpower me with flavor, the meal had plenty of that. It was always there for me when I came across a bite filled with cayenne pepper. Its not really a beer to sit around and discuss, but it plays the part of supporting actor to perfection. And in honor of that comparison, I will give it a rating system based on the best Best Supporting Actor ever.

5/10 Cuba Gooding Jrs.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Guiness Draft(Can)

Guinness Draft
(Nitrogen Can)

We've all had it, probably in quantity on occasion. This space isn't only reserved for seasonal Northern Oregon triple IPAs, however. This old favorite deserves a review just as much as any other.

This particular occasion finds me enjoying Guinness in the can format, probably the best way to try it other than visiting a pub in Ireland. The Guinness sent to America in cans, as far as I can tell, is the same as the Guinness served at the local taps in Ireland. It is quite different than the Guinness served in bottles, which is about 5% ABV. The can and keg variety is around 4.1%, which is why it is so easy to have ten, er, a few of them. What makes the canned Guinness so close to the tap variety is the special nitrogen ball inside the cans. It releases bubbles and makes a cool sound when you crack open the can, and gives the beer its trademark head and bubbliness. There is a much more scientific explanation for this process, which can be found here.

This pours with a very thick and creamy head, which essentially remains throughout. The amazing thing about Guinness is its ability to maintain the creamy head throughout the entire beer. I think this has to do with the nitrogen that it is poured/bottled with, but this is very hard to reproduce in a homebrew as I've found out.

The aroma isn't too overpowering, but has an obviously malty tone. There might also be a hint of chocolate present. No hop smell to speak of.

One word describes this beer: SMOOTH. It just slides down, and gets you ready for the next gulp. The creamy head is a delight, and makes each sip a mouthfeel delight. The only thing missing here is the follow through. After you get over the nice smell and very smooth consistency, there isn't much else. There is that classic Guinness flavor, but nothing that blows you away. This is where competitors like Murphys and others put their money. Murphy's throws a little bit of nuttiness after the front, Guiness is satisfied to just go on its way and leave you with its simple yet well rounded, underwhelming lick of flavor. For a session beer, that is all you can ask. Sure, they could have put a big blast of chocolate or malt at the finish, but then Guinness wouldn't be Guinness. The point of this beer, and Guinness knows it, is to make it good enough that people with taste buds enjoy it, but light enough that they will drink it all night.

Guinness has two really great things going for it: drinkability (no, Bud Light does not possess drinkability despite its claims), and availability. You can get Guinness pretty much anywhere, whether it is on tap or in cans. It will usually be the same, and will always give you a good night if you let it. It is a fantastic "go-to" beer, and one that won't make you feel too bad in the morning. I have recently realized the value and importance of Guinness in my drinking life, and my LIFE has been better because of it. Visiting the Guinness brewery is a fantastic experience, and one that every passionate beer drinker should make a point to do sometime in their life. Guinness is truly a part of Irish day to day life, and if you let it, it can be a part of yours too!

EDIT: I forgot to add a ranking. Guinness is a "drinking" beer, and I will tend to make my ratings on a scale of "don't bother"(1) to "find this at all cost"(10). On that scale, I give this a 5/10. That translates to, "seek it out at restaurants and bars with terrible beer selection".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Green Flash Brewing Company West Coast IPA

Green Flash Brewing Company West Coast IPA

Green Flash is a microbrewery near San Diego, one of the many micro breweries in the area, most famous of which is Stone. California has an incredible amount of microbreweries. New York has a lot of people, why don't we have more here? Maybe I need to open a few.

What's the Scenario?: Just home from work, had some delicious Peanut Chicken for dinner, now time to dig into some beer.

Appearance: The color is a little lighter than I expected for an IPA, amber with a yellowish hue. The beer poured with a pretty decent size head(see picture, sorry for the graininess (did I spell that right?)). A nice lacy bit of head remains throughout the beer.

Smell: Not too overpowering, but clearly a hoppy aroma.

Alright, alright, how did it taste: The hops are intense in this, they hit you right away and stay at the forefront all the way through. There is practically no variation in this beer at first, you basically get slammed with a big burst of hops and thats it. Doesn't seem to have much balance from the malty side. I guess this is kind of the style, West Coast IPAs tend to be all about the hops. As getting-slammed-with-hops goes, this beer is pretty good, but doesn't offer much else. After about half way through, I started to change my mind about this a little bit. Once my taste buds got used to the intense hops here, some really interesting fruity flavors became obvious.

Rating: Pretty tasty, definitely worth trying. A little one dimensional but grows on you after a few sips. In honor of the announcement that rookie defenseman Tyler Myers is staying with the Sabres this year, I give this beer 7/10 Tyler Myerses.


Welcome to Beers We Try. The idea here is that every time someone tries a beer, the come here and write a post about it. Hopefully this will become an archive of a whole bunch of beers, that people can use as a reference. The style and rating system is completely up to you, but it is preferable to include a picture. If you write a post, include your name, the Style, and the Brewery as Labels. Slainte!