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.