Sunday, March 31, 2013

Willamsburg AleWerks - Bitter Valentine

Big thanks to BeerAdvocate member Hanzo for this one.  Got this in an Easter Basket!

From Willamsburg AleWerks:

"Our Double IPA is loaded with Pacific Northwest hops blended with a light malt backbone. A bitter Valentine for you to love, how ever unrequited. "

PNW hops?  Yeah, I'm OK with that.

I haven't had anything from these guys before but I am very much looking forward to this.  

Also, I apologize for the glass choice since you can't see the beer very well but I am trying to make use of the cool glasses I have received since my last review!

Here we go,

Out of the bottle it poured a very nice caramel, orange, rusty color and yielded a very big three finger head.  I probably poured it too aggressively but with a glass this large I figured "Why not?"  The head lasted for a decent amount of time and the head was a an off white that resembled frothed milk resting atop the beer.  Very nice looking head.  As it dissipated it left a frothy ring around the beer and a large dollop of that same looking white froth in the center of the beer.  Nice looking beer and very welcoming.

This is a pretty darn dank smelling beer.  Big citrus, peach and some tropical fruits mixed in the aroma.  A nice sweetness caramel aroma in there behind the big hop presence.  Awesome smelling beer.  There is also a very subtle oniony type of aroma which I don't mind at all as character in the beer as long as it doesn't overpower the aroma or taste.  In this case it is far from overpowering but instead lends just another layer of interesting and juicy aroma to the beer. A really great smelling beer and definitely a high note to start on from a brewery I have never had the opportunity of trying yet. Impressed.

Right at the front of the mouth I get some sweet tropical fruits and a small amount of bitterness.  As it glides to the middle of the palate I am hit with some sweet caramel, nice citrus with hints of bitterness showing itself and as it finished I get more sweet tropical fruit and citrus with a big hit of some nice peach and a very tiny bit of that onion-y character I was getting on the nose.  This is very enjoyable.  Not overly complex but packs a good amount of flavor and is definitely inviting for another drink.  The bitterness on the end is nice and helps cut the sweet fruit and peach and it lingers nicely without having too dry of a finish.  

This is really a nice beer and I am enjoying it very much.  Not sure if it is worthy of the 95 rating on BeerAdvocate but I would rate it just under that.  The mouthfeel on this, however, is perfect in my opinion. I am not a fan of thick feeling DIPAs and this is right in the middle of light and heavy so they hit the nail on the head there.  The lacing in the glass is very nice as well.  Great aroma, very good taste, amazing mouthfeel and just an all around great looking beer.  I would definitely drink this again in the future.

Happy Easter!

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Cigar City Brewing - Jai Alai IPA

Well hello again anyone who used to regularly read this blog!  I have been going to the gym, eating better and trying to lose some weight so I wanted to temporarily cut beer out of my diet.  (Not that one beer a day isn't good for you, but I found it easier to just cut it out.)  Anyway, I have missed reviewing and cannot wait to get another one up for you guys to enjoy. Cheers.

This beer I got courtesy of Dachshunddude86 and was actually an extra in a box(as was the glass) that included Cigar City Capricho Oscuro (latest batch). I am definitely excited to try this as I have heard nothing but great here we go!

Jai Alai poured out an orange/rust color with a one and a half finer of a soapy white head.  The past few beers I have reviewed had a head that dissipated quite quickly but this one stuck around for a bit until falling back into the glass.  It left a white film on the sides of the glass where it hit and over the top of the beer.  The beer itself is really clear, I can see right through it and out my front window.

I started to get whiffs of this beer when I first opened it.  I love when that happens!  This beer is insanely fruity. Holy crap.  Slight bit of pine right up front but that is whisked away by the big orange and mango aromas that come out of the glass.  This is actually the fruitiest smelling beer that I have ever reviewed I'm pretty sure.  I am not picking up any malt.  Possibly a small breadiness on the back end of the aroma but I am not sure.  It smells like fermented mango and orange juice pretty much and I am OK with this.

That is really nice.  Right at the tip of the tongue I get hit with orange i was getting in the aroma.  Not just a citrus flavor but actual orange itself.  This is nuts!  Middle of the mouth the orange starts to fade and I start to get some nice light caramel and bread then onto a citrus and pine flavor on the back end an a perfect finish.  Slight bitterness at the end with the taste of orange zest left in my mouth.  There is a mess load of flavor and aroma in this beer.

I love this beer from start to finish to be honest.  This is my first offering from Cigar City and I understand the praise they get.  It actually blows my mind that people from Florida can just walk into a gas station and buy a 6 pack of this.  All in all, if you can't get this near you then trade for it or find a place to buy it online.  There is no flaw to Jai Alai and your senses are treated to waves of citrus and pine.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Easter.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hinterland Brewery - Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock

From Hinterland:

"Our Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock pours a dark amber with an ample, two finger khaki head. Aromas of bourbon and caramel fill the nose. The taste of bourbon oak and caramel fill the palette and finishes smooth. This brew was aged 10 months in bourbon barrels."

Before I start to review this I have to mention the process of getting this bottle open.  I didn't know what to expect when I bought this bottle and I was checking out other reviews for it and everyone noted that getting the cap off was a big hassle due to the wax.  This was spot on.  10 minutes later and I finally got the cap off after torquing the bottle opener as hard as I could AFTER I cut away some of the wax.  Do they not want me to drink this?


After our little fight the beer poured a reddish brown into the glass and once in the glass looks like a dark red that is really hazy.  I got a two finger head with an aggressive pour and dissipated after about a minute but left some very nice tight soapy like bubbles on the top.  I can honestly say that I have never had a barrel aged doppelbock but this looks very nice.  I love the hazy color of it and the soapy bubbles really excite me for whatever reason.

I can smell the beer before I even put it to my nose.  Two feet away from the glass and I'm getting big barrel and bourbon notes which is a nice reward so far after the struggle of getting into the glass itself.  The biggest aromas I am getting are that of vanilla, some nice oak, and a lot of caramel.  A tiny bit of dark fruit in there as well but is definitely not leading the way.  This is a bourbon barrel bomb and the aroma is just really awesome in my opinion.  The vanilla and caramel aroma really make me think this is going to be a sweet beer.  It reminds me a lot of Mother of All Storms from Pelican Brewing.  Big barrel notes and a big sweetness on the nose.  Some people aren't a fan of really sweet beers but I am if it is done right.  This smells amazing so I'm hoping the taste follows suit.  Here we go!

Wow.  I'm not sure what this is.  A slight bit of bread and dark fruit.  Real subtle barrel notes that verge on non-existent.  There is a bitterness on the finish as well as a bright fruit note.  I wasn't expecting too much but this is just not doing it for me.  It is very watery in the mouth and I am not getting too much of anything.  I thought the barrel notes would be a lot bigger given how impressive the aroma was.  If I had to take a guess on why this is disappointing me so much is because of how thin it is.  The flavors just seem to slide right over my tongue instead of getting stuck on my taste buds and letting me actually taste it.  On the very front of the tongue when it first hits I get a nice sweetness from it that gets me excited for what is to come and then all that follows is nothing to be honest.  

I'm not going to say this is terrible, because it's not.  It is really thin and leads to very subtle flavors all around and nothing really sticks out.  I really want to like this since it was fairly inexpensive but I can't see myself buying this again or recommending it to anyone.  I'll finish the bottle but that is it.  I guess for $6.50 this isn't a terrible option if you are looking for a "sessionable" barrel aged beer (since it is only 7.4%) but that is where the good idea stops.  It boils down to this; one of the best smelling beers I have had in recent memory but the mouthfeel is lacking.  With a touch more feel on this I may end up loving this beer but not right now.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Great Lakes Brewing - Alchemy Hour Double IPA

From Great Lakes Brewing:

"On the West Coast, surfers have a  term for that perfect time of day, when the waves are breaking just right and it feels like you can ride forever. They call it Alchemy Hour. In Cleveland, our surfers have to work a little harder to find a perfect swell. Dressed in wetsuits, up at dawn, they camp out on the shores of Lake Erie in near-freezing temperatures, waiting for the ultimate wave. Crazy? Yes. Extreme? Definitely. Alchemy Hour Double IPA pays tribute to the North Coast’s unlikely surf bums and the ancient quest for liquid gold, wherever it may live: on the ocean, in a lake, in a bottle"

Also, on the bottle it mention that is hopped with mosaic hops which is really exciting to me because I am curious to see how they stand out.  This One Goes To 11 from Bells was really enjoyable but I don't think it showcased that hop very well but I could be wrong.

Before I start with the review I just want to apologize for any of the readers that may have been waiting for the newest review to be put up.  I had a cold and my nose was running and my taste buds just felt off so I didn't want to review something on a poor palate.  So if you are reading this now then thanks for not giving up hope! Here we go!

Out of the bottle it pours a golden color.  Not a reddish gold or a yellowish gold, it look like gold in the glass and it is awesome.  It produced a 1.5 finger head that dissipated fairly quickly but is leaving a really nice ring around the glass and even has left lacing on the part of the glass that the head was hitting.  This beer is super, super clear.  I held it up to my computer screen and I would be able to read the writing on my screen if I could read upside down.  A really awesome looking beer and I could not be more excited right now.

Peachy and mango aromas jump up out of the glass for me and then a little kick of grapefruit and citrus the clear that out of the nose.  Maybe a bit of a bready character in there as well but it is just huge tropical fruits and a nice amount of grapefruit and citrus.  The aroma of the fruits seem really ripe and give off a sweet aroma to them which is welcome, for me at least.  I enjoy a sweeter double ipa.  Not from a heavy dose of malts but from an abundance of hop varieties that I really enjoy and this delivers.  This is as well balanced as I can hope for with a big double IPA; very small malty notes but big character from the hops that mesh well together.  Not to sound cliche but I could honestly smell this beer for a good hour before even taking a drink.

Wow that is really nice.  Everything is just....there.  I'm not getting any one fruit specifically, like peach or grapefruit, but I'm getting what I think they would all taste like together.  This doesn't attack you with bitterness on the front of the palate, no, instead you get a smooth wave of flavor.  It starts a bit sweet from the front of the palate and by the time it hits mid-palate you really start to get the hop character and all those fruit notes in the aroma come together as one.  The bitterness hits on the finish and lingers for a moment but this is a different kind of bitterness.  Often times a grapefruit type of bitterness hits on the finish and this one is no different, however, this isn't just like a grapefruit bitterness.  It actually tastes like a bitter grapefruit on the finish, to the point where I would almost want to ask if they brewed this was citrus fruits.  Right before the bitterness hits there is a nice kind of sugary sweetness.  Not overwhelming and not extremely noticeable but the extreme of sweet and bitter is really nice on the back end.  Great stuff. Really, great stuff.

People have talked about this being a good substitute for Hopslam because it is also brewed with honey but I would gladly take this over hopslam.  The mouthfeel on it is the same but I much prefer the flavor profile in this beer to hopslam.  I can't find one flaw in it and that cold either be that my palate is so refreshed after being sick for so long or this is just an incredible beer.  I definitely recommend picking this up if you are in the Midwest and Great Lakes is distributed in your area.  If you can't get this in your area then definitely trade for it.  Of all the IPA's I have said to trade for in past reviews, this one takes the cake.

Cheers ladies and gentlemen!