Friday, June 27, 2008

Victory Hop Wallop

This "very hoppy" ale has been sitting in my fridge for too long. Time to crack it open and experience the ride.

Appearance: Dirty school bus yellow with a 2.5 finger head (I poured it like a waterfall). As it gradually settles, there is just a vague covering of head up top while tiny bits of carbonation slowly creep.

Smell: Sweetie malts but the dank hops straight up trump that. They don't call it HOP WALLOP for nothing.

Taste: Sweet taste that is quite refreshing to my palette. The hops are more herb-ey now.

Mouthfeel: Bitter aftertaste that tapers off just waiting for you to take another sip. Such a beautiful seasonal cycle [sip - swirl and dance in mouth - bitter aftertaste - give me more].

Drinkability: I would definitely have another. One of my first DIPAs that I ever had back at school. A reliable one for me out on the east coast, even though I like to venture out to other areas. {side note - this was really good on tap at the Victory brewpub}. Chillin' at 8.5% abv with my rating of 8/10

Friday, June 20, 2008

American Craft Beer Festival

The Hopheads in Training will be attending the American Craft Beer Festival in Boston, MA tomorrow for the afternoon session from 1-4:30pm at the Seaport World Trade Center! We toyed with the idea of doing a live blog or running diary of some sort, but decided on making one HUGE report of the festival when we returned. Keep it tuned here for pics, insight, and commentary of what should be a fantastic festival. Or, if you wish to drown yourself in the awesome collection of beer with us, details for the event can be found by clicking the giant bottle cap to the right.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Trio of Troegs

Over the weekend, I made the huge move (7.6 miles to be exact) from my old stomping grounds in East Falls to the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. Before the day of the move, I picked up a variety case of Troegs to reward my friends for all their help with the move. The case went over well with everyone, which I kind of expected. I managed to horde a few for myself to review:

Rugged Trail Nut Brown Ale:

Dark at first glance, but when held up to light you can see through it to see the the nice chocolatey-redish brown color shining through. 1/2 thumb of head, served in a pint glass.

Smell: A very sweet and malty aroma. I'm picking up a subtle nut smell, but I feel like I'm getting more chocolate and roastiness from it.

Taste: Somewhat sweet with a great roastiness on the backend. The malts I'm getting are chocolatey and roasty, very tasty. I'm getting hints of nut, but I feel the nut taste is a bit subdued considering the name. There is a slight and subtle lingering chocolate aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: This might be the only real let-down in what was really an awesome beer. I'm still learning, but it just felt like the Rugged Trail had more carbonation that I expected and wanted from it. Judging by the color, I was hoping for a feel that would coat nicely and feel more full. The carbonation made the brew feel light to me, where I was expecting a very hearty and thick brew.

Drinkability: At 4.4%, this makes for a great session beer. An awesome mixture of earthy aromas and tastes, with a subtle hint of sweetness and nutty flavor. 3.75/5 (would have again)

Hop Back Amber Ale (the headliner for Tröegs):

Color: True to form, a very nice and rich amber color is shining through. It has a nice offwhite head (served at 1 thumb). I enjoyed this dandy in a pint glass.

Smell: Leaning in and taking a wiff, I knew I was in for a treat. Flowery hops and subtle caramel malts both sang in unison. From the smell I can gather there is a nice balance of the two for an amber ale.

Taste: Awesome balance, not unlike that of a tightrope walker. On the initial taste, the hops were clearly apparent, with a flowery and crisp and spicy taste. But, the hops quickly gave way to malts on the backend for a very smooth and fulfilling finish. There is also a noted caramel flaver coming through. As the beer began to warm ever so slightly, the balance of the hops and malts became much more apparent as the flavors of both were at their best.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation stings the mouth, much like many ales, but it certainly does not destroy the palatte. It's also not overly bubbly either, which I think allowed me to note the balance of the hops and malts.

Drinkability: After having this brew, I can definitely see why this is considered one of the better varieties of Troegs. It was amazingly balanced and really gave me everything I would expect from both the hops and malts in an amber ale. 6% ABV. A wonderful beer that I wouldn't mind to have 2-3 of in one sitting. 4.25/5 and I would DEFINITELY have again.

Dreamweaver Unfiltered Wheat:

Color: Foggy yellow-orange color, leaning more towards the yellow side.

Smell: Citrusy and tarty, with a spiciness in the aromas.

Taste: Very sharp/tart and citrusy taste with a spicy note on the backend. I'm also picking up a slight fruit flavor reminiscent of banana, but I can't exactly put my finger on it. A noticeable citrusy aftertaste lingers a bit too long for my taste.

Mouthfeel: Perfect for the wheat style. There's an acidic and refreshing tingling when I let it roam around. It coats and finishes pretty smoothly, but the tingling comes right back with the aftertaste.

Drinkability: This is a very nice and refreshing wheat beer. Although, I feel it falls into the fray of all the other wheats out there. Also, the acidity of the citrus limits one from having more than a couple. 3.5/5 Very good beer to try though.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

U.S. Open Sunday

Just wanted to share with you silly hopheads my lineup of brews Father's Day Sunday watching my boy Tiger Woods try and win the U.S. Open. Great round of golf and great brews. Here they are:
  1. Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager (2008) - Simply refreshing. Could definitely drink more than one, especially if outside at a picnic or BBQ
  2. Rogue Dry Hopped St. Rogue Red Ale - The dryness of the beer stood out. More sweetish malts than I expected, but overall was good.
  3. Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale - I bought this for the Preakness back in May so this can has traveled from a cooler to room temperature to back in a fridge. Caused it not to taste as great.
  4. Mad River Brewing Steelhead Double India Pale Ale - Time to kick it up a notch and hop into the after dinner brews (more than 6% abv) with this one
  5. Port Brewing Hop-15 Ale - Amazing. Definitely top 3 double IPAs that I have ever had. Highly recommend; I still remember the piney hops :)
  6. Dogfish Head Fort - I had to tackle this whole bottle by myself and it was painful. The 18% abv will creep on you with the snap of a finger so be careful
  7. Bell's Hopslam Ale - I passed out drinking this lovely ale watching game 5 of the Celtics/Lakers. I woke up at 3am, finished it up (about half left in snifter) and went on up to bed for work in a couple of hours. My mouth was so damn dry of hops the next morning!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bell's Two Hearted Ale

I popped my cherry with this brew a couple of months ago out of a mini keg can (kind of like the Heineken one). This one was from a 12 fl oz bottle however. Some stats I found out about my brew (taken from the website) are as follows:
  • Batch # 8330
  • Package 2/18/08
  • Original Gravity: 1.058
  • Alc. by Vol: 7.0%
Appearance: Golden honey with shimmers of red cavernous sparkles as the humidity forms on the outside. 2 fingers of head during pour that quickly evaporated to 1/4 finger (I served this one in a snifter).

Smell: Shockingly metallic with hints of mold. It doesn't smell like beer to me. A wild floral hop aroma from a scene in Harry Potter comes to my mind

Taste: The metallic smell resides in the taste. Sweet hops with a floral presence. Vague maltiness coming from the deep pines of Comstock, MI.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light thickness to it without too much carbonation. The longer you leave it in your mouth the more drastic the aftertaste is.

Overall: My comments above may seem mostly derogatory but there is something that makes me wanting more of this fine brew. That something is HOPS!!! Unique hoppiness for an IPA that is crisp and refreshing on this 80 degree day. 7.5/10 for me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Southern Tier: Un-Earthly

On a recent trip to the Crawford compound in Long Island, I came bearing gifts in the form of 22 oz. bombers. One of which was the Southern Tier: Un-Earthly. I had made a trip earlier in the week to The Foodery on 2nd & Poplar (which I will talk about on a later post for sure), and this beer came highly recommended by the guy that worked there. Unfortunately for me, this bomber was not opened on either of the two late nights on the island, including the night that "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" was danced to and the Maharaja was slain.

I was so curious and intrigued by the brew (because of the great recommendation, that I made a trip back to the Foodery to purchase myself a bomber of it:

Appearance: If it was a Crayola Crayon, it's name would be "Foggy Gold". It was a very nice gold, bordering (but not quite) on amber.

Smell: The hops filled my nostrils on first whiff. Although, it was not as strong as I would have anticipated. The hops smell was very sweet and flowery, very pleasant.

Taste: Much to say about the taste. Being an Imperial IPA, the hops were clearly apparent on the first taste. Contrary to the name, the hops were very earthly, tasting both sweet and flowery, just like the smell. There was a very sharp and refreshing taste at the start of the gulp, but on the finish, Un-Earthly was very smooth. As I continued tasting, there was a very subtle malt taste coming through, but I'm assuming that it is the result of getting used to the hops.

Mouthfeel: The carbonation tickles and tingles the mouth more than it kicks you in the face. It is carbonated perfectly to compliment the taste. Leaves a very slight bitter (although pleasant) aftertaste (very, very brief).

Drinkability: "Deceptive" was the one word that came to mind. On the surface it's both sweet-tasting and refreshing, but at 11% ABV, it has as much punch as Rocky Balboa. Seems like a perfect summer night-capper. Would definitely purchase again.

The Standard Tap (Philadelphia, PA–Northern Liberties)

On the corner of 2nd and Poplar, in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, is a watering hole that is everything a "corner bar" should be. I was introduced to this diamond in the rough two years ago, on a reconnaissance mission into Northern Liberties to meet my friend and colleague Jason K.

From beginning to end, the experience was awesome to say the least. Perhaps it was the fact that Jason's friend was the 'tender that night. Or maybe it was jukebox ripping off everything from The Kinks to The Smiths just loud enough that you had to use 3 foot voices. Or, it was the ten or twelve Pennsylvanian craft beers they had on tap for its patrons to enjoy. All I know, from that point on, it became the default pub for me to visit when in the neighborhood.

Above the bar are two chalkboards, side by side, revealing everything they have to offer. On one side the "Standard Taps" and on the other, the food.

The beer lineup at the Standard Tap is riddled with Pennsylvanian breweries, including the likes of Victory, Weyerbacher, Troegs, Yards, Stoudts, and the brand new Philadelphia Brewing Company (whose logo now appears on the Standard Tap's pint glasses). It should also be noted that their lineup has been different every single time I've gone (which includes two trips in 3 days).

The food at the Tap is astounding. The selection is very eclectic, ranging from burgers and roast beef sandwiches to liver mousse or pork cheeks.

A burger...a few beers, a few laughs...

It's a great place with good food, good drinks, and better people.

Monday, June 2, 2008

New Addition to Hopheads

Our newest member to the blog Ryan is coming straight from the streets of Philadelphia, PA. He will be representing the hopheads operations out there. The city is arguably one of the best in terms of beer in our country and he will represent it proud. Ryan had his first sip of beer at the age of 3 and is still cranking away. His enjoyment for beer goes hand in hand like peanut butter & jelly. He is normally the first one to start drinking at lunch and will be the last one standing to the wee hours of night. Welcome and make the beer gods proud. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale

Appearance: Copper hue, about a finger of head, maybe more. Served in a pint glass.

Smell: Pretty standard hoppiness, sweet, nothing really blows me away.

Taste: Similar to Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale. Light and hoppy with pine-y bitterness. Not real citrussy but there is a sweet aftertaste to go with the bitterness left on your tongue.

Mouthfeel: I bought some of these for memorial day festivities, and this is a leftover from the weekend. I bring this up because I seem to remember a little more carbonation in my earlier experiences with Mr. Dale. Who knows, but this particular beer's mouthfeel was a little flat. I think some more bubble action could have made this a little more lively of a beer.

Drinkability: By no means a bad can of beer, but for $18 for 12 I might be inclined to go with a Sierra Nevada 12-er instead. 6.5% ABV.