Monday, December 28, 2009

Avery duganA IPA

This was another beer from our most recent trip to Shangy's a little while ago. I'm a big fan of pretty much anything that comes from Avery, so when Jimmy suggested their latest imperial IPA release, I was on board immediately. I'm hoping not to be let down which has been the case with other imperial IPAs boasting high IBU counts (93 IBUs for duganA) but have lacked the hoppy punch you would expect.

Appearance: A nice clear amber color with a quickly fading finger of head, a constant trickle of carbonation floating to the top.

Smell: Hopgasm. A blast of pine hops with some background resiny hops, some citrus fruits are noticeable too.

Taste: Resiny hop flavors, HUGE bitterness, this nails the DIPA style. There are some nice bready malt flavors that hang onto your tongue to wash away the bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, low to medium carbonation, a little bit of an oily texture from the hop oils, some alcoholic tinges on the aftertaste, but overall a pleasant mouthfeel for hopheads.

Drinkability: I don't know if I would have more than one bomber bottle of this in a night because I would be on bitterness overload if I did. It's not as heavy in the alcohol department, clocking in at 8.5% abv, but it would still get you nice and toasty. *Cue Stephen A. Smith voice* HOWEVA, I would buy another bottle every time I see it in the liquor store. This is my new go-to DIPA and I look forward to enjoying the rest of my half case. I'm going to be bold and give it a 10/10.

Serving type: Bottle, 22 oz.
Glass type: DFH bullet glass

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head Life and Limb

Time to go from one extreme to the next: from the Sam Adams Holiday Porter that was pretty pedestrian but a solid brew, to a collaboration beer that definitely pushes the bounds of creativity. This is one of two brews recently made in collaboration by two of the premier craft breweries in the country, Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head. If you follow the beer buzz online, you'll notice that this beer is extremely polarizing, you either love it or hate it. I think this stems from the insane hype leading up to its release, it became nearly impossible to live up to the expectations of these two behemoths collaborating. Jimmy and I were on cloud nine when we asked if they had any cases of these at Shangy's and they came through for us by giving us a case from the back room. We knew that we were extremely fortunate to get our hands on it, especially once Jimmy heard reports of a 24 oz. bottle going for almost $40 (!!!!!) a pop. (Correct me if I'm wrong, Jimbo) We had also heard that this brew is meant to be aged for quite some time, on the order of years, but I just can't help myself from drinking one now and bringing you a review, if for nothing else, to give us a comparison for the aged ones down the road. Enough chit-chat, on to the beer!

Appearance: Dark, almost black, completely opaque, plenty of carbonation and head that has decent retention.

Smell: Wow, there is a lot here: roasted nuts, sweet maple syrup, pine/earth hops, chocolate chips, and a faint smell of some fruit, maybe a grape or raisin?

Taste: Very busy, pretty much all of the smell scents in taste form, lots of sweetness followed by a bitter bite at the end. As it warms up, the roasted nuts create a nice balance to the sweetness of the maple syrup.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, well carbonated, an interesting mouthfeel in that it seems like it's slightly watery, but then a thick syrup coating washes over the tongue and roof of the mouth, which balances the bitter dry finish.

Drinkability: It is a very good beer, but I don't think you wan't to drink more than one in a night for two reasons: 10.2% abv, and just the extreme flavor and mouthfeel makes you crave for some water. The first time I had this, I thought maybe it was a Belgian Dark Ale or Belgian Stout, but there was just too much sweetness for that to be true, as well as other characteristics like the roasted nuts and the absence of some citrus hop flavors. Like I said, it is a very good beer and I am glad to get my hands on it, but it could use some aging. Usually, you want to age a beer to reduce the bitterness from the hops, but I think the sweetness from the syrup needs time to settle down. I'm looking forward to revisiting this in the future, maybe I'll have one every Christmas time and compare it to the past. I still give it an 8.5/10, but I think with age it has some potential to rise up.

Serving type: Bottle, 24 oz.
Glass type: Duvel tulip

Note: As stated before, this seems to be a polarizing brew, so if you have had the pleasure of having it, we would love to hear your take on it in the comments section. I guess this goes without saying since we would love to hear your take on ANY beer we review, or even those we haven't reviewed yet.

Samuel Adams Holiday Porter

I've had this guy sitting in my fridge for way too long, but I didn't want to drink it without giving it a proper review. I don't know why, there really isn't anything special with it that I've heard, just that it was a solid brew from Sam Adams. I'll always hold Sam Adams near and dear to my heart because after years of downing piss water from the other major brewers, Boston Lager was the first beer I had that made me realize beer can have other tastes besides raccoon urine and bat feces. Granted, my palate has expanded greatly since then, but I always give kudos to the first macrobrewer to experiment with their beers.

Appearance: Pours with a dark brown color, you can barely make out the shadows on the other side of the glass when looking into the light, but for all intents and purposes, it's thick enough that you can't see through it. A ton of frothy light cream colored head that isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Smell: Chocolate and roasted nuts, with a little bit of sweet caramel, a very enjoyable scent to say the least.

Taste: Less chocolate, more roasted nuts and sweetness, none of which is too overpowering, and a little bit of resin hop flavors that also provide a bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, crisp, clean, a little dry on the aftertaste, well carbonated, no real heavy alcohol bite.

Drinkability: "This robust brew was the London porters' drink of choice after their long work days and it will keep you warm on any wintry day." The back label says it all, this is an easy drinking porter that will warm the soul on a cold winter day. There are some very good flavors here, and none that are too overpowering or strong that will make you avoid having another one. 5.8% abv also won't stop you from having a couple more, hell you could even use it as a winter session beer. The only thing that may be a negative is that each sip is the same as the previous one, which could bore some of you enthusiasts looking for something more from their beer. Overall, I do give it a solid 8/10, and will continue to look for this for the rest of the season.

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: Sam Adams glass

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ninety 9 Bottles

My past review was a beer store so heck! why not review another one. I am still enjoying and drinking craft brews in the background, but my life and work have taken up too much of my time recently (like Mikey). Instead of our friendly state PA, we are heading over to a town near my residence in CT, named Norwalk.

I found out about Ninety 9 Bottles through our friend/beer connoisseur Greg M. and Facebook in an attempt to find a better than average beer store in Fairfield County CT. I moved to the area a couple months back and have been sticking to BevMax and Stew Leonard's Wines to pick up quality craft brew. So it was a pleasant surprise to see a new "beer" store pop up in the vicinity (opened in November?), especially in Connecticut where craft beer distribution is very limited.

I came in with the attention of buying a case of Imperial Stout Trooper from New England Brewing (released around late December) but they sold out within 25 minutes! So I scratched that off my list, stuck to the same style and bought Brooklyn Black Ops ($25.99) and Lagunitas Imperial Stout ($5.99). Beer seemed a bit pricey, but I got to say that I am willing to pay a premium to get quality ales in this Stamford area that I live in. They had other offerings such as Lagunitas (Brown Suga', Hop Stoopid, etc.), Ballast Point, Harpoon Leviathan Series, Brooklyn, Stone, Sierra Nevada, Dogfish and some others outside of microwbrewery USA. All of the beer was tucked away in the back left corner of the store displayed on a counter with some nice shelf displays. Was a little bit disorganized in that corner, but will probably get better as they expand their selection down the road.

Other than that, the store has a fridge section of both macro and micro brews, wines and liquors. Small quaint atmosphere and building situated across the river east of SoNo. I chatted with the owner? Sure was his name? for a bit and they even received bottles of Life and Limb and a Utopia!!! but were sold out instantaneously. I am looking forward to seeing this botique beer/wine/liquor store grow in craft beer and beer distribution rights and will continue to support it so that it will become like my favorites of State Line Liquors - Elkton MD, Julio's Liquors - Westborough MA, Shangy's - Emmaus PA and many more that my brain can't think of at the moment. I give it a 6/10 for now but can see this growing like the stock market to a 9-10/ buy buy

Photo courtesy of Ninety9Bottle's Facebook profile

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bell's Two Hearted Ale

This is another beer from the Shangy's run. I think I've liked every single beer I have ever tried from Bell's, so I was happy to split a case of this with Jimmy without having one before.

Appearance: A light orange color, clear just like the Celebration Ale, and about a finger of head that sticks around for a little longer and with some lacing.

Smell: A nice strong citrus and fruit scent, and not much else.

Taste: The flavor is a lot more complex than the smell suggests, as there is a combination of orange citrus, pine, and resin hops that provide some bitterness. The finish is a nice sweet maltiness that really balances the fading bitter bite.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, oily from the resin hops, low carbonation, almost no alcohol aftertaste, very smooth.

Drinkability: I guess another definition of drinkability is that the more I drink it, the more I like it. Every time I've cracked one open, I'll find something I didn't notice before. After drinking the Celebration and Two Hearted back to back, it really shows you how even though they are both IPAs, they are completely different brews for different occassions. The Celebration is the winter warmer style while the Two Hearted is lighter, refreshing, and can be enjoyed pretty much any time. 7% abv but you would think it had less alcohol than the Celebration because of the finish and aftertaste. 9.5/10

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: DFH bullet glass

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (2009)

It has been a REALLY long time since my last review. I've been stockpiling a whole bunch of brews primed for reviewing, but life has gotten in the way. I'm hoping that with the end of the semester and a break from work for the holidays will help me catch up. I'll start with the brews Jimmy and I picked up from our Shangy's trip almost a month ago. The blessing in disguise from PA's case law is that I was able to drink a bunch of the beers while still having some left for reviews. Huzzah!

Appearance: A nice clean amber color, very clear as I can see the DFH logo on the other side of the glass. It pours with about a finger of head that fades pretty quickly.

Smell: Floral and pine hop aromas and a little sweetness from the malts, there are also hints of fruits but I'm rusty and can't pick out the exact scent, maybe some citrus/orange.

Taste: That's a nice malty flavor for a winter ale, definitely toasted malts with some pine and a little bit of spice on the finish. The combination gives you a warm "sit by the fire" winter feel.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, well carbonated, somewhat of a dry finish and a little alcohol bite to let you know it's not a softy.

Drinkability: This beer has been my go-to after work beer for the past month, which I think would qualify as the definition of drinkable. It's not overly complex, but you won't get bored with it, and at 6.8% abv, you'll feel nice and toasty after a couple. This is a great winter IPA, 'nuff said. 9/10

Serving type: Bottle
Glass type: DFH bullet glass