Friday, July 31, 2009

Marble Double IPA - A Hoppy Punch in the Face

I really enjoy Marble Brewery - they have one of my favorite IPAs, though I have yet to try this year's NM IPA Challenge winner the Ilvico IPL. So, obviously, if I like the regular IPA, the DOUBLE IPA must be twice as good, right? I'm an accountant...the math works out. Word to the wise - Marble doesn't sell bombers of this bad boy...just FYI. The 8.7% ABV speaks for itself.

Whatever the unknown hop complex Marble used, it's potent. I kinda think of the Punchy from the Hawaiian Punch commercials when I think of my first sip of the Double IPA - a real punch of hops....right in the kisser. It made for a really strong taste (not a bad thing), which was very distinctive from the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, which I think was a much smoother blend of the hops (and far more dangerous). The bitter taste was characteristic, but there was sour aftertaste that stood apart from the regular IPA aftertaste.

Good beer - I think I'll stick with the standard IPA, though. The Double IPA, while good, doesn't have that same delicious blend that the regular IPA has.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Freakin' American Airlines

I love to travel - but I'm very particular with who I fly with. Southwest Airlines is reliable and I know what I'm getting. Anything else (especially Delta...ahhh I hate DELTA!) is a crapshoot at best. There is no telling when some random-ass technical issue/luggage delay/etc.. is going to get your butt stuck in Dallas overnight after traveling for 12 hours already.

Which is what happened to me a bit ago - coming back from the 20/30 National Convention, my plane got delayed in Cabo, then got into Dallas and through customs with 5 minutes to get through security AGAIN and run to the plane. Thanks to American Airlines employees, who said "I don't think you have a chance to get there, so here's your voucher" - I ended up staying at the Westin somewhere near the airport. Getting to the hotel, I wanted nothing more than to eat and have a good cold beer.

Fortunately for me, the bar/restaurant in the hotel was open and did have more than just Coors or Bud. I ended up with the Fireman's #4 Blonde. It had a really nice crisp flavor, with a little hint of honey or some sweetness that blends into a sharp malty taste at the end. Boy, did this go down smooth after an awful day of travel. With a low bitterness (thanks to 21 IBUs) and decent alcohol content (5.1%), I was ready to hit the sack and get up at the buttcrack of dawn to catch my flight. I think the beer was the only thing that saved me from having a whole bunch of pent-up anger for the flight. Had that happened, I probably would have ended up like Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mixed Beer Bag

I've been neglect on a few reviews that have been sitting on my Blackberry, but never seemed to get written. Bad beer blogger! BAD!!! So, in an effort to get the community educated on a few more beers, it's time to chug some beer - here we go...

New Belgium Mighty Arrow Pale Ale - the first time I had this one, the glass and beer was so cold that a thin layer of ice formed on top of the beer. Now, I like my beer cold, but I think this was pushing it. The beer definitely has a hop taste, but not the same that I'm used to with a pale ale. There's a little honey malt base to the brew and a sour aftertaste. The initial taste you get is really sharp, but quickly fades away. Not a bad offering from New Belgium.

I enjoy Blue Moon as sort of the "microbrewed, but not really beer". If you're in a restaurant and you've got a choice between Blue Moon and say...Bud Ice, I'll take the Blue Moon. The seasonal beers that they offer are equally reliable (with some better than others), especially the Full Moon winter seasonal and the Rising Moon (beware the Harvest Moon, while tasty...there are some after-effects and we'll leave it at that). I finally tried the Honey Moon summer seasonal and kinda got what I expected. This one has a nice light golden color, with a sweet honey taste. Not a sweetesy honey, just enough to get the flavor into the beer. The beer ends up with a very similar taste to a white ale, but sweeter and less "spicy". I would probably not buy this one again for myself...maybe for those who want a "beer", but don't want a beer.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sactown Brews

Got the pleasure to visit some friends in lovely Sacramento, California recently and I drafted my buddy Kevin into the beer tasting service. So, we ended up getting a number of them in, but here are the high (and low) lights...

First off was this delicious IPA - the Green Flash Brewing Imperial IPA. We were checking out the variety of bombers at the Nugget and was looking for the most IBUs we could. The Imperial IPA came in at 101 IBUs (yikes!) and a sturdy 9% ABV. You really got that delicious hop bitterness in the beer. If you were doing a blind taste test, you could just smell this sucker and know it was an IPA. Suprisingly enough, it's a smoother beer - you just have a really strong bitter taste with it.

On the other end of the spectrum, we had the Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA. Ah...yea...not so good. It looked, smelled and tasted like an IPA...just not a very good one. While a number of IPAs I've tried have a decreasing bitter taste (so, starts strong, then phased down), this did the opposite and I didn't care for it.

The Black Boss Porter was a good way to end this, as it was a really delicious porter. This thing was pitch black - it was almost like trying to look into a black hole. No light was escaping the gravity of this beer. It's a Polish beer - Hey, what is long and hard that the the Polish bride got on her wedding night? Her new last name.
Anyway, lots of malt and coffee aroma and taste to this porter. You can even get a hint of chocolate if you look for it. It went down really smooth and quickly...heh heh. At 9.4% ABV, you can really taste the alcohol on this one, but fortunately the malt doesn't make it overwhelming. Definitely go pick this one, even if just for an one-time taste.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bring Down the Hammer, baby

I'm trying all sorts of IPAs lately, and I had never tried the Redhook Long Hammer IPA. I tend to enjoy the Redhook beers - I had actually been to the brewery in Woodinvale, WA. A side note, the food there is really good and the brewery tour is free.

The Long Hammer IPA seems like IPA 101. The brew has the hop flavor to it, but it's way less intense that one would expect. You still get the bitter taste, with a brief aftertaste that lingers. The 6.5% ABV is on the higher end of the Redhook varieties. I would say that the Long Hammer IPA is a good IPA for those who want to ease into trying IPAs, not someone who really appreciates them.

Happy 250th Birthday Guinness!

I'm not all of that much of a Guinness fan really. Someone recently travelled to Scotland and Ireland and the message from there is that "Guinness doesn't travel well." I can usually have one, maybe two, Guinnesses (Guinnessi?) before I'm ready to move on.

Imagine my surprise when I get home from a conference to find this little gem in the Beer Fridge. Tina had seen it at Smith's and thought it looked interesting (ah, I'm rubbing off on her...) The Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout was excellent - a really smooth, rich coffee/chocolate taste with that roasted malt flavor in there too. You don't get that same aftertaste that I tend to have at the end of a Guinness Draught, but maybe that's because the 250 doesn't utilize nitrous.

Anyway, grab one of these six packs and celebrate a birthday!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Alaskan Brewing Co

You can't go to Alaska and not have some Alaskan Brewing Co. I think it's actually state law, but you'd need to check that with Sarah Palin - she'd know.

Alaskan Amber was definitely my favorite of the bunch. It had a smooth malt taste with a really nice copper color and light body. Didn't have much of an aftertaste. Weighing in at 5.2% ABV, it's pretty standard for a good beer. Don't expect any bitterness with the Alaskan Amber though, as it only has 18 IBUs. The true first time I had this one was at a lodge where my wife and I went to a crab fest. Basically, all you can eat crab (I had about 3+ of those deals on the plate) and all you can drink Alaskan Amber. Here's my lovely wife posing with the delicious beer and crab.

Also had the pleasure of trying a number of other Alaskan Brewing's offerings.
The Alaskan Brewing White was a pretty refreshing white ale - same light citrus taste as you would expect with a white ale. It's definitely sweeter than other white ales, but it didn't get to the point of "sweetesy". A very tasty brew, especially if you happen to running around Ketichan and it's 82 degrees (never expected to get a tan in Alaska...)
The Alaskan Brewing Summerale is a new "regular" beer for Alaskan Brewing from what the bartenders were telling me. Got to try it at the Red Dog about a dive. Sawdust was all that covered the dirt floors. Plus, there was this old guy on the piano in there who called you a cheap bastard if you didn't tip him. We had just got back from salmon fishing...with no beer and the Summerale hit the spot. Just a little spice in it, but overall light and thirstquenching. Similar ABV and IBU profile as the Amber - 5.3% abv and 18 IBUs.

The Alaskan Pale Ale was ok - it had a nice crisp taste, but lacked much bitterness or hoppy-ness. Oddly, there was a sweet taste at the end, which surprised me. Only 24 IBUs in this guy...apparently in Alaska, only IPAs are allowed over 25 IBUs. Must be state law...

Lastly, the Alaskan Brewing IPA (which did have over 25 IBUs in compliance with Alaska State Brewing Code 25.123(b)) was pretty good. It had the characteristic sour & bitter flavor you would expect in an IPA. Like the Pale Ale, it had a light sweet taste at the end.