Sunday, July 18, 2010

Santa Rosa - Not the NM one...

I was at the Active 20-30 International Convention in Santa Rosa, CA last week. Northern California is a lot of fun - lots of breweries and wineries, plus I've got a bunch of family and friends out there. I had heard about Russian River Brewing, and was glad to actually get a chance to visit it. I got to go there twice, so instead of a buttload of posts, we'll just consolidate into one fat post.

The brewery itself is a chill place - could tell that there were some definite regulars who frequent there. The first night we swung in, I got a pint of their Consecration - a 10% ABV American Wild Ale (i.e. sour style). Thursday, we came for my buddy's birthday and had some tasty beer bites as appetizers and started off with a pitcher of the Little White Lie, their Belgian White Ale. Followed that up with a pint of Pliny the Elder, then got a mega-sampler of beers that we ended up sharing with the table.

Pliny the Elder was probably one of the best beers I've ever had. I had heard a lot about both this one and Pliny the Younger, so definitely had to try it.
Appearance - A creamy head with medium carbonation and a golden amber color. Pretty standard looking for the IPA style. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Lots of piney hops - definitely the most definite feature of the aroma. 4.5/5.0

Taste - Hoppy, but not bitter. Some citrus and a lightly bitter aftertaste. The mix of the malt and hops are perfect. As mentioned in previous Imperial IPA posts, I get the impression that Imperial IPAs are either over the top or delightfully subdued. This fits into the latter. The hops are flavorful and the bitterness is perfect - 5.0/5.0

Feel - Extremely smooth, not as bitter as I would expect. Aftertaste is refreshing and has a good amount of flavor. 5.0/5.0

Drinkability - I think I would have this thing on tap at my house at all times. 5.0/5.0

My notes for the other two beers aren't terribly complete - talking with friends and family precluded good note taking! But here's the brief on them:

Little White Ale - a Belgian style White Ale. Refreshing with a nice kick of spice that you would expect in any Belgian style beer. I would say that the amount of spice and coriander in this beer is more than most other Belgian beers I've had. Definitely drinkable - if you like a lighter beer, try this one.

Consecration - an American Wild ale. If you are wanting to try something...unique, I would suggest grabbing a pint of this one. Sour...but not so bad as the Lips of Faith that I had from New Belgium. I think one pint was enough of this, but was worth a try for sure. At 10% ABV, will definitely kick you in the butt. The local guy who suggested this called it their "weird beer" - can definitely see why.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

ya sure ya betcha

The first brewery I ever visited was the Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, Washington. I had a blast there and just missed the brewery tour, but got some delicious bratwurst instead. Now, I know they've been bought out by some craft beer group, but I still have fond memories of this place. This beer, the Big Ballard Imperial IPA, is a tribute to one of the first beers they brewed, the Ballard Bitter IPA.

Appearance - Light auburn color, nice frothy head (about a finger's width). I enjoyed the head retention, especially in IPAs. Looked slightly bubbly. 4.0/5.0

Smell - Piney, floral hops. Distinctive scent, but not overwhelming. I prefer my Imperial IPAs to have a potent aroma, which this was lacking. 2.5/5.0

Taste - There are five hops used this in beer (Alchemy, Williamette, Sterling, Northern Brewer and Cascade) and they are expertly blended well together. Imperial IPAs seem to go either over-the-top strong or extraordinarily smooth - this beer is the latter. There are lots of IBUs (73), but I didn't think it was really that bitter. Grapefruit, pine, hint of sweetness from the malt. 4.5/5.0

Feel - Unerrily smooth, the head tasted thick. Minimal aftertaste, the flavor hits you strong then dissipates. 4.5/5.0

Drinkability - This beer falls into the category of Imperial IPAs that will kick you in the butt without you knowing it. I would pick up again, if anything, for the nostaglia of it coming from the first brewery I visited. - 4.0/5.0