There must have been an issue with the hop harvests last year, at least in the midwest. Nearly all of the fresh-hop beers that I saw reviews of last year seemed a little lackluster and bland. While I ended up giving the 2010 Founders Harvest Ale a B+ overall, I definitely didn’t think it was all it could be.
I don’t want to bother shooting another review for this one, but I wanted to give the 2011 a shake.
Even just starting the pour I can smell the nice fresh resiny hops. Beautiful floral notes, some nice pine background. Almost like a Christmas tree. I’m more attuned to hops than I was last year, but I suspect it’s definitely a more pungent hop aroma.
Ditto for the flavor. A bit more earthy, but with those definite pine and floral resins. Slight golden malt backbone provides just a tiny bit of sweetness, but this beer is definitely a showcase for hops. At 6.5% it’s not quite as big as a traditional IPA, nor is it quite as heavily bittered, but drinking this beer less than two weeks after bottling (bottling date: 09/22/2011) definitely fulfills my hop quota.
If the 2010 bottling was a B+, this is an A-, maybe even an A. Ridiculously drinkable as well. Drink it fresh or don’t drink it at all.
Beyond the Pour grade: A-
How grapefruity can an IPA get?
Okay, so BeerAdvocate calls this an American Strong Ale instead of an Imperial IPA, but that’s just pedantic at this point. I’d believe that the slightly darker “regular” Lucky 13 is an American Strong Ale, as it’s just a big hoppy imperial amber, one of a whole slew of big hoppy ambers made by Lagunitas. This one, lighter in color to the point of being bright orange, is clearly “just” an Imperial IPA.
So whatever. Let’s review it as such.
Pours very transparent, light orange, with a steady stream of carbonation from the bottom of the glass. Thick billowy white head. Smells very strongly of grapefruit. Lots of malt sweetness and a bit of alcohol on top of that.
Flavor is more alcoholic than expected, with a significant “burn” on the way down. Nice grapefruity hops give sweetness and a nice abrasive bitter “bite” on the tip of the tongue.
Here’s my thing with Lagunitas — their beers almost always taste really good, but they’re very samey and one note. Which was always my issue with the nineties alternapop band Offspring — once you’ve heard “Self Esteem” you’ve basically heard everything through “Pretty Fly For a White Guy” and beyond. (Which, yeah, shows how old and out of touch I am when I’m making Offspring references when reviewing beer.) Lagunitas’s beers are good, but ultimately I just can’t work myself up to any real passion for them. The price is right, though — this bomber cost me less than five bucks.
The alcohol is a bit overwhelming on this one, which knocks it down half a letter grade or so.
Beyond the Pour grade: B
The second beer from Alabama I picked up at Liquor Express in Huntsville. This is also from Good People, whose DIPA I reviewed previously. This one is more sessionable at 6%. It’s not a world-class IPA but it’s solid and serviceable and my rating is perhaps a tad low.
Plus, check out that can! It just screams “Alabama IPA” to me. If Wal-Mart had a house brand IPA, that’s the kind of can they’d use.
Beyond the Pour grade: B-
The first beer sent to me in trade with Tommy. The rest will be coming shortly.
This video is a bit longer than usual because I’ve had and reviewed several Black IPAs in the last couple of weeks, and I spend some time musing about the style. Is it really all that new? Will it stick around, or is it just a fad? I’d be interested in getting comments on those kinds of issues, and may make a more involved video on the topic down the road.
Beyond the Pour grade: B+
I took a few days off from uploading, just to give myself a breather from the shooting and editing.
I guess I’m the spoiler of the bunch. I “only” gave it an A.
I actually shot this on August 14, the day I got back from vacation, which explains why I’m a bit rusty in the video.
This is a new brewery in Birmingham, AL, that doesn’t bottle at all yet. I’ve had this beer a couple of times when I was down south, but haven’t bothered to review it until now. A shop called Liquor Express in Huntsville, AL, has draft beer to-go sold in plastic milk jugs, which is the format for this review.
Is it a bit hyperbolic to call this beer better than Hopslam? Probably, but it’s still a pretty impressive beer. (Keep in mind I’m not really a huge fan of Hopslam.)
Beyond the Pour grade: A-
Check out Liquor Express in Huntsville here:
1802 University Drive
Huntsville, AL 35811
This whole Black IPA style hasn’t quite been for me. The first one I had was Stone’s Sublimely Self Righteous Ale, which I found kinda “meh.” Since then, I’ve had maybe a dozen, some good, some not, but none has quite been out of this world. Is this a style that’ll stick around, or is it just a flash in the pan?
Anyway, today I’m talking about Short’s Bludgeon Yer Eye IPA. It’s another one of their limited-release bottlings, and it’ll be out of stock in the area within the next day or so. I’ve always said this is a weird business model for Short’s, but they seem to be making plenty of money so who am I to question them?
Pours jet black with a thick yellow-white head. Tons of lacing on the sides of the glass. Smells strongly of citrus with a bit of spicy hop, with lots of licorice and black patent malt underneath. Roasty, dry, caramel qualities rise to the surface.
Flavor is very well-balanced between the roasty characteristics and the citrusy hops. There’s just enough of a spice quality to keep the beer interesting, and balance out what might have been overwhelming sweetness from the citrus. I wouldn’t want more than one or two of this, but as an occasional treat it’s pretty nice.
Beyond the Pour grade: B
I’m in the midst of a bunch of review projects and besides that I’ve already done a video review of Bell’s Oracle (an aged and a fresh bottle vertical, no less!) but when the newest batch came out I figured it was worth doing a quick text review.
Pours dark orange, very transparent, with a fair amount of carbonation coming from the bottom of the glass and a thick white head. Head dissipates fairly quickly, but leaves significant lacing. Aroma is mostly pine, very verdant almost like a Christmas tree (which gives me a homebrew idea: a big piney black IPA with Christmas spices marketed as a winter warmer). Some hints of grapefruit and pineapple but buried deep. Hints of sweet malt.
Taste is much more heavy on the grapefruit, with a nice bitter abrasive finish and a very dry aftertaste. Tons of bittering hops in this one, but with a nice flavor addition towards the end. The alcohol is ridiculously well hidden. As the beer warms the grapefruit sweetness becomes more prominent, almost sticky.
I’ve long been of the opinion that this is better than Hopslam, and getting a super-fresh bottle just makes me more certain of it. I’m absolutely looking forward to drinking the other five bottles very soon.
I actually shot this review more than a month ago, but it’s been sitting on the hard drive waiting for this chance at upload.
I’ll be doing the rest of the beers from Chad’s beer mail this week.
This one almost made it in as part of Viewer Request Month. Fellow BGNer Peter long ago requested that I do more Danish craft beers, but we don’t get any in my area. When I took a trip up to Grand Rapids, I picked up this Imperial IPA.
Anyway, it’s called an Imperial IPA on the label. But based on how long it had been sitting on the shelf, I was guessing it was more of a strong barleywine by now. Tasting the beer, it turns out I was right. Which made for an interesting (if a bit long) review, as I’m trying to process it both as an “aged DIPA” and as a new barleywine.
Either way, I gave it a rating. It’s a pretty solid beer, so long as you don’t consider the Imperial IPA label.
Beyond the Pour grade: B