Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sierra Nevada - Best of Beer Camp #29 - DIPA

Sierra Nevada – Beer Camp #29 – Double IPA

Sierra Nevada’s Best of Beer Camp #29 is a Double IPA (8.5% ABV).  Double IPAs (India Pale Ales) are typically “bigger” than an IPA and usually have a slightly higher ABV, and a higher IBU.  Beer Advocate describes a Double IPA as, “Take an India Pale Ale and feed it steroids, ergo the term Double IPA. Although open to the same interpretation as its sister styles, you should expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out. The Imperial usage comes from Russian Imperial stout, a style of strong stout originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court of the late 1700s; though Double IPA is often the preferred name.  You can thank west coast American brewers for this somewhat reactionary style. "Thanks!"  #29 pours orangey gold with a large lacey head and has very good carbonation.  Aroma is citrus with floral notes and the prominent hop flavors I noticed were grassy and piney.  This is a hop forward beer and it could use a little more malt sweetness or a little less hop bitterness to strike a better balance.  This is not a bad beer, but I would select Hoptimum or Torpedo from Sierra Nevada over this one.  Hoptimum is actually an Imperial IPA and it is one of the best I have had this year.  Torpedo is an IPA. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sierra Nevada – Beer Camp # 37 – Weizenbock

Sierra Nevada hosts an annual competition called beer camp that started in 2008.  If you want to attend you actually have until July 7 to submit an entry.  In a nutshell, if you are chosen, you have the opportunity to go to Sierra Nevada and brew a beer with the brewers at beer camp.  Their have been a number of beers created at beer camp and this year, Sierra Nevada released a Best of Beer Camp 12-pack that contains 4 different styles - #8 California Common (6.5% ABV), #16 Juniper Black Ale (8.0% ABV), #29 Double IPA (8.5% ABV), and #37 Weizenbock (6.8% ABV).  Last evening, I decided to sample Weizenbock that poured a cloudy tan with a large head.  Beer Advocate describes Wiezenbocks as, “A more powerful Dunkel Weizen (of "bock strength"), with a pronounced estery alcohol character, perhaps some spiciness from this, and bolder and more complex malt characters of dark fruits.”  #37 has a nice spicy aroma and I could pick up notes from the Kellerweiss yeast Sierra Nevada used for this Weizenbock.  This is a very tasty beer with hints of banana, bubblegum and spice, with a nice finish.  I paired this with grilled tuna, whole-wheat pasta tossed in red pepper flakes, garlic, and EVOO, and a salad.  I also enjoyed a glass after dinner.  I look forward to sampling the other styles from Beer Camp.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Boulder - Flashback - India Brown Ale

Boulder Brewing Co.’s Flashback (6.88% ABV) is described as an India Brown Ale.  Flashback pours brown with a nice head – be careful pouring.  There is a prominent hop aroma and this beer is hoppy.  Boulder describes Flashback as,” Citrusy with a prominent hop aroma, finishes clean, crisp and dry with dark roasted flavors from the biscuit and chocolate malts perfectly completing the bountiful cascades.”  There are five different hop additions using only Cascade hops.  This is an interesting beer and at first I did not like it very well until I paired it with some goat cheese with chilis and it worked well with the beer.  I would like to try Flashback with some spicy food and I think it would be a good pairing. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Anchor Steam, Spaten Dunkel and Upslope Brown Ale

I had a steak last night and wanted to pair Anchor Steam (4.88%ABV and ?? IBU) with it.  Anchor Steam is considered the oldest craft brewer in American and I am glad Fritz Maytag purchased the brewery in 1965 to keep brewing the beer he enjoyed.  Anchor Steam pours gold / amber / orange with a nice frothy head.  Take your time pouring it.  It is called steam beer because of a nickname for the beer and some say it is attributed to the old days with steam rose from the beer during cooling using cool ships.  Steam is a trademarked by Anchor and it is a tasty beer that went very well with my steak dinner.

After dinner I decided to taste a Spaten Dunkel from the Fatherland.  Spaten Dunkel is Munich Dunkel Lager (5.5% ABV) and pours tan / brown with a nice two-finger head.  Very nice taste that reminds me of pilsener – biscuity / bready malt, nice sweetness, just enough hops to balance it out, and a crisp finish.  I have had a few from Spaten and Dunkel is not bad at all.  One complaint – use amber bottles, not green.  The use of any other container other than amber bottles or cans just baffles me. 

On Sunday, time for a Colorado brewer.  Upslope is a new brewer based in Boulder and they currently offer three styles that I am aware of – Pale Ale, IPA and Brown Ale.  The Brown Ale (6.7% ABV and ?? IBU) pours brown with hints of amber and has a two-finger head that quickly recedes.  Upslope has “tweaked” the recipe a few times on this and added more specialty malts and American hops.  It is a Brown Ale, but it is probably outside of the style guidelines (not sure, but I am guessing).  This is tasty beverage and I will have it again.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Boulevard Amber Ale

Boulevard is based in Kansas City and we have a good selection of their offerings here in Denver.  Boulevard’s Amber Ale (5.1% ABV and 24 IBU) pours cloudy amber with a nice head.  Boulevard describes their Amber Ale as, “ an exceptionally well-balanced beer, complex yet thirst-quenching. American pale malt provides a firm foundation. English specialty malts impart a nutty sweetness, perfectly complemented by noble German hops. The deep coppery color holds the light, reflecting a ruddy glow, and the finish is clean, round, and delicious.”  This is very tasty Amber Ale and I really enjoyed it.  It has low bitterness to emphasize the malt sweetness and this Amber ale would go with a wide variety of food.  I think it would go great with a burger or pizza, and it would be very good at an outdoor BBQ with friends and family.  I will need to stop by the brewery the next time I go through Kansas City. 

Pale Ales – Full Sail and Flying Dog

Full Sail Pale Ale (5.4% ABV and 37 IBU) has won a few awards over the years pours clear golden amber with a lacy head.  Full Sail describes Pale Ale as, “a fresh hoppy aroma that comes from two (top secret) Northwest hop varieties, while two-row Pale and Crystal malt give it a mild sweetness that finishes clean and crisp.”  Full Sail’s Pale Ale has a nice balance between sweetness and bitterness and this is another nice offering from Full Sail.

Going across country to the East Coast, I tried Flying Dog’s Doggie Style (5.5% ABV and 35 IBU) is a Pale Ale.  The numbers are very close to Full Sail’s offering and the beer pours a similar color to Full Sail, with a larger head.  The taste is different and I am thinking it is probably from the hops and different malt profile.  The hops are Northern Brewer (probably for bittering) and Cascade (probably for aroma). Flying Dog describes Doggie Style as, “the Alpha of the pack.  Doggie Style compliments a wide range of foods.  Flavor notes: Grassy, citrus, and slight perfume aromas with subtlety sweet malt body.”  The flavor notes are spot on and I did enjoy Doggie Style more than Full Sail’s Pale Ale.  Both pale ales are good; I just liked Flying Dog better. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Two very tasty Amber Ales

Full Sail’s Amber Ale (5.5% ABV and 31IBU) has been around since 1989, and it is the flagship beer for Full Sail and has won 14 medals over the years.  Amber pours amber with a two-finger head.  Full Sail describes Amber as, “a sweet, malty, medium-bodied ale with a spicy, floral hop finish.  It’s brewed with 2-row Pale, Crystal and Chocolate malts.  And we hop it with Mt. Hoods and Cascades.  Full Sail’s Amber is very tasty and this is a well-balanced ale with just the right amounts of sweet malt and spicy, floral Northwest hops. 

Next up was Twisted Pine’s American Amber Ale (5.5% ABV and 55 IBU) is a little more bitter than Full Sail’s Amber.  This is another good beer and it pours amber with a frothy head – I had to let is settle a bit before I could empty the bottle.  Twisted Pine describes Ambers as, “medium bodied beer with good hop character.  The aroma is slightly hoppy, malty, and lightly yeasty.  The beer’s texture starts off crisp and effervescent, and becomes a little thicker toward the finish.”  This is another very good Amber Ale and Cascade hops are used along with Northern Brewer.  You cannot go wrong with either of these selections.  I paired these with a dinner of roasted chicken, rice, sauteed Vidalia onions and mushrooms (with some Amber Ale) and sauteed garlic green beans.  Very tasty pairing too.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Franziskaner - Hefe-weissbier

Franziskaner – Hefe-weissbier (5.0% ABV) is a German hefeweizen or wheat beer made in Munchen, Germany.  Hefe means the yeast is still in the bottle and this unfiltered beer pours cloudy tan with a very large head – be careful pouring, and do not pour out the entire bottle.  Make sure and save about 1/3 to 1/4 of the beer to swirl the yeast to pour with the remaining beer.  Franziskaner has a wonderful aroma with a wonderful taste of spice, bready malt, and banana.  I paired this with a fresh salad and French onion soup and the pairing was very good.  The beer and the soup emphasized the French bread, the sweetness of the onion (and the Vidalia onion salad dressing), and the earthiness from the cave-aged Gruyere atop the soup.  I was not sure how well this beer would pair with the meal, but it was very good.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Good JuJu and Kinda Blue

Good JuJu (4.5% ABV and 20 IBU) is a Herb / Spice Ale because it is spiced with ginger and it is a seasonal offering from Left Hand.  This is a session beer because of the low ABV.  Good JuJu pours golden amber with a nice two-finger head.  Left Hand describes Good JuJu as “Fresh ginger kisses the lithe malty body, copulating with the hop in this pale ale ancestor.”  This one did not match my taste and I am not a fan of this one.  I could not taste the ginger in it and I was thinking it would be sweeter than it was.  It might be a good pairing with food that has ginger as an ingredient and it may be good to cook with. 

Boulder Beer’s Kinda Blue (5.2% ABV and 15 IBU) is a Fruit Beer that is an ale infused with blueberries.  Kinda Blue pours an orange tan with a small head and the bottle states that Kinda Blue is a “blueberry wheat beer” that is a summer seasonal release.  I could not discern the blueberries in this beer, but the overall taste is very good.  Boulder describes Kinda Blue as “a filtered American Wheat, placed in perfect measure with muted tones of blueberry.  Kinda Blue, a tasty and tasteful summer brew that you can’t turn your back on.  It’s as cool as the day is long.”  Kinda Blue is very tasty and I would try this again.  I am not a big fan a fruit beers, but Kinda Blue is an exception for me - Boulder Beer did a good job with this one.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cafe Negro and Bitch Creek

Bridgeport’s Café Negro (5.5% ABV and 30 IBU) is a coffee-infused porter.  Café Negro pours ink black with a lacey, two-finger head.  Bridgeport describes Café Negro as, “BridgePort worked with a number of Portland area coffee roasters to formulate its own blend specific to CAFÉ NEGRO that was then infused with the base beer during cold conditioning. The cold conditioning process helps retain subtle coffee aromas otherwise lost during boil and fermentation. CAFÉ NEGRO is brewed with the strong dark flavors of roasted barley and chocolate malt.”  I like porters and I like coffee and I wanted to try Café Negro after I had read about in a magazine article.  It is very good and has a really good coffee flavor.  Porter seems like a very good style for adding coffee and Bridgeport does a great job with Café Negro.  This would be great with chocolates and fruit deserts.  Anything that coffee goes well with, Café Negro would probably be a great match.

Grand Teton’s Bitch Creek (6.0% ABV and 54 IBU) is described as an extra special brown ale.  I am thinking this combines / gives tribute to the two styles that influence this beer – Brown Ale and Extra Special Bitter.  Bitch Creek pours dark tan with some amber undertones and has a two-finger head.  Grand Teton describes Bitch Creek as, “perfectly balances big malt sweetness and robust hop flavor for a full bodied, satisfying mahogany ale. Like the stream for which it is named, our Bitch Creek ESB is full of character... not for the timid.   This beer has won numerous awards over the years and it is focused on bitterness – I thought a little too much so.  I like American Brown Ales and I use Avery’s Ellie’s Brown Ale as my standard. Bitch Creek is not a bad beer at all, but it does not have the balance that I was looking for in an American Brown Ale.  It makes more sense to me when I think of Bitch Creek as a hybrid between Brown Ale and ESB.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Odell's Double Pilsner and St. Lupulin are excellent

Odell classifies Double Pilsner (8.1% ABV) as an Imperial Pilsner.  When the term “Imperial” is used with a style it typically means a bigger beer, higher ABV, higher malt, higher hops, depending on what the brewer wants to achieve with the given Imperial they are brewing.  Pouring Double Pilsner is an experience because it is one of the most carbonated beers I have ever poured.  The bubbles never stopped – just take close look at the photo.  Double Pilsner pours gold with a two-finger head and has a good malt aroma.  The taste of this Pilsner is incredible and I would say it is my favorite Pilsner.  Odell describes Double Pilsner as “We feel the eyes of tradition upon us whenever we brew our Double Pilsner. But this beer is not just our tribute to the classic Bohemian pilsner – it’s our own craft interpretation of it. Refreshing and delicate yet bold and assertive, its clear golden color leaves nowhere for imperfections to hide but plenty of room for mystery”.  Double Pilsner is one of the 4-pack series.  I tried Myrcenary (Double IPA) and enjoyed it very mush too.  I will purchase the other offerings from Odell in their 4-pack series.  There are no imperfections with this beer and Odell hits a home run with this one.  It was a great pairing with Chicken, Jambalaya rice, and mixed sautéed vegetables.

After sampling Double Pilsner, I sampled a St. Lupulin (6.5% ABV and 46 IBU) that Odell classifies as an Extra Pale Ale.  St. Lupulin pours golden / straw – a bit darker than Double Pilsner – with a small lacey head.  St. Lupulin strikes a great balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness.  I do not find this beer overly hoppy and I think it is a great summer ale.  Odell describes St. Lupulin as “A mystical legend echoes in our brewhouse – that of St. Lupulin (loop-you-lin) the archetypal hophead. He devoted endless summers to endless rows of hops, tending to the flowers and the beloved resin within – lupulin. Extraordinary oils in this yellow resin provide this dry-hopped extra pale ale with an undeniably pleasing floral aroma and clean, crisp finish. One sip of this seasonal summer ale and you too, will believe.”  St. Lupulin is a seasonal summer ale that is available between May through September and I will be purchasing more.  Besides Colorado, Odell distributes in Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico and Arizona.  If you have the opportunity to sample St. Lupulin, Double Pilsner, Myrcenary, or other offerings from Odell I highly recommend them.