Sunday, January 22, 2012

Breckenridge Lucky U IPA

 In the sea of overrated, over-hyped, bitter-based, unsessionable India Pale Ales, it's a pleasure to find one which has a great balance of malt and hop. Breckenridge Brewery's "Lucky U IPA" is a true-to-style American IPA which has steered away from the distinction of being either East Coast or West Coast. Lucky U IPA pours a vibrant, light amber color with a thin white head. Carbonation is moderate. The aroma is mildly bitter and musty with just a hint of grapefruit. Its flavor is a wonderful balance of hop on the front and malt towards the finish. Lucky U boast an interesting line up of hop characters featuring: Amarillo, Magnum, Perle, Cascade, Apollo, Fuggle, Goldings. Not to be outdone, it's malt is comprised of:  Two Row Pale, Munich, Carmel, Torrified Wheat, Carapils. At 6.2% ABV and 68 IBU's Lucky U is a very sessionable IPA. So if you are looking for solid "grab'n go" IPA which you can drink without reservation, I say Lucky U for picking this one. Cheers!

For more information visit Breckenridge Brewery

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Great Divide Hibernation Ale

 Whether it's a trend or coincidence, once again I am tasting a malty brown/amber ale. This time it is Great Divide's "Hibernation Ale".  As part of their seasonal line, Hibernation is an English-Style Old Ale. This robust, malty complected ale is available October through January and has three GABF medals to it's credit. Hibernation pours a deep rich amber color with modest two finger, off-white head. It's aroma is a roasty warm malt with a hint of nuttiness. The complex taste features are of roasted chocolate malt with a hint of vanilla and brown sugar. Hibernation packs a punch at 8.7% ABV, but still reflects a deep rich character found in many well balanced barrel-aged beers. I detected notes of a piney hop, possibly Chinook, but nothing is listed. The beer is dry-hopped though. All-in-all I  very much enjoyed Hibernation Ale and would recommend that you give it a try. Well, maybe come October.

For more information visit Great Divide Brewing Co. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale

 Smuttynose Brewery out of Portsmouth NH, brews a very tasty Brown Ale entitled "Old Brown Dog Ale". The beer pours a wonderfully deep brown color with a slightly off white head. The aroma is both malty and hoppy, lending itself to be quite inviting. Old Brown Dog Ale was created as an American style brown ale, as opposed to the English style which can come off much less interesting. This is a more full flavored beer as a direct result of the use of  Pale Brewers, Munich, Crystal and Chocolate Malts blended oh so well with Cascade and Willamette hops. The hop blend is clearly what sets this beer apart from its English counterpart. I found that the bitterness in the hop accented the Chocolate malt to give the beer sort of a bittersweet chocolate finish. I was pleased to find this very sessionable at 6.5% ABV.  And although there is hop bitterness present, it only clocks in at around 15 IBU's. So I give the Old Dog a definite thumbs. Cheers!

For more information visit Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Magic Hat Ravell

 Had an opportunity to pick up the winter seasonal variety pack from Magic Hat called "Winterland". The pack contains three bottles each of four different Magic Hat selections. Included in this pack are: "Howl" a Black Lager, "Encore" a Wheat IPA, "Ravell" a Vanilla Porter and their flagship "#9" an English Style Pale Ale. For this tasting I'll talk a bit about Ravell, which is a done in the traditional English Porter fashion and an "Oliver Twist" thrown in with the use of whole Vanilla Bean.  The beer pours a deep dark brown, almost black as most Porters do, with a bone off white color head. Retention was rich and frothy, but quickly dissipating. The aroma was very much of roasted malt and vanilla. The roasted malt carried on through to the taste and became very chocolatey. This is likely from the use of Pale, Crystal and Chocolate malts. It's at this point that I lost the Vanilla aspect of the beer, which was a bit of a let down. Although tasty,  it would have been nice for the Vanilla to have carried through. I should fess though, I have a strong bias toward Breckenridge Brewery's Vanilla Porter, which is on my five star list. As is with most Porters you shouldn't expect much in the way of hop character, but it should be noted that Magic Hat list this beer as using only Apollo hops. Which would technically make it a "single hop" beer. With an ABV of 5.8% Ravel is quite sessionable. And while there is still a chill in the air, it's also a nice beer to enjoy until the temperatures begin to warm. Just a reminder, Winterland is a winter seasonal variety pack, so it may not be long for the shelves at your favorite beer merchant. Cheers!

For more information on Ravell visit: Magic Hat Brewing Co.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hoppy Brewing Co. Stony Face Red Ale

Our first sampling of the New Year comes from Hoppy Brewing Co. out of Sacramento CA. We're trying their "Stony Face Red Ale". The beer pours a murky light brown, not really red, with a fluffy off-white head. The aroma is musty with a tinge of sweetness. It's flavor is a blend of roasty bitterness, coming from the use of  Dark Caramel and Chocolate Malts, and the infusion of Nugget and Cascade hops. The malt blend was initially interesting but the hop bitterness quickly overpowered the flavor of the beer.  The lack of traditional hop aromatics and rounded hop flavor will likely not appeal to hop heads.  This is a good beer but not what I would expect from a hoppy Red Ale. The encouraging aspect of  Stony is that it's quite sessionable at 5.6%ABV. Hoppy Brewing doesn't list the IBU's and it's hard to tell whether the bitterness is coming from  the hop or the malt roasting. I'm leaning toward the malt. Unfortunately the name of a beer sets up an expectation. For me Stony Face Red Ale drank much more like a bitter Brown Ale rather than a Red Ale. So give it a try and judge for yourself. Cheers!

For more information on Hoppy brewing and their beers visit: Hoppy Brewing Company

Saturday, January 7, 2012

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