Sunday, August 28, 2016

Alesmith Nut Brown Ale

So you heard me mention Total Wine grabbed some Alesmith beers in a Brewery Direct deal right? Well, today I'm checking out their Nut Brown English-Style Ale. Demonstrative name on the label but otherwise pretty simple. No foofy label, damn it! Though I'm a big "cool label" guy! 5.0% alcohol. Bottled on 6/07/16. Serve in a pint glass, 45-50°F, which I didn't do.

There's a story that says this beer is a tribute to one of Alesmith's favorite British styles. Thank God they didn't stoop to the British "favourite." Even Google says I misspelled that word, LOL. Food pairing suggestions follow. You can read below, I think.

Malty aroma full of cocoa, lightly sweet, with a hint of nuttiness. Very creamy texture. Cocoa flavors with some light roast, light coffee, light smoke, light raisin. I guess this beer is basically showcasing a bunch of interesting nuances!

Now, Nut Brown is NOT sweet and has plenty of hoppy balance. Full of flavor! Very enjoyable! Check it out.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Too Hop'd to Handle India Pale Ale

Today I'm checking out Too Hop'd to Handle India Pale Ale brewed by High Heel Brewing in Lakeland, Florida. The label is very colorful, a nice pattern, but what I like most about it is the quality of the material. Not your standard paper label that gets all messed up with packaging, transit, water.

Too Hop’d to Handle is crafted with Columbus, Mosaic and Simcoe hop varieties according to their website. The label, however, says four varieties. Oh wait, that other hop is some secret rotating unnamed weapon that is going to blow us away with some seasonal hop variety! Belgian Candi Sugar  is also added as an embellishment in the brewkettle.

The label further quotes "YOU" by reminding you that you said to "Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire." You were drunk! I know you don't remember saying that! What the label doesn't tell you that this is an 8.4% alcohol, 89 IBU beer, and that's precisely why your quotes had to be recorded.

Nice tropical pineapple and sweet citrusy aroma. Sugary flavors out of the gate meet citrus tangerines and more tropical fruitiness. Some lemon and grapefruit bitter balance follows. And the finish to each sip carries all that!

There is some definite Belgian character with the added sugar. It's pretty sweet but trails off and balances with the hops in each sip. I'd say the addition of the Belgian Candi is very interesting and innovative, though I'm not sure I love it. I'd definitely like to check out the base beer as the underlying aroma and flavors are great!

Oh, and 8.4% alcohol? That part was hard to remember especially since it wasn't on the label, but I'm guessing you catch my drift? Definitely a beer to drink before going to a disciplinary meeting with your kid's principal!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Apple Brandy Barrel Noir -- Heath M. Guest Post

Apple Brandy Barrel Noir
From Prairie Artisan Ales
By Heath M.

I was at my local Total Wine a couple of weeks ago, and on the counter near the front stood a small number of bottles of Prairie Artisan Ales’ 12 oz. Apple Brandy Barrel Noir, priced at $12 a pop. Very few 12 ounce beers cost that much, and a quick search revealed it’s very highly rated, so I decided to cut back on a few beers I was going to buy to justify this purchase.

The Apple Brandy Barrel Noir is an imperial stout, which Prairie Artisan Ales recommends you sip slowly, or even stash some in a closet and let them age. Well, at $12 a bottle, I wasn’t going to age it. The ABV is a healthy 12% with 70 IBU.

It pours dark with a small head of foam. I took their advice and sipped it slowly, like a good Belgian Quad beer. It’s boozy, especially at 12%, but the flavors still came through. Sometimes with beer that high in alcohol content, all you taste is the booziness, but Prairie did a great job with this stout, aged in apple brandy barrels.

I took my time drinking it, and it helped take the edge off a recent mediocre Miami Dolphins pre-season game. And like a quality Belgian Quad, as it warmed up a little, the flavors changed slightly, which is always welcoming.

Highly recommend this beer, one of the best I’ve had in a while. But it’s pricey. I’m going to try other beers from Prairie, who are out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, but seem to have good distribution. A friend of mine said I need to try the Okie and the Bomb! Heck, I saw one of their Christmas Bomb 2015 beers at Total Wine, and it probably tastes even better.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Alesmith IPA

So Total Wine in Florida has another Brewery Direct set of beers from Alesmith Brewing out of San Diego. I hope you get to read this before they are all gone since I've been sitting on a few reviews for a week or two!

I grabbed three bottles: IPA, Nut Brown (English Style Brown Ale) and Lil Devil (Belgian Style Pale Ale), and, duh, started with the IPA. As with each bottle, the design is simple but bold and includes some copy on the back setting your expectations and offering food pairing advice. This particular bottle's story starts with "It's Pretty Awesome," so I have pretty awesome expectations. 7.25% alcohol. Serve in a pint at 45-50°F.

Fruity aroma, full of citrus, especially tangerines, and just a touch of pine. The pine shows up full force with the first sip though and really works well with the big dose of tangerine citrus that also runs this beer start to finish.

Fresh and bitter with some dank resinous hoppiness that lingers well into the finish. Honestly, there's not much of a sweet balance. My kind of IPA! (Well, one of my kinds of IPAs.)

Oh wait, there it is. I let half the beer sit on the counter for a little while, and some orange sweetness does show and take some of the bitter edge off. But of course that was above 50°F so I broke another rule. Anyway, nice beer and check it out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wayfarer IPA

Today I'm checking out Green Man's Wafarer IPA. "Conceived in Asheville, NC." I suspect they put that on the can because I'm fairly certain the beer was brewed MAY/19/16 by Brew Hub in Lakeland, FL though that is no where to be found on the can. Nothing against contract brewing, but I don't like when facts are omitted.

Around the rim of the can, "CAN WHAT YOU DO. DO WHAT YOU CAN. WHERE WILL YOU GO. GO WHERE YOU WILL." The Green Man here is totally blue, donning some cool shades with a nautical background. 70 IBU; 6.0% alcohol (their website still says 5.5%, so maybe there are a few versions.)

Fruity orange and melon aroma, lightly tropical, nice but you'll need to risk beer inhalation to get a good whiff. Fruity flavors to start as well, citrus, orange and again, that distinct melon.

After a little sweetness up front, the bitterness really takes over with some pine and herbal flavors. Those linger into a dry finish and aftertaste. A little warmth takes some of the bitter edge off, adding a nice tangy component. Pretty nice beer!

Monday, August 22, 2016

12th of Never Ale

I was over at the liquor store last weekend, and the store manager told me he had a new favorite session IPA. Even at Total Wine, you can't break open 12 packs to grab a single. Well, you can, but you will be disappointed and ridiculed at checkout!

Since Lagunitas' 12th of Never Ale only comes in 12 packs, I decided to take a chance. A favorite style from a brewer that rarely disappoints, especially in the hoppy category? Sure! Sold!

Now this beer is canned! Yeah, I know. Even the story Lagunitas put on the can pokes fun at themselves for being one of the last craft breweries to can. "As the River Styx froze and the final pig took flight, when the last winged monkey departed the darkly fragrant netherlands, as wishes became horses and the beggars rode..."

That story continues, which you can hopefully read in the picture below. Nice can design. 5.5% alcohol, not exactly session definition, but fuck definitions. Even Lagunitas calls this a "slightly alcoholic" beer!

Bright citrus and candied lemon aroma, tangy, nice. Lemony citrus with some sweet and tangy balance come first. Nicely bitter but a definite honey and malty sweetness in the background.

Good body, good flavors, very nice. However, I do prefer All Day IPA because it's a little sharper, a little more refreshing, a little better 8 am post run beer to start All Day! Anyway, I had zero problem finishing all 12 of these before I even got around to writing this review, so take that as an endorsement! Check it out!

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

2016 Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest -- Heath M. Guest Post

2016 Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest
By Heath M.

Starting in 2015, Sierra Nevada started collaborating with different German brewers on their Oktoberfest beer. This year, they collaborated with Mahr's Bräu to create what a friend of mine called, “A modern day take on an authentic German Oktoberfest beer.”

For the 2016 Octoberfest, Sierra Nevada and Mahr's Bräu went with what they call a “nearly forgotten hop” called Record. The color is slightly darker golden, and the flavor is definitely ‘spicier’ than a traditional Oktoberfest beer. I get what my buddy, a big time beer junkie, means when he said it’s a modern version of a traditional German Oktoberfest beer.

It’s a little maltier than a standard beer, but not quite nearly as malty as an average Oktoberfest beer. I’ve heard from more than one person, however, that the 2015 collaboration was better than this year’s. I think both are different and unique, and this one is definitely a newer take on a traditional Oktoberfest.

The bottle is pretty cool, with artwork depicting a small German town next to a river and some mountains. The back says, “We’ve partnered with Mahr's Bräu, one of German’s most highly regarded brewers, to create a golden-hued festival beer right here in the USA. Using traditional techniques, heritage German barley, and the Record hop varietal - a nearly forgotten German-grown hop — we’ve created the most authentic take on the style this side of the Atlantic.”

Even though it’s August, all the fall and Oktoberfest beers are coming in, and it’s making me feel like autumn is coming. Even though I live in South Florida. Anyway, this is a recommended beer! Prost!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sun Block Summer IPA

While on vacation in Ocean City, NJ, I picked up a sixer of Captain Lawrence Brewings Sun Block Summer IPA. And yeah, OC is still dry; got this at Circle Liquor in Somers Point (which is now more like Intersection Liquor!) According to the bottle, this is a "new and improved Sun Block [with] a little more oomph." Nice label--it's so hot, the sun is sweating profusely. But the old man sipping a giant mug of Sun Block is just fine. Dry-hopped with Sorachi Ace hops. 5.8% alcohol. 45 IBU.

Sweet, fruity aroma with lots of orange and tangerine citrus, maybe a touch of yeast. Sweet and bitter contrast from the start. Nicely sweet fruit, tropical and citrus meets a nice fresh and spicy hoppy bitterness. Nice wheaty tang. Very flavorful. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tropical Pale Ale

Today I'm checking out Boulevard's Tropical Pale Ale, brewed with grapefruit and passion fruit. Reading the fine print on the can, this beer was actually brewed and canned by Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, CA, under Boulevard's supervision.

Easter colors and palm trees on the can definitely say "tropical." The rim of the can says "FRESH EXOTIC FRUIT." I'd have definitely added a Y to FRUIT for some grammatical consistency, but I guess that's why I don't work in the industry. 5.9% alcohol. Canned on 6/29/16.

Nice aroma, very fruity, full of tangerine citrus and sweet passion fruit and just a touch of spiciness. Big grapefruit bitterness hits your palate to start, resinous and full of zest. Tangerine citrus follows, less harsh, and then the miracle... some tropical passion fruit balance really smooths out the initial sharpness. Full cycle, super bitter to beautifully tame.

Fruity, spicy. Great back and forth contrast, sweet and bitter, spicy and smooth. Very tasty and I could drink this all day! Just need to go back to the liquor store! Check it out!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hopsoulution Ale

Today I'm checking out Hopsoulution Ale, A DIPA brewed by Bell's Brewery. According to the story on the label, this beer was brewed in homage to Mother Nature and her hop creation, illustrated on a simple front label. 8.0% alcohol.

Sweet orange aroma, very nice. Great fruity flavors come first, orange and lightly tropical. A hint of caramel sweetness also shows before a BLAMO of hops and bitterness take over.

Citrus, resinous pine, spicy, light alcohol, yeah! Big body too. The finish is dry with lingering fruit, especially with some warmth. Check it out.



Monday, August 8, 2016

Aunt Sally

Today I'm trying Aunt Sally, a unique dry-hopped sweet tart sour mash ale brewed by Lagunitas. The Aunt Sally illustrated on the label is a babe, and as usual, Lagunitas adds a few lines to describe the beer and inspiration... "Our Aunt Sally is a tart, dry-hopped ale brewed in a bizarre old world tradition. We brewed this in honor of the real Aunt Sally. You know who you are and you know why. Enough said for now." 5.7% alcohol. 33 IBU.

Lemony tart aroma with some sweet balance, and a lot of yeast too. Tart flavors to start but with some immediate candy sweetness behind that. Granny Smith apple sourness and citrus bursts. Candied hops. Pretty interesting but I can't help but sense there is some "dirty sock" type of funk there too that I didn't love.

Tangy with some crushed sweet tart coated hops. Yeah. Check it out for yourself.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Flower Child India Pale Ale

Hops that will resonate "like that glorious guitar solo from your favorite concert ever?" Hell yeah, let's give Cambridge Brewing's Flower Child India Pale Ale (and peace) a chance! The story on the back of the can lets you know what to expect from the beer and a little insight into the brewery itself. Best By 10/15/16. 6.5% alcohol.

Nice aroma, full of bright tangerine citrus and a light dose of pine. Big grapefruit citrus and an accompanying hefty dose of bitterness come with the first sip and pretty much every sip, though you will get used to it a little.

Light pine, floral, a little spicy and very dry. Fresh and bursting with hoppy goodness. Any malty balance was subtle at best. This is an IPA drinker's IPA and you better love the bitterness to come!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


I saw Ballast Point's Barmy sitting on the shelf the other day and wondered what type of beer it is. Barmy happens to be a huge 12.0% alcohol golden ale brewed with apricots and honey! So yeah, I grabbed a bottle. Not sure if there is such a thing as a Barmy Fish, but the one on the label that got himself stuck in an old beer barrel looks like he's had at least half of the sixer!

Apricot and peach aroma, softly fruity with some honey sweetness as well. Sweet honey flavors also jump right out with the first sip. Thick, chewy. Boozy. Nicely spicy.

Orange and apricot are nicely featured throughout. As the beer warms, those flavors come across more in a candied jammy way. On the almost too sweet side overall.

Don't forget the alcohol because it didn't forget you. Fruitiness lingers on a wave of alcohol into the finish. I will say that a little warmth took most of that alcy edge off the beer. Not bad, but let it warm from fridge temps though not to room temperature is my suggestion.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Vital IPA

Wasn't sure if I was supposed to open that box of Victory's Vital IPA cans yesterday at the liquor store, but the cashier didn't seem to mind. So I guess I'm good. The can has a nice design, featuring a green background with a pattern of words you may use to describe this beer. "The Only IPA You Need; Feed Your Hopsession!" are also phrases they use. On the back of the can are some stats and a few sentences to set your expectations. 6.5% alcohol.

Very fruity and juicy aroma, full of tropical mangoes and citrus. Flavors follow with a huge does of tangerines and mangoes. Some piney bitterness adds a little balance. Orange and lemon citrus zest also provide some needed balance to the initial sweetness.

Nicely tangy throughout. Very juicy and fresh with a dry finish that shows a touch of alcohol. The aftertaste is full of fruit that lingers long after each sip. Check it out for sure!