This is the Time, This is the Place: Evil Twin’s Modern IPA

On the docket:  12 oz. can of Evil Twin’s Modern IPA

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn stemmed craft glass

S:  Warning, un-filtered, “artisanal” IPA on the loose!  A cloudy, floaty-filled body occupies the glass as a honey-gold.  The head, welling up, sports many small pocks in an off-white crown.  Bubble activity hard to detect through the murk.  Good head retention.

A:  Holy Contrast, Batman!  The two beers (Retro and Modern) couldn’t be more different in the use of hops.  Bright mango/guava/papaya plus grape fruit curl up into your nose.  Give it a long sniff.  Fruity, pleasant.  Just a hint of dank pine.

T:  Much of the aroma is found in the taste, with the tropical fruit playing first-chair.  The grapefruit is rind-like and bitter.  The malt plays understudy, providing a slight grainy sweetness.  The bitterness enters in the middle, and sticks around at the end, but unlike Retro, this beer finishes bitter and juicy at the same time.

F:  Medium full, with fine carbonation.  A bit oily.  Strong hoppy finish of tropical fruit and bitterness.  Not as extreme as Retro, but unmistakably an IPA.

O:  Talk about a study in contrasts.  Vastly different use of hops than Retro:  different flavors, different aromas, different finishes.  Evil Twin also tried to capture a snapshot of a modern IPA in all senses, including the visual aspect.  Great style study in drinking both beers, recognizing the versatility of hops.

Suggested food pairing:  Rold Gold Honey-wheat pretzels, arugula salad with mandarin oranges, Jerk chicken

Anyone catch the Genesis song reference?

Evil Twin’s Excellent Adventure: Evil Twin’s Retro IPA

On the docket:  12 oz. can of Evil Twin’s Retro IPA

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn stemmed craft glass

S:  Possibly the best aspect of this beer:  Crystal clear orange and gold body, tiny bubbles zipping up to form a vanilla-cream colored head.  It sits high and thick, with excellent retention.  Lacing in thing, consistent rings

A:  Immediately greeted by a light corn-sweetness and very subtle, almost non-existent hop aroma of… hops.  I can’t quite place it.  I’m confused, but it smells like half-hearted pine sap.  Also present is a white bread, doughy malt profile.

T:  The taste of the malt mimics the aroma:  doughy and corny.  Perhaps pale or Pilsner malt.  It starts sweet but changes over mid-palate to a full-on bitter bite that follows all the way through to the finish.  Piney, a touch of pine, and wait, a dash of pine.  I can taste the retro.  The hops here are not so much for flavor as they are utilized for straight bitterness.  Let this warm just a tad, and the flavors are more cohesive.

F:  Medium light, with fine carbonation.  Strong bitter finish with bracing, dry lip-smacking sensation.  Clean, cutting.  Resets your palate for the next sip.

O:  A recipe from just two years after I was born, I was not hip to the hops then.  I was still drinking apple juice.  If you’ve ver wanted to jump in a phonebooth or hot tub and try to travel back in time, this beer is for you.  If you’re all about tropical hops that haven’t even been named yet, stick we me, as I’ll follow this review up with Retro’s counterpart, Modern.

Suggested food pairing:  Keebler Pizzeria chips (circa 1980), medium-rare hamburger with LTO and mustard, creamy bleu or cheddar cheese

SMaSH Brew Day — Benesh Brewing Co.

I was reading a WordPress blog a few weeks back and came across this term I’ve heard a few times but never really knew what it was: Smash-Brewing. I had thought it was some slang term for some type of Super MASH procedure. Maybe it was technique similar to BIAB(Brew in a bag) Mash, but with […]

via SMaSH Brew Day — Benesh Brewing Co.

The Best of All Possible Worlds: Firestone Walker’s XIX

Firestone_Walker_XIX

On the docket:  22 oz. bottle of Firestone Walker’s XIX.  Bottle date:  10/2/15

Poured into:  River Horse snifter

S:  The body fills into the glass as a walnut, mahogany orb, nearly black.  The bottom sports orange tints, the meniscus counters with a light aubergine.  The head, a dense, foamy taupe cap builds and dies.  What’s left is a tight ring at the outside of the glass, full of bubbles.  An archipelago of small bubbles floats in the center.  Small brown particles (FW warned drinkers ahead of time) settle to the bottom.  Carbonation is visibly undetectable.

A:  First and foremost, the barrel-aged aspect of the aroma, front and center:  vanilla and a slight oaky, earthy tobacco.  After consideration and a swirl, one might also take in coffee, dark chocolate, fruit cake, coconut, and a slight spiciness.  Warm, piquant booze sends a tingle up the nostrils.  In the middle of it all is a very subtle pine resin.  All in all, a multi-layered aroma giving evidence of each of the four beers in this celebratory concoction.

T:  Wow, so much happening, I doubt there’s any way I’ll catch it all.  Much of the aroma carries into the palate.  The coffee, chocolate and fruit cake are easiest to pick out.  New flavors, not in the nose are here too, such as a rich molasses (thank you Stickee Monkee), and fleeting touches of caramel (and thank you Bravo).  Delving further into the structure, there’s also a soft anise/black licorice feature (Dr. Parabola, I presume?).  Though a massive sweetness sticks around through mid-palate, it leaves after a while, providing a drying, tannic, oaky finish.  The finish itself is long, and certainly feels like the smooth burn of brandy, and the vanilla of bourbon barrels.

F:  Thick, oily and coating.  Heavy on the palate, with just enough lift from the carbonation.  Chewy (there you are, Mr. Merkin).  As it warms it gets almost too heavy… almost.

O:  This one deserves contemplation, as Firestone Walker has done it once again.  This beer is greater than the sum of its parts.  Each sip and degree of temperature change brings something new.

S:  3.75  A:  4.5  T:  4.75  F:  4  O:  4.5

Suggested food pairing: if you must… sharp cheddar cheese, hearty beef stew made with a splash of whiskey… but really, this one deserves full attention.  Enjoy it on its own.

A SMaSHing Good Beer: Long Trail’s SMaSH Project

On the docket:  12 oz. can of Long Trail’s SMaSH Project (Munich and Equinox)

Poured into:  River Horse Pint Glass

S:  A thick, creamy beige head sits crowning a burnt-sienna, clear body.  It sits and sits, gently receding, leaving heavy, plastic soda-ring like lacing.  It settles down to a full but very thin cap on the top of the beer, the tiniest of bubbles rising to the surface.

A:  Woodsy, herbal hops and brown bread crust feature prominently in this simple and clean brew.  Cedar, mint, eucalyptus and earthy aromas are made possible by the single Equinox hop varietal.  The malt here is toasty, brown, homemade bread crust.  There is a hint of bitterness here, too.

T:  Due to being a SMaSH beer, much of the aroma is also found in the taste profile.  The Equinox provides a woodsy, spicy, minty, medicinal hoppiness and bitterness.  The Munich malt, made famous by those festive German lagers, shines through with brown bread, graininess, and a touch of caramel sweetness.  The benefit of this type of recipe is that it allows a drinker to truly get an understanding of the flavors of both ingredients.  For something approaching 7% abv (6.8%), there’s no sign of fusel alcohol flavors or that warming sensation.

F:  Medium, with fine carbonation.  Drying, bitter finish that lingers just a bit before dying off.

O:  An excellent way to experience a single malt and hop type.  Clean and easy to drink.  Tasty amber ale.

Suggested food pairing:  Pan-fried, quality hot dogs on whole wheat buns, Dijon mustard and Kosher garlic pickles, hamburgers with lettuce, tomato, and onion, grilled meat, earthy, nutty English cheese

MAGnificent IPA: Dogfish Head’s Romantic

On the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Dogfish Head’s Romantic Chemistry IPA (brewed with mango, apricot and ginger)

A:  Ripe mango greets the nostrils.  The apricot is reminiscent of peaches in syrup you ate as a child in elementary school, sweet and fragrant.  The ginger however, is a little more hidden, manifesting as a slight spice kick.

S:  Amber-orange and wonderfully clear, the body fills out the glass and sports a bone colored head that builds high.  After it settles down, it still has some density, sustaining as a half-inch cap.  Lacing is viaduct-ish, with arched legs.  A long continuous trail of bubbles rise to the top from the base of the glass.

T:  The fruit shows up all at once, and lingers for quite a while.  Mid palate, the malt shows up briefly, a cracker-clean sweetness.  The finish is both juicy and drying, the fruit persisting all the way through to the end.  This is also where the ginger is easiest to detect, providing a spicy kick in addition to the hops.  Though bitter, it’s in order to bring contrast to what could be an overly-sweet fruit beer.

F:  Medium-light, with just a hint of smooth creaminess.  Carbonation is moderate and provides a nice scrub, urging you to take another sip, and then another.

O:  If you enjoy fruity IPAs, then this will be love-at-first-sip for you.  The ginger adds a nice contrast, balancing out the sweetness provided by the fruit.  An enjoyable fruit IPA, and something to offer someone who only thinks IPAs are nasty, hoppy, and bitter.

Suggested food pairing: Arugula salad with vinaigrette dressing and blood oranges, Roasted duck with orange coulis, fruit tart, creamy cheddar cheese

 

To Boldly Drink: Carton’s Cosmonaut

On the docket:  Carton’s Cosmonaut

A:  Decadent aroma of coffee, vanilla, dark cocoa powder, coffee and a waft of booze.  Deep, dark, bold.  If the blackness of space were “aromatized” and the “scary” removed, this is what you’d smell.  Luxury.

Sight:  The blackest of black, with slightly darker black highlights suck in all the light around the body.  Komrade, this is one dark beer.  The khaki head wells up, up and almost over the rim of the glass, but the boosters fall off, and the head plummets back down.  Completely opaque, and the search for bubbles is fruitless.  All that’s left is a small remnant of head completely covering the surface of the beer.

T:  Much of the aroma follows through into the palate, all the crew is there- coffee, vanilla, dark chocolate plus a hint a cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mission control also provides a vague berry candy flavor, which may in fact be the dehydrated ice cream.  Mid palate you discover a bit of raisin-esque and brown sugar sweetness.  However, the tannic, astringent bitterness of the roast and hops take over on the finish, adding balance and dryness to the finish.  Only when is warms up do you taste evidence of the abv (10%!).

F:  Chewy.  Oily.  Rich and bold, a firmness that marks the best of Imperial Stouts.  Carbonation here is very fine and is hard-pressed to complete its mission of scrubbing your palate.  Fearless, they press on.

O:  A complex brew expertly executed.  If you love roasty, full-flavored, sip-demanding beer, you are Go For Launch with Carton’s Cosmonaut.  This beer begs to be paired with a cigar