The World Needs No Hero: Evil Twin Brewing Co.’s No Hero

On the docket:  16 oz. can of Evil Twin Brewing Co.’s No Hero

S:  Frothy and full of a thick mass of bubbles, this one pours deep, deep walnut.  Espresso-foam colored head lingers, long, before settling down to almost no head.  Just a ring around the outside.  Great lacing, sticky and lattice-like.  Carbonation undetected.

A:  Baker’s chocolate/cocoa powder, graininess, and just the slightest hint of cinnamon greets the nose.  The hops are muted, letting the grain to the heavy lifting.

T:  The chocolate comes through on the palate, too, as does a slight flavor of coffee.  One may detect a dash of “cereal-ness,” the oats providing complexity in the flavor, not simply the feel.  There’s an initial sweetness, but the beer dries about halfway through, finishing dry and roasty.  Mild pine rounds out the finish, providing a balancing bitterness.

F:  Velvety, smooth, fluffy.  Creamy.  Medium-heavy.  It’s exactly what you should expect from an oatmeal stout.

O:  While not made with crazy ingredients, this is what I want out of an oatmeal stout.  And, a well-concealed 7% abv as well.  Great choice on the format- pint cans.  Like Velvet Merlin (and I do) but wants something a little heavier?  Pick up a 4-pack of this guy.  He doesn’t ask for praise or accolades.  You might think he’s no hero, but you’d be wrong.  He’s got greatness inside him.

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Cloudy with a Chance of Dry-Hopping: Omnipollo’s Fatamorgana

On the docket:  22 oz. bottle of Omnipollo’s Fatamorgana

poured into:  Innis & Gunn stemmed craft glass

S:  Hazy, lemon-gold body with a frothy white head.  Great retention, and thin, consistent rings of lacing.  It recedes to a gentle wash of suds on top, and though translucent and not transparent, carbonation activity is easily observed.  Also, there is a thin layer of yeast in the base of the bottle, so pour carefully.

A:  At first impression, one gets a  bright lemon citrus and pine front.  Added to this is just the slightest twinge of funk, barely there, hiding in the background.  Could it be the yeast or the wheat?  The malt aroma is very muted, but clean and water-cracker like.

T:  Up front, it’s a big dose of lemon and grapefruit bitterness.  A sweet malt note shows up briefly mid-palate, but the finish gives way to a roar of more hops.  Dry, bitter, clean, brisk… and a touch floral on the end.  This is a Double IPA through and through, with flavor squarely in the hop department.

F:  Medium-light, with fine carbonation and a rather long finish of pine and citrus.  A tad fluffy and creamy.

O:  Interesting take on the Double IPA style, with the addition of wheat and oats.  Easy to drink, dangerous at 8%, no perceived alcohol from either aroma or taste.

Suggested food pairing:  used as base in vinaigrette dressing over arugula and walnut salad, steamed lobster and shellfish, lemon tart, and mild, creamy cheese

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

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.

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

 

I’ll Give it a Lil’ A for Effort: Evil Twin’s Lil’ B

Aroma:  Cocoa powder, coffee, leather, tobacco, and a hint of booze.  Lovely malt driven fragrance that seduces the olfactories.  Follow you nose, you’ll get a hint of cinnamon.

Sight:  Inky-black soy sauce colored body envelops the glass, capped by a espresso-foam hued head.  It rises, floats in mid air, then dives back to the depths.  All’s left is a ring around the perimeter of the glass and a large butterfly-like pattern of the smallest of bubbles.

Taste:  Much of the nose follows through to the taste.  Ah, a newcomer, dry roasted malt and a dash of fig and plum.  Though it starts sweet, the tide turns mid-palate, and the leathery, coffee flavors rear their heads.  It finishes bitter and roasty, with more fig.  The alcohol, barely perceived until now, asserts itself on the finish, adding a warming sensation to the throat.  Possesses some qualities of a Russian Imperial Stout, but not as dry and hoppy.

Feel:  Medium-full, tannic, dry, and just a touch oily.  Great finish and keeps the beer’s sweetness at bay.  This is right where an imperial porter should be.  Full, but not overbearing.  Carbonation provides finesse and a little bit of a scrub for the taste buds.

Overall:  A great sipper, let the flavors evolve with this one.  Good for sitting in front of a fire, in a leather armchair, reading a small-type, 800 page epic novel.  Want to change it up?  Try it with a Java cigar.

Suggestion food pairing:  Earthy or nutty cheese, thick stews, chili con carne with smoked peppers, tiramisu, peanut butter brownies, as a cocktail beer.

My Mash Letter to The Bruery: The Bruery’s Mash

The_Bruery_MashOn the docket:  750 mL bottle of Mash by The Bruery bottled:  8/7/15

Poured into:  logoed River Horse stemmed snifter

S:  A rich dark, syrupy brown-hued body fills out the glass, capped by a quickly rising and receding bone colored head.  The bottom of the beer at the base of my glass gives off a honey-gold spot.  Lacing is minimal, but the head lingers as a small, perforated ring and a wispy, soapy film on the surface.  Carbonation is hard to detect, as the opacity prevents me from seeing any bubbles.  I’ll meet up with them in the mouthfeel section, I’m sure.

A:  Dear Mash aroma, I love you, let me count the ways… a seductive blend of vanilla, caramel, and treacle greet the senses.  Not far behind is a subtle brown bread and raisin.  Lastly, a kiss of booze, gentle and belying the 12.5% abv of this malt-driven beauty.

T:  I’ll continue to gush about this beer.  Much of the aroma carries through to the taste.  It’s all there, working together to romance the tongue and the taste buds.  Rich creamy vanilla and caramel open the door, the molasses and raisin/fruitcake shows you to your table, and the barrel aging takes your order.  I’ll have what I’m having.  The time spent in the bourbon barrel is evident, but not overpowering.  Very often I’ve found that brewers get carried away with the barrel, and lose the beer.  Famille Rue got it just right.  It’s decadent, sweet, and woody.  Like well-aged spirits, it takes a long time for the burn of the alcohol to develop, nearly seconds later after the initial sip and its journey down the back of your throat.  As it warms up, yup, it’s boozier, but it won’t stop me.

F:  Finely nuanced carbonation.  It provides just enough lift to keep this high-gravity brew from forcing itself on you.  Medium + weight, both oily and smooth at the same time.  The finish is gentle, but does add some tannic dryness from the barrel, and a gentle bitterness from the hops to keep the sweetness in check.

O:  A finely-tuned bourbon barrel-aged English Barleywine.  Easy to drink despite its alcohol content.  I’ll go out on a limb and say Mash has great potential for aging, perhaps bringing in dark chocolate and port notes as the hops fade away.  I had my Mash at roughly 8 months, imagine what a two or three year relationship with your beer cellar might yield.  Well worth the price paid.

S:  3.75  A:  4.5  T:  4.75  F:  4.25  O:  4.5

Suggested food pairing:  Heavily-blued cheese, hearty beef stew, Crème brûlée, fruit cake (for the few that actually eat it and don’t simply re-gift it as a frozen brick, year after year in family Christmas exchanges), and most definitively as a cocktail beer (on its own).