Tangerine Dream: Stone’s Enjoy by 5.30.16 Tangerine

On the docket:  22 oz. bottle Stone’s Enjoy by 5/30/16 Tangerine.  Date:  3/24/16.

Poured into:  Wine & Whiskey Country Belgian snifter

A:  Bold aroma of tangerine at first sniff.  After a minute or two, you can also detect a small amount of mango or papaya.  Simple but elegant.

S:  Crystal-bright honey gold body, and a bone collar of dense foam on top.  The head builds, the recedes quickly to a closely hugging ring of suds and a wash of microscopic bubbles in the center.  Tiny bubbles drift to the top of the glass.  Big bands of lacing.

T:  After an initial blast of tangerine and citrus hoppiness, the malt emerges as white-bread crust and just a touch of caramel and molasses.  Brief sweetness.  The hops come in again at the end providing fruitiness and bitterness with an added pine.

F:  Fine carbonation, medium-plus body.  Oily and slick on the palate.  Long, drying and bitter finish.  Despite the 9%+ abv, no real sign of the alcohol via flavor or aroma.

O:  Aggressively hopped and flavorful.  Excellent aroma and just enough sweetness from the malt to provide a counterbalance.  However, the hops and bitterness win out.  Neat variation on the popular “drink it while its fresh” series by Stone.

Pairing suggestions:  Heavy, triple-cream cheese, fruit salad, Pasta primavera/alfredo, tangerine or orange sherbet.

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Gose Down Easy: Anderson Valley’s Briney Melon Gose

On the docket:  12 oz. can of Anderson Valley Brewing Co.’s Briney Melon Gose

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn stemmed craft beer glass

S:  The body pours a golden straw and sports a creamy bone head.  The cap builds, lingers, then eventually settles down to a small, tight and hugging band of bubbles.  Tiny bubbles helix their way to the top from the base of the glass.  Lacing is thin, delicate but consistent bands with each sip.  There’s a slight haze to this, but does not detract from the beauty.

A:  Subtle but luscious watermelon, the slightest hint of funk, clean briny mineral, and soft malty sweetness comprise the nose.  A strong sniff reveals the rind of the watermelon, not simply the meat.  Another long sniff pulls out a faint floral aspect, it must be the Bravo hops.

T:  Certainly the most interesting aspect of the beer, the fruit flavor is everything done right about fruit used in beer.  The melon is present, but gentle, and melds with the pale malt and malted wheat into a lovely tang.  The sea salt is there too, adding balance to the acidity and fruit.  And, while it’s certainly sour, there a nice give and take between sweet and salty, sour and fruity.

F:  Crisp, and dainty on the palate with ample carbonation, lending another element to its drinkability and and refreshing nature.  The finish is relatively short, with a small dose of bitterness in addition to the melon flavor that rides along the entire time, beginning to end.

O:  Excellent execution of a fruit-flavored gose, and less on the traditional side (no coriander for starters).  Thirst-inducing and paradoxically, thirst-quenching.  Sessionable at 4.2%, imagine this on draft after a day out hiking, biking, running, kayaking, or any other summer activity in the sun.

Suggested food pairing:  goat cheese, summer ingredient salads, grilled chicken or fish with lemon-pepper seasoning (because the beer already brings the salt)

 

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.

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).

Magical Mystery Hop Bill: Firestone Walker’s Luponic Distortion Revolution #001

On the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Firestone Walker’s Luponic Distortion Revolution #001, bottled on 2/20/16

Poured into:  Firestone Walker Pint Glass

S:  Pale straw with a slight golden hue dazzles in the early morning sun.  The head, off-white, builds to a dense quarter-inch and sticks around for a long while before relaxing into a tight ring.  Lacing is consistent and bandy.  Lazy bubbles rise to the surface from the base of the glass.  They seem to sense it’s a Saturday, and take their time.

A:  A zesty blend of citrus, pine, mango, lime.  A touch of peach and a light candy sweetness.  Malt took the day off.  There’s a mild spice note that I want to call… cinnamon and brown sugar.  This one you really have to look for, adding a bit of nuance to a very fruit/pine driven aroma.

T:  Pine resin meets your palate first, followed by subtle water-cracker malt and a wheat-y twang.  The finish reminds me of tonic water (quinine) with a bit of lime thrown in for flavor.  This is not a bad thing, as American IPAs should be hoppy, dry, and bitter.  A great lingering taste of pine, too.  I will agree with some opinions that this gets a little sweeter over time, the malt emerging a bit more, adding balance, but not interfering with the star of the show.

F:  Long, drying finish; a touch oily and coating on the tongue.  Bitter, resinous end.

O:  I’ve read reviews calling this “hop water.”  Nonsense.  Though the malt is a little sparse, this brew is meant to showcase the hops, whatever they may be.  The varietals are undisclosed, adding to its mystique and allure.  Fans of a gin and tonic would enjoy this, as would fans of IPAs that are aromatic, flavorful, and on the gentler side of the abv spectrum (this one weighs in at 5.9%) making this one, dare I say it and sound like a Hipster… crushable?

Suggested food pairing:  Arugula salad with mandarin oranges on top, honey mustard chicken wings/tenders/strips, tropical fruit tart, Monterey jack cheeseFW_Luponic_Distortion_Revolution_001

A Tangerine Dream: Green Flash’s Soul Style IPA

Green_Flash_Tangerine_Soul_Style

On the docket:  12 oz. bottle of Green Flash Brewing Co.’s Tangerine Soul Style IPA

poured into: 6 oz wine glass

S: Sienna colored body with an off-white head. It builds, then slowly recedes. Great lacing. Cloudy body that… wait… is that actual tangerine rind? Why yes, it is.

A: A tangerine dream! Sweetness from a clean, simple malt backbone. Tangerine for miles and miles, it’s like I was standing in the orchard.

T: As anticipated, plenty of tangerine in the flavor. Very present, but very authentic-tasting. No shortcuts used here! Mid-palate provides a bit of doughy malt, while the finish is a touch tangy and citrusy, though not very bitter. Juicy, like freshly squeezed fruit.

F: Medium-light body, prickly carbonation. A long, juicy finish of, you guessed it… tangerine. Wow.

O: Highly enjoyable fruit-forward American IPA. Excellent flavor and aroma.

S: 4 A: 4.5 T: 4.5 F: 4 O: 4.25

Pairs with: mandarin orange salad, Hawaiian pizza, chicken kabobs, Thai or Indian food