Orange You Glad I Said Bolero? Bolero Snort’s Orange Cream Pop IPA

On the docket:  16 oz. can of Bolero Snort’s Orange Cream Pop IPA (brewed with lactose, orange zest & vanilla beans)

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn craft glass

S:  Honey-gold or Ticonderoga pencil, supporting an off-white head.  It sits around for a while, great retention.  Lacing is thick and doily-like.  Mostly translucent but clear.  Tiny bubbles well up from the base of the glass.

A:  Bright orange citrus and a touch of vanilla stands out first, with a slight pine and subtle sweet malt.  Excellent aroma, could sniff this for the dog days of summer.

T:  Much like the aroma, the orange zest comes through immediately, plus a small dose of pine.  Midway through the malt comes in, simple with a water-cracker starkness.  This is also where the gentle sweetness from the lactose helps to balance out the bitterness of the hops.  The vanilla is in there somewhere, helping your mouth think that you’re cooling off with a creamsicle.  With a crisp and bitter finish, this one makes you reach for more.  Without a doubt an IPA.

F:  Medium body, with some fluffiness.  Finely attuned carbonation.

O:  Intriguing take on an IPA that’s well executed.  It does conjure images of that white van and unforgettable loud-speaker jingle, standing in line, and finally handing over a few dollars for Good Humored relief from the blistering summer sun.

Suggested food pairing:  Green salad with mandarin oranges, chicken and vegetable and mozzarella kabob skewers, fruit salad, fruit tart, ambrosia

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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.

The Key of L# (sharp): Freewill’s Key Lime Lambic

Free_Will_Key_Lime_LambicOn the docket:  475mL bottle of Free Will’s Key Lime Lambic

Poured into:  Innis & Gunn stemmed craft glass

S:  A nearly lemonade-golden yellow, slightly hazy body spills into the glass, with only the faintest stark-white head.  Tight clinging to the outside rim, consisting of small and medium bubbles.  More bubbles lazily rise to the surface from the bottom of the glass.

A:  Green with envy?  This one boasts boatloads of limeade, tartness, and a hint of funk.  Fairly one-dimensional, but very fragrant and refreshing aroma.

T:  If you’ve ever eaten key-lime pie, with that mandatory meringue topping, imagine that with a spritz of carbonation and the tartness of a sour lime candy, and you have yourself Freewill’s lambic.  The malt and hops are overshadowed by the puckering citrus.  Crisp.  Let this one warm just a tad in order to experience the subtle malty sweetness, which shows up oddly enough, on the finish.  Want a little less twang?  Pull air through your mouth as you would with wine, the aeration softens it up.

F:  Light to medium-light.  Tingly, biting carbonation does a major scrub-job on your tongue.  Awesome for a hot day.  Try this over a gin/vodka gimlet.  Long finish that morphs slowly from citrus to just a hint of grainy sweetness that emerges on the lips.

O:  Certainly tart and sour, but flavor-packed and refreshing.  Noted on the website, all natural flavoring and no back-sweetening (post brewing).  Perhaps a beginner or intermediate sour beer, and a definite must-try for Key lime pie lovers and sour fruit candy eaters.  Warheads anyone?

Suggested food pairing:  Summer salad with blood or mandarin oranges and arugula, jerk chicken, Thai, Vietnamese or Indian food, and sure, Key lime pie with a homemade graham cracker crust.

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.

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

 

Neck-high in IPA: Knee Deep’s Simtra

Knee_Deep_SimtraOn the docket:  22 oz.  bottle of Knee Deep’s Simtra

Aroma:  A beautiful, heady meld of lime, grapefruit and dank pine resin fill out the hop side, with a clean white bread-crust malt presence and just a touch of prickly booze.

Sight:  Largely crystal clear and burnished bronze body showing off subtle No. 2 pencil yellow highlights.  The head wells up and sits around, thick and creamy.  Lacing is big and patchy, though consistent with every sip.  Bubbles purposefully make their way from the bottom of the glass to join their spherical brethren.  A large super-continent of suds covers the surface as the head recedes.

Taste:  The hops are the star of this beer, with much of the nose following through to the palate.  Bright citrus and melon, and a good helping of sappy pine.  There’s a fleeting sweetness from the bready malt.  Boy does that exit quickly, making room for a drying, crisp, bitter finish.  As the beer warms, the alcohol is more apparent, but considering the abv (11.25%) it’s quite smooth and well-integrated.

Feel:  Medium-full, crisp, bitter.  for a high-abv IPA, this one has a considerably smooth and creamy mouthfeel.  Carbonation is enough to lift the weight of the beer off your tongue, but by no means lively.

Overall: Deceptively smooth and easy to drink for a double, or maybe “triple” IPA.  Consider pairing with a Davidoff Millennium Blend cigar.  Well-crafted high abv offering.

Suggestion food pairing:  Creamy white cheddar cheese, lemon-pepper chicken, salt-cured ham and other charcuterie, messy sauce-glazed barbecue ribs