Dark City Goes Dark: Boom! Roasted – Coffee IPA

Boom_Roasted

On the docket:  16oz. can of Dark City’s Boom! Roasted Coffee IPA

Poured into:  Wine & Whiskey Country stemmed snulip

S:  Hazy pale-gold with a merengue head.  Sustained retention.  Tiny, zippy bubbles wend their way to the top.

A:  When taken in colder, the hops are definitely the dominant note.  Bright stone fruit notes of peach nectarine and a cymbal slash of grapefruit pith.  As it warms up, the earthy, dark roasted notes of the coffee get louder- the bass and floor toms that contrast the bright brassy hops.

T:  Much of the flavor mimics the aroma.  A third player enters- the slightly doughy, grainy malt. All work together to provide a complex experience.  The coffee provides depth and richness, but also bitterness.

F:  Light, fluffy, but carbonated.

O:  A highly enjoyable, sessionable coffee IPA.

More Powerful Than a Lauter Tun: Jersey Girl Brewing Co.’s Rake Breaker

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On the docket: 16 oz. can of Jersey Girl Brewing’s Rake Breaker

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  Honey-gold, reminiscent of peach juice.  Hazy, murky, unapologetically New-England in color and appearance with a nice thick cap of head.  I can’t see the bubbles, I’m sure they’re there.  Not a huge amount of lacing, but it’s present in delicate, icing-drip fashion.

A:  Aromas of apricot, tangerine, and peach rocket into your nostrils.  You can detect this heady mélange from nearly a foot away.  A slight malty sweetness creeps out from behind the hops, which are clearly the star of the show.  Stick your nose in the glass when you’re done (and before you pour the next can)- divinely grainy aroma sticks around.

T:  Closely following the aroma, the taste is very juice-like with nearly candied apricot and peach.  Nearly no malt presence at the outset.  After it warms a bit in the glass, there is a slight cereal presence- must be the oats.
F:  Medium-full, despite a fluffiness on the tongue, coupled with a smooth, refined (NOT FLAT) carbonation.  There’s enough bitterness present to provide a nice contrast to the prominent, fruity flavors.

O:  Fans of incredibly hoppy, incredibly bitter West Coast style IPAs should reconsider what it means to brew an IPA.  This version of many craft drinkers most cherished style is large and in charge.  Fruity, tropical, easy to drink.

Suggested food pairing:  Hawaiian pizza, Asian salad with mandarin orange wedges, toast points with orange marmalade, fresh fruit with heavy cream, jalapeno-cheddar cheese

Bonus idea:  Combine with a touch of Cointreau or peach schnapps, garnish with appropriate fruit slice, and you have two ridiculous beer cocktails.

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

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

 

Take a Trip With Me: Flying Fish Exit 18 Baltic Porter

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On the docket:  750 mL bottle of Flying Fish Brewing Co.’s Exit 18 Baltic Porter, no best by/born on date.

Poured into:  Jester King Snorkel snifter

S:  A pitch-black body fills out the snifter, capped with a khaki head that builds, sticks around long enough for you to notice it was there, then makes a smooth exit  (See what I did?).  The result is a soapy vapor-trail like film on top, coupled with a few bubbles and a tightly hugging ring around the perimeter of the glass.  Lacing is spotty and nearly absent.

A:  Dark and brooding.  Roasted malt, mainly coffee and dark chocolate.  Though the malt is the star of the aroma, one can detect a faint bit of citrus and pine from the hops.  Faint whispers of molasses and date/fig, not unlike its cousin, the Russian Imperial Stout.

T:  Much of the aroma follows through to the taste, but that’s fine by me.  Dark, bittersweet chocolate and coffee arrive first, speeding through to the middle, where the fig and/or date flavors get picked up, holding a cardboard sign saying, “will work for beer.”  The trip ends with a hop bitterness, some pine and citrus—and as the beer warms up—a wave of booze.  It’s to be expected.  This Baltic beauty clocks in at 9.5%, so sip with care.  While the booze is present, it’s not alarming.  It’s welcomed, much like finding the highway deserted in the wee hours of the morning on one’s way to work.  An added bonus- a slight (but noticeable) bit of black licorice on the end.

F:  Smooth, creamy, luxurious.  I’ve used that trifecta to describe beer before, but it’s apt.  Delicate carbonation, enough to free up some of the traffic, but it’s more a three lanes back to four, not three lanes back to five, to continue the transportation metaphor.  The hops help to dry out the tongue in the finish, and combined with the roasted malt, provide a nice astringency that gives balance to what could be a too-sweet beer.

O:  So far, my favorite Exit done by Flying Fish, and a great representation of the style.  This is a “clear your schedule” type of beer, especially if you’re not keen on splitting high-abv offerings.

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

Suggested food pairing:  grilled red meat and roasted vegetables, hearty stew, earthy, nutty cheese, coffee-driven desserts or maybe even Black Forest cake.  Also good as what I will start calling a “cocktail beer,” in the sense that it’s excellent in place of dessert itself; enjoyed on its own.

Brewery Interview: Angry Erik Brewing, Lafayette NJ

It was a cloudy October afternoon in the Lafayette industrial park.  A light rain fell, making the collage of red, orange, green and gold leaves glisten.  I walked through the door of the humble brewery to find a fit, energetic young woman hauling around empty kegs and flipping high-bar chairs over in preparation for the crowds that would surely visit in the evening.

Heide and I shook hands, I powered up my laptop, and we got down to business.

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