Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

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Ah, Friday, it's been too long since we last met. Well, seven days, to be precise, but does it count if it feels like it's actually been a month of Fridays??? This is the first Friday in ages that I haven't spent in a hospital, doctor's office(s), or chemo room. I wasn't sure what to do with myself other than to ask my partner-in-zymurgy about reviewing beer. Apparently a night of playing Cards Against Humanity with friends is out because I cracked a rib earlier this week, and it really hurts to laugh, cough, breathe. I usually laugh so hard that I'd probably crack another rib. Instead, let's drink a beer to numb some of the pain in my ribcage.

This is an award-winning beer, having been voted the best IPA in the country in a poll or two. It usually makes the top 10 beers of the country. It also took the gold medal this year (for the second time) at the World Beer Cup in the IPA category. Made in San Diego, this is one of the quintessential West Coast IPAs. The Tupac to the east coast's Biggie. Ballast Point started out, as so many breweries these days, by homebrewing. I'll tip my hat to that historical nugget. As a hophead, I've been dying to drink this. This hopaliciousness shall wait no longer.

It pours a crystal clear golden color with a quickly dissipating white head that was about a finger high. It has since decreased to a fluffy cloud atop my beer. The aroma on this is wonderful. so good that I waved it under Nathan's nose just to torture him with the scent. As it has warmed a tad, I'm picking up notes of caramel, toffee, and plenty of generic citrus and pine. Lots and lots of pine. Taking a sip, my taste buds are assaulted (in a good way) with fresh pine needles that fades away to caramel notes and then fades into oblivion with a note of freshly zested grapefruit and perhaps some mango. The carbonation on this is fantastic for a 7% ABV brew, and it leaves a vaguely sticky feel in the mouth.

I'm not sure if perhaps we sat on this for a bit too long, or if it's just not as dreamy as I'd hoped. The brewery's description speaks of peach, mango, apricot, and lemon. I'm not picking up many of these flavors, although the after-aftertaste does lead to a hint of peach. What I am left with is a strong desire to drink this closer to its bottling date, and to try the habanero version of this (please bottle it soon, as it's only available on tap in the taproom and at special events).

4.5/5 caps


So, apparently, Jennie is a big meanie head. Making me take a waft of this fantastic hoppy goodness, knowing that the anticipation may, in fact, actually kill me. It's been a long ass week at work, the busiest since I've been there with the company (2 1/2 years). I have aches and pains in places I didn't know existed; doing my own job (export shipping) while helping out with Mike with all the freight shipments (49 skids for one shipment today, along with the over abundance of orders to hit/exceed quota as it's end of the month and end of fiscal quarter). Enough about work, it's the fucking weekend now, right? You (and Jennie) are probably tired of hearing me bitch about work. Enough of Jennie's torment, I finally get to delve into this. How many of you actually read the second portion anyways? We should have a poll to find out.

As I turn on the Frank Turner (yes, I've been listening a lot to him lately, if you have a problem with that, clearly you haven't heard him), I admire the gorgeous golden color of the half-pint that's in front of me. There's still some puffy white head lingering, which shocks me as it's been about a half hour or so since Jennie started her review. So, since this has had time to warm up, the aroma is an interesting concoction of... hang on.... *sniff* pine, citrus, peach, caramel and some tropical fruits. Fantastic smelling. Oh, how I've longed to have this on my taste buds... but as I taste it, is it that we sat on it too long (purchased more roughly 3 months ago, sorry, but shit's happened that was out of our control). The hops seemed to have died off some, fuck, I feel like a terrible person now. I'm catching caramel from the malts with pine notes. Following the pine notes I catch some citrus and peach notes. Pretty much what was in the nose, but fainter. This is smooth drinking on the front end with bitterness toward the back. It's a nice crisp beer with decent carbonation that leaves a slight puckering with hints citrus in the finish. As Jennie said, this would be better fresher, but same point, it's enjoyable at this point where we are now. To ask, where are we? What are we doing here? Why are we here? Well, I don't have the answers to all the questions, but me, personally, I'm here to bring beer reviews to you to help me escape from the pains of daily life. I drink 'cause I'm thirsty, I drink 'cause I'm dry. I'm not quite yet 30, but I feel like I'm dying. I drink cause I want to, 'cause I need to, 'cause I don't know what else to do with my time. I won't say it, you can see it in my eyes....

4.5/5 caps


Food pairing: Nathan's step-dad's recipe for jerk pork (AKA Mr. Jerry's Jerk Sauce)
Cheese pairing: A nice hunk of creamy habanero jack
Music pairing: Sublime, "Doin' Time"

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Flying Dog Single Hop Amarillo (2014)

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Ah, no long ass work week would be manageable without a damn good, heavy IPA, or in this case, an Imperial IPA that clocks in at 10%. This to celebrate that Ralph Steadman's documentary, For No Good Reason, is finally coming to Columbus on July 4th. I've been waiting for this documentary for over a year now.

So with that said, please join me in the adventure of the mind and taste buds as I guide you through this limited release selection from the most Gonzo brewing company, Flying Dog.

"I ain't got a dime,
but what I got is mine.
I ain't rich, but Lord
I'm free." Whether
it's morning, noon,
or night, you're damn
straight that Amarillo
is where I'll be.

The flavor text on the side of the bottle. A reference to George Straight's song, "Amarillo." Eh, typically the flavor texts on Flying Dog bottles are better than this. I've give them a pass as it's being playful with song lyrics.

This pours a clear, golden amber color with a nice finger head on it that's slightly off-white. The aroma on this is a nice piney, citrus concoction with some herbal notes lending a hand to dunk your nose into the foamy head. Damn... this head is thick. When you start scraping head off your nose and suck on your finger, does that make you a connoisseur or a lush? I mean, after all, it is only Thursday night, one more long day of unbridled torture at the concrete prison that provides the money for drinking this. The same concrete walls that give me a listless outlook on life, the same metal dock doors that make me feel empty each and every day. The same cement floor that mocks my very will to live.  I seem to be straying, typical, huh.

The flavor on this makes me feel like calling off tomorrow and having a 3-day-weekend long affair in a hot tub with different hop varieties. It's that pungent blast of hoppiness on the front that I need to get through the day. Citrus heavy toward the front, bleeding into a piney burst that starts to build along with the bitterness. Smooth toward the front with growing bitterness to where this leaves your mouth slightly puckered, with resiny goodness lingering as you try to catch your breath from the sucker punch of boozy that just hit you. The malt notes aren't really noticeable to me on this, some brown sugar flavors, but not the typical caramel/biscuit/toffee that I'm used to as a backbone for IPAs.

This finishes sticky, making your freshly lashed tongue long for more, much like some sort of kinky BDSM fetish. There's something of a fresh blast of the Amarillo hop as you breathe, all the while the stickiness keeps building until you satisfy the thirst.

Although not one of my favorite hop varieties, it's a great showcasing of a single hop. Not quite as good as their Single Hop Simcoe or Single Hop Citra, but this is my own personal preference. Get out there and get your tongue lashed.

4.75/5 caps


Even at home, it's been a long week. So long that I thought tonight was Friday for about an hour. Meh. I'm ready for a beer that packs a bit heavier punch.

Perfectly clear, this golden amber brew still has some head lingering after it has had some time to warm from fridge temp. Dense lacing remains at the top of my glass. For me, the jury is still out on Amarillo hop strain. I like to use them for bittering, but I'm not that familiar with using them for aroma and flavor. I find the aroma to be earthy with almost a hint of fresh sage and mint atop the citrus and pine notes. The aroma on this is pure hops; I'm not finding much malt backbone here in the nose. Taking a sip as mine has warmed significantly, there is a really noticeable earthy tone in here that I don't prefer. Candidly, it tastes like there should be some dirt grit in here, as the earthy tone lingers throughout the taste. I find it kind of off-putting, but that may just be me. There are the citrus -- specifically lemon -- and pine notes that he-with-boy-parts mentioned, but I find them to be much too subtle for my liking. This beer is overly sticky and cloyingly sweet. I kind of want to go brush my teeth after each sip because it's so sticky on my tongue and lips. Yes, indeed, that is what she said.

Honestly, this is my least favorite brew from this series. It's too sweet, even for an IIPA. The hop characteristics are overpowered by the sweetness of this. It's a dessert brew, and I'm not loving this. It is my opinion that this is sweeter than Southern Tier's Creme Brulee Stout. I do enjoy so many of their other offerings, though, this won't turn me off. I'd love to get my hands on some of Flying Dog's El Dorado single-hop series, for certain, and usually I like their IPAs. This one, I feel, misses the mark and isn't up to their usual standard.

3.7/5 caps

Music Pairing: "Next Round" Frank Turner (yes, I've been listening a lot to him. It's great drinking music with deep lyrics set to punk/folk music)
Cheese Pairing: Habanero (or hotter) Pepper Jack
Food Pairing: Chile Rellenos

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Brooklyn Sorachi Ace

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It's been a rough day, but I'll spare you the boring details of caring for my father and the minutia that is taking care of my favorite cancer and dementia patient. Both collided in spectacular fashion today. Nathan and I reside in one another's head enough that we both had in mind to drink the Sorachi tonight, without speaking to one another about it previously, as well as to share with you our opinion of the beer. We haven't done a lot from Brooklyn, and that is nothing but sheer oversight on our behalf. We enjoy their brews, and we do have one more special one stashed, so look for that review to come soon. We also just happen to love the Sorachi Ace hop strain; it's featured in our award-winning homebrew, Sourpuss. It stands apart from other hop strains because of its fantastic lemony and lemongrass-y qualities. When you brew with lemongrass, like we do, it's a natural addition. 

Let's get to Brooklyn's interpretation with this hop. This beer comes with a lot of hype. It's a saison or farmhouse style beer (currently very trendy in the beer world), that features the Sorachi Ace hop. Hell yeah. It pours the color of straw with a large, pillowy, white head. It is fairly hazy, which is expected in a saison. The aroma on this is very faint; I pick up tones of lemon, lemongrass, and straw in the nose, alongside some faint esters from the Belgian yeast strain. One thing I enjoy about many saisons is that they drink a little cleaner than a witbier or hefeweizen, with fewer esters clogging my taste buds and overwhelming my olfactory nerves. In other words, the banana and clove are much more understated in such a style. Taking a healthy sip (there may or may not be some residual head on my nose from accidentally dunking my schnoz into it -- huh? I wonder if beer will clear up that pimple that's growing on my nose?), this is a complex beer that is going to take me a few minutes to deconstruct. There is a strong lemon presence throughout the taste, weaving in and out of notes of cracker, straw, grass, and an ever-so-faint clove-tinged earthiness from the yeast. This is an exceptionally light drinking beer, despite it's 7.6% ABV. It has great carbonation and the body is quite light. It would make a fantastic lawnmower beer, but for its moderate alcohol content and that it's a small batch beer. 

Overall, this is a very good offering from Brooklyn. If you can find some, please do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle. The lemon and the saison yeast work very well together in this. It's a very well-built beer. I've had my eye on this for awhile now, and with some pushing from Jay at Wine & Brew Emporium, I'm very glad we purchased this.

4.7/5 caps


So, reading Jennie's description of this, I'm more intrigued than I was from the get go. I'll keep this short and sweet instead of my initial game plan (because Klansman Jennie won't let me use 'water heads' and 'spastic mongoloids' as descriptive adjectives about my work day. Good job there, Hitler. The sheer dumbstruck look of the nitwit coworkers is one of the reasons I wanted to escape in both beer and literary adventures). 

This has a cloudy straw color with a strong, thick, foamy stark white head. An interesting aroma of straw and lemongrass with backbones of typical Belgian yeast esters (clove and spices). The flavor on this is interesting. Smooth, balanced with the yeast esters with lemon. There's also hints of straw (having worked on a horse ranch, by straw, I also mean the sweet smell of it). The rest of the flavor, Jennie has nailed (hehehe, that's what she said). For a 7.6% brew, this drinks smoother than most American Adjunct Lagers. A creamy mouthfeel with low carbonation makes this a great warmer weather brew. There's a slight stickiness that I notice on the back end that I've only had with Sorachi Ace, it's hard to describe. It's a slight stickiness blended with a light numbing from the oils. Interesting how it pairs with the saison style. And, yes, spell check, saison is a fucking word. 

4.6/5 caps


Cheese pairing: A block of queso quesadilla
Food pairing: Ceviche
Music pairing: A sassy Latin salsa dance tune

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Short's Huma-Lupa-Licious IPA

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So, this has been an interesting year for all involved with this multifaceted project. On the homebrewing front, things are good. Our brew, Sour Puss, has won 1st place in Buckeye Brew Craft's IPA competition, took 3rd in Elevator Brewing's homebrew competition, and was a finalist in Barley's homebrew competition. On the personal home front, things have been been fucked. I lost my uncle and 3 good friends, all to different reasons, and The Phil (see previous reviews) is battling a sickness, and all in the first 6 months of the godforsaken year of 2014. This is dedicated to my dear friend, Dan Haley. If you haven't figured out, from time to time, we'll open up from time to time with our personal life. This is one of those posts.

Dan Haley, gone too soon. Never a bad memory with him. He was there when my Brother-From-Another-Mother and I got our first tattoos. Brother went in first (as his took longer), Dan decided he and I should have a drink before I get mine. One beer was agreed upon. 3 pitchers and shots later... Dan paid the artist $20 to draw a penis in my friend's tattoo (still to this day, after being covered up minutes later, you can still see it). There was another time that Dan showed up at the Athens house as I started to fall asleep... well... Dan pegged me in the with a beer to wake me up (with his duck tape ammo belt)... see pictures...

So, in his passing, I went up to that state-up-North for his funeral. A small town with one giant church, a strip club, an adult book store, 2 bars and a gas station. That's it. you blink, you miss your salvation. Eh.

On the way back home, we stopped off to get some beer to honor Dan. We found some brews we can't get in Ohio and picked those up also.

Short's Huma-Lupa-Lucious IPA. Yes this might be one of the most long, drawn out reviews before actually getting to the review. If you have a problem with it, please email ... wait... is that a real site? Forget it... Back to the beer finally.

This pours beautiful clear golden amber color with small amount of head. Mind you, this was purchased May 1st, it's now June 23rd (24th if you want to get technical), so I'm hoping we didn't sit on this for too long, like our last review. Perfectly clear brew. I'm looking at the picture of Dan and I through this beer. This has a nice aroma. Caramel heavy with some herbal notes with faint hints of citrus. The taste on this is interesting. It's not as hoppy as I'd expect from the reviews on those 'other sites' (B.A. and Ratebeer). It has a pleasant taste. Pine heavy on the hop characteristics with hints of tropical fruits, but not overly hoppy. The caramel of the malts lends a huge backbone to this piney concoction. The aftermath that's left on your palate is a slightly numbing, piney stickiness that makes you smack you lips and savor the flavor. The carbonation is perfect on this, not too much, not too little. This is better than when I had it first after getting back in town (maybe it was my palate was wrecked from other brews, maybe it was just emotionally numb, who really knows). This is tasty. If it were to be distributed to Ohio, I would have this as a good go-to IPA.


PS, you learned some more about our personal stuff, so it's only fair that we're friends now. Go, like our pages and prove your friendship....

So, I've been waiting for a long time to get to this beer. I watched an entire hour-long episode of a series ("Brew Masters", natch), while waiting for my partner-in-zymurgy to locate amazing old pictures and take you on his nostalgic journey. I've thoroughly enjoyed it; Nathan is a little worried he became overly personal. Dan, I hardly knew ye, much like this keyboard.... I seem to have misplaced my typing skills. If you've seen them, please email the above-referenced address.

As this beer has had an hour and change to warm, there is no discernible head remaining, although it remains a beautiful medium orange color. Kind of like picking up a piece of amber jewelry in Riga, Latvia, from a street vendor, and you just know it's old and worn and resinous. I pick up so many notes on this now that it has warmed. Notes of caramel, orange, toffee, and pine waft across my olfactory nerves. Taking a sip, I get each of those in turn, plus a note of earth, probably from some Cascade hops that I don't particularly favor. And then late, way late, like after your curfew when you were 12 and you decided to come home after midnight, a big pine note happens across your tastebuds, and it's delicious, balancing out the sweetness from the caramel malts and the citrus from the hop additions. This is a medium-bodied beer that is nicely refreshing on a really warm, stormy night.

I've heard a lot about Short's. Their beers are a pretty sought-after thing here in Ohio from Those In The Know. I look forward to picking up more beers from them when we visit Michigan -- yes, that beautiful state up north -- when we visit my father's hometown this summer and relive a ton of my childhood memories.

 4.2/5 caps


Music: "Dan's Song" Frank Turner
Cheese: A nicely aged Asiago
Food: Lemon bars