Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Victory Dirt Wolf

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After a frustrating day at work, I feel like some self punishment is in order. That's right, I'm punishing my taste buds with copious amounts of hops. Upon first look of this, I was turned off. I figured the name indicated it would have a lot of earthy characteristics about it. But, as the old saying goes, you can never judge a book by its cover. Speaking of cover, let's delve into this, nose first and cover this beer (like I want my tongue constantly covered in hops).

This pours a slightly hazy golden orange color with about a finger worth of white head. The aroma on this is slightly caramel with growing notes of citrus, tropical fruits, and straw. Nothing 'dirty' smelling about this. Huh. Ok, let's now hunt down the flavor profile of this 8.7% ABV animal. This enters the lips with a light straw and caramel malt background that lends itself perfectly to the aggressive hop flavors that kick through your teeth, ripping and shredding your mouth with powerful grapefruit, citrus, pine and tropical fruit flavors. After the initial attack, your mouth is reeling in shock with a slight stickiness from the hops. The hop flavor doesn't stick around long, but enough to make its presence known. The alcohol really isn't noticed while drinking, but it does start to sneak up on you, typical wolf, always hunting, always on the prowl for an unsuspecting victim. Tonight, I am the victim of the wolf, and I'm proud to be one.

4.75/5 caps


Confession: we purchased this awhile ago, and drank the other two beers of the four-pack. I thoroughly enjoyed it then, and am looking forward to assaulting my taste buds once again, in a really good way. I also poured my portion into a tulip glass, respecting the proper glassware movement.

My bottle poured without a trace of haze. Nathan nailed the appearance, other than that. (My bottle also sat in the refrigerator a little longer, while he typed his portion. Reverse chill haze?) He perfectly described the aroma and flavors, so I'll just add that I love the grapefruit-forward nature of this beer; it almost tastes like there is grapefruit zest in this. There is a lovely blast of it toward the back end, and it's oh-so-welcome.

[I've now let this warm a bit to take a long break to visit with neighbors and friends and to watch Franklin and Bash, my favorite legal-beagle show of all time... so let's just get back into this and see how it's warmed.]

After warming for over an hour, it's a little sweeter up front, but again, not offensively sweet. It's just letting you know it's an 8.7% beer. The grapefruit-zest sensation still packs a punch at the back end, just as Stanton Infeld was sucker punched in F&B tonight. There's also a boozy warmth that comes through at the end of this that just warms the soul. Hands down, this is my favorite beer from Victory. It has also rapidly ascended my list of favorite DIPAs and I have repeatedly found myself craving it since those early beers.

4.75/5 caps


Music Pairing: "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran
Cheese Pairing: A naturally smoked provolone
Food Pairing: A Philly cheesesteak, and not only because this is made near Philadelphia

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow

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With just less than an hour before "Drunk History" starts, we figured we might try to match the storytellers on this fabulous show. I so want to pressure Derek Waters into drinking our way through as many 12% beers as it takes for me to fall onto the floor and sing the opening of the Lion King. Not too long ago on a venture to our favorite local craft beer store, we picked up a bomber of this Three Floyds seasonal brew. It's a double IPA with lactose milk sugars added. It sounds just weird enough to try, gonzo enough to love, and, oh yeah, I've heard really good things about this. This weighs in at 11% ABV and 100 IBUS, so it should do the trick. And can we discuss how much I love the artwork on the label???

It slides into my glass, showing a medium amber color and with a moderate off-white head. The aroma is fantastic: pine, grapefruit, pineapple, orange, and just a hint of freshly-cut grass. Taking a sip, all of those flavors are unsurprisingly forward, but the lactose adds such an interesting note to this. It doesn't affect the flavor at all, it just smooths out the mouthfeel, so that it's soft, lush, and rich, kind of like drinking velvet. It's a sweeter hop bomb, but not offensively cloying, such as I find Ballast Point Sculpin and many lesser IPAs to be. There's a boozy note that comes through midway through the sip, and almost a burnt sugar note at the very back end, like the topping on a creme brulee. It's one of the most unique beers I've ever had, and I drink a lot of weird beers!

I've yet to have a bad beer from Three Floyds, and I love what they did with this. The label describes this beer as "not normal", and I'd definitely have to agree with them, yet they knocked this odd notion out of the ballpark.

4.7/5 caps


This has had time to warm up.... a lot of time. Roughly 2 hours.... oops. Well, to be fair, we took an hour and a half break to hang out without neighbor, drink a Yuengling in memory of her uncle, and watch Drunk History. Which linking that reminds me how much I don't like our earlier reviews of beers. We've become more thorough, more expanded, more experienced, more drunk.

That being said, it shocks me that this still has a small amount of head lingering around, much like a small portion of a song that's stuck in your head for days, you know the tune and a couple words, but you're stubborn, so you're not going to look it up. But, damn, what is that!? Is it some 80's New Wave or something they played on the modern alt rock station last week? I seem to be getting sidetracked. So, the color on this was nailed by Jennie.  The aroma on this is.... hang on let's twist an Apocalypse Now reference " * Long Sniff* I love the smell of hops in the morning!" Pineapple, orange, grapefruit, and some hints grass (dig deep, it's faded at this point, same as the pine notes Jennie picked up earlier). Mind you, 2 hours into being poured, I still want to have a room in a house that smells like this, year round.

Time for another Apocalypse Now quote: "You'll never find out about yourself working in some fucking factory in Ohio." This beer makes me realize that in the first sip. My factory job (actually, yes, in Ohio) will never bring me to inner peace, finding my inner light. This beer, on the other hand, is closer than factory work. It's fantastic. There's a blast of grapefruit zest, pine and orange upfront, your mind expects this to intensify and linger, like most DIPAs, but instead, the malts come in and the lactose sugars pop in and mellow everything out, giving balance to something that otherwise would be overpowering. The hops do linger, but instead of intensifying, they dissipate as the smooth liquid slides from the lips and down the esophagus. There's some almost lemon like flavors from the hops at this point that blends perfectly with the caramel notes from the malt. The lactose sugars gives it a smooth mouthfeel, like laying naked on a comfy bed with velvet sheets on it. Moving your arms and legs, rejoicing in the sheer joy you get from it touching your skin. Picture that, but on your tongue. The finish is slightly sticky, but with this being 11% and 100 IBUs, I can't tell clearly which it is, as there is both hop and sweetness stickiness. 

If you're able to, pick this up, it's an experience. Who would have thought of adding lactose sugars to a DIPA? I never would have thought it would work with something so hoppy (I'm used to lactose sugars being in stouts). Well, shit, Three Floyds, you nailed it. I tip my hat to you, fine sirs (and possibly madames - Jennie).

4.8/5 caps


Music pairings: "Ride of the Valkyries", Wagner, not only for the movie reference, but also for the way this beer blasts across the tongue
Cheese pairings: a good, local Farmer's cheese. Something nice and creamy.
Food pairings: Peach Crisp

Friday, August 22, 2014

Founders Dissenter IPL

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Like your worst nightmare from a bad 1980's movie, we're baaaaaaaaack. We sure have missed you, and we promise to start working our way through our stash of yummy craft beers. Not that we haven't been drinking good craft beers while we've been on hiatus... I could only let the session IPAs sit for so long before they started to stale! And that, my friends, should be a capital crime. And speaking of 1980's movies, I'm totally loving Throwback Thursday on AMC tonight: Breakfast Club followed by Sixteen Candles? Yes, please (although it would probably be better to watch both on Netflix, so as to avoid commercial interruption)!

Tonight we bring you Founders Dissenter, an Imperial Pale Lager. This is a relatively new style to the craft beer scene, taking a lager and hopping it to IPA proportions. Last Winter, Sam Adams did an IPL, and I believe we picked up one in Illinois that was unavailable here in Ohio. Both were tasty. I love that Founders opted for this style in their Backstage series. I have high expectations from Founders, after all; they are a solid brewery who ranks highly in my top 5. This is especially remarkable considering they haven't made a lager in several years (15, I want to say?). And at 8.7% ABV, this should do the trick... impressive for a lager, even with the Imperial label. Shall we?

This came in a 750 mL bottle, AKA a wine bottle. I like those for sharing, which I sometimes struggle with, as an only child. It pours a beautiful, crystal clear golden color, just a tinge darker than most American fizzy yellow piss lagers. It had about two fingers of bright white foam when I initially poured it and that dissipated very quickly, as you can see from the photo (taken at pouring). Let's get into this aroma, because I'm pretty blown away by the couple of sniffs that I've taken. My olfactory nerves are assaulted with pine, grapefruit (zest especially), a little apricot, a lot of floral and grassy notes. What is really impressing me with this is how bright and fresh the aroma is. There is just a hint of cracker and bread in there, but ever so faint; this is (hopefully) going to be a hop showcase. It reminds me a lot of their All Day IPA, but the cracker/bread notes associated with the malt characteristics are even fainter. As I take my first sip, I'm tantalized by a fantastic lager that has been very well made and thoughtful hop additions that lend so much character to this beer. Now that it has warmed quite a bit, the maltiness of the brew really comes through at first. Initially, I taste a German-style lager, and then the hops start to shine. The same notes attributed to the aroma come through loud and clear on the back end of this. I'm tasting Centennial and Amarillo hops primarily, and I'm certain there are plenty of other hop strains in here. At the very end, there is a little warming, boozy kick to this. It's not remotely off-putting, but rather a welcome addition to my palate. It is  perfectly carbonated, and the maltiness leaves a pleasant stickiness on my lips.

Overall, Founders, as usual, knocked this out of the park. Well done, gents, well done.

4.7/5 caps


This has had time to warm up while Jennie took lead on this (and I enjoyed Sixteen Candles). The color is deeper, as Jennie mentioned. At this point, there is just a small ring of white foam, struggling to make its presence known after 'breathing' for a while. The aroma on this beckons Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing while "Cheek to Cheek" plays in the background (opening lyrics of "Heaven, I'm in heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak"). It's a refreshing blast of hops (see above for Jennie's description, because just like a picture on the wall, she nailed it). The aroma makes me drift off into a fantasy world where I'm riding a giant hop that's leaping over fields of grapefruit zest, pine trees, peach/apricot orchards, and the occasional grassy meadow.
But then this flows into the mouth with the greatest pleasure. Oh, Hopsus, thank you for blessing me on this day with this elixir you've graced your presence upon! There's a nice lighter Grape Nuts and biscuit combo for the malt backbone, but it doesn't distract from the glory of the hops. There is so much going on from start to finish, it leaves the mouth longing for more. A blast of apricot initially greets the taste buds, opening the door to the quick rush of friends it has brought along. The pine, grass and lemon flavors rush in, livening up the party. As the party starts to fade, good old grapefruit is there, lingering around until long after the party's over. Much like a good friend, he's there to help you clean up and plan the next one. There is a slight boozy note toward that back end that makes you aware this isn't your typical American piss lager.
This drinks smooth with a bitter, stickiness on the back end, letting you know there are copious amounts of hops used in the brew.  With each and every sip, I don't want to put down the glass, in fact, I wish this was a year round brew, as I could see this being a go-to beer.
As I haven't had too many IPLs, this beer saddens me, only because, from here on out, every IPL will be judged against this.

 4.85/5 caps


Food pairing: Burgers, salmon, and corn on the cob on the grill
Cheese pairing: A grassy local farmer's cheese
Music pairing: Bob Marley, "Three Little Birds" -- because every little thing will, indeed, be all right after drinking this.