Beer Review – Rising Tide Zephyr IPA

Rising Tide Zephyr IPA

We’ll call this review of Rising Tide Brewing Company’s Zephyr IPA, Part 2 of my Summer 2014 “travels in Maine” series. Part 1, which was basically a bunch of photos from our summer vacation, posted last Thursday. I say this because there isn’t much of a back story with regards to the purchase of this beer, and you all know how much we love a back story around here. In a nutshell, I saw a four pack of this beer on the shelves at the Belfast Hannaford’s, a beer which I had never seen and had never had, so I bought it. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Before we get to my review, here is what Rising Tide has to say about their Zephyr IPA:

Zephyr (n)—a westerly breeze or wind, considered by many to be the fairest of wind direction

Heady like the sweet breath of Zephyrus, our India pale ale is redolent of citrus, apples, and pears, balanced by a touch of caramel. We use malted barley grown by local farmers and add a special blend of Cascade, Centennial, and Calypso hops to create this juicy, hoppy ale.

And now for my impressions of this beer…

  • Appearance: Pale orange color. Slightly cloudy thanks to its unfilteredness with an off white and slowly dissipating head of fluffy foam.
  • Aroma: Lightly sweet and mildly hopped with hints of honey, tea biscuits, light citrus (tangerines perhaps?), and some pine.
  • Taste: Smooth and creamy mouthfeel . Lightly sweet, biscuity malts in the beginning. Gets a touch bitter towards the middle, but not overly so. The finish is crisp and well balanced with sweet and bitter notes that complement each other beautifully.
  • ABV: 7.5%

For a 7.5% beer, Rising Tide’s Zephyr is ridiculously easy to drink. It’s so smooth that I might dare call this session worthy, but having more than 3 in a row could prove to be a problem. I really liked this beer! I had a four pack over the course of the week while I was on vacation, and even brought back a four pack to share with my fellow Craft Beer aficionados, cause you know, sharing IS caring. Cheers to you Rising Tide!

Beer Review – Cigar City Hopped on the High Seas

Cigar City Hopped on the High Seas

Over the past five years, I have been to the Sunshine State (aka Florida) on five occasions, and the closest I’ve come to visiting the Cigar City Brewery was their mini brewpub in the Tampa Bay airport (sadly, there was no time to partake of their offerings). Thanks to my very positive experiences with their Jai Alai and Maduro Brown beers, I am ALWAYS looking for something new to try from this brewery. I’m currently on the hunt for Florida Cracker, but as of this writing, I haven’t been able to secure a can in Philadelphia. That being said, during a recent lunch time beer run to The Foodery, I saw something new in the refrigerator case from Cigar City that I’d never heard of , i.e. the can of Hopped on the High Seas that you see in the above photo, so I just had to pick one up for an eventual review.

Here’s the somewhat complicated story behind this beer taken directly from the Cigar City website:

This 60 IBU Caribbean-style IPA was brewed at the Cervezas del Sur Brewery in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The mango tree-lined streets of Ponce put us in a tropical mood and Hopped on the High Seas is the result of that Caribbean feeling. High Seas is a 7% ABV IPA dry-hopped exclusively with one variety of hop; 165 lbs of them in fact! And since we wanted to put this beer in our favorite container, the 12 oz can, a sea journey was required to get the beer back to Tampa for canning. We took the opportunity to add the dry-hops to the refrigerated shipping container prior to racking. Which means this beer truly was Hopped on the High Seas. As the beer made its way home, the gentle motion of the ocean worked to infuse the luscious aromatics of the hops. The result is big tropical aromas and flavors, light balancing malt backbone and a clean bitter finish.

Cue the Salsa music because it’s time to get to my impressions of this beer…

  • Appearance: Lightly cloudy pale amber color with a thick off white head that rises to about an inch. The foam dissipates slowly and leaves a good bit of lacing behind.
  • Aroma: Tropical indeed! I can almost hear Tito Puente and his band in the background as the mango, pineapple, and citrus aromas tickle my olfactory. All I need now is a beach or pool side hammock, a palm tree, and a girl named Maria to keep filling my glass!
  • Taste: Lightly carbonated with a medium mouthfeel. Starts off with a subtle honey sweetness and transitions quickly to a soothing hop bitterness. From start to finish there’s a subtle sweetness in the background that keeps the hops from dominating the palate. The finish is somewhat dry with a lingering bitter aftertaste.
  • ABV: 7%

Hopped on the High Seas is definitely a tasty IPA. Well balanced and oh so drinkable, this is a beer that I would love to try on tap. The only question is, how does it stand up against their Jai Alai which is much more readily available in these parts? Perhaps yet another side by side tasting is in order!

Beer Review – Stone Brewing Enjoy By 02/14/14 IPA

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Well, I purchased a bottle of Stone’s Enjoy By IPA and placed it in the beer fridge without paying a whole lot of attention to its location. Apparently, the label didn’t really sink in either. So, on 04/20/14, I cracked open the Enjoy By 02/14/14 IPA and split the bomber with G-LO. His first comment questioned my ability to read; not just the big letters on the bottle but my actual ability to read. His next comment concerned his reluctance to participate in the review as he wondered what a “fresh” bottle might taste like.  His final comment revolved around his love of West Coast beers and how this old, dated bottle with questionable handling might ruin that for him. At this point, I once again confirmed that I need to put up a bigger fence. Anyway, I am a big fan of Stone Brewing and was intrigued by the pretty bottle with the scripted lettering. I guess I should have taken the label seriously and drank it immediately but my procrastination knows no bounds.

Before we get to my review, here is what Stone has to say about the Enjoy By IPA:

You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. While freshness is a key component of many beers – especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs – we’ve taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA. You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last. We’ve not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you’re getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the label, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and consumers. Instead, we’ve sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA.

I found the beer to be…

  • Appearance: Golden and opaque, with a quickly dissipating foam
  • Aroma: Sweet (like honey), citrus and a little hoppy.
  • Taste: A bit syrupy with a fair amount of sweetness (cane sugar) and a faint, hoppy and bitter finish.
  • ABV: 9.4%

Overall, I found the Enjoy By IPA to be quite refreshing and easy drinking. I’m not sure if the bottle lost a little of its character drinking it over two months beyond the Enjoy By date, but I liked it.

Beer Review – Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

San Francisco. It’s been on my short list of places to visit for quite some time, but for whatever reason, I just haven’t made it there yet. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and numerous other sites are all on my “things to do in San Francisco” list, but what really intrigues me are the multitudes of food and drink experiences that I simply must try. I’ll blame TV shows like Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover for this. Show me enough bars and restaurants serving tantalizing drinks and mouth watering food, and I’m gonna want to go there. And if you’re a city that is home to two of my favorite breweries, i.e. Anchor Brewing Company and 21st Amendment, then the sooner I get there the better!

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers is yet another brewery that is located in San Francisco (they’ve been brewing in San Fran since 1997). I’m not exactly sure when they first hit the shelves in South Jersey, but after hearing mostly good things about them over the interwebs, and after seeing their very cool label art, I decided to pick up a few of their beers to see what all the fuss is about. Here’s hoping that Speakeasy is yet another reason for me to visit San Fran in the not too distant future!

Before we get to my review, here are a few words about the Big Daddy IPA taken directly from the Speakeasy website:

No lightweight, Big Daddy IPA tips the scales with a huge hop flavor and a clean, dry finish that leaves the scene without a trace.

And now for my impressions of this beer…

  • Appearance: Clear, pale orange color with soft, off white foam that peaks at about an inch and then dissipates fairly rapidly, leaving some light lacing behind.
  • Aroma: A much more subtle nose than I’m used to these days. Light citrusy notes of orange zest and pink grapefruit coupled with some honey and lightly toasted biscuit scents.
  • Taste: Light to medium carbonation with some fizzy bubbles that tickle your tongue. The flavors are fairly consistent from start to finish. The mildly bitter hops and sweet malts are definitely working together. As you approach the middle, the bitterness builds up a bit, but it never gets overwhelming. The finish is crisp and clean with a slight lingering bitterness that I find very appealing.
  • ABV: 6.5%

Here we go again! Yet another superb IPA to add to my Craft Beer drinking repertoire. This is my first experience with a Speakeasy beer, and if their other stuff is as good as this one, then there are definitely good times ahead. Overall, I found this to be a lightly hoppy and easy drinking IPA that reminded me (if my memory serves me correctly) of the Three Floyds Zombie Dust and Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA. Not a mind blowing IPA, but definitely one worth trying. I’ll be seeking this out again.

Beer Review – Sierra Nevada 2013 Celebration Ale

Sierra Nevada 2013 Celebration Ale

While I consider myself to be someone that enjoys a wide variety of beer styles, I have yet to fully embrace the Pumpkin and Christmas Ales that have been all over the shelves the past few months. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely stumbled upon a few that I’ve really enjoyed (i.e. Southern Tier Warlock, Schlafly Christmas Ale, and Anchor Brewing’s Our Special Ale), but more often than not, they leave me a bit disappointed since they are either way over the top and overspiced or simply dull, leaving me to wonder what all the fuss is about.

For the longest time, I thought that the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale was one of those overspiced Christmas Ales, but then in 2012, I actually tried the beer and realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Celebration Ale has nothing in common with all those beers. I guess I was misled by the poinsettias and the snow covered cabin on the label! That’s what I get for judging a book by its cover and not actually reading the label.

Since I really liked this beer in 2012, I decided to pick up a bottle during a recent beer run for a long overdue review. But before we get to that, let’s find out what Sierra Nevada has to say about their Celebration Ale:

The start of Celebration season is a festive event. We can’t start brewing until the first fresh hops have arrived, but once they have the season is officially under way! First brewed in 1981, Celebration Ale is one of the earliest examples of an American-style IPA and one of the few hop-forward holiday beers. Famous for its intense citrus and pine aromas, Celebration is bold and intense, featuring Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops—honoring everything we have at Sierra Nevada.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business…

  • Appearance: Cloudy, red-orange color with a thick off white head that rises to a max height of 1.5 inches and then settles down to a thin layer. Moderate lacing.
  • Aroma: Very bright happiness with lots of tropical notes, i.e. mango, pineapple, and mandarin orange. In the background, I’m getting some honey and biscuity sweetness.
  • Taste: Medium carbonation with a soft and velvety texture. Starts of lightly sweet with the honey and biscuity malts coming through. Mild, piney hops make an appearance at the middle, but with a malty sweetness in the background. The tropical notes arrive at the finish with subtle mango and pineapple flavors. Soothing hoppy/sweet finish that lingers for quite awhile.
  • ABV: 6.8%

Yum yum yum! Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale is one seriously delicious and well balanced IPA. It’s hoppy without being overly bitter and it goes down really easy, perhaps a bit too easy given its relatively high ABV. Smooth, flavorful, infinitely drinkable, and definitely a beer that I highly recommend. Go pick some up before it runs out until next year.

Beer Review – Old Dominion Double D Double IPA

Old Dominion Double D Double IPA

On the Saturday before Christmas, Mrs. G-LO and I were invited to attend a holiday party at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Bones (real names withheld to protect those that would rather not be associated with this blog. For the record, our buddy The Alemonger refers to Mrs. Bones as The Goat (not to be confused with @Goats_Udder), and he refers to Mrs. G-LO as The Viking. In Alemonger World, everyone has a bizarre nickname). Since Dr. and Mrs. Bones are Craft Beer lovers, and since (as Limpd would say) my Mamma and Papa raised me right, there was no way that we were showing up to the  party empty handed, so before we headed over to join the festivities, I made a quick stop at Canal’s in Berlin, NJ to pick up some special beers to bring to the party. I decided to pick up two bottles of Maine Beer Company beer (Peeper and Zoe I believe) since I was pretty sure that they had never had them before. Since Maine Beer Company sells their beer in 16 ounce bottles that just happen to fit in a six pack carrier, I decided to pick up four additional beers for myself. The Old Dominion Double D Double IPA that you see in the above photo was part of this mixed six pack. There are two reasons why I decided to pick up a bottle of this beer:

  • Reason #1: I always wanted to be a fighter pilot.
  • Reason #2: I’m a sucker for WW II era pin up art.

Before we get to my review, below is a bit more information about this beer from the good people at Old Dominion Brewing Company:

Double D is a full-bodied Imperial India Pale Ale, flaunting sultry guava, mango, and tropical fruit aromas as a result of dry hopping with Citra, Zythos and Crystal hops. Brewed with light toasted malt and Bravo bittering hops, this double delights with smooth warming alcohols and a torrid finish. A daring draft, she is available in six-packs and on draft.

Let’s find out if I was duped by a pretty label…

  • Appearance: Clear, pale orange color. Thick off-white head that tops off at about an inch and dissipates slowly. Moderate lacing.
  • Aroma: I’m liking how this smells! Honey and tea biscuit scented malt along with citrusy hops, i.e. tangerine with a hint of grapefruit.
  • Taste: Medium bodied with soft and creamy carbonation. A tiny bit of sweet malts at the onset, but they are quickly pushed aside by a somewhat aggressive bitterness. The bitterness in this beer transitions from grapefruit and tangerine to resiny pine. A bit of alcohol comes through in the finish. The ending is astringent with a lingering piney hop bitterness.
  • ABV: 9%

I’m somewhat torn on this beer. While I love the way it smells, I thought the bitterness dominated a bit from the middle to the end. On the flip side, when I let this beer rest for a few minutes, I grew to like it more as it warmed up. Kinda weird right? Overall, I thought this beer was just ok. While I didn’t love it, I liked it enough to wanna give it a second try, especially after being informed by our blogging buddy Oliver of the Literature and Libation blog via a brief Twitter #beerchat (as luck would have it, we just happened to be drinking the same beer at the same time) that this beer is much much better on tap.

Beer Review – Dogfish Head Sixty-One

Dogfish Head Sixty-One

After reading The Dogs of Beer review of the Dogfish Head Sixty-One, I just knew that I had to try it, so when I finally saw it on the shelves (it was in the last place I looked. Funny how that works), I immediately picked up a bottle to round out my mixed six pack of “fruited up” beers.

When Ed reviewed this beer, he went the extra mile and concocted his own version via a bottle of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and a couple shots of Zinfandel, so that he could do a side by side comparison. Hang on! I may have jumped ahead a bit without giving you any background information about this beer. Let me make it up to you…

Here is what Dogfish Head has to say about their Sixty-One:

Whenever Dogfish Head President Sam Calagione and his neighborhood friends gather for drinks, they give each other a big ol’ man-hug and order a round of 60 Minute IPA. A few years ago, Sam also ordered a glass of his favorite red wine and poured a little into each pint of 60 Minute. They all dug the combination of fruity complexity and pungent hoppiness, and the blend became a beloved tradition.

Sixty-One captures that tradition in a bottle and marries two Dogfish Head innovations: beer/wine hybrids — which Dogfish has focused on for well over a decade with beers like Midas Touch and Raison D’être — and continually-hopped IPAs.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any 60 Minute IPA on hand, so I’ll skip the side by side comparison that Ed did and just review Sixty-One on its own. Here’s my impression of this beer…

  • Appearance: Pale ruby red color. Thick white foam that rises rapidly to about an inch and then settles down to a thin layer that covers the top of the beer. A wee bit of lacing.
  • Aroma: The aromas are as advertised! Grapefruit scented hops with a definite red wine backbone that is heavy on the tannins.
  • Taste: Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Starts off with a touch of honey sweetness followed immediately by a healthy kick of mildly bitter hoppiness. The winey (as opposed to whiney) aspects take over to cut the bitterness as you approach the finish. Ends on a dry and somewhat astringent note with a definite red wine like aftertaste.
  • ABV: 6.5%

Since I really enjoy Dogfish Head IPAs (60, 75, 90, and 120 Minute IPAs, Hellhound On My Ale, etc.), picking up a bottle of this beer to see what effect Syrah grape must would have on a rock solid IPA was a definite no brainer. Although that first sip left me a bit befuddled, as the beer came up to room temperature, all of the flavors came alive and I really started to enjoy it. Ed’s review is right on the money! The Syrah grape must definitely mellowed out the hops as you approached the finish. This beer is a hybrid in the truest sense of the word. It starts off as an IPA and ends like a mellow, fruity glass of red wine. Three words: weird and delicious!

But wait, there’s more…

If you want to read even more about this beer, check out The Alemonger’s tangent rich (in a surprisingly on topic kinda way) review of this tasty brew. Cheers!