Monthly Archives: June 2017

Stone–Ruination Double IPA 2.0

This is Stone’s second attempt at their original Ruination beer, hence the 2.0 moniker.  The original was the first double IPA in the world, according to Stone.  Since then, brewing technology has changed, as has Stone’s methods for extracting every atom of the four hop varieties used in this beer.  As Stone notes, this is their “liquid poem to the glory of the hop.”

A quite attractive pour and beer. The color is matte peach, the slight haze providing the matte texture. Not a dark beer, but opaque. The head is slightly off-white and retains well with a finger of sticky bubbles that provide for a nice, thick lace.

IMG_0542

The hop scent just kills. Some crackery malt comes thru but this thing is a hop explosion in the nose with pine and a mixture of citrus fruits. Pineapple and peach, along with orange and grapefruit.

Due to the nose I expected a bit of sweet fruit but it’s mostly a pine and citrus rind combo. Again, the malt provides a salty cracker taste as well.

Dank and bitter. Could use something to balance the bitter, but that’s what this beer has always been about. Medium bodied with a biting crispness, the bitter and warmth from the alcohol scrapes the tongue dry and keeps it hostage til the next sip.

While slightly disappointing after the scent, it’s still a hell of a good beer. I probably like this a bit more than I think I remember liking the original.

Sierra Nevada–Hoptimum 2017 Edition

One of the great annual beers from Sierra Nevada.  Three different hop varietals added at multiple times during the brewing process.  Just two malts and one yeast strain.  Based on the name alone, you know it’s a hop bomb.  Each vintage is slightly different but mostly the same yummy lupulin goodness.

A bit darkish, coppery bronze color, opaque. The head is brilliant white, and foamy, like a cloud. Big bubbles mixed in with little, a sloppy lace left behind.

IMG_0541

Right off the bat, you pick up the oily hop flower resins.  It even smells oily.  But, that blast of citrus is amazing, mostly pineapple.  If you’ve had enough hop bombs, you can tell what’s coming just from the smell.

Taste is similar to the smell with light notes of warm-weather fruits, but mostly pine forest.  At 9.6% ABV, the alcohol is ever present, yet it’s happy to play in the background.

For a split second, there’s a malty feel, then the hop bomb explodes and let’s you know what kind of beer it is. The bitterness curls your toes and makes your teeth hurt. Along the way, there is some sweet bite of the citrus. The finish is dry and sticky.

All ales from SN are exceptional and this is no different.  For a Triple IPA, it’s actually fairly easy to drink.  The alcohol, choice hops, and massive amounts of hops help keep the IBUs at around 65.  It’s high ABV, but it’s hidden very well. It’s a must drink for beer fans and hop bombers alike.

Cigar City–Jai Alai

The flagship beer of the Florida brewer.  Possibly the best IPA in the world.

Clear, light brown. A thin but fluffy offtan head with decent retention and good lacing.

IMG_0531

Nice citric hoppy smell. Grapefruit and pine, smells like a forest of cut down pine trees.

Taste follows the smell, a lot of citrus with some backnotes of pine.

Bitter, but in a good, controlled way. Not a hop bomb, just the right amount. Earthy, piney bitter from beginning to end.

Great stuff, a simple, world class IPA that’s easy to drink.

Cigar City–Raspberry Halo

Cigar City is arguably Florida’s finest brewery and one of the highlights of my trip South each year.  Raspberry Halo is an imperial stout, tipping the scale at 10.7% ABV, with raspberries added to the brew.

It pours the darkest shades of midnight black, surrendering zero light.  The medium brown head is extremely thin and has short legs.  Subsequent swirls yield no lacing.

IMG_0502

Raspberry Halo smells like an extremely amazing dessert.  Notes of raspberry fruit and fudge float my boat.  A touch of coffee in the background really pleases.

The taste strongly favors the raspberries, not necessarily a bad thing.  Again, a fruity chocolate dessert comes to mind.  Coffee and alcohol step forward in the warming swallow.

Cigar City gave us a lot of sweetness up front, balanced by 40 IBUs of bitterness.  It’s definitely on the sweet side of the spectrum, but never crosses the line.  Very smooth and creamy, and full-bodied.  A very wet, juicy finish, there is simply no carbonation, nor any crispness to clean things up.  The tart, creaminess coats your tongue and never lets go.

This was probably the best beer I had during my 8-day stay in the Sunshine State.  Each sip was like a bite of dessert and it was plenty drinkable.  I wish I could get this stuff in Indiana.

Boulevard Brewing–Chocolate Ale With Raspberry

This beer is part of the Kansas City brewery’s Smokestack Series, which is a series of beers that are stronger than normal, a bit more complex, and bolder.

It looks nothing like I expected, as it pours a thick mahogany color, rather than the dark brown/black I figured.  The body has zero clarity, which is nice.  Early on there is a fine khaki head but those bubbles fade fast and nothing resembling lacing stays behind.

IMG_0497

For a chocolate Ale, it lacks the cocoa-like aroma you expect.  However, the faintest scent of raspberries restores my faith that this is indeed a chocolate Ale with raspberry.  While subtle, it presents a very pleasant nose.

It tastes exactly like it smells…a raspberry punch, but no chocolate.  I think I’m picking up some caramel malts, but no chocolate whatsoever, which is a bit of a letdown.  The fruit flavor is noticeable, but never crosses over to the point that it offends.

The raspberry addition makes the beer mostly tart, again with the chocolate lacking, it’s not a smooth or creamy beer.  A bit of sweetness and just enough bitter for balance.  With 9.1% ABV, even that is well hidden among the fruity bits of the beer.

I’ll accept this as a raspberry beer, but I’m still not convinced there is any chocolate added.  It’s not bad as a fruit beer, but it’s clearly not a chocolate Ale.  In that aspect, I’m disappointed.

Van Steenberge-Gulden Draak Ale

Another Belgian Brewery using sick looking bottles to package their choices.  Just one more reason to love that country.

Initial pour is a creamy brown, like hot chocolate, but when it fills the glass it’s almost black. Extreme dark brown with just specs of lighter colors around the edges. The head is off-tan and a couple fingers thick with good retention. As the head dies, it’s leaves sticky tan foam around the glass.

IMG_0479

It’s got a bready, chocolately nose not significantly different than chocolate cake or brownies. A bit of an earthy, flowery scent I can’t quite put my finger on. As it warms, the chocolate scents grow.

The taste is extraordinary. Tastes like a dark chocolate liqueur, with the slightest hint of vanilla added in for good measure. Just nibbles of hops to keep all the sweetness in balance.

As mentioned, it’s sweet, but never too much so. It’s got a remarkable creaminess to it. Full-bodied. There’s alcohol in there, but despite it’s strength it hides in the background. This beer really sticks to your tongue.

One of my new favorite beers. The Belgians simply know how to brew beer.

Huyghe Brewery–Delirium Tremens

You know this will be a great beer based on the sick bottle alone.  The name rocks too, the status of the shakes a person having alcohol withdrawal goes through.

For being such a light beer, I actually like it (I prefer black beers). It’s a hazy straw color with the thickest white head I’ve ever seen, and boy do those bubbles stick around. It has a champagney look to it as the bubbles just keep rising from the bottome to the top.

IMG_0477

Smells great, like most Belgium beers I’ve had. Citrus and spices galore. Pineapple and cloves dominate.

The taste is similar. The citrus and spice come through in a big way and the pineapple seems to have turned into orange.

The feel in the mouth is very refreshing. There is some complexity as it tries to be sweet before giving way to the bittering spices. But it’s very crisp and carbonated, really cleansing the palate and wanting you to take another drink. With some of the warmer month spices, it would taste great in the colder months; but because of the crispness and ongoing carbonation, it’s a fantastic drink for the warmer months as well.

Because your palate always stays clean, each drink is like the first so it never gets old. It’s pretty high in alcohol, but you never get the warming feeling so you never realize how strong the beer really is. Truly a world classic.

St. Bernardus–Abt 12

At the time, St. Bernardus was one of just 7 Trappist Brewers in the world.  This was their top beer.  Now, there are maybe a dozen Trappist Brewers, but this beer is still right near the top in terms of quality.

Dark brown in the glass, a little lighter brown and faint red around the edges. A finger thick head, slightly off-white color, with decent retention. Only slightly lacing that eventually recedes back into the head, never really showing you where you’ve been.

IMG_0475

Has a malty, sweet cola-like smell. Some dark, ripe fruits in the nose. Kind of earthy.

Caramel malt bombards the tongue. The fruity yeast flavors evolve as the beer works its way across the tongue. Some spices are prevalent as well.

Mouthfeel is complex. There’s sweet, heat from the alcohol, and spiciness on the palate with a hint of heat in the swallow.

Overall, a world class beer and something I’ll always enjoy drinking.

Weyerbacher–D’Tango Unchained

From Pennsylvania, Weyerbacher specializes in high alcohol beers.  This selection is a Belgian-style dark ale, brewed with cherries, aged in oak barrels with a funky, tart yeast simply known as Brett.

Based on appearance alone, I see nothing resembling a Belgian dark ale.  With a ruddy brown color and very clear, D’Tango looks more like a wine than a beer.  At no point does a head form up top.  A few bubbles pop up occasionally, but I wouldn’t call it a head.  With the thin-looking body, there isn’t enough gumption for lacing.

IMG_0468

The nose reveals a wine as well.  You can smell tartness in the beer.  A Cherry nose reveals, along with some notes of chocolate.  I can’t pick up any malts or hops varietals.

The cherries used are clearly tart, as opposed to sweet.  The vinegar taste overwhelms everything else.  This is clearly a sour and not a Belgian Dark Ale.

My taste buds are revolting, I pucker with each sip.  Anything more than a sip can barely be contained in my mouth.  Hopefully the 9.6% ABV or the palate destruction allows me to finish this, because it feels horrible.  If you haven’t had a sour before, it’s hard to clearly define.  Vinegar-like is the best way.

It’s tough to drink.  Sours aren’t my thing, and as such, it’s hard to say something positive.  Unfortunately, I bought a bomber (22 ounces) so it’s going to be a long night.  This beer has the highest snack factor of anything I’ve reviewed…think an entire bag of snacks just to get this stuff down.