Monthly Archives: August 2017

Founders–Backwoods Bastard

Kind of an odd pour. It’s extremely thick and murky looking.  Very brown with a slow cascading head. However, as it sits, the beer darkens to an extremely dark ruby brown and the head lightens to a creamy white. Moderate retention, but once it starts to die, it dies quickly. Each sip produces an attractive spotty lace.

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There isn’t much scent, it’s very subdued. What’s there is a combination of rye and caramel. As the beer warms, you start to pick up the oaky, smokey notes from the barrels.

A lot of depth in the flavor from the barrels. Bourbon is very present, the alcohol shining in this beer. Oak, vanilla, caramel, some dark fruits, and spicy rye made appearances at different times. Spirit drinkers would like this.

This beer packs some heat, literally and figuratively. It starts off sweet, but heat is growing as the beer works its way from the front of the tongue to the throat. There’s an almost number effect on my gums and throat. Sweetness is dominant early on before a spiciness begins and transitions to the warming finish. It’s a heavy beer and very warm.

Overall this is another great beer from Founders. This one means business. It’s very strong, but if you sip it, it’s a great nightcap.

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Avery Brewing–Vanilla Bean Stout

Avery is one of my favorite Brewers, always seeming to tempt me with one of their highly alcoholic and tasty offerings.  This imperial stout comes with vanilla beans from three different countries added before it was aged in Bourbon barrels.

Coming out of the bottle you’d be hard-pressed to find a beer with a darker body.  While not quite pitch black, there are some lighter areas around the edges, at least if you hold up a light.  It’s fairly thick and comes with about a half finger of beige colored head.  Surprisingly, the head has nice legs and when the sides finally do fall, it leaves a sexy lacing behind.

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Once the cap is popped, the area near the beer is filled with with vanilla.  A deeper investigation shows brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, coffee, and some smoke.  A half dozen different malts were used, but only one hop variety–Bravo.  Bravo has a high alpha acid rating, indicating bitterness, but it seems to have plenty of beta acids as well (used for aroma) because there is an earthy, floral scent as well.  Maybe the beer is still a bit cold, but early on I can’t pick up an Bourbon.

It tastes like a mishmash of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, molasses, and finally, Bourbon. After several sips, I find myself still trying to figure out if the flavors work well together.  I’m not sure they do, but the bourbon characteristic is strong.  Also, I’m struggling to decide if I’m tasting more Oak or smoke.  I guess complexity defines the taste better than anything.

Complex could also be used to describe the mouthfeel.  With so many different flavors and scents, there’s a lot going on and it happens in stages.  In the beginning, this Stout is smooth and creamy, like a chocolate beer should be.  As the full-bodied beer works its way back, it starts to take on a more alcoholic and smoky feel.  As it approaches the finish, the bitterness evolves and it begins to warm the palate.  There is a lingering bitterness in the swallow with almost no carbonation to cleanse.

I did eventually pick up the bourbon scent, but I’m not sure the different sensations and flavors work well together…I’m leaning towards them not.  The taste is strange and there is an aftertaste of vanilla that doesn’t work for me.  Regardless, I appreciate the 11.1% ABV they stuffed into the beer.

Epic Brewing–Brainless On Peaches

This is a take on Epic’s normal Belgian-style Ale, Brainless, with peach purée added.  In addition, it’s aged in oak barrels that formerly held French Chardonnay wine.  Seems to be more of a hybrid beer as it’s brewed with champagne yeast, is aged in wine barrels, and is supposed to be a beer.  Let’s see.

For a beer, it brings little joy to my eyes.  It’s very pale in body, you can almost see through it despite a bit of chill haze early on.  Despite champagne yeast, almost no bubbles form even though there is a loud pop when you crack open the top.  Without bubbles, the head is mediocre at best and there isn’t any lacing.

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Even the scent is hybrid-like.  While I don’t know much about wine or champagne, this clearly has the nose of the two.  You can practically smell dry and tart.  In the background is the peach purée and it adds a refreshing lightness to the drink.  Larger whiffs will queue a little note of alcohol.

Following the smell, the taste is what you would expect.  There are hints of peach, but Earthy German noble hops, pale malt, candied sugar, bark, and white wine display more aggressiveness.  Peach, candied sugar, and alcohol grow as they reach the finish.

Very complex mouthfeel.  Sweet then tart then crisp and dry.  The 11.3% ABV brings some warmth to the swallow, with the champagne yeast providing a crisp, cleansing feel.  In seeming opposition to the high ABV, Brainless On Peaches is only light- to medium-bodied.

Epic brews a couple similar Brainless beers, one with cherries and another with raspberries.  I don’t expect this beer to score very high on the BeerAdvocate website I use due mostly to the look and mouthfeel, but I’d like to try both those other beers as this peach version was a good beer to sit back and relax with.  Sadly, it’s too wine- and champagne-like to score well on a beer site.

New Holland–Dragon’s Milk Reserve

There are a handful of different ‘Reserve’ beers carrying the Dragon’s Milk Reserve name.  There’s one with raspberry and lemon, one with vanilla chai, and others, but this is the Triple Mashed beer.  It’s an absolute monster with 17% ABV that really does a number on one’s palate.  According to the bottle, this beer pairs well with the stinkiest cheeses, the darkest chocolates, and a day off.  Roger that.

Pouring into a New Belgium tulip glass, the body is dark as night and fairly thick.  You should receive a spoon so you can spoon the beer into the glass.  For a short time, a head about a finger thick can be seen.  It’s a very light brown, but before you know it, the bubbles recede into a thin foamy film, mostly around the edge of the beer.  For a beer with such a high alcohol content, it’s surprising to see much of a head, and more surprising to see any lacing.  Also, you can see my dog, Monty, photobombing the picture.

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The nose is like you would expect from a dark beer with high alcohol that’s aged in barrels that formerly housed spirits.  There’s a strong roasty note, along with some earthy scent (oak from the barrels), and a punch of Bourbon.  Get too close or sniff too long, you’ll feel the burn in your nose.

Your first sip starts off innocently enough…a gentle chocolatey taste.  As the beer works it’s way black, a bit of coffee begins to emerge.  Finally, the Bourbon shows up in the swallow.  Not too bad you think.  You wait a second and the warming turns to full blown heat.  When the fire tapers, hints of licorice appear.

Dragon’s Milk Reserve is a syrupy feeling beer.  With all that malt that went into making a beer have 17% ABV, it’s fairly sweet and early on smooth and creamy are words that come to mind.  However, that’s simply to tease you because soon enough the Bourbon brings the heat and bitterness to combat that sweetness.  This beer is quite full-bodied and filling.  I don’t know that I would want a second bottle of this because I’m afraid of losing all feel in my mouth and I don’t want my teeth to disintegrate.

Through it all, it’s a really good beer with lots of flavor.  If you take your time to sip it, it goes down relatively easily.  Unlike the regular Dragon’s Milk that only rings in with 11% ABV, I can’t drink a handful of these in a night.  The alcohol and heat forces you to slow down, and enjoy/savor this beer.

Stone–Tangerine Express IPA

In the past, Stone has put out an Enjoy By… with tangerine and it’s amazing.  Hopefully this will be more of the same.  This is much lower in ABV, only 6.7%, and has tangerine in addition to puréed pineapple.  Sounds amazing, so let’s see.

For the most part, the appearance is standard issue.  A bit of chill haze while the beer is still cold gives the golden orange color a cloudy look.  As the beer warms it should be a bit clearer.  The head starts off a couple fingers thick, but lacks the long retention of most IPAs, the peaks and valleys in the bubbles, and the sticky lacking.

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This IPA smells like a basket of citrus fruits…grapefruit, tangerines, and pineapple.  It’s glorious.  Subtle hints of pine and crackers take care of the pale malt and handful of hops.

The taste has these same ingredients, only on a less aggressive scale than the scent.  However, these flavors do come alive near the finish, particularly those handful of hops.

With 75 IBUs, the bitter quality is pretty intense and that translates into the mouthfeel as well.  The finish is somewhat dry and the carbonation magnifies the bitterness.  It’s fairly light-bodied, while the bitterness really lingers.

This beer is definitely not the same beer as their Enjoy By…beer.  It’s a good drinking beer, especially on a warm day.