Author Archives: ricks95

Sixpoint Brewing—3 Beans

Here we have a lone wolf beer.  A bourbon barrel aged Porter.  Normally, bourbon barrel aged beers will be stouts, but in this case, Sixpoint has opted for the sweeter Porter styled beer.  The name of the beer comes from a trilogy of additions.  First is a coffee bean; second is a cacao bean; and finally, actual coffee is infused into the beer.

The beer’s body is as dark as I can remember a porter being.  Looks like a stout with its midnight black color.  The head is a finger thick and two toned in color.  Initially it forms of brown bubbles but as the head recedes, it lightens to an almost white color against the dark body.  A swirl brings back the darker color, rinse and repeat.  A thin lace is all that remains in the empty glass.

I have no picture of the bottle because this was my first use of my new growler, more on that in a future post.

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You can almost smell the sweetness from the chocolate malt and cacao beans that were used.  The scent reminds me of chocolate cake that’s just been released from the oven.  Hints of both the coffee bean and the infusion of coffee are subtle.

In addition to chocolate, I’m getting some caramel taste as well.  Has some similar characteristics of a dark soft drink.  As the beer works it’s way back, vanilla begins to emerge before oak and booze gently appear in the finish.

Sixpoint created a nice balance of sweet and bitter with their choice of 3 beans.  The different malts give off plenty of sweetness, while the coffee and oak barrels provide a lingering bitterness.  Being a porter, it’s a bit more medium-bodied than a stout, but is still fairly weighty on the palate, though it remains relatively smooth and creamy.

3 Beans is highly drinkable and the 10+% ABV is well-hidden.  It’s not a perfect beer, but I struggle to find much I’d change.

 

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Evil Twin Brewing—I Love You With My Stout

Evil Twin is a gypsy brewer with original ties to Denmark.  A gypsy brewer does little or no brewing at their own facility, instead relying on the facilities and brewing equipment of other brewers, who either have open space or equipment down time.  Evil Twin brews at about ten different spots in the US and makes too many different beers to count.  Generally, the beers have unorthodox names, just like this one.  I wish I could tell you the origins of this beer, but I have no idea.  Other names include Ryan and the Gosling, Barrel Aged Jesus, Even More Denmark, and Spicy Nachos.  I can’t even begin to know how these names come about, but it would seem strong beer was involved.

This beer is dark as a moonless, overcast night and fairly thick.  The head begins with few dark bubbles rising from the murkiness below before more and more bubbles make it and lighten the head to a khaki color.  Really thick head, sudsy, foamy, bubbly that retains for minutes.  Crazy thick lacing.

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While there is a hint of chocolate in the nose, the overwhelming scent is that of burnt coffee in all its acridness.  As the beer warms, the two scents combine into a pleasant flavored coffee smell.  As you can see from the bottom of the bottle, the ABV is strong at 12% and it’s not well hidden as a boozy note comes wafting up from the glass to let you know this is a bruiser.

The taste brings more of the same with a heavy dose of chocolate syrup mixed into a cup of coffee and a splash of bourbon on top for good measure.  There is no mention of the beer being barrel-aged, but it sure tastes like it.  That taste is well and good, but it finishes with nothing but alcohol…and wow, is it strong.  Almost too strong for me.

I Love You With My Stout is exceptionally smooth and creamy on the front end.  Instead of coffee with chocolate added, it feels more like chocolate with coffee added.  However, the intensity of 12% ABV builds and the beer warms the throat with its full-bodied fury.  This is a beer to sip, not drink.  Drinkability suffers when the wrath of the alcohol is unleashed in the finish.

While I enjoy coffee in beer, I am not a coffee drinker.  This beer approaches the limit for me.  Chocolate is the saving grace, as is the initial creamy mouthfeel.

AleSmith Brewing—Hall of Fame .394

Baseball fans will appreciate this homage to San Diego Padres’ icon, Tony Gwynn, and his career best batting average of .394.  This is the imperial version of the regular .394 Pale Ale and is referred to as an Imperial San Diego Pale Ale.  Being that San Diego is a West Coast City, this beer promises an intense citrusy scent and taste.

It is brilliant to look at.  A light golden yellow color with an amazingly bright white head.  The head, too, is a stunner.  Pillowy, foamy, sudsy, all those adjectives fit.  Retains well and leaves behind a thick lacing.

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The smell makes me think of an accident with a truck full of citrus fruit running into a truck full of pine…with the contents of the two trucks mixing together on the highway.  The best part, some of the citrus is pineapple.  A faint crackery note lies in the background.

Following the lead of the scent is the taste.  Lots of citrus fruits and Christmas trees combine for a pale ale party.

Somewhere in the list of ingredients is something that provides a much needed sweetness, possibly pineapple.  This sweetness makes this 9.0% ABV beer highly drinkable by really tempering the bitterness of the left coast hops.  Medium bodied, there’s is a sweet, citrusy finish that really hits the spot.

Alesmith is a brewery I don’t get to enjoy much of because they don’t seem to distribute all the way in the Midwest.  I believe I’ve only had one other beer from them and like this beer, that previous beer was incredible.  Hoping to try more of their offerings in the future.  This Hall of Fame beer had great flavor and was very drinkable despite high ABV.  Good stuff in my book.

Paulaner Brauerei—Salvator

Being that it was recently October, I picked up a few German offerings from various brewers to support the Oktoberfest celebrations taking place.  Paulaner Salvator is a relic from a really old German brewery that has maintained the same recipe for 375 years, only making a few refinements along the way.  Bocks are strongish German beers, and Doppelbocks (double bocks) are even strongerish.

The body of the beer is somewhat murky and a chestnut color.  No clarifying this thing.  The head forms beautifully, but lacks retention, quickly dropping from a finger thick to little more than an dingy white film of tiny bubbles.  No indication of lacing.

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Doppelbocks tend to be malt-forward beers and this beer is no exception.  A nose of caramel and chocolate hits my sweet spot.  My nose also picks up the faintest bit of vanilla.

Salvator tastes like Halloween.  Flavors of caramel, chocolate, leather, and a skosh of alcohol tease my taste buds.  Only a wee hit of hops present to help offer some balance.

At 7.9% ABV, the malty beer is full-bodied, but still very drinkable and smooth.  There’s plenty of sweetness, though the hops and alcohol bring balance and complexity to the finish.

Great flavor, sufficient alcohol, and superior smoothness and drinkability are the reasons Salvator has been made the same way for almost 400 years.  Even now, it’s a pleasure to drink.

Unibroue—La Resolution

Unibroue is probably my favorite brewery.  Located in the French part of Canada, they focus on Belgian-style ales.  I can’t think of a single beer I’ve had from Unibroue that wasn’t amazing.

La Resolution has a dark brown body that is impossible to see through, simply no clarity at all.  Off white bubbles slowly form on top of the body, leaving a soft, thick, pillowy head that’s a good finger and a half thick.  That head has long legs before it finally dissipates, but leaves a spotty lace in its wake.

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This beer smells like autumn or winter.  Scents of caramel, ginger, and nutmeg dominate, maybe even some brown sugar.  Reminds me of ginger bread cookies.

It kind of tastes like gingerbread cookies as well.  Cookies dipped in alcohol of course, as the 10% ABV is not overpowering, but noticeable.  There’s something in the finish that provides sweetness, but I can’t put my finger on it.

What stands out about the feel of this beer is that there’s some spiciness, but it’s never too spicy.  Same story with the sweetness, never too much.  The balance between spicy and sweet is spot on.  La Resolution is full bodied and strong, but not overpowering, with a lingering mixture of sweet and spicy that is pleasant on the palate.

This is a tremendous beer that goes down really easily.  I’m about halfway through the bottle and the head still hasn’t fully gone away.  It looks good, smells good, and tastes good.  As usual, I have nothing but good things to say about the brewer, Unibroue.

Boston Beer Co—Samuel Adams Maple Red

I’m not much of a fan of the Samuel Adams’ beers, but I bought a fall sampler pack because I felt obligated to pick up some sort of Oktoberfest beer and this beer was part of the sampler.  The Sam Adams’ beers that are highish in alcohol aren’t too bad, some actually are good, but their lower ABV beers are usually middle of the road.  This falls into that category, so wish me luck.

It pours the color the bottle suggests, a reddish amber, call it garnet.  Very thin looking as you can almost see right through the beer; probably has been clarified for the American consumer.  It comes with a contrasting bright white head that is very foamy and fluffy with long retention and an attractive lacing.

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There’s little to the scent.  I can pick up something earthy, but I can’t make out what it is.  As the beer warms, a kiss of caramel comes wafting out of the tulip glass, so I’m assuming a caramel malt was used.

Not much hop presence in the taste, mostly just maple syrup and a bit of vanilla.  The beer finishes with a strange lingering aftertaste, leading me to believe there’s something artificial used to create the flavors.  Not sure what it is, but I’m not a fan.

Maple Red has a thin mouthfeel to it, not surprising given the thin, see-through body.  It’s very sweet and with only 18 IBUs, there’s not enough bitterness for balance.  It’s a one-trick pony.

If you’re new to craft beer, this might not be awful as it’s sweet and not bitter.  But it didn’t work for me.  I’m still struggling to get the aftertaste out of my mouth.

Uinta Brewing—Hop Nosh IPA

My first attempt with a beer from Uinta, a brewery from the deathbed of brewing, Utah.  Hop Nosh is their flagship beer.

The first thing I notice about this beer is the darkish color (for an IPA).  Most beers of this type are made with pale malt, but this is made with caramel malt, thus the darker amber orangey color.  The head is gorgeous, filling the openness of the glass with fluffy white bubbles.  Very foamy, retention is long and the lacing is thick.

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I can pick up hints of pine and grapefruit in the nose…standard fare for an IPA.  The caramel malt presents, but you really have to stick your nose in it to find it.  While all scents are fairly subtle, the grapefruit is dominant.

The caramel is more noticeable in the taste and provides for some complexity against the backdrop of the citrus and pine.

Complexity follows through in the feel of the beer as well.  That sweetbess from the caramel malt works wonders in keeping the hoppy bitterness in check.  Still, the bitterness is plenty as this IPA throws almost 85 IBUs at the palate, especially in the finish where it lingers and lingers.  Hop Nosh is medium bodied with 7.3% ABV.

Uinta made this beer relatively drinkable with that selection of malt.  As I mentioned, there’s lots of bitterness but the sweetness counters it very well.  There is also a tangerine version of this same beer from Uinta that came in the sampler half case I bought.  Looking forward to trying that.

Founders Brewing—Redankulous

Founders is likely one of the five best breweries in the US, and Redankulous is one of their specialty beers.  This is an Imperial Red IPA, clearly a style based on an India Pale Ale.

The beer is gorgeous.  A ruddy brown body, thick and murky, sits under a huge foamy head of off white bubbles.  The head is classic IPA…frothy, thick, sticky with a huge lace as the beer falls.

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The name of the beer is indicative of the smell.  Certain hops give a piney, citrusy scent and Redankulous is full of them.  Not sure if the beer was wet hopped, but those flowery hops give off a dankness that is amazing in an IPA.  Caramalt was used in the grain bill and caramel plays a supporting role to the party of hops.

The malts continue a supporting role in the taste as well.  But, being an IPA, the hops are the star.  The earthy piney flavors dominate.  I’m not picking up the citric notes, but the malted barley provides a hint of pepper that I wasn’t expecting.  As the beer warms, a vanilla flavor emerges in the finish and the citrus does finally develop.

Redankulous feels nothing like what I expected.  Normally beers start off sweet and finish bitter; this beer seems to do the opposite.  It starts off highly bitter, they call for 90 IBUs and it feels like it.  However, that flash of vanilla and citrus near the finish provide much needed sweetness that adds to the lowish drinkability.  I don’t care much for the spicy pepper feel as it doesn’t add anything to the beer.  At 9.5% ABV, this is a full bodied beer and it feels like a full meal.  About halfway through the first bottle, my lips are getting warm…this is manly.

Overall, I’m still not sure what I think of this beer.  It tastes and feels more like a barley wine than an Imperial IPA.  The bitterness is approaching the line and may have crossed it.  It’s not an easy beer to get down.

Victory Brewing—Prima Pils

Here is a classic Czech Republic beer style by way of Germany.  Pilsner is the de facto beer style from Plzeň, in the Bohemian area of the Czech Republic.  Germany kind of stole the style and made it their own and as such, this beer from Victory is made with German malt and German hops. A Pilsner is also the style of the great American macro beers.  From the appearance, you’ll see it looks just like Bud, Miller, etc, with barely there straw yellow colored body and a very full, bright white head with lots of retention and much lacing left behind.

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However, the first sniff lets you know this isn’t some shitty, piss-water American lager.  Instead, this beer actually smells of flowers and grains and not rice and whatever other shit the big boys can dump into their brew vessels.  If you turn down the volume of the TV so you can smell better, you’d swear there was lemon in the list of ingredients.

Despite being a lager with only 5.3% ABV, Prima Pils has some actual flavor.  It’s not a lot of flavor, it is a Pilsner after all, but you can clearly detect flowery hops and the crackery, bready yeast with the slightest touch of lemon.

Lagers aren’t generally known for aggressive mouthfeel, and while this is gentle to the palate, there is the classic malty sweetness up front, with some bitterness building as the beer works its way across the tongue.  The finish is mostly crisp and slightly bitter, with that citric lemon hit taking it home.

 

Sudwerk Brewing–The Bourbonator

From a Brewery I’ve never heard of to a creation I’ve never heard of.  99% of the beers I drink are ales; however, this is one of the few lagers I’ve tried.  For me, ales have more scent, taste, and feel than do lagers.  This particular beer is a play on a German doppelbock, a bourbon barrel doppelbock.  Basically, a strong German lager that’s been unusually aged in Kentucky oak bourbon barrels, rather than standard aging vessels.

The appearance alone doesn’t tell one that this is a lager.  It’s extremely dark, almost black body looks the part.  Around the edges, some lighter shades of brown come through, but this is a very dark beer.  At first, a small head appears.  However, it’s short lived, like less than a minute.  Nice looking, but really needs better head retention.  A swirl brings life, maybe a quarter inch thick…tiny, creamy bubbles, dingy beige in color and virtually no lacing.

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Based on a single whiff of The Bourbonator, you’ll quickly pick up the bourbon notes.  Very aggressive.  The oak gives a combination of smoke and vanilla, while caramel stays in the background.  With the bourbon barrel aging, it might be masking the 9% alcohol in the beer, regardless, it smells strongly of booze.

Lots of caramel in the taste.  Reminds me of flat Dr. Pepper.  Being a doppelbock, I’m picking up what I believe to be some spicy German hops, as there is a rye flavor.  Bourbon generally gives off a vanilla flavor, and vanilla is present in the carbonated finish.

A lot happens on the palate.  One second you think creamy, then a little spice changes things up, then some crispness and sweetness in the finish, and finally a touch of lingering heat.  It’s certainly not a dull beer.

I tend to shy away from lagers as they can’t match the flavor profile of ales, but doppelbocks have always been good to me and this was no exception.  The boozy caramel and vanilla flavor is pleasant, as as the creamy mouthfeel followed by a refreshing crispness finish.  This was very enjoyable.