Avery Brewing—Coconut Porter

This seems like a slam dunk as I love Porters and I love coconut.  Avery said they use copious amounts of coconut and then aged the result in bourbon barrels.  I like what I’m hearing.

The pour is like many others, Black with some brown around the edges.  A bit on the thin side, but I just had a bottle of KBS so my perception may be off.  The head is khaki in color and maybe a finger thick.  Retention is minimal and lacing leaves much to be desired,  Appearance is average at best, but I’m more interested in how it tastes.

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I can pick up a bit of coconut in the nose, but there is something else that’s giving off a sweet vibe.  Likely one of the 7 different malts used, and my guess is caramel.  Only one hop type was used, but it’s a porter so who cares about hops.  Imported specialty malts from Germany and England were used and they create magic together.

Tasting the coconut is difficult, but like the scent, there’s something sweet I can’t quite identify and my gut tells me if it wasn’t there it would be noticeable that it was missing so I’ll say the mystery ingredient is coconut.  All that said, the caramel malts are quite good.  As the beer warms a bit to proper drinking temp, the bourbon flavor begins to emerge and combines really well with the caramel or toffee flavors I’m picking up on.

While this porter isn’t smooth or creamy (there’s a grainy feel to it), the bourbon mixing with the sweet malts give it a quality that makes it easy to sip.  And, at 11.4% ABV, you’ll want to sip this.  While hops are a complete afterthought, the bourbon barrels help provide some balance.  Definitely full-bodied.

Avery only makes top shelf beers and this is no exception.  Even though the coconut is tough to single out, I have a feeling the beer wouldn’t be the same without it.

 

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Founders Brewing—KBS 2018 Release (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

Here we have some recently released liquid gold…Founders annual release of their highly acclaimed flavored stout.  An imperial stout brewed with massive amounts of coffee and chocolates which is then cave-aged in bourbon barrels for a year, according to the bottle.

Founders releases this beer only once a year and many beer stores won’t receive any.  The best beer store in town has three stores; the two smaller stores only received one case a piece and there was a 2-bottle maximum per person per day.  Fortunately I visited two stores and bought 4 bottles.  In hindsight, I should have taken my wife to double my purchase.

This Kentucky Breakfast Stout is thick and dark in appearance.  It leaves the bottle like syrup—slowly.  Brown bubbles struggle to rise in the thick liquid, but eventually fight their way to the top leaving a 3-finger thick head.  Retention is lasting and the left over lacing looks crunchy.

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As the bottle suggests, massive amounts of coffee and chocolate were used and my nose confirms this.  Such roasty goodness also gives off a smoky, almost acrid smell.  While not a coffee drinker, I enjoy it in beer and this beer smells like a heavenly dessert.

There’s a reason KBS scores perfect 100s on beer websites.  The taste can’t be improved upon.  While the coffee scent is unmistakable, it plays a more supporting role in the taste.  It’s there for sure, but seems to be more for balance to what has to be milk chocolate, as opposed to bittersweet chocolate.  You can’t hide bourbon after something has been aged in its barrels for a year, but like with the coffee, it never overpowers.  Instead it’s one of the lingering flavors that sticks with you for a while.

Rare is the 12.31% ABV that goes down smooth, but this is it.  Having had this beer in the past, I don’t recall it being so smooth and creamy.  Eventually, the heat builds and the bourbon notes come through to warm up the palate a bit.  But not before the sweetness makes its presence known.  KBS is even heavier than full-bodied, which is sort of how it gets its name.  This could easily pass for a meal.

Founders brewed a mostly perfect beer and the best part is that KBS is an amazing beer to age longer than the month I kept it.  I have three more bottles and I’m thinking of opening one bottle each year to see how the taste and feel change.  Well done, Founders.

Stone Brewing—IPA

I’ll never forget the first time I had Stone’s IPA.  Watching TV on a loft at Hilton Head.  After the first sip, I said to myself, ‘boy, that’s pretty good.’  After my second sip, I said, ‘wow, that’s really good.’  After a few more sips, I said, ‘jeez, this is world class.’

Looks great. An orangy peach color that starts off very clear until chill haze forms. A thick white head sits up top before a crunchy lace is left behind.

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Smell may have been a 5 and I’m being too critical. Citrus and pine comes thru and dominates everything else.  The citrus seems to be mostly grapefruit rind and pineapple.

My taste buds suggest a bit of orange rind is present as well.  Pale malt is obvious.  A nice play between malts and hops.

In general, the mouthfeel isn’t exactly smooth, but for an IPA, it’s extremely easy on the palate. The citrus sweetness starts immediately before the tartness and bitterness from the hops kicks in. The kick from the bitter is obvious, but doesn’t make you want to shave your tongue.

A strong showing as a world class IPA here.  There are no flaws with this beer and I’m not sure my 4.5s across the board do it justice.

Lagunitas Brewing—Olde Gnarlywine

One of the best values ever for a beer.  A 22-ounce bottle runs about 4 and a half bucks and you get plenty of alcohol for your hard earned dollars…10.9% ABV.

The look isn’t what I expected. It’s burgundy brown but fairly clear and not rich looking at all. Light will come thru…on a Barleywine. Head is several fingers thick with strong retention, each swirl brings the meringue-like peaks and valleys back. Off white color with thick, sticky lacing being left behind.

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The smell means business. Tons of malt help reinforce the faint citric hops.  As the beer warms, the citric scent grows and combines with vanilla and some alcohol esters.  The oil from the hops dominates.

Despite the weakish appearance, flavor bursts from all directions. Caramel, rye, and a bit more pine for good measure. Typical of a good barleywine, leather and booze evolve.  Such balance in the taste is rare in a Barleywine.

Best ever mouthfeel. The clearish appearance belies the rich, smooth, creamy feel. A splash of sweetness lasts til near the finish where the bitter hops intensify. While it has an oily smell, the resiny hops don’t coat your tongue and hold it hostage. The bitterness lingers, but never overpowers. Full bodied, but balance and the high ABV never crosses the line.

One of the easiest Barleywines to get down. Packs big flavor and a smooth aggressive feel, but relatively restrained as it never destroys the palate. Great balance.

Flying Dog Brewing—Tropical Bitch

I thought I had picked up Raging Bitch, it was only when I got home I realized I had purchased this sister beer to Raging Bitch.  Tropical Bitch is the same Belgian-inspired IPA as Raging, only with orange and pineapple added.  Flying Dog makes good beers but might be better known for their unique names and beer labels.

Made with pale and caramel malts, this IPA is a bit darker in color than what I’m used to seeing.  The color appears to be bronze and is extremely clear, once the chill haze is gone.  Regardless, the head is hunormous and it retains forever.  The bubbles never fully leave you, but they do eventually die down…leaving you with the thickest, stickiest of laces.

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I can’t tell you how much my olfactories appreciate the smell.  If there has ever been a better smelling beer, I haven’t yet had it.  Being a Belgian-inspired IPA, the yeast has a fruity, peppery scent to it and it combines amazingly well with the orange and pineapples.  It’s simply divine.

Regarding the taste, I was able to find the orange and pineapple, as well as some pepper from the yeast.  A lot of times IPAs are little more than hop bombs where the malt gets lost, but not here.  While I don’t pick up any of the caramel notes, the pale malt, with some help from the yeast, gives the beer the bones to stand up to the hops.

Not quite as bitter as an American IPA, this Belgian is slightly smoother and friendlier to the palate.  Still, plenty of body for a medium-heavy feel.  Surprisingly the beer didn’t finish dry like I expected.  Instead, an orangey bitterness lingered.  Despite orange and pineapple additions, there wasn’t much sweetness.

I enjoy Belgian IPAs because they don’t make my mouth hurt for the next few days.  This was a likeable sipping beer that masks its 8% ABV well.  It would go great with food or snacks.  Flying a Dog did not disappoint.

Taxman Brewing—Deduction v. Cherry Picker

Over the past couple weeks I’ve enjoyed two different dubbels from Taxman.  First came Deduction and second was Cherry Picker.  Deduction is a standard dubbel, while Cherry Picker is a dubbel with the addition of Montmorency cherries.  I struggled to distinguish between the two beers when I tastes them at different times.

Tonight I popped open a can of each beer at the same time:

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The lighting isn’t great, but Cherry Picker does appear to be slightly lighter in color.  The head is the same for both beers, in size and retention.

Each beer produced a very similar scent, though again, Cherry Picker seemed to have a bit extra ‘funk’ to it, likely due to the tartness of the cherries.  Same thing for the taste, Deduction was more malty, while Cherry Picker provided only the faintest tartness to distinguish it from its brother.

My reviews for both beers were positive and I enjoy each.  But after further review, I was wrong, each beer has only slightly different taste and feel characteristics.  There is indeed something extra added to Cherry Picker.

Taxman Brewing—Cherry Picker

This isn’t one of Taxman’s regular beers.  Instead, it’s part of their Brewmaster’s Series.  Cherry Picker is based on a Belgian-inspired Dubbel, which I assume to be their Deduction beer, with the addition of Montmorency cherries.  This particular type of cherry is generally sour or tart, so I’m expecting a battle of sweet from the malts used for brewing the dubbel versus the tartness of the cherries.

The pour gives a brown body with only some reddish lightness throughout.  Really, nothing to indicate it’s not simply a dubbel.  The cascading head consists of beige bubbles that never exceeds a couple fingers thick before settling into a faint film atop the beer.  Retention is modest and lacing is spotty.

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Cherry Picker smells like a malty double, but I can’t pick up any cherry scents at all.  When I first popped it open I couldn’t smell anything other than the malty goodness but I thought maybe the beer was too cold.  However, after letting it sit for almost 10 minutes, it still just smells like a caramel bomb to me.

Same thing with the taste.  I’m honestly not sure I didn’t simply get a can of Deduction.  I like the taste of caramel and candied sugar, but I am finding it hard to believe there was an addition of cherries to this beer.

Like most dubbels, it’s plenty sweet.  Being 8% ABV, you need to be careful because it’s smooth and easy to drink and before you know it you can end up wasted.  It’s medium- to heavy-bodied.  And again, nothing sour or tart to indicate cherries were used in the brew.

Despite a complete lack of finding anything in the way of cherries in this beer, I’m a fan.  Next weekend I’ll crack open both their regular Deduction beer and this beer and taste them at the same time to see if I can differentiate between them.

Bell’s Brewing—Consecrator Doppelbock Beer

This is Bell’s rendition of a German-styled beer.  Bocks have traditionally been stronger in alcohol content than ‘regular’ German beers.  Doppel implies double in German.  So a doppelbock would be a stronger beer than a bock.  Or strongerer as I would say.  These stronger beers were to provide sustenance in place of a meal in the old days.

Below is Bell’s creation in a proper Pilsner glass.  A bit darker than a macro, it’s still a bit on the clear side.  During the pour, the beer looked much redder in color than once its fully poured, but when all is said and done it’s really just Amber in color.  Bubbles continually rise from the bottle of the glass and early on, you’ve got a couple fingers of beige foam.  However, it’s a creamy looking foam and when settled, little islands are left on top, along with faint lacing.

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This doppelbock smells mostly of caramel and brown sugar or molasses, with some brown bread in the background.  Bell’s used a house yeast and a newer type of malt to give an authentic German flavor and aroma.

Pleasantly, the taste matches the scent.  Caramel and molasses dominate the flavor.  Being a lager as opposed to a sharper ale, the flavor isn’t in your face and never lingers so there isn’t much in the way of an aftertaste, but right before the taste goes away, that brown bread appears.

Like many good doppelbocks, there is plenty of body (which is kind of the idea).  I can see how 2-3 bottles would substitute for a full meal.  Like that early head, the beer is creamy and smooth with plenty of sweetness.  And just before the beer goes off air, the sharpness of carbonation tickles the palate with a splash of bitter and spiciness, in a somewhat cleansing fashion.

I’m warming up to the idea of lagers and it’s beers like this that help ease the pain of not drinking an ale.  I enjoy a little bit of sweetness before the bitterness arrives and brings some balance to the equation.  Bell’s has done a masterful job providing balance and I will happily enjoy the remaining five bottles in the fridge.

Taxman Brewing—Deduction

Being a CPA, I think Taxman might be my new favorite Indiana brewer.  Their beers are cheaper than 3 Floyds and there is never a maximum number of beers you can purchase.  Plus, most of their beers are Belgium-inspired and I dig that.

They brewed this beer as a Belgian dubbel and it looks like it should.  Maybe not quite as dark as some others, Deduction leaves the can with a more ruddy look, a mixture of brown and burgundy.  The pour gives a fluffy head initially, but subsequent swirls become creamier and flatter.  Retention isn’t exceptionally long, though the head produces a tiny bit of spotty lacing.

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Deduction fills the nearby area with a cola-like scent…lots of caramel in the air.  In addition, it smells ‘sweet.’  Notes of figs and raisins are strong, maybe even some vanilla.

The taste mimics the smell.  Highly malty, like a good dubbel should be, there is a faint yeasty flavor of white pepper…another hallmark of a Belgian-inspired beer.  Raisin and caramel, with maybe some candied sugar.

Sweetness is prevalent, but it’s never cloyingly so.  There is a bite of carbonation felt from mid-sip on that combines with the spice from the pepper that keeps the sweetness in check.  A nice dark fruitiness adds to the style.  The carbonation helps lighten the beer to about light-medium and the 8% ABV is never really noticed.  Not surprisingly, most will find the beer smooth and easy to drink.

Taxman gives us a lot to like with this beer.  Super easy to drink, flavorful, and well-hidden ABV.  Another really good beer from this brewer.

Dogfish Head Brewing—Oak-Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout

This is a one-off of Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout, at one point, supposedly the strongest beer in the world.  The brewer lists the ABV of this beer at “16-17.5%” though other beer information sites suggest as high as 18.

I dig the look of this beer.  Coming out of the 12-ounce bottle it shows off it’s dark black body.  A BBW this beer, she’s on the viscous side of things.  Despite punching with a crazy high ABV, she treats us to a dark beige, thick creamy head.  Retention is strong and she even gives us a beautiful lacing as the head falls.  I have no idea how you improve the looks of this beer.

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When you put your nose close to the snifter or tulip glass, this beer screams of bittersweet chocolate and burnt coffee.  With a swirl, the esters revive and singe the nose with what reminds me of some sort of cleaning solution you’d find at a hardware store.  It doesn’t smell like a cleaning solution, but it burns the nose like it. You can tell this beer was created using dark roasted malts and LOTS of it.

When reviewing this beer, one must make tasting notes quick, before you lose feeling in your palate.  The dark roasty grains give some up a smack of chocolate and coffee, while the aging in oak and vanilla is also accounted for.  Alcohol, per se, isn’t as strong a flavor as you would expect.  Nothing to suggest hops were even used in the brewing process.

There are two stages to describing the mouthfeel.  Up front, it’s creamy and buttery, very smooth.  There’s some sweetness from the chocolate and vanilla, and an earthiness from the oak.  And despite the smoothness, there’s a little carbonation to lighten things.  Then, it happens.  The carbonation is killed off and a drying heat starts to evolve. Your tongue and cheeks are coated in this sticky feeling beer and the heat continues to build.   Finally, when you can barely take it any longer, the fuel to the fire dries up and the heat subsides.  You’re left with a lingering warmth that slowly numbs the palate.  It’s a manly beer, which is why I don’t believe this beer comes in any bottle larger than 12 ounces.

Not even half way done with the beer and my palate is feeling very fatigued.  But I’m not complaining because while I was still able to taste, the taste was glorious and one bottle should make me a little bit giggly and start to get loud.