Archive for the month “January, 2012”

Lost and Found (The Lost Abbey)

8.0% ABV
Purchased at BevMo ($7.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

His Notes:

Lost and Found pours a ruddy, raisin brown with an insubstantial, light brown head, and smells of sour fruit, sweet wood, and a prominent yeastiness.  The taste is heavy on fruits and a mature sourness, but there is also a solid ale backbone.  Although the bottle advertises this brew as “Ale Brewed With Raisins”, the raisin taste is not especially notable upfront, only barely peaking through the bitter-sour aftertaste.  This tastes like a barrel-aged beer, most likely with wild yeast added, and the contribution of the raisins is probably towards the earthy, textured mouthfeel.  The flavor profile is filled with complexity – some Dubbel-like features, hop bitterness, chewy yeast, back-end sourness – that rises and falls in waves across the palette.   Lost and Found does seem to go flat pretty quickly, yet it’s too heavy for anything more than slow sipping and moderate consumption.

   3 1/2 Toasts

Her Notes:

   3 1/2 Toasts


Gift of the Magi (The Lost Abbey)

 

10.0% ABV
Purchased at Total Wine & More ($3.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

His Notes:

This Lost Abbey Xmas annual pours a murky orange with a frothy, quickly retreating, off-white head.  The smell is strong with grapes, fresh dark fruits, berries, spices, and barnyard funk, along with the unmistakable quasi-tropical aroma of wild yeast.  Very inviting on the palette with fruit, grass, and a mild sourness, but it quickly warms up to reveal layer after layer of woody texture and complex spice.  Gift of the Magi is a fascinating hybrid of a Belgian farmhouse beer and a spicy winter ale, with oak notes, brandy, orchard fruits, bready yeast, and wild grass all present.  It gives you so much complex flavor to chew on, you can easily overlook the double-digit alcohol content.  A real masterpiece, Gift of the Magi overwhelms you with its Tower of Babel flavors instead of its’ ABV.

  4 1/2 Toasts

 

Her Notes:

  4 Toasts


Triple Exultation (Eel River)

9.7% ABV
Purchased at BevMo ($6.49/22 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

His Notes:

This “Old Ale” from Fortuna’s Eel River pours like maple syrup and is colored rusty brown with a sandy brown head.  The smell is filled with hard alcohol and fruit esters, alongside notes of licorice and mild cooking woods like cedar.  Woody alcohol is also dominant on the palette, but it’s kept in check by a notable hop kick.  Chewy grains and malty smoothness enter the picture on the finish, which is slow and warming like a shot of good whiskey.  The smell, color, and consistency of Triple Exultation are similar to those of a traditional barleywine, but the emphasis is more towards bitterness than sweetness, and the result is a lovely slow sipper with a beautiful back end.

   4 1/2 Toasts

Her Notes:

  4 Toasts


Sculpin IPA (Ballast Point)

7.0% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea and served in tulip glasses.

His Notes:

This beloved IPA from San Diego-based Ballast Point pours honey gold with a billowy white head.  It has the sweet, airy aroma of a peach orchard, with some citrus, bananas, and cotton candy also in the mix. Sweetness is dominant on the palette, but it’s the natural sweetness of fresh fruit, mixed in with hay and dew-soaked grass.  Citrus fruits (mostly oranges and grapefruits) are also present, along with a potent but not overpowering hoppiness.  Surprisingly, it’s the hop bitterness that sticks to your tongue, gradually growing in intensity until the next sweet sip.  Sculpin is an IPA masterpiece that comes on slow and sweet, but it uses that resin bitterness to wallop your tongue into sublime submission.

  5 Toasts

Her Notes:

  4 Toasts


Three Philosophers (Ommegang)

9.8% ABV
Purchased at Corti Brothers ($7.69/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into wine glasses.

His Notes:

This highly regarded concept beer from Cooperstown-based brewery Ommegang pours a reddish-brown with a sandy brown head.  The smell is of wood, berries, cherries, and wild yeast, and indeed it’s strong and tangy on the tongue, barely bothering to hide its hefty alcohol content.  Sour cherry flavors seep in as the alcohol wallop fades, moving the taste from the brutish darkness of a strong Belgian quad into a mild dessert wine with a sour ale kick.  The skeleton of wood barrels is present throughout, as is the hint of cherries and wild yeast.  Three Philosophers is a little too strong to favorably complement the fruit flavors, and much like a good dessert wine, a little bit of it goes a long way.

   3 1/2 Toasts

Her Notes:

  4 Toasts


Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale 2011

6.7% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($5.99/24 oz. bottle) and served in pint glasses

His Notes:

Made entirely with hops less than 24 hours removed from the vine, this special release pours clover honey orange with a large and fluffy white head.  The well-rounded nose is filled with sweet pine, melon, and the zest of lemons and grapefruits.  Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale stuns you with its incredibly fresh flavors, which offer an intriguing jumble of homemade honey, oily pine, lemony citrus, dewy grass, and even a pineapple mint taste that can be credited to the wet Washington hops.  It’s pleasantly herbal without being cute or overbearing, and the hop bitterness is extremely refined, with definite fresh herbs coming to the fore.  The overall effect is drinkable and refreshing, but with an impetuous youthfulness that lends it an unexpected complexity.

   4 1/2 Toasts

Her Notes:

  5 Toasts


Firestone Walker’s Reserve Porter

5.8% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($5.99/22 oz. bomber) and poured into pint glasses.

His Notes:

Firestone previously released a “Robust Porter” in their single-bottle Reserve Series, but this 2011 vintage is simply labeled “Porter”, an all-too-telling sign of its tepid nature.  It pours a black coffee color with a sandy brown head, and smells of slightly scorched grain, watered-down alcohol, and tea bags.  The taste is initially heavy with rich toffee and mocha java flavors measured against mild hop notes, with a coffee-like bitterness lingering on the tongue.  This is a severely watered-down version of the English porter, with a creamy mouthfeel reminiscent of a nitrous tap pour, even out of the bottle.  At this price, however, it’s recommended only for fans of weak coffee or strong tea.

   2 Toasts

Her Notes:

   2 Toasts

Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale

7.85% ABV, IBU 63.21, O.G. 1.085
Purchased at Taylor’s Market ($10.99/6-pack) and served in pint glasses

His Notes:

This “substitute” beer, a panacea by Lagunitas for their inability to produce the popular cold-weather seasonal Brown Shugga in calendar year 2011, pours honey gold with a thin white head.  The smell is strong with citrus, grass, and that unmistakable sugary Lagunitas malt.  An expected orangey sweetness on the tongue gives way to a lingering bitterness and warming, slightly peppery flavors.  This is less a traditional “holiday ale” than a semi-“traditional” Lagunitas strong/sweet, high-gravity hybrid ale, like a west coast IPA augmented with mild pepper spice.  Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale isn’t too far out of the Lagunitas box, but it grows in intrigue and heat the longer it stays on the tongue.

   4 Toasts

Her Notes:

  4 Toasts

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