Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Hop Savant – Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project

crooked_savant_bttl6.2% ABV
Purchased at Taylor’s Market in Sacramento ($8.99/12.7 oz. bottle) and poured into mini wine glasses.

This “100% Brettanomyces Pale Ale” from Denver-based sour specialists Crooked Stave pours a cloudy, citrus juice orange-yellow. The smell is very earthy and farmhouse-based, predominantly soil, mangoes, grapefruit rind, and grape must. Hop Savant has a uniquely sharp, citrus and cheese rind-like bitterness on the first swallow, with the sourness coming in several waves. A big grapefruit pulp presence dominates the next few sips, with dry wood and bitter fruits on the finish. Despite the name, the brettanomyces, the oak foeder fermentation, and the grapefruit bitterness make the strongest impressions, not the hops. Some band-aid aftertaste seeps into the palette towards the end, meaning this 12.7 oz. bottle is best shared among 3 to 4 friends.

toasts-3   3 Toasts


toasts-3   3 Toasts

POPULIST IPA – Eagle Rock Brewing

populist_bttl7% ABV
Purchased at Sunset Beer Company in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood ($5.79/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This beautiful IPA from Eagle Rock Brewing pours a slightly hazy tangerine with a mid-sized white head and the nose of an open field, offering some lovely floral and honeyed pear aromas.  It is very clean on the first swallow, as restrained fruit syrup-style sweetness and a little bit of spice nicely balances out the bitter hop profile.  The finish is exceptionally smooth, with BBQ-ed peach and grapefruit rind flavors lingering on the palette.  Populist IPA is flat-out delicious – it’s flavorful up front and crisp on the finish, with predominantly jam and toast flavors eventually giving way to a nesting pine character.

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Leon – Omnipollo

leon-bttl6.5% ABV
Purchased at Bottlecraft in San Diego ($6.99/11.2 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

Stockholm-based Omnipollo’s mysterious Leon pours an opaque apple cider vinegar orange with a puffy white head.  Leon has an earthy, bright smell that encompasses barnyard must, honey, grapefruit peel, and champagne ice cream.  The first swallow has richer and less interesting flavors than implied by the nose, including butterscotch and dark fruits like apples and figs, with only a slight, honeyed citrus zest on the fairly clean finish.  Belgian spices and seltzer water also introduce themselves on the finish, concluding a beer that is satisfying and drinkable enough, but overall struck me as a one-note novelty.

toasts-3   3 Toasts


toasts-3   3 Toasts

Barrel Roll No. 4: Hammerhead – Hangar 24 Brewing


12.4% ABV
Purchased at Capitol Beer and Tap Room ($16.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into pint glasses.

This fourth edition from Redlands-based Hangar 24 Brewing’s Barrel Roll Series is an English-style barley wine aged in whiskey and bourbon barrels.  It pours a muddy date brown with a tight, French vanilla-colored head.  Big, boozy aromas stretch out of the glass, bourbon-centric but with notes of vanilla, oak, brown sugar, nuts, and caramel.  Hammerhead is absolutely delicious on the first swallow, balancing filigreed sweetness with flavors of oak, bitter walnuts, and alcohol-marinated barrel wood.  The alcohol warmth settles in on the long and decadent finish, with dark fruits patrolling the perimeter, and toasted oak and muted English-style hops providing backup.

toasts-4.5   4.5 Toasts


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Hercules Double IPA – Great Divide Brewing Company

hercules_doubleipa_bttl10.0% ABV, 85 IBUs
Purchased at Best Damn Beer Shop in San Diego ($8.00/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses

This award-winning beer from Denver-based Great Divide pours an opaque apricot orange with a tight ivory head.  Even though Hercules is a double-digit Double IPA, the most prominent aroma here is the caramel malt backbone, along with some blood orange zest, wet grass, and butterscotch.  The first swallow is pretty smooth, with the spice and citrus-heavy hop character breaking through on the second wave of flavor.  Alcohol-soaked citrus owns the finish, and Hercules is prominently boozy overall, with an omnipresent but never annoying caramel sweetness and a fair amount of grassy hops and cracker spice.

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Beer Geek Vanilla Shake – Mikkeller

vanilla_bttl13% ABV
Purchased at LowBrau ($/ oz. pour) and served in tulip glasses.

Beer Geek Vanilla Shake pours an ebony black with a vaporous brown head, and emits a gigantic candy shop nose of vanilla, milk chocolate, candied nuts, black coffee, sweet breads, and caramel.  There is a massive sweetness on the first swallow as well, including flavors of vanilla beans, coffee grounds, and melted chocolate, although it’s a little smoother and more refined than the nose would have you believe.  It has the overall taste of coffee-vanilla syrup, or a coffee crème brulee, finishing with some pecan and wood bitterness that asserts itself more on subsequent swallows.  Mikkeller has brewed a beer that is very tasty in small servings, but might be a bit too much for large pours and solo bottle shares.

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