Archive for the tag “4 Toasts”

Hellion – Gigantic Brewing Company

gigantic_hellion_bttl

8.5% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($9.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “dry-hopped Belgian-style golden ale” from the exciting Portland, Oregon brewers Gigantic pours a straw-like gold with a tight, bright white head.  It has the expected Belgian golden nose of strong grains, a little bit of barnyard floor, and some vague tropical notes.  The first swallow is rich with de-sweetened pineapple and papaya, building in candied flavor until subsiding into a wave of bitterness.  A nice, rum-like burn settles in on the long finish, along with some honeyed fruit, ginger root, and dry crackers.  Hellion is a very good beer, bringing a welcome earthy quality to this often overwhelmingly sweet style.

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Gigantic_Hellion

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Melrose – Beachwood Brewing

Beachwood_mel_bttlSoCal Beercation Edition

7.1% ABV
Purchased at Bottlecraft in San Diego ($8.75/22 oz. bottle) and poured into lowball hotel glasses.

Long Beach-based Beachwood’s complex and quaffable Melrose IPA pours a clear, light-honey gold with a wee off-white head and a fair amount of bubble agitation in the body.  The nose rockets out of the bottle upon the crack of the cap – magnificent, flowery, frosted-hop aromas, a little grass and funk, and melon zest aromas make you want to dive right in.  Pine and leaf flavors dominate the first swallow, fading into a restrained, rind-like bitterness that combines melon and grapefruit. This well-balanced beer offers more citrus on subsequent swallows, including unripe oranges and a little lemon, but it is a cracker-dusted grapefruit flavor that eventually settles on the palette.

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Melrose

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Bois – The Bruery

boisSoCal Beercation Edition

15% ABV
Purchased at The Bruery Tasting Room ($7/4 oz. pour) and served in mini-snifters.

This barrel-aged offering from The Bruery pours a muddy brown with a tight eggshell white head, and a surprisingly subtle nose of alcohol, vanilla, and touches of brown sugar and coconut.  It offers an eye-opening taste of hard alcohol on first swallow, but without the residual throat burn, instead fading into flavors of pineapple, brown sugar, and vanilla beans.  The alcohol burn eventually comes in on the finish, but there are also some bread, spice, and molasses notes in the picture to capture your attention.  Bois is not a beer for timid palettes, and it’s almost too intense to be fully appreciated at present (a couple years of aging should take some of the edge off), with the alcohol beginning to overwhelm the subtler flavors after the first few sips.  That said, if you’re looking for a big beer, they don’t get much bigger or more flavor-packed than this one, with everything from nuts to tree sap to unsweetened maple syrup making an appearance on the tongue.

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bois

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Coffee Ale – Boulevard Brewing Company

blvd_coffeeale_bttl

9.3% ABV
Purchased at Final Gravity ($9.99/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This ale was brewed by Kansas City, Missouri-based Boulevard with coffee provided by their neighbors at The Roasterie.  The succinctly named Coffee Ale pours a raisin juice brown with a tight, light tan head, and an eye-opening nose of nutty black coffee and dark fruits.  There are also some berry notes inherent to African coffee, and overall it was a bold choice to make this Smokestack Series beer into an ale instead of a stout or porter.  The end result is fairly similar to a coffee-infused nut brown, but I liked how the floral and berry notes played off of the hops and biscuit-y malts.  It’s a lot like pairing a coffee and a flaky pastry up front, then chasing it with a coffee-and-cream candy on the finish.

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Blvd_CoffeeAle

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Panil Divina – Barrel-aged version

 

panil_bttl6.5% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($20.49/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into flute glasses.

This “Spontaneously Fermented Italian Ale” pours a honeyed gold with a large and extremely fluffy white head, and an angrily agitated body similar to champagne.  The enticing but not overpowering nose is a farmhouse morning of lemons, grapefruits, and dry grass.  Panil Divina smells like fresh country air and tastes like fresh farm produce – it offers a refreshing lemon taste on first swallow, with grapefruit and tangerine on the retreat.  Bitter melon, sour grapes, and barnyard funk flavors emerge in the satisfying aftertaste of this beer, which was fermented in open air with several yeasts and aged in French Oak.   It’s not as dry as you would expect, and is surprisingly balanced and thirst-quenching for such a high-maintenance brew.

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Panil

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Hollow Point – The Perfect Crime

hollowpoint_bttl

10% ABV
Purchased at Trappist Provisions ($6.50/11.2 oz. bottle) and poured into goblet glasses.

This quadrupel from Belgian brewers The Perfect Crime pours a bright copper with a vaporous white head.  The nose is similar to booze-soaked fruitcake, with raisins, figs, and hard alcohol most prominent, along with red apples and cooked cherries.  Hollow Point is more nuanced on the tongue, offering black walnuts, wood, raisins, and a little caramel, with a prolonged nutty bitterness and a slight alcohol burn coming to dominate the aftertaste.  Its body is exceptionally light for the style, and I like the lack of overpowering sweetness here, as Hollow Point emphasizes nuttiness and hoppiness over dark fruit flavors.

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HollowPoint

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Hoppy Daze – Coronado Brewing Company

hoppydaze_bttl7.5% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($7.99/22 oz. bottle) and poured into tulip glasses.

This “Belgian-style IPA” from San Diego-based Coronado pours a cloudy gold with a lovely white head and a curious nose of citrus, green tea, and roots.  Very flowery up front – fresh grass and dandelions – with a very obvious hop presence, although it fades out with some of those green tea and root flavors suggested in the nose.  I don’t quite understand what is especially “Belgian” about this beer – it has more herbal tones than the quasi-tropical nature I associate with the pale beers of the region.  But don’t be discouraged by this case of mistaken identity – Hoppy Daze is still an original and pretty damn good to boot, offering an oddly satisfying mix of pink bubblegum, sasparilla root, and grass.

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HoppyDaze_Coronado

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Jessenhofke Belgian Triple

8% ABV
Purchased at Pangaea Bottle Shoppe ($14.00/25.4 oz. bottle) and poured into goblet glasses.

This “malt beverage brewed with garlic” pours an iced tea brown with a slight white head and a curious nose that mixes champagne grapes, Belgian earthiness, and yes, garlic.  Although billed as a “Belgian Triple”, it is hardly triple-like on the tongue, instead offering a plum-like fruitiness on the front end that fades into a backyard garden mouthful on the finish (with not just garlic present, but a variety of herbs and vegetables).  Upon subsequent swallows, the flavors coalesce into a burnt caramel sweetness with a grape and pressed apple tang around the margins.  Jessenhofke is a surprisingly tasty and decidedly non-garlic-forward brew with a number of welcome surprises.

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To Øl – Sans Frontiére

7% ABV
Purchased at The Trappist in Oakland ($8.75/33 centiliter pour) and served in wine glasses.

This Belgian gold aged in white wine barrels with wild yeast from the excellent Danish brewers To Øl pours a burnt orange with a substantial and marshmallow-y off-white head.  Sans Frontiére offers a delicious nose of fresh grains, white wine grapes, fruit candy, and a little honeydew melon rind.  The taste is simultaneously dry and fruit-juicy, a neat mélange of unique tropical and citrus tastes (especially melons and tangerines) and a more delicate champagne sherbet-style flavor.   There is a distinctive but subtle development of flavors here, and the ultimate effect is a sort of Italian soda vibe, both in mouthfeel and aftertaste.

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Ale Epiteios – Left Coast Brewing Company – SoCal Taster

10% ABV
Purchased at Small Bar in San Diego and served in goblet glasses.

This barrel-aged Imperial Stout pours jet black with a miniscule, sawdust-colored head, and a nose of coffee, cocoa nibs, and fermented grapes that suggests a red wine-and-chocolate vibe.  Instead, blackstrap molasses, black licorice, and bit of booziness hit you on the first sip, and yet the flavors are surprisingly balanced and mild.  More cocoa notes come in on subsequent swallows, but the alcohol aftertaste remains while never straining the barrel-wood backbone.  Ale Epiteios has a light mouthfeel given the strong dark flavors, and those promised red wine flavors emerge as the brew warms, but I would have appreciated a little less sweetness and a little more complexity. 

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