Saturday, September 26, 2009

MSBB IPA Series - Tyranena, Where Did You Come From? Hop Whore DIPA

So, I decided to take a crack at doing something different at the blog in addition to our regular reviews: this is the first entry of a special series we are running with respect to a particular type of beer. That beer would be IPAs. I didn't hear back from my busy pal Shaun regarding whether he's agreeable to this, but I have a feeling that the opportunity to taste and review potentially great IPAs is something he's in to.

Let's return to talking about beer. Hops are perhaps the most striking ingredient in a beer, and no style of beer better expresses hop characteristics than the IPA. There are many different styles within this increasingly popular sub-genre, some sweeter and maltier, such as the legendary Dogfish Head 90 or Southern Tier's IPA; some as baldly hoppy and dry in mouthfeel as Mojave sand, such as Stone Ruination or Surly's Furious.

But, as indicated by the hearts above, IPA's are my beer bread and butter, the beer genre that will keep the sudsy beverage as my drink of choice (too bad we need water). I have a love affair with the IPA, constantly seeking out new cumulus cloud headed, biting hop concoctions to quaff.

My local wine store, Lush Wines and Spirits, happens to feature an IPA from Wisconsin, Tyranena's elegantly named Hop Whore. Normally, I would shy away from an unknown Wisconsin brewery; that state's beers are generally barely more flavorful than a bottle of Aquafina or Dasanti. Having tried Tyranena's Rocky's Revenge that a buddy is crazy about, I gave it a shot. Encouraging, their slogan is "A Series of Big, Bold Ballsy Beers." Besides, how bad can an IPA be?

My curiosity was rewarded. This is an exceptional beer. I poured it an an Alpha King glass that will someday live on the IKEA shelf I spent 17 hours assembling last night. Great instructions, Swedes! The beer pours an incredibly thick and bright white head that lingers forever - I knew there would be action in that glass. It smells woodsy, and of sharp, floral hops. The flavorful body leans toward the bitter side, and the malt presence is in the background. Nothing is out of balance or overwhelming but the bitterness is deep and long lasting with a terrific finish. A palate cleanser, this will stand up to any food, and probably a few brutish Northwoodsmen, agitated about the postponement of the start of deer hunting season.

So, congrats, Wisconsin! You have a respectable beer. Now you have something good to drink with those brats!

HOLY WATER, DRINK, OR POUR IT DOWN THE SINK SCALE: This one's in the holy water range of the scale, folks. If you are an IPA fan and therefore not a loser, this is for you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Brother David’s Triple, Abbey Style Ale, Anderson Valley

Am-azing beer, how sweeeeet the taste, that saved a lush like meeeee. I once was lost . . . You get the idea. I have been on an IPA mission the last couple of years after I really got into the bitter stuff. First it was Dogfish Head 60 Minute that opened the door. Then, the legendary 90 Minute became a staple. Later, beers like Lagunitas IPA, Stone Ruination, and Harpoon IPA vaulted to the top of the pops. It was like a big IPA piƱata burst open, spewing my psyche with hops. Again, you get the idea. So, how was this increasingly hop driven man going to continue loving Belgian style ales after selling his soul at the hop altar? Well, the incredible (and ironically named in terms of this context) Hop Leaf bar in my neighborhood surely helps keep me in touch with my liquid Belgian friend and their yeasty offerings. But, given my increasing love of American microbrews, would a domestic Belgian style really jump up and take notice, smack me around, give me the what for?

Ommegang’s Hennepin is a strong contender for best in show as far as U.S. Belgian styles go. North Coast’s Brother Thelonius rates high. Now, I have to add Anderson Valley’s Brother David’s Triple Abbey Style Ale to the exalted list. This formidable baby pours great, smells great, and tastes very much like the best of Brussels. It has a rich, golden color and pours a large, enticing cumulus head that makes itself at home for a while. It smells of sweet, bright, sharp fruit and has a rich, deep odor profile that’s clean and pure. Immediately the taste hits you. Rich, creamy, malts invade the tongue and linger forever. I get a little peach out of this one but it is well balanced, hardly too sweet.

Anderson really delivers with this one, or, should I say, they delivered me from the evils of bad American style Belgians. Was blind, but now I see. Just not straight anymore – hey, it’s ten percent.

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice ("Cerveza Crema")

Anderson Valley Summer Solstice (Cerveza Crema)

If you were to make summer tangible, into an actual object, what would it look like? An ice cream cone? A classic Firebird convertible, sun gleaming on it with the top down? Is it Megan Fox working on a car as in that famous scene from Transformers? I need a second. Whew. Well, Anderson Valley takes their stab at it with their unique Summer Solstice beer. I opened the bottle expecting it to be an amber with maybe a slightly woody taste to it. You know, a typical Wisconsin beer that you throw down in your back yard in some Indian-named city with a bunch of dudes named Olaf wearing winter coats in June. It poured a very rich head that hung around for a while and confirmed that at least this wasn’t going to be a dull New Belgium Flat Tire. But, would this alternately named Cerveza Crema truly taste like summer?

It surely made a strong effort. It had a northern fruit smell to it, reminding me of something in the apples, apricot variety, and I got an apricot or melon taste from the first sip. This was driven by the heavy malt presence that’s not overdone so it doesn’t come off overly sweet. I’d rate this one as smooth as . . well, let’s not get back into Megan Fox. But, at least I could get my lips on another one of these on the next hot July day. And, to get one, I don’t even have to sweat as hard as the Mexican laborers for whom they proudly gave this its alternative name. Here’s to summer!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Old Viscosity's Older Brother

Okay. I've been deviating from the formula a bit and posting up reviews on beers that have not been sent by Mark every once in a while. This is one of those whiles.

This is the Older Viscosity from Port Brewing and, (Pregnant pause) it's important.

This beer is black as a new moon blocking out all light. It is Super sweet malty up front.
The nose is sugary and the first taste follows suit. I almost couldn't handle it. Super spicy bourbon flavors follow and end.
Hops are no where to be seen or heard from. This is a take no prisoners Russian Imperial stout
or there abouts that does not care if it is true to form or not.

Unlike the younger brother you may be familiar with, which is 20% bourbon barrel aged and
80% steel aged, this is the opposite. 80/20 bourbon barrel aged to steel aged Russian imperial stout.
It has grown up and matured beyond what you expect. It is wiser and more demanding than it's younger brother.
Like a good table wine this sticks to no boundaries. Perfect for heavy spicy food like BBQ or Mexican
it is definitely not pedestrian. No mere mortal should drink a full glass alone.
This is something that can counter the gamiest of meats and most intense spices.
If maybe you were Ted Nugent serving wild boar that you had just slain on your own property.
Or grizzly bear that you had just killed with a Bowie knife in a life and death struggle. This is your beer.
This is an intense beer. It's too much sweet and too much bourbon spice and so worth it.
Like that girlfriend that was always trouble but you couldn't stay away from.

You need to let this warm up so the bourbon nose can blossom and the spicy aftertaste can stand up to
the malty sweetness. It's special but demands a lot from whomever drinks it.

-Strong malty stout sweetness followed by strong bourbon woody
spiciness. Stands up to anything you throw at it.
-A complex special sipping beer that really opens up to you if you are able to stand up to the
initial malt sweet onslaught.

-Not a beer that a mere mortal can drink without a substantial meal to
balance it marinaded hanger steak and maybe raw bear meat.
-You're not worthy.

For only the stoutest of hearts, and menus.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Robert The Bruce King of the Scotch Ales

This is a continuation of my series on Three Floyds Brewing. This offering is a bit of a departure from their standard hoppy ale offerings that seem to be theme for their large production beers. The aptly named. "Robert the Bruce." The man who led Scotland to independence from England and become king of Scotland.

Just like that famous king this beer asserts it's independence from the others in the FFF family by being the malty antithesis of say, the Alpha King.

It has a light brown color and thin head with a malty brown sugar nose. The taste follows suit. It has a heavy brown sugar taste with enough carbonation to break up and balance the sweetness and maltiness. It's not sweet like say a honey mead or fruit beer. Just sweet enough and crisp enough to still be refreshing. This is a good autumn beer when warm days and cool nights drive you towards something with a little more body that can stand up to the range of temperatures and the elements. This is a good late night beer or something to break up all the hoppy IPAs you've been drinking all the time. It stands up well to meaty and spicy food such as burgers and tacos. This is a versatile beer that will let people know, you are independent. you may start to have problems with authority and start asserting yourself right there in the bar. You may decide to start wearing a kilt, putting on blue warpaint and telling the bouncer to kiss your arse.


-Not a crazy hoppy beer but has weight and flavor from the malt side of the family.
-Makes you feel like you're independent and don't need someone to tell you what to drink or what's cool to drink.
-Would love to see a scotch barrel aged version of this!

-You may have a tendency to put on blue war paint and shout Freedom!! in the middle of the bar.
-may get kicked out of the bar for fighting the power.

-The other king that stands up to the IPA establishment and sets up his own kingdom

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sofa King Alpha King

This is the first installment of the multi part series on The Three Floyd's Brewery. Mark took me to Munster Indiana to the home of Three Floyds where we sat with a couple of friends and tasted some great beers. I bought two cases to bring home with me with a full assortment of everything they had available at the time. Little did I realize that it would be the most expensive cases of beer I'd ever buy. The beer was a little pricey but nothing out of the ordinary for a top tier beer. Where it got expensive is when I realized I'd need to take a taxi to the airport instead of the train I took in to the city in order to transport the beer +$40. Then I had to repack them in two wax boxes +$20. So it cost me an extra $60 for the two cases on top of what I paid for them. Oh the sacrifices we make to bring home the best. :)

On to the first review!

The first review is for their Alpha King! This is their standard bearer of their mass production offering. I found it on tap in many places around Chicago. Unfortunately you can't get it in the Pacific Northwest at Any price. It has a golden brown color that is a little lighter than say an Amber. It has a thick foamy head and the hoppy smell wafts out of the bottle at you immediately. It is the defining point of this beer. It is so floral and sweet without being sugary or overly malty. This is special. It's as if the malt hits the front of your tongue at the exact instant that the hops hit the back of your tongue. The precision is amazing. It's a hoppy beer that are tempered by the malt slightly but really the hops themselves are a beautiful thing. And the best part is the finish. This finish lingers. And I mean I can take a drink. Eat a piece of my wife's chicken parmigian and still taste the beautiful hops on the back of my tongue. I've been writing for a couple minutes now and STILL can taste the hops on my tongue!

-Beautiful Hop aromas and flavors that last and last.
-The last beer you may ever taste!

-Um I can still taste it...
-A little pricier than I expected. :)
-The True King of Beer!