Saturday, December 29, 2012

Aged Victory Storm King Stout - 2008

A recent treat from Sheffield's vintage beer cooler was Victory Brewing's Storm King Stout, 2008 release.   I'm beginning to think that aging imperial stouts is the way to go, without exception.  Just as women improve with age, so do stouts.  Imperial stouts often drink too hot with alcohol at their initial release, or are overly-steeped in one of their signature ingredients - hops, coffee, chocolate, rye, whatever.  The aging process melds the flavors together into a more seamless concoction, often heightening the drinking experience.  I'm still talking stouts here, tactfully.  And there's no question that Storm King benefits mightily from cellaring.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout Review

Chase away the winter doldrums, and all the annoyance of those ubiquitous car commercials co-opting the Christmas season like parasites, by indulging in a Sierra Nevada Narwhal Imperial Stout.  Everyone has a Christmas beer on the market, and most are the same: an ale with spices recalling Christmas desserts and grogs.  It's similar to how every car company has a Christmas-style ad currently airing, and the ads are produced in paint-by-the-numbers fashion:  show red car, play familiar Christmas tune, show people in down coats and ski hats, show Santa Claus, tout 0% financing.  Yeah, yeah.   This Christmas, at least Sierra's offering something different.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lagunitas Sucks Ready for Action

According to this piece from Beerpulse, Lagunitas Sucks - Brown Shugga Substitute Ale, f/k/a Lagunitas Sucks Holiday Ale but renamed to reflect the beer's newly-bestowed year-round status, is awaiting bottling and shipment.  An incredible IPA from Lagunitas, Sucks stood in for Brown Shugga in 2012 when the latter's annual holiday release was circumvented by throughput issues.  Sucks is finishing its fermentation as we speak and will soon return to shelves and taps, marking the first installment of its reported year-round production. 

The return of this breathtaking IPA should be a cause for celebration among hop lovers everywhere.  Sucks merges the best qualities of an imperial IPA with those of a standard American IPA.  It delivers the striking, refined hop assault of an imperial, yet maintains the drinkability, accessibility, and manageable ABV of a standard.  Imperial IPA's rule, but their ABV levels are simply outrageous.  This often renders them unfit for holiday wassailing.  In contrast, Sucks' lightness and effortlessness recall a pale ale, and I would tag it as one of the few beers of hops to surpass Zombie Dust.  It's no wonder that this beer appealed to many non-IPA fans, and even converted someone I know who had previously proclaimed a hatred for IPA's. How the stubbornest of palates has fallen.  Whether or not it's Laggie's most accomplished beer, Sucks' crossover appeal without sacrificing the robustness of a great craft brew makes this beer Laggie's crowning achievement.  That feat counts as ingenuity in anyone's book. 

Chicago should see quite a bit of Sucks again, given this city's status as a core Laggie market which will soon boast the Petaluma brewer's only other production facility.  Bring on the Sucks!