Friday, February 26, 2010

A Duet of Imperial IPAs

I recently traded beer for the first time with a couple of nice beer nerds. It is *fun* to get a box of beer goodies, so I recommend it!

Plenty of new things to try, but first: a "duet" of Imperial IPAs.
First, Hop Rod Rye from Bear Republic out of CA, the first I've tried from these guys. I'm curious about their name - it seems like it's more about bears, than bears.

The Hop Rod Rye (check out the cool label!) poured a lovely darkish amber-brown, very cloudy, with a huge pillowy light brown head. The head was massive with great retention and tons of lace. This was an interesting Imperial IPA. It's made with 18% rye which gave it a unique flavor and smell. The smell and taste had tons of great sweet citrus hops, bitter piney hops, but also some strong peppery spice. I could feel it in my throat just from smelling it. The spicy and bitter rye added some depth to the flavor, but didn't overpower it. It was really good and different. This was a nice beer, tasty, well-balanced, attractive, and soft from the huge foam. I'm interested in trying more rye beers now, along with some more from Bear Republic. A-

Mmm, another one from Stone. Ruination, the bottle explains, is called that because its extreme hops and IBUS (international bitterness units) will "ruin" your palate and everything afterwards will just taste bland. It has 100 IBUs (IPAs typically have 40+); this is high. Appearance is lovely. Clear orange-amber with decent sudsy head that left some lace. This beverage tastes strongly of hops - citrus, florals, and pines in yo' face. I also got some mild malts, sweet vanilla, and earthy notes. As it warmed the bitterness came out, but not unpleasantly, against delicious orange and lemon notes. Mouthfeel is very smooth, medium-bodied, slightly oily, and a delicious (bitter) hops residue behind. I don't know that my palate is "ruined," more like "delighted." Yes! A

Monday, February 22, 2010

Drinkin' With the Devil: Belzebuth.

Check it out:
There is just something adorable and irresistable about a little 8.4 oz. bottle proclaiming "Belzebuth"! "Pur Malt!" "France!" "13% Alcohol!"...All with a little picture of a devilish creature. How could I resist? This ale reigns from the Brasserie Grain D'orge in Northern France. They describe Belzebuth as a "golden ale" with a "pungent taste" due to the combination of a special yeast with 3 malts. They also suggest you enjoy it with a "sinful dessert." Muwa-ha-ha-ha.

(As an aside: you may want to scroll down to play the music video. The soundtrack for this beer review is obviously "Beezelboss" by Tenacious D. Obviously).

I was not sure what to expect with this. On label it largely proclaims the 13% abv and not much else, besides "the most unique ale in the world." This boasting annoys me, but I try to remain open-minded. Afterall, cockiness is a devilish attribute.

Upon opening the bottle, I got a huge whiff of alcohol, along with some malts. The smell mellowed out to fruit, namely grapes and citrus. Mildly sweet.

And as for the tasting, it started sweet and grapey to a more dry and alcohol-finish. Grapes is the strong flavor to me, along with some bread and pepper. It actually reminds me of a white wine. The alcohol is noticeable but not overwhelming. It can be felt; about half-way through my face is *warm* as is my stomach. I like this a lot more than I thought I would! I thought it would be too boozey.

Overall, this was surprisingly good. I thought this would be a very slow sipper with a really strong alcohol flavor. But I enjoyed it and drank 1 bottle easily (but could feel the alcohol so one was enough). And I do agree with the label - it's a unique ale. Darn you, Belzebuth...You were right.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Feeling Finey With Some Pliny

Like the punny blog titles? I sure hope so. (Or hop so?) Ahem, so...Very quickly into my foray into the wilderness of beer education, I heard about some highly regarded Double India Pale Ales. In particular, Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger from Russian River in CA. Pliny the Elder is a year-round beer, made with 100 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and 8% alcohol. Pliny the Younger is much more limited, not available in bottles and is called a Triple India Pale Ale with even more hops and bitterness and alcohol.

Pliny the Elder won the Gold medal at the "World Beer Cup" in 2006 in the Double IPA category. (note to self: find out how to be a judge at this thing!)

So therefore, I was super excited when my little sister who lives in Oregon was able to score me a bottle of this for my birthday!

All over the bottle are phrases saying things like, "DRINK ME NOW!" Drink while fresh, fresh hops are best, do not age, drink me please!!!

So this bottle was about a month old. And it was delicious.

I poured it into my new and sexy Sam Adams "perfect pint" glass. It was a lovely orange with 1-2 fingers of sudsy white head. It slided viscously around the sides of the glass.

The smell...Oh the smell. When I opened the bottle, hops just poured out of it. Orange. Pineapple. Pine. Grass. Mango. A bit of spice. Very enticing.

And the taste. Oh boy, lots o' hops! The taste went from sweet fruits to bitter pines. The mango was really present. Sweet citrus to bitter pines with a bit of spice, maybe pepper. Each sip left a huge hop presence in my mouth; I felt like I'd be tasting hops forever.

This was absolutely delicious. Tremendously hoppy and tasty. While I was disappointed when the bottle was empty, it did get a wee bit bitter for me after a while. Still awesome. I'm so glad I got to try this! Hopefully I'll get to try Pliny's Younger one day too! Thanks sis.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Beer-Day!

Ahhh...Little Sophisticated is growing up. No longer a wee confused babe in the woods of ales. Last week I turned...31. Yes, 31. And to celebrate? Oh boy!

1) Sam Adams Brewery Tour: 'Kay this rules. It's free. You touch, smell, and taste various types of malts and hops. The dude leading the tour is funny. Then you sit at long tables and taste. Taste! With your free 7 oz. tasting glass. We tasted their Boston Lager, Brick Red Amber, and Winter Ale. Yum, yum, and yum. It was funny how the room got louder and louder with each sample. We also learned the appropriate steps to appreciating beer.

For example, here I'm demonstrating how to check your beer for clarity and proper filtering. If you can see your fingers on the other side of the glass, you're "in the clear."
Here I'm tasting a sample! Just kidding. Geez. I also purchased a "perfect pint" glass, scientifically designed to make your beer perfect. Some of the features include a wide mouth to allow smelling and tasting simultaneously, and etchings on the bottom of the glass to allow for continuous release of the carbonation. And sexy, sexy curves.

Next, we went to Doyle's, a pub near the brewery. After all that beer, I wanted fried things. I had: garlic fries, sweet potato fries, fried fish sandwich, and (really good) (and fried) onion rings. The pub gives out FREE perfect pint glasses to people who went on the brewery tour! I also got nice presents, including a book I hope to use someday.

Perfect Pint Glasses! 1 was free! And a tasting glass. Also free!Then...A very lovely gift from my Oregonian sister. 3 delicious West coast beers I am eager to try. Including the much-lauded Pliny the Elder and Abyss. So generous and exciting!

Thanks to all who helped make my birthday a happy beer-day.