Monday, January 18, 2016

Beer Grotto Samples + Backwoods Bastard

The Beer Grotto is one of several craft beer joints near the baseball stadium in Lansing. It has a decent selection and offers 3 oz pours, which I especially like. On a recent visit I stopped by and had 3 of the 3 oz pours, all beers I had never tried before. 

From left to right:
  • Epic's Hopulent IPA (nitro)
  • Grotto's Raisin the Freakflag Porter (made for the Beer Grotto by Short's)
  • Founder's Backwoods Bastard
The Hopulent IPA poured a hazy pale amber with very foamy head due to the nitro and a soft body. It smelled piney and citrusy with a touch of sop. Not an overly hoppy IPA. Notes of pine and lemon stood out but there was balance. Drinkable at 8.4% ABC.

Raisin the Freakflag was very pretty! Dark brown with noticeable red hues and a sudsy light brown head. It smelled of dark fruits and alcohol. It definitely tasted like raisins - sweet and malty. I looked it up and the style is described as a "Rum Raisin Cake Porter."
A nice, unique beer and I would expect no less from Short's. However, 3 oz was plenty as this was a very sweet beverage. 8% ABV.

Backwoods Bastard is a scotch ale or "wee heavy." I enjoyed it so much that I came back the very next day for a full pour.
This is a limited release beer from Founder's in Grand Rapids, MI. The style is known for being sweeter due to a caramelized wort. It poured dark but with amber highlights and smelled of cherries and malt. It tasted like bourbon, caramel, oak, and fruit and definitely warmed my chilly belly on a cold January day. It is a sweet beer and has a high alcohol content at 11-13% ABV. 10 oz was plenty. It was one to savor and enjoy; I'm glad I went back for it.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Guiness Nitro IPA

What's up with Nitro beer? The nerds at have a helpful explanation! During the carbonation process, nitro beers use 70% nitrogen along with 30% carbon dioxide. These beers have smaller bubbles, and are therefore smoother and creamier. Cans of Guiness Stout are known for having a plastic ball which helps the CO2 release, to create the head and body of a Stout enjoyed traditionally on tap. Recently, Guiness has released cans of Nitro IPA as well. I picked up a 6-pack out of curiosity.

The can says "infused with nitrogen for a smooth balanced finish." It also shares the varieties of hops used: admiral, celeia, topaz, challenger, and cascade. It has 44 IBUs (International Bitterness Units), and 5.8% alcohol. The cans are 11.2 oz which is standard for European beers but makes it look a bit small in a 16 oz pint glass.

As expected, it pours smooth and creamy with a foamy white head. It smells distinctly of citrus - oranges, lemons, and a bit of spice. It is definitely an attractive beer. It is nice to see the layers settle in the glass.

Beyond that, it is not one of my favorite IPAs. I love big, bold hop flavors. Guiness offers a muted, soft IPA. It is not bad; the hops are more floral than anything along with some citrus and spice. But the flavor is weak. 

At 5.8% alcohol this could be a session beer and that is probably how it is intended to be. I recently had a Victory Hop Devil on nitro and really enjoyed it. The smooth and creamy mouthfeel did not take away from the strong hoppy flavor. 

Overall, I will finish the 6 pack and am happy to have given it a try. But, it is not an IPA that I will purchase again. C+