India Pale Ale

TYIB Beer Tasting Extravaganza #1

To commemorate our one year of beer anniversary, TYIB held its very first–and very not last–beer tasting at Bar Great Harry. In order to delve into a discussion on the the stylistic nuances of beer, we reviewed two beers of three different styles. In a fight to the death type of situation, the reviewers pitted beer against beer, searching for the ultimate champion of the style.

that's right.

that’s right.

For this tasting, we explored the Black IPA, the Russian Imperial Stout, and the IPA. And the hangover (for some). The contenders were…

Yakima Glory, Victory Brewing Co.
There Will Be Black, Brooklyn Brewery
Titan IPA, Great Divide Brewing Co.
Hoppagedon, Napa Smith Brewery
Old Rasputin, North Coast Brewing Co.
Imperial Russian Stout, Stone Brewing Co.

cheers, all!

cheers, all!

The following reviews reflect the group’s opinions of each beer.

The Black IPAs

For our exploration of the Black IPA–a maltier sibling of the IPA–we reviewed Victory’s Yakima Glory and Brooklyn Brewery’s There Will Be Black, part of their Brewmaster’s series. Yakima Glory is named as such for the hops grown in the Yakima Valley in Pennsylvania.

 VS 

Yakima Glory, Victory Brewing Co., 8.7% ABV

yakima

Sight: Dark brown, burnt amber body.

Smell: Sweet chocolate and caramel aromas are quickly balanced by a hoppy citrusy smell.

Taste: Like its smell, there is an initial sweet, malty flavor that is almost immediately overpowered by a hop attack. The last note is a piney, earthy flavor.

Overall: For the most part, the reviewers took a liking to Yakima Glory. One reviewer said it was “good for a cold winter night,” while another called it “fierce.” Fellow beer enthusiast Amanda noted that it while it fell short of what she would expect of a Black IPA, it was redeemably well-balanced.

 beeruse-copy (average score= 3.375)

There Will Be Black, Brooklyn Brewery, 7.5%

therewill

Sight: Deep purple-y black body. Much darker than the Yakima.

Smell: The dominant aromas are chocolate, coffee, cherry, and dirt.

Taste: Some reviewers commented that There Will Be Black has a considerably weaker flavor than the Yakima Glory. One reviewer said it tasted like cold carbonated coffee. Other flavors include cherry, bark, and maple. We all agreed that it tasted like a Decello milk chocolate covered cherry…you know, the cheap kind.

Overall: While Yakima Glory’s take on a Black IPA was that of balance, Brooklyn Brewery focused on infusing as much rich, malty flavors into their Black IPA as possible. While not a fan favorite, reviewers were intrigued by the fruity, smokey flavors of There Will Be Black.

 (average score= 3)

THE VERDICT

After much discussion, the group named Victory’s Yakima Glory the clear winner of this round. However, we did agree that Brooklyn’s There Will Be Black is a better example of the Black IPA. For an everyday drinking beer, we recommend picking up a six-pack of the deliciously balanced (and alcoholic) Yakima. If you’re looking to further your understanding of the Black IPA, give Brooklyn’s a try.

—-

The IPAS

For our exploration of the IPA, we selected the only two IPAs on tap: Napa Smith’s Hopageddon (a double IPA) and Great Divide’s Titan Indian Pale Ale.

   VS 

Titan IPA, Great Divide, 7.1% ABV

titan

Sight: Clear chestnut/amber/golden body.

Smell: Some of the more creative descriptions of the evening were written about the smell of this beer. These include “grandma’s hard candy that falls out of your mouth” and “pizza dough cough drops.”

Taste: Again, there were some interesting adjectives associated with the flavor of this beer. Most agreed that it tastes like flavors found in a bar and a barn: there is a bit of a liquor, apple schnapps flavor with a grassy, hay taste.  One reviewer described the flavor like that of a starchy potato chip.

Overall: Titan is a complex, multi-faceted beer that reviewer Amanda called the “sexually ambiguous store clerk”  as well as a “golden mystery.” This IPA has an unusual fruity starch flavor that is certainly worth trying once. And probably only once.

beeruse-copy (average score= 3.66)

Hopageddon, Napa Smith, 9.2%

hoppa

Sight: Cloudy dark golden body that looks like apple cider.

Smell: It smells like a breakfast of apple juice, cinnamon toast, and a fruity cereal.

Taste: Like it smells, this beer tastes like eating an overripe apple. There’s an lingering sweetness that balances the intense flowery hop flavor. Someone said it tasted like a cider with some hops.

Overall: For a double IPA dubbed Hopageddon, the group agreed that it was a dud. None of us were blown away by any sort of hops explosion that could usher in a new world. Napa Smith has here an odd double IPA that’s quite creamy for its style. Most reviewers appreciated the uniqueness of the beer, while others were simply confused and didn’t enjoy it (well, maybe just its high ABV).

beeruse-copy (average score= 3.5)

THE VERDICT

Both of the IPAs we reviewed were IPAs found off of the beaten path. Great Divide’s Titan is unique for an IPA and Napa Smith’s is the least hoppy and most fruity Double IPA of all time. While reviewers thought both were interesting enough, Titan IPA ends up living up to its name and comes out with the highest score in battle.

—-

The Russian Imperial Stouts

For our exploration of the Russian Imperial Stout–a historic style emerging in the 18th century–we reviewed two of the best: North Coast’s iconic Old Rasputin and Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout.

  VS  

Old Rasputin, North Coast Brewing, 9.0% ABV

rasp

Sight: Dark brown body with a small, creamy head that leaves a thick lacing as it travels down the glass.

Smell: Strong aromas of coffee, dark chocolate, and malts.

Taste: Reviewer Erica said it tastes like an espresso milkshake. Others described it as a german chocolate cake and a creamy chocolately dessert.

Overall: Surprisingly fluffy and airy, Old Rasputin was described as, pardon our French, “creamy as fuck.” Reviewer Amanda called it a “smooth journey through seduction” and that it was a “lovable” beer. Yeah, Rasputin, you creamy mystic you.

 (average score= 4)

Russian Imperial Stout, Stone Brewing, 10.5% ABV

stone

Sight: It looks like oil, with a pitch black body and no head.

Smell: Reviewer Suzy said that it smelled like “a shot I would be uncomfortable taking.” That shot must be Jameson, because others described the smell as such. There is also a woody and chocolately aroma.

Taste: We agreed that Stone’s Stout tastes a helluva lot better than it smells. The dominant flavors are fresh coffee, mocha, and dark chocolate, with a faint cherry note.

Overall: By this point in the night, there was more yelling of adjectives and less taking of notes However, we did manage to get our hands on one reviewer’s notes that summed up this beer by saying that it was “powerful, complex, and commands respect.” Thanks, Amanda, for your expert documentation skills!

 (average score= 4.08)

THE VERDICT

This final face off was the most hotly debated of the night (hello, the scores were 4 and 4.08). For readers at home, Amanda came up with this analogy on the fly: Old Rasputin is the lovely wife, with its creaminess, soothing quality, and warmth, and Stone’s Imperial is the gorgeous mistress, with it’s silky, dark, and intoxicating nature  (literally…at 10%, this was the most alcoholic of the evening). So, what do you want? The lovely wife or the gorgeous mistress? Either way, you win. These two are are both spectacular Russian Imperials–debatably the best of the style. The end of the night was a bit hazy after drinking all of these high ABV ales, but if I correctly recall, Old Rasputin, our lovely wife, was the overall winner for its exceptional creaminess.

beer makes us smile. the end.

beer makes us smile. the end.

Concluding Remarks: So, beer is awesome. After a night of smelling, moderate-to-heavy drinking, and discussing these beers, I think all participants walked away with a renewed love of all things malts and hops. We would like to thank everyone who came out and made this event possible, as well as Bar Great Harry for pouring us a gazillion beers. Stay tuned for more tastings and events in the future!

Categories: India Pale Ale, Stout | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

Beer: 120 Minute IPA
Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 15-20%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Tulip glass
Drinking Establishment: George Street Ale House, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer: Ally

——–

OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Murky golden amber that clears to a coppery color, with a 2-finger off-white head.  Lava lamp-like carbonation bubbles float throughout.

Smell: The aroma of figs and hops.

Flavor: Caramel, pine sap, and a slight licorice taste.  The hops are definitely present.

Feel: Moderate carbonation with a medium mouthfeel.

Concluding Remark: Dogfish Head has a 60 Minute IPA, a 90 Minute IPA, a 75 Minute IPA (review earlier this month), and this, the 120 Minute IPA.  The “Minutes” refer to the amount of boil time of the wort–the liquid extracted during the mashing process of brewing. During this time, the hops are continuously added; and the longer the hops are boiled, the more hop bitterness there will be in the beer.  So, you can understand why Dogfish would refer to its 120 Minute IPA as “the Holy Grail for hopheads.”

Now, when I first started appreciating good beer, I had a hard time coming over to the side of the IPA–I just wasn’t a fan of the metallic bitterness.  But, I’ve come a long way, and now I find it slightly ridiculous that, when I first tasted the 120 Minute, my initial reaction was, “This isn’t that hoppy.”  Don’t get me wrong: no doubt is this an IPA, and a strong one at that.  (I felt the tipsy after-effects of this guy for a looooong time.)  But it wasn’t offensive or intimidating; it was highly enjoyable.  I will admit, I enjoyed the 75 Minute IPA better; but Dogfish did a good job with what they call “the biggest IPA ever brewed.”

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Samuel Adams Dark Depths

Beer: Samuel Adams Dark Depths
Brewery: The Boston Beer Company
Style: Baltic IPA
ABV: 7.6%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Drinking glass
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Cola-colored body with a thin, frothy, beige head.

Smell: Charred malt with a slight lemon/pineapple aroma. Almost unpleasant.

Flavor: Charred malt, a little coffee, a little toffee, and a little raisin. Feels bitter, but you don’t get much hops out of it.

Feel: Very thin with high carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Samuel Adams’s Baltic IPA is more like a Porter or a Black Ale; there’s nothing IPA about it.  It’s sweet and roasted, but with very little hops.  It would make for a decent Porter, but nothing more.  But I guess that’s why the brewery says it “confounds definition”?

For more of Sam Adams’s renditions of the IPA, check out the other brews reviewed from the Hopology variety pack: the Grumpy Monk, the Third Voyage, and the Tasman Red.

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Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA

Beer: Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA
Brewery: Stone Brewing Company
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 10.8%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: The Brickwall, Asbury Park, NJ
Primary Consumer: Ally
Secondary Consumer: Laura, Ally’s sister

——–

OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Clear, coppery amber.  Not much head when served, just a light dusting of creamy bubbles.

Smell: Hops and fruit, like apricots.

Flavor: The hops dominate, with the apricot fruitiness appearing in the aftertaste.  It’s not necessarily balanced; there is a clear delineation of flavors.

Feel: Solid, full, dry mouthfeel.  Moderate carbonation.

Concluding Remark: The Stone Ruination IPA, developed in 2002, was the “first full-time brewed and bottled Double IPA on the planet,” according to the San Diego brewery Stone.  It derived its named from the “ruinous effect” it had on the palate, i.e. hop overload.  Well, in celebration of the Ruination IPA’s tenth birthday, Stone released a special anniversary edition on June 11, 2012, adding twice as many hops to the Ruination brew (can this be considered a Quadruple IPA?) and upping the ABV from 7.7% to 10.8%.

The verdict?  The Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA makes for a good summer beer.  It’s flavorful, but not as overpowering (or ruinous) as you might expect…although it does leave a tingle in your throat.  Since it is a special edition, we can only imagine it’s going to have a limited release, so definitely snag a pint if you find it and see just how strong your palate is against this “celebratory and glorious homage to the almighty hop.”

And cheers to The Brickwall for serving it in a pint.  No pansy 10 oz. pour for us!  Woo!

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Samuel Adams Tasman Red

Beer: Samuel Adams Tasman Red
Brewery: The Boston Beer Company
Style: Red IPA
ABV: 6.75%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Drinking glass
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Clear, dark ruby/garnet body with a frothy beige head.  Leaves a crazy lacing on the glass.

Smell: Dirt, pine, and hops, with a little bit of dark honey.

Flavor: Very pronounced caramel/toffee taste, which is tempered with a full earthy hop flavor. A bitter flavor hits mid-sip but dissipates. There is a mild note of pine, pineapple, and grapefruit, but…caramelllllll.

Feel: Creamy medium body with low carbonation.

Concluding Remark: Another IPA from Samuel Adams’s Hopology variety pack (the Grumpy Monk and Third Voyage were reviewed earlier this month), the Tasman Red is weird.  Upon trying it, my brother simply said, “Whoa.”  But, it’s a welcomed addition to the IPA world.  Named for the Tasmanian hops used in brewing (Topaz and Galaxy), Sam Adams says this brew “is about more than the hops though.”  The very end tastes like a caramel sundae, with its creaminess and caramel flavors, but topped with pineapple and grapefruit chunks.  Personally, I think it could’ve had a bigger hop profile, but the toffee and caramel notes, which are characteristic of a Red IPA, make for an interesting and special India Pale Ale, for sure.

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Harvest Moon Dark Side of the Moon Black IPA

Beer: Dark Side of the Moon
Brewery: Harvest Moon Brewery Cafe
Style: Black IPA
ABV: 8.1%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Harvest Moon Brewery Cafe
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Opaque pitch black, with 1-centimeter’s worth of creamy tan head.

Smell: An acetone aroma that fades into chocolate, like hot fudge.

Flavor: A slight sweetness is overpowered by a charred bitterness.  Like the aroma, there’s a note of alcohol; but if there’s any chocolate notes, it’s a very, very bitter unsweetened chocolate.  The hops appear in the aftertaste–also very bitter.  Despite the description on the menu, we detect no citrus.

Feel: Thin-to-medium mouthfeel.  Moderate carbonation.

Concluding Remark:  We continue the Harvest Moon double header with their Black IPA.  Aptly named the “Dark Side of the Moon,” it is a fascinating take on the IPA.  The style is complex, like a combination of a Porter and an IPA, but the malts and hops get muddled, i.e. you can’t really enjoy the flavor of the hops or the malts.  Still, it’s an interesting brew, and certainly unlike any of the other IPAs we’ve tried this month.

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Harvest Moon Summit Double IPA

Beer: Summit Double IPA
Brewery: Harvest Moon Brewery Cafe
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.5%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Harvest Moon Brewery Cafe, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Rich amber color, with little-to-no head when served, just a thin ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.

Smell: Sweet, citrusy hops.

Flavor: Initially a butterscotch flavor, with small notes of citrus and a salty bready/yeasty taste.  The endnote is earthy and bitter, like bitter salad greens or frisée.

Feel: Thin but not watery, and slick.  Moderate carbonation.

Concluding Remark:  Although it reminds Kerensa of a lesser Troegs Nugget Nectar, Harvest Moon’s Double IPA is still a solid, straightforward rendition.  It’s complex, with lots of flavor, which hide the ABV well.  Harvest Moon rotates their beer menu pretty often, so you might not always find the Double IPA, but if you happen to be in the Brunswick area and spot it on the menu board, give it a try.

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Leinenkugel Big Eddy Imperial IPA

Beer: Big Eddy Imperial IPA
Brewery: Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.9%

Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Snifter glass
Drinking Establishment: George Street Ale House, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer: Ally

——–

OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Ruby-tinged amber coloration, with a 2-finger fluffy white head.

Smell: Bright floral notes, perhaps some pine, and citrus fruit.

Flavor: Tastes like tropical fruit, like pineapple and papaya, but with an earthy hop aftertaste.

Feel: The mouthfeel has a bite to it.  Moderate carbonation.

Concluding Remark: I will admit, I was a bit biased against Leinenkugel’s take on the IPA.  In full-on beer snob mode, I wrote them off as the only “craft” brew that local townie bars carry, amongst the Coors Light and Budweiser taps, i.e. the beer that bros will drink to impress the ladies with their beer knowledge.  (Yeah, right, bro.)  Granted, the Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat tastes like Fruity Pebbles cereal, which is fascinating, but still, they couldn’t do a decent job with an IPA, could they?

Well, I was pleasantly surprised.  Using five different kinds of Pacific Northwest hops (Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra), the Big Eddy Imperial IPA is bold but balanced, and therefore highly drinkable.  Perhaps this is the beer that can bring bros and beer snobs, hipsters and hos together at last?  That question will remain unanswered.  But as to the question of whether or not you should try this brew, I give a rousing response of “go for it.”

Oh, and as for the name, the Big Eddy Spring runs right through the Leinenkugel Brewery in Wisconsin and was once dubbed “the purest water in the world.”  Leinenkugel has two other beers in its Big Eddy line at the moment, a Russian Imperial Stout and a Scotch Ale.

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Samuel Adams Third Voyage

Beer: Samuel Adams Third Voyage
Brewery: The Boston Beer Company
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.0%

20120521-204234.jpg

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Drinking glass
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Medium amber, with a clear body and frothy beige head.

Smell: Citrusy, just like pineapple candy, with notes of pine and a little grass.

Flavor: Bitter hops, with a strong pineapple taste…is this a pineapple ale?  Also a little piny and a tad biscuity. The aftertaste is one part liquor and three parts bitter, and also a rich malt caramel.

Feel: You can feel the ABV via a warm sensation. Thin-to-medium mouthfeel, a tad oily, medium carbonation.

Concluding Remark:  Sam Adams’s Third Voyage Double IPA is like an alcoholic, sour, tropical citrus fruit juice. Not quite enough of an explosive hop profile that you would want from a Double IPA, but one of the better Sam Adams Hopology IPAs!

(Check out the review for Sam’s Grumpy Monk, reviewed earlier this month; and check back for a few others before month’s end!)

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Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

Beer: Double Simcoe IPA
Brewery: Weyerbacher Brewing Company
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 9.0%

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Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: A New Brunswick apartment
Primary Consumer(s): Ally and Kerensa

——–

OVERALL RATING:



Sight: Burnt sienna coloration, with a cloudy body and a thick, dense but fluffy beige head.

Smell: Off-putting but, uh, dynamic, we at first thought it smelled of dog urine and mushrooms, or a fake pine sent, or rotten pineapple; but we finally decided upon kitty litter and a damp lake house.  See?  Off-putting but dynamic.

Flavor: Sweet notes initially–a generic fruit flavor, like Del Monte canned fruit in its sweet, sugary syrup.  There are also notes of burnt caramel and copper (but not quite like drinking pennies, as some IPAs will taste.)  The piney hop flavor lingers in the aftertaste, with a bitterness that you feel, not taste.

Feel: Medium mouthfeel that feels like bitterness tastes, if that makes any sense.

Concluding Remark: Simcoe is a hybrid hop variety that was developed in a way that allows a brewer to use a lot of them without creating a harsh taste.  (It has a high alpha acid content, maximum aromatic oils, and low cohumulone levels, if you’re into the specifics.)  As such, this Weyerbacher Double IPA isn’t overly bitter, and it doesn’t feel like a 9% beer.  (Which is ironic, since the Last Chance IPA, another Weyerbacher IPA reviewed this month, has much more of an alcoholic note but only clocks in at 5.9%.)  However, once you get the scent of the Double Simcoe in your nose, it’s kind of hard to enjoy.  It is an interesting profile of the Simcoe hop, though!  So if you’re not into super bitter IPAs, give this guy a try; just hold your nose as you drink it.

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