Best Brews August 2010

August was a good month. I got to visit a brewery and try a lot of great brews. Here are the beers that got top honors in August:

1. Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti

Yummy stout. Lots of coffee, chocolate and roasted malts.

2. Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

Fresh hops, lots of pine. Awesome IPA. One of the best.

3. Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale

Caramel sweetness married to woody smokiness. Count me in.

4. Green Flash Le Freak

A Belgian IPA. Yes, it is as good as it sounds.

5. Hitachino Nest Weizen

A Japanese hefe that delivers. I would have this again and again.

Honorable Mention: Victory Saison Du BUFF, Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

This was the second brew of the night. I really wish that it was colder so I could start drinking heavier beers more. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this brew, and it also gets some comparisons to Yeti. It also has some history behind the name, which I’m also a fan of.

ABV: 9%

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Trivia: According to wikipedia, “Rasputin was a Russian mystic who is perceived as having influenced the latter days of the Russian Emperor, his wife Alexandra, and their only son Alexei. Rasputin had often been called the ‘Mad Monk,’ while others considered him a ‘strannik’ (or religious pilgrim) and even a starets (ста́рец, ‘elder,’ a title usually reserved for monk-confessors), believing him to be a psychic and faith healer.”

Random: Not a very attractive dude, is he?

I’ve wanted to try this brew for awhile. On the pour, a tan head that was only one finger high was left. The dark brown body hid any carbonation from view. This brew was kept way too cold. The nose was muted, so I left it for about ten minutes. Once it warmed, there was lots of burnt malts and coffee and chocolate on the nose. On the first sip, it was a lot of coffee and almost creamy. It was a little bitter, but well-balanced. This stout was well bodied without being too thick or syrupy. The 9% ABV only made an appearance on the finish with a slight alcohol burn, but all-in-all, the booze was pretty well hidden. The finish lingered and was pretty bitter. There was also more carbonation than I thought would be on this one. This was a really enjoyable stout, but not quite as good as the Yeti. I would definitely have this again without question.

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel

Last night, I headed out to Stuff Yer Face with some friends to take some notes on my first article for examiner.com. I said that I wasn’t going to do a beer review, but after trying this brew, I had to review it. It was also on my list of brews that I wanted to try and last time I was at Stuff Yer Face, they just kicked the keg of it.

ABV: 5.3%

Style: Dunkelweizen

Trivia: According to the German Beer Institute: “Dunkel means dark in German (as opposed to weiss, which means white) and Weizen means wheat. Like a Hefeweizen, Dunkelweizen is made from a mixed mash of wheat and barley malts, but unlike a Weissbier, it also contains a large array of lightly to thoroughly caramelized or roasted malts that give it both its color and its complexity.”

Random: I like Hefeweizen, and I like roasted malts, so this should work.

This beer was poured into a half liter glass. The color was a dark nut-brown color, not unlike Newcastle Brown. But, this brew was cloudy with a one finger white head and no visible carbonation due to the cloudiness. The head left minimal lacing. On the nose, there was a lot of banana, wheat and spice, which was to be expected. On the taste, there was still a lot of banana, but not as much carbonation as I expected. I also got some spice, mostly clove, and some wheat. The finish was quick and unremarkable, like a hefe. I thought this was really good. It was a bit heartier than a normal hefe, but not overbearing. I thought it was almost a bit nutty. I would definitely have this again. Awesome brew. You could almost get away drinking this in the fall.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

This was a beer that I’ve read a lot of great things about and have been waiting to try. Earlier last week, I tried the Hop Rod Rye from Bear Republic and wasn’t floored. It was a solid beer, but not jaw-dropping amazing. This was also purchased in a bomber.

ABV: 7%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: This brew won gold at the Great American Beer Festival for American-Style Strong Pale Ale.

Random: I tried to figure out why the brew was called Racer 5, but there is no real information on the website. The website is actually pretty lame. But, if they make good beer, that doesn’t matter.

This poured with a three finger white head that was quite thick. The body of the brew was golden and cloudy with visible carbonation. On the nose, I got lots of pine and grapefruit. I kept saying that it smelled like “fresh hops.” It had one of the best noses on a brew that I’ve ever encountered. If the taste on this brew was anything like the nose, I was to be in for a treat. On the taste, I get exactly what I smelled on the nose. This brew was heaping with notes of fresh pine and grapefruit with a hint of honey. This was a little thicker than the Flying Fish, but not cloying. This is very hoppy, but not oppressive. The finish was quick with some bitterness. This is an awesome beer. I kept saying that it was fantastic while I was drinking it. I would have this again in a second. So yummy!

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0

Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout

This was the third beer of the day (we were there for awhile, so my palate had some time to recover). Nic’s cousin likes stouts, and after having the Chocolate Oak Aged, I knew that I had to bring some Great Divide, if I could find it. The beer store only had the regular Yeti, which I’ve never had, so I grabbed a bomber of that.

ABV: 9.5%

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Trivia: According to wikipedia, “A yeti is an apelike cryptid said to inhabit the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet.”

Random: This is an interesting name for a stout. I guess maybe because the beer is so good, it’s almost mythical?

This poured a deep black colored body with a tan two-fingered head which left lacing on the glass. You cannot see anything through this brew. On the nose, there was coffee and roasted malts. Also, I got some bittersweet chocolate. The nose became more fragrant as it warmed. On the taste, I got lots of coffee and chocolate. There was also more carbonation to the beer than I expected. I really enjoyed the taste. As the brew warmed, the coffee seemed to overtake the chocolate a bit. A few things were surprising to both me and my drinking pal. First, the IBUs were almost 60, and on the taste, I wouldn’t have put it nearly that high. Second, this beer is 9.5%, where is the alcohol in the taste? If the beer were a little lighter, this would make it dangerous. I wouldn’t call it syrupy, but this beer has body, so I could only have one or two. All-in-all, fantastic beer. I would definitely have this again unless I could get the Oak Aged. Definitely try this.

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0

Flying Fish HopFish IPA

This was one of the beers that Nic’s cousin had that he considers a “go-to” beer. I’ll actually be visiting the brewery in a few weeks for my birthday. I’ve never had this one before and I was in an IPA mood, so I was more than willing to try it.

ABV: 6.3%

Style: English India Pale Ale

Trivia: According to the Flying Fish website, they recommend this beer as a pre-meal drink as hops are a great appetite stimulant.

Random: I just noticed that the Flying Fish logo has propellors on it. Very clever.

This brew poured with a one finger white head that didn’t leave any real lacing and dissipated quickly. The body was a clear copper color with moderate visible carbonation. On the nose, I got some hops and a hint of nuttiness. Overall, the nose wasn’t overly fragrant and somewhat boring. On the taste, there was some moderate bitterness, nothing crazy. The taste is mildly hoppy with some, albeit limited, citrus. The carbonation also makes more of an appearance on the taste. I would put the IBUs at about 50 (after doing some research, I found out they were 39 IBU, so pretty close). This isn’t really what I would expect from an IPA. It’s so much more mild that what I’m used to (after doing additional research and finding out this is considered an English IPA, this makes sense, I was expecting more of an American IPA). There was no real booze noticeable, so I assume that this would be a good session beer (and at 6.3%, that’s an accurate assessment). I understand why this could easily be a good “go-to” beer. These go down pretty easy and have some nice flavor, but it won’t knock your socks off.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Southampton Publick House Double White Ale

On Saturday, Nic and I went to her cousin’s house for lunch, which turned into dinner. He’s also into beer, so we tried a bunch of different ones (so expect a lot of posts). I forgot to grab Nicole’s camera, so there aren’t any pictures of the brews. This first one, I grabbed a six-pack of. I’m stuck in between summer and fall beers now and this was chilled in the case at the beer store. I’ve also read some good things about it, so I grabbed it up.

ABV: 6.7%

Style: Witbier

Trivia: This is called a “double white” because it is a double strength or double gravity version of a Belgian White.

Random: I seriously can’t wait for it to be cool. It is way too hot. I hate the summer. Ugh.

This brew poured with a two finger pure white head that left minimal lacing. There was a lot of carbonation visible through the straw yellow body that was slightly cloudy. On the nose, there was lots of citrus that manifested mostly as lemon. There was not a lot of spice apparent on the nose, which surprised me. On the taste, the spice came out to play. I also got some banana on the taste, which I didn’t expect since this isn’t a hefe. The carbonation that is visible through the body comes out to dance on the tongue. The citrus also works in concert with the other flavors. The brew finishes quick with citrus. This is what would be a nice alternate to a “summer” type of beer. It’s light and fruity, but not watery. It is especially good served very cold. I would definitely have this again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Single Hop ESB

Today was a long day. I worked a twelve-hour shift at work and couldn’t sleep the night before. I skipped the gym and came home for a nap. Now, it’s time for a brew while I watch a movie. At least it’s the weekend, so I can have some awesome beers. It also looks like I may be writing about beer in another place for some money. I’ll go into it more once I get more information about it. Needless to say, I’m psyched. So, onto the beer.

ABV: 5.8%

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter

Trivia: ESB is an American term. In Scotland, they call this a pale ale.

Random: I’ve never had an ESB (or not one that I remember), so I’m interested to see if I like this type of beer.

This beer is from session 31 of Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series This beer presents with a one finger, off white head with a brown body with major carbonation going on. 38 IBUs are in this brew, which doesn’t make me think bitter. It has less IBUs than a normal IPA. On the nose, I get some nuttiness and hops, which remind me more of a brown ale. Almost like a more fragrant Newcastle Brown Ale. On the taste, the nuttiness and carbonation taken center stage, supported by an earthiness that is intrinsic in the brew. You could even say that the taste on this is a bit “bready,” bordering on “biscuit.” I would call this a well-balanced brew between maltiness and hops on the taste, but there’s just not much too it. It’s a very simple beer with not a lot of complexity. It’s very sessionable at a little under 6% ABV, but I wish there was more going on. The finish is also quick, with some malt to it. A good beer, but not something that I would rush back to have. I would like to try other beers of the style and see if this is a qualm I have of the style or just of this brew.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Smuttynose IPA “Finest Kind”

This was the last beer of the night. I’ve always seen Smuttynose around and never bought it. I have no logical reason why. But, I’ve read some good reviews of their beer. Nicole picked up some of their pumpkin ale, and it was pretty good. So, after a quick beer run, I picked up a six of their IPA.

ABV: 6.9%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: According to the Smuttynose website, “Our company is named for Smuttynose Island, the third largest of the nine islands that comprise the Isles of Shoals, a small, rocky archipelago that lies seven miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. The name appears on nautical charts going back as far as the seventeenth century, so its true origins are lost to time.”

Random: I think I’m rapidly becoming a hop head.

This brew poured with a two finger white head with moderate carbonation. the body was cloudy with visible carbonation and left significant lacing on the interior of the pint glass. On the nose, I got some pine and grapefruit. I also got an earthy quality, almost like a hint of grass. On the taste, I got much of what I got on the nose, but with the addition of some sweetness in the middle from the malt. But, I had this after the Racer 5, which I think clouded my opinion. This wasn’t nearly as well balanced as the Racer 5. The carbonation was pleasant and the finish lingered with hoppy bitterness. This was a great brew, but to me, wasn’t as refined as the Racer 5. I would say that the Racer 5 was an A+ and this would be a solid A. But, I would definitely have this again. Very good IPA.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

Today was a great day at the gym. It was one of those days that I thought was going to drag and I wasn’t going to do well. Boy, was I wrong. I rocked the house. A few of my buddies were there and we just had a blast. I went for a walk in the park with my friend, which was just a great end to a great day. Tomorrow is Friday, so I have to get up early. So, without further ado, onto the brew.

ABV: 7.5%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: This was the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio. This is also my first Ohio beer, so I guess it’s appropriate.

Random: I did 120 lbs on seated calf raises. That’s a personal best (and not the only one today!).

First of all, I love bottles with lots of information. This says that the beer modified the battle cry of Commodore Perry from “don’t give up the ship,” to “don’t give up the sip.” Very clever. It also outlines the history of which the beer is brewed in. Being that I’m a history buff, I like this. The beer pours with a finger of white head, with a golden clear body with moderate carbonation. Some lacing is left from the head, which dissipates rather speedily. On the nose, I get mostly piney hops. This smells like a typical IPA. On the first sip, I get the piney hops that were apparent in the smell. The carbonation is more apparent on the taste than what I saw. I don’t get a lot of citrus from this brew. The primary taste that I identify is the hops. But, this isn’t a “hop bomb.” It’s not bad, just more subtle than I’ve had lately. The malt makes a brief appearance at the end as more of a “buttery” taste. The finish lingers and has some of the maltiness and hoppiness. This isn’t a bad IPA by any means, I actually enjoy it. But, you can’t really compared it an Imperial IPA, because it is so much more mellow. This is like lying on the beach listening to the waves come in, while something like the Avery Maharajah is like surfing where as the Stone Ruination is like a tsunami. As long as you appreciate this brew for what it is, it’s awesome. I’m very pleased and would have this again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0