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

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye

It’s hump day. I finished my audio book on Churchill, which was awesome. I highly suggest it. It’s called Churchill and is the 2009 edition. It was absolutely fantastic and had lots of little fun facts, which I love. I also had a great workout. I left my lifting gloves at home, so I thought that I wasn’t going to lift well (I know, it’s all a mental thing) and ended up tearing the gym up. I went for an hour-long walk in the park with my buddy and had some great discussions with him. I came home to have a wonderful dinner of jambalaya. Now, it’s brew time. This will be my first Bear Republic beer and I’ve heard some great things about the brewery, so I’m excited to try this one.

ABV: 8%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: This is considered to be a high gravity IPA. According to wikipedia.com, a high gravity beer “refers to specialty craft beers with an increased specific gravity. High alcohol content is not the intended consequence of high gravity beer, however, the concentration of sugar and flavor-enhancing ingredients at the beginning of the brewing process results in a brew with a higher percentage of alcohol compared to other beers. High gravity beers are traditional in Europe, but only a small percentage of microbreweries in the United States produce them. They are more expensive than mass-produced beer. They are also more flavorful, intended to be sipped and savored, and are often paired with foods.”

Random: Nicole is really good at COD:MW2. She had 25 kills last night in Hardcore Team Deathmatch.

First of all, as I poured the beer, I noticed “stuff.” Now, any time that I say “stuff,” I mean sediment. On the bottle, it says that this is caused by the fact that it’s been “loaded with hops” and is unfiltered. I always love when there is an explanation. Anyways, this beer pours with two fingers of fluffy tan-colored head which leaves some crazy lacing on the glass. The body itself is a reddish-brown. This certainly does not fit my idea of an IPA, but I’m assuming this is due to the rye used in the brew. Hey, I’m all about trying new things. The nose is all IPA though. I get the usual suspects: pine and grapefruit. But, I get another characteristic of maltiness, like a caramel nuttiness. Could this be due to the rye? I assume so. Carbonation is difficult to assess due to the “stuff” floating and the color of the body. On the taste, I don’t get a lot of bitterness. It seems like the maltiness is taking the front seat with the pine making an appearance on the finish and not lingering long. On the second sip, it seems like the hops finally come out to play. Maybe this is a result of warming up a bit? The sweetness is still there and it’s a pretty well-balanced beer. For being 80 IBUs, I would think that the hops would hit me in the face a little more. This is a very interesting concept for an IPA. It’s not only well-balanced, but a little thicker than the normal IPA, without being syrupy. Definitely get your hands on a bottle if you want to expand your horizons a bit. Definitely enjoyable, but a little too high in ABV to session.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Stone Pale Ale

So, Nicole was nice enough to let me sample her Stone Pale Ale. She seems to like the Stone beers and said that she enjoyed the Levitation Ale (I thought it was mediocre at best). This is the second of her mix-a-six pack that she’s opened.

ABV: 5.4%

Style: American Pale Ale

Trivia: This brew is considered the flagship beer of Stone Brewery and is an interpretation of a British Pale Ale. Stone also says that there is a significant malt background to this beer. I wish I read this before I tried it, perhaps my expectations were different.

Random: Nicole loves using this pint glass that I got her at Victory Brewery. It’s called an Imperial Pint Glass and she’s been using it for everything.

Nicole poured this beer pretty vigorously and it resulted in a huge off white head, about three fingers or so. She waited for it to dissipate and continued to pour the bottle. The color of this brew is more like a red ale or an amber than what I would expect for an American pale ale. Moderate carbonation is visible through the clear body. On the nose, Nicole says that she gets “metallic,” and the smell is unmistakable. Very odd for a pale ale. I get some pine, but it’s complemented with a sweet caramel scent. On the taste, the hops are very muted, but the base is definitely a sweeter one. I get some caramel and some bready malts. What happened to the hops? There’s no citrus to speak of either. This isn’t what I expected from a pale ale. The finish is again, sweet, but doesn’t hang around for a long time. The brew itself is alright, but nothing to write home about. One of the only good aspects of this is that is could easily be sessionable due to the low ABV. Again, another mediocre brew from Stone. For a brewery that makes a great IPA and smoked porter, so far lacks on the other styles.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Russian River Damnation

So, last night I passed out on the couch without doing a review. My sincerest apologies. I have a few really good brews in the fridge that I wanted to break out, but I guess I’ll have to do it tonight. Last night, Nicole and I headed to the beer store to pick up some DFH Saison DuBuff. This means that I will be able to try all 3 different varieties (although Nicole still wants to get a bottle of the Victory, so she can save all 3). She also picked up her own mix a six of mostly Stone beers. Some of them I’ve tasted, some I haven’t. She popped open the Stone Pale Ale, which I haven’t tasted, so maybe I can do a review on it? We’ll see how good of a mood she’s in. So, on to the tasting.

ABV: 7.75%

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Trivia: According to the website, “In 1997, Russian River Brewing Company (RRBC) was founded by Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville , California . Vinnie Cilurzo was hired as the Brewmaster. At the Great American Beer Festival in 1999, RRBC and Vinnie were awarded ‘Small Brewing Company of the Year’ and ‘Small Brewing Company Brewmaster of the Year.’ In 2002, Korbel decided to leave the beer business and sold the brewery to Vinnie and his wife, Natalie. Now located in Santa Rosa, California.”

Random: Russian River beers are incredibly popular. There seems to be a cult following for them. The one that I have had (Russian River Registration Ale) was good, but in my opinion overrated. I guess we’ll see how this turns out.

First of all, I love the bottle. It’s a corked-and-caged bottle, with an explanation of the name on the back and a small graphic that has a pint glass crossed out and a tulip glass next to it. It also says to pour slowly and leave the yeast and sediment in the bottom. This beer is starting to remind me of a wine. Anyways, holy head Batman! Three fingers worth of pure white fluffy head that dissipates in ten minutes with some lacing left on the glass. The body is a honey colored orange and slightly cloudy with lots of active carbonation. On the nose, I get some booze and golden fruit (apricots, apples and the like). Very pleasant nose. On the taste, I get a lot of carbonation up front, almost like a champagne. The booze is well hidden in the brew. Again, I get fruit on the taste. It’s a really pleasant brew. This beer is really like, again like a champagne, which is probably a result of all the carbonation. This is lighter than any other Belgian that I’ve had, but definitely a great beer. Although, the price tag is hefty at $10.00 a bottle (you can see it in the picture), definitely worth a try if you can get your hands on it.

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0

Avery Maharaja Imperial IPA

Today was one of those days that just escapes you. I got a haircut and then had to go to my parents’ house. Nic and I also made a stop at Total Wine in Union and I found a bottle of Deus. I’ve only seen Deus at POPE and was thinking about getting it. But, decided to wait. Well, I have a bottle of 2006 Deus waiting for me. Anyways, onto the brew. This is beer #100 for me (woo hoo!), so I hope that it’s a good one.

ABV: 10.24%

Style: American Double/Imperial IPA

Trivia: According to the website, “Maharaja is derived from the sanskrit words mahat, – ‘great’ and rajan – ‘king.’ Much like its namesake, this imperial IPA is regal, intense and mighty. With hops and malts as his servants, he rules both with a heavy hand. The Maharaja flaunts his authority over a deranged amount of hops: tangy, vibrant and pungent along with an insane amount of malted barley – fashioning a dark amber hue and exquisite malt essence.”

Random: I really think Brett Favre should have retired. He’s only ruining his legacy.

This brew poured with a full finger of pure white head that left a nice amount of lacing on the glass. The body is orange with a lot of carbonation. It also looks like there is some “stuff” floating in this, like the Delerium Tremens. Interesting. On the nose, I get a lot of pine and grapefruit and a hint of sweetness on the end. On the taste, the first thing that I get is pine, then grapefruit and then another taste that I can’t really identify. I think it’s caramel or some nuttiness? This nuttiness hangs around until the finish and lingers for a while. The alcohol in this brew is significant, but it is insanely well hidden, even more so than the Long Trail. This is a very enjoyable IPA. I put it on the level of the Long Trail Imperial. This brew was 102 IBUs, but doesn’t hit you in the face with hops. This is what I would consider a “refined” IPA, not like Stone’s Ruination. Both are great beers, but with different effects. This would be up there are one of the best Imperial IPAs that I’ve had. Go out and get this if you haven’t tried it.

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0