Mikkeller Willamette Single Hop IPA

Well, the holidays unfortunately took me away from the beer blog. As usual, I left everything until the last minute and I cooked all of Christmas dinner. I didn’t even finish wrapping until 10:00 on Christmas morning. And, because apparently my life isn’t interesting enough lately, I caught someone breaking into my neighbor’s house and chased after him. The cops flooded my normally boring cul-de-sac and I had to ride in the back of a police car to identify him. And, by the way, the back of police cars are incredibly small..and I’m only 5’2″. But, that’s pretty much how I roll. So, onto tonight’s selection…

ABV: 6.8%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: According to wikipedia, “[The Willamette hop was a] Popular American development in 1976 of the English Fuggle. Named for the Willamette Valley, an important hop-growing area. It has a character similar to Fuggle, but is more fruity and has some floral notes. Used in British and American ales. A recent taste-test comparison between Ahtanum and Willamette has described some similarity between the varieties.”

Random: I’m so happy that Drew Brees broke Marino’s record last night. I really have a soft spot for him.

This brew poured with a huge, cream-colored head that took forever to dissipate and left lots of lacing on the pint glass. The body was a hazy amber color with lots of active, visible carbonation. The nose was definitely interesting. There was some hops, a bit of citrus, grass and a little bit of spice. The taste was a little less complex and subtle than the nose. There was a bit of mild hops, coupled with grass. The spice that was apparent in the nose really didn’t make an appearance. There was also a generous dose of malt on it. This was definitely not what I was expecting. The body was on the thinner side with hearty carbonation and finished quite quickly. Honestly, I bought this beer because I was brewing a beer that used it as the primary hop. This just didn’t floor me, but I would say that it was because I tend to like an aggressively hoppy IPA, which isn’t really what this hop seems to be about. I wouldn’t have this one again.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Green Flash Double Stout

Another day over. I’m getting closer and closer to the holiday, and shockingly, I have all of my shopping done. I know I usually don’t go into a lot about my personal life on the blog, but I’m making an exception tonight. So, I was reflecting today on my ride home (warning: I’m going to wax poetic right now, so if you just to read the review, scroll down). Anyways, I never used to be a fan of the holidays. I wasn’t all that close with my family and I always worked (the wonders of being in EMS). This year pretty much changed everything. Since January 1st, I’ve said that this was the worst year ever…and in fact, for me it was. I’ve never looked forward to New Year’s Eve more in my life. But, driving home, I realized that I got through it with the people that are important to me and that there is, in fact, a light at the end of the tunnel. I ended up becoming closer to my family than I would have ever imagined. And that despite the fact that you go through horrible and painful things, you get through them stronger than ever. So, I’m actually looking forward to spending the holiday with my family and celebrating the fact that we’re all healthy and can spend another holiday together. Here’s to wishing you and yours the best this holiday season.

ABV: 8.8%

Style: American Double/Imperial Stout

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Golden naked oats mashed with dark crystal and robust roasted malts create a luscious black brew with satin smooth finish. An old-world style, done the Green Flash way. Big, bold, flavorful and complex.”

Random: “And you asked me what I want this year, and I try to make this kind and clear, just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days. Cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings and designer love and empty things, just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days.” -Goo Goo Dolls

So, now that I’ve waxed poetic, onto the brew. This one poured with a one-finger tan head that dissipated relatively quickly and left some lacing on the glass. The body was black with no visible carbonation due to the color. The nose was definitely in my wheelhouse…it was all coffee and a hint of chocolate. The booze really wasn’t apparent on the nose. On the taste…wow. It started with a bit of coffee, albeit more subtle than the nose, transitioning into chocolate with a hint of vanilla and a very slight hint of bitterness. This was a really silky stout with a perfect mouthfeel. The bitterness was really subtle for a stout and the booze was insanely hidden. The finish lingered with a bit of chocolate and had low carbonation. Honestly, this is the first beer that I’ve had in a long time that I can say floored me. It was exactly what a double stout should be. This could easily be one of my favorites. Go get this, immediately!

Untappd Rating: 5.0/5.0

Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Wet Hop Ale

Well, the weekend is almost coming to an end. My Eagles are going to win, by a lot, which is always nice. This week is going to be crazy…I can just tell. I have dinner tomorrow night, a party for work in South Jersey on Wednesday and then all the other holiday stuff coming up too. I haven’t even finished my shopping yet. I really should get on that. So, anyways, I’m popping open a bomber of beer that I’ve heard lots of good things about.

ABV: 6.7%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Here in the sun-drenched fields of California’s North Valley, the black soil is rich with promise. In winter, rows of barley seed are laid in the freshly tilled dirt. In spring, trellises are set for hops. From our fields comes a remarkable homegrown ale, made with organic wet hops and barley grown at our brewery here in Chico and one of the few estate-made ales produced anywhere in the world! This Estate Ale is rich with the flavors of the valley—featuring hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas and barley with mild sweetness and smooth, toasted flavors. Together, these crops grow alongside the brewery to make a truly unique brew.”

Random: This bomber had the top covered in wax and I was going to take the wax off with a knife. Given what happened the last time that I took wax off a bottle with a knife, I went instead with a wine opener (last time I did it, I ended up with 5 stitches in my thumb), which made my sister quite happy.

This beer poured with a two finger white head that dissipated slowly and left significant lacing on the glass. The body was a hazy burnt orange color with moderate visible carbonation. The nose had lots of hoppiness and grapefruit, definitely in my wheelhouse. The taste started with a bit of grapefruit that transitioned into a hint of malt, but the hoppiness really dominated this one. For me, I was totally okay with that. The finish lingered with a bit of hops. The alcohol really isn’t noticeable in the brew, making it a really easy drinker. I would definitely have this one again!

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

It’s finally Friday! It was another one of those crazy weeks, but today just dragged. Plus, my neighbor’s dog kept me up all night, so I really didn’t sleep well. This meant that I had to constantly caffeinate myself throughout the day. Plus, I had to do a training class at work, so I was just excited to get out. I came home and for the first time in forever actually took a nap. I watched a few episodes of Best Thing I Ever Ate and had dinner, and now it’s beer review time. After this, I’m going to save the world and play some Call of Duty.

ABV: 9.2%

Style: Baltic Porter

Trivia: This beer was brewed in honor of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

Random: I seriously have to get on Christmas shopping. I am so behind.

This brew poured with a two finger tan head that took forever to dissipate and left a lot of lacing on the glass. The body was a dark black with no visible carbonation due to the color. The nose was filled with coffee and a bit of chocolate. I was a bit surprised that I didn’t get any noticeable booze since the ABV was so high. The taste started with a bit of coffee, but it wasn’t as intense as in the nose. It transitioned into some slight bitterness. There really wasn’t a whole lot of chocolate in the taste. The booze was also really hidden, making this an incredibly dangerous beer. The mouthfeel was very smooth and the finish was relatively quick and lingered with a bit of coffee. This was definitely enjoyable and I would have this again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Fegley’s Brew Works Rude Elf’s Reserve

Long time, no post. I know, I suck at life. But, I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy, ever. Even when I was working and going to school, I wasn’t this busy. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I really like being busy. But, this means much less beer drinking and reviewing. So, this was a review that I did earlier in the week.

ABV: 10.5%

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Trivia: This won bronze at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival.

Random: I found a website that has old episodes of Jeopardy. I’m such a dork…

This brew poured with a one-finger, white head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on my Duvel glass. The body was a clear and rich mahogany color with mild visible carbonation. The first sniff that I took of the beer reminded me of Troegs Mad Elf, which as I’ve mentioned, is one of my all time favorite beers. I got a bit of spice, some cherries and a bit of sweetness. There was also a bit of booze apparent on the nose. The taste started with a bit of spice, especially clove. The bite on this was definitely more abrasive than I expected. I also got some honey sweetness. The booze became really apparent at the end and lasted for a bit. This brew really wasn’t all that balanced and the bite that I kept getting from it became a bit annoying and abrupt. I can’t really describe it, but I know that I didn’t like it. After it warmed for a bit, some dark fruit also came out. Honestly, the nose gave me high hopes for this beer, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it again.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Rogue Yellow Snow IPA

Well, at least Monday is over. I can tell already that it’s going to be another crazy week at work. But, at least I’m busy, so the week should go pretty quickly, which will be nice. I get to go buy a Christmas tree this weekend. I have a thing for real trees and I’ve finally convinced my sister to get a real one. That could be a direct result of the fact that she knows that I’ll carry and move it. Anyways, here’s a beer to celebrate the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.

ABV: 6.2%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Yellow Snow IPA was originally introduced for the 2000 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Yellow Snow is Rogue’s tribute to winter sports everywhere—downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross country, ice hockey, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and even curling. It will be available November 1st in select states where mountains and snow can be found.”

Random: I’m watching the movie “Doubt” tonight and I find that I really love anything with Meryl Streep in it. She’s a phenomenal actress.

This brew poured with a thick one-finger white head that took forever to dissipate and left lots of lacing on the glass. The body was a hazy orange color with moderate carbonation. The nose was chock full of grapefruity goodness. Yep, smelled like an IPA that I would be down with. On the taste, the first thing I got was intense grapefruit. After a few sips, I got some floral characteristics that ended with a hint of a caramel malt finish. But, this was definitely a hop-forward brew and not all that balanced. Not that I’m complaining… The body was medium with the same moderate carbonation that was apparent initially. The finish lingered for awhile with grapefruit and bitterness. Honestly, I really enjoyed this brew. It was incredibly hop-forward and really pleasant. I would have this again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Ridgeway Criminally Bad Elf

What a day. I spent the entire weekend decorating the house for Christmas with my sister. Today, we did about 10 hours straight. I’m definitely going to be sore tomorrow. But, the house looks festive and I got filet mignon out of the deal. The funny thing about decorating in my house is that my cat freaks out. I think it’s because he’s a stray, but he flips out and follows us constantly. He’s now asleep, so it’s a good time to review a beer.

ABV: 10.5%

Style: English Barleywine

Trivia: An interesting story from the brewery, “It turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, of course – wrong place at the wrong time…but Claus was soon back on the the street with the polite apologies of the authorities – no questions asked. All’s well that ends well, surely, but still, the reporters wanted to know…it takes its toll, doesn’t it? ‘Indeed,’ sighed Claus, ‘my elf is going crazy, and I fear that I shall soon go crazy as well.’ And with that he hoisted a great flagon of his favorite Barleywine-style ale, silently contemplating the future and straining to remember why he got into this particular line of work in the first place.”

Random: This is the first Ridgeway beer that I’ve reviewed.

This brew poured with a half a finger of white head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a clear orange color with high visible carbonation. The nose presented with some spicy, bready aromas and some caramel malt. The booze really wasn’t present in the nose. On the taste, the first thing that I got was booze. It was then followed up with some caramel malt and a bit of nuttiness. I also got a bit of apple, the more I sipped on it. The one thing that really surprised me was how thin the beer was. The carbonation was moderate, but the body was crazy thin for a barleywine. It also coupled with a really quick finish. Honestly, not an impressive barleywine to me at all. Not that I’m not going to finish the brew, but I wouldn’t have it again.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Sixpoint Spice Of Life – Warrior

The second brew of the day. I’m a big fan of single-hop IPAs, because then you can really understand the flavors that the specific hop can bring to the table. I haven’t had any of the “Spice of Life” series yet, so let’s see how this goes.

ABV: 6.6%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: According to beernews.org, “‘We wanted to highlight hops and all their wonderful variety for our fans and customers,’ Welch remarked. ‘The history of hop cultivation is linked indispensably with beer production. Hops have natural antimicrobial properties, so when the first beers were made with hops in lieu of other bitter herbs and grasses, they were less inclined to spoil. They are a fascinating plant in their own right, and we felt them worthy of their own series.’ Several varieties of hops, whose vines climb and twist around poles as they grow, have been growing on the roof of Sixpoint’s Red Hook brewery since last spring.'”

Random: On the press release I quoted from above, they called the warrior hop “pungent.” Yeah, not what I got at all.

This beer poured a clear yellow with moderate carbonation. A one finger white head topped the body. The head dissipated quickly and left some limited lacing on the glass. The nose was incredibly mild, not what I’m used to for an IPA. I got a hint of flowers and that was it. The taste had a slight touch of bitterness, but really not a lot. I kept getting more floral notes and a bit of grapefruit. The one word that I kept finding myself using to describe the beer was “mild.” There was no alcohol warming apparent in the brew either. The finish was quick and unremarkable. The body was a bit on the lighter side with higher carbonation. The beer was nice but didn’t really do a lot for me. I think my complaint is probably with the warrior hop itself. It was just a little boring. I wouldn’t rush back to have it again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Southern Tier Pumking

Friday, I had the day off, so Joey and I went to Surf Taco. Not only do I absolutely love their food, but they have a decent beer list as well. It’s not extensive (with about 5 craft beer taps and 10 bottles), but it changes regularly and they always manage to have stuff that I’ve never had. This was the first beer of the night.

ABV: 8.6%

Style: Pumpkin Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Pumking is an ode to Púca, a creature of Celtic folklore, who is both feared and respected by those who believe in it. Púca is said to waylay travelers throughout the night, tossing them on its back, and providing them the ride of their lives, from which they return forever changed! Brewed in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, a time of year when spirits can make contact with the physical world and when magic is most potent. Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow it’s alluring spirit to overflow. As spicy aromas present themselves, let its deep copper color entrance you as your journey into this mystical brew has just begun. As the first drops touch your tongue a magical spell will bewitch your taste buds making it difficult to escape. This beer is brewed with pagan spirit yet should be enjoyed responsibly.”

Random: One of my favorite things at Surf Taco is the garlic shrimp taco.

This beer poured with a one finger, white head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a clear orange color with mild carbonation. The nose definitely smelled like the fall to me. I got pumpkin, spice and something else I’ve never gotten in a pumpkin beer…ginger snap. The taste was a lot of what was in the nose. The pumpkin and spice were there, but definitely took back seat to the ginger snap. The booze was really hidden and could easily get you in trouble. The body was medium thickness with moderate carbonation. The finish was unfortunately quick, inviting you to quickly take another sip. After having this, I can see why this is a fan-favorite pumpkin beer. I would definitely have this one again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Victory Storm King Stout

And today begins my three-day weekend. I took tomorrow off and a buddy and I are planning to go hit some decent NJ beer spots. As usual, work was crazy today. I had my two-hour meeting and spent the rest of the day working on projects. I really love being busy…I guess it’s my type A personality coming into play. This weekend, no real plans yet, except helping my sister put Thanksgiving decorations away and taking out Christmas ones. For normal people, this wouldn’t be a large task. But, we have three shelves that span the entire two car garage and about 5 tubs worth of decorations. So, yeah…probably going to take all weekend. So, here’s one of the few Victory selections that I haven’t reviewed. Hopefully it warms me up on this cold night.

ABV: 9.1%

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “With a huge, Pacific Northwest hop aroma & character upfront, Storm King Stout® subsides into massive, roast malt complexity. Rich and substantial, it will warm your heart.”

Random: The first time I had this beer, I had bought it for a St. Patrick’s Day party (before I was into stouts). It was also the first time that I had Troegs Pale Ale and started to understand that I was into more bitter beers.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a good stout, so I was really looking forward to this one. It poured with a one finger, thick, tan head that took forever to dissipate and left some lacing on the glass. The body was a dark black with no visible carbonation due to the color. On the nose, I got chocolate first and then some coffee. On the taste, I got more of the same. There were definitely notes of chocolate and coffee, coupled with some roasted malts and ending with a bit of hoppy bitterness. The mouthfeel was silky with mild carbonation. Damn, this is a really tasty stout and the booze is crazy hidden. The finish lingered with a bit of bitterness. I would definitely have this brew again. Really, really enjoyable. Now, if only I got my hands on the Dark Intrigue…

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0