Friday, December 9, 2011


Disproportionately, the beer I drink is excellent. For every beer I consume that I’ve enjoyed before, I’d say there are 2 that are brand-new to me. This is a ratio that works for me, and since the number of new beers – great ones – are seemingly endless, it’s a ratio I intend to continue for the foreseeable future. Most of my choices for “new” beers are informed by other smart people – people like this guy, or this guy, or this guy, among others – or by reputation, informal recommendations, and at times even by Beer Advocate aggregate ratings. Therefore even mysteriously new beers are usually pretty great, thereby giving the Beer Samizdat beer ranking an average score of around 7.5/10.

This is a post about some beers that didn’t make it to that exalted level. There are some beers that are just total shots in the dark, for me and undoubtedly for you as well. You liked the name or the label, or since you hadn’t heard of the brewer, you wanted to be surprised. Maybe you felt like you owed the brewer the courtesy of trying their beer after months or years of ignoring it. Whatever, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. As a very moderate drinker, a small part of me gets kinda pissed off when this happens, because I’ll usually only go for one beer a night, and then only every other night or less. (That beer might be a 13% 22-ounce quadrupel, but you get my drift).

Here are 4 recent ales that I approached with eyes wide, heart fluttering, and a totally blank slate, and left with a sour face, deflated attitude and a lingering, burning hole in the pit of my craw.

BAYHAWK ALES – “CALIFORNIA PALE ALE” – Bought this almost in tribute to this Southern California brewer, who’ve been contract brewing & otherwise since God was a boy, and whose ads I’ve been seeing in The Celebrator for two decades now. Shame about their “aspirin pale ale”, I mean California Pale Ale. Dry, citrus-heavy but a hell of a throat-scraper. Nothing’s in there to balance out that dose of fruit, and its dryness was too much for me and the company whom I served it to. Couldn’t take it. 3.5/10.

MIDNIGHT SUN – “MAYHEM” – I’m pretty much done with Alaska’s Midnight Sun. This musty, malty and very hoppy Belgian IPA was truly not enjoyable. The malts are pale and reek a little, but not in the funky manner to which I’ve grown to love. Ended up being a drain pour. 4.5/10.

DOUBLE MOUNTAIN BREWERY – “IRA” – Super high hopes for this one, had on draft at Brouwers’ in Seattle last week. It’s an “India Red Ale” from a small brewer in Hood, Oregon. It comes out strong with a frothy, creamy head and loads of hops, but pow - there’s nothing subtle in this one at all. No balance. Too rough and a little tongue-destroying. Kind of a drag. 5/10.

STONE/TROEGS/2 HOMEBREWERS – “CHERRY CHOCOLATE STOUT” – Had been warned about this one, but I soldiered on nonetheless. Another in Stone Brewing’s collaboration series, but a far cry from the Japanese Green Tea IPA we raved about here. This is an acidic, thin, cough medicine-like chocolate beer with only the most vague hint of cherry. The chocolate is sort of offbeat as well, like a German or Mexican chocolate that you might try as an experiment but would never actually buy. 5/10.

1 comment:

sean said...

That Stone-Troegs thing was awful, to the point I wonder why no one involved said "hold it, we cannot put this shit out"

I had the Double Mountain IRA a few years ago at the brewpub in Hood River. I remember loving it, but it was late in the day when I drank it, and I was well into my cups at that point, so I will defer to your more sober judgment on it.