Tuesday, February 21, 2012

BEER SAMIZDAT Q1 BEER CATCH-UP

You guys ever feel like you can't blog reviews of every single beer you've tasted fast enough? Oh, so it's not just me? Well I've got a cure for that on my end. Let's hit the "re-set" button and bring you up to date with a number of fine and perhaps less-than-fine ales I've tried out on your behalf the past month or so, stuff I haven't gotten around to capturing in solo reviews and yet which still deserve some pithy, if brief and poorly-captured, commentary. What do you say we take 'em high to low??

GOUDEN CAROLUS - "CUVEE VAN DE KAIZER BLAUW" -  This is a much-loved superstar Belgian strong dark ale I'd never had before a few weeks ago, despite reading tons of frothing love for it by many a beer dork. It's every bit as good as advertised, and a real dangerous head-pounder at 11% ABV if you're not splitting it with someone. Very sweet, with candied sugar leading the taste, as well as a clean maltiness/breadiness that soaks up some of that sugar and puts it to great use. Dates and plums, along with a toffee sweetness, round out the flavor. World class for sure. 9.5/10.

SIERRA NEVADA - "PERSIMMON FARMHOUSE ALE" - I'm going to have to craft a blog post soon about Sierra Nevada's currently amazing abilities in modern experimental beer-making, thirty-some-odd years after starting. Most of their new beers defy conventional explanations. They're fantastic. I had this last Friday night at the Pi Bar in San Francisco after being bummed-out by the Marin Brewing beers I was trying (it was "Marin night" there but the ones I tried were totally meh). Just a phenomenal fruit-forward, dry, aromatic, thirst-quenching farmhouse beer here. Great enough to be bottled and traded and hoarded. 9/10.

BIRRA DEL BORGO - "GENZIANA" - (Pictured above). Man, if these Italian craft beers weren't through the roof price-wise I'd absolutely buy more of them, particularly those from Birra Del Borgo. First NORA and now this! Genziana is fruity, light and savory; effervescent and carbonated to the max. Totally bubbly, complex and dare I say very European. A must-try, just save your shekels. 8.5/10

MIKKELLER - "I BEAT YOU" - An aromatic, ultra-hopped IPA from Norway yet brewed at Brewdog in Scotland. A real hard hop attack here, with citrus and not pine dominating. Really, smooth, with great lingering hops that just never seem to leave your mouth. Totally cries for a 22-ounce bottle instead of a 12. 8/10.

TELEGRAPH BREWING - "WINTER ALE" - Blinked and you totally missed this one (pictured). I nearly did. Even better than in years past, Telegraph's Mexican chocolate-infused Xmas ale has a thin body yet a malty, with almost a barleywine taste. They promise ancho chilies in the mix, and yep, you can taste 'em. They lend a firey kick to what's otherwise a cocoa/cinnamon winter ale. Unique and great like everything else Telegraph conjures up. 8/10.

DRAKE'S BREWING - "RED EYE" - Very drinkable and delicious hoppy red ale that I had at The Dark Horse Inn. I wasn't taking many notes, too busy shuckin' and jivin', but I did score it a 7.5/10.

GREEN FLASH BREWING - "WINTER'S FOLLY" - Not sure what the heck this was when I drank it during the just-passed SF Beer Week, but I know I liked it a lot. Turns out they're calling it an "American strong ale" over on Beer Advocate. Carbonated, crisp and complex, I kind of settled it being an imperial amber ale once I'd finished it, albeit a mysterious concoction straight from the magicians at Green Flash. Like Le Freak, it's pretty much its own thing. 7.5/10.

THE ALCHEMIST / STONE BREWING / NINKASI - "MORE BROWN THAN BLACK IPA" - Who would have thought after all the Stone collaboration beers I've been trying that the Japanese Green Tea IPA would end up being my favorite by a mile? This one's fine - a bitter, hoppy, brownish-black IPA with dark caramel taste as well as a fairly astringent aftertaste. It's smoky, almost, with no hint of citrus. Totally grew on me after a bumpy start. 7/10.

ITHACA BREWING  - "ALPHALPHA" - A weird one. Bitter, like an IPA should be I reckon, but not in a good way. It not only lacks abrasiveness - which is fine - but pleasing balance and tastes that really register. There's supposed to be honey in here. Not finding it. Pass. 6/10.

DRAKE'S BREWING - "1500" - A pale ale I've had before and liked about as much as this one. Good for conversation and time-passing, but you'll forget everything about it five minutes later. 6/10.

MARIN BREWING - "ABBEY DUBBEL" - Can't fathom how this passed QA. A weak, lifeless and off-putting Belgian dubbel that falls so far below Marin's normal quality standard that I'm wondering if this is some intern's homebrew instead. 5/10.

MIDNIGHT SUN - "KOLSCH" - Is it me, Midnight Sun? I'm at the point where I'm pretty sure it's you. I just don't like this Anchorage brewery's beers, I just don't, across the board. Their kolsch is chalky, dry, and with an initial fruit bouquet that promises good things and then delivers absolutely no follow-through. Not quenching at all, and actually a chore to get through. 4/10.

2 comments:

Beer Rover said...

I meant to respond to this post earlier. I agree with SN making some great beers, would love to try the Persimmon Farmhouse Ale. Green Flash's Winter's Folly was fantastic. It came and went too fast, and I think it may be only a one-off, which is a shame. Agree on how certain brewers just comes up short. Mine is Avery, and I know it's probably me, not Avery. I have had plenty of clunkers from it, including Maharajah, and can't think of one Avery beer style that I've had that most brewers don't make better. How does Midnight Sun F-up a Klosch?

Jay H said...

Beer Rover, I love Avery beers but agree that Maharajah is a big nothing. For me, Midnight Sun doesn't just come up short, I actively dislike their beer. I have tried at least six or seven beers from them and at best I scored one 7/10, with the rest ranging from UGH to GROSS. Don't know why, but their distribution and hype greatly exceeds their commitment to quality beer. At least to me.