Tuesday, September 10, 2013

LATE SUMMER BEER DISPATCH, 2013

Uh oh - looks like I let a bunch of consumed beers stack up without me reviewing 'em here at Beer Samizdat. How are you ever going to make your own consumption choices without my guiding hand and superlative taste to steer you to a valhalla of pleasure? As I used to do so often when I was reviewing beer only on my still-active Hedonist Jive blog a few years ago, I'll break the recent beers into categories, sort of a best-to-worst (though virtually everything I've had recently has been pretty damn good), and throw in a few pithy asides, jots and titters to help frame each one for ya. Here goes.

THE OUTSTANDING
 

BEAR REPUBLIC  - "CAFÉ RACER 15": Just an outstanding double IPA across the board, and "west coast" all the way – whatever that means. This delighted me the way Racer 5 did the first time my hop newbie tongue came into contact with it. Now I require the harder stuff, and this one totally delivered. Citrus-packed, smooth and with tons of fruit flavor. 9.5/10.

AFFLIGEM - "950 CUVEE": Well, I expected this Belgian blonde to be pretty good but not this stellar. Fruity esters, hops, and a lemon tang mix together for a terrific taste combo, along with more pleasurable bitterness than I expected in a million years. Yeasty as hell, but balanced out beautifully by those hops – and a "mere" 6.8% alcohol to boot. Yessir. 9/10.

LAWSON'S FINEST LIQUIDS - "DOUBLE SUNSHINE IPA": Sent to me after being successfully liberated from a small grocery store in Vermont, this attention-grabber is worth every bit of saliva. It's an 8% ABV double IPA, juicy and with a strong, dry bite. Dank and intense, with huge citrus and harsh happiness. Comes on even stronger at the end with a tiny bit of warmth. Excellent. 8.5/10.

LERVIG AKTIBRYGGERI - "KONRADS STOUT": Whoa, it's a rare "RIS", kids – Russian Imperial Stout, and it's a great 'un. Brewed with oatmeal, a little booze and a LOT of coffee and cocoa. I carried this in a suitcase all the way from the Nordics, and it might be the single best beer I brought home. 8.5/10.

THE VERY GOOD

CROOKED STAVE - "VIEILLE": A very pleasing lemony barnyard saison from these Denver-area barrel-aging champs. A mere 4.2% ABV, this is a yeasty, tangy and highly carbonated saison with a pretty high amount of dry hops, all aged in oak barrels. My first

Crooked Stave, and it was a good one. 7.5/10.

SAINT SOMEWHERE/PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES - "CARBONE COLLINE": A team-up bottle-conditioned farmhouse ale from Florida's second-best brewer and Oklahoma's #1. It's a reddish-orange "spicy saison" that hits all the right rural notes – earthy, tangy and with a nice scorpion's tail of spicy zing to add some punch. 7.5/10.

NEW BELGIUM BREWING - "LA FOLIE 2013": The classic Flander Oud Bruin from New Belgium, which introduced me to the style about six years ago, is back again in a new incarnation. Hell, maybe it's the same old, but as much as I enjoyed it I felt this year's was a tick down from previous efforts. It has a vinegar-esque sourness and an overall dry taste, along with some tart cherry or fig action. Worth buying a bottle to see what you think, because it's still damn good. 7.5/10.
 
ALMANAC BEER CO. - "HEIRLOOM PUMPKIN BARLEYWINE": You know, this came off to me as an "imperial pumpkin ale" even more than it did a barleywine. It was more carbonated than expected, but really strong in both taste and intensity of flavor. Very strong pumpkin, a little boozy, and tastes just like it was aged in brandy barrels. (It was). Another winner from our local heroes. 7.5/10.

 
LOOMIS BASIN BREWING - "RED ROBIN": Hey, this is a very impressive, malty ESB. I thought it might be your basic 1990s amber before I tasted it, but it's got some crackling foam and a decidedly clean English taste to it, with some hops apparent as well. Doesn't have that "glassy" I associate with some American-made ESBs. Well done. 7.5/10.

MOONLIGHT BREWING - "JUST ENOUGH ROPE": The staff at the restaurant where this lager was poured tried to warn me away from it; apparently it wasn't going over well with the patrons, who thought "lager"="simple". Aha, but not when alchemist Brian Hunt is in charge. It's a sour, biting lager, served cold at the Mexican restaurant where I had it, and therefore very refreshing. Like a musty Belgian blonde crossed with a Mexican lager. Very interesting and enjoyable. 7/10.

THE MIDDLING

LOOMIS BASIN BREWING - "SWETZER'S PALE ALE": A clean and hoppy pale ale – very

crisp and right on point for the style. A bit dry, and not exactly a worldbeater but a decent session (4.8%) ale. If you were looking for an innocuous but solid American pale ale this'd probably be right up your alley. 6.5/10.

CRUX FERMENTATION PROJECT - "DOUBLECROSS": I bought this in Bend, Oregon a couple of months ago and had high hopes for it, but those were somewhat dashed when push come to proverbial shove. This thin, brown Belgian-style ale brings the noise at 10% alcohol, as well as some decent caramel and toffee taste, but not enough to really make much of an impression. Surprisingly underwhelming. They make a hell of a double IPA, though. 6/10.

THE POOR

(Poor? Nothing poor. We don't do poor).

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