Archive for June, 2010

When Beer Collections Converge – or, I Think We Need a Bigger Fridge

Brews Number 1-8

Brews Number 1-8

What happens when two beer geeks try to converge delicious beer collections?  The need for a bigger fridge arises. What happens when that isn’t possible (say at 7PM on a Sunday evening)?  I get to drinkin’, THAT’s what happens!

So after a month of moving shenanigans, I sat down Sunday night with a gamut of 15 different brews at my disposal, waiting to be drunk for fear of a slow and painfully stinky death.

And so, faithful readers, we begin another journey of epic proportions through the realm of craft beer stylings available today.  I hope you can keep up with me…

1. Summer Weizen Ale / Smuttynose Brewing Co., New Hampshire, USA / Wheat Ale / 5.8%

With a clear pale gold pour and thick white head, this beer resembles more of a filtered wheat beer than a hefeweizen.  On the nose it is clearly herbal tea and grass, which makes sense since Smuttynose touts it as “brewed with chamomile”.  The taste is reminiscent of lime Runts or perhaps even a lime sorbet palate cleanser.  It is watery and refreshing but with a great bite and carbonated kick-a good outdoorsy beer for with a summer barbeque.

2. Woody Creek White Belgian Wit / Flying Dog Brewery, Maryland, USA / Belgian-style Wit / 4.8%

The aroma on this cloudy straw colored brew is that of the nature of Summer- the earthen smells of those hot , humid days; weedy, overgrown green smells merge together with sudden rainstorms and wet wood.  Orange and coriander are definitely prevalent in the Woody Creek brew.  Flying Dog offers a strong Belgian flavoring with clean wit texture in this brew.

3. Bitter Brewer / Surly Brewing Co, Minnesota, USA / English Bitter / 4.0%

While I’ve seen similar colors in other brews, I had never before thought to call the color of this brew Athletic Gold, but that’s exactly what it is.  Think classic sports teams with that deeper, yellowish, mustardy gold.  While the Flying Dog smelled of Summer proper, this brew gives off the essence of Christmas- the bitter orange aroma of clementines from my family members’ stockings and piny hops.  The taste also brought forth bittery clementine.

4. Red Trolley Ale / Karl Strauss Brewing Co, California, USA / American Amber Ale / 5.8%

Well, seeing as how I’m on a roll tonight with beer aroma, I’ll add this one to the mix.  This copper penny colored Ale smells of red wine and fresh rolls- the faint aroma of an Italian Restaurant.  On the same token, it tastes of a freshly baked sourdough roll with toffee pieces in it.  The sweet and bready flavoring of this brew makes it highly like-able in my world, but intense hop lovers should move on.

5. One / Dark Horse Brewing Co, Michigan, USA / Oatmeal Stout Ale / 8.0%

I have to say, I was uber excited to open up this brew.  I’d heard much about the Dark Horse stout series, and I’m a stout freak, so how can it get any better than that?  (Plus- I experienced Plead the Fifth just a day before, and, well, if I said how great it was here, I’d have to kill you.  That review will come another day…)  With a nose of malted milk balls and hot buttered toast, the “One” Oatmeal Stout tastes super buttery, just like the Oatmeal cookies my Dad makes with the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe (just insert instant oatmeal and voila!)

6. Too / Dark Horse Brewing Co, Michigan, USA / Cream Stout / 8.0%

Again, I was excited for this Dark Horse brew, however, the Cream Stout style of Ale had never really seemed to impressed me before.  I was SO wrong.  This bear of a beer smelled and tasted so delicious, I capped it up and saved the last 2/3 of the bottle so that I could drink it for enjoyment.  With a meaty and earthen aroma, the SUPER creamy texture felt like melty soft ice cream in my mouth.  I likened this brew to dark chocolate syrup on bacon flavored biscuits- if anyone knows of a place that makes such a thing, email me… now.

7. Scratch #27 (Cocaoabunga) / Troeg’s Brewing Co, Pennsylvania, USA / Milk Stout / 6.7%

This clear dark brown brew with a tiny, tan head smelled deeply of chocolate liquor, despite its meager 6.7% ABV rating.  So, the taste of this brew totally makes me have to admit something somewhat weird about myself.  It tastes just like Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate powder mix… let me explain.  I’m one of those people who likes to, once the mix is added to my hot chocolate, spoon the floating bubbles of undissolved chocolate powder up and eat it.  Gross, some people say, while others agree with me- that sh*t is delicious!  I swear- next time, try it, and tell me you don’t like it!  Or just drink Scratch 27, if you can get your hands on it.

8. Big Sound Scotch Ale / Cigar City Brewing Company, Florida, USA / Scotch Ale / 8.5%

Let me just start off by saying that Cigar City may just be my favorite brewery.  These guys have yet to fail me on a brew- everything that they offer is well thought out and really delicious.  Big Sound stays true to my word on this.  The beautiful cloudy cherry mohagony brew had one of the biggest noses of the night with a chewy toffee bread flair, similar to that of Panera’s Cinnamon Crunch Bagel.  Monkey bread, a bready peel off cake dish smothered in toffee, caramel gooey-ness.  Cherry rock candy meets toffee cookie in this huge and complex brew.  Yum!

Brews Number 9-15

Brews Number 9-15

9. Old Brown Dog Ale / Smuttynose Brewing Co, New Hampshire, USA / 6.7%

Sad to say, this may have been my least favorite brew of the night.  The aroma leaves much to be desired, as there’s not much actually there.  The Ale is tart, yes, I’ll give Smuttynose that, but it’s barely tart and there’s nothing spectacular about it.  This may be because I had it right after that crazy complex Cigar City Scotch Ale, which is sad, but a beer should stand up for itself, no matter what you have before or after it.

10. Tripel Over Head / Mother Earth Brewing Co, North Carolina, USA / 9.0%

Props to Mother Earth Brewing Company for their sustainable brewing practices.  This Tripel is highly commendable- the odor is straight up Belgian and the taste just screams of clove (with a few bananas thrown in for good luck).  The only issue I had with this brew was the weird aftertaste that reminded me of dirty water.  For a smaller brewery with sustainable brewing, this output is a good, solid Belgian and a delicious intro to the style.

11. Bourbon Barrel Aged Triple Over Head / Mother Earth Brewing Co, North Carolina, USA / 9.0%

Clearly darker gold and with a thicker, fluffier head, this brew is completely different from is base brother.  The nose is that of spice and robust, “fancy” cheese.  On the tongue I get a mixture of cheese and malt- perhaps a mac and cheese made of monteray jack or a tiny quiche-like pastry made of phyllo dough, gouda, and topped with carmelized onions.  It is much better for my style than the base itself, however, that is purely a subjective matter.  Two very solid offering from Mother Earth- cheers, men!

12. Adam / Hair of the Dog Brewing Co, Oregon, USA / Hearty Old World Ale / 10.0%

All that comes to mind when I try to remember this brew is… leather, leather, leather.  Smoked leather, tanned hide, stained leather, you name it!  My first reaction when tasting this bad boy was, literally, “Yum!”  Burnt buttered toast meet pork meat.  It is deliciously complex but drinkable.  Smokey, but not ashy; salty, but not bready; etc; these are the pluses to Adam.

13.India Pale Ale / Avery Brewing Co, Colorado, USA / IPA / 6.3%

While malty at first, this brew gives way to bitter and citrusy hops.  It’s a good, solid, IPA but nothing to write home to mom about.  It’s classic and easy to drink, but there are better examples of the IPA style available out there today.

14. Double Trouble / Founder’s Brewing Co, Michigan, USA / Imperial IPA / 9.4%

Clear straw colored with a large, foamy head, this beer smelled of wet forest including damp wood and leaves.  Malty, sweet caramel meets bitter, earthen hops in this great example of an Imperial IPA.  Uber drinkable and delicious as well, this beer makes me love Founder’s even more.  (Blogger’s Note: on the same night, at the same time, characters from the HBO series “Hung” were drinking Founder’s Double Trouble as well… score one for craft beer!)

15. XS Imperial Red Ale / Rogue Brewery, Oregon, USA / Imperial Red Ale / 9.0%

This deep brown, foamy brew combines sweet, bitter, candied hops with a hint of chocolate.  It’s somewhat lacking and surprisingly one dimensional and flat for an offering from Rogue.  The Red Ale is definitely not my cup of tea, which was fine, since I had more of that Dark Horse “Too” to delve into to save my dying palate.

Cheers, my dears!

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Homebrew Review #3 – Joe Postma’s Brews

Joe Postma

Smilin' Joe - Courtesy of Sarah & Joe Postma

I have the pleasure of many beer friends who are also experimental home brewers, and among the most nerdy of them is Joe Postma.  Joe is Über passionate about beer and even carries around spectrophotometer with which to gauge the color of the beer he drinks.  It is adorable and heartening to see someone who cares so much about quality beer.

Joe was kind enough to pass along to me three of his recent homebrew creations: “Ababa”, originally brewed to mimic the Black IPA style; “Hot Chocolate”, a spicy chili stout; and “Tripel”, a Belgian Tripel.

Brewer Joe

Brewer Joe - Courtesy of Sarah & Joe Postma

“Ababa” was the first try of the night, and sadly, my least favorite of the bunch.  It featured a super dark, opaque pour and a yummy chalky dark chocolate aroma.  Throughout an evolving recipe, Joe grew this beer into something that was super hopped with Sorachi Ace hops.  The result was that of very bitter dirty earth.  Joe let me know that he was having some problems with carbonation on this brew, and it shows.  I think carbonation would make the brew much better by cutting some of the deep bitterness.  Overall, however, this brew is a commendable step on the right path toward Joe’s Black IPA goal, although the funky aftertaste leaves something to be desired.

Next,  I dove into “Hot Chocolate”, a Russian Imperial Stout made with ancho chilis and chocolate, inspired by Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu Stout.  This is my kind of beer, so I was SUPER excited to try it.  And, let me tell you, Joe does not dissapoint.  With a deep fudge and chocolate ganache icing aroma, like that of Entenmann’s Brownie Cake, this brew boasts a Mole-ish chocolate spice.  It reminds me of the Taza Aztec Guajillo Chili Chocolate that I once had from Whole Foods.  The brew has a nice semi-thickness to it that eases the sip, which burns nicely, not overwhelmingly- surprising for a 10.2% Chili stout!  “Hot Chocolate” was my favorite of the three and took the cake for the night.  Honestly, this beer could pass for professional grade and be sold on store shelves tomorrow.  Joe has taken obvious care with this brew and certainly reaped the rewards! Warning: This beer is not for the faint of spice…

Pour

Pour - Courtesy of Sarah & Joe Postma

Last, but definitely not least, came the “Tripel”.  For this brew, Joe went with the “less is more” mentality, and kept the beer to a few simple ingredients- Pilsner Malt, Belgian Candy Sugar, Hallertau Hops and Belgian Abbey yeast.  It is clearly a Belgian through and through, what with the smelling of florals, coriander, clove, Spring rain and bananas.  Oddly enough, Joe described this beer as very dry, while I received it as a super wet brew.  The Tripel was very refreshing and soft tasting.  Joe made good use of his tiny bubbles on this one.  Bananas are super prevalent on the taste of this brew as well- making it a good strong Belgian ale.

Whew!  All this homebrew tasting and writing is making me thirsty!  What do you think Joe?….. Joe?…………

Nothing gets between a man and his beer

Nothing gets between a man and his beer! Courtesy of Sarah & Joe Postma

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My Epic Beer Weekend – BrewYork #4, NY Brewfest 2010, & Rattle N Hum/ Toast meet Dogfish Head

BrewYork #4 Bottles

...and we weren't even finished yet!

Well, the good news is that I survived through the awesomeness that was this weekend.  The bad news is- you (probably) weren’t there to experience it with me.  Hence- my want to share it with all of you in my finest blog posting form!  Cheers and enjoy, frienditos!

Friday night began the journey into a craft beer laden weekend with Brew York Meetup #4.  All in all, about 30 to 40 Brew York members showed up throughout the night; amassing over 60 bottles of brew on top of fellow Brew York-er Matt Steinberg’s stunning New Jersey Beer Co contributions- newly kegged from the brewery.  Brew York was also lucky enough to have Paul and Kim Kavulak of Nebraska Brewing Company join us for this fun endeavor.  Paul and Kim are craft beer advocates and overall fun and kind people.  The night was a social gathering full of good craft beer, good food (Andy Z made wicked brownies!), and good company.  What else could you ask for?

NJBeerCo

Awesome NJBeerCo swag available at the brewery- the hat even has a bottle opener built into it!

Clowning Around

Andy Z, Chris, Adam and I hamming it up.

Yum!

A closer view of the BrewYork graveyard... yum!

Ladies of Brew York

The ladies of Brew York- Clare, Genevieve, Melissa, Kim, Me and Charlotte

The Boys

The boys top to bottom- Andy Z, John, Matt, Greg, Paul, Andrew, Craig, Lee, David, Adam

Aftermath

The aftermath of Brew York!

The highlight brews of the night were Dark Lord 2010 (Iiiii Know- ’nuff said!), Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IPA, David from Grapes and Grain’s Green Chili Saison Homebrew (tasted like a professional brew, not even kidding you), New Jersey Beer Co’s Spiced Abbey on cask (with just the right amount of spice), Mikkeller Chipotle Porter (so smoky which is just my style), Russian River Consecration (deliciously sour) and Cigar City Bolita Brown Double Nut Brown Ale.  Disappointment for the night was the Dogfish Head Bitches Brew- it was good, but not great, and definitely did not stand out in the crowd.  The coolest entry of the night was the Reutberger Kolster Export Dunkel- brewed by Nuns in Germany.  Also standout- the spicy dry rub pork that Matt grilled for us- so juicy and with the right amount of spice to enhance every brew!

NY BrewFest 2010

David, Andrew, Charlotte and Lee enjoy samples of the Nebraska Brewing Co Melange a Trois

As if Friday night wasn’t enough to smash us up, Saturday morning arrived, bringing with it (dunh dunh dunh!) NY BREWFEST 2010! We hopped on a ferry and hightailed it over to Governor’s Island for what we were hoping to be another crazy event.  Luckily, we had sprung for the “Beer Connoisseur” pass, which allowed us entry to the festival one hour before the rest of the attendees.  This not only allowed us to sample what beer we really wanted before lines got super long (towards  the end, they were up to about 30 minutes for anything worth while), but also allowed us to hit up the Nebraska Brewing Company booth for the only real special “Beer Connnoisseur” pour- the Melange a Trois. Let me tell you- this Belgian Strong Ale was the only brew that actually even made the event worth it (besides, again, the good company we kept).   Other highlights included Nebraska’s Cardinal Pale Ale, Captain Lawrence Kolsh, Greenport Harbor Ale, and Doc’s Draft Hard Raspberry Cider.  While Heartland Brewery did a great job of organizing breweries to show at this event- the booths were shared and the lines were insanity.  Also- I waited online for the one single food booth for about an hour, just to find out that the two food items that I wanted were sold out.  I enjoyed more the fact of being outside on a gorgeous (albiet hot) summer day partaking in samples of some delicious craft beer while chatting with good people.

Lee (Hoptopia) and I on the Ferry

Lee (Hoptopia) and I on the ferry ride back (check out my super cool bottle opener hat!)

Crowds

The crowds online for food at NY Brewfest 2010 were insanity

Nebraska Brewing Co

Kim and Paul Kavulak pouring Melange a Trois at their Nebraska Brewing Co Booth

Sunday brought about a much needed day of liver-rest.  We had scheduled a podcast with Peter Kennedy of Simply Beer, however, due to unforeseen circumstances, the podcast was pushed off for a later date (hint, hint, nudge, nudge, stay tuned!)

Now, to the culmination of this epic weekend- we arrive at Monday, in which I worked my tail off and then hopped on a train to Rattle N Hum Bar.  See, this wasn’t just ANY night at RNH- this was “meet Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head” night.  The event started at 5, and I didn’t get their until about 6:15ish (curses upon you, capitalist society!)  This basically meant that the place was a mob scene and there was no way I was even getting close to Sam Calagione.  I did, however, get to feast my eyes upon my fearless Brew York crew yet once again, where we partook in many DFH brews and even a flight or three.  My flight consisted of Midas Touch, a Turkish strong ale and the oldest known fermented beverage; Burton Baton, a blend of English Old Ale and the 120 Minute IPA (my fav from the flight); Fort, an ale brewed with a ridiculous (their words!) amount of raspberries; and Pangaea, a spicy ale made with ingredients from each of the continents.  I also got to try the Palo Santo Marron, a deep, wooden brown ale.

Hams

Lee (the ham!) and I

The Brew Crew!

The Brew York Crew- Me, Jonathan, Chris, Genevieve, Clare and Adam

My Flight in all its Glory!

My flight in all its glory!

Sadly, due to the high volume of people- catching a glimpse of Sam was like trying to catch Bigfoot.  Lucky for us ladies, there was another DFH event going on at the Uptown Toast- a craft beer bar set in Harlem that also offers some delicious burgers.

We arrived at Toast, and, needless to say- after that flight, it was time for a restroom break.  Why am I privileging with this TMI information?  Because, to my surprise, who should I encounter on my way out of the bathroom, but the man himself, Mr. Sam Calagione.  He turned to me on his way into my restroom and said, “Hi!  How are you?”  I’ll never wash that part of my Hippocampus again!  Sam turned out to be a fun, sweet, and easygoing guy who chatted with anyone and everyone, gladly stopped to take photographs with fans whenever asked, and spent most of the rest of his night serving beers from behind the bar.  Genevieve, Clare and I got a brief moment to chat with Sam, in which I did not even mention beer once, but instead chatted about Queens and Brooklyn.  Sadly, I did not get a picture of Sam with us ladies, however, Clare did, and once I hunt her down, it will be posted here.  As for the rest of the night- we finished up with some more Dogfish brews (My Antonia had already kicked the bucket once we arrived, but there were plenty of other goodies around) and had ourselves some burgers and fries.

Jonathan and Lee enjoy a burger

Jonathan and Lee enjoy a burger (and a moment...)

Kenny and Kaitlin

Kenny and Kaitlin enjoying what I believe to be Palo Santo

Classy Ladies

Classy Ladies- Melissa, Genevieve, and I

That picture of Jonathan and Lee gets my vote for best picture of the weekend- classic!  All in all- what a great way to end out an epic drinking weekend.  That being said- none of us ladies are talking to Genevieve- she left just in time to be the luckiest lady of the night- to grab a cab with Sam Calagione.

So, that’s what a weekend is like in the life of a Brew York-er.  Epic, fun, exciting, tasty, and full of great people who are genuinely interested in craft beer and the people who love it.  I couldn’t have asked for a better group to spend my epic weekend with, and my memories will last me a lifetime.  As Lee says, BeerPeopleRGoodPeople- it’s a motto I will live until I die…

…hopefully my liver will, too.  Cheers!

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“Jackpot” Part Two, or Some Like It Hot…

Hello again!  So, it’s about 90° out and deliciously sticky, so I’m feeling lazy and am skipping the intro to the second half of this epic beer tasting.  For those of you who joined me for part one, you know the deal on this anyway; for those of you who didn’t (I won’t hold it against you, really, I won’t, I promise!) click here.

Brews Number 10, 11, & 12

Brews Number 10, 11, & 12

10. Black Cauldron Imperial Stout / Grand Teton Brewing Co. / Idaho, US / 8.0%

This adorable seasonal comes in a tiny 12 oz bottle wrapped neatly on the neck with silver foil.  With a completely opaque dark-as-night pour with no head, this brew completely fits the Russian Imperial Stout bill.  On the nose was a savory chocolate aroma; bready and sweat meat, like a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and Virginia ham.  The creamy, liquor-like taste boasted malted ice cream with pretzel bits, while the bitterness of the hops complimented the chocolate like a fine espresso- coffee with a bite.

11. Siberian Night Imperial Stout / Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. / Ohio, US / 9.0%

This Imperial poured slightly clearer and with a big bubbled yet small head.  I smelled creme brulee, Starbuck’s coffee (coffee with the bold, burnt characteristics of Starbuck’s signature blends), and a slight twinge of licorice.  The brew is very bitter and bright (full of carbonation for an Imperial Stout) as it meets the tongue.  The licorice twinge comes out in a touch of Sambuca.  Again, there is a savory breadiness to the brew, with a buttery undertone, and a little bit of liquory flame.

12. Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout /Bierbrouwerij Grand Cafe Emelisse / Kemperland, Netherlands / 11.0%

This surprising Russian Imperial stood up quite well for itself.  The pour was pitch black with a creamy milk chocolate flavored head.  True to the RIS form, this stout was very chocolate oriented in both smell and flavor.  On the nose was a deep, dark chocolate fudge ripple, while the taste was that of a slightly burnt piece of Hershey’s chocolate found in a S’more sandwich at a Summer night cookout.  The great thing about this brew was that it was a great example of the Russian Imperial style itself, without all the extra bells and whistles.

Brews Number 13, 14, 15 & 16

Brews Number 13, 14, 15 & 16

13. La  Maline (Belgian Dark Ale) / Brasserie Thiriez / France / 5.8%

With a beautiful dark cherry brown color and big bubbled head with milky lacing, this sour beer actually worked for my palate.  I’m normally not a sour beer connoisseur, but this brew had just the right balance of sour with the normal Belgian dark fruit flavors.  The nose was the first thing that clued me into the impending sourness of the beer, with hint of citrus and lots of date.  My tongues first glance of this beer was super sour, but that waned as I let the beer sit in my mouth.  This is a deliciously done Belgian brew; dark and fruity, drinkable and filling with tender sour notes.

14. Grand Crüe / Sixpoint Craft Ales / Brooklyn, NY / 12.4%

Grand Cru is a term that comes from the wine world, and knowing as such, I expected a lot from this brüe… I mean, brew.  Dark copper in color, the beer smelled of boxed red wine or red grape juice.  The smell even reminded me somewhat of that popular Nuvo drink- marketed as the World’s first Sparkling Liqueur.  On the taste was grape jelly mixed with cheap alcohol.  I was somewhat disappointed with this brew, and I believe that to be because it was so hyped up to me.  Basically, the Grand Crüe was nothing to write home to Mom about.

15. He’Brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah (13) / Schmalz Brewing Co. / California, US / 13.0%

Now here’s a brew that, from the start, I knew what I was getting into.  Boasting 13 hops and 13 malts, this was to be one BIG beer journey.  Again, I faced another gorgeously colored brew- dark cherry stain with tan lacing.  The nose caught a sweet, thick, buttery bread smell, perhaps Challah (for our Jewish friends)?  There is an über sweetness to the gulp that burns all the way down with lots of caramel and butterscotch flavors.  Sadly, the hops are lost behind the multiple bready malt flavors, however, this is still one tasty drink.  I would have liked to see more hoppiness to balance out the sweet intensity to this brew, but not having the hops did not ruin the brew.  Mazel Tov!

16. Hitochino Nest Commemorative Ale (aka Celebration Ale) / Kiuchi Brewery / Japan / 9.0%

As I went to open this adorably bottled brew, it foamed out all over the entire table and continued to spill out of the bottle for about two whole minutes.  The bottle conditioning on this ale really did it’s work!  My nose got really excited for this super spice-rack of a brew, stating “Coriander FTW!” (That’s “For The Win”, for all of you out there not hip to the trends…)  My tongue went right along for the ride with my nose, starting with sweet vanilla and then meeting up with cinnamon (the bigger spice on the taste).  This ale is very drinkable and bright; something about spices always screams holiday to me, which goes right along with the “Celebration” theme.

Brews Number 17, 18, 19, & 20

Brews Number 17, 18, 19, & 20

17. Sea Hag IPA / New England Brewing Co. / Connecticut, US / 6.2%

Before I even opened this brew, I knew I would love it due to the adorable can alone.  Cloudy and gold with a tiny white head, I could tell that this would be a proper yet malty IPA from it’s aroma of pine forest and bread and butter.  With a generously malty and sweet undercurrent, this brew is savory with a well stated hop taste.  There is a great balance to Sea Hag that leads it to be very drinkable with just enough taste to be a great compliment with food.

18. Union Jack IPA / Firestone Walker Brewing Co. / California, US / 7.5%

Crystal clear and pale golden amber give way to big white lacing on the Union Jack IPA.  With an odor of marble bread spread lightly with butter or perhaps, even, a spiced cheese spread such as Alouette, this brew is creamy and bready with sharp, bitter hops on top.  Drinkable, refreshing and flavorful, this brew is one of, if not, my favorite IPA.  Two thumbs way up on this one.

19. Gubna Imperial IPA / Oskar Blues / Colorado, US / 10.0%

While paler and a tiny bit cloudier than the Union Jack IPA, Gubna is an Imperial IPA, meaning that it is hoppier and stronger in ABV.  Smelling of lemon scent Pinesol, melted butter, chicken noodle soup and orange peel, the savory citrus of this brew both conflicts and intrigues me.  While I was sipping for taste, the smell of chicken soup was so strong it was almost impossible not to think that I was drinking chicken soup.  Gubna is bigger and more hoppy than the Sea Hag IPA, but just as well balanced and drinkable.  Another strong IPA example on this momentous night, and another brew that I would recommend.

20. La Rouge Flamande (Flanders Red Ale) / Brasserie Thiriez / France / 5.8%

The last beer of the night was also the most sour, which, as I have previously stated, is not my favorite style of beer.  Brownish copper and a bit cloudy, my nose screamed in alarm at the aroma coming off La Rouge, “SOUR SOUR SOUR SOUR cherry”.  It reminded me of those baby bottle candy pop things I would have as a kid where the nipple of the bottle was a hard candy pop and the body of the bottle held that sour candy powder in it for dipping (sounds SO terrible now that I look back as an adult, but I LOVED those things!)  I actually really enjoyed this brew; although it was definitely sour, it was not overwhelmingly so, with a sweet and tangy SweetTart like dichotomy of cherry flavors.

So that’s it on this epic tasting journey, folks.  I hope you had as much fun as I had but without the wicked headache that I sported the next morning.

Remember- this was done by a trained professional- don’t try this at home.

Okay, I lied.  I’m not trained, nor am I a professional.  And yes, you should try tasting beer anywhere you would like.  Just remember that I did not actually DRINK all of these brews, but tasted them and then spit them out into a spittoon instead of swallowing (glamorous, I know, but it’s what the wine people do as well.  You cannot truly taste the brews if you’re getting drunk off of them, too!)

So, go to your favorite beer store, pick up a few beers you’ve never tried but have been dying to taste, and settle in for a fun night of experimentation- and always remember to share your finding and thoughts with all of us other beer geeks out there.  Cheers!

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