Beer Review – Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA


Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA

San Francisco. It’s been on my short list of places to visit for quite some time, but for whatever reason, I just haven’t made it there yet. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, and numerous other sites are all on my “things to do in San Francisco” list, but what really intrigues me are the multitudes of food and drink experiences that I simply must try. I’ll blame TV shows like Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover for this. Show me enough bars and restaurants serving tantalizing drinks and mouth watering food, and I’m gonna want to go there. And if you’re a city that is home to two of my favorite breweries, i.e. Anchor Brewing Company and 21st Amendment, then the sooner I get there the better!

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers is yet another brewery that is located in San Francisco (they’ve been brewing in San Fran since 1997). I’m not exactly sure when they first hit the shelves in South Jersey, but after hearing mostly good things about them over the interwebs, and after seeing their very cool label art, I decided to pick up a few of their beers to see what all the fuss is about. Here’s hoping that Speakeasy is yet another reason for me to visit San Fran in the not too distant future!

Before we get to my review, here are a few words about the Big Daddy IPA taken directly from the Speakeasy website:

No lightweight, Big Daddy IPA tips the scales with a huge hop flavor and a clean, dry finish that leaves the scene without a trace.

And now for my impressions of this beer…

  • Appearance: Clear, pale orange color with soft, off white foam that peaks at about an inch and then dissipates fairly rapidly, leaving some light lacing behind.
  • Aroma: A much more subtle nose than I’m used to these days. Light citrusy notes of orange zest and pink grapefruit coupled with some honey and lightly toasted biscuit scents.
  • Taste: Light to medium carbonation with some fizzy bubbles that tickle your tongue. The flavors are fairly consistent from start to finish. The mildly bitter hops and sweet malts are definitely working together. As you approach the middle, the bitterness builds up a bit, but it never gets overwhelming. The finish is crisp and clean with a slight lingering bitterness that I find very appealing.
  • ABV: 6.5%

Here we go again! Yet another superb IPA to add to my Craft Beer drinking repertoire. This is my first experience with a Speakeasy beer, and if their other stuff is as good as this one, then there are definitely good times ahead. Overall, I found this to be a lightly hoppy and easy drinking IPA that reminded me (if my memory serves me correctly) of the Three Floyds Zombie Dust and Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA. Not a mind blowing IPA, but definitely one worth trying. I’ll be seeking this out again.

Beer Review – Sierra Nevada 2013 Celebration Ale


Sierra Nevada 2013 Celebration Ale

While I consider myself to be someone that enjoys a wide variety of beer styles, I have yet to fully embrace the Pumpkin and Christmas Ales that have been all over the shelves the past few months. Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely stumbled upon a few that I’ve really enjoyed (i.e. Southern Tier Warlock, Schlafly Christmas Ale, and Anchor Brewing’s Our Special Ale), but more often than not, they leave me a bit disappointed since they are either way over the top and overspiced or simply dull, leaving me to wonder what all the fuss is about.

For the longest time, I thought that the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale was one of those overspiced Christmas Ales, but then in 2012, I actually tried the beer and realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Celebration Ale has nothing in common with all those beers. I guess I was misled by the poinsettias and the snow covered cabin on the label! That’s what I get for judging a book by its cover and not actually reading the label.

Since I really liked this beer in 2012, I decided to pick up a bottle during a recent beer run for a long overdue review. But before we get to that, let’s find out what Sierra Nevada has to say about their Celebration Ale:

The start of Celebration season is a festive event. We can’t start brewing until the first fresh hops have arrived, but once they have the season is officially under way! First brewed in 1981, Celebration Ale is one of the earliest examples of an American-style IPA and one of the few hop-forward holiday beers. Famous for its intense citrus and pine aromas, Celebration is bold and intense, featuring Cascade, Centennial and Chinook hops—honoring everything we have at Sierra Nevada.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business…

  • Appearance: Cloudy, red-orange color with a thick off white head that rises to a max height of 1.5 inches and then settles down to a thin layer. Moderate lacing.
  • Aroma: Very bright happiness with lots of tropical notes, i.e. mango, pineapple, and mandarin orange. In the background, I’m getting some honey and biscuity sweetness.
  • Taste: Medium carbonation with a soft and velvety texture. Starts of lightly sweet with the honey and biscuity malts coming through. Mild, piney hops make an appearance at the middle, but with a malty sweetness in the background. The tropical notes arrive at the finish with subtle mango and pineapple flavors. Soothing hoppy/sweet finish that lingers for quite awhile.
  • ABV: 6.8%

Yum yum yum! Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale is one seriously delicious and well balanced IPA. It’s hoppy without being overly bitter and it goes down really easy, perhaps a bit too easy given its relatively high ABV. Smooth, flavorful, infinitely drinkable, and definitely a beer that I highly recommend. Go pick some up before it runs out until next year.

Beer Review – Old Dominion Double D Double IPA


Old Dominion Double D Double IPA

On the Saturday before Christmas, Mrs. G-LO and I were invited to attend a holiday party at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Bones (real names withheld to protect those that would rather not be associated with this blog. For the record, our buddy The Alemonger refers to Mrs. Bones as The Goat (not to be confused with @Goats_Udder), and he refers to Mrs. G-LO as The Viking. In Alemonger World, everyone has a bizarre nickname). Since Dr. and Mrs. Bones are Craft Beer lovers, and since (as Limpd would say) my Mamma and Papa raised me right, there was no way that we were showing up to the  party empty handed, so before we headed over to join the festivities, I made a quick stop at Canal’s in Berlin, NJ to pick up some special beers to bring to the party. I decided to pick up two bottles of Maine Beer Company beer (Peeper and Zoe I believe) since I was pretty sure that they had never had them before. Since Maine Beer Company sells their beer in 16 ounce bottles that just happen to fit in a six pack carrier, I decided to pick up four additional beers for myself. The Old Dominion Double D Double IPA that you see in the above photo was part of this mixed six pack. There are two reasons why I decided to pick up a bottle of this beer:

  • Reason #1: I always wanted to be a fighter pilot.
  • Reason #2: I’m a sucker for WW II era pin up art.

Before we get to my review, below is a bit more information about this beer from the good people at Old Dominion Brewing Company:

Double D is a full-bodied Imperial India Pale Ale, flaunting sultry guava, mango, and tropical fruit aromas as a result of dry hopping with Citra, Zythos and Crystal hops. Brewed with light toasted malt and Bravo bittering hops, this double delights with smooth warming alcohols and a torrid finish. A daring draft, she is available in six-packs and on draft.

Let’s find out if I was duped by a pretty label…

  • Appearance: Clear, pale orange color. Thick off-white head that tops off at about an inch and dissipates slowly. Moderate lacing.
  • Aroma: I’m liking how this smells! Honey and tea biscuit scented malt along with citrusy hops, i.e. tangerine with a hint of grapefruit.
  • Taste: Medium bodied with soft and creamy carbonation. A tiny bit of sweet malts at the onset, but they are quickly pushed aside by a somewhat aggressive bitterness. The bitterness in this beer transitions from grapefruit and tangerine to resiny pine. A bit of alcohol comes through in the finish. The ending is astringent with a lingering piney hop bitterness.
  • ABV: 9%

I’m somewhat torn on this beer. While I love the way it smells, I thought the bitterness dominated a bit from the middle to the end. On the flip side, when I let this beer rest for a few minutes, I grew to like it more as it warmed up. Kinda weird right? Overall, I thought this beer was just ok. While I didn’t love it, I liked it enough to wanna give it a second try, especially after being informed by our blogging buddy Oliver of the Literature and Libation blog via a brief Twitter #beerchat (as luck would have it, we just happened to be drinking the same beer at the same time) that this beer is much much better on tap.

Beer Review – Dogfish Head Sixty-One


Dogfish Head Sixty-One

After reading The Dogs of Beer review of the Dogfish Head Sixty-One, I just knew that I had to try it, so when I finally saw it on the shelves (it was in the last place I looked. Funny how that works), I immediately picked up a bottle to round out my mixed six pack of “fruited up” beers.

When Ed reviewed this beer, he went the extra mile and concocted his own version via a bottle of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and a couple shots of Zinfandel, so that he could do a side by side comparison. Hang on! I may have jumped ahead a bit without giving you any background information about this beer. Let me make it up to you…

Here is what Dogfish Head has to say about their Sixty-One:

Whenever Dogfish Head President Sam Calagione and his neighborhood friends gather for drinks, they give each other a big ol’ man-hug and order a round of 60 Minute IPA. A few years ago, Sam also ordered a glass of his favorite red wine and poured a little into each pint of 60 Minute. They all dug the combination of fruity complexity and pungent hoppiness, and the blend became a beloved tradition.

Sixty-One captures that tradition in a bottle and marries two Dogfish Head innovations: beer/wine hybrids — which Dogfish has focused on for well over a decade with beers like Midas Touch and Raison D’être — and continually-hopped IPAs.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any 60 Minute IPA on hand, so I’ll skip the side by side comparison that Ed did and just review Sixty-One on its own. Here’s my impression of this beer…

  • Appearance: Pale ruby red color. Thick white foam that rises rapidly to about an inch and then settles down to a thin layer that covers the top of the beer. A wee bit of lacing.
  • Aroma: The aromas are as advertised! Grapefruit scented hops with a definite red wine backbone that is heavy on the tannins.
  • Taste: Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Starts off with a touch of honey sweetness followed immediately by a healthy kick of mildly bitter hoppiness. The winey (as opposed to whiney) aspects take over to cut the bitterness as you approach the finish. Ends on a dry and somewhat astringent note with a definite red wine like aftertaste.
  • ABV: 6.5%

Since I really enjoy Dogfish Head IPAs (60, 75, 90, and 120 Minute IPAs, Hellhound On My Ale, etc.), picking up a bottle of this beer to see what effect Syrah grape must would have on a rock solid IPA was a definite no brainer. Although that first sip left me a bit befuddled, as the beer came up to room temperature, all of the flavors came alive and I really started to enjoy it. Ed’s review is right on the money! The Syrah grape must definitely mellowed out the hops as you approached the finish. This beer is a hybrid in the truest sense of the word. It starts off as an IPA and ends like a mellow, fruity glass of red wine. Three words: weird and delicious!

But wait, there’s more…

If you want to read even more about this beer, check out The Alemonger’s tangent rich (in a surprisingly on topic kinda way) review of this tasty brew. Cheers!

Beer Review – Monday Night Brewing Eye Patch Ale


Monday Night Brewing Eye Patch Ale

“Yeast sample for lab analysis”. That’s what was written on the label that was taped to the box that contained the beer that you see in the photo above these words. In addition to this beer, there were two other beers in the box from Monday Night Brewing: their Fu Manbrew Belgian Style Wit and their Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale.

To be completely honest, prior to their email asking if we’d like to sample their beers, I had never heard of Monday Night Brewing. As is usually the case when I get an email from someone that I don’t know, I did a bit of interwebz research to see if the sender is legit. Thankfully, a simple “Monday Night Brewing” Google search led me to their website which then led me to their Twitter feed, Instagram account, and Facebook page. And if all that weren’t enough, I also found their brewery profile pages on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. 

Here is what Monday Night Brewing is all about (courtesy of the “About” section on their website):

Monday Night Brewing is an Atlanta-based craft brewery. We brew beers for the weeknights – balanced, flavorful ales that pair well with food.

Believe it or not, the idea for Monday Night Brewing grew out of a small Atlanta Bible study. We started brewing beer together on Monday nights as a way to get to know each other better. As we got more engrained in the industry and more people started showing up to brew with us, beer quickly became more than just a weeknight hobby.

We spent almost 5 years perfecting our Eye Patch Ale and Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale before bringing them to market. Years of minor tweaks, arguments over hop profiles, and experiments with different brands of base malts are poured into every glass that we brew. In the summer of 2012 we launched our 3rd offering, Fu Manbrew, which won Bronze in the US Beer Open in its first month.

And here is what they have to say about their Eye Patch Ale:

A crisp, drinkable IPA. The earthy deliciousness of Cascade and Magnum hops, combined with upfront malt flavor, and balanced with a pirate’s sensibilities. Our Eye Patch Ale is a uniquely drinkable take on the American IPA – sweet caramel, citrusy flowers and swashbuckling adventure abound with every pint.

Let’s get on with the review…

  • Appearance: Pale orange color. Somewhat cloudy. One inch of off white foam that dissipates rapidly.
  • Aroma: A rather subdued nose with hints of honey and orange marmalade.
  • Taste: Medium carbonation with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Starts off with a mellow honey sweetness. Citrusy hops kick in at mid-palate along with some mild bitterness. The sweet and bitter elements come together as you approach the finish, ending on a bittersweet and somewhat astringent note.
  • ABV: 6.2%

I’ve been conditioned to expect huge hoppy flavors whenever I see IPA printed on a bottle of beer, so when I took my first sip of this Eye Patch Ale, I was a little disappointed that my palate wasn’t under attack in a nice, West Coast IPA kinda way. But then a funny thing happened. I played around with the pics (aka, I douched it up a bit), let this beer warm up, took another sip, and then started to really enjoy what was going on in my glass. Monday Night Brewing set out to create a mellow and uber-drinkable IPA, and that’s exactly what they achieved. Their Patch Eye Ale is a well balanced, almost session worthy IPA (I say almost because this beer is easy drinking given it’s middleweight ABV) that is definitely worth trying if you’re on the lookout for a less intense IPA drinking experience.

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Many thanks to the good people at Monday Night Brewing for sending us this generous sample! Stay tuned for reviews of their other beers…

Beer Review – Flying Dog Wildeman Farmhouse IPA


Flying Dog Wildeman Farmhouse IPA

I first heard about Flying Dog’s Wildeman Farmhouse IPA last May when reviews of it started popping up all over the blogosphere (click here to read one such review). Since I love Farmhouse Ales and IPAs, I figured this beer would totally be “in my wheelhouse”. While pulling together a mixed six pack a couple weeks ago, I saw this beer on the shelf and just had to pick up a bottle for a proper review.

Here is what Flying Dog Brewery has to say about their Wildeman Farmhouse Ale:

His axe is stained with the blood of a thousand adversaries. We fall in behind him as he leads up into darkness. He turns his gaze on us. “Tentanda via est!” The way must be tried. Wildeman has arrived. Legions of followers marched across Europe in his wake. But was most soon realized is that Wildeman is already inside of them, ready to be awakened. Will you fall in line or find the edge?

That didn’t tell us anything about this beer! Let’s see if this video from Flying Dog Brewery helps at all:

Hmm. That wasn’t very helpful either!

Let’s just jump to the review so that we can find out how wild this Wildeman really is…

  • Appearance: Slightly cloudy, yellow orange color. About half an inch of thick, off-white foam that dissipates slowly. A bit of lacing too.
  • Aroma: Smells like a lightly hopped Farmhouse Ale. Getting some clove, honey, orange and lemon zest, and some piney hops too.
  • Taste: Lightly carbonated with a creamy texture. Citrus and a touch of honey to start things off. A bit of that piney hop bitterness kicks in towards the middle with a definite lemon zest kick in the background. All of the flavors come together at the finish, i.e. lemon zest, a touch of bitterness, and finally, some of those clove notes kick in as well.
  • ABV: 7.5%

Flying Dog’s Wildeman Farmhouse IPA is a beer that became much more interesting as it came up to room temperature. While the IPA aspects of this beer weren’t very obvious when I took my first few sips, as it warmed up, the hops definitely let you know they were there and added a really tasty twist to the usual Farmhouse Ale flavor profile. I still get that mouth coating astringency in the finish, but this time with a mildly bitter kick that I really enjoyed. Well done Flying Dog!

Beer Review – Great Lakes Alchemy Hour Double IPA


Great Lakes Alchemy Hour Double IPA

There’s no real story behind the purchase of this beer. I saw it on the shelf, was instantly intrigued, and since I really enjoy most of what Great Lakes Brewing Co. makes, decided to pick up a bottle for an eventual review. It’s as simple as that!

Here is what Great Lakes has to say about their Alchemy Hour Double IPA:

On the West Coast, surfers have a term for that perfect time of day, when the waves are breaking just right and it feels like you can ride forever. They call it Alchemy Hour. In Cleveland, our surfers have to work a little harder to find a perfect swell. Dressed in wetsuits, up at dawn, they camp out on the shores of Lake Erie in near-freezing temperatures, waiting for the ultimate wave. Crazy? Yes. Extreme? Definitely. Alchemy Hour Double IPA pays tribute to the North Coast’s unlikely surf bums and the ancient quest for liquid gold, wherever it may live: on the ocean, in a lake, in a bottle.

Let’s get on with my review…

  • Appearance: Cloudy red-orange color. Not much in the way of foam, i.e. it dissipated pretty quickly. A bit of lacing, but nothing over the top.
  • Aroma: Oodles of citrusy hops with a good bit of sweetness to back it up. Think honey tangerine and pink grapefruit with a drizzle of honey.
  • Taste: Medium bodied with a healthy dose of fizzy carbonation. Much less aggressive than I was expecting. The citrusy hops and honey sweetness play very nicely together. There’s never too much bitterness, and it’s never overly sweet. And by the time you get to the finish, the hops don’t build up like they do in other double IPAs that I’ve had. Quite crisp and refreshing given the high alcohol content.
  • ABV: 9.4%

While I’ve had an IPA or two from Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Commodore Perry IPA and Lake Erie Monster), I didn’t really love them (they were good, but not great). For whatever reason, the Alchemy Hour Double IPA has definitely won me over. This beer is beautifully balanced, and given it’s high ABV, it’s also supremely drinkable. Well done Great Lakes!

Beer Review – Goose Island India Pale Ale


Goose Island IPA

Recently, I noticed that the beer fridge was a little low and in need of some craftiness. A quick trip to Roger Wilco (formerly the Wine Warehouse) remedied that situation. One of the bottles from my mixed six was the Goose Island India Pale Ale. Having had a lot of success with other Goose Island beers (i.e., the Harvest Ale, the 312 Urban Wheat Ale, the Matilda and the Sofie), I thought their IPA would be a safe bet..

Goose Island is a craft brewer steeped in the tradition of Midwestern mass produced beers. Founded in 1988 as a craft alternative, they have rolled out an impressive lineup of beers. In 2011, Anheuser-Busch upped their ownership from a 32.25% share of the Craft Brewers Alliance’s 40% share to an outright purchase of all of Goose Island. While the purchase had been viewed with great hesitation as craft beer advocates feared that Goose Island would lose some of its craftiness as it was absorbed by a macro brewer. To date, I have found that the only change has been a greater availability as Goose Island has been added to Bud’s distribution channel.

Here is what Goose Island has to say about the IPA: Continue reading

Beer Review – Snake River Brewing Pako’s Eye-P-A


 

Photo courtesy of http://www.untapped.com

I had to go to Jackson Hole for work and while there I had the chance to sample some of the local brews from the Snake River Brewing Company. The brewery was established in 1994. And, when the founders retired in 2007, the brewery was sold to Ted and Noa Staryk thus continuing its history of family ownership. Snake River makes about 50 different beers and has received a lot of recognition in its role as a small brewer. All I can say is for an out-of-towner; I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of the beers that I had the opportunity to sample. One of those beers was the Zonker Stout. Another was Pako’s Eye-P-A.

From the Snake River site: Continue reading

Beer Review – Avery India Pale Ale


Whenever Mrs. G-LO invites the ladies over for a Friday night drinking/snacking/”sharing too much information” session, I’ll run out to pick up some hop-tastic beers for them to drink. There are two reasons for this quasi-generous gesture by yours truly: (1) the ladies love their IPAs, and (2) this keeps them from drinking beers that I have in my review queue since I would like to avoid a repeat of the Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard / Founders Backwoods Continue reading