Showing posts with label IPA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IPA. Show all posts

Monday, October 18, 2021

Sierra Nevada's Big Little Thing IPA

The Big Little Thing Imperial IPA comes from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company which is, according to the message on the can, "Family owned, operated and argued over."  The company is based in Chico, CA and has an operation in Mills River, NC.  It's becoming more common to find that West Coast breweries open up a shop in the east, presumably to cut down on shipping costs and deliver a fresher beer to their customers.  They are a favorite brewery of mine and have been for years.

Big Little Thing is the companion IPA for their Hazy Little Thing beverage.  This one the company describes as having "a full malt body, restrained sweetness, and tropical hop flavors of mango, grapefruit and tangerine."  For the geeks, the beer employs Pale, Wheat and Munich malts, along with Magnum, Crystal, Chinook, Idaho 7, Columbus, Cascade, Mosaic hops.  Alcohol checks in at 9% abv, a bit higher than most ales.

The Big Little Thing is just that, an ale with a big-feeling malt taste, kinda bitter, with plenty of hops to give those pine and citrus aromas.  The head comes up frothy white at about a finger and a half and subsides quickly, leaving nice lacing on the glass.


Monday, October 11, 2021

And Now, An IPA From Santa Monica

There are very few songs written about Santa Monica, California, probably because it's tough to find a word which rhymes with it, other than harmonica.  Not a deep well of inspiration, there. 

However, there may be an ode or two written about the beer.  Santa Monica Brew Works makes what they call the Head in the Clouds Double IPA.  That may be a left-handed way of saluting the left-leaning populace there, or it may reflect the general attitude of those who have an ocean readily available to them for their daily inspiration.  Either way, it works.

Labeled as "juicy" and "beach brewed," the former claim nails it.  The latter, though, suffers a bit since the Colorado Avenue location is a good 19 blocks from Santa Monica Bay.  To be fair, when I lived in Santa Monica I was 21 blocks from the beach and, due to the elevation, could still see the water.

The hops used in Head in the Clouds are listed as Citra, Mosaic, Summit and Wakatu.  Alcohol sits at 8.5% abv and my 4-pack of pint cans came from Trader Joe's.  It is a hoppy brew which the label claims was "brewed for the dreamers who seek an elevated beer experience."  Elevate away, Santa Monica.

The head is half a finger of off-white foam.  The nose displays a lot of citrus and a nice pine element, too.  The palate is on the bitter side, but very juicy - as billed - and quite refreshing.  The finish lingers nicely and has a nutty aftertaste.


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Monday, October 4, 2021

This IPA Is Maximus, Colossal

West Coast IPAs have been favorites for me for quite some time now, and I just discovered another one.  The Lagunitas Maximus Colossal IPA comes from Petaluma, California and is loaded with hops.  The website says the great taste comes from, "Simcoe, Cascade and Centennial hops balanced against tons of rich malted barley—a bed of smooth malted wheat, biscuity Munich malt, and English Crystal."  They say on the can that the beer is "For all the hop heads."

Also on the can, in tiny type around the top of the can, is a bit of Lorem Ipsum drivel: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing √©lit! Donec Maximus… uh… ex et nisi aliquam commodo… Are you not entertained?!"  I'm always entertained by Latin babbling.

This beer clocks in at a heady 9% abv and sells for the nice price of $2.50 for a bigger-than-a-pint can.  

The body is copper colored, and it shows off a lightly yeasty, malty nose.  Malt and hops each vie for the lead on the palate, and it’s a great fight.  A bitter finish brings that West Coast style home with plenty of fanfare.


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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Space XPA Extra Pale Ale

Los Angeles Ale Works makes beer in the L.A. suburb of Hawthorne, which also happens to be the home of SpaceX, Elon Musk's rocket company.  Considering that, it is fitting that L.A. Ale Works makes a beer called Space XPA, an Extra Pale Ale.  Of course, they also make Flight Path, Lunar Kitten and Martian Occupation, so the whole space thing must be bleeding over from just down the street.

At any rate, Space XPA has emblazoned on the can, "into the unknown."  That would be fine if we didn’t already know where we were going with a West Coast ale.  We do, though, so we are not exactly in uncharted waters.

The hops are Wakatu and Mosaic, and reports show Maris Otter as the malt.  The ale is just barely above session range, at 6.5% abv.  The retail price is listed as $16 for a 4-pack of 16-ounce cans, but I got mine a bit cheaper at my nearby Whole Foods Market.

The beer froths up with a nice, white head in the glass and it continues to lace long after the head has settled.  The nose offers up a full-on pine tree, while the palate is lighter than one would expect from a West Coast ale.  It is, however, very tasty - with a nutty flavor on the finish - and quite satisfying when the weather is warm.


Monday, August 23, 2021

L.A.-Area Brewery Plays With Hops

Smog City Brewing Company Of Torrance, CA makes Fire Tornado Hazy IPA, part of the Smog City IPA Series and an addition to their "ever changing line-up of experimental IPAs."

The hops get star billing on the front of the can - Zambia, Citra and Cascade, if you are a hops nerd.  Alcohol sits just above that of a session beer at 6.3% abv.  I paid about $14 for four 16-ounce cans at my local Whole Foods Market.

This beer pours up yellow and hazy in the glass, with a pretty head that sticks around awhile.  The nose shows some delightful tropical notes along with the expected citrus blast.  The palate is full and fresh, and a nutty element joins in with the hops.  Bitterness is kept low, but there is a bit of that in play.  Fire Tornado is probably one of the better efforts I have tasted from Smog City.


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Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Citrus And Piney IPA

San Diego County's The Hop Concept puts the sensation of their brews right on the label, right in the name.  Their beers all utilize hops in inventive ways to offer a variety of tastes and aromas.  Names like "Dank and Sticky" and "Tropical and Juicy" advertise themselves truthfully in their names.

I had their "Citrus and Piney" IPA.  They describe it on the can as boasting "bold orange peel and honey aromas" followed by a "faint hint of bready malt."  Alcohol is 8.5% abv and a four-pack of 16-ounce cans ran me about $15 at my neighborhood specialty market.

The hops are right out front, as they should be with an IPA.  Six varieties of hops were used in this brew: Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook, Citra, CTZ and Simcoe.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Dank And Sticky IPA

San Diego County's The Hop Concept puts the sensation of their brews right on the label, right in the name.  Their beers all utilize hops in inventive ways to offer a variety of tastes and aromas.  Names like "Citrus and Piney" and "Tropical and Juicy" advertise themselves truthfully in their names.

I had their inaugural beer, the "Dank and Sticky" IPA.  They describe it on the can as boasting "aromas of dank, resinous pine" which give way to "a malty backbone and a drying hop bitterness on the finish."  Alcohol is 8.5% abv and a four-pack of 16-ounce cans ran me about $15 at my neighborhood specialty market.

The hops are right out front, as they should be with an IPA.  Seven varieties of hops were used in this brew: Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, Exp. 05256, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Comet.  It was a great addition to the time I spent grilling a steak on the patio. 


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Monday, July 26, 2021

Steve Austin's Broken Skull IPA

Steve Austin's Broken Skull IPA comes from Los Angeles County's own El Segundo Brewing Company.  You may be familiar with their popular Mayberry IPA.  I saw the Broken Skull IPA in the case at Whole Foods Market and figured I would try it on for size.

First of all, the can beams wrestler Steve Austin's name, without the usual mention of "Stone Cold" before it.  I wonder if a trademark issue arose with Stone Brewing in San Diego County?  Maybe he has just moved on from his wrestling name since he is now a broader-based entertainer.  The brewery calls it a "bad-ass" bottling and credits Steve Austin with helping to design it.  

In a continuing series of "brushes with fame" that seem to happen to me, a number of years back a friend of mine who knows Austin enlisted me to help select a Texas wine club to give him as a Christmas gift.  Neither my friend nor I reported a broken skull, so I guess he liked it.

Broken Skull IPA produces a nice head - a couple of fingers of white foam - but it does not last too long.  The color of the pour is almost orange.  The nose is quite full of citrus and pine, but the first sip is a shocker.  This IPA brings the bitter.  I mean that in a good way, of course.  I simply did not expect the bitterness to be quite so heightened and was surprised by it.  All told, it's a good sipper on a hot day and goes fairly easy on the alcohol, at only 6.7 abv.


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Never Better DIPA - San Diego Strikes Again

When I drink beer, it is usually an IPA, or India Pale Ale.  When I'm twice as thirsty, I make it a Double IPA.  Here's one I like a lot, which I ran across at my local Whole Foods Market.

Never Better DIPA hails from San Diego County, which is an area that has yet to disappoint me when it comes to brewing.  The Coronado Brewing Company is a family owned concern on San Diego's Coronado Island.  They have a tasting room and some sort of food service there, too, as I understand it.

This double IPA was made with four varieties of hops: Citra, Mosaic, Vic Secret and Simcoe.  Alcohol hits a lofty 8.1% abv.

The Never Better DIPA shows a beautiful golden-copper color in the glass and a rather hazy appearance.  The suds disappear quickly.  A nose of flowers, pine and citrus is quite inviting, and the palate brings the herbal angle home, along with malt and a slight bitterness, which lingers on the finish.  It's a smooth drinker, too, so the DIPA aspect and the comparatively high alcohol content does nothing to ruin the sipping experience.


Monday, June 28, 2021

Hazy Little Thing Called Beer

The Hazy Little Thing IPA is made by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company which is, according to the message on the can, "Family owned, operated and argued over."  The company is based in Chico, CA and has an operation in Mills River, NC.  It is becoming more common to find that West Coast breweries open up a shop in the east, presumably to cut down on shipping costs and deliver a fresher beer to their customers.  

Sierra Nevada says the Hazy Little Thing IPA is "aggressively dry-hopped and less filtered."  Why make it hazy?  They say the haze is where the flavor is.  Alcohol sits at 6.7% abv.

The nose of this beer is floral, citrusy and hoppy, as one would expect of a West Coast IPA.  The palate is so tart it's almost sour.  The citrus comes through plainly, while a malty aftertaste sneaks in after the sip is gone. It is quite a refreshing beer, one that would be great outside after doing some heavy lifting in the lawn and garden.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Beer From San Diego County

Much as I am amazed at how many great wines come out of Lodi, I find the same fascination with beers from San Diego County.  They're all good.  Some are pretty damn good, like the Mosaic Double IPA from Belching Beaver Brewery in Oceanside. 

I snagged this off the shelf at Whole Foods, almost without looking, after waiting in a short line to enter the store.  I knew others were waiting for me to leave, so I played the good neighbor and forfeited my treasured ten minutes scanning the beer cooler.  I grabbed a colorful label, so sue me.

Mosaic is made with 100% Mosaic hops, which are complex enough to generate many descriptors from tasters.  They definitely give this India Pale Ale a different angle than most IPAs.  Alcohol tips in at 8.8% abv.

The nose on this brew is hoppy, for sure.  It is more floral/herbal than citrus, though.  On the palate, the hops turn in some grapefruit flavors and there's a bit more maltiness than I usually find in an India Pale Ale.  It's a complex enough package that it could be considered a "sipper" rather than a "gulper."  You will want to savor this one, not merely quench your thirst with it.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Beer From Alaska

I am still waiting to find a wine from Alaska for the Now And Zin Wine Country series - one should be on the way - but in the meantime, a beer from the 49th state has appeared.  The sample was provided to me by the brewery.

Alaskan Brewing Company is unveiling a new limited release series of beers.  Their Hazy Bay Juicy IPA should be in stores in 25 states now, if they haven't been snapped up along with all the toilet paper and hand sanitizer.  The brewery describes their new creation as "a citrusy and tropical fruit explosion of hops and drinkability based on the New England Hazy IPA beer style."  They say the Limited Release series allows them to experiment with new styles and ingredients.

Hazy Bay Juicy IPA is brewed with hops such as Mosaic, Citra and Simcoe and Sultana, which all have juicy, citrus flavors.  The hops are heavily used in the dry-hopped stage with two dry-hopping additions during fermentation.  Alaskan-grown white wheat from the VanderWeele Farms in Palmer, Alaska gets credit for the soft mouthfeel.  Hazy Bay IPA is made from glacier-fed water and features Pale, Victory, Munich, and C-30 malts, brumalt, unmalted oats.  Alcohol tips 6% abv.

The Hazy Bay Juicy IPA pours up amber-orange and - as promised - hazy.  The hops are all there on the nose, piney and citrusy.  The palate is rich and smooth, with a touch of bitterness on the apricot flavor.  The aftertaste is golden and malty.  This is a great beer to keep in mind when the warm months roll in.  It'll go just fine with yard work. 

ABC says they are looking at midsummer 2020 for the release of the new Fireweed Blonde, the next beer in their Limited Release series.  That one will be a little lighter in alcohol.  Another IPA is planned for autumn, Stratasphere, a Strata-hopped IPA.


Monday, July 23, 2018

Maryland IPAs

Maryland has some pretty good brewers in the state these days.  As in many of the 50, craft beer has found its legs in the Free State.  Here are two from Frederick, Maryland.

Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA

Flying Dog is reportedly Maryland's largest brewer. It was founded in 1990 by
George Stranahan and Richard McIntyre.  The original brewery was located near Denver, with Frederick serving as a second outpost, but the Colorado brewery was abandoned in favor of the Maryland locale.  

For Snake Dog, the hops are Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe, Columbus and Warrior.

The fresh hops aroma gives the IPA a more floral than fruity nose.  It's easy drinking at 7.1% abv, with a nice bitterness that melds with the sweeter aspects.  Snakedog paired very nicely with smoked fish.



Flying Dog Double Dog Double IPA

Flying Dog's Double Dog Double IPA was envisioned as a tenth anniversary creation for the brewery, and got so popular it stuck around. Using Columbus, Warrior and Cascade hops, this IPA offers both bark and bite.

A bit more robust at 11.5% abv, this one can take you by surprise if you gulp.  Its creators recommend taming the slight alcohol burn with strong cheese or earthy carrot cake. Hearty and bold, this double IPA has enough flowery nose and earthy palate notes for at least two.



Note the artwork on both is by Ralph Steadman, who was Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's illustrator. Thompson was reportedly good friends with co-founder Stranahan.








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Monday, October 23, 2017

San Diego Beer: Orderville IPA By Modern Times

You've probably experienced the same sort of thing that happened to San Diego’s Modern Times Beer, only maybe not with hops. The story of their Orderville IPA is all about great passion, the best intentions, bad luck and a happy ending. Er, a hoppy ending.

Their blog, by proprietor Jacob McKean, describes how they set out to make a "wet-hopped" beer, using freshly harvested, green Mosaic, Simcoe and Chinook hops. They intended to brew the beer and dry-hop it with those wet hops. Not being a brewer, I'm lost already, but they say it sounded cool at the time and I agree with them.

This is where things went wrong. I'll let McKean get all beer-nerdy again. "The harvest, of course, didn’t shake out at all as predicted, and we were forced to brew two entirely separate beers: one with wet Simcoe, another with wet Chinook. The wet Mosaic showed up late—naturally—so we dry-hopped the Simcoe beer with the wet Mosaic. But we ordered so much Mosaic that we literally couldn’t fit
anywhere near enough of it into the fermenter, so we filled the hopback with the wet Mosaic and recirculated the beer through it over and over and over and over again." Then the two beers were blended, and that's Orderville. It is, by their own description, a "completely absurd and radically inefficient" way to make beer. But it's a happy - and hoppy - ending.


This Point Loma beer is one of the most distinctive IPAs I've ever tasted. As an IPA true believer, even I recognize that the style tends to taste almost interchangeable at times. This one most certainly does not. The green hops give the beer a less "roasted" feel. The aroma is fresh and almost biting, less floral and more herbal. The flavor profile has a bit of a cantaloupe note amid the citrus, which is something I've never experienced before. It's dry, it's fantastic, it's food-friendly and it paired very well with a pepperoni flatbread.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0

Escondido's Stone Brewing has long been a favorite in Southern California. They are probably a favorite in other areas, too, but I don't know what their distribution is like. You have to feel like you've made a good beer choice at the market when the guy behind you in the checkout line says, "Mmm, Stone. Good stuff." I understand that women sometimes talk to each other in the checkout line, even in restrooms, but men as a rule don't, so it's high praise when they do.

Stone Ruination Double IPA 2.0 debuted in 2002 as a "liquid poem to the glory of the hop." They like to say they bow to both the beauty and the boldness of the little flower. They draw all the "piney, citrusy, tropical essence" of hops to make the craft beer lovers of today glad it's not the '70s anymore. For hops nerds, it's reportedly Centennial, Citra, Simcoe and Azacca hops that give Ruination its character.

Ruination's nose gives a refreshing blast of citrus and floral, with a hint of that lovely bitterness you await on the palate. When you sip it, or gulp it, depending on how thirsty you are, you get that pleasure. Flavor is what IPA is all about, and Ruination delivers. The foamy head dissipates medium-quickly and leaves nice traces on the glass. Call it ruination if you like. I call it refreshment.


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Friday, October 13, 2017

IPA: Redhook Long Hammer

Redhook Brewing was founded in Seattle in 1981, when beer was bad and everybody knew it. The craft beer movement was the best thing to ever happen to beer drinkers. Once I broadened my beer horizon with Guinness, Newcastle, Fuller's ESB and the like, I could only smh - if that abbreviation had existed then - that American brewers couldn't seem to get beer right. Yet they sold damn much of it.

Redhook was a favorite tap choice of mine in my San Diego years, of which there were only two. That handle seemed to be poking its head up from every bar in town, including the one across from my Pacific Beach apartment. I saw it a lot, and I called its name a lot.

Before that, in L.A., my drinking buddies and I had the idea that you could order any beer with the word "red" in its name and feel secure that it would satisfy. Red Stripe, Mendocino's Red Tail, San Diego's Karl Strauss Red Trolley - there were probably more that I don't remember. The trick worked until Michelob, I believe, came out with a red-branded beer of some sort, then Bud. The novelty didn't work anymore. But Seattle's Redhook was always reliable. Plus, it has a cool logo. Oh, and they make a Purple and Gold version which I suppose is in honor of the University of Washington Huskies, although I'm sure the NCAA would not sanction such a thing. The NFL might, but the Seahawks' colors were too ugly for a beer can. Full disclosure: Redhook does actually incorporate an approximation of that green not found in nature on their Long Hammer cans and bottles.

Redhook Long Hammer Dry Hopped IPA is an amber beer has a little oomph and a little less citrus than a typical India Pale Ale. The nose has a nutty, grainy texture - not really too floral at all. That's unusual in an IPA, which is usually hopped to the max. The Cascade hops used to make Long Hammer are administered with care and reason. It drinks smooth and easy, even when the chill has worn off a bit. A nice frothy head whips up on the pour and gets out of the way quickly. An earthy finish provides a nice memory. Alcohol at 6.2% abv means a couple of pints won't do you in. It hits me as a winter IPA, while the style typically makes me think of relief on a hot, sweaty summer day. This will do then, too.


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Friday, April 21, 2017

Beer: Mayberry By The Sea

The notion of having a drink while watching a movie is a great one. Why shouldn't we be allowed to enjoy ourselves a little, since everyone else in the theater seems bent on taking it the other way. The popcorn bag-rattlers, the slurpers, the texters, the talkers - their only purpose in life is to ruin the movie experience for everyone. Not to mention the 24-year-old who is in charge of taking complaints about the air conditioning being a little too aggressive. Hey, I know how a/c works, Jered. I know how 500 bodies warm a room. I also know what an arctic wind feels like in my face. I can tell when everyone in my row is uncomfortable. How about I wait here while you go get a responsible adult?  I’ll be having a beer at the bar.

Denise loves to see movies, and gets even more agitated about the ruination of that experience than I do. She doesn’t drink very much, though, the poor thing. She just has to suffer through it, over and over again.

She likes to see movie after movie after movie. We have spent many a fine Saturday or Sunday in movie theaters, enjoying the best that Hollywood has to offer. When that does not come with a drink, it feels considerably less enjoyable than it could have been.

We were at the end of a three-movie Saturday, at West L.A.'s Landmark Theater, awaiting "Life." We had already seen "Kong: Skull Island" and "Beauty and the Beast" that day, so it was getting a little tiresome for me. "Kong" is a good popcorn movie and "Beauty/Beast" is, well, very Disney. Very extremely Disney. A lot more Disney that I would ever be seeking out on my own.  The slug line for "Life" is a good one, and it sums up my feelings about watching movies in public. "We were better off alone."

Mayberry IPA comes from El Segundo Brewing Company and is really enjoyable. I always like finding a good Southern California beer, and there seem to be plenty of them these days. Add Mayberry to the collection.

The 7% abv beer reportedly uses Mosaic hops, which I had never had before to my knowledge. The more familiar Cascade and Chinook are also in the mix. The Mosaic flowers apparently give a sense of tropical fruit to the light colored, fruity smelling brew. There is a great nutty edge on the citrus and pine flavors, and a smidge of bitterness on the finish. The head was nice and white, but it seemed thin to me and didn't last long. The beer's name is taken from the nickname of El Segundo, known in some circles as "Mayberry by the Sea."


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Friday, April 7, 2017

Landing A SoCal IPA

The best thing about the craft brewery explosion is the abundance of truly magnificent IPAs out there. It seems hard to even imagine a world with only the big American lagers, which is the world where I started drinking beer.

Hangar 24 is a Redlands, California craft brewery. It's way out in the part of Southern California that we call the Inland Empire, east of L.A. by an hour if the traffic is flying. The brews of theirs that I have had are impressive, and that's saying the absolute minimum. Normally, when I have one of their creations I gush.

Hangar 24's Iconic Double IPA is brewed with four American hops - Centennial, Citra, Columbus and Simcoe - five malts and local Inland Empire orange blossom honey.

The color is gorgeous, deep and rich gold. The nose is all about oranges and pine cones. On the palate, it's lush and flavorful, with a lot of bitter and a smidge of honey.


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Monday, October 31, 2016

SoCal Brew Puts Out The Fire

When you need to put out the fire, call a fireman.  The Southern California brewery created by firefighters has a refreshing beverage for sale in 16-ounce cans.  After putting out a brush fire, they reportedly hit upon the idea to have a beer - go figure - and one thing led to another. Anaheim’s Fireman’s Brew makes this India Pale Ale at 6.5% abv. It will douse your thirst as well as it did theirs.

Hops are what makes an IPA the crisp and breezy drink that it is. The little flowers for this beer are Cascade, Columbus, Chinook and Galena varieties. Cascade brings aromas, Columbus and Galena hops are for bittering while Chinook offers spice and pine notes.

The nose on this Fireman’s Brew IPA is like a pine forest, with lovely citrus aromas that make summer seem sooo close. Lemon comes in on the palate, as well as a floral sensibility and a hint of allspice. It's a fairly complex beer. It's a very refreshing beer. It puts out the fire.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

San Diego Beer - Sculpin IPA

Sometimes those 22-ounce bottles of beer come in pretty handy. If you're a beer lover, and you're only having one beer, this is a good one to have. Either this or a 40. It's a good size for anyone who is the recipient of stares that say without speaking, "You’re having another one?" Well, if you can only have one without "getting into it," this is certainly a good choice.


Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits is one of the better reasons to go to San Diego, Temecula or Long Beach.  They have a lot of tasting rooms open in Southern California, but it all started in the place Angelenos like to think of as "Iowa by the sea." The thinking there is that Midwesterners, when listing places where they'd like to escape a bitter winter, have only place on the list. Fortunately for them, San Diegans make a lot of good beer.

This zippy Sculpin India Pale Ale carries a chestnut golden color and a slight head of fine white froth, which clings to the glass. The nose is loaded with fresh pine needles and lemon zest, with a hint of grapefruit running behind. The palate is creamy and very hoppy with a floral trace on the more beery notes. The Sculpin is a perfect example of why I like IPA enough that I'll often go without a beer if one is not available. And that's a big sacrifice for a beer lover to make.