Showing posts with label ale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ale. 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.


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.


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, June 23, 2021

Arrogant Bastard Ale

The makers of Arrogant Bastard Ale do all that they can to live up to their marketing.  On the can: "Drink Fresh Numbskull," and on the website: "You’re not worthy."  There is an accompanying monologue which lambastes the makers of "fizzy yellow beer" and the numbskulls who drink it.

The can also reads: "True arrogant bastards refuse to be ignorant.  Know where your beer comes from!"  In the interest of being as arrogant as possible, this beer comes from Escondido, California.  I have yet to try a beer from San Diego County that I did not like, at least a little bit.  Most of them I like a lot.  Like this arrogant bastard.  

It is brewed and canned by Arrogant Consortia, Escondido, CA and Richmond, VA, so they are bicoastally arrogant.  It is actually a subset of Stone Brewing, which launched Arrogant Bastard in 1997, and for my money Stone is the best damn brewery around.  Arrogant alcohol tips 7.2% abv.

Arrogant Bastard Ale is a strong American ale, dark and malty and laced with a caramel note. It is dark enough to be getting close to porter territory.  The palate is slightly bitter and carries a nutty sensibility that is completely charming.  


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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Revisiting A Great Sushi Beer

I've done a little more exploration into a Japanese beer that's available at my local sushi place, Kawaba Sunrise Ale.  It's made in a brewery in Kawaba, which is nestled in the mountains northwest of Tokyo on Japan's main island.  The label shows an origin of 'Denen Plaza Kawaba,' but that appears to be a roadside rest area, albeit an extremely nice one with shopping available.  I presume the brewery is somewhere on the grounds in the village.  The beer is malty, low-alcohol (5%) and leaves behind a pleasant bitter note that really hits the spot with seafood.  

My much better half and I were having sushi the other night.  I love sushi, but the beverage options always leave me cold.  I like wine, but the choices never seem good at a sushi place, at least not the ones we frequent.  Beer always seems to be Asahi or Sapporo, neither a fave.  Our sushi place offers an extensive selection of sake, but I've never delved into that ocean enough to know where I'm swimming.

This night, I noticed a Japanese craft beer, Kawaba Sunrise Ale.  Billed as a red ale, I figured it had to be pretty close to my wheelhouse.  It was good, beery and ale-y enough to make both of us happy.  But that's a fairly weak description, especially for a guy who can go on and on about wine.  Why does beer stump me?

I clicked my way over to Beer Advocate, as I do when I want to know what real beer geeks think about a brew.  The Kabawa had - in one user's opinion - "some caramel malt sweetness and toasted grain… a lightly sweet, even creamy coating of caramel… an increased brown bread quality… some light hops spice… a dry tea leaf feel."  And he didn't think it was all that complex.

Maybe I'll just stick with "gimme an IPA."  That's what I really want when I want a beer.


Monday, June 25, 2018

Japanese Beer For Sushi That Tastes Great On Its Own

My much better half and I were having sushi the other night.  I love sushi, but the beverage options always leave me cold.  I like wine, but the choices never seem good at a sushi place, at least not the ones we frequent.  Beer always seems to be Asahi or Sapporo, neither a fave.  Our sushi place offers an extensive selection of sake, but I've never delved into that ocean enough to know where I'm swimming.

This night, I noticed a Japanese craft beer, Kawaba Sunrise Ale.  Billed as an unfiltered amber ale, I figured it had to be pretty close to my wheelhouse.  It was good, beery and ale-y enough to make both of us happy.  But that's a fairly weak description, especially for a guy who can go on and on about wine.  Why does beer stump me?

I clicked my way over to Beer Advocate, as I do when I want to know what real beer geeks think about a brew.  The Kabawa had - in one user's opinion - "some caramel malt sweetness and toasted grain… a lightly sweet, even creamy coating of caramel… an increased brown bread quality… some light hops spice… a dry tea leaf feel."  And he didn't think it was all that complex.

Maybe I'll just stick with "gimme an IPA."  That's what I really want when I want a beer.


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Monday, September 8, 2014

Smog City Hoptonic India Pale Ale

When you have an India Pale Ale, do you wonder where it got its name?  There is never anything pale about an IPA’s appearance.  Sit one next to a Budweiser, and it is obvious which of the two has the yellowy tint which prompted Firesign Theater to produce the fake ad for Bear Whiz Beer.  “It’s in the water!”

What is in the water with India Pale Ale is hops.  Plenty of hops.  Hops are flowers which are used in brewing to add a bitter offset to the sweetness of malt.  They also help in preserving beer.  I have always heard that the first India Pale Ale was made because spoilage was a problem on the long ocean voyage from England to India.  It appears that’s not actually correct, if I am to believe Wikipedia.  That source says the highly hopped beer became a favorite in India because of the taste and was given the name due to that popularity.

Wikipedia also offers a listing of the kinds of hops used in American craft IPAs today: “...distinctively American hops, such as Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Columbus, Chinook, Simcoe, Amarillo, Tomahawk, Warrior, and Nugget.”  Hop nerds must be the beer world’s equivalent to the wine world’s grape nerds, especially those grape nerds who actually know - and talk openly about - what clone they are drinking.  It might be fun to ask a bartender, "Is this Cascade or Chinook I'm tasting?"  Of course, the bartender might then decide that it's fun to not wait on you anymore.

Smog City Brewing Company was named, no doubt, after the most iconic element of life in Los Angeles - bad air.  They are located in Torrance, in the South Bay area of Southern California, even though I have never noticed too much smog down that way.  We keep our excess smog in the San Gabriel Valley.  It sits well against the mountains there.

Smog City’s head brewmaster Jonathan Porter - great beer name, right? - presides over the brews, collects awards and works with chefs in L.A. to pair his beers with great food.

Smog City’s Hoptonic IPA goes for $7 a glass at Westside Tavern on Pico.  It was hot that day, and a good IPA is one of my favorite warm-weather refreshers, so I drank it pretty quickly.  I did take time to note the aromas and flavors of citrus and a floral hops element that I love in this style of beer.

Smog City elaborates on Hoptonic a little more, citing “the exceptional flavor and aroma of west coast hops with notes of orange, citrus peel, tropical fruit, guava and floral honey. The lightly toasted caramel malt balances the resinous hop flavors and firm, yet balanced bitterness that make this beer a full bodied hop lovers' paradise.”  I'll try to drink it slower next time.


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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

East Coast Beer With East Coast Seafood - On the West Coast

Connie and Ted's is a Los Angeles seafood place that hits the nail right on the head, according to some East Coast seafood aficionados I know.  The eatery does seafood like it's done "back East," as transplants are fond of referencing.

I loved the food, and the good marks it gets from people who like their seafood authentic are enough for me.

Looking at the beer and wine lists, it is apparent that they look for wines and brews that are more artisanal than mass produced.  By-the-glass wine offerings range from eight to 15 dollars and do not suffer from burnout of having been seen too often, while the beers are largely American small-producer craft brews from California, Oregon and a handful of other states.  The wines come from California, France, Italy and Portugal, for the most part.

The East Coast bias is noticeable only in a few of the beers.  Victory Brewing Company of Downingtown, Pennsylvania contributes a stellar pilsner that fits well with the menu.

Victory's Prima Pils has great color - a beautiful yellow-gold - with a head that is white and frothy.  The German-style pilsner has a nose that carries a bit of hops, but not as much as an IPA.  The 5.3% alcohol is easy to take, and the taste is malty with the bitter hops playing a role.  Some citrus notes come forward, too, but the malty quality is the hallmark.  A little citrus plays out on the finish, and it was a perfect complement to the lobster roll and the New England clam chowder - which is done brothy, not creamy.  I'm told this is how New England clam chowder is rightly done in the northeast.


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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Craft Beer From Milwaukee: Lakefront ESB Ale

Man does not live by wine alone - just ask a winemaker.  They'll tell you how important beer is.  Today, a bit about a craft beer from a town known more for its big breweries, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Lakefront Brewery proudly declares that their suds are "Brewed in Milwaukee for people who like beer."

A recent visit to Real Food Daily in Los Angeles put us in the belly of the organic beast.  Denise introduced me to the place years ago with the caveat, "Great food, just stay away from the bread products."  She is a person who knows her bread, so I took her word for it.  Everything else we have had there has been great - organic, healthy, vegetarian and tasty - even if seitan sounds more like something that wouldn't play with the Sunday School crowd.  Try the lentil pâté - it's to die for.

In keeping with the healthy surroundings, I scanned the organic wine list first, but was drawn to an organic beer, the Lakefront ESB Ale.  It cost $6 in a 12-ounce mug.

Lakefront bills this brew as "the country's oldest certified organic beer," made with organic malted barley and organic bravo hops.  It's a British-style ale - extra special bitter - and hits 5.8% abv on the alcohol meter.The beer pours up with a beautiful copper color and a light frothy head.  The nose is mainly citrus, owing to the hops, while the palate shows a great nutty character and has the bitter finish its initials promise.  Unlike organic bread, this organic beer fit the food perfectly and would serve very well on a shady porch after mowing the lawn or gardening.


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