Showing posts with label hops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hops. 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, 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.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Hops Liqueur, Distilled In L.A.

This bottle of Grand Hops California Liqueur was a Christmas gift from one of my more adventurous alcohol friends.  Marge is always willing to try a new grape, style or brew.  She doesn't always turn in a glowing review but, for those of us like her, it's not about finding a new favorite - it's about the search for one.

Grand Hops is made by Greenbar distillery, established in 2004, Greenbar was the first distillery to open its doors in Los Angeles since Prohibition.  They were on the leading edge of craft spirits then and, apparently, now.

Greenbar's Litty Mathew says the Grand Hops spirit was handcrafted to bring "the spicy, citrusy flavors of hop flowers found in California IPAs."  He recommends trying it with "whiskey, rum, gin, tequila, soda… even beer."

What's in it?  I'm glad you asked.  Grand Hops contains molasses, aromatic and bittering hops, quillaja - a Brazilian flowering plant - and cane sugar.  The product is certified organic by the nonprofit Oregon Tilth, based in Corvallis, Oregon.  Alcohol hits a Port-like 20% abv.

This liqueur is unlike any I have ever had.  It smells extremely herbal - not unexpected since it is made from hops - and has aromas of pine, citrus and sour beer.  It is not a very pleasant nose, but not an off-putting one either.  Mathew calls it "funk... the good kind."  The palate brings grapefruit into a scenario reminiscent of Retsina, the Greek resin wine.  To call Grand Hops offbeat doesn't do justice to the drink or the word.  I am glad I had the chance to try it, but I don’t envision ever seeking it out again.  Maybe my opinion will change after I've had a chance to use it as an ingredient in a cocktail.

Update:  The Grand Hops label shows a recommended recipe using it with whiskey and simple syrup.  I had no whiskey in the house, so I used gin.  To sweeten it a tad I used Italian chestnut honey.  Pouring it tall with club soda (tonic water even sweeter) produced a cocktail that isn't going to make me forget about martinis, but was actually pretty good.


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Friday, February 22, 2019

It's A Wine - It's A Beer - It's Both!

The Paso Robles mainstay, Firestone Walker Brewery, was born a couple of decades ago on the Firestone family vineyard.  Adam Firestone and his brother-in-law David Walker craft a host of beers in the city that's made a name for itself as one of California's wine capitals.

Their first brews were fermented in old wine barrels, and it took two for their leadoff bottling, Double Barrel Ale.  Brewmaster Matt Brynildson now oversees the making of the suds.

They call Rosalie "the rose lover's beer."  It's part of their Terroir Project, an experiment into a marriage between beer and wine.  They say Rosalie blurs the line between beer and wine.  To make it, 100 tons of Chardonnay grapes were harvested by Castoro Winery specifically for Rosalie, with smaller amounts of Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Muscat used as well.  They used souring techniques on the beer to give it an acidity not usually found in those made with yeasts and malts.  Hibiscus flowers were thrown in during the whirlpool phase, when hops are usually poured in.  After both the beer and the wine juice were made, they were co-fermented using Pilsner malt and judicious hops.  They proudly say it's a true beer-wine hybrid.  Alcohol hits a low, low 5% abv.

I approached Rosalie with trepidation, because I'm not a fan of flavored beer.  I generally feel you can keep your pumpkin-raspberry-hibiscus beers and give me some hops, lots of ‘em.  This beverage surprised me.   It has a rich orange color, more electric than in either beer or wine.  The nose comes on with plenty of floral notes and a sour edge.  The palate shows the malt and hops as well as the hibiscus.  There's a nice acidity, a lighter feel than beer and a little more weight than wine.  I like it, hibiscus and all.


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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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