Tasting the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

October 5, 2010

The American India Pale Ale, or American-Style India Pale Ale has become one of the most popular, widespread, and brewed beers in North America. The rich pale malt backbone found in the depths of an aromatically bitter and hop-crisp beer has enchanted people all across the continent. There is only one problem with this – there are probably close to 1,800 breweries in NA, and there are probably about 2,000 different Pale Ales! The Pale Ale craze is becoming a bit overwhelming; whether it is an IPA, Pale Ale, American version or a hybrid, there are just too many pale ales out there.

So what’s a beer lover to do!? Well, obviously taste them all and find your favorites. Because that may take to long, I’m going to start you off in the right direction with one of the most well rounded and best constructed American IPA’s on the planet. The Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. Too many pales are either one sided, to aggressively hopped, not hopped enough, or are poorly built. The Two Hearted Ale is at the top of my list because it hits all the right notes in perfect harmony. It doesn’t get carried away with this or that, it is just plain good. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Alpine Beer Company’s Nelson

September 17, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I love San Diego. Not just for Ron Burgundy, but for its amazing breweries! There is a slew of big name craft brewers whose beers are flooding the U.S. market right now, but recently I got the chance to enjoy a smaller, more local brewery’s beer – the brewery is Alpine Beer Company – and the beer was Nelson. Yes, Nelson is a man, and a beer. A Rye India Pale Ale to be precise.

The name is representative of the hop variety primarily used in this brew; from New Zealand comes a citrusy and spicy hop called Nelson Sauvin. It is used in both the brewing and dry hopping for this beer, as well rye malt is used to add a smooth, uniquely malty character to the beer. I really had no clue what to expect; I had never heard of Alpine, nor was there much detail of the beer on the bottle. But I knew that this was a west coast IPA at 7% abv with 60 IBUs. How bad can it possibly be? Or better yet, how good could this be? Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Church-Key Black IPA

August 16, 2010

Do you know where Campbellford is? Chances are that unless you live in that area of rural Ontario, you don’t. But you may want to visit. Its the home of the Church-Key Brewery, one of Ontario’s most innovative craft breweries, but also one of the lesser known ones. Their beers rarely make it into the LCBO, and pub distribution is relatively limited. Their regular lineup of beers is great, but its their seasonal beers that I love. The first Church-Key I ever had must have been the Holy Smoke, a peat-smoked scotch ale, and it is still among my favorites.

This though is one of Ontario’s first attempts at the Black IPA, or Cascadian Dark Ale – however you want to classify it. And really, I couldn’t be happier with it. Not only is this a great example of a Black IPA from Canada, but I think it better suits the style than most of the American versions I have had! The Black IPA is supposed to be exactly that, a dark, roasty IPA. So it should still have hoppy fresh flavors, but exhibit roast, toast, dark malt and nut or cocoa flavors. Most of the American black IPAs are a Black American Pale Ales – very hop focused, black, but medium to soft on the roast, with almost no creamy nut flavors. This though strikes a better balance in my mind, and should set the precedent for the style. Read the rest of this entry »

Sam is Keeping Dogfish Head On Point! This 120 was Not Up to Par.

August 3, 2010

Myself and many other beer aficionados, as well as Dogfish Head lovers have been waiting anxiously for the next release of one of Dogfish’s most extreme beers, the 120 Minute IPA. The 12o is an extension of the 60 and 90 Minute IPA which have both received worldwide acclaim. The 120 though is a different beast. This beer is boiled for 120 minutes rather than the typical 60, is aged for over 2 months, is 18% abv with 120 IBUs, and sells out faster than any other Dogfish beer.

Today Sam Calagione, DogFish Head’s founder and BrewMaster, announced on the Dogfish Blog (BlogFish) that him, and the other quality control experts at Dogfish were not perfectly satisfied with how this batch turned out, so they will not be selling it to the public. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Southern Tier 2XIPA

August 2, 2010

From upstate New York comes the Southern Tier 2XIPA; their Double IPA. Southern Tier was one of the breweries whose beers showed me that real flavor can exist in beer. Their line of Imperial Stouts, the Blackwater Series, has an astonishing range of flavors from Creme Brulee to Chocolate. But most impressively is that their core lineup of beers fit the styles so perfectly with magnificent flavors and character.

Southern Tier’s Standard IPA has been available at the LCBO for several years now, and as such has been one of my go-to IPAs. This though is their Double IPA, the 2XIPA. It is up to 8.2% abv from 6.5, has richer and more soothing flavors, but is not aggressively more bitter. Its a masterful combination of sweet juicy malts and wide round fresh hop bitterness. The beer shows great earthy character and a smooth gentle mouthfeel. Everything about it is right, from the bite to the quench – it all works. Read the rest of this entry »

Tasting the Beaus Screaming Beaver Oak Aged Angry IPA

July 28, 2010

A month or so ago the guys at Beau’s were kind enough to send me a bottle of their brand new Vrienden, as well as their Screaming Beaver Oak Aged Angry IPA. The Screaming Beaver is the third installment in Beau’s Wild Oats series of beers; all one off organic beers brewed with no regard for convention, and plenty of imagination. This one is an Oak Aged Double IPA – a beefed up version of their spring seasonal, the Beaver River I.P.Eh.

The Screaming beaver was dry hopped and oak aged, comes in at 8% abv, 60 IBUs, and when available was in a 750ml ceramic bottle. This version is no longer around, but I expect another Double IPA will find its way into Beau’s experimental lineup of beers at some point. Double IPA’s, or any hop-focused beers are really picking up steam right now, and in Canada we are just starting to catch up to the hoppy beer revolution that was spread throughout the United States. Lets see how Ontario will fair.

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Quick Tastes of the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

July 26, 2010

The Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is a staple beer for me. Its a beer that I can look to when I need to be refreshed, satisfied, entertained, perplexed, relaxed, or when I just need a good beer. Cause it’s always good – thats why its a staple for me. I am always in awe of how Dogfish is able to achieve such a perfect harmony and balance of rich malty flavors and pungent fresh hops. Its just remarkable.

The 90 minute IPA is the 60 Minute IPA‘s bigger brother, both utilizing a continuous happing method made famous by Dogfish Head. Rather than the brewer adding 1, 2 or even 3 larger hop additions during the brewing process (in the boil), Dogfish Head adds small amounds of the hops once a minute, every minute, and in the case of the 90 Minute IPA, for 90 minutes! This creates an IPA that is perfectly bitter, amazingly fresh, and potently aromatic all at once in a sublime and seemingly effortless fashion.

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