Been too long

First off, I’m sorry to have been away from this for three years. I could make up some bullshit excuse, but honestly, I just grew tired of it. Life has started to even out a little lately, so I’m going to give this another try. Instead of trying to force myself into multiple posts a week like most blogs, I have decided to try to maintain a once a week update, but fully knowing that’s not going to happen and not beating myself up over it. 

I’m happy to announce my new endeavor, Sunday Suds. In this reinvented blog, I’m going to take part of my Sunday, when I have the free time, to sit back, relax, and review a brew. Really take my time and enjoy every sip. I realized that over the last few years, I was drinking beer as a way to unwind after the workday, and wasn’t actually tasting the beer. I think that at least a few Sundays a month if I can just focus on the beer I’ll be able to better enjoy my weekday drinks as well. So, for better or worse, here we go!
Sunday Suds #1. January 20, 2019. 

As you may recall, one of my favorite ways to buy beer is because I like the name or the packaging art. For SS1, the name won me over. Scottie’s IPA. For a period of my youth, I was known as Scottie (or Scotty, I was a never really sure how people thought to spell it), and while that’s gone, one or two people still call me that on occasion. It may be from a bygone era, but I still embrace the nickname when I have to. But enough about my past.

Moat Mountain Brewing Co., in the Mount Washingotn Valley town of North Conway, NH recently brought this one to market. They report that this is the brewer’s favorite recipe that, over the past eight years, has been honed to balance American and Australian hops. I think they’ve done a fantastic job. This isn’t a very strong smelling beer, giving off only a slight grapefruit accented pine nose. The first sip really opens things up, though. The pine gives way to a pleasant and mild green melon flavor and a slight effervescence that reminds me of the newest wave of haute-couture IPAs, the Brut IPA. (Writer’s note – I’m still on the fence about those). 

After a few minutes to warm up from my slightly-too-cold beer fridge, the melon yields to a pleasant hop resin mouthfeel. It’s the right amount. Sometimes the resin sort of sticks to your palate and it dictates the entire beer. This rolls around a little then wears off, allowing the other flavors to be experienced as well. Moat reports this brew to be only 45IBU, but it comes off feeling more like a 65-70. I’ll openly admit that I understand IBU as far as being a 0-100+ scale, but I have no clue how they measure or rate or whatever. I just base my feelings off of other 40-50IBU beers that seem less bitter than this. If anybody out there in interwebsland can enlighten me, I’d be happy to learn something new. 

Further into this beer, the flavor is still evolving, with mild lemon and grapefruit coming to the forefront while leaving the melon behind. As the temp comes up more, the resin subsides slightly, leaving a lemon-y tang with the pine. Overall, Scottie’s IPA is an amazing and eclectic beer that deserves any and all praise it receives. The flavor has evolved drastically, and I have thoroughly enjoyed this latest offering from Moat Mountain. 

I would 100% recommend Scottie’s IPA to anyone looking for a solid IPA that really shows what the style can offer.

<>BM
P.S. WineyWoman just handed me a Vermont Maple Puffed Corn, uh, thing, and it really complemented this beer!

Go Go Racer 5!!!

Yep, I’m 31 going on 10, if you couldn’t tell…lol. Anyway, tonight’s pour is from Bear Republic Brewing in Healdsburg, CA. Quite honestly I picked this one up Because Racecar! There’s a faint checkered flag background behind the huge yellow number roundel. Bear states right on the back of the label that this is a big beer from a brewery who’s motto is “Bigger is Better.” They’ve certainly hit the nail on the head with this one – and driven it straight home to collect the checkered flag it deserves. Straight away, the aroma is a balanced mix of pungent resin with a super floral note; and the first sip lets that floral continue into awesome flavor. The resin aroma gives way to some interesting fruit flavors.20160328_172103.jpg Very clean and refreshing, orange and grapefruit come charging up to round things out nicely. Despite being a “bigger is better” sort of IPA, it’s still very approachable, something even a novice IPA drinker could appreciate, I think. Overall, this is definitely one of the best IPAs I’ve had, and considering I picked it up on a whim because I liked the label, it’s amazing!

<>BM

NxS IPA

Here’s a good one – Stone Brewing’s brewmaster has turned to one of his idols to create a one-of-a-kind IPA – Sierra Nevada Brewing. I’ve said it many times, but here it is again – both Stone and Sierra LOVE playing around with experimental brews, and now that they’ve teamed up, they might have “blown the bloody doors off.” NxS has so much going on, it’s simply incredible. I’ve never tasted anything like it, honestly. They brewed an IPA which was then split 50/50 into rye and gin-infused bourbon barrels for aging, then mixed that with an identical IPA — I think. The description on the bottle is a bit confusing, and I think seeing a “family tree” style drawing might make it easier to follow where everything went, and when. Somebody create Beer Ancestry, now!! 

20160201_171904.jpg
Being a HUGE fan of rye whiskey, that’s obviously the first flavor that comes at me. And it’s all there. I’ve had plenty of other whiskey and bourbon barrel aged brews, but this takes the cake. It’s amazingly well-balanced, super smooth, and there’s no harsh finish you get on some of them. Once the rye subsides, the army of hops comes charging forward. They’ve used Magnum, followed by Amarillo, Chinook and Cascade to create a unique mixture of bitter, floral, citrusy, slightly herby, and pleastly resinous. I know that sounds like most of the typical descriptors for hops, but it’s true – they all shine individually; but also combine at various stages on the palate to create some new flavors. The finish is super smooth – it has an almost vanilla flavor, reminiscent of a quality porter or stout. In closing, this is likely one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted, I’d absolutely pick up many more bottles in a heartbeat. I would love to see how this one ages, despite being an IPA – which should absolutely be consumed as fresh as possible – I think it might age 3-6 months very nicely. 

<>BM

Banded Horn Brewing – Veridian 

Well, it’s been a while. My apologies on that…pretty much hit Thanksgiving week and everything “normal” went straight out the window. Now that we’re a full week into 2016, I feel like things are finally calming down enough to focus on some good beer. So here we go!

20160107_171548.jpg
My first review of the new year is from a small brewery I’d never heard of in Biddeford, ME, despite having been through there a number of times for work. Banded Horn Brewing, despite being small and relatively unknown, is doing something right. Very right. Veridian IPA is described as a combination – Verdant, Viridia, and Veritas. Lush, green, truth – more or less. While the beer is not green, luckily (though green eggs and ham with green beer would be fun), it’s certainly lush, and that’s the truth. There’s a really nice tang to this one, it sits right on the middle of my tongue. The nose is super light, mostly a hint of mild citrus with a slight herbal tail. Working through my glass, this brew opens up nicely, releasing a wonderful floral flavor. Overall, Veridian IPA is an awesome beer, and I can’t wait to try more Banded Horn, and visit the brewery.
<>BM

Islamorada Beer Company, Islamorada, FL #Islamoradabeerco

I came across this brewery on a total fluke. WineyWoman and I were in Miami Beach, FL, for a few days, visiting with friends from Germany and Holland (I know, that makes no sense, but just roll with it)…We wandered into a small hole-in-the-wall liquor store on a side street between Ocean Ave and Collins Ave, just to see what they had to offer. They had tons of generic beers, an equal amount of wine, and then a cold case of singles and 6-packs to go. In this case, we discovered a lone row of Islamorada Beer Company (IBC) Sandbar Sunday. The name rung a bell, as the following day our plan was to go to the Keys. One quick Google search (ain’t smartphones grand?) and we knew exactly where the brewery was located.

image

The following morning we picked up our rental car, and headed out on the 75-minute drive south from Miami Beach. If you’ve never been to the Keys, you need to go. Once you get past some of the more built up areas, especially in Key Largo, things only get more beautiful as you go south.

image

IBC is located in a small single-story building on the side of Rt1, and you’d likely miss it except that it’s the yellowest thing in the world. Seriously, Big Bird isn’t this yellow. Anyway – we arrived about ten minutes before they opened, so we took a short walk two blocks to the Atlantic Ocean and drool over the beautiful day we had.

image

Upon returning to the brewery, the door was unlocked and we were welcomed in by a wonderful young lady named Crystal. Right away the conversation was easy going and the beers were being poured. That day we were offered seven tasters, including a bunch of their pilot batches.

image

Every single brew we tried was off the charts awesome. From the basic Sandbar Sunday, a great brew for typical southern Florida weather (read: hot and sticky), to their Pump Key pumpkin beer. Yeah, who’d expect to find a pumpkin beer in Florida – surprised me, for sure! The one beer that stuck out in my mind – so much that after we spent the afternoon at a beach resort Crystal suggested we check out, we went back and bought a half growler to bring home – was No Wake Zone, a pilot batch ale brewed with coconut and Key Lime. I seriously thought about this beer all afternoon as we sat on the beautiful white sand, soaking up the sunshine.

image

I knew it was a risk trying to get a growler home on an airplane, even in checked baggage. I was concerned that the pressure changes due to being 32,000 feet off the ground might cause the glass to break; or the TSA agents might fancy a drink while searching luggage…Luckily everything went fine – my bag wasn’t searched, the glass was strong, and the beer (over two weeks “aged” here in New Hampshire) was just as good, maybe even better, than when it was fresh.
No Wake Zone, a coconut and Key Lime ale, is incredible. I was a little unsure of how coconut would work in a beer, but I’m happy to report that IBC knows what they’re doing! The nose isn’t overly powerful, just a basic ale aroma – it smells like a beer. I can’t sense any coconut on the nose to let me know what I’m about to get into. Only a very slight hint of lime says “hey, get ready for some fun!” And what fun it is! That first sip releases all sorts of flavors. The coconut comes rushing to the front, filling my whole palate with a smoothness I’d attribute to having a beer on nitro. That superb silky mouthfeel, with the added benefit of coconut to round it out. After that, Key Lime shows up to the party – fashionably late, but still welcomed. It adds a slightly sweet tang to the finish, just so the coconut doesn’t get to hog the whole palate. Deeper into my first glass and I’m starting to pick up on a slight coconut aroma being released. It’s not strong but does allow the flavor to expand slightly – the way red wine breathes as it sits in a decanter or large glass. I’m going to be a good boy and save the rest of my 32oz bottle for tomorrow, as much as it pains me. I know I’ll enjoy the rest of it if I wait a day.

image

-Beer Man

Dogfish Head – 75 Minute IPA

Here’s a new one – a maple syrup- finished, bottle-conditioned IPA. Right on the  bottle they say sometimes 90 is too much and 60 is too little, but 75 is perfect…they’ve got that right.

The nose on this one is very much traditional Dogfish IPA, sort of a musky aroma. After that, all bets are off – the maple comes through really strong, but not overpowering. As much as I like 90-minute, I find the finish to be harsh, resulting in my only drinking one at a time – not something overly sessionable. This has a similar underlying flavor, but the sweetness of the maple cuts the finish down by a ton, making a big bottle easy to drink in its entirety. This brew is the perfect “Sunday Sipper” when sitting on the couch with friends, watching your favorite television program (for us, it’s F1 racing today), or just relaxing on your own. Regardless of where you’re at when popping this bottle, you’re in for an awesome experience!

BM

Rock Art Brewery – Small Batch – Black Currant Saison

This one’s a bit different. Ok, it’s a lot different, actually. Rock Art has created a beer the color of beets, but with the flavor of currants. It looks a bit like a traditional cherry soda, with it’s thick head and incredible color. This one doesn’t give off much aroma, but the flavor is all there. There is absolutely no malt or hop profile with this brew, it’s entirely fruit. I think I have to call this style of beer an acquired taste. It’s not bad, in fact I quite like the surprise change; but if you are expecting a beer with traditional hops and malt, you’ll be disappointed. Overall this is an excellent beer from a wonderful brewery, and if you’re in the mood for something completely off the wall and different, this is a great place to look.
<>BM

Foley Brothers Brewing – Spruce Session

My second foray into Foley Brothers beer is their Spruce Session seasonal pale ale, brewed with Vermont spruce tips. Like my first bottle of Foley, this one isn’t a letdown. This time, the pour doesn’t offer any hints as to what’s awaiting the lucky soul who popped the cap – there’s no giveaway aroma that would suggest a brew with an ingredient as special as spruce tips.

In case you’re now scratching you head, wondering wtf I’m going on about, here’s a crash course on spruce tips — In the spring, when conifer trees start to push out new buds, the fresh growth is a little bright green pinecone that is edible. People pull on their wellies, go trudging off into the woods carrying a bucket, and pluck the tips much like they’re picking berries. Once the tips are harvested, brewers use them like hops, adding them at various points in the brew process.

wpid-20150706_172733.jpg

So back to the beer. Foley has done an amazing job balancing the pine and citrus from the tips with their malt. I recall having another spruce tip ale a few years ago, and it was like eating a pine tree. This one is so much better. They’ve created an extremely fresh, bottled about 3 weeks ago, mild beer with an amazing flavor that you don’t normally find. I highly recommend this beer to anyone who may be looking for something new to sit back and enjoy.

<>BM

Sierra Nevada – Southern Hemisphere Fresh Hop IPA

YAY!! Another one of the five!! This marks the third of Sierra Nevada’s string of five explorations that I’ve been able to find. Their second offering, Fresh Hop, features hops from New Zealand. Yep, Kiwi hops.
The Southern Hemisphere is known for a few things, including toilets that, when flushed, the water circulates in the opposite direction from here above the Equator, and seasons that are flipped; Spring up here is autumn down there. Sierra bought a whole pile of freshly picked hops from a farm in New Zealand this past spring, had them dried and shipped to the U.S., all within a week, then dumped them into the brew just in time to impart new flavors not typically experienced in North American beer.
Speaking of which, it’s pretty damn awesome. There’s a floral note about mid way though each sip that I’ve never tasted before. It perfectly segues the citrus nose into the malty finish, something that doesn’t always happen so nicely. Despite this beer being labeled as a “100-Day IPA – Drink Fresh, Don’t Store” brew, and the bottle I found was dated April 27, and it was August 31 when I consumed this, so we’re closer to a full four months, it still tastes awesome. If you’re able to find a leftover straggler in your local bottle shop you should snag it for sure. Overall, another awesome submission.
<>BM

Pellegrini Zinfandel

Beer Man and I were pleasantly surprised by this Zin. Zins for us are sort of hit or miss. Sometimes I like them, sometimes he likes them, sometimes we both like them. I tend to love old vine zins most of all, which usually means I find regular zins a little lacking.

image

Not this zin! The Pellegrini is nice in that it has a lot of the flavor characteristics of an old vine (oak, smoke, dark dark berries, dry), but it is a lighter more user-friendly version. This is a wine you can drink with food, sip all night or both! Both Beer Man and I have thoroughly enjoyed this bottle and were a little sad to see the bottle pour its last drop. This was another highly delicious bottle shipped as part of our Wine Awesomeness membership.

-Winey Woman 🙂