Time to dig something out of the back of the refrigerator!
“A Liquid Poem To The Glory Of The Hop” — is how Stone introduces this wonderful brew. They’ve taken four varietals of hops – Centennial, Citra, Simcoe, and Azacca – and brought the best of each to the party. There is an incredible amount of tropical and citrus flavor going on in this one. Everything from orange to lemon. I’m also sensing a slight apple note, possibly from the Azacca hops, a variety I’m not familiar with. Stone has, yet again, come up with a rather tasty brew. I do think, however, the standard Ruination may be better than this Double version.
Ruckus Brewing, of New York, NY, has hired Mercury Brewing Co., Ipswich, MA., to contract brew their extremely hoppy Hoptimus Prime, a Double IPA. And a DIPA it certainly is, at 9.0% abv. The first whiff of this one offers up a big, classic pine resin smell. The pour revealed a deep golden hue, almost verging on copper. The head wasn’t what I’d expected, being a thick, creamy off-tan color, more reminiscent of a porter or stout, not a pale ale. It held it’s head for quite some time, too. The first sip of this DIPA brought more of that pine resin to the front. The finish reveals a slight hint of tropical fruit – it’s not much, but just enough to let you know the brewmaster was thinking outside the box. The artist hired for the label work was thinking outside the box, too.
There’s an image of a Hoptimus Prime, made up of many hop cones, in his ass-kicking transformed state, instead of his green Peterbilt truck (or whatever he transforms from) “undercover” character. Had the Transformers franchise gone with Hoptimus, as opposed to Optimus, I think the series could have been WAY better…but that’s just me 🙂
So a little insight into who “Beerman” is — my day job is a professional truck driver; and my ultimate goal is to some day build one of those “epic motor home” rigs you see on the Travel Channel from time to time. I may very well end up painting it green and naming my Ultimate Motor Home “Hoptimus Prime” in honor of this awesome brew.
<> Beer Man
So I’ve been on a major high-IBU kick lately, seeking out all the DIPAs I can find. Recently Winey Woman brought home a new one for me, from Eugene, Oregon. The Pacific Northwest is known, as I’m sure you’re aware, for hops. Hop Valley Brewing has joined the hop-party with a 100IBU creation they call Alpha Centauri Binary IPA.
The golden pour from the bomber is beautiful, with a mellow pine flavor up front. The finish is a slightly sweet citrus note, but not too sweet. They’ve balanced the malt perfectly, providing enough sweetness to cut the potential harshness of the hops. Overall, Hop Valley has created a great addition to the “100IBU Club” and I only hope I can find more of this awesome brew, and soon. If you’re as much of a hop-head as I am, this is definitely one to seek out.
<> Beer Man
Sooooo good. This dry-hopped pale ale comes in at just over 5% abv, meaning you can pretty easily drink the whole Crowler yourself, which is a good thing. Mosaic, as the name suggests, is made with Mosaic hops. I like this hop variety quite a lot because it offers so many aromas and flavors, and there are as many nuances that poke through as people who experience it. In this case, I personally taste a hint of grapefruit and pine, finishing with a flavor reminiscent of my dad’s home-baked bread. You may experience something different, which is okay, since Mosaic is, as mentioned above, a melting pot of flavor.
As I got further into the Crowler (I just love that word), the flavor began to change somewhat. The pine stayed, but the grapefruit was replaced with more of a tree-fruit profile – pears and a little orange. Even deeper into the seemingly bottomless can, I started to discover a slight hint of blueberry mixing into the prevalent pine. Blueberry and pine are two of my favorite flavors/aromas, so I was super happy this beer surprised me with such profile. Garrison’s Mosaic has less in-your-face up front punch, and that’s just fine. They could have easily made this an IPA, a double even, and I think that would have been too much. I can’t wait to get back to Dover, NH to get some more Crowlers.
Sierra Nevada loves to experiment. A lot. They’ve done a whole series called “Beer Camp” that involves a 12-pack with twelve unique brews. I’ve experienced a few of those, and they were, honestly, hit or miss. I liked a few, and some others I think required a different taste. This brew, Sierra’s Harvest (number 1 of 5), is hopped entirely with one varietal – Idaho 7. A bit of Googling has revealed that Sierra Nevada is monopolizing this one. The entire first page of results were directing back to either Sierra’s own website, or other sites like BA, BSJ, and untappd (no, I have no problem giving a free plug here…we’re all friends, in it for the brews).
This is a really good brew. I’m a huge fan of single-hopping, as it lets the brewer tweak the brew to really bring out the aromas and flavors that a particular hop has been bred to offer. Idaho 7 really hits it out of the park on flavor, but aroma may be a bit lacking. The pour offered an aroma that was reminiscent of Heineken. This isn’t a bad thing, I like a Heiney or two on a hot summer day, or when I’m in the garage with my mates. I just wasn’t expecting Sierra to pour with such an aroma. The color of the full pour was a nice amber hue, with plenty of medium-sized bubbles rising constantly. The first sip was amazing. Considering I went into it with pretty low expectations based on the aroma, I was more than surprised. There’s a solid, fresh-picked orange flavor, like the kind you buy from the side of most roadways in Florida. Along with the up front orange hit, a bit of stone fruit pokes though, a Georgia peach-type flavor. Very little pine resin, but something new came through on the finish. Tea. Green tea. I’ve never experienced tea as a hop quality, but I rather like it. Somehow you wouldn’t expect to pair beer and tea, but it works. Sierra claims that it’s more of a black tea flavor. I’m no expert on tea (that’s Winey Woman’s other domain, but alas, Celiac Disease keeps her from enjoying the majority of beer), but I’d say it’s more green than black tea. Regardless of what tea quality you find here, I think you’d have to agree that this is one super smooth brew. Half way though the pint-and-a-half bottle in my favorite “super-tankard,” and I’m not looking for the end. I’m hoping this one keeps going, a bottomless beer, if you will.
As Sierra’s first of five special editions, each focusing on a different use and/or varietal of hops, they’ve gone above and beyond. I was able to procure brew number five along with this one…but numbers two, three, and four are still MIA in my area. I’m hoping I can get my hands on them…
This is an odd one — it’s a brewery in an industrial complex. They’ve opened up shop in the space they could find, but it certainly hasn’t put a damper on their creativity for beer. The tasting room is basically the front twenty feet of a steel building, but they’ve done a great job making it into a place to hang out if you’re in a group. Throwback offers 4oz tasters of their beers on tap for $1 each, handing you a plastic “money” token for each brew you sample – probably the most unique and, quite frankly, awesome system I’ve ever encountered. There’s a giant blackboard behind the bar listing their brews, and a simple system of check marks telling you what’s on tap. I had two samples, Donkey Hoté and Ginger Snap – a DIPA and a ginger stout. Both were simply amazing.
After finishing both tasters, I decided to take home a “growlette” of Donkey Hoté. Throwback offers four options for take-home. They’ve got 2L growlers (basically a standard 64oz growler) in glass and stainless, and 32oz Growlettes in glass and stainless. I decided to splurge on the stainless growlette (at the urge of Winey Woman) since it was super cool. All four choices come equipped with swing-top stoppers, another awesome feature. Throwback is a part of the Hobbes Farm in North Hampton, about a mile from the current brewery location. Their plan is to move the operation down the road sometime this spring, offering visitors a much “nicer” beer garden and brewery experience, plus a chance to chill with Jericho the donkey. I’m certainly looking forward to this move happening, and I can’t wait to make another visit to get some more Throwback!
<> Beer Man
Sorry for the lack of posts in recent weeks. Beer Man and I have been doing a lot of beer and wine related stuff, which hasn’t left us a lot of time to write about beer and wine related stuff! We plan to rectify this ASAP, so you should keep an eye out for upcoming posts that will include
-a beer class with Great Rhythm Brewing;
-a weekend of wine and beer tasting up at the Woodstock Inn and Brewery in NH;
-a review of Wine Awesomeness, the newest and most awesome wine-of-the-month club;
-a note on our plans for growing our own Hops;
-Beer Man and Winey Woman Take Manhattan; and
-a whole bunch of reviews on brews and wines we’ve been drinking lately.
So stay tuned, we have a lot in store for you!
Winey Woman 🙂
<> Beer Man
India Style Pils Lager. Brewmaster Mike has taken boatloads of Citra hops and mixed them in with 100% Good Vibrations, according to the label, anyway. Whatever Good Vibrations are, they seem to taste pretty damn awesome. The hop goodness just rolls around the palate, offering a unique bitter-sweet profile. The flavor changes as it warms up, losing some of the bitterness from the hops, and opening up to a fresh grapefruit flavor. I’m quite saddened to only be able to get this one in 12oz bottles, as I think I could session quit a bit of this one. Overall, Brewmaster Mike has done an amazing job with Citra-Mantra.