April 26th, 2009 beckel
I will start by stating this is the 3rd bottle of this beer I have purchased and consumed since I first saw it on the shelves a few months ago so you can be safely assured it is quite tasty, as Southern Tier’s brews tend to be. This brew speaks to the tradition of big English ales and the hearty labor required as well as indirectly referring to Small Beers made from further runnings of the mash. I wonder if they’ve ever considered crafting one with this brew’s leftovers or perhaps more so, sharing it. This beer pours a very dark mahogany color that is very translucent though it is a bit hard to tell because of its dark shade. Creme head was over two fingers and lasted for many minutes leaving a modest amount of lacing around the glass. Aroma is quite delicious. Sweet dark malts are complimented by subtle plum and other dark pitted fruit aromas and a refreshing hint of alcohol and carbonation. Flavor is a lovely balance of sweet and bitter. Smooth caramely sweetness from the light and dark caramel malts is contrasted with some bitter flavors of the dark caramel malt while at the same time citrus is contrasted with bitterness from the variety of hops used in this brew. Though sweeter malt flavors are at the center of this beer the brewers were not afraid to add plenty of hops and it is very apparent in the many wonderful citrus and bitter flavors throughout. The body of this beer is medium and the mouthfeel is a bit creamy but not too thick. With a 10% ABV there is no question you will notice some alcohol in this beer. Perhaps it could turn some off initially but this beer does not try to hide the fact it is quite alcoholic and instead compliments it wonderfully with its solid malt and hop profiles. Not the beer for those afraid of bitterness, but if you generally like Barleywines you will probably be glad to have tried this beer as it is an interesting American tribute to English Barleywines that are traditionally more malty yet is still sure to show you in their own American way that hops have their place as well. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
April 26th, 2009 beckel
I saw some news about this beer a week or two ago and was ever so pleased to see it on the shelves of Sorella yesterday after some tasty brews at Town Hall to wrap up a relaxing 40 mile bike ride. Lagunitas made this beer to commemorate the decline of 2008 and complications of 2009 and hopes for more wisdom in the future. The bottle insists that “This is NOT a Double IPA” and rather “It’s just a good American Ale” and perhaps they want this humbleness to persist into our future. Though I can safely say they don’t appear to be toning anything down as I can smell the wonderful hop aromas of this beer calling me from my desk. This beer pours an incredibly translucent light amber color and produces a solid two fingers of pure white head that cascades very nicely, dissipating in a few minutes leaving a small amount of lacing. Aroma is of pine, a bit of citrus and further bittering hops and only a little bit of malt sweetness and floral hop notes. The flavor of this beer is quite interesting. Tastes of rich pale malts that have much more character than you find in most Pale Ales, the sweetness is wonderfully offset by the hops used that create a myriad of flavors from more bitter pine to more subtle apricot and sweeter orange citrus. From the aroma I expected a more intensely bitter brew but what it has to offer is perhaps more intriguing. The body of this beer is relatively light and the mouthfeel is very smooth and clean. This is simply a wonderfully balanced brew and after just the first sip or two I understood what they meant; this is just one good American Ale. This is really one solid ale that helps blur the lines of our American Pale Ales and American IPAs. While I would be inclined to call it an IPA who gives a damn, with a 6.33% ABV this ale can be suitable for any good American Ale fan. Though definitely more robust and hoppy than many Pale Ales out there I think this beer is a perfect accompaniment for pretty much any situation so long as your not afraid of bitterness. Though our 401K’s may be shrinking Lagunitas continues to grow and craft us more and more wonderfully creative beers. Though unfortunately this beer only comes in 22oz bombers I will certainly be picking up a few more. Give it a shot and ride your bike.