April 12th, 2011 beckel
Today I have what is sure to be a fun brew from the always creative Mikkeller and BrewDog. Once again working together to craft beer in BrewDog’s Scotland brewery. This time around things are a bit different, as this is no regular collaborative brew. I Hardcore You is a blend of Mikkellers I Beat yoU, a highly hopped Imperial IPA, and BrewDog’s Hardcore IPA another nicely hopped Imperial IPA. But that wasn’t enough, after blending this brew it was further dry hopped another two times. Making the aroma I got when pouring this brew no surprise.
Pours an opaque maroon hue with about two fingers of off white head and modest lacing. Smells of fruity, earthy and spicy hops that meld nicely with sweet malt and smooth but discernible alcohol. Robust citrus hits my tongue first, ladling on orange, apricot & peach followed by rich toffee malt esters, plenty of bitterness and a wide array of hop esters, from gentle herbal and spice notes to more intense floral and fruity flavors. A truly beautiful play between sweet malt characters and massive hop additions. Though you will quickly notice the alcohol in this 9.5% ABV brew the intense hop flavors and bright malty sweetness do a very good job of making you forget. So much so that I have finished more than half of this 11.2oz bottle in the past 10 minutes or so. Body is very light for the style and the mouthfeel is right in line, coming off very clean and surprisingly delicate. If you enjoy hops, lots and lots of hops, this brew will certainly take you for an enjoyable ride. Yet it is not over the top bitter, creating a very pleasant experience as far as I’m concerned. Over all an incredibly hoppy beer with a lot of light pitted fruit esters and some intriguing herbal and earthy esters. Those looking for serious hops and plenty of sweet malt and alcohol to back it up, look no further. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
November 24th, 2010 beckel
Today I have what is sure to be an intriguing beer, for better or worse. Bashah is a collaborative brew made by two fantastic breweries; Brewdog ofÂ Fraserburgh, Scotland & Stone ofÂ Escondido, CA. Both breweries are big fans ofÂ collaboration and have made at least a couple beers together. This time around Stone went to Scotland to manifest this intense Imperial Black IPA (or Cascadian Dark Ale). First brewed in early 2009 I was very happy to see this beer on the shelves of South Lyndale Liquors a few months ago and couldn’t help but pick it up. According to the bottle this is batch 378 and it was bottled on 25/11/10…unfortunately that doesn’t make any sense as that would mean it was bottled tomorrow. Regardless I always appreciate well labeled bottles, perhaps they intended to suggestÂ consumingÂ it before or after that date. When purchasing this brew a friend at the store noted that he had sampled Bashah cold and couldn’t stand it, but had allowed it to warm and found it very enjoyable. While IPAs are one of the few ales I suggest consuming colder this is a good example of how important it is to allow complex brews to warm before serving. I have let this beer sit out for about 15-20 min and I think that will be just about right for serving.
Upon pouring a pitch black hue spews from the bottle that is completely opaque and slowly creates a solid two fingers of tight, light brown bubbles. After settling for a few minutes very little lacing is left but a millimeter or two of residual bubbles persist creating a very nice presentation. Massive aromas of dark malt provide esters of coffee, tobacco and notable bitterness. Fruity hops are obvious but play a supporting role to the intense malt profile while adding some additional bitter esters. Esters of wood, tootsie rolls (minus the sweetness) & a slightly sour note on the nose areÂ reminiscentÂ of barrel aging, but this version of the ale is not (earlier this year two Reserve editions were released, each aged in different whiskey barrels with different fruits added). Dark malt flavors are so diverse it is hard to pin them all down. Intense coffee, roasted esters & fruity hops are most notable.Â The contrast between malt and hop bitterness isÂ trulyÂ lovely and surprisingly not overpowering. Body is medium, but surprisingly light as is characteristic of the base style.Â Mouthfeel is smooth, but has a slightly chalky dryness that lingers a bit. Though Bashah boasts a solid 8.6% ABV it is almost completely hidden by the intense malt profile and notable bitterness present in this ale. Gentle sweetness and soft chocolate esters add nice contrast to the strong roasted and bitter esters present creating a surprisingly well rounded ale. Unquestionably the most complex India Dark Ale I have ever sampled and one of the strongest brews of its style. Overall an impressive ale that while not hop forward, does an amazing job playing with dark malt and solid hop profiles. If you enjoy the new(ish) style of Cascadian Dark Ales and are looking for a delicious, complex example of the style this brew is definately worth picking up, even with its ~$10 price tag. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
June 16th, 2009 beckel
Today is a bit of a special post with a very special brew. I found this brew on the shelves of The Four Firkins months ago and though it was quite expensive I couldn’t pass it up. Paradox is a limited series ofÂ Imperial Stouts aged in various whiskey casks by the fine Scottish folk of Brew Dog. This particular bottle is part of batch 11 that was aged in a 1987 Macallan sherry cask and is the perfect brew to commemorate thisÂ website’s 1st anniversary which occurred on Saturday as the cask is of the year of my birth. I was unable to enjoy this brew on the proper anniversary as I had planned because I was out of town completing the MS150 charity ride for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Minnesota which was a blast. This beer pours a completely opaque mat black and produces just over a finger of attractive toffee colored head that remains for a few minutes. As usual this beer has been sitting out for quite some time, about an hour now and is just the right temperature to enjoy its complexities as the bottle encourages as I do not live in an igloo. Aroma is of subtle creme and toffee hints as well as more obvious coffee notes, a bit of roasted malt, a nice hint of sherry and a dose of strong but not overpowering alcohol. Flavor is complex. Flowing from sweeter malt flavors that create toffee and creamy hints to a robust sherry flavor with moderately alcoholic scotch notes finishing smoothly with roasted malts that linger in your mouth until the sherry comes back just in case you forgot about it. When swirling it in my glass the body of this beer appears quite heavy though it is not too hard to drink having a very clean and smooth mouthfeel. The more I drink this beer the more the sherry wood notes come through and the more the roasted malt becomes subdued, quite interesting. Because of the sherry and scotch notes of this brew you will probably be aware that what you are consuming is rather alcoholic and at 10% ABV this brew fits the bill though it is not over the top. I always enjoy seeing people experiment with brewing and this is definitely an interesting and tasty brew but for the price tag of over $10 for a 11.2 oz bottle it is doubtful that I will be experimenting with much more Paradox in the near future, that would be if I could find it (thank you distribution laws, limited production and shipping expenses). If you are looking for something fancy and are a fan of Imperial Stouts and oak aging I would encourage you to check out the Paradox series, if you can. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
November 28th, 2008 beckel
Today we have some beer from a brewery I have wanted sample for some time. Brew Dog from Fraserburgh, Scotland produces unique, craft brews out of the UK and doesn’t care if you drink piss beer and don’t appreciate their brew, or their beer labels, which have produced some astoundingly absurd controversy that makes it easy to loose a little more faith in humanity and how those in power want to “protect” us. On to the important stuff. Punk IPA pours a surprisingly light orange yellow color, producing less than a half inch of white head that dissipates rapidly. Aroma is full of citrus and floral hops, grapefruit and orange are identifiable as well as a slight bitter alcohol scent that reminds me a bit of wine. The flavor of this ale is very intriguing. Citrus hits the tongue first followed up by a light but surprisingly dominate bitter kick. Some of the light flavors in this ale throw me off a bit because it is not what you get in a typical American IPA, but from what I have learned this seems to be typical of brews from the UK. The bottle states “Post modern classic pale ale” and I must say it’s a pretty straight on description. The body of this beer is very light for an IPA and the mouthfeel is rather clean. If you like a hoppy ale that is big on citrus and aren’t afraid of some bitter accents this would be a dandy choice. I wish Brew Dog the best in their struggles against Alcohol Focus Scotland and the Portman Group as well as any other regulatory bodies they may have to deal with in the future. Give it a shot and ride your bike.