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.
October 20th, 2010 beckel
Today I have what is sure to be an exciting brew from the fantastic brewers of Stone. Though unfortunately unavailable in my market it is easilyÂ attainableÂ a shortÂ trekÂ away in Wisconsin. For their 14th anniversary Stone decided to do what they do best and go with an IPA but this time around they decided to take a more English approach hence the Emperial moniker. Largely inspired by their trip to England to learn more about historic IPAs this Imperial IPA is likely anything but. Brewed with all English ingredients and even Burtonizing (hardening) their water. This ale is sure to be a treat.
Pours a lovely bright, yet paleÂ tangerine hue that is completely opaque. Over three fingers of tight white head are quickly produced and fades after a few minutes leaving a small amount of lacing and a decent amount of residual carbonation on the surface of the brew. Smells of bright citrus hops with notes of lemon, orange and peach. Robust herbal and earthy hops play nicely with the fruit esters and malty sweetness rounds off the aroma nicely. Solid bitterness and dry alcohol are notable but not overwhelming. Flavor starts with tongue biting bitterness followed by massive herbal and earthy hop esters that are complimented by orange and other citrus esters. As you continue to drink the sweet malt slowly reduces the bitter bite but simply can not stand up to the massive hop profile leaving you with an intense bitter aftertaste. As it warms the malt starts to shine creating a greater deal of balance which is much more enjoyable. Leaving you with a nice blend of earthy, citrus and bitter hops left to play with sweet malt and surprisingly little alcohol esters. Mouthfeel is quite carbonated but dry and the body is medium. If you ignore the intense bitterness this ale is almostÂ reminiscentÂ of an well hopped Belgian Strong Golden Ale or Saison due to the serious earthy and herbal hop esters that one will often get from the yeast strains used in these styles. Even though this ale comes in at a serious 8.9% ABV it is barely evident in the flavor making this one surprisingly drinkable brew. An enjoyable ale withÂ a diverse hop profile that you don’t often see. If you enjoy herbal hops and sincere bitterness this might just be the beer for you. Not what you would expect from the across the pond, but a lovely display of some classic English hops and a nice tribute to a brewery that makes so many wonderfully hopped brews. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
May 12th, 2010 beckel
As the wonderful Stone Brewing does not distribute to my fine state of Minnesota yet I was lucky enough to get this brew from a lovely acquaintance my friends from The Beer Genome Project introduced me to on our Dark Lord Day trip named Sarah. While not an unobtainable brew by any means I am always happy to consume anything from Stone and as a massive fan of their Arrogant Bastard Ale I have wanted to try this brew for some time. As usual this cleanly illustrated, gargoyle laden, 22oz bottle (2009 Release) has a delightful paragraph on the back that proceeds to thoroughly insult those unworthy who dare attempt consuming this fine beverage. Onto the important things. Pours a deep dark mahogany hue that is relatively translucent, though you will only notice if you hold it up to the light as it is quite dark. Two fingers of full off white head blossoms from the brew and lasts for a few minutes reducing to about a millimeter around the surface of the beer and leaving a small amount of lacing. Aromas of dark sweet malts, caramel, and soft plum are present reminding me of a rich Barleywine. Surprisingly gentle hop notes, likely due to age as this beer is roughly 6 months old. Strong flavors of molasses, plum, alcohol, toasted malt and a solid hop bitterness as well as gentle notes of citrus, pine contrast with sweet malts giving this bitter ale a surprising level of synchronicity. Body is on the heavy side and the mouthfeel is full but enjoyably clean. With a 10.5% ABV this arrogant ale is certainly no joke, particularly if you are consuming the bottle on your own. Definitely a solid ale that reminds me of a bitter barleywine with a bit of extra hop flavor. I am now very curious to see how different the hop presence is in this brew when it is first bottled. If you enjoy Strong Ales or Barleywines and aren’t opposed to bitterness this should be right up your alley, provided your worthy. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
Arrogant Note: When looking up information related to this brew I discovered that a company called Carlsbad Gourmet makes a line of Stone endorsed seasonings based off a number of their brews including hot sauces that reflect the entire Arrogant Bastard line. I know I’m late to the game but all i can say is fuck yea! I need to get these. All of them. Soon.
January 6th, 2010 beckel
Here I hold one of the most intriguing and illusive collaboration ales of 2009 with a mere 20 cases making their way to my state of Minnesota. This bottle was brewed and bottled in Norway at the inventive brewery of NÃ¸gne Ã˜ with the help of the wild brewers of Jolly Pumpkin and always intense Stone Brewing Company. While I was unable to sample this ale last year when the first batch was brewed at Stone I am very pleased to have the opportunity to sample this the 2nd time around. Most of the unique ingredients used in this brew are local to the regions of the three breweries including Michigan chestnuts, white sage from Southern California, and Norwegian juniper berries. Both Stone and Jolly Pumpkin also brewed this ale on their setups this year but I do not believe either will make it into my local market unfortunately. However if you live near California or Michigan you might be lucky enough to find some. On to the good part. This ale pours a very opaque dark brown hue that appears black until you bring it to light. A relatively tight light brown 3 finger head is slowly created but quickly opens up and fades with in about 3 minutes leaving only a small ring of carbonation around the surface of the ale. Aroma is quite interesting with a herbal spirit like quality that i believe is coming from the juniper berries and somewhat reminds me of a gin but with different esters. A modest amount of alcohol is noticeable as well as gentle roasted notes. Flavor is very unique with strong herbal notes of sage, caraway and juniper easily showing their way through the solid malt profile of this ale. Finishing with a delicate nuttiness and a bit of alcohol. The combination of malted barley, rye and oats delivers a wonderfully clean and smooth mouthfeel but frankly I wish I could taste them a bit more over all of the herbal notes present in this ale. Clocking in at 8.5% ABV this is certainly a winter warmer and an easy one to drink at that with a relatively light body for the style. Over all this is a rather sweet herbal ale with very little bitterness present but enough roasted esters to give it a bit of contrasting flavor. An interesting and creative ale with a multitude of ingredients that certainly shows the skill and creativity of the brewers. If I manage to stumble upon a bottle brewed by Jolly Pumpkin I would be very curious to see what some aging in their lovely funky oak barrels might do to this recipe. While I am still in search of a Holiday Ale I particularly love I will give this ale plenty of credit for potential. If you are a fan of herbal holiday ales and dig juniper berries this might just be the ale for you, if you can find it. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
February 16th, 2009 beckel
Holy crap am I excited. Here before me I have a glass of Arrogant Bastard Ale from Stone Brewing Company out of Escondido, California. Stone is not available in my state of Minnesota and though I have had the opportunity to sample their India Pale Ale this most coveted ale has avoided my grasp. Luckily for me I was inÂ the land of Wisconsin this weekend where they do distribute Stone, for an awesome bike race on an ice covered lake. Though I’ve never walked and fallen so much in a bike race in my life it was a jolly time complete with a bonfire on the lake afterwords and much beer was brought home. This ale pours a very dark ruby hue that almost looks black if you don’t put it near light. When put to a light some gets through but very little. Head is as massive as this brew is arrogant, producing a solid three fingers plus of nice slightly tan off white head that remains for many minutes. Aroma is marvelous, simply bursting with different scents that make me want to sip this ale all the quicker. Strong floral hop tones complimented by wonderful sweet but heavy and robust malts and some nice bitterness. There is a tiny bit of alcohol on the nose but it mostly smells like a complex well crafted amber ale that is heavy on both hop and malt. Boy am I hungry for this beer. Flavor is no real surprise, more malt heavy than the aroma but it’s all there. Deep hoppy bitterness that is well balanced though not hidden by strong malt flavors ending with a bit of sweetness to cleanse the palate but then bitter again in the after taste. People always comment upon the intensity of this ale and surely they are correct but I almost expected it to be more unruley. This ale does a marvelous job of showcasing what one can really do with a bunch of quality hop and malt if you are not afraid to experiment. There are so many flavors in this ale I won’t even try to list the notes I detect. Unquestionably one of the best beers I have ever had the opportunity to enjoy even with its simple 7.2% ABV. If you are a fan of big adventurous beers, particularly hoppy ones (not to diminish the massive malt profile of this brew) you have no excuse not to try this beer. If you do not like seriously flavorful ales then please, as the label suggests (less politely) stay away. Give it a shot and ride your bike.
October 21st, 2008 beckel
Stone Brewing from Escondido, California has a very good reputation that precedes it for making flavorful beers that have nothing to hide, and with such a bad ass logo they couldn’t hide if they wanted to. As one of the breweries I was hoping to find in Wisconsin I was glad to be able to purchase their India Pale Ale even though it was the only beer of theirs available at the store, I always appreciate a good IPA. This beer pours a rather transparent copper orange color with some sediment present. Produces about an inch and a half of frothy white head that lasts for a few minutes. Wonderful sweet floral hop aroma hits the nose, followed by sweet orange scents and finally a tad of bitterness and alcohol. Flavor however starts off with some nice hop bitterness that transitions into a sweet floral flavor, leaving your mouth with a smooth sweet balance of floral hops, sweet malt and some hop bitterness. With a 6.9% ABV this brew does a wonderful job covering its alcohol content with a mix of floral and bitter flavors, with malt playing a rather neutral role simply sweetening the beer a bit and adding to its marvelous balance. Now I’m jealous and want to travel to a state where I can get more Stone! This is one damn good beer, a bit on the floral side but full of hoppy goodness none the less, good thing I got a six-pack. Mouthfeel is medium and the body is a light medium. If you are used to flavorful beers you will likely find this beer quite drinkable. This beer is undoubtedly brewed for those who love hops and will certainly be enjoyed by anyone who prefers a quality IPA. Give it a shot and ride your bike.