Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ninkasi Brewing Company - Hop Cooler Citrus IPA

Orange ya glad ya drank it?
Here's a prime example of why I love living in this most awesome beer city, Portland, Oregon...

I picked up a bomber of Ninkasi Brewing Company's seasonal Hop Cooler Citrus IPA at the grocery store the other day.  As the clerk was checking through my items, she asked me how I liked the Hop Cooler. I told her that it was new to me. She then proceeded to tell me that she had conducted her own side-by-side taste test between Hop Cooler and Hop Valley Brewing's Citrus Mistress.

"How did they stack up?" I inquired.

"Well, I would have to say that the Citrus Mistress is definitely more juicy than the Hop Cooler. Both are solid beers, but the Mistress delivers more on the citrus hops flavors for sure."

We then engaged in a chat comparing the two Eugene-based brewers and their regular offerings while she finished checking out my groceries.

See what I'm talking about? People in this burg know their beers. I could randomly pluck folks off the street and 50% of them would do a better job with this beer blog than me. This is a craft beer town. THE craft beer town. So, what did I think of Hop Cooler? Let's do the rundown.

The beer poured from bomber into my pint glass a slightly hazy, golden orange color with an off-white head. The head rose up to a finger thick and exhibited good retention. A full, thin cap of foam was left behind throughout the entire drink.

Aroma was --as expected-- citrus hops up front. Orange. A little grapefruit. A hint of pine. Caramel malt  and some floral notes detected with my nose stuck right down there on the rim of the glass.

Taste followed the nose. Primarily citrus hops as advertised. Not a big blast of citrus, though. I wouldn't say this beer is any more of a citrus bomb than many other IPA's that don't openly proclaim their citrusiness < whoa, is that even a word? I scare myself sometimes with the nonsensical verbiage. Orange, lemon, grapefruit. Some tropical fruit. Some leafy, herbal notes.

Medium mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Nice malt/hops balance with remnants of both left on the palate at the end.

Overall, this is a nice, well-balanced, citrusy IPA. No off-putting, fruity adjunct flavors detected. Also, no prominent alcohol detected in this 7.2% ABV beer. I like it and would definitely drink it again. I'm giving Hop Cooler a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4 and a rare Droolie. The Wonder Beagle was begging of this one hardcore and almost got my glass when my back was turned.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Knee Deep Brewing Company - Midnight Hoppyness

The pursuit of hoppyness...
I love surprises, especially when they are beer-related. Yesterday, I pulled a bomber of craft beer from the bottom shelf of the trusty, rusty Kenmore and couldn't remember buying it. Where did it come from? When did I buy it? Did aliens put it there? Was I sleepwalking in a bottleshop again? I don't know!

The mysterious bottle of beer was Midnight Hoppyness from Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn, CA. Seriously, I really have no recollection of buying this beer. I have no idea where I bought it or why I bought it. Such is the life of a craft beer aficionado. Beers just popping up all over the place for no good reason. Let's see how this one tastes, shall we?

What the heck? I was surprised by the appearance of this brew when I poured it into the glass. I didn't inspect the label first. It's an Imperial Black Rye IPA. Oh, my. It poured into my glass an opaque, motor oil black with a creamy, clumpy, mocha-colored head. The head rose up to more than a finger thick and dissipated slowly. Lumps and chunks of sudsy lace were left behind all over the glass.

Aroma. Wow. Lots going on in the nose with this beer! Roasted malt and citrus hops. Resinous pine. Cocoa. Dank weed. Some smoky char notes. Vanilla. Toffee.

Taste delivered a big, bitter, IPA hop profile right up front. That was followed up with roasted, mildly smoky malt and a subtle rye spiciness. Grapefruit. Pine. Burnt caramel and dark chocolate. Wow, again. This is a big boy (or girl) beer, I'll tell you what.

Slightly full mouthfeel, but not nearly as viscous as it looked. Good carbonation kept it from going into the realm of a stout. Just a hint of the 9.5% ABV was detected on the finish. A sophisticated mix of roasted malt and huge hops flavors were left behind on the palate at the end.

DAY-UM! I'm sure glad I picked this beer up from wherever the heck I found it! It's awesome! What craftsmanship. Such an eclectic mix of flavors and I'm impressed that they didn't get muddled together. Instead, Midnight Hoppyness delivered a parade of taste that I absolutely enjoyed to the very last sip. This brew is probably not for everyone, but I loved it. 4 crushed cans out of 4.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ex Novo Brewing Company - The Most Interesting Lager in the World

Stay craft beer-y, my friends...
Do you know what I would love? Do you? Okay, you probably don't know and don't care, but I'm going to tell you anyway. What I would LOVE is to walk down the cold case aisle of my local grocery store and see dozens - nay, HUNDREDS - of fine, premium, tasty craft beers lined up in single pint cans. Holy frijole, I would fill up my cart with them! I would stack them up in my fridge like a veritable cavalcade of AWESOMENESS!

Let's face it, a 22 ounce bomber can sometimes be too much beer for a casual drink. An entire six pack, while taking down the individual serving size a notch, is a considerable investment AND commitment of valuable refrigerator real estate. For me, a pint is just right! And I've already sung the praises of craft beer in cans on many previous posts.

Cans are lighter, more easily transported, chill faster, better for the environment, easier to store, AND keep out 100% of beer-destroying light. Personally, I'm happy to see that more and more craft brewers are packaging their brews in cans. There's a tiny section of the cold case in my neighborhood New Seasons with pint-sized singles and it has slowly increased in length over the years. My dream may eventually come true!

Tonight, I am drinking a beer from Ex Novo Brewing Company that came in a pint-sized can: The Most Interesting Lager in the World. As the moniker would imply, it's a Mexican-style lager. The can advises that it was brewed with Vienna and Pilsner malts with a hint of flaked corn and Saaz hops. "Don't fear the lime," the can proclaims. ABV is 5.0% Sorry, I'm skipping the lime. I'm not afraid, but I think limes belong in margaritas, not beer.

The beer poured into my pilsner glass a light, golden yellow color with a bubbly, white head. The head dissipated quickly leaving only a thin ring around the rim of the glass. Only the thinnest film of lacing was left behind. Rows of pinpoint carbonation marched continuously up from the bottom of the glass.

Aroma was light, spicy hops with a hint of grain. No appreciable corn or sour dishrag skunkiness noted in the initial olfactory intake, which are the common scents that emanate from most adjunct lagers.

Taste was a nice, refreshing balance of grainy malt, yeast. and light, lemony hops. This beer went well with the Moroccan chicken breast I had for dinner. Perfect brew for a spicy meal, especially when you don't want a beverage to complete with the flavor of the food.

Light bodied with excellent carbonation. Smooth, crisp finish.

Overall, this is a nice little lager. I would say it's like a high-quality Corona. No lime necessary. I'm giving The Most Interesting Lager in the World a respectable BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 crushed cans out of 4. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Oakshire Brewing - Ride Your Bike Double Red Ale

I want to ride it where I like...
When I was a kid in the 60's and early 70's, the bicycle was THE essential piece of kid equipment. We didn't have fancy-dancy hoverboards or skateboards (that actually worked) or helicopter moms to drive us to the mall...heck, we didn't even have a mall

If you didn't have a bike, well, you were a kid loser. Remember, we didn't have cell phones and our parents rarely let us use the house phone. (Cue my mom voice: Who do you want to CALL? Someone in CHINA?) In order to have any kind of fun, a kid had to get on his/her bike and search the neighborhood for other kids to do stuff with--we called in "playing" back in the day. A two-wheeled mode of transportation was the fastest and easiest way to get from point A to point B. If you were on foot, you usually got left behind.

I was a helluva lucky kid. In 1969, my dad presented me and my twin brother with identical Schwinn Coppertone Stingrays. Dudes! My bike was the absolute height of status in all of Kiddom! We were the envy of the entire block. I totally tricked mine out with a tall sissy bar, a tiger-striped banana seat and a Batman license plate. I even got one of those bitchin' (that's how we talked in 1969) wheelie bars. Man, could I pop a MEAN wheelie! What the hell am I talking about, you ask? Check this out...

Bikes were absolutely NOT cool when I was in high school. Seriously. Only dweebs and total geeks rode bicycles in the late 70's. I traded that bike in for a muscle car and never looked back. Actually, I didn't literally trade it in. That poor, neglected bike rusted away in my parents garage for a decade or two. I'm pretty sure it was sold at a garage sale. Looking back, it was certainly a bit of a betrayal on my part, and I sure wish I had that Stringray back in my possession. I'd look mighty snazzy riding it up to New Seasons and back to fetch a sixer of fine craft beer.

The reason I'm waxing nostalgic for my trusty Stingray is the beer I picked up today. Oakshire Brewing's Ride Your Bike is a Double Red Ale. I picked up the bomber for $7.95 at Hollywood Beverage. Is it a bitchin' brew? Let's find out...

The beer poured from bomber into pint glass a deep amber color with a creamy, tan head. The head rose up to a full finger thick and dissipated at a moderate rate. Webby lacing and a clumpy cap of foam were left behind.

Aroma was citrus hops and earthy, biscuity malt up front. Hints of pine and some floral notes.

Taste delivered a PNW hops profile ASAP. Bitter grapefruit rind and resinous pine. Followed up right behind the hops bitterness was a rich, earthy, bready malt flavor. There was a lack of sweetness, but I found that to be the best thing about this red ale. The 8.6% ABV was apparent, delivering some noticeable hotness on the finish.

Medium to slightly full mouthfeel. Good carbonation. Very easy to drink. Nothing cloying, of thick or heavy about this beer. I like it!

Overall, this is a damn nice beer! I don't often drink red or brown ales. I'm an IPA guy, primarily. Ride Your Bike delivers some big hops flavors that satisfied my big hops cravings. Good stuff, and I'm giving this beer a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gigantic Brewing Company - Kiss the Goat Black Doppelbock

Could it be...SATAN?
I had a bad experience with a goat when I was a little kid. I was about five years old, growing up in Nebraska, and my parents brought me and my twin brother to our aunt's farm for a visit. Actually, it was pretty awesome. She had a pony (that she let us ride) and every kind of barnyard animal that a proper farm should have. 

I was having a pretty good time playing in the barnyard, chasing the ducks and petting the pony, until an ornery goat decided that my sweater looked positively delicious. That damn goat ate about four inches off the back of my sweater before my clueless parents realized that the loud shouts from the barnyard were screams of terror rather than peals of laughter.

I'll never forget the blank, malevolent eyes on that goat, and those sharp, stubby horns. I have no doubt that goats are the agents of pure evil sent to earth by dark forces to terrorize cute, innocent, tow-headed children; devouring their sweaters, and their souls. Man, I hate goats. *shudder*

Despite the lingering childhood trauma, I recently purchased a bomber of Gigantic Brewing Company's Kiss the Goat Black Doppelbock. Now, Gigantic Brewing usually comes up with some very interesting beer names and I have often sung the praises of their awesome label art. That said, I must point out that the theme of Kiss the Goat is rather...dark. Well, dark isn't really an accurate descriptor. SATANIC. There you go. The name and label art conjures up something pretty SATANIC. Here's a quote from the label:

"A doppelbock emblackened. Perfect for midnight masses, dancing naked in the moonlight, and malevolent altars. Turn up the Sons of Huns, toast the dark, now turn and kiss the goat!"

Okay, that's pretty damned creepy. Damned being the operative word. Let's see how Kiss the Goat tastes, shall we?

The beer poured from bomber to glass a deep, dark, mahogany color. The beer was fairly opaque, but reddish amber hues were evident when I held the glass up to the light. The mocha head rose up to a full finger thick and dissipated slowly. Clumps and sheets of creamy lacing remained in the glass throughout the entire drink. Truly a lovely brew upon presentation. Nice!

Aroma was toasted malt and cocoa up front. Hints of roasted filberts and dark fruit in the background.

Taste followed the nose. Toasted, biscuity malt. Chocolate and dark fruit. Cherry and dates. Roasted nuts. A hint of smokiness. Loads of delicious flavors rolling around in there--no goat. No hint of the 8% ABV, either.

Medium mouthfeel with appropriate carbonation. Creamy finish with the substantial malt flavor left behind on the palate at the end. Smooth. No harsh.

Overall, this is an awesome beer. I really, really like it! Hey, I would say it's almost worth going to hell for it! I'm giving Kiss the Goat a BeerGuyPDX rating of 3 1/2 crushed cans out of 4.