Monday, September 29, 2014

#274: Left Hand Brewing » Wake Up Dead Nitro (Imperial Stout)

Left Hand Brewing » Wake Up Dead Nitro (Imperial Stout) 
ABV: 10.2% | IBU's: 45 | Rating: 9/10

As far as trends go, the current Nitro movement is an incredibly welcomed one, especially those gaining mass release in cans & bottles. Left Hand rocked the world with their Nitro Milk Stout in 2011 and last year they took it one step further with Sawtooth and the incredible Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout.

This skull nitro pours up jet black with a swirling nose of vanilla, cocoa, bourbon and amaretto. Boozy, roasted malt flavors follow with a full, silky mouthfeel. Big notes of chocolate and dried fruits, all sweet and sticking with an unabashed alcohol finish, but incredibly smooth.

A wonderful 12 oz for big, dark beer lovers.

#273: Bandwagon Brew Pub » Sour Tripel

Bandwagon Brew Pub » Sour Tripel | ABV: ~8% | Rating: 9/10

Early last week, I found my way to REP Studio in Ithaca to record for my upcoming solo split cassette. The studio just so happens to be located above Bandwagon Brew Pub, so after a successful session, I took my engineer, and friend, down for a celebratory draft brew.

To my elation, BWB had yet another short run sour on, this time a Tripel which was brewed as a one-off for Belgium Comes to Cooperstown.

Unfortunately, the usual accompanying picture absolutely did not come out this time around, but this Sour Tripel was a glowing translucent amber with a finger of lacy, fading lacy head.

My palate gleefully enjoyed incredible fruity flavors, firmly threaded with must and Brett dryness in the finish. Throughout the glass, this tripel was incredibly juicy and drinkable with mild spice notes peaking through later on.

Another impressive brew showcasing Bandwagons resurgence thanks to head brewer, Stephen Bareford.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

#272: Abandon Brewing » Peppercorn Saison

Abandon Brewing » Peppercorn Saison (Farmhouse)
ABV: 6.0% | Rating: 8.9

I stopped into Ithaca Coffee Company's Triphammer location for a couple sliders and a pint before running a show earlier in the month. Seeing 'Abandon Brewing' on the board made for a very quick decision. This being my second trip down the road of their Peppercorn Saison (the first down at Ale House between meetings over the summer), I knew this breweries beers are living up to the positive murmurs. Abandon's master brewer, Jeff Hillebrandt spent significant time at Ommegang along with an internship at Custom Brewcrafters. I'm looking forward to visiting sometime soon...

This Saison serves up with a transparent, straw body with a finger of foamy white head. Aromatic yeasts, peppercorn, and mild must & funk emit form the enticing brew. Onto the palate, its dry with a chalky mouthcoat and heavily spiced. Smooth white stone fruit esters dance with soft, black pepper spice, and mild green pepper notes. Smooth head morphs into dry, velvet finish.

Overall, a great first dive into what may end up on my top regional breweries list...

Monday, September 22, 2014

#271: Bandwagon Brew Pub » Wet Hop Harvest Ale (Copper Ale)

Bandwagon Brew Pub » Wet Hop Harvest Ale (Copper Ale) ABV: 6.1 | Rating: 8.7

I finally made it down to 'Meet The Brewer' Tuesday at down at Bandwagon here in Ithaca, having a scheduled week off from rehearsal. Good timing too, as head brewer, Stephen Bareford had just unleashed his latest, a wet hop copper ale, packed with 20 pounds of fresh, local whole leaf Cascade hops from The Rhizome Republic, just down the road in Freeville, NY.

Between good conversation with friends, a firm, dank hop nose with hints of blood orange reels me in to this fresh brew. A firm, drinkable med-level body wields a great sweet / bitter hop balance with a twinge of dryness in the finish. Firm pine notes threaded with soft, sweet tropical notes.

Head brewer Stephen Bareford gave us the lowdown of how the folks at Rhizome connected on this brew and gave us a quick tour of BWB extremely modest brewing and aging area, which gave me far more of an appreciation for their efforts to cycle through new ideas while still keeping their flagship brews consistent.

Overall, Wet Hop was a solid hop-forward, but not overboard brew and along with the informative conversation from a personable, yet unabashed brewer, it was well worth the visit and rare Tuesday night off.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

#270: Bell's Brewing » The Oracle (DIPA)

Bell's Brewing » The Oracle (Double IPA) 
ABV: 10% | Rating: 9.3

I'd hate to try and fathom, much less try and count the number of IPAs or even Double IPA's being brewed at the moment. It's fairly astounding to see one style take off and soak in such far-stretching hype. At the epicenter though, is a plethora of amazing beer - which is why we're all hear anyway, right? Sometimes I complain or get beer-political about IPAs hype-dominance, but then I find another gem and shut rite up.

If anyone knows what they're doing with hop-forward beers... Bell's is on that list. Two Hearted, Hopslam, the aforementioned Mars, and now their seasonal summer DIPA, The Oracle makes it's way to the blog. Having Mars and The Oracle back-to-back, just shows how diverse the spectrum is on this particular brew style.

This time around, dry aromas of pine and biscuit kick things off followed up by complimentary, delightfully arid hop flavors. Resinous pine, chocked full of citrus rind and pith notes with a sprinkle of earthy threads sewn in.

An unapologetic, sipper of a hop-heads only beer that is highly enjoyable.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#269: Bell's Brewing » Mars (DIPA)

Bell's Brewing » Mars - The Bringer Of War (Double IPA)
ABV: 10.% | Rating: 9.4

The first in Bell's series of seven beers, inspired by Gustav Holst's 'The Planets' has arrived. Evolved from a trial brew called Larry’s Latest Double IPA, Mars is a big, bold, must-have brew.

Big, orange, juicy and dank citrus hop aromas plume from the glass followed up by a huge hop experience on the palate. Just when I think I may have tired of big IPAs, here comes Mars.

Robust, silky flavors packed with blood orange, pineapple, and mango all stacked up atop sweet, firm malts. Boozy esters rise further through to keep this bold and expertly delivered brew. The whole experience caps off with a sneakily growing dryness in the finish.

Overall a wonderful hop-forward dream that isn't brutally bitter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#268: Three Heads Brewing » Rye-Dye (Smoked IPA)

Three Heads Brewing » Rye-Dye (Smoked IPA)
ABV: 6.4%  Rating: 8.8

This lovely brew (one of the only 3HB I hadn't seen down my way) another gift beer I'd been eagerly anticipating since my birthday bash. After a wildly successful bottle share where one of our guests brought a homebrewed smoked IPA I just could not get over, I was on a kick and just happened to have the right follow up for the next day.

For a smoked brew, this 3HB pours up with a translucent straw body topped with lacy white head. It's grassy hop nose sets up the taste allure nicely.

On to the taste and just, WOW. Bright citrus hop flavors slam with a smoothed out mouthfeel, perfectly stoked with smoke.

Smoked beers can easily venture harsh, astringent, or overbearing in the wrong hands, but not here. Sublime balance and perfectly understated smokey notes permeate the fine hop character 3HB always brings to the table. There's a fine cheese element to it, rather than your typical campfire imagery.

Overall, a great, creative beer worth anyone's try.