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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

#267: Allagash Brewing » Victor (Belgian Strong Ale)

Allagash Brewing » Victor (Belgian Strong Ale brewed with Cabernet Franc grapes)
ABV: 9.0% | Rating: 8.9

Allagash was one of those beers that I started getting into when I first was getting into craft beer... but then they dropped out of distributing in Upstate NY. Over the last few years, I've always grabbed a bottle of White or Black when I can find them, even scoring a bottle of 2012 Interlude that I'll be cracking into shortly. Luckily enough, some friends from NYC gifted me this bottle of Victor, for my birthday. Low and behold, two weeks later Allagash is back in Upstate and the fridge is filling up.

Victor, the Cabernet Franc counterpart to their Chardonnay-brewed Victoria, pours up with a copper, bubbly body, crowned with a thick, lacy ivory head. A highly aromatic nose, blooming red grape, pepper, and yeast notes.

On to the palate, this beer is quite elegant. Sweet, soft grape and grape skin flavors are abundant, flirting with notes of caramel and even white pepper. Incredibly easy drinking for a 9% - honestly drinks like a session beer, but with far more complexity of course.

Victor inspires thoughts of a more demure cousin to Dogfish Head's hybrid gallery - mildy yeasty, that's tastefully tart and spicy.

In addition to this being a solid brew, it benefits the St. Lawrence Arts Center, through the not-for-profit group which is renovating the granite and slate church the center calls home.

Good beer with a good cause. What's not to like?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

#266: Fairport Brewing » White Buck, Whipple Bros., Peter J. IPA, Apollo 8 (visit)

After far too many times passing by Fairport Brewing on holidays or late at night on the way to or from visiting family, I finally had a brief moment to catch up on what my former hometown was offering up as it's local brews between lunch and dinner with my sister & crew.

White Buck (Wheat Ale) ABV: 4.3% | IBUs: 20 | Rating: 8.0
A start. Big banana bread flavors, lively carbonation, mild yeast notes and even a bit of green pepper threaded through. Easy finish with a sharp start.

Whipple Bros. Ale (NYS Local Ale) ABV: n/a | IBUs: n/a | Rating: 8.2
A solid, biting bitter of an ale with a clean mouthfeel. A firm, traditional american pale offering.

Peter J. IPA (American IPA) ABV: 6.0 | IBUs: 60 | Rating: 8.5
An inviting and interesting IPA that isn't trying to be west-coast. Sweet malts peak through the plentiful hops with notable nectarine flavor and nutty hints, even sunflower seeds. A worthy variation.

Apollo 8 (Double IPA) ABV: 8.0% | IBUs: 90 | Rating: 8.4
For the finale, we have an all-Apollo hopped-DIPA. A smooth, growing bitterness and dryness spills from the deep, hazy amber brew, filled with boozy esters in the finish. Mild pith and rind notes continue to rise throughout. This one shows it;s IBUs and ABV. One for the straight-ahead hop fans.

In addition to their own brews, Fairport also has Galaxy Brewing's phenomenal Andromeda IPA and an offering from Keuka as well. Interesting to see more small breweries offering other neighbors brews on their line. I'm a big fan of collaboration in whatever form it takes, so kudos there as well.

Looking forward to how this brewery develops!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

#265: High Water Brewing » Hop Logic (DIPA)

High Water Brewing » Hop Logic (DIPA) | ABV: 9.5% | IBUs: 45 | Rating: 8.9/10

Over the weekend, I was in Rochester, catching up with my sister & family in the states from the UK. We decided after a morning & early afternoon of kids-focused activity, it was time for an adult beer and beverages. Tap & Mallet, here we come.

My first brew was a solid, low ABV Berliner-style from Jacks Abby (review to come). Choice #2 was quite a bit more difficult with T&M's plentiful draft offerings. My partner & I ended up tasting their DIPA, Barleywine, and Baltic Porter - all of which were worthy candidates for a final round. To my own surprise, I passed up two of my favorite stiles for the Double IPA. It hit the spot just perfectly.

Lush, heavenly sweet malt flavors slammed with wonderful ruby red grapefruit notes - like hop nectar. Highwater packs 5 types of hops into each batch and you can tell they've done their homework, whichever they are.

Big notes of ripe apricot and resin, make way for subtler notes like vanilla. Not sure how the bottle compares this draft choice, but I'll be looking to find out soon.

Hop Logic is powerful, strong, but expertly well-balanced. A hop-head's treat, but still accessable to any bold beer drinker. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#264: Bandwagon Brewery » Sour Blonde

Bandwagon Brewery » Sour Blonde (Aged - Wine Barrels, 4 Months)
ABV: 6.0% | Rating: 9.0

It's been... a while since I've posted about Bandwagon. Over the last year or so, I've personally found many of their draft offerings - their own and others - inconsistent, young, or even occasionally disappointing. I hate to hate on local, so I keep my blog mouth shut from time time to time. Their beers that are on, are really dead on, so I always keep a hopeful, open palate.

It was time for some post-birthday shenanigans with some very close friends who recently turned 21 and were up for exploring a bit of what downtown Ithaca had to offer for beer.

I snagged a flight of top notch brews from Cortland, Dogfish, Troegs, and the only flight that included this sour as I will always try a sour, from any brewer. I was glad I did this time around especially...

This fantastic sour kicks off with an earthy funk of Brett and backed up with firm, supportive malts. The funk really gets in there, in the nose, taste and exhale.

Notes of white peach, sour white grapes, and wet hay make for a killer tartness amongst heavy easters and a chalky dry finish. Way in the back there's even notes of sour dark cherries and red wine notes.

Once again, when Bandwagon is on, they are really on. A sour worth seeking out.

Monday, August 25, 2014

#263: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp » Chico King (3 Floyds Collaboration)

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp » Chico King (3 Floyds Collaboration)
ABV: 6.5% | IBUs: 45 | Rating 9.2 (Draft @ Ithaca Ale House)

Another birthday Beer Camp brew, down at Ale House, this time in collaboration with the lauded 3 Floyds. My only 3F experience so far has been a De Struise collaboration down in Philly. It was fantastic, but I'm still highly jealous of my mid-west pals with ample experience.

A hazy exterior and fluffy heads reels me in. This unreal pale is incredibly smooth, packing hoppy, cool, and spicy flavors. Backed by high carbonation and a big malt backbone, this King is rustic and dry. Lots of dry resin notes in fact, augmented by serious rind notes and amped up herbal and pine.

A solid hop heads dream...

In the bottle... the story is a bit different, as with the Yonder Bock. Still comes off a hazy amber (with a bit more bubble) and thick white head, but not nearly as complex and boisterous as it's draft counterpart. The big malt and huge hop notes are rolled way back and a bit lack luster.

Not sure if my palate wasn't into it this time around, but the story brewing here seems to be check these Beer Campers out on draft & bottle/can for the full experience.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

#262: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp » Yonder Bock (Cigar City Collaboration)

Sierra Nevada / Cigar City » Yonder Bock (Tropical Maibock)
ABV: 7.7% | IBUs: 45 | Rating: 9.2

Continuing down the Beer Camp rabid hole, I took my birthday day-off lunch down at Ithaca Ale House, which to my pleasant surprise had both Yonder Bock and Chico King (coming soon...) on draft. This Maibock takes a tropical nod with the use of aromatic and highly sought after, Equinox aka 366 hops.

Served up in a 10 oz., Yonder Bock hits the stage with a huge malt nose of sweet ripe red apple, pineapple and other tropical fruit notes.

This one is on, so incredibly tasty with a big,wet malt start, drying finish and flip of spice in the tail. A wonderfully balanced brew yielding a dry mouthcoat of pleasant spice and silky mouthfeel.

Flavor notes of guava, passion fruit, and ripe apple are countered by that touch of hop bitterness & spice that Cigar City does so well.

The can spells a bit different story. Yonder Bock pours out a deep, bubbly amber with a fluffy, lacy off-white head. Bright tropical aromas are immediately apparent followed by flavors of smooth, bitter hops and slight booze notes in the finish. Silky, but dry once again in the mouth, but the flavor is a bit tipped on the minneral / hop-forward realm comparied to draft.

Overall, on draft is far preferred, bringing out much more malt beauty, but a solid collaboration regardless.