Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Kill Ugly Radio Double IPA
This sucker has been rattling around in my collection for years. I probably should have cracked it open a couple of years ago, but there’s no time like the present, so no sense in waiting any longer.
The pour starts without much head, but a slightly yellowed froth flexes a bit before settling to a lace. The clarity is initially impeccable, though the latter half of the bottle has sediment, with sparse carbonation (probably due to some slow seepage or cap decay). The color is burnished copper in the middle – a real shiny penny glow – with some soft caramel orange around the sides.
The nose is a surprisingly malty, with rich molasses coming forward, but soon giving way to overripe apricot and dried pineapple aromas. The mouthfeel is surprisingly light and not at all cloying or burly, as the ABV might indicate. A very even grassy twang hits, before pine and tobacco cross the middle of the palate. The finish rolls into dry apple skins and there is a breath of alcohol, but no wallop despite expectations.
This bottle has been cellared for at least four years, and it’s pretty mellow for what I was expecting to be a pretty bold brew. Certainly, a maximum of three years in the dark would have been better than the 50 months I unintentionally gave it, but it goes to show that Lags constructs hardy beers.
This will likely be my last beer review from the Great State of Texas. I am moving back to New York after six months of sampling some stellar brews down in Dallas. So, while my last beer in Texas is not a Texas beer, I thought it fitting to review a big beer, since everything is bigger in Texas.
Boston, MA/Windsor, VT
Leviathan Imperial IPA
The pour is pugnacious – a dense orange-tinged head detonates and rests for a while at an inch before descending to a rocky half-inch. The color is polished copper with beautiful clarity and very nice orange tones. The effervescence is lively, with serpentine strands of fine bubbles gyrating up the glass.
The nose is floral and piney as expected, but not too aggressively so. A fine grapefruit aroma sifts its way in there as well. There is a gentle malty smell – like saltwater taffy – behind all the hoppiness.
The mouthfeel is excellent. It is not nearly as gummy and cloying as I thought it might be. There is a wonderful sere quality to it which provides a clean look at the flavors without pulling a Popeye pucker. Warm alcohol notes are certainly prevalent – there is no denying the 10%ABV tag that this beer carries – but there is also a creaminess to the brew that most IIPAs don’t have. Certainly, the hops are bitter and citric and piney, but even non-hopheads might appreciate the initial softness of each sip.
This is a big-ass beer, to be sure, and hopheads are sure to salivate between every saliva-sapping sip; at 122 IBUs, it’s off the charts. However, it’s not just a hopheader, this beer is worth a try. Also, that creamsicle head leaves a wonderfully craggy lacing.
This Russian-style Imperial Stout was aged in bourbon barrels and is a limited release from our local brewery. I’ve always loved Brooklyn’s offerings–as well as respect their 100% wind energy-run brewery–and have a great deal of respect for Brewmaster Garrett Oliver. I split a 750mL bottle of this three ways at George Keeley, which was perfect, but this review was written on the back of my beer list at the end of the night and transcribed by Rade.
Brooklyn Black Ops
The beer pours like syrup–absolutely opaque black and slightly viscous. THe head is a remarkably deep vermillion and tan. The nose has a lot of alcohol, you can tell right of the bat that this is a big beer. There is a lot of chocolate and molasses and a touch of caramel and a faint raspberry note, very rich and sharp like a cognac. The sip is surprising to begin, there is no alcohol bite but lots of deep dark chocolate and hops without much smoke and no real burn. the molasses is more evident, coming across as a full malt attack that coats the mouth. The finish is initially smooth with a faint biscuity hop kick followed by an almost severe shot of hibiscus or juniper alcohol. Awesome all round.
I’d heard there was a Dogfish Head tasting at the Whole Foods Beer Room yesterday, so I called Adi and had him meet me there with my growler. How can one turn down DFH? It’s the hophead’s heaven, off-centered beers, we’re in Deleware, etc,etc. Anyway, the extremely bearded guy behind the counter pointed out that there was, in fact, no tasting and that he did not know who posted such a fallacious and mendacious rumor on the World Wide Web. We were not the only ones duped; others entered asking the same thing.
Not ones to let a growler and a trip to the WFBR go to waste, we started perusing. I filled my growler with Captain Lawrence Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA and Ad went for the Sixpoint Bengali Tiger. We also grabbed a double-deuce of Avery Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest Lager which I’m very excited to try. I had been very impressed with Avery’s Maharaja, so I thought I keep the Avery wheel spinning. Now, without further ado:
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co
Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA
Out of the growler and into the glass, the beer has a very nice, lasting, all-white head with outstanding and very steady carbonation. The liquid is crystal clear through an elegant copper hue through which light passes beautifully. The nose is almost all citrus and sticky florals—a real wallop of hops. The flavor echoes the nose, with grapefruit dominating to near acidity which is really just the warm alcohol notes firing up. The alcohol is almost overpowering but evens out into a malty finish, prompting another sip to verify that it does, indeed, end on notes of caramel.
Avery Brewing Co.
Maharaja Imperial IPA
I’m trying Avery’s Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale. Purchased at the Houston Whole Foods (along with a Chelsea B.C. Oatmeal Stout growler), the IIPA is pretty unique. It’s a pale ale for sure, with an aggressively hopped aroma (102 IBUs!) and a deep cloudy color like marigold. The head pours clean white and is not heavy–and doesn’t last as long as it should–but the brew leaves a really nice lace all the way down the glass. The ABV is high (9.65) and there is a certain amount of alcohol in the mouth but there are still some noticeable citrus notes throughout. Slight hints of caramel persist through the finish but, overall, I think the high ABV overpowers a bit. I like the creaminess of this nearly opaque ale, though there are more than enough IPA options that won’t leave you feeling as though your teeth are being dissolved. Worth trying for hopheads, but one bottle is probably enough.