Stone 20th Anniversary Citracado IPA

Stone brews a special IPA for their anniversary each year, and this year, their 20th, it’s Citracado IPA, an Imperial IPA brewed with citra hops and avocado flower honey. Like all Stone beers, the hops are important. This one is one of the hop bombs, so if you like Ruination, this might be for you. The nose is floral and citrusy, with orange and grapefruit notes. The middle has a ton of lemon and grapefruit, and sweetness from the honey over a big malty backbone that give it weight. It fades to grapefruit rind and pine bitterness in the finish, and is never subtle. The body is heavy and the alcohol is 9.0% ABV. This is a special beer, brewed for a special occasion, and it more than does it justice. This is an outstanding beer.

I give it a 4.9 out of 5.

Allagash Hoppy Table Beer

Allagash calls Hoppy Table Beer a “Dry hopped Belgian-style ale.” What it is not, first off, is an IPA. The head is very light foam, and long lasting. The nose is grassy and crisp. The middle is very hop heavy, but spicy, herbal and dry, not piney or citrusy. There is some prominent lemon in the finish. The body is light to medium and the alcohol is an easy drinking 4.8% ABV. A really unusual, and outstanding beer.

I give it a 4.7 out of 5.

Triple C Baby Maker

A double IPA from Triple C Brewing in Charlotte, Baby Maker is an American Imperial IPA. The head is light and fluffy and voluminous. The nose is lemon and pine. The middle is sublimely hoppy with orange, lemon, and grassy notes. The malt comes through in the finish as sweet, sticky bread dough, but still balanced by pine and citrus. The body is medium, and the alcohol is 8.5% ABV. A really nice Imperial IPA, and one I’ll definitely be drinking again.

I give it a 4.6 out of 5.

Amber Blaze Amber Ale

From Charlotte’s Blue Blaze Brewing Company, Amber Blaze is an American Amber Ale. It’s malty, as you’d expect. Some honey and toast in the nose. The middle is bready, and there’s a bit of lemon in the finish. The body is medium and the alcohol is a moderate 5.6% ABV. It’s a perfectly nice beer, but unremarkable.

I give it a 3.2 out of 5.

Dogfish Head Oak-Aged Noble Rot

I’ve long been a fan of Dogfish Head’s Saison-ish Noble Rot. Take it and age it in oak? I’m definitely down. It’s based on the saison farmhouse style, and then infused with grape must before finally being aged in oak for nearly a year. I originally compared Noble Rot to white wine, but once you age it in oak, it’s an order of magnitude closer. The nose is grape and a bit of yeast, the middle has grass and vanilla and is slightly tart, the finish is woody with vanilla and butter. The body is medium, the alcohol is big for a saison, little for a white wine at 9.0% ABV.

I give it a 4.3 out of 5.

Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin

Grapefruit Sculpin is a variation on Ballast Point’s sublime Sculpin IPA, with the grapefruit turned up a notch or ten. The grapefruit is definitely the signature note here, and while not overpowering, is in evidence throughout. The nose has the essence of grapefruit oils, along with some lemon and floral notes. The middle has tart and sweet grapefruit, fading to bitter rind and a hint of pine in the finish. Every bit as good as the original Sculpin, and because I personally love grapefruit, I might even like this one better. The body is medium and the alcohol is a nice 7.0% ABV.

I give it a 4.9 out of 5.

Blue Blaze Black Blaze Black Milk Stout

Lacking in vigor. Very little head, no carbonation to speak of. Nose has some slight cocoa notes. The middle has weak cocoa. There is little else here. The finish is non-existent. My overall impression is that it is flat and flavorless. The body is medium, and the alcohol is a reasonable 5.0% ABV. It may be a bottling issue that the example I got was off, or not sealed properly, but until I know otherwise, there’s nothing here to particularly recommend.

I give it a 2.5 out of 5.

Ommegang Lovely, Dark, and Deep

Lovely, Dark and Deep is a winter seasonal oatmeal stout from Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY. The nose has coffee, toffee, and a bit of cocoa. The middle is silky smooth as you’d expect from a oatmeal stout, with chocolate, a bit of orange, and oats, of course. The finish is milky and sweet, with a bit of coffee coming back at the end. The body is medium and the alcohol is a pleasant 5.3% ABV. Oatmeal stouts are one of my favorite styles, and this is a lovely example.

I give it a 4.3 out of 5.

Over The Edge IPA

From The Unknown Brewing Company in Charlotte, Over The Edge is an American IPA. The nose is slightly floral and fruity. The middle has orange and caramel. The finish is pretty much the same, with a bit of lemon coming out as well. The body is medium and the alcohol is 6.9% ABV. It’s a fine American IPA, but pretty standard.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5.