Boston Brewing Company calls Samuel Adams Dark Depths a Baltic IPA. It’s certainly dark! There are heavy roasted grain notes in the nose. There’s a burst of pine and lemon from the hops in the middle, sweet caramel and a bit of chocolate from the malt in the finish, and a piney bitterness right at the tail end. This is a big flavor, heavy bodied beer and a nice treat for someone who enjoys a medium amount of bitterness in a strong porter or stout.
It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a local North Carolina beer, but today’s entry from Mother Earth Brewing right in in NC is Weeping Willow Wit, a Belgian style witbier. It certainly smells of Belgian yeast, and there is lemon and coriander to spice up the flavor. You wouldn’t expect a wheat beer to have an overpowering flavor, and this one doesn’t. It’s spicy and sour, but fairly subdued. The sour notes lingers a bit too long and are a bit odd to my taste, and it really isn’t one of my favorites.
Hoptimum is an Imperial IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. There’s a thick meringue-like head and the nose is earthy with the faint scent of pine needles. The flavor is balanced with piney bitterness offset by sweet grapefruit and caramel. It’s another really big beer at 10.4% ABV, but the alcohol really only makes its presence known right at the finish, along with sweet grapefruit and light vanilla. This beer is really well balanced all the way through, but the levels are high, so to speak.
I just can’t resist the Belgians. Grand Cru is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale from North Coast Brewing in California. It’s been brewed with agave nectar and aged in bourbon barrels. Strong is probably the correct word for this brew as it’s a huge beer at 12.9% ABV. The head dissipates quickly and the nose is all Belgian with loads of fruit. This is a full bodied beer, sticky sweet with apple and oak, with a hint of tartness at the end, and a strong presence of alcohol and oak throughout. This is a very different beer, and one that I think is probably best matched with a strong cigar as an after dinner drink. The flavors are odd together but not in a way I find unpleasant.
Wyld is a USDA certified organic extra pale ale from Uinta Brewing Co. of Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s got a nice creamy head and a very light watery body. The scent is floral and grassy, and the flavor is light and of fairly bitter toasted grain. Another nice super light summer beer for those who like some bitterness.
Rye Mad Hatter India Pale Ale from New Holland Brewing Company of Michigan is one of their Mad Hatter series. It pours a dark amber, with a huge, dense, long lasting rye head. It’s heavy on the malt which gives it extra body and fullness, and smooths out the usual crispness that I associate with rye-based ales. The nose is toasty grains, and there’s some spiciness and citrus in the middle with citrus and floral hops at the end. It’s fairly bitter, but the rye also makes it a bit more complex than the usual IPA, which I find nice. This is a good beer.
Double Trouble Ale is an Imperial IPA from Founder’s Brewing, and wow, is it turned up a notch. It isn’t one of those heavy-yet-balanced double IPAs, this is an IPA with the volume set to 11. It’s a nice golden amber in the glass, with a thick meringue-like head that sticks around for awhile. The nose is orange and lemon and pine. It does have a lot of body, and a lot of alcohol. (9.4% ABV) In the middle is more citrus, with a quick flash of heat from the alcohol followed by an intense bitterness that’s got some spice right at the end.
I’m a big fan of Dogfish Head’s off-centered ales, and Festina Pêche is another unusual fruit beer in the Berliner Weisse style from the fine folks in Delaware. It isn’t a sweet beer at all, but quite tart, to the point of sourness. The yeast and the peaches are the main source of the flavors and aroma here, with not a lot added by the malt or hops. The yeast adds an tart apple flavor, and some funky Belgian scents, and the peach concentrate adds, well, peach scents and flavors. It’s a fairly light beer too, at 4.5% ABV, so it’s an outstanding refreshment on a hot summer’s eve.
For it’s 10th anniversary, Terrapin Beer Co of Athens, Georgia has a special release, and it’s a Belgian Strong Ale. I couldn’t pass up a bottle, as if you’ve been reading long, you know I love Belgian beers. It pours a nice golden amber with a foamy head that doesn’t last long. The nose has honey and rye and just a tiny hint of that Belgian yeast. The middle has orange and some cherry notes, and the finish is slightly spicy, warm with bit of alcohol and just a bit sticky. This is a medium to heavy bodied ale, and a big one, at a very precise 9.969% ABV, according to the bottle. (10% ABV according to Terrapin’s website.) This is a nice, full, heavy ale that has a lot of flavor, but none of the bitterness, burn, or the strong sour notes that turn some people off. I think this is a really nice all-around big beer.
What better beer for a bonus IPA Day review? Founders Brewing Company calls Devil Dancer a Triple IPA, and justifies the labels by endowing it with a monstrous 112 IBUs, and indeed, it is massively bitter. Heavy pine resin and sweet sticky citrus in the nose. The middle is a hop bomb, pine and lemon and grapefruit rind dominate, with some caramel malt in the background More pine and citrus and some alcohol in the finish. This is another huge beer at 12% ABV, and it’s got a heavy body to match. It’s not exactly a one trick pony in that they’ve tried to malt it up to handle the insane level of hops, but I have to say, for a beer of the “lets add hops until their taste buds start blowing fuses” variety, I really like this beer a lot.