From Sierra Nevada’s High Altitude series, Chocolate Chili Stout is exactly what it sounds like. The nose is roasty with cocoa and a hint of coffee. The middle is rich and exceptionally dry, with cocoa powder, light molasses, and starchy tannin. The finish is malty and woody, and a bit of heat from the chilies. The body is medium, and the alcoholic is an Imperial-ish 8.2% ABV. I have to admit that I’m slightly disappointed that there isn’t more heat from the chilies, but it is there, and it lingers and grows after the finish, and that aside, this is a really excellent beer, and everything that is here is fantastic. Top notch brew.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
Recreation Ale is Terrapin’s session IPA. Session IPAs, for those new to the term, are designed to be drunk in greater quantities than a traditional IPA, so are lighter in body and bitterness, and have a lower alcohol content than a traditional IPA. The nose is lemony and malty, the middle is more lemon and some very light pine, and the malt comes back forward in the finish with a touch of honey flavor over just a hint of piney bitterness. The body is light to medium and the alcohol is a nice light 4.7% ABV. This is a nice, if undifferentiated session IPA.
I give it a 3.8 out of 5.
Hop ‘Em High is an American Double IPA from the Lonerider Brewing Co. of Raleigh, NC. The nose is caramelly and floral. The middle has sweet grapefruit and orange, a hint of pine and citrus rind. The finish fades to brown sugar and plums with just a hint of pine remaining. The body is full, and the alcohol is a reasonable 8.5% ABV, though this drinks like a bigger beer. This is a solid, nice American DIPA.
I give it a 4.3 out of 5.
Continuing with beers from right here in Charlotte, Fake Plastic Trees is a hoppy wheat ale (think wheat IPA) from our friends at Birdsong Brewing Co. To start, the head is heavy and creamy, as befits a wheat ale, and the unfiltered golden hue is hazy. The nose has orange, lemon, and lemongrass scents. The middle is hop-forward with an American IPA profile (lemon and hint of pine) but served on a bed of wheat toast. This fades to bit more lemon and some grapefruit in the finish with the wheat continuing to balance things out and soften on the tongue. The body is medium and the alcohol is moderate at 6.4% ABV. This is a fun mash-up between a wheat ale and an IPA that will probably be best enjoyed by IPA fans.
I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
This summer refresher from NoDa Brewing Company here in Charlotte is a mojito inspired twist on a Belgain Witbier. It pours the expected light golden hue with the traditional massive wheat head. The nose is spicy and clean, with some light wheat flour notes. The middle is where the mojiton influence comes to the fore, with the light wheat base entirely masked by strong mint and lime flavors. The lime lingers into the finish, along with wheat toast and a bit of Belgian sourness. The body is light to medium and the alcohol is a lovely summmer-ey 4.8% ABV. This is a fun beer and could hold its own against beer-based beverages like a Shandy or Radler. A nice summer treat.
I give it a 3.9 out of 5.
Orpheus, of Atlanta, Georgia, is really good at hoppy beers. I mean, really good. and Transmigration of Souls may be one of their best. It’s a double-IPA that Orpheus calls “overpowering” but it isn’t overpoweringly bitter; it just has huge flavor. The nose has lemon and orange. The middle has orange, grapefruit, pineapple and butter. The finish is smooth, without a lot of change in the flavor though a bit more grapefruit comes out and a tiny hint of pine resin right at the end. The body is medium-heavy to heavy, and the alcohol is 10% ABV and quite subdued.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
Tarrapin calls this a California style IPA, which I take to mean West Coast. However, I’d call this more of a traditional American IPA with some tropical notes. The nose has orange and lemon, and some floral overtones. The middle is more citrus and some pineapple. There’s a bit of pine and a bit of peach in the finish. The body is medium and the alcohol is a pleasantly light-ish 5.9% ABV. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but that doesn’t take a way from what is a very nice, unique beer.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.