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.
From right here in Charlotte, NC, Birdsong Brewing Co. has produced a beer styled just for me…One that’s spicy. The do remove the seeds from the fresh jalepeños they add to the brew, so it’s not burn-your-mouth-down spicy, but it’s a nice hint of heat. The beer otherwise is their Free Will Pale Ale, which is a nice malt-forward pale ale. I do remember Free Will (which I haven’t reviewed yet) having a bit of a bitter finish, but that seems to be gone here, perhaps due to the flavor of the jalepeños. A nice beer, medium bodied, and a summery 5.5% ABV.
I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
From right here in Charlotte, Triple C Brewing Company is now canning 3C IPA, a traditional American IPA. The nose is packed with citrus and tropical fruit. The middle has lemon, grapefruit, a bit of ginger and then fades to a finish heavy with pine and grapefruit rind. The alcohol level is in the standard range for this style at a comfortable 6.2% ABV, and the body is medium weight. A very nice American IPA, hoppy without being crazy. It’s well balanced and a beautiful example of the style.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
Sierra Nevada has expanded east, and to celebrate the opening of their new brewery in Mills River, NC, they released Rain Check Spiced Stout. Though released in summer and tasty any time of year, this has all the flavors of a classic winter treat with chocolate, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon coming through and just a hint of citrus. This is a sweet beer from start to finish, with the flavors transitioning from sweet and spicy in the middle to sugary at the end, with brown sugar and caramel notes, and a bit of root beer right at the end. It’s wonderful to see the success of a great brewery like Sierra Nevada lead to an expansion like this, and this was a great brew to celebrate the achievement.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
Coco Loco Porter is NoDa Brewing’s latest offering in a can. It’s pours with a generous head and a dark brown hue as befits a porter. It’s brewed with cocoa nibs and coconut, and both the cocoa and the coconut are present in the nose, with lovely warm cocoa in front and faint coconut in the background. The middle is velvety and chocolaty, without being sweet. A hint of sweetness does come out in the finish with some toasty malt to remind you this is a porter. It has a medium weight body, and a nice 6.2% alcohol level. It’s an excellent porter that relies on the chocolate for flavor without undue sweetness. One of my new favorite porters, I’d say.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
HogWild IPA is an American IPA from North Carolina’s own Aviator Brewing Company. It’s pretty standard for the style. The nose has a lot of lemon and is slightly grassy. The middle is lemony again, but with a bit of grain that builds into a bready finish with some caramel, but still some bitter citrus notes, and that citrus is still lemon. It’s a good, simple beer, without anything that makes it particularly remarkable. The body is of medium weight, and the alcohol level is 6.7% ABV.
I give it a 3.8 out of 5.
CAVU is an aeronautical acronym for the term “clear and unlimited visibility.” In other words, the weather is fine, and smooth sailing is ahead. CAVU is a Blonde Ale from Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing Company and the sailing is smooth indeed as this is one of the finest summer lawnmower beers around. The nose has orange and pineapple, and the middle is lemony with some wheat giving it a mild, dry profile. The middle follows into the finish which becomes earthy and adds a hint of pine and grapefruit right at the end. The alcohol is a relatively light 4.6% and the body is light to medium. This is a deliciously balanced beer that isn’t overpowering in any way, and I’ll be enjoying it all summer long.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
Firewater IPA is a product of local North Carolina brewer, Catawba Brewing Company. It is what they call an “East Coast IPA” which is their interpretation of a an IPA using six varieties of British hops, and six different malts, including wheat and five barley malts. This all leads to a relatively mild, balanced IPA that has the appropriate hoppy characteristics but that is also still relatively understated. The nose is floral and slightly bready. The middle has a bit of very mild lemon citrus and a dry wheat backbone. There isn’t much new in the finish. A bit more lemon, but it’s pretty simple. The alcohol is fairly average as well, at 6.0% ABV. All in all, this is a nice interpretation of an milder IPA, but nothing particularly stands out.
I give it a 3.5 out of 5.