The Boston Beer Company’s mixed case of summer styles is out and it has several varieties I haven’t tried before, and the first one I’m reviewing is their unfiltered white IPA, called Whitewater IPA. It pours a hazy golden color, and since it’s unfiltered, there’s a lot going on. No, the glass in the picture is not dirty; That’s yeast floating in the beer. The nose is earthy and yeasty (the Belgian influence) and the middle is predominantly sour, fading to a bit of pine and cherry. This is more Belgian White Ale than it is IPA, but there is a bit of characteristic hop flavor in there, towards the end. A good beer, but it would be nice if it were a little more complex, and had a little more IPA character. My bottom line is that I think this beer will be most appealing to fans of Belgian sour beers.
Founder’s Red’s Rye PA is, well, awesome. I really enjoy rye ales, and hoppy ales, and this is both, and a cut about the rest. The nose is heavy grapefruit, the middle is packed with grapefruit, pine, and the signature dry bite of rye, and the finish is more grapefruit, sweet, with some bitter rind at the very tail. The balance and complexity are both outstanding, and I’m glad I found this one in a six-pack, because this is definitely one I want again.
“Wilco” isn’t actually the phonetic alphabet but I imagine that they needed to avoid “Whiskey” so that they wasn’t any confusion about the contents of this big brown ale. They call it “malty” but that doesn’t translate to “sweet” as it so often does. This is a hoppy, bitter brew, and the predominant flavors in the middle are of oak and alcohol and a hint of citrus rind, with the malted sugars coming only coming through in the finish. I’m not usually a big fan of brown ales, but I’m definitely a fan of hoppy ales, so I liked this one better than most, though it could have used a bit more complexity in my opinion.
So this week, I’m working in Milan, Italy, so I figured I’d go ahead and review an authentic Italian beer at while I’m here. The one that I picked at random from the cold case was Birra Del 150° Anniversario, a lager by Birra Menabrea. Yup, it’s a lager. A good lager though. I had to drink it from the bottle so I didn’t get the full aroma, but it was crisp, sharper than the average American lager, and very refreshing after a long walk around northeast Milan. All in all, a nice beer.
From New Belgium Brewing’s “Lips of Faith” series, Biere de Mars is a spring seasonal called an “Ale brewed with spices.” It’s brewed with wild yeast which gives a bit of a Belgian scent in the nose, and lots of fruitiness all the way through. There isn’t any bitterness in this beer, and really not a lot of spice either. This seems like a fruit beer to me. There some subtle orange flavors throughout, some banana in the finish, and a hint of cherry in the background. I’m betting that if you like fruit beers, you’ll like this beer. It’s a fine beer, but doesn’t really grab me.
This IPA from Ska Brewing in Durango, Colorado is an American IPA, which is noticeable in that there’s a fair amount of sweetness balancing out some of the traditional hoppy bitterness. There’s a creamy velvety head that adds a nice texture, and notes of grapefruit and pine in the nose. The middle is bitter with lemon zest and grapefruit rind, followed by sugary sweetness from the malts, and finishing with pine. I didn’t really didn’t have any expectations for this beer coming in, but even so, I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m not generally a huge fan of American style IPAs, as they tend to be too sweet for me, but this is a really nice beer. I like it a lot.
Hazed & Infused is a dry-hopped pale ale from the Boulder Beer Company, Colorado’s oldest microbrewery. It’s not as characteristically sharp and bitter as a prototypical pale ale. It starts off with scents of orange citrus and yeasty bread. The middle is heavy sweet bread that fades into the finally characteristic piney hop bitterness in the finish, but even then it’s balanced, and not overwhelming. There’s really a nice balance to this beer, starting sweet and finishing bitter. It isn’t necessarily what I’d grab when I’m craving the bitterness of a pale ale, but it has a bit of everything and is a well balanced and well executed ale.
Due to a somewhat recalcitrant AC unit, despite the fact that I’m writing this well into the evening my office is at a fairly toasty 86.4 degrees Fahrenheit so I’m in need of refreshment. What I’ve found in the fridge is a bomber of Dogfish Head Black & Blue, which should hit the spot. Black & Blue is a Belgian Golden Ale brewed with blackberry and blueberry puree. It’s a beautiful red copper color in the glass, with a full, frothy light head. The nose is Belgian yeast and the middle is sour fruit: raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, some orange and cherry, that fades to a heavy, sweet malty finish. This is predominantly a sour beer, with some strong sweetness, and no bitterness that I detect. If you like sour fruit based beers, this is a good one from Dogfish Head, and I have to say, I’m definitely feeling refreshed.
This is a big, rich beer. You know it from the the beginning, from the heavy pour to the dark copper coloration in the glass. There’s oak, sweet caramel, a hint of earth and maybe I’m detecting a bit of citrus. The oak explodes in the middle, like whiskey, with pine and alcohol. The finish is nicely balanced between sweet vanilla and the bitter hops, neither overwhelming the other. This is a huge, strong, heavy beer and is probably best paired with a big heavy rich dinner. There’s a bit too much oak for my liking, but as usual, it mellows into a more balanced profile as it warms. This is a beer to drink with a big ribeye steak, and it’s one of the best for that task.