Monthly Archives: July 2012

Harpoon Black IPA (100 Barrel Series – Session #40)


Harpoon Brewery’s Black IPA from their 100 Barrel Series is a big dark beer.  It’s not truly black, but it’s a deep dark brown that’s indicative of the strong earthy flavor you’re in store for from the apparently huge dose of Ahtanum hops.  The head is long lasting and nice and creamy.  They call the scent “fruity” but I find it’s more roasty, with a bit of chocolate, than it is fruity.   The flavor is heavily tilted towards earthy, but there’s a little bit of coffee and lemon in there as well, and a slightly oaky finish.  It’s a medium-bodied beer, and has a reasonably moderate alcohol content of 7.0% ABV.  This beer is a bit overpowering and bitter if it’s served too cold, but mellows nicely as it warms up.  It definitely prefers being closer to 60F than to 40F. It’s not knocking my socks off, but it’s a very nice, very interesting beer that will definitely appeal to those with palates that appreciate different takes on bitterness.

I give it a 4.0 out of 5.

Widmer Brothers Rotator IPA Series Spiced IPA


The Spiced IPA from Portland, Oregon’s Widmer Brothers Brewing is the first in their Rotator IPA Series that I’ve tried. It’s a golden amber in the glass, with low carbonation and a nice foamy head that sticks around for awhile. The nose is hoppy and floral, and flavor has lemon and spices. This is a hop heavy beer, but it’s more spicy than bitter. It’s not terribly spicy either though. I mentioned earlier that this is a fairly flat beer, carbonation-wise (which is fine for a good strong ale) but I find the flavor to be a bit flat as well.

I give it a 2.6 out of 5.

The second annual IPA Day coming August 2nd

IPA Day was created in 2011 to celebrate one of the most popular craft beer styles, and craft beer in general.

Check for local IPA day events in your city.  Here are a list of IPA day events in Charlotte:

Anchor Summer Beer


Anchor Brewing’s Summer Beer is a pale wheat all malt ale, in the style of a classic English pale ale.    It pours super pale, one of the lightest golden beers I’ve seen this side of Corona, with a light, billowy head that Anchor calls “similar to meringue” which I find to be an accurate description.   The scent is a slightly nutty, toasty malt, and the flavor is muted with some lemon.    It’s pretty heavily carbonated, and that, along with the light malt flavor give it some distinct similarities to a Pilsner, like Boston Lager.   It’s a nice light summer beer for sure, but I think I’m going to look for something with a bit more hop kick for my go-to lawnmower beer.

I give it a 2.7 out of 5.

Unibroue Grande Reserve 17


It’s time for compare-and-contrast.   My last review was of Unibroue’s spectacular Abbey-style Belgian strong dark ale “Terrible.”   Today, it’s their extra strong dark ale, 17.   Despite being an extra strong dark ale, this beer is actually a bit lighter than Terrible in coloration, (still a deep brown) body (still medium to heavy) and alcohol. (Down from 10.5% ABC to 10%.)  The head lasts a bit longer and is silky smooth.  The scent is heavier on the yeast and lighter on fruit.  The flavor is sweet berries and sour Belgian yeast, and though this is oak aged, the oak and the vanilla flavors imparted are refined, and give the beer a subtle finish, and not overbearing at all.  This is another outstanding Belgian from Canadian brewer Unibroue.   I think I have a new favorite brewery.

I give it a 4.7 out of 5.

Unibroue Terrible


(Sorry for the “terrible” picture.   I love beer, but if you hadn’t noticed, I’m really not a good photographer.   I just couldn’t get a decent picture of the bottle.)

Terrible, an Abbey-style ale from Unibroue in Quebec, isn’t a name that inspires confidence.   But I love big Belgian style beers, so I had to give it a try.   It pours an opaque brown-black with a tight foam, quickly dissipating head.   The scent is heavy with cherry, raspberry, and Belgian yeast.  The flavor is roasty and loaded with sour cherries and tart grapes.  It’s a medium to heavy body, and a big beer at 10.5% ABV, but exceedingly smooth, without any noticeable alcohol burn.  As it fades, the aftertaste is grape with some nice spice.  The name may be questionable, but the beer isn’t.   This is a complex, and staggeringly good Belgian ale.  One of my favorites for sure.


I give it a 4.9 out of 5.   

Steelhead Double India Pale Ale


Steelhead Double IPA from Mad River Brewing in California is a nice rendition of an American DIPA.   It’s heavy on the citrus in front, with a citrus and floral nose, and a citrus heavy middle of lemon and grapefruit, fading into a malt heavy honey finish.  It’s a heavy-bodied ale, as you’d expect from a double IPA, and a fairly big beer at 8.6%.  Very nice, but nothing especially notable here.

I give it a 3.8 out of 5.

Samuel Adams Black Lager


The scent is yeasty, and a bit sour.  The flavor has a bit of caramel, some toasted malt, and a sour cherry notes.   The drink by date on this bottle was July 2012 (and I’m drinking it on July 10th, 2012) but I’m thinking this particular bottle may have started to go off a bit already, so this review may not be be a fair representation of how this brew would normally taste.   Hopefully I’ll get to redo this one soon.

I give it a 1.9 out of 5.

Epic Hopulent IPA


This is a big IPA from Epic Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah.   The coloration is a golden amber, the scent is floral and citrus and sweet.  The head is beautiful and creamy.  The flavor is powerful.  Very bitter pine resin and very sweet orange citrus flavors, with a good bit of alcohol burn behind it.   This beer possibly should have been cellared to mellow a bit.  At the moment, I’m finding the strength of the components to be a bit overwhelming for my taste buds.  There’s too much sweetness to appeal to hopheads, and too much bitterness to appeal to fans who don’t enjoy hoppy beers.

I give this one a 3.1 out of 5.

Crooked Tree IPA


Cooked Tree IPA from Dark Horse Brewing pours a nice amber color in the glass, with a creamy pillowy head that lasts for a wonderfully long time.  There’s sweet malt and floral hoppy scents which hint at the well balanced flavor to come. It’s a fairly light bodied ale, and there are a ton of hops, but a lot of malt to balance it out.  A lot of lemon, a bit of spice, and some pine in the finish.   This is a super well executed beer that is a stellar example of what an reference IPA should be, in my opinion.  I like this better than any IPA I’ve had in quite a while, save the Green Flash West Coast IPA I reviewed last month.

I give it a 4.7 out of 5.