This would have been a great beer to review for the 4th of July, but since I’ve missed that and don’t care to wait until next year, Labor Day weekend is going to have to do. Freedom American IPA is another product from Natty Greene’s Brewing Company of Greensboro, North Carolina. I was surprised by how light it looks in the glass, and it reminds me more of an unfiltered wheat ale than an IPA. There’s no mistaking the flavors though, and there are no “special” ingredients here. Just water, barley, hops, and yeast. The nose has grapefruit, grasses, and a bit of pine. The middle is predominantly lemon, and it has a fairly heavy body. This IPA isn’t overpowered by hops, and the sugars from the malts come through in the finish, turning the citrusy hop notes to orange. This is a a really solid example of the traditional American IPA style, and I fine choice for an IPA fan.
I give it a 4.3 out of 5.
Weird name, good beer. I have a strong predilection for fruit beers in the summer, and Rübæus from Founders Brewing in Michigan is a lovely example of the raspberry persuasion. So, here it is, late August, and I’m drinking yet another pink beer. Rübæus is a fairly traditional raspberry lambic. It isn’t as heavily carbonated as some, which really helps one to enjoy it as beer, rather than mistake it for a spritzer. The nose is yeasty, with berries and sugar. The middle is strongly raspberry and super tart. There’s not room for many other flavors here. The finish transitions from tart to cloyingly sweet, with herbal notes right at the tail end. It’s quite nice, but it also quite resembles an alcoholic version of fruit punch. It’s a great beer to try out on those who traditionally choose sweet wine, or wine coolers, or hard lemonade rather than beer. It’s a good lambic, but could use a few more flavor notes to keep the palate interested.
I give it a 3.9 out of 5.
The Daily Meal put it to readers (over 11,500 of them) to vote on the best craft breweries in the country. There’s a slideshow of the top 25 along with the article, and not to spoil things too much, the winner is one of my personal favorites, Dogfish Head.
Article and slideshow here.
Dogfish Head being Dogfish Head, Indian Brown Ale is not a typical true-to-the-style brown ale, but a hybrid American Brown Ale, Scotch Ale, and of course, India Pale Ale. The result is a rich, malty brew heavy with the flavors of chocolate, caramel, coffee and scent of baked bread with a dry hopped bite at the end for us IPA aficionados. In the past, I’ve tended to prefer hoppy beers to malty beer, so it’s taken me a while to really appreciate what a fine brew Dogfish Head has developed in Indian Brown Ale. This is a great beer for those who don’t care for the bitterness of IPAs, but with just a hint to remind those those of us who do that we haven’t been forgotten.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
Heavenly Feijoa is a delicious Belgian Tripel from New Belgium Brewing’s extra special Lips of Faith series, and it’s brewed with feijoa and hibiscus for a unique flavor. The nose is yeasty and distinctively Belgian. The middle is super tart and fruity, with notes of pineapple, cranberry, and peaches. The finish is still tart, but a strong herbal note comes forward as well. The body is quite heavy, and the alcohol is very subdued, though it’s quite a big beer at 9.4% ABV. It’s definitely strongly fruity, but I like it a lot.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
This is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale from the Huyghe Family Brewery, which the bottle claims has been around since 1654. It’s a beautiful pale orange color in the glass with a head reminiscent of champagne foam, except for the fact that it’s persistent and only dissipates slowly. The nose is more fruity than yeasty, with peach and pear notes and a bit of grass. This middle is fruity and spicy. Strong pears and apples, and pepper and grains of paradise are evident. The finish is very interesting. It’s bitter, and reminds me of collard greens, or spinach, perhaps. Overall this is a wonderfully unique and finely crafted Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Very enjoyable.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Sweetwater Blue is a fairly typical craft wheat ale, but with the addition of blueberries which give a subtle twist. They did a really nice job of adding a fun and different flavor, but without overpowering the beer. The nose is very light, with a bit of grass and yeast. The middle is where the blue berries add some tang to the mild wheat base that turns slightly sweet, and then finishes dry and dusty. There’s a little bit of slate in there as well. This is a nice summer beer, and would be a good alternative for introducing Blue Moon fans to craft beer.
I give it a 3.7 out of 5.
Tonight I’m enjoying Hop Stoopid, an American Imperial IPA from the Lagunitas Brewing Company and I’m enjoying it in one of my new Dogfish Head (lightly) branded Spiegelau IPA glasses, which I love. It proclaims on the bottle “102 I.B.U. 4 U.” and they ain’t lyin’. The nose is grassy, and piney, and a little citrusy with some pineapple notes to boot. The middle is a heavy hop bomb of the bitter, west-coast style that I so dearly love. The body lives up to the imperial billing, as this is a medium to heavy weight beer. There is tons of citrus, primarily grapefruit and orange, with loads of bitter rind in the forefront, fading to some sweet orange sugars in the finish. I also taste a touch of vanilla throughout, mellowing it a bit. The alcohol in this beer is a healthy, but not huge 8.0% ABV, and it really stays in the background pretty nicely. This is a really outstanding, complex beer, and a unique twist on the super hoppy west coast IPA style.
I give it a 4.7 out of 5.
Saison Diego is a Belgian Saison, or Farmhouse Ale, from the Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego. The style is known for its spices, and Green Flash has done a really nice job of staying true to that style. With spicy Czech hops, orange zest, ginger, and grains of paradise, this is a flavorful old world beer, very different from some of the super piney bitter west-coast style ales that Green Flash is known for, but this is just as good a beer. The nose is bready, with wheat and yeast and a bit of orange. The middle is spicy, with the orange, the hops, and the grains of paradise coming to the fore. The finish is dry and dusty, with fading notes of cinnamon and slightly bitter orange peel. This is a really nice beer, and one of the better Saisons I’ve tried. I give it a thumbs up.
I give it 4.5 out of 5.