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.
Interlude is a Saison style ale from the Allagash Brewing Company of Maine. It’s one of their specialty beers, not a year-round offering, and the version that I’m tasting tonight, bottled in October 2013, is indeed special. Farmhouse ales tend to be complex and interesting, but generally (not always) on the milder side of the flavor spectrum. This is one of the outliers. The addition of wild yeast (Brettanomyces) gives this the brilliant, sharp, tangy, fruity flavor of a wild lambic. One of the first things I noticed about this beer is it didn’t build a particularly large head, and the head that was built dissipated quickly. The nose is mild with pear and apricot, and a tiny hint of the yeast notes typical of a Belgian style. The middle is explosively flavorful and mouth-puckeringly tart. More pear, some raspberry, and a lot of grape here. The tartness fades into sweetness in the finish, with more grape and a bit of sweet bread, with a strong undercurrent of heat from the alcohol, which is a not-insubstantial 9.5% ABV. The body is medium weight, not particularly heavy, but it packs a punch. One of the best beers I’ve had this year.
I give it a 4.8 out of 5.
Snapshot is an unfiltered wheat beer from New Belgium, and I recently picked up a few for the first time in a mixed 12-pack. It’s very pleasant and mild. The nose is bready with a bit of lemon, and the head is meringue like. The middle is sweet with heavy orange overtones. The finish is more orange and a bit of wheat in the background which makes it relatively dry. It’s a very mild beer, which is a nice summer treat, and on top of that I think this would make it a great hit with the Blue Moon/Shocktop crowd.
I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
Session IPAs are one of the new hotness categories that are popping up everywhere, and Stone’s entry into this market is To Go IPA. In true Stone style, the cap decries light, easy-to-drink beer, so while it comes equipped with a session-style 4.5% ABV, it also has all the bold hop flavor we’ve come to expect from Stone. The nose is bright with loads of pine needles and grapefruit. The middle has pine resin, and grapefruit rind. The citrus in the finish morphs into lemon and there’s a little bit of grain that tastes like wheat. The body of this beer is light to medium as pretty much expected. This is a fun beer, but slightly incongruous, with the lighter body but the big, bold, bitter flavors. I liked it a lot, and it’s certainly different, but not really a lawnmower beer.
I give it a 4.2 out of 5.
Since yesterday was IPA Day, I decided to celebrate it last night with the biggest, baddest IPA around. Stone’s RuinTen is an “extreme” version of their already insane Runation IPA which is an Imperial IPA designed to “ruin your palate” with over-the-top intensely bitter hops. So yeah, an extreme version of that. True to its billing, this is a big version of Ruination. I wouldn’t say that it’s any more bitter, however. It generally has the same flavor profile and intensity, but with a heavier body and more alcohol. They’ve cranked up the quantity of ingredients to get here, of course, but if any of it shows through, it’s a bit more citrus sweetness from heavy orange and grapefruit notes in the middle and finish than any additional bitterness. So overall there is a ton of pine, and a ton of grapefruit and orange, both bitter and sweet. The body is heavy, and the alcohol level is a relatively high 10.8% ABV. This is still a big, over-the-top bitter west-coast style Imperial IPA like Ruination, but if anything it’s slightly more well rounded and an excellent, excellent beer.
I give it a 4.9 out of 5.
I suppose the name tells you all you need to know about the style. The interpretation is Stone standard, hop heavy and west coast. The nose is chocolaty and warm. The middle starts out the same, with some lovely milkiness and currant notes, then transitions to heavy bitter pine and coffee. The finish is roasted grain and fading coffee and anise. The body is quite heavy as you’d expect, and the alcohol level is equally stout at 10.6% ABV.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
Trust the Canadians to come up with an excellent pun for the name of an Imperial IPA of the American style. In this case, it’s the Canadians of Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company of British Columbia. The nose has faint citrus and pine, and is predominantly malty, reminding me of maple syrup. The middle packs a bitter punch of citrus rind and pine. The strong bitterness is reminiscent of Stone’s Ruination or Green Flash’s Palate Wrecker. The finish is well rounded citrus flavors with some sweet grapefruit and orange to temper the bitterness. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol is 8.0% ABV which is about what you’d expect for a big Imperial IPA. This is a big, tasty, bitter beer, and more proof that the Canadians know how to brew a beer properly.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.