I know your probably thinking, another Stone review means another high alcohol hop bomb, but in this instance you’re only half right. Stone Brewing recently added their tenth beer to their year round line up, Go To IPA, a sessionable IPA with a big flavor. For a refresher on what a session IPA is, check out my review of Pizza Port Ponto SIPA.
So aside from being another Stone IPA, this beer has some other interesting characteristics. The first is right the sheer amount of hops in this beer. There are NINE different hops in this beer: Mosaic, Citra, Ahtanum, Cascade, Crystal, El Dorado, Magnum, Sterling and 06300 (an experimental hop with high alpha acids and a woody, earthy flavor). The word on the street is that this is one of Stone’s hoppiest (as in quantity of hops) beers ever produced, only surpassed by Ruinten for hops per barrel of beer. The other interesting facet to this beer is the use of hop bursting to get all those hops into the beer. Despite what the name might make you think, this technique does not involve any crazy gadgets, instead it is a process of adding large quantities of mostly high beta acid hops late in the boil to maximize flavor and aroma while limiting the amount of bitterness in the beer. Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele attests that “Hop bursting really helped us overcome the challenge of making a lower alcohol full-flavored brew that doesn’t taste thin or watery.” Continue reading
Are you a fan of sour beer and have nothing going on this Saturday? GOOD NEWS! Firestone Walker is going to be releasing their very first bottled sour beer, Feral One on Saturday 3/8/14 at the Barrelworks in Buellton. The catch is that it will only be for sale at the Barrelworks and will probably sell out that day as they only made 500 cases. In usual Firestone Walker fashion, they are sweetening the pot for those who are willing to come out for the release. Anyone who purchases 3 bottles or more (at $13.99+CRV each) will gain access to the “Feral One Release Party” which includes a tasting of Feral One, tastings of 8 other rare & one-off brews from Firestone Walker, and “feral bites and offerings” (AKA snacks). You’ll also have a chance to chat with Master Blender Jim Crooks and Barrelmeister Jeffers Richardson. And if all that wasn’t enough to get you excited, Firestone Walker pulled a Steve Jobs with one more thing… 2014 Parabola. Yes, not only will they be dropping their first sour bottle, but you’ll also have the chance to try and purchase this year’s vintage of one of, if not the, best barrel aged imperial stouts made in California. So if you feel like taking a mini-road trip 2 hours up the coast, click here for all the details. Continue reading
The humble wheat beer doesn’t get a whole lot of love in the craft beer community. Sure, a wit will capture that fancy of beer nerds for a moment here or there and, on rarer occasions, maybe even a hefeweizen (all of which I’m going to blame on Shock Top). That being said there is definitely a market for them with those who are looking for less extreme hop and malt but still flavorful taste, which is evident from beers like Eagle Rock Manifesto and Hangar 24 Orange Wheat. So it was kind of surprising to hear that New Belgium was going to fill the vacant year-round production slot left by Mothership Wit, which was discontinued due to poor performance, with another wheat beer. But Snapshot isn’t your average wheat beer. Continue reading
I’m not gonna lie, Bear Republic is one of those breweries that I kind of forget about until I’m in the moment of drinking one of their beers and realize that I should give them more play in my rotation. And boy am I glad I had one of those moments the other week when I picked up a bottle of Apex Special IPA, their latest seasonal special release.
Bear Republic, based in Healdsburg, CA (kind of in the middle of nowhere north of Santa Rosa), have been brewing craft beer since way back in 1995. They are probably best known for their Racer 5 IPA, a brew that you kind find pretty much anywhere that sells decent craft beer these days. For the most part, they stick to hop forward West Coast style IPAs for their brews with the occasional exception. They have a few seasonal special releases, but securing them here in LA can sometimes be a bit difficult. Continue reading
THE SESSION IPAS ARE COMING! If you haven’t heard yet, the session IPA is going to be a very popular style this year and to start off this onslaught I figured we’d start with a new contender in the LA beer scene, Pizza Port Brewing Company Ponto SIPA.
Let’s start with a quick primer on what exactly a session IPA is. A sessionable beer is one that falls below 5% ABV, features a balance between malt and hop characters, and has a clean finish. The purpose of these beers are to allow the drinker to enjoy several of them during a reasonable time period, or session, without blowing out the palate or getting too intoxicated. So a session IPA, or India session ale as some like to call them, would be an IPA that falls within those criteria. This turns out to be rather challenging, as Mitch Steele of Stone put it “The brewers challenge here is twofold: first is achieving a good flavor balance in a beer that is so low in alcohol that there isn’t much else to balance the hop character with, and second, ensuring that the dry hop character doesn’t become overly vegetal, due to the lower alcohol content of the beer.” Continue reading
I’m starting a new series of posts to help impart some of the tricks I’ve picked up over the years. To start things off I’m going to give you one of the oldest ones in the book.
Everyone loves Costco, even those who don’t have memberships there, but one of the best buys at Costco is alcohol (at up to 35% off normal retail). So here’s the tip, YOU DON’T NEED A COSTCO MEMBERSHIP TO BUY ALCOHOL THERE. This little loophole is courtesy of some old laws that date back to the repeal of Prohibition, where some states wanted to do away with membership only speakeasies and such. These types of laws exist in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Texas and Vermont. There is also a similar national law in regards to prescription medications. Continue reading
Sometimes I forget to post about some of my favorite beers because I’m too busy enjoying them. Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine is one of those beers. For those who may not be familiar with this brew, Old Guardian is Stone’s special release barleywine that comes out toward the beginning of every year. Every year they subtly tweak the recipe in small ways. This year the hop bill got switched up by replacing Magnum with Nugget as the bittering hop and Cascade for CTZ in the whirlpool. This beer has also been a part of the Odd Beers For Odd Years series, with Belgo and Oak Smoked variants having come out in the past.
While we’re on the topic of barleywines, let’s take a moment to examine what a barleywine is. barleywine, or barley wine (both are correct), is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to beer styles. As the name might lead you to believe, malts play a big part in this style providing a wide range of malt profiles. Generally split into American and English barleywines, the main difference being that American barleywines have much more hops present in the aroma and flavor. Between the two versions, you can get beers that are straw color all the way to dark brown and ranging from 8% to 12% ABV with varying amounts of hop intensity. This style lends itself to aging very well, maturing similarly to wine. American brewers have also taken to barrel aging barleywines in a variety of spirit barrels as well. Continue reading
Normally my reviews are pretty straight forward, a brewery makes a beer and I review it, but today we’ve got a strange one for sure. Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA is the kind of thing I thought would never happen in the “real” craft beer community, but here it is. So I did some digging to see if I could crack this puzzle.
On the surface, this is a double IPA made with grapefruit peel that promises to “usher in what, according to years of studies and supporting data, will be the next enthralling chapter in the history of American craft brewing.” There isn’t a whole lot of other information on the bottle besides the notes on some of the ingredients and some jibber jabber about unpredictability and randomness. So let’s start with what Stochasticity Project is. Stochasticity refers to randomness, specifically in probability and science. In this line of thinking Stochasticity Project is looking to embrace the randomness of what seemingly falls into place where “exotic notions, ingredients and ideas coalesce at an interesting and often unexpected endpoint.” The full PR copy on their website adds some general points about science and advancing craft beer to the next level. At this junction, I’m not sure if I’m looking into a craft brewery, Trent Reznor’s latest ARG, or some sort of brewers fight club-esque mad experiment (The first rule of Stochasticity Project is do not talk bout Stochasticity Project). There are a few clues to this mystery beer, namely the blurred gargoyle in the center of the label and that the brewery is named Koochenvagners Brewing Company.
Some will say I have unfairly targeted the Voodoo Doughnut series as a set of easy marks in my quest to point out the worst beers I’ve ever had. I just want to point out that the only reason I’m drinking this beer at all is in the hope it will buck the trend and prove the previous offerings to be just a horrible, horrible stepping stone. This is not the case with Pretzel, Raspberry & Chocolate Ale, The latest in a series of barely drinkable brews from Rogue Ales. Continue reading