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The Hop Brief: Boneyard Beer Armored Fist

July 21st, 2011 No comments

Armored Fist

Enjoyed on 7/19/2011

Brewery: Boneyard Beer

Location: Bend, OR

Beer: Armored Fist

Web: http://www.boneyardbeer.com/

Presentation: 64oz Growler

Vintage: 2011

Style: Northwest Style Cascadian Dark Ale

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 10.0%

IBU: 80

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Commercial Description:

Imperial Cascadian is the NW style of this brew. This is a very well balanced, extremely hoppy black ale. It is very reminiscent of a winter ale. Armored fist is a collaboration beer brewed with the good ole boys from Three Floyd’s Brewing out of Chicago.

Beer Advocate: B (3.88)

Rate Beer: 91 (3.88)

Timperial’s Notes:

Background.

As you may have gathered from previous articles on this site, my (Timperial) Mom lives in Bend, OR.  Prior to her recent visit, being the amazing mother that she is, she asked me if I wanted her to bring any beer with her.  Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the very best thing about the current trend in collaboration brewing is the fact that the two (or more) breweries then share distribution networks for the release of the beer.  Armored Fist offers North-westerners a rare glimps into the storied world of Three Floyds Brewing.  This proves an excitement for me that I can’t easily put into words.

As of this moment, I have only had one Boneyard beer.  It was very highly thought of.  Let’s see if it was a fluke.

Appearance.

Armored Fist is the precise color of a fictional, most perfect CDA in my mind.  So I guess it’s no longer a fictional beer.  I’m currently holding it in real, live, 3D.  It’s as beautiful as I thought it would be.  It’s not really black.  It’s not as dark as I remember Stone XI being.  I bring that beer up because it’s the first CDA/IBA that I ever had.  I recall that, from all outward appearances, it was a stout in my glass.  Then, it was full of hop aroma and flavor.  Stone XI captured some serious shock appeal, which isn’t without merit, but as more and more beers of the stye have hit the market I have had the privileged of becoming a much more discerning aficionado.

Maybe I have just made an association with certain examples that have wowed me.  Maybe it has to do with the way that the CDAs that I have brewed turned out.  I’m not entirely sure, but however I have come to the realization, I firmly believe that the D in CDA is a D not a B for a reason.  The brew should be dark, not black.

This beer is brown with ruby highlights.  When held to the light, it shines a deep maroon with excellent clarity.  The head that forms on the pour is tan, approaching brown, and is mighty dense.  It falls gracefully, leaving a lace that cakes up something impressive.  There is always a faint wisp of tan on the brew’s surface, a product of the firm carbonation that rises from the vessel floor.  This is my second Boneyard beer and the second time that I have offered them a perfect score in appearance.

Odor.

As with RPM IPA, this beer was growlered at the brewery in Bend and transported to me by my mother.  That was 18 days ago now.  In my time at Lazy Boy Brewing, I would never suggest to a customer that they wait more than two weeks before consuming a growler.  Sometimes life gets in the way though, and here I am, reviewing the beer none-the-less.

Though to be honest, if I had opened the growler to different results I would have scrapped the review completely.  I’m not going to issue negative opinions on a beer that isn’t as the brewers intended.  But, a twist of the lid produced a hiss and a sniffer placed to the opening was all I really needed to know that things were still in good order.  When a head formed on the pour, that was just further assurance.

That little nose poke prior to the pour was incredibly telling of this beer’s quality.  I could tell that it was a CDA just by the nose.  It was bright in hop aroma with a roasted backbone that’s truly unmistakable.  It excites the shit out of me!  What a great style!

Once in the glass, some mild disruption of the fluid brings the effervescence back to life, forcing the odors up toward my olfactory receptors.  My brain instantly translates and my first thought is of cannabis.  The hops are highly herbal here with a strong sweetness.  As the brew warms it becomes more and more challenging to properly direct thoughts to any common hop adjectives.  The malts come closer and closer to the foreground in that evolution, masking some of the lupulin nuance.

My best attempt to properly convey the hop’s attributes is to call it candy coated pot.  It’s all I can think of.  I can confidently confide that there is nothing in the air right now that would prompt these notions.  There is a little bit of fruitiness, like sweet pink grapefruit in the nose, as well as a pine like notion that opens in time.  It has more of a spruce scent.  It’s a beautiful thing

The malt profile is roasty, slightly chocolatey, and telling of deeply caramelized barley which implements a stone fruit, datey notion.  One of the greatest qualities of the CDA is the added complexity of kilned and roasted grains.  IPAs will always sit a bit low on my style superiority totem pole for their lack of overall complexity.  This style greatly improves the positioning of uber hopped beers on that pole.

Mouthfeel.

The MF of AF is HF!  Translation: The mouth feel of Armored Fist is holy fuck!  Yes, holy fuck, how is it possible that this beer is so perfect in my mouth after resting in a growler for 2 and a half weeks?  I can’t explain that but I can explain that this beer feels like a rambunctious kitten in my mouth.  It’s ever so soft and fluffy but it can’t sit still for a minute.  The body is silk but the bubbly prods my taste buds and disallows them to be relaxed by the alcohol.  The flavors light up like fireworks and spin and dance like these crazed little devils (thanks Chris Ellis).  A true pleasure.  Thankfully, no claws on the tiny paws.

Flavor.

Sometimes I think that I should write this section first so that I don’t begin to tire before the “meat and potatoes”, but then I remind myself that flavor really isn’t the meat and potatoes of a beer.  I mean, it seems like it should be.  We drink craft beer because it tastes superior to all that macro swill.  That is surely factual but craft beer is so much in such a small package.  If you blind-folded yourself and held your nose while you drank beer, a huge percentage of the enjoyment would be stifled.  Realistically, the tongue only perceives the firm standing pillars of flavor – salty, sour, sweet, bitter, etc.  I think that about 70% of what we call flavor is detected via smell.  Correct me if I’m wrong.

Perhaps I should shift weights in my scoring system to align with this notion.  Perhaps.

With that being said, I can, no doubt, discuss bitterness.  80 IBUs is husky.  I do not sense an overwhelming bitterness to this beer until it warms significantly.  Even then, all of the other exciting things that my senses are contemplating muffle the intensity.  That, ladies and gentleman, is called brewing expertise.  This beer is world fucking class.

Hops easily dominate the flavor.  This is The Hop Brief after all.  Citrus notes are really laid on thick here.  Some more of that plum like stone fruit can be found in the malt profile, but it’s wholly Cascadian.

Aftertaste.

Hops may dominate the flavor but malt dominates the aftertaste.  How fucking magical is that?  Beer is so righteous.  Every little element of the experience offers something new.  All that roasted grain and chocolatey goodness comes out after the swallow.  This is another reason why CDAs are so brilliant.

I know that nearly all of the non-West Coast brewers out there feel that the term Cascadian is a misnomer, or that it’s just historically inaccurate – that the style wasn’t initially a product of the West.  Who cares?  Call it whatever you want.  Let’s just celebrate the style, whomever first conceived of it.

The reason CDA’s are so brilliant lies in the aftertaste.  Bitterness, a stalwart characteristic of all things hopped, is innately perceived as drying.  Chocolate is also bitter and dry.  Roasted and kilned grains, due to the heating process that creates them, have an acrid dryness.  These elements all share a common ground.  When you swallow an overly bittered IPA, you are dried out and left with a, more often than not, subtle graininess.  Here, there is a consistency with added complexity of flavor.  Flavor elements that are not at all out of place, but entirely interesting and delicious.

Summary.

Just like that, after Boneyard beers one and two, I’d put them very near the top of my list of the best hoppy beer producers in the Northwest.  I just may put them at the top of my over-all best breweries in the Northwest list after I try all of their beers.  I greatly look forward to my next visit to Bend, or Boneyard distributing to Seattle, whichever comes first.  Cheers to an exceptional new brewery!

Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00

Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 2.00

Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00

Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.91

Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98

Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.oo

Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.89

The Logo

The Hop Brief: Boneyard Beer RPM IPA

July 12th, 2011 No comments

Boneyard RMP IPA

Enjoyed on 7/11/2011

Brewery: Boneyard Beer

Location: Bend, OR

Beer: RPM IPA

Web: http://www.boneyardbeer.com/

Presentation: 64oz Growler

Vintage: 2011

Style: American Style India Pale Ale

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 7.5%

IBU: 75

Hops: N/A

Malt: N/A

Commercial Description:

RPM IPA should break the hop tachometer! Pale in color with pineapple and citrus notes exploding from the glass. Boiled and dry hopped using 4 Northwest hop varietals. Prepare yourself for a wild ride…Rev it up with the RPM IPA!!!

Beer Advocate: A- (4.18)

Rate Beer: No Score

Timperial’s Notes:

Background.

As you may have gathered from previous articles on this site, my (Timperial) Mom lives in Bend, OR.  Prior to her recent visit, being the amazing mother that she is, she asked me if I wanted her to bring any beer with her.  Obviously, I jumped on the opportunity.  As of this moment, Boneyard is the only Bend Brewery that I have yet to consume the product of.  The time is neigh.

Appearance.

It has now been 10 days since this growler was filled.  My obvious fear was that RPM would be flat.  Luckily, that is very much not the case tonight.  My mother did let the folks at the taproom know that there would likely be some time (and miles) between the filling and the consuming [and she may have also mentioned the fact that it was for a blogger] so as I understand it, the oxygen was purged to the best ability of the brewery before filling.  Whatever was done, it worked.

There was a calming “psst” as the cap was unscrewed and a fairly vigorous pour allowed for the rising of a small but without a doubt present head to form.  The froth appeared white and the bubbles where tightly packed.  A triumphant raising of the glass toward the heavens (light) allowed me to gaze upon the quickly rising bubbles and in that sight I knew that RPM was fully uncompromised.  Success!

The fluid itself is quite hazy but not wholly murky.  It’s just softly translucent, enough to play tricks on my eyes.  When left in the shadows the color is a dark, reddish amber that nearly borders on light brown.  When held to the light it drastically brightens (no shit!) and a glorious orange hue is revealed.  The lacing is truly stunning.

Odor.

I stuck my nose right in the opening of the growler the moment the cap was removed and I was very happy with the results.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this brew but things are looking and smelling really good so far.  The coldness of the sample doesn’t seem to subdue the intense hopiness on the nose.   Little maltiness can be recognized at first… we’re just swimming in lupulin.  It’s a joy!

I know it says it right in the description above but it really is super obvious here that this was dry-hopped and dry-hopped with a slew of different varieties.  The hop aroma is complex in that it bears many, not just one, of the typical hop induced odors.  To continue to mirror the description, citrus and pineapple play a role, but my nose seems to detect a spiciness first and foremost.  It’s not too unlike a holiday potpourri, heavily steeped in pine wreath, cinnamon and allspice.  There is a dash of dank earth but a sweetness contradicts any fruitless landscape and forces thoughts back to dense trees and lavish flowering life.

Mouthfeel.

RPM isn’t exactly redlining in this category but it really shouldn’t be.  Or, it doesn’t need to be.  We could argue that 7.5% is bordering on imperial status, and with it could come a desire for a thick body to stand as foundation for the heat, but I feel that this is properly classified and thus, right in line as far as mouthfeel is concerned.  Ultimately, there is no heat to concern us.  It’s hidden beneath the hop onslaught, which is how this category should always stand.  Would a bit of dextrin have a positive effect?  I believe it would, yes, but again, it’s not necessary.  There is the slightest thinness as I swallow but the growler could be to blame and the next section stands strong enough to allow me to quickly forget about flaws on any kind.

Flavor.

This beer is an IPA.  What does that mean to you?  India Pale Ale.  Those three words clearly mean something slightly different to almost everyone, especially professional brewers.  One thing is ever present in the category – hops.  That fact alone though manifests itself in many, many ways.  Since I’m the reviewer here, my opinion of how an IPA should taste is all that matters.  Perennial readers of this site are probably painfully aware of what I look for in an IPA since I seem to feel the need to hammer it home with nearly every hopped up review I write.  Give me residual sweetness, don’t over bitter, and pack as much hop flavor and aroma as you possibly can into the liquid.  It’s my opinion that there shouldn’t exist a single IPA in existence that isn’t dry-hopped.  Leave it out and call it a pale ale.

This is a Timperial IPA.  Straight up.  Seriously, the only thing I can possibly think of that I’d like to see in this beer other than the aforementioned increase in body is a stronger caramel malt profile.  The craziest part is that I really have to continually remind myself that this is a single IPA.  Oh my lord how excited I become at the thought of sampling a Boneyard imperial IPA.  But allow me to repeat, RPM is a single IPA, and with that in mind this beer is nearly perfect.  The sweetness is spot on, combating over-bitterness.  The hop flavor is piney and citrusy and ever so refreshing.  It’s not like you’re sucking on a flower but it’s a tea that has been intensely steeped.  It’s not hop extract, it’s hops and sugar water and pretty much nothing else.  Do you want to know what hops taste like without bitter face implosion or bakery like malts interfering?  Drink an RPM.

Aftertaste.

The moment that I swallow this beer I think about how insanely easy it is to drink.  It really is like hop water, which may sound negative but believe me it isn’t.  It’s just so clean and enjoyable.  There is the slightest lingering bitterness but it’s not enough to dry you out.  The sweetness and maltiness, on the other hand, is fairly subdued here as well.  You’re not left with a whole lot of anything in particular.  Most notably, I’m not left with an encumbering drunkenness.  I’d never suggest that a 7.5% brew is sessionable but when considering the amount of enjoyment this beer geek has gotten out of RPM, that’s saying something.

Summary.

I think I have been fairly emphatic about my stance on the quality of this beer.  RPM is my definition of a West Coast IPA.  If I lived in Bend, OR I would probably build a conveyor belt linking my house with the brewery taproom so that I would have a constant flow of RPM at all times.  I would drink it in place of water.  I would cook with it and pour it on my cereal.  I would water the plants with it and bathe in it.  I might even boil it down into a powder and sprinkle it in my yard with hopes of cultivating RPM IPA.

Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00

Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 2.00

Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.96

Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 3.00

Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.92

Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.94

Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.82

The Logo

The Hop Brief: 21st Amendment Hop Crisis

June 30th, 2011 1 comment

Crisis averted.

Enjoyed on 6/28/2011

Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery

Location: San Francisco, CA

Beer: Hop Crisis

Web: http://21st-amendment.com/

Presentation: 12oz. Can

Vintage: 2011

Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale

Barrel: Oak (technically spirals not barrel)

ABV: 9.7%

IBU: 94

Hops: Columbus, Centennial, Cascade (bittering); Simcoe, Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade (dry hop)

Malt: Pale, Munich, Dextrose (Cara-Pils)

Commercial Description:

Shaun and Nico have to break out of Alcatraz. And fast. The Hop Syndicate is hoarding hops, depriving the people of their right to hoppy, aromatic beer. Join Shaun and Nico on their adventure to Free the Hops! First, they plan a daring escape through the sewer pipe, then they surf monster waves on ironing boards, and finally they attempt a high speed cable car getaway.

Hop Crisis. Crisis? What Crisis? A few years ago, when hop prices shot through the roof and the worldwide hop market went into a tailspin, at our pub in San Francisco we decided there was only one thing for us to do. We made the biggest, hoppiest IPA we could imagine and aged it on oak for good measure. This Imperial IPA breaks all the rules with more malt, more hops and more aroma.

Beer Advocate: B+ (3.98)

Rate Beer: 99 (3.8)

Timperial’s Notes:

Background.

This is 21A’s newest release.  I love to see imperials in cans – just a damn good idea.  I can’t wait until the day that you can get a Trappist ale in a can.

Appearance.

It still feels a little weird for me to pour a beer into a glass from a can.  The chugging that occurs from the shape of the opening in the can causes a nice inch plus high crown to form.  It’s pure white and rocky and stands tall for some time.  As it recedes, the portion of the glass that once played host to a heavy cloud stands scared by what once ruled – the lacing is a heavy cake.  Cara-Pils did it’s job.

The beer itself is, not surprisingly, quite pale in color.  There is no crystal malts listed on the website.  I’d say it’s yellow drifting slightly toward orange.  The carbonation appears strong with a steady pace of bubble-rise.  21A must have filtered this after dry-hopping because it’s super clear.  All in all, a highly attractive brew

Odor.

Were I to keep this brew in the can that it was packaged in I would likely miss out on much of it’s odoriferous qualities.  When HC is colder it wafts a damp, musty scent steeped both in sopping with resin hops and deep woods oak.  As things warm a bit, a good swirl of the glass brings notes of pine and fruit.  If Pineapple was in fact equal parts pine needles and apples, it may stand a proper descriptor, though the suggestion alone seems to cause me thoughts of the actual tropical fruit as it naturally exists.

The nose is insanely perfumy.  Again, as thoughts lead to words lead back to common usage, consciousness propels me to fantasies of gowned women with essential hop oils delicately smeared below each ear.  An intoxicating delight for any potential suitor fortunate enough to be within range of her supple flesh.

Excuse me, this beer is doing strange things to me.  The scent has a piercing edge to it that can stun the soul.  When it strikes right, all of the nuances curl into a ball of fury and then quickly deconstruct, splashing over your head and down your skin as one entity to balance all forces of nature.  The flowers and fruits and wood and pine and sweet malts all coalesce into goosebumps and raised hairs.  This is more than beer.

Mouthfeel.

Once again, sight leads and touch verifies.  The rapid effervescence that was noted in the appearance is not a mirage.  The liquid really crackles with sharp carbonation on the back of the tongue, but the body is by no means conceding it’s power.  The two forces tangle with great results.  Properly viscous, smooth flowing, it glides across the flavor sensors and down to mingle with blood cells and fondle brain receptors.  A medium of transcendence that hides in plain site.

Flavor.

Somehow, the flavor of this beer bursts more maniacally than any other component.  It seems to mock the scent and appearance, as if to say, “Yes, it’s your job to to reel them in with outward beauty, but I’m the heart and soul that they fall in love with.”

The hops are not as decipherable here in the flavor as in the nose, but that’s not to be thought of as a detriment because the profound balance is what achieves this.  The malty sweetness and oaky, caramel and toffee notes really play to my sweet tooth.  The bitterness is there, and actually more and more pronounced, in tandem with the booziness, as the beer warms.  Piney hops seem to burn my mouth slightly, but it’s a good pain, like drinking an extra spicy ginger beer.

Aftertaste.

The aftertaste begins with a lot of bitterness and sharp piney hops.  It’s slightly dry due to this but then, as the mouth waters to compensate and warms back to body temperature, the malty sweetness peaks back through the hop shroud and brings notes of cinnamon and caramel.  The oak presence is likely most brightly spotlighted here.

Summary.

Hop Crisis is about as complex as an IPA can be.  There is not a single area of assessment above that found anything other than a highly stratified makeup.  I find it very educational actually, as a brewer, to experience how the 21A brewers allowed the oak to bring the balance that would more traditionally come from an element of darker specialty grains.  Without the oak I think this would be a vastly different story.  It would be a bitter monster with hops completely dominating your every thought.  For some, that may be ideal but for this writer, I couldn’t be happier with the results.

I should note that I was listening to Eternal Tapestry and Sun Araw’s recently recorded collaborative, live, improve set on loop whilst writing this review.  It surely played a role in my rantings.

Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00

Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98

Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00

Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.85

Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98

Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.96

Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.77

The Hop Brief: Drakes Denogginizer

June 1st, 2011 No comments

The Punisher

Enjoyed on 5/30/2011

Brewery: Drakes Brewing Co.

Location: San Leandro, CA

Beer: Denogginizer

Web: http://www.drinkdrakes.com/

Presentation: 22oz. Brown Glass Bottle, Capped.

Vintage: 2011

Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 9.75%

IBU: 90

Hops: Simcoe, Amarillo, Ahtanum, Chinook

Malt: N/A

Commercial Description:

Silver Medal winner for Imperial India Pale Ale, Great American Beer Festival 2009. Besides Jolly Roger, this is probably Drake’s most renowned beer. An Imperial (or Double) IPA, Denogginizer is a big bold beer hopped with an abundant amount of Simcoe and Amarillo with a touch of Ahtanum and Chinook. Mashed with Crystal malt and Caramalt for color and flavor to help balance out the hop assault. Denogginizer is also Drake’s most powerful regular offering, at a whopping 10% alcohol by volume!

Beer Advocate: B+ (3.97)

Rate Beer: 99 (3.81)

Timperial’s Notes:

Background.

A very thoughtful friend of mine picked this up for me while driving through CA on her way back from Coachella.  When it was presented to me, on my 31st birthday, I was unaware of it’s existence.  Now that I am, I’m quite surprised that I hadn’t heard about it earlier.  It seems to be very well though of, so I’m super excited to try it.

Appearance.

Denogginizer pours a super clear caramel color with a very impressive, thick head.  The crown is rocky and displays large bubbles in the area that it makes contact with the glass and fine bubbles pretty much everywhere else.  The clarity allows the brew to show off its effervescence, which appears high.

The rising bubbles continue to build upon the foamy foundation and thus long stands the creamy head atop my IPA.  The lacing is as thick as a white sheet, blinding all light from entering the glass.  Self-defense mechanism.  This one is highly evolved.

Odor.

The nose of this one is highly balanced.  There is almost equal parts hop aroma and biscuity, caramelized malts.  A quick swirl of the glass best allows for the pine and citrus notes of the hops to be detected.  The hop lineup for this brew is what my lupulin dreams are made of.  Amarillo, Simcoe and Chinook are all in my top 5.

There is a sharpness and intensity to the odor that inspires thoughts of hot ethanol, and at nearly 10%, that isn’t unlikely, but I get a sense that it’s the hops at fault.  She seems too cold at the moment for booze to find my nose.  Pine is definitely much more forward than fruit here.  Like a walk beneath the canopy of a northern forest in early fall.  Each step upon the fallen needles brings out the oily, sappy scents of evergreen, like they were crushed by mortar and pestle.  Any fruitiness is subtle and of the Earth, like cold pith of rind and discarded seed.

The maltier side of the story is strong in presence but not as defined.  It’s clearly balanced here but the malts lack the sweetness that so often propel me down roads full of confectionery adjectives.  If caramel was a plant, or of a plant like chocolate, I’d say this had a low sugar content (or high cocoa content if you follow).  It has a near wet paint perception as well, which I have detected in several other beers and honestly have had counterparts agree with me once I planted the seed in their mind.

Mouthfeel.

The body is fantastically executed with this one.  It’s thicker than molasses (not really) and coats the mouth like chugging melted wax (not really).  It’s thick (yes).  The carbonation can’t penetrate but it by no means feels deadly flat.  High marks – spot on for the style in my mind.

Flavor.

The flavor actually comes across with the sweetness that I expected but didn’t get in the maltier side of the nose.  For this, I am ecstatic!  This, of course, is bearing in mind the style before me.  The bitterness is indeed approaching the century mark.

Pine cone biscuits have found a way to be liquefied without appearing like a Saltine riddled soup.  Yes, the odor of this one is pretty much spot on to the flavor.  Again, it’s well balanced, but mind you… with imperial volume.  A lot of hop sap, a lot of caramel kiss.  The bitterness stings, as does the alcohol content.  This beer is punk fucking rock and can and will kick your scrawny ass to the curb with angular assaults to the tongue buds.  If I made this beer I’d be pretty proud.   I think I’d call it No Pussies Allowed.

I feel as though Mom is punishing me for cursing by plunging a bar of pine scented soap into my dirty word hole.  I’m literally chewing on essence-de-tree.  I tell ya, it makes me feel closer to nature… through hopvine crucifixion.  I can imagine the brewers at Drakes saying, “Oh they like hops do they?  Let’s see how they take to a hop hand-grenade in their mouth.  Fuckers.”  Perfect score for hop flavor because it’s so god damn unrelenting.

Aftertaste.

The aftertaste seems to be a bit of a chameleon.  At times I find it to be righteously bitter and (in turn) utterly dry.  Other times, the coating sugars allow for a long term mingling of pine cone biscuits.  Also, there’s booze, and it’s plentiful.

Summary.

This beer is one for the hardcore hop heads.  By hardcore I mean they wear leather jackets with hop leafs emblazoned on the back of them.  By hardcore I mean they have tattoos on their massive manceps of a heart with the word “lupulin” inscribed within it – Mom tats are for the weak.  Dudes that drink this beer can defeat Chuck Norris with one arm behind their back.  Long live the CA IPA!

Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.98

Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.80

Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00

Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 3.00

Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.90

Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.88

Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.56

The Hop Brief: Troegs Nugget Nectar Ale

May 18th, 2011 No comments

Sweet Sweet Nectar

Enjoyed on 5/16/2011

Brewery: Troegs Brewing Co.

Location: Harrisburg, PA

Beer: Nugget Nectar Imperial Amber

Web: http://www.troegs.com/

Presentation: 12 oz. Brown Glass Bottle, Capped.

Vintage: 2011

Style: American Style Imperial IPA

Barrel: N/A

ABV: 7.5%

IBU: 93

Hops: Nugget, Warrior, Tomahawk, Simcoe, Palisade

Malt: Pilsner, Vienna, Munich

Commercial Description:

Squeeze those hops for all they’re worth and prepare to pucker up: Nugget Nectar Ale, will take hopheads to nirvana with a heady collection of Nugget, Warrior and Tomahawk hops. Starting with the same base ingredients of our flagship HopBack Amber Ale, Nugget Nectar intensifies the malt and hop flavors to create an explosive hop experience.

Beer Advocate: A (4.37)

Rate Beer: 99 (3.93)

Timperial’s Notes:

Background.

Troegs has always been one of my very favorite breweries in my home state of PA.  They don’t make a single bad beer.  Hand me anything that they make and I’ll be happy.  The most unfortunate thing about them and me is that they started producing their much heralded Scratch Series in 2007, the year that I moved to Seattle.  That was a low blow.  They do not currently distribute to the West, so I had to get this one from my beer trade partner.  I will continue to push you to find one of those of your own on the East Coast.

Appearance.

This rare brew pours a slightly reddish amber color with great clarity.  Average carbonation can be reasonable assumed based on the density of bubbles rising from the vessel’s floor and the respectable head that builds on the pour.  This head is constructed of varying sized bubbles , the most impressive of which are mostly confined to the rocky middle of the surface and are quite fine.

The impending recession leaves fairly faint but evenly distributed lacing on the glass.  Ultimately, there is nothing but a fine sprinkling of frost white suds on the surface.

Odor.

The nose is quintessentially balanced.  Yes, the color of this brew offers obvious rationale to the “amber” moniker, but balance must have been a paramount goal here, especially when considering the IBU count.  It, in many ways, resembles a young, weak (in alcohol) barleywine.

It holds a strong piney, earthy hop pungency with a great deal of super sweet, biscuity, caramelized malts.  It’s like eating a datey fruitcake in a tree house built in the sprawling heights of a mighty evergreen.  Possibly like eating that last bit of apple pie crust just at the moment that Clark Griswold cuts the restraining chord on the Christmas Tree.  “Little full, lotta sap.”

Mouthfeel.

Nugget Nectar is very average in this category.  The carbonation doesn’t especially pop and I wouldn’t say that it’s especially full in body, not that I’d expect it here.  The “imperial” prefix seems unnecessary with beers under 8% in my opinion.  It is by no means overtly thin.  It exists properly.  I give it a C.

Flavor.

The flavor is enough to cause me to verbalize “Oh yes!  I remember this gem!”  It kind of exactly parallels the nose with bitterness and sweetness actually becoming tangible on the tongue.  Those elements spin playfully and expertly compliment each other, just as I had suspected.

The piney hops play more of a role in the taste receptors where the bitterness is more less just felt or sensed.  As always is the case, the maltier side becomes more pronounced with warmth, though I’d still say that the hops are always on the highest podium here.

The bitterness is never overbearing, which says a lot about the residual sugars.  I’d say that the maltier notes are more recognizable in the nose than the actual flavor.  The confection nuances are a bit muted behind the hops so it’s mostly just a sweetness that comes through.  I wouldn’t use the word complex to describe the flavor but it’s pleasant.

Aftertaste.

The aftertaste isn’t bad it is about the only area here that bears improvement.  The malts are most discernible here and come across in a way that I can only think to describe as carbon-laden.  Burnt like or charred, like brown sugar scorched on the bottom of a not so non-stick pot.  It wants to be caramelized but it’s overcooked.  It may be the bitterness infiltrating the bakery.

It’s on the dry side but not overtly chalky.

Summary.

In summary, this is a superb example of an outrageously hopped (for East Coast standards) IPA with a nearly perplexing balance.  It suits my sweet tooth and packs enough lupulin to find itself resting in the pages of The Hop Brief despite it’s somewhat misdirected style classification.

Does this beer deserve all of its vast acclaim amongst beer geeks?  I think so.  All of the hops used are very complimentary of each other and the grain bill was clearly conceived with thought and executed perfectly.  Very well crafted indeed.  I’d like to see this recipe on steroids, or… legitimately imperialized… a barleywine to kill all barleywines!

Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.93

Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.96

Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.79

Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.94

Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.96

Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.75

Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.33