Laughing Dog, the finest brewery in Idaho, at least that I know of, have scored another winner with the Dogzilla Black IPA. This poured with a nice frothy head that lasted to the bottom of the glass and probably would have lasted all night if I left the glass on the countertop. It was as black as advertised, and had a good blast of hops bitterness, balanced by some toasted malt flavors, with a hint of mocha and raisin, but without any real malt sweetness. This seemed to be more of a hoppy porter than a dark IPA, but I can live with their characterization. 7.5/10.
Captain Jack Sparrow – Why is the Rum gone?
Cappy Dick – Cartoon from the Sunday Star Ledger, usually included projects for kids to do, like “pick up pebbles with your toes and put them in a pile.” Probably a closet drunk.
Captain Morgan – Fuel for frat parties. Major ingredient in crappy summer drinks. Truly a vile tasting liquid.
Captain America – The dorkiest of the Comic Superheroes, but I do not read comic books.
Captain Xenu – The Demon of Scientology, nightmare fuel for Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
Captain Beefheart – The Delta Blues after being drenched in Acid. Trout Mask Replica is a bit overrated. Go with Mirror Man, or better yet, try Safe As Milk.
Captain’s Reserve Imperial IPA – Loads of hops as soon as you pop the cap off the bottle. Burnt orange in color and crystal clear, with a minimal head. This beer punches you in the mouth with flavor, and that is a good thing. Very hoppy flavor, with a nice malt balance. This is a complex beer, very enjoyable, and at less than four bucks for the bottle, something of a bargain. 8.5/10
The 2010 Old Guardian Barleywine from Stone Brewing is a top notch beer. It clocks in at over 11% ABV, but is smooth and very drinkable. It pours a burnt orange color with a decent head that lasts to the bottom of the glass. A nice fruity aroma with some hops floweriness and a malty backbone. The caramel maltiness really came through in the flavor. I had this a few weeks ago when I was snowed in one night and it was the perfect cold weather beer. 8/10.
As I have said before, Dogfish Head is one of my favorite brewers. I cannot say that I love all of their beers. Some, like the Midas Touch, I find to be nearly undrinkable. What I love about Dogfish Head is that when they miss, they miss because they are swinging for the fences. I have never tried one of their beers and thought it was too bland, or just a little bit off, or not quite right. Dogfish Head Beers are either home runs or strikeouts. Their beers are not for the faint hearted. At times, like with the aforementioned Midas Touch, Dogfish Head pushes the boundary of what can be called beer. And when Dogfish beers are good, they are really good.
Case in point is the 90 Minute IPA. The 90 minutes in the moniker refers to the amount of time this beer is continuously hopped. Dogfish Head also makes a 60 Minute IPA and a 120 Minute IPA. There is also a 75 Minute IPA that is a blend of the 60 Minute IPA and 120 Minute IPA, and which is only available on tap. (CORRECTION: I have been advised that the 75 Minute IPA is served on cask and has some maple syrup added.)
The 90 Minute IPA is often referred to as an Imperial IPA, but it is unlike any other Imperial IPA I have come across. It is not nearly as hoppy and is much maltier than the standard Imperial IPAs. There was not much head on the pour, but that slight head lasted to the bottom of the glass. The 9% ABV is very noticeable but is not harsh. If anything, the high alcohol taste balances the maltiness nicely and helps to highlight the spiciness of the hops. The beer is remarkably smooth with low carbonation and a velvety texture. I enjoyed the hell out of this beer, and give it a 9/10.
Back to Smuttynose, another one of my favorite brewers. This time around, I sampled their IPA. This beer poured a golden amber, and was crisp, dry, hoppy and damned refreshing. Smuttynose bottles this unfiltered, so there was some haziness when it was poured. Some people find that unappealing but it does not bother me at all. If anything, I find it contributes to the mouth feel of the beer, which was silky smooth here. It had a decent head, which dissipated quickly. This is a smooth beer that can be knocked back all day and/or all night. As I noted before, Smuttynose is widely available throughout the Northeast, and is always reasonably priced. This bomber bottle set me back $2.99, which is probably not much more than the same size bottle of Corona or Bud, and this is so much better. I grade it an 8/10.
There are very few breweries that are as consistently good as Sierra Nevada. I have had most of their beers, and the worst one was still pretty damn good. Sierra Nevada is one of my ‘go-to’ brewers, along with Dogfish Head and Victory.
The Torpedo IPA is a recent edition to the Sierra Nevada lineup, and it is a great one. Intensely hoppy, with powerful pine, citrus and herbal aromas, this beer is easy to drink, and easy to drink quite a few of them, which is a bit dangerous as it clocks in at 7.2% ABV. It pours a dark copper color and keeps a nice head to the bottom of the glass. This is a top notch beer and earns a 8.5/10.
The Sierra Nevada Porter is deep brown in color with a creamy head, but is surprisingly mild flavored. Not much in the way of hops bitterness, it has a slight nutty caramel flavor behind the maltiness. This is not as good as the Torpedo, but it earns a very respectable 7/10.
The Glissade Golden Bock is Sierra Nevada’s spring beer. It poured a crystal clear pale gold with a snow white head that faded quickly. The Golden Bock barely had any hops, and had a slightly sweet malt flavor. It is probably my least favorite of their beers, but it was far from bad. I give it a 5.5/10.
The final beer to be graded is the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Pale ales are the redheaded step children of the beer world. Beer snobs tend to dismiss them because they lack the punch of IPAs and other ‘bigger’ beers, and macro-beer drinkers (god help them!) who try them quickly revert back to their bud swilling ways. I fall in the beer snob category, but not when it comes to this beer. Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is a winner. It is complex, fragrant, and has a helluva lot more “drinkability” than that damned Bud Light. This one gets a 8.5/10.
Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company’ beers usually get great reviews, and they are not widely available in the Northeast, so when I saw some of their beers when I was visiting my sister and her family in Texas, I jumped on the opportunity to try as many as I could. The Long Strange Tripel is part of their SmokeHouse Series of limited edition beers. It is a dead certainty that one of the brewers is a Deadhead, and as you have probably guessed, this beer is a Belgian Tripel. Not being well versed in Belgian beers, I do not know if it is a faithful representation of the style. I do know that it was pale gold and cloudy, with a gorgeous foamy head that lasted to the bottom of the glass. The beer had a sweet and fruity aroma, mostly banana and apple. It had a pleasant malt and yeast flavor, with almost no hops bitterness. I generally like my beers hoppy, but this was an exception to that rule. The Long Strange Tripel grades out at a 7/10, and I have some other Boulevard beers coming up to be graded.