Unclassifiable, Yet Awesome: Ithaca Excelsior Thirteen Anniversary Ale

August 12, 2011

The label describes Ithaca Beer Company’s Excelsior Thirteen Anniversary Ale as a “Malt Beverage Brewed With Citrus Peel – Double Hoppy Wheat Ale” but that somewhat schizophrenic description does not come close to describing the awesomeness that is this beer.  It is boozy (8.9 % ABV) like a barleywine, chewy like an oatmeal stout, hoppy like an imperial IPA, and as refreshing on a hot summer day as any hefeweizen.  Did I mention that it has a nice orange and lemon peel flavor? No? Well, add those to the flavor profile.  I don’t know what to call this, other than great, and a contender for Best Beer of the Year, 9/10.  Big thanks to Aaron for getting this to me in a recent trade.


Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 11

April 27, 2011

Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing Company has a series of special releases called the Divine Reserve.  Each release is a different beer style, and is extremely limited in quantity.  I had the Divine Reserve Number Ten at the end of last year, and enjoyed it immensely, so when I heard that Number Eleven was going to be an Imperial IPA, one of my favorite beer styles, I was looking forward to giving it a shot.

I would have tried it anyway, but when someone on my twitterfeed wrote #DR11 > Pliny the Elder, I made damn sure to secure some.  I sent the word out that I was looking for it and when the GEB said her local shop had a couple of cases, I gave her the greenlight to grab me a six.

It pours a beautiful burnt orange color that practically glows, with a nice meringue like head. The hops whack you in the nose before you take a sip.  The hops are fruity, with some grapefruit, orange peel, pine and mango, perfectly balanced by the caramel malts. This a very smooth and easy drinking beer, which is dangerous as it clocks in at 10% ABV.  I won’t say it is greater than Pliny The Elder, but that comparison is not all that outlandish, 9/10.

I have had this on tap a few times over the past several weeks.  While still an excellent beer, all of those wonderfully complex flavors are a bit muted on draft, dropping the score to 8/10.


Sierra Nevada Makes A ‘Meh’ Beer

February 17, 2011

I am a huge Sierra Nevada fan, and was beyond excited to see this on the shelf at my local beer emporium, but the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum falls short in a number of ways.  First of all, the name:  Sierra Nevada usually does not use puns when naming their beers, preferring to use simple descriptions like ‘Pale Ale’ or ‘Stout’.  This is the first pun I can recall them using, and let’s be honest, it is sort of lame, not punny at all.  It is certainly no ‘Modus Hoperandi‘.

Second, the label:  Anthropomorphizing a hop cone has been done so many times before that it is no longer creative or interesting.  Normally, I would not even comment on the label, but this just struck me as dull.  Unfortunately, the label is not the only thing that is dull about this beer.

Third, the beer:  The beer is not bad, but it is not up to Sierra Nevada’s usual high quality.  It pours a nice orange color.  The hops are piney and prevalent, along with some caramel malt, and it is boozy at 10.4 % ABV, but there is just not much going on here.  It is just not very interesting, and considering this is Sierra Nevada we are talking about, interesting should be the bare minimum we can expect, 5.5/10.


Ska Brewing Co.

November 10, 2010

I was a huge Specials fan when I was a kid.  Still am in fact, and I still love all of those old Two Tone Bands so when I came across Ska Brewing Co.’s beers, with their obvious homage to the iconography of the record label, I had to give them a try.  It was the marketing that made me pull their beer off the shelf the first time, and while it worked with me, how many middle aged beer dorks are there who are also music geeks specializing in British Post-Punk Music of the Thatcher Years? In any event, while it was the packaging that first caught my eye, it is the quality of their brew that keeps me going back to them.

The Modus Hoperandi (Great name!) is a hop bomb extraordinaire with massive amounts of piney hops in the nose and the taste, a rich amber color with a white head, 6.8% ABV and a thick chewy mouthfeel to boot.  I love this beer, 8.5/10.

The Decadent Imperial IPA is a boozier version of the Modus Hoperandi with some spice and sweetness added to it.  I noticed the 10.0 % ABV immediately upon opening the bottle.  The alcohol is that strong on this one, but it is tempered by the flowery hops, both of which carry over to the flavor.  I liked it, but not as much as the Modus Hoperandi, 7/10


Bridgeport Hop Czar

October 18, 2010

Oregon is the Bourdeaux region of American Craft Beer.  There are just so many great breweries in Oregon, and they are churning out so many great beers, that it is hard to keep up.  Hop Czar is the only beer from Bridgeport Brewing that I have had, and it is a good one.  The color is a bright, almost weird orange.  As soon as you pour this, you get hit in your nose with some strong citrusy hops.  Those hops carry over into the flavor, balanced with some breadlike malts and a slight burn from the 7.5% ABV.  Me likey this Imperial IPA very much, 8/10.


Ten Word Round-Up of Beers

June 24, 2010

I have fallen a bit behind on reviewing beers, so I am going to do a quick round-up of some recent beers in ten words or less.  Here we go:

Schmaltz Brewing He-Brew Rejewvenator (Year of the Date-2009): Too Sweet for me,  match with salty pastrami, good marketing, 6/10.

Arcadia Brewing Big Dick’s Old Ale: Stupid name, vinegary, malty, possibly skunked, poured out, nothing else, N/A.

Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA:  Run, do not walk, for this outstanding Imperial IPA, 8.5/10.

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock: German Smoked beer, dry cured sausage, must try other styles, 7/10.

Southhampton Biere De Mars:  Nice malty, hoppy, yeasty balance, smooth, bready aftertaste, delicious, 7.5/10.

Oskar Blues Truck:  Craft Beer in Cans is taking over!


Speakeasy Double Daddy IPA

June 23, 2010

I loved this beer.  It was to my tastebuds a typical West Coast Imperial IPA: High Alcohol (9.5% ABV), caramel malts, and hoppy as a mofo, with some mango and orange peel mixed in there as well.  The Speakeasy Double Daddy IPA poured a cloudy orange with nice head retention.  Mr. JK loved this one too.  We paired it with some skirt steak and broccoli rabe*, and it was fantastic, 8/10.

*MR. JK and I have perfected the art of cooking greens.  We blanche the greens (in this instance, broccoli rabe) in rapidly boiling salted water, then plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking, and then drained and squeezed to get as much water out of there as possible.  With broccoli rabe, the peeled stems are added first to cook them some more than the leaves, which cook quickly. Minced garlic and ginger are tossed into a hot wok with some sesame oil and cooked quickly, and then the greens are added to the wok, along with some super hot pickled peppers that Mr. JK picked up on one of his Chinatown excursions.  Tasty stuff!


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