Tilting Suds is a big fan of Victory Brewing. Hop Wallop was a Christmas offering a few years back, and proved to be so popular that it was made into a year round Imperial IPA. It is aptly named, as it does pack a wallop of hops bitterness. Hazy and pale gold in color, with a fluffy white head, this has the lacing of a hefeweizen, but that is where the similarity ends. This has piney hops, orange peel hops, grapefruit hops and just when you think that you are hopped out, here come some peppery hops. The Hop Wallop is very dry with no malt sweetness whatsoever. I loved this beer, 7.5/10, but I am not sure how many of these I would want to drink in a night, and at 8.5% ABV, I am not sure how many I could drink in a night.
In my Garden of Eden, there would be a few things I’d absolutely require. My two dogs would be there with me, and my nieces could come and visit them anytime. There would be a perpetual barbecue pit going, and a never-ending supply of brisket, pork shoulder, ribs, and lamb shoulders would always be just ready to come out of the smoke, along with a few chickens when I feel like dining light. Apple would make a 160 gig Ipod Touch for me, so I could have all of my music, plus the web surfing capability of the Touch. There would be a small library with enough books to keep me occupied. Scarlett Johannson and Chan Marshall would be in a perpetual cat fight over me, and Christina Hendricks would pop in every so often just to see how I was doing. Finally, instead of a river of crystal clear water, there would be several babbling brooks of good beers that I could dip my mug in and savor at my heart’s delight. Remember Augustus Gloop and the River of Chocolate? It would be like that, except beer instead of chocolate, and there would be no pain in the tucchus Wonka to gripe about me contaminating the river.
One of those brooks would be an Imperial IPA, and the Weyerbacher Unfiltered Double Simcoe IPA is a candidate to be the beer bouncing over the rocks. This poured a hazy deep burnt orange with a sticky head. Some mango and pine on the aroma, but the hops taste was a blast of pineapple, with a good malty undercurrent to balance it out. The 9% ABV is prominent in the nose and the taste. This may not be the one to make it to the Garden of Eden, I have more beers to sample before I make that decision, but it is a good one, 8/10, and I hope there are at least a couple of kegs of this in Purgatory.
I am usually not a fan of German style beers, but when the weather turns warm, I find myself reaching for weissbiers in all of their refreshing varieties. They are light, yet still flavorful, and being relatively low in ABV, you can have a few to quench your powerful thirst on a hot day. I had my first Sly Fox beer just a few weeks ago, and it was good enough and cheap enough that I am trying to work my way through their stable of beers in short order. I tried another one recently and the Royal Weisse is a big hit here at Tilting Suds. Pale golden and cloudy on the pour, with the banana and clove aroma and flavor that I associate with German summer beers, this had a nice wheat maltiness and an effervescent carbonation that was refreshing. I had a few of these while I was grilling my dinner after a long bike ride along the Hudson River, and they were perfect. I am giving the Sly Fox Royal Weisse an 8.5/10, and will be drinking it all summer long.
Pennsylania’s Legacy Brewing entry in the Imperial IPA is called ‘Hoptimus Prime’ and I am going to dock them half a point because I hated the Transformers movies. I get that is a snappy marketing angle, but Sweet Jeebus those movies sucked. I avoided giving this beer a try because of my dislike for those movies, and that makes me an idiot, because this is a damn fine Imperial IPA. Pale amber in color, slightly cloudy, with a glorious head, the hops are so piney that drinking this is like chewing a Christmas Wreath, and while that image is kind of nasty, I mean that as a compliment. This is a big beer at 9.0% ABV, and it is dry dry dry, with almost no malt profile to speak of, but somehow this beer comes together nicely. I give it a 7/10, and vow to not let movie snobbishness chase me away from good beer in the future.
I am a big fan of Victory Brewing. Their offerings are usually excellent, and the Yakima Twilight is no exception to that general rule. It was maltier than I expected, almost chocolatey, but that is not a complaint. The malts are more prominent than the hops, but the hops are definitely present in a resinous sticky aroma and flavor. It is a complex and interesting beer, with a touch of smokiness, and well worth a tipple. This is described by Victory as an American Strong Ale, and at 8.7% ABV, it is certainly strong. It reminded me of a porter, albeit a hoppy porter. No matter how it is described, it gets an 8/10.
Mr. JK emailed me on Saturday night with some interesting news. His son had become buddies with an exchange student from France, and the French student had smuggled in some unique cheeses (a raw milk cheese for starters) when he came to study in Bernardsville. As Mr. JK had been given a selection of these cheeses, why didn’t I come in to NYC on Sunday and try some? Sure thing, I said, as long as it was copasetic with Mrs. JK. Late Sunday morning I got the green light, all systems were go, so I hopped on the PATH, grabbed a few beers when I got to NYC, and headed to their apartment.
Mr. JK set out the raw milk brie type cheese (which felt like velvet on my tongue), a goat cheese rolled in ash (which was brilliant), and an interesting roquefort, among some others. He also made some salsa and hummus. Mr. JK is a gourmand, like me, and an excellent cook. I have never had a bad meal made by Mr. JK, although whatever he can make, I can make better, and he knows it. Enough about him, let’s get to the beer.
Although we had not coordinated beforehand, Mr. JK and I both picked up a couple of saisons for our afternoon of beer and cheese. The first one that we cracked open was the Weyerbacher Muse Farmhouse Ale. Mr. JK took one sip and said that he hoped I was going to pan it. I didn’t think it was that bad, but of the three saisons we sampled, it was the lesser of the group. The Muse poured a cloudy orange, with some herbs and orange zest on the tongue. Not awful at all, in fact it was quite drinkable, but it lacked the complexity I associate with saisons, and Belgian style beers in general, and it fell well short of the next two beers we tried. 5.5/10.
Jolly Pumpkin has an excellent reputation, and I was looking forward to cracking open this bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere Farmhouse Ale. I was not disappointed. It poured cloudy and orange, with that funky yeast aroma that I love, along with some coriander and lemongrass on the nose. I noticed some fruity flavors, apple and pear, and a very subtle hops bitterness. Mr. JK was less impressed with the Jolly Pumpkin than he was with the Weyerbacher, giving it a “three at best.” I disagree with him, giving it a 7.5/10.
We finally agreed on the Bruery Saison de Lente. This is the Bruery’s spring seasonal, and it is light and refreshing and perfect for a warm spring afternoon. It has a pillowy head that lasts to the bottom of the glass. I picked up some lemony notes in the aroma and the taste, with the subtle funkiness from the yeast adding some fennel seed flavors, all tied together by the flowery hops. I am not sure what Mr. JK gave it, but I am giving it a 8.5/10. After we kicked the saisons and the cheese, I accompanied Mrs. JK to the Post Office across from the Garden to help her mail some packages. We replenished our beer supply (reviews to come later) and got Mrs. JK some wine, and retired to the roof deck for drinks and laughs. I have been advised that any photos taken that evening of the participants are not to be published.
KA-BOOM! That is a Hops Hand Grenade on the the label, and there is certainly an explosion of flowery, resiny hops as soon as you pop the cap on the bottle of Troegs (there should be an umlaut over the ‘o’) Nugget Nectar. The hop explosion is perfectly balanced by some peachy and pear sweetness from the toasted malts. It had a beautiful fluffy head on top of a crystal clear pour. Very smooth drinking, despite the 7.5 % ABV. I paired this with some of JC’s finest pizza, topped with black olives and anchovies, and it was an outstanding combination. The Nugget Nectar gets an 8/10. This is apparently a rare one, and is only available for a limited time, so grab a bottle if you see it.