April 28, 2010
Washington’s Elysian Brewing Company’s beers have started to pop up with increasing frequency here in North Jersey, and I can’t complain about that. The beers I have had have been uniformly good.
The Avatar Jasmine IPA is brewed with dried jasmine flowers added to the boil. Having had some flowery beers recently, I cannot claim to have picked up any jasmine in the aroma or the flavor, but it did not matter with this excellent IPA. The hops are herbal and grassy, and there is a touch of lemon on the tongue. The malts are a subdued caramel, and complement the hops perfectly. At 6.3% ABV, this is a smooth drinking IPA. I am giving it a 7.5/10.
The Elysian Loser Pale Ale is another winner. Brewed as a tribute to Seattle’s Sub Pop Records*, this pale ale poured a burnt orange with some nice lacing running up the glass. The hops had notes of pineapple and herbs, but were mild and muted and went nicely with the creamy maltiness. This was a smooth drinking pale ale, perfect for the cool spring evening that I knocked it back on, 7/10.
*Hag was a huge Sub Pop fan back in late eighties, especially their ‘Dope and Fucking Guns in the Streets‘ series, but then again who wasn’t?
April 12, 2010
Despite it being the warmest weekend of this young year, when my thoughts usually turn to hefeweizens and saisons, I grabbed a few different stouts this weekend. I chose one stout billed as having a coffee flavor, and one with a chocolate taste.
First up was the Coffee Stout, part of the Brewer’s Reserve Series from Vermont’s Long Trail Brewing Company. There was absolutely no head at all on this deep, dark pour. Although this is brewed using Vermont Coffee Company Dark Roast coffee beans, specially roasted for Long Trail, the first thing I noticed in the aroma and the taste was chocolate. There was a slight coffee aftertaste on this, which as it warmed tasted somewhat like cola. This was a smooth drinking beer even with an 8% ABV. I give it a 6.5/10.
The Dragonstooth Stout from Elysian Brewing is brewed with rolled oats, roasted barley and chocolate malts, with centennial and cascade hops to give it some bite. The first thing I noticed on this beer was the taste of dark coffee, with a hint of cocoa in the background, along with some smoke. The hops are prominent in the aftertaste. This poured with a frothy cappuccino colored head, which lasted to the bottom of the glass. Not as smooth as the Coffee Stout, but I liked the hoppy bitterness. 7/10.
To sum up, the Coffee Stout tasted chocolatey to me, and the chocolate stout tasted like coffee. There is a good chance that I have no idea what I am talking about.
April 5, 2010
I spent an enjoyable afternoon this weekend at the Blind Tiger Alehouse in New York. They recently had an event for Dick’s Brewing Company from Washington State, so more than half the taps were given over to Dick’s beers. This is not a bad thing, as most of the beers I tried were superb, with special focus on the cask conditioned IPA and the Dry-Hopped Mountain Amber. Both were hoppy and flowery, and as smooth drinking as they come.
The first beer on the board that I noticed was the Imperial Stout aged in a Bourbon Oak Cask. I decided to try that one last, figuring that it would be a strongly flavored beer that might blow out my taste buds, leaving everything else tasting thin and lifeless. While I was working my way through the other beers, a keg kicked and they tapped the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, which is also aged in oak bourbon barrels. As I could now do a side by side comparison, my beer dorkiness was at an elevated level.
First up was the offering from Dick’s. My drunkenly scribbled notes start off with “Holy Shit! Fantastic!” This beer was smooth as silk, with perfectly balanced vanilla and oak in the aroma and the taste. A fantastic beer, as good as I have had in ages. 9.5/10.
The Goose Island was not quite as good, though if I had not just had the Dick’s to compare it to, I’d probably give it the same superlatives. The same oak and vanilla flavors were there, but they were overly aggressive and overpowered any subtler flavors this beer may have had. Do you remember how Nigel Tufnel’s amps went to 11? The Goose Island Bourbon County Stout may “go to 11” but I am giving it an 8/10.