Tasting Notes: Más Agave Grapefruit from Founders Brewing Co.

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we settle into the holiday weekend by getting into a pour of Más Agave Grapefruit from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Introduced back in May as the first variant of the brewery’s wildly popular margarita-inspired Más Agave, Más Agave Grapefruit is also an Imperial Gose “brewed with agave and sea salt before being aged in tequila barrels.” It then sets itself apart from its predecessor once it is removed from the barrels by dropping the lime addition and getting “a dose of fresh grapefruit juice to ramp up the tanginess and to pay homage to [Founders Brewing Co.’s] other favorite tequila-based cocktail, the Paloma.” Coming in at around 10% ABV, Más Agave Grapefruit is “sweet, salty, and mouth-puckeringly delicious.”

Más Agave Grapefruit is available now and will stick around through the end of July 2020.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and throughout the rest of Founders Brewing Co.’s nationwide distribution area.  

Now that we all know how a Paloma-inspired beer is made and how to get it, let’s pop the top on a bottle of Más Agave Grapefruit and combine beer and cocktail hour over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Más Agave Grapefruit from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance: A steady pour from a 12 oz. bottle fills the branded snifter with a beer that is a rich copper in color and topped with just under a finger of loose, slightly off-white foam. When held to direct light, bright orange tones push through to add some brilliance and shine to that copper. The beer is dark but clear, and a vibrant carbonation presence sparkles within. Head retention is minimal, receding quickly to the thinnest of rings that occasionally leaves some spotty lacing.

Aroma: Citrus bursts from the glass and greets the nose with sharp notes of grapefruit zest and juice alongside just a twist of lime. Agave then rolls in to consumes the profile with a wave of tropical sweetness. This note opens further to expose a light tequila note that is more sweet than earthy.

Taste: Things shift around a bit here as a bright, slightly bitter presence of grapefruit zest, juice and pith collides and marries with the sweet agave to strike a beautiful and enticing balance of flavors. The slightly sour Gose base and its wonderful level of salt combines with the pleasant tequila notes to fully capture the cocktail experience and absolutely nail the characteristics of a Paloma.

Mouthfeel: Leaning toward the medium side of full-bodied with a high carbonation, this Imperial Gose drinks lighter than expected and has a refreshing effervescence. Moderately sour and complemented with a nice mix of sweetness and bitterness, this offering is incredibly playful and zesty on the palate. The 9.7% ABV makes itself know with a gently building warmth in the throat, but it never gets out of control. The aftertaste is all grapefruit drizzled with just a bit of agave nectar.

Final Thoughts: Just like the original Más Agave, Más Agave Grapefruit is a massive Imperial Gose that tastes exactly like the intended cocktail it was modeled after while still somehow retaining a dangerously high level of drinkability uncommon for a beer of this ABV. The aromatics and flavors are spot on for a Paloma (besides a touch of added maltiness), but it gives you that full cocktail experience with the convenience of just popping open a bottle or pulling a tap. This level of convenience and its approachable/recognizable flavor makes Más Agave Grapefruit a great option to stock the cooler/beer fridge with this summer because it will easily appeal to non-beer-drinking cocktail fans, seasoned craft beer lovers and everyone in-between. Make sure you give it a try before its limited run comes to an end. Prost!

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits

For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we find the line where Vodka meets Whiskey by getting into a dram of Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits (Rigby, Idaho).

Developed to serve as a shining example of Zodiac’s “passion to go a step beyond,” Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka starts with a gluten-free, potato-based Vodka that is “first infused with natural Black Cherry extract and blended in Idaho, USA with water from the Snake River Aquifer.” Once distilled and blended, the Vodka is then sent to rest in American Oak barrels “to acquire the taste of an incredibly smooth and mellow whiskey with soft cherry and spice overtones.” Weighing in at 35% ABV (70 PROOF), Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka “can be enjoyed straight or mixed with your favorite cocktail.”

Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka is featured exclusively at Bigfire, a restaurant located in Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios Orlando, in its Oaked Cherry Manhattan” and “White Old Fashioned.” If you would like a bottle of your own, you can visit Cask Cartel to purchase a 750ml bottle of Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka.

Alrighty . . . now that we are all caught up on the story behind this offering, let’s see what a “Barrel Rested Vodka” is all about over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka from Zodiac Spirits

Appearance: Poured slightly chilled from a sample vial into a tasting glass, Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka presents itself as perfectly clear and the lightest of straw yellows in color. When held to direct light, most of the color washes out but a tinge of faint yellow is left to remain. When jostled about in the glass, this vodka leaves a slick arch behind which drops wide tears that retreat slowly down to the liquid level.

Aroma: The aromatics open with a sweet burst of candied black cherry. The barrel then pushes through with a solid rush of sweet vanilla. Alcohol rounds out the profile, but it is quite tame and reserved. The aroma reads almost exactly like the interior of a decadent cherry cordial.

Taste: Each sip opens with that neutral spirit you expect from a good vodka, but it slowly morphs to take on a new, more dynamic personality. Smooth vanilla emerges to offer a creamy, almost bourbon-like vanilla note. The black cherry is shy at first, but it gradually blooms to add a gently sweet fruitiness to the experience. The profile closes with incredibly sneaky, soft tones of cinnamon and spice. All expected flavors are present but not at all overly aggressive.

Mouthfeel: Slick in feel, this offering consumes and coats the palate before quickly evaporating (just as you would hope from a vodka). It does lean to the sweet side, but it is not at all cloying. The ABV offers a pleasant warmth in the throat. The finish is mostly clean but there is just a lingering kiss of black cherry left in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts: All too often, a flavored vodka in your glass means there is a good chance that it will be overly sweet, come across as unnaturally flavored, and not give you any indication that it is actually a vodka because it is completely dominated by the added flavoring. This is not at all the case with Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka.

Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka easily sets itself apart from its peers in the flavored vodka game in many ways. First, it tastes and smells like vodka. Sure, it is no longer purely neutral, but it does retain the spirit of the base vodka by providing that clean vodka finish in both aroma and flavor. Second, the black cherry flavoring was added with a deft hand so that it complements gracefully instead of bullishly consuming the entire experience. Finally, the barrel-resting process pulls natural, bourbon-like vanilla notes out of the wood, further reinforcing Zodiac’s subtly and intent to ensure that this offering indeed tastes like a fine spirit and not just an alcoholic flavored syrup.

By starting with a quality vodka, knowing when to say “when” with the black cherry extract, and venturing into a hybrid territory that falls somewhere between vodka and whiskey, Zodiac Spirits has carefully crafted something incredibly special with Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka. Thanks to its nuance and dynamic character, Zodiac Black Cherry Barrel Rested Vodka can be thoroughly enjoyed straight up and also has nearly limitless potential when it comes to both vodka- and whiskey-centric cocktails (one sip of it neat and it becomes quite clear why Bigfire is having so much success in reinventing classic whiskey cocktails with this vodka). It is fun, it is playful, and it will make an incredible addition to anyone’s home bar. Head over to Cask Cartel and get yourself a bottle of this Limited Release while you still can. Prost!

Tasting Notes: Raspberry Gose from Bravus Brewing Co.

For this installment of Tasting Notes, we wander into the world of non-alcoholic beer and get acquainted with Raspberry Gose from Bravus Brewing Company (Newport Beach, California).

One of the six Year-Round offerings in Bravus Brewing Company’s non-alcoholic lineup, Raspberry Gose is Near Beer take on the Gose style – “a sour style with some salt added (or historically, derived from local water sources).” This example utilizes a “very, very small amount of salt added with the intention of balancing some of the sweetness of the raspberries.” Coming in at less than 0.5% ABV, Raspberry Gose is “a super light and refreshing summer crusher with a wonderful raspberry tartness.”

Raspberry Gose is available Year-Round in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans. You can purchase this non-alcoholic brew online or at select craft beer-friendly establishments located within Bravus Brewing Company’s distribution footprint in Southern California. 

Now that the background information is out of the way, let’s crack open a can and see how this non-alcoholic brew measures up over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Raspberry Gose from Bravus Brewing Co.

Appearance: A gentle pour from a 12 oz. can produces a hazy, straw yellow-colored beer capped with a tight finger of bright white foam. When held to direct light, the color holds for the most part but the faintest of red tones does push through to add a bit of vibrancy. The beer is lightly cloudy, but a steady stream of carbonation bubbles can still be seen cascading within. Head retention is good, eventually falling to a scattered top cap that occasionally leaves behind wispy strings of lace on the glass.

Aroma: The raspberry is super forward, supplying plenty of juicy fruit and gently tart notes. There is also a lactobacillus-like mustiness here supporting and complementing the berries. A touch of salinity lingers in the background but does not really assert itself.

Taste: The raspberries dominate here as well, but they are offering more of a sweet and fruity character than tart. A light layer of wheat malt adds to this sweetness, while the mustiness found in the aroma returns to add some more dimension and draw attention to the beer’s gentle tartness that surfaces more in the finish. The salt is quite muted and nearly undetectable.

Mouthfeel: Light in body with a medium carbonation level, this beer has a soft weight to it on the palate and dries out nicely in due time. Although it is more sweet than tart, the overall experience is still nicely balanced and high in drinkability. The lack of alcohol does not take away from this Gose since the style tends to hide the ABV well. The aftertaste is a good amount of lingering raspberry.

Final Thoughts: Since the Gose style is typically very low in ABV, this goes a long way to help sell the illusion that Raspberry Gose is the real deal and not just a Near Beer. As a fruited Gose, the flavors are pretty spot on and it even gives you a bit of that lactobacillus character. The only gripe we could come up with is that it could definitely use some more salt but, to be fair, we pretty much say that about each and every Gose we come across. All in all, Raspberry Gose has the same feel, flavor and easy drinking nature you expect from a good Gose, and it should definitely be on your radar whenever you are after a non-alcoholic brew. Prost!

Tasting Notes: RecreationAle from Terrapin Beer Co.

TerrapinRecreationAlePourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we escape the home office to find some outdoor, weekend serenity with a little help from RecreationAle LoCal IPA from Terrapin Beer Co. (Athens, Georgia).

Recently reformulated to be lightened up a bit in appearance, calories and carbs so that Terrapin Beer Co. can join in on the low-calorie beer movement, the new RecreationAle is a low-calorie Session India Pale Ale that “still packs in all the *dry hop* flavor and aroma of the original RecreationAle.” Weighing in at just 99 calories and 3.9 grams of carbs per 12 oz. serving, RecreationAle LoCal IPA is the perfect brew to “enjoy after a day on the trail.”

The new RecreationAle officially launched on February 19 and has now made it into full distribution.  You can expect to find this Year-Round offering available in 12-packs of 16 oz. cans, on draft, and in the brewery’s IPA Survival Kit Variety 12-pack of 12 oz. cans at craft beer-friendly retailers, bars and restaurants located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and throughout the rest of Terrapin Beer Co.’s distribution area.

Now that we are all caught up on the changes RecreationAle has underwent, let’s crack open a few cans and see how the new version stacks up over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for RecreationAle LoCal IPA from Terrapin Beer Co.

Appearance: A gentle pour from a pint can produces a soft, golden yellow colored brew capped with a finger and a half of fizzy white foam.  When held to direct light, the color adjusts to more of a straw yellow hue.  This IPA is clear and displays a vibrant carbonation activity working within.  Head retention is good, falling to a foamy top cap that notches the glass with a line of lace after each pull.

Aroma:  The aromatics are straightforward and basically a proud showcase of Citra hops.  Big notes of sweet orange and grapefruit dominate while a subtle waft of earthy and floral notes provide support.  It is simple but it is absolutely lovely.

Taste:  Although the flavor is light (as expected from a low-calorie beer), the hops do take the lead here and are actually quite dynamic in range.  A gentle fruitiness offers notes of orange, lime, passionfruit, peach and tangerine while a pleasant floral character gives the hops some added depth.  The flavor profile closes with an almost Lager-like malt character that finishes super clean.

Mouthfeel:  Light in body with an effervescent carbonation presence, this LoCal IPA is incredibly refreshing and easy drinking.  Rocking a balance that is spot-on, this beer dries out nicely and is oh-so clean. The 4.2% ABV is well hidden, further elevating the overall drinkability of this offering.  Aftertaste is minimal, but there is a slight amount or sweet orange left to linger.

Final Thoughts:  This new version of RecreationAle has plenty of hop flavor and aroma for a low-calorie IPA, but it still has all the drinkability you seek from a lighter beer.  Flavorful and extremely crushable, this beer has everything you could want after a day on the trail or whenever you are after a super sessionable beer to enjoy while hanging out on the back porch.  Keep the new and improved RecreationAle LoCal IPA in mind for warm weather outings that require you to fill a cooler or whenever the beer fridge needs a restock of lawnmower beer.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: 1966 Coffee IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery & Peet’s Coffee

21stAmendment1966PourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we kick off another week of social distancing by multitasking our two favorite beverages – beer and coffee – thanks to a pour of 1966 Coffee IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery (San Leandro, California) and Peet’s Coffee (Berkeley, California).

Brewed to recognize the year when “Alfred Peet opened his coffeebar at the corner of Walnut and Vine in Berkeley and changed the way Americans, and the world, thought about coffee,” 1966 Coffee IPA (6.8% ABV) is a West Coast-style India Pale Ale featuring “aromas of fruity blueberries and bright citrus notes from Columbus, Citra, Amarillo, and Centennial hops.”  To cover the coffee side of this IPA, Ethiopian Super Natural Coffee from Peet’s Coffee was “incorporated several ways in the brew, including ‘dry-hopping’ with whole beans,” to provide “[accents] of rich coffee . . . balanced with malt structure and defined bitterness all giving this West Coast IPA a phenomenal flavor profile.”

1966 Coffee IPA debuted back in late January of this year and the brewery’s Beer Finder indicates that there is still a good amount of this brew floating around out there. You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located in Florida, California and throughout the rest of 21st Amendment’s 28 state distribution footprint.

Alright . . . now that we know why and how coffee came to meet up with this IPA, let’s see how it all comes together in a glass over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for 1966 Coffee IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery & Peet’s Coffee

Appearance:  A quick but careful pour – one you would expect from a somewhat caffeine-starved human being who has been spending way too much time indoors – produces a beer that is a deep golden yellow in color and capped with almost two fingers of frothy white foam.  When held to direct light, the golden tones hold and shine brightly.  This IPA is clear and shows off a casual carbonation presence bubbling away within.  Head retention is quite nice, falling slowly to a complete top cap that leaves the glass covered in sheets of lace.

Aroma:  Up front, the nose bursts with IPA goodness as the hops unleash incredibly fragrant notes of citrusy grapefruit, lime and orange alongside some soft floral tones.   The coffee complements the hops with a little added fruitiness that resembles mixed berries.  A gentle malt presence rounds everything out with a bit of honey and wheat.

Taste:  Almost a mirror of the nose, the flavor profile opens with juicy, citrusy hop notes of orange and grapefruit.  The added coffee supplies a balancing earthiness and a fruity pop of blueberry. Bitterness is subdued (just a touch of grapefruit zest and pine in here supplying some bite) and that is thanks to a gentle, closing layer of honey and caramel coming off the malts.

Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium in body with a medium carbonation level, this IPA is incredibly easy-drinking and dries out beautifully.  The balance is impeccable by being not too hoppy/bitter and not too sweet. The 6.8% ABV is surprisingly non-existent, further elevating the beer’s overall high level of drinkability.  The aftertaste is all citrusy hops.

Final Thoughts:  For those folks out there who have been on the fence about the idea of trying a “Coffee IPA,” 21st Amendment’s 1966 Coffee IPA is the one example you need to seek out.  The chosen beans from Peet’s Coffee meld perfectly with the hop bill to strike a gorgeously balanced experience that unites the worlds of coffee and beer in a cohesive way that just makes sense.  Hopheads will be happy to know that this is an IPA first as the hops shine brightly and boldly, but the coffee takes things a step further by complementing, accentuating and mimicking hop aromas and flavors with added floral, fruity and earthy notes.  The overall idea of coffee being an ingredient in this IPA is subtle, but its impact on the hops is powerful as it elevates the entire sensory profile with wonderfully placed layers of complexity.  If you are at all a fan of IPAs, do not let the word “coffee” in the name throw you.  Get yourself a 6-pack of 1966 Coffee IPA while you still can and see for yourself the amazing things that the right coffee can do with your beloved hops.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Island Mango Twist from Garage Brewing Co.

GarageIMTPour_editedFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we enjoy an at-home tropical getaway from our social distancing routine thanks to a few cans of Island Mango Twist from Garage Brewing Co. (Temecula, California).

Meant to magically whisk you away from whatever daily life can throw at you, Island Mango Twist is a Hefeweizen “crafted with a twist of mango, pineapple and coconut.”  Coming in at a highly drinkable 5.2% ABV, Island Mango Twist is here to “take you on an island vacation without even leaving your couch” . . . which is super convenient now that we are all being asked to shelter in place during this whole COVID-19 situation.

Island Mango Twist is available now for a limited time.  You can expect to find this Seasonal offering available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 22 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located within Garage Brewing Co.’s distribution footprint in Southern California and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Now that we all know a little of the info behind the beer, let’s crack open a can and daydream about an island vacation over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Island Mango Twist from Garage Brewing Co.

Appearance: Island Mango Twist pours a bright, gold-tinged orange in color and is topped with just over two fingers of lush, white foam. When held to direct light, those golden hues take over and leave just a bit of orange to rest at the core of the beer.  This brew is sporting that beautiful, OG Hefeweizen haze/cloudiness, but a spritely carbonation presence can still be seen dancing within.  Head retention is good, eventually falling to a complete top cap that draws spindly lines of lace on the glass at times.

Aroma: Classic Hefeweizen character surfaces first with a good amount of banana and a touch of bubblegum. A coconut presence then brings a tropical breeze of coconut water and sweet coconut meat.  Mango, pineapple, and a bit of papaya closes out the profile with a lively burst of fruitiness.  This beer basically smells like you just peeled back the foil seal on a tropical fruit cup.

Taste: Mango and pineapple lead the show here, quickly establishing a solid and juicy tropical vibe. That vibe intensifies as the coconut offers just the right amount of complementary rich creaminess but without overpowering the fruits.  The Hefeweizen base closes out the experience with a healthy, lasting pop of banana.

Mouthfeel:  On the fuller side of medium in body with a lively carbonation, this Hefeweizen is soft and pillowy in texture but still moves quickly across the palate to find a somewhat dry finish. The balance does lean to the sweet side, but it really could not get any more perfect considering the added fruits and coconut. The 5.2% ABV is super light, only hinting at a grace of heat in the throat at times.  The aftertaste is all banana and coconut.

Final Thoughts: Island Mango Twist does a fantastic job of being unmistakably tropical while avoiding being overly sweet. The Hefeweizen style proves to be an ideal base for this beer as it carries the tropical fruit and coconut well, adds those wonderful banana notes, gives the beer a lush feel and weight, and also adds a sense of balance. This results in an experience that has all the tropical notes you crave from a tropical/tiki-style mixed drink, but with the ABV and drinkability of a session beer. All in all, Island Mango Twist is a perfect go-to beer to enjoy by the pool or on the couch while binge-watching whatever show you are trying to catch up on during this whole stay-at-home situation.  Stay well, be safe, and drink on some Island Mango Twist if you get the chance.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Porter’s Small Batch Rye from Ogden’s Own Distillery

PortersRye3x800For this special Spirits Edition of Tasting Notes, we find a little escape from all the worries floating around the world these days by getting momentarily lost in a dram of Porter’s Small Batch Rye from Ogden’s Own Distillery (Ogden, Utah).

Developed to be the first non-flavored whiskey to join the Porter’s portfolio, Porter’s Small Batch Rye is a Straight Rye Whiskey that is comprised of a “95/5 blend of rye and barley . . . to deliver well-balanced flavor.”  Aged for over three years in heavy charred, new oak barrels . . . at 111 proof,” Porter’s Small Batch Rye is finished by being “blended down to 90 proof with Ogden’s Own Distillery’s signature water blend.”

Produced as a limited run of just 1,000 cases, Porter’s Small Batch Rye is available now in 750ml bottles adorned with “labels made from a real wood veneer.”  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering at fine liquor retailers located in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Michigan. Bottles of Porter’s Small Batch Rye can also be ordered online through Hi-Time Wine Cellars (shipping available to CA, AZ, CO, FL, HI, ID, MO, ME, NE, NM, OH and WA).

Now that we are all caught up on how Porter’s Small Batch Rye was made and how we can get it, let’s pour a little into a fancy glass and see how it all comes together over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Porter’s Small Batch Rye from Ogden’s Own Distillery

Appearance: Served neat and at room temperature into a shaped whiskey glass, Porter’s Small Batch Rye pours a honey gold in color.  When held to direct light, that honey-like hue brightens and glows softly.  This whiskey is absolutely pristine in clarity.  When jostled about in the glass, the liquid leaves a slick, wide-sweeping arc that drops thin, quick-moving tears back down into the pour.

Aroma:  Rye immediately hits the nose with an array of spicy, peppery notes that are complemented by toasted, bready grains.  Sweeter tones of caramel and tropical/citrus fruit then bloom a bit. The wood character then surfaces with light notes of vanilla and fresh oak.  Straight booze and a touch of dill spice round out the profile.

Taste:  Spicy rye takes lead here as well by supplying big notes of black pepper, clove, cinnamon and baking spice.  The barrel then smooths out those spicier/sharper edges with vanilla, caramel, toffee and oak. A dollop of honey adds a bit more sweetness while a twist of lemon brightens things up a bit.  The dill character that surfaced in the nose is light, but it does hide in the background at times.  The experience closes with some bready grains and a touch of herbal black tea.

Mouthfeel:  Medium in weight, this whiskey softly coats the palate for a moment, but it dries out nicely. Heavy on the spice at times, it does eventually find a nice balance thanks to the sweeter notes coming off the barrel and grains.  Although the nose was filled with booze, the 45% ABV is actually pretty tame on the palate and only offers a gentle warmth in the throat and belly.  Black pepper and caramelized grains are left to linger in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts:  Despite having only aged in barrels for three years, Porter’s Small Batch Rye surprisingly drinks with a balance that you would expect from an offering that has spent a little more time on oak.  Sure . . . the nose comes across a little hot and boozy and the overall experience is filled with plenty of punchy, spicy rye character, but this younger Straight Rye Whiskey is mellowed out nicely with a hefty infusion of barrel-sourced notes of vanilla, caramel, toffee and oak.  This creates an enticing sip that can easily appeal to lovers of Rye Whiskey and also Bourbon fans who are looking to branch out into rye.  Add in the fact that this is an incredibly reasonably priced Straight Rye Whiskey (currently going for only $18.99 a bottle over at Hi-Time Wine Cellars), and it suddenly becomes really difficult to find a reason to not give this limited-edition offering a shot at making your home bar’s roster.  Seriously, make sure to keep Porter’s Small Batch Rye in mind the next time you are on the hunt for a Straight Rye Whiskey.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA from Wild Leap Brew Co.

WildLeap3HarvestPourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, we freshen up our weekend with a few cans of Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA, a special collaboration project from Wild Leap Brew Co. (LaGrange, Georgia) and Extreme Hops AL (Auburn, Alabama).

Named after “the number of harvests that the hydroponic hops will have each year,” Three Harvest is a Double India Pale Ale featuring “fresh Cascade hops directly off the hop bines” at Extreme Hops AL.  Thanks to the use of “a hopping process new to Wild Leap,” Three Harvest (8.2% ABV) comes together to be an “easy-drinking and juicy Double IPA” that boasts “a citrus-forward aroma and classic Cascade grapefruit and pine flavors.”

Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA officially debuted in early February and will be available only as long as supplies last.  You can expect to find this Limited Release offering available in 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer-focused establishments located within Wild Leap’s distribution footprint in Georgia.

Now that we are all up to date on how the beer was made, let’s get to know these fresh hydroponic hops over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA from Wild Leap Brew Co.

Appearance:  A somewhat overzealous pour (we really do get excited about fresh hop beers around here) from a 12 oz. can produces a DIPA that is light golden in color and capped with right at two fingers of creamy white foam.  When held to direct light, the golden hues brighten, gain vibrancy and shimmer. The beer does have a gentle haze to it, but steady streams of carbonation can still be seen swirling up from the base to feed the top cap.  Head retention is good, eventually falling to a frothy ring that drops chunky lines of lace on the glass whenever it is disturbed.

Aroma:  Cascade hops are simply but beautifully showcased here in the nose.  Bright notes of grapefruit juice and zest abound while a bit of orange juice turns up to offer a light layer of sweetness.  A waft of pine then works its way in to supply some added sharpness and further amplify those grapefruit tones.  The malts are light and do not offer much other than a grace of nondescript sweetness.  The aroma is all hops . . . and all is right in the world.

Taste:  Just like the nose, this beer’s flavor is focused on showing an endless amount of love to those fresh hops.  Unmistakably Cascade, each sip is filled with an abundance of grapefruit zest and pine resin alongside that slightly grassy, green character you get from fresh hops. Any bitterness that surfaces is immediately tempered by a touch of sweet orange and a vanilla-laced floral presence.  The malts are not adding much as far as flavor, but it is clear that they are silently hard at work balancing everything out.

Mouthfeel:  Medium in body with a moderate carbonation level, Three Harvest has a soft, slightly creamy feel that reads more like a Hazy DIPA than a more traditional example.  Balanced nicely with the hops offering minimal bitterness, the overall experience is juicy but not too sweet.  The 8.2% ABV lends a bit of heat in the throat and chest, but it is subtle and not at all overwhelming.  The aftertaste is all grapefruit juice and zest.

Final Thoughts:  Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA does an excellent job of capturing and prominently featuring the essence of those fresh Cascade hops from Extreme Hops AL.  Wild Leap’s new-world approach to Double IPAs – falling somewhere in the sweet spot between West Coast and New England-style Hazy/Juicy examples – acts as the perfect vehicle to push and drive these hops to reach their full potential.  The hops lead with that sharp West Coast presence of grapefruit zest and pine, but any real levels of bitterness are quickly washed away by their juicier qualities.  Just when you think it cannot possibly get any better, that indescribable “green” note you get with fresh hops is the bow placed on top of the gift that is this wildly easy drinking Double IPA.  If you are at all a fan of Cascade hops, you seriously need to track down some Three Harvest Fresh Hop Double IPA while you still have the chance.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Civilized Brut IPA from Founders Brewing Co.

FoundersCivilizedPourFor this installment of Tasting Notes, sophistication abounds as we get into a few cans of Civilized Brut IPA from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Introduced back in November to appeal to the “more sophisticated IPA drinker,” Civilized Brut is a Brut-style India Pale Ale that possesses “a clean and restrained bitterness” alongside a “malt sweetness [that allows] the hop notes to tantalize your senses in a bold yet never-overpowering way.” Coming in at a refreshing 6% ABV, Civilized Brut is “brilliantly bubbly, refreshingly crisp and stunningly clear, similar to a fine Brut Champagne.”

Civilized Brut is available now and will last through March 2020.  You can expect to find this new Seasonal Release available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans, 15-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Michigan and throughout the rest of Founders Brewing Co.’ s nationwide distribution network.

Now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s break out the fancy glasses and get further acquainted with Civilized Brut over some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Civilized Brut IPA from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance: A steady pour from a 12 oz. can produces an IPA that is a light but brilliant gold in color and topped with just over two fingers of fluffy white foam.  When held to direct light, the color lightens to more of a straw yellow.  The beer is pristine in clarity and shows off the exuberant carbonation presence working within.  Head retention is quite good, falling slowly to a lasting finger that eventually leaves the empty glass coated with intricate patterns of lace.

Aroma:  The nose leads with nicely pronounced citrus notes of lemon, grapefruit, orange and tangerine.  The hops then slightly shift their influence to lend some earthy and herbal tones.  The malts are light in this area, but they do offer a touch of crackery sweetness in the background.

Taste:  The hops are quick to strike with some sharp, pithy citrus notes that read as lemon and grapefruit zest.  Sweet citrus and tropical tones then tame that initial burst with notes of orange juice, mango and passionfruit.  The hops fully express themselves by closing out their performance with a grace of peppery, grassy, floral and herbal notes.  The malts are subdued here as well but do supply some balance with an undercurrent of biscuity and crackery sweetness.

Mouthfeel:  On the lighter side of medium in body with a bright carbonation level, this IPA is incredibly crisp, clean and refreshing.  Although the hops do assert themselves (in flavor but not in bitterness), the overall experience proves to be balanced and finishes nice and dry.  The 6% ABV is light, but it does allow for a bit of warmth in the throat at times.  A touch of grapefruit zest and grassiness is left to linger in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts:  When it comes to the Brut IPA style, Civilized Brut flawlessly executes in all areas.  While the bitterness levels are reduced, this IPA still gives you a wide range of hop flavor while remaining amazingly dry, crisp and easy drinking.  Each flavorful sip begs you to take another, making the overall experience feel light and incredibly refreshing.  Then, before you know it, sips turn into gulps, one glass turns into two (or more), and you are left wondering why you have not been drinking more Brut IPAs up until this point.

Seriously, if you have been looking for the right beer to help ease you into the world of Brut IPAs, we could not recommend Civilized Brut more.  Just keep in mind that this Seasonal brew is available in 15-packs . . . because you will end wishing you bought one when you are two cans deep into a sixer.   Just take our advice on this one, make it happen and go big while you are at it.  Prost!

Tastings Notes – The Classics: Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier

HackerPschorrPourx800For this installment of Tasting Notes, we turn a spotlight on the long-standing classic that is Weissbier from Hacker-Pschorr (Munich, Germany).

With “more than 600 years of world class brewing experience” behind it, Weissbier is a German-style Hefeweizen that is “naturally cloudy, full-flavored and uniquely refreshing.”  Coming in at 5.5% ABV, Weissbier “[caters] to consumers who know beer and appreciate the historic brand’s unique and complex flavor.”

Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier is available Year-Round in newly introduced 4-packs of 16.9 oz. cans and on draft.  You can expect to find this classic offering at fine beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida and throughout the rest of the U.S.

Now that we have gone over a bit of the background information concerning this beer, what do you say we enjoy a tall pour of German brewing tradition over some Tasting Notes?

Tasting Notes for Weissbier from Hacker-Pschorr

Appearance: A slow, careful pour from a 16.9 oz. can produces an absolutely gorgeous Hefeweizen that is golden orange in color and capped with almost four fingers of dense and creamy bright white foam.  When held to direct light, the deep golden hues gain vibrancy and the oranges radiate with intensity.  The beer has that trademark Hefeweizen cloudiness, but a steady carbonation activity can still be observed coursing within.  Head retention is fantastic, eventually falling to a lasting finger that dutifully notches the glass with a line of lace after each sip.

Aroma: The malts casually push through first to establish a solid bready presence (think really good, hearty wheat bread that is still warm). This sets the stage for the yeast to take over with big notes of banana and clove.  The hops then interject with some floral tones and a touch of black pepper before the profile closes with a bit of bubblegum.

Taste:  The yeast character is just heavenly, providing generous amounts of banana, clove and bubble gum.  The wheat then neatly weaves its way into the yeast notes, creating a complementary bready quality that translates as freshly baked banana bread.  The hops then surface to round everything off with a bit of citrus, black pepper and tangy floral notes.

Mouthfeel:  On the light side of medium in body with a medium to high carbonation level, this Hefeweizen is ridiculously smooth, easy drinking and thirst quenching.  Lightly sweet on the palate, the overall experience is nicely balanced as the yeast and hop notes even things out.  The 5.5% ABV is not at all detectable, further adding to the beer’s high level of drinkability.  The aftertaste is just a bit of clove, citrus and bubblegum.

Final Thoughts:  After just a few sips, it becomes quite clear – not that it was ever in doubt – that Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier possesses all the characteristics you expect from a well-composed Hefeweizen.  Where it sets itself apart from the long list of iconic German-made Hefeweizens is in the area of overall drinkability.  With its lighter body, higher carbonation level, reasonable ABV and refreshing flavors, Weissbier is downright crushable and a perfect option if you want to break up your routine when it comes to daily drinking options, lawnmower beers, etc.

Once we combine all of the above with the fact that Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier is newly available in these handy 16.9 oz. cans, we can easily declare that now is the perfect time to revisit this classic.  Just grab a few 4-packs, load up the cooler or fridge, and enjoy this traditional German goodness while watching the game, grilling out with friends, at the beach, after a hike, etc. After you crush that first can and reach for the second (and watch your buddies do the same), you will make sure that Hacker-Pschorr Weissbier – and other Hefeweizens like it – will have a place next to those IPAs and Pilsners the next time you entertain or hit the outdoors.  Prost!