Tasting Notes: Gose from Reuben’s Brews

ReubensGosePourThis week’s Tasting Notes finds us fighting off Tampa’s ridiculously sudden spike in humidity with the outside help of some Gose from Reuben’s Brews (Seattle, Washington).

Offered as an incredibly popular Year-Round from this family-run brewery that was named Mid-Sized Brewery of the Year at the 2015 Washington Beer Awards, Gose (pronounced “GOES-UH”) is Reuben’s Brews’ take on a style of German Sour Ale that nearly went extinct before it experienced a recent revival in the U.S.  Staying true to tradition, this Gose is brewed simply with “Lactobacillus, salt and coriander to make a refreshingly crisp brew with lemon notes and a vibrant salinity.” This classic approach to the style has paid off greatly for Reuben’s Brews as Gose has earned the brewery a Silver Medal at the 2015 World Beer Championships, a Gold Medal at the Best of Craft Beer Awards, and two Gold Medals at the Great American Beer Festival (2015 & 2016).  Reuben’s Brews Gose is available in 4-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Washington and throughout the rest of the brewery’s distribution footprint in the Pacific Northwest region.

Now that all the pertinent details are out of the way, let’s jump into these Tasting Notes and get our first sip of this highly-decorated brew!

Tastings Notes for Gose from Reuben’s Brews

Appearance: Gose presents itself as a pale straw-colored brew that is wearing just under two fingers of airy white foam.  Held to direct light, the color holds for the most part but does gain a touch of a lemony yellow tone.  The beer is crystal clear and displays an incredibly active carbonation presence dashing throughout.  The head falters rather quickly, leaving very little foam or lace behind.

Aroma: The aromatics begin with that unmistakable Lactobacillus character that quickly takes shape as a bright lemon note.  Coriander reinforces that citrus quality and offers some floral tones as well.  A gorgeous note of citrus zest (lemon and orange) establishes itself just before the profile closes with a clean wave of salt water.

Taste: This beer quickly grabs the attention of your tastebuds with a bright and lightly tart lemon-lime presence upfront.  Surprisingly, the grains then move in with a gentle bready note that works nicely with the dominating citrus.  Coriander supplies some earthiness and a floral character that blends with the other flavors to offer an almost vinous/white wine-like note at times. As the finish closes in, all of these flavors are ultimately overtaken by just the perfect amount of salinity.

Mouthfeel:  Light in body with a prickly carbonation level, this beer is crisp and refreshing.  Lightly tart and noticeably salty on the palate, it dries out nicely and easily coaxes you to take another sip.  Coming in at 4.3%, the ABV is not at all noticeable.  The aftertaste is just a touch of limeade.

Final Thoughts:  Elegant in its simplicity, Reuben’s Brews Gose is proof that traditional takes on styles – when done correctly – can be just as flavorful and mind-blowing as those limited release, adjunct-laden, hybrid-style ales that always seem to get the beer trading community all in a tizzy.  As soon as you take a sip of this Gose, you are reminded of why beer is so amazing.  It is nothing but simple, basic ingredients coming together to work in harmony and provide sip after perfect sip.  The flavors and aromas are big and attention grabbing, but not overly aggressive or obtrusive. It is simply a Gose as it should be and that is the source of its awe-inspiring beauty.

The most remarkable aspect of this beer is that the folks at Reuben’s Brews did not shy away from the salt – the ingredient that so many breweries skimp on when tackling this style – at all in their Gose.  This example shows you that a proper level of salinity is integral to the style because it does so much to draw attention to the beer’s tart citrus qualities and boost its overall quenching ability.  With this attribute dialed in to the degree that it is, Reuben’s Brews Gose is well on its way to becoming an American-made standard for the style.

Honestly, it is no wonder why this beer has earned such prestigious awards over the years because absolutely everything about it is just so precisely on point.  We may only be five months in, but we can easily declare that this beer will make our Top 10 of 2018.  Yeah, it is that damn good and it certainly deserves any and all praise that it receives.  If you have the ability, do yourself a favor and get yourself some Reuben’s Brews Gose as soon as you can.  It will undoubtedly come in handy this summer.  Prost!

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Tasting Notes – Spirits Edition: Blazing HEEET Vodka from MerryGo Spirits

HEET3For this special edition of Tasting Notes, we find ourselves pregaming the weekend by getting into a little Blazing HEEET Hot Cinnamon Vodka from MerryGo Spirits.

Released as the first high-quality, luxury spirit from MerryGo Spirits, Blazing HEEET is here to spice up your summer with an experience that combines the sweet heat of cinnamon with the crisp taste of vodka.  More than just another gimmicky flavored-vodka, Blazing HEEET is an “ultra-premium American-made Vodka” that is 6x distilled, carbon filtered and made with 100% all-natural ingredients.  Clocking in at 68 Proof (34% ABV), Blazing HEEET is an “intense, hot cinnamon” libation that you can shoot straight, enjoy on the rocks, or mix into your favorite cocktail.  Blazing HEEET Hot Cinnamon Vodka is available now at fine liquor stores for the suggested retail price of $24.99 per 750ml bottle.

Now that we are all a little more familiar with the information behind Blazing HEEET, let’s go ahead and jump headlong into the fire and burn through some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Blazing HEEET Hot Cinnamon Vodka from MerryGo Spirits

Appearance: Blazing HEEET is packaged in a uniquely shaped, squat and heavy glass bottle.  The label is an eye-grabbing reddish orange in color with retro-style fonts, and the design cleverly incorporates actual strike points for matches.  The liquid itself is perfectly clear, but it does take on a bit of a haze when chilled.  There are absolutely no off colors from the added ingredients, and it looks exactly as one would expect when presented with a glass of vodka.

Aroma: That said, those expectations see a little realignment just as soon as you unscrew the cap on this bottle.  At that moment you are hit with a big waft of pure cinnamon.  It has that signature, attention-getting heat that the spice is known for, but there is also a candied note pushing forward. It is almost as if you infused a beautiful vodka with some of those cinnamon candies we all sought after at one time or another as kids.  It is clean, nostalgic, and it certainly has our attention.

Taste:  Each sip of HEEET leads with a rush of sweet heat from the cinnamon.  It is not overly aggressive, but it definitely takes the alpha role in the flavor department.  The heat from the cinnamon then seamlessly threads itself into the booziness of the vodka.  The experience closes with a pure and clean vodka flavor that possesses just a touch of earthiness.

Mouthfeel: Slick in texture, HEEET coats the palate well, hangs around for a moment, and then evaporates slowly to leave behind a lingering heat. That heat comes from both the cinnamon and 34% ABV, but it is tempered beautifully with that subtle sweetness. Subtle is the word here because both the sweetness and the heat are dialed in just right to avoid any issues with cloying.  The aftertaste is straight vodka.

Final Thoughts:  Although cinnamon-flavored spirits are all the rage right now, Blazing HEEET proved to this tasting panel that it is something special.  Sure, the aggressively aromatic cinnamon had a few us more than a little wary, but that all changed with a sip.  This thing is crafted for balance and it is artful in its execution.  It leads with the expected pop of cinnamon, but it is just the right amount to get your attention without burning you down. That is impressive enough on its own, but the finish is what truly amazes us. The fact that this spirit can start with an assertive flavor like cinnamon and close out with an aftertaste that is nothing but clean premium vodka is remarkable.  It would be so easy for Blazing HEEET to be one note, but the folks who crafted it clearly wanted you to know it is a vodka at heart.  This gives Blazing HEEET character, and that is not something we often find in flavored spirits.

All in all, Blazing HEEET just comes together to be a damn tasty flavored-vodka experience that can be easily enjoyed on its own with ice, thrown back as a shot with friends (we might have done a few . . . for science), or used to spice up an old cocktail recipe.  It’s delicious. It’s different. It’s fun. And it does not have be much more than that.  Be sure to check it out the next time you are looking for something to spice up the liquor cabinet.  Prost!

Side Note: Speaking of cocktails, we dabbled with Blazing HEEET in a variety of mixed drinks this week and this one turned out to be the office favorite.

HEEETcocktailShimmering HEEET

  • 1.5 oz. Blazing HEEET Hot Cinnamon Vodka
  • 3 oz. Pear Juice
  • Champagne

Combine the Blazing HEEET and pear juice with ice in a cocktail shaker.  Shake and strain into a collins or highball glass filled with fresh ice.  Top with champagne and enjoy.

This cocktail basically plays on the idea of champagne poached pears.  The sweetness of the pear juice tempers the heat of Blazing HEEET but draws out its comforting cinnamon characteristics. The champagne adds dryness and effervescence to round out the experience. This all results in a ridiculously refreshing cocktail that you can pair with a cool summer evening on the porch or you could use it to break up the mimosa monotony at brunch.

If you do not want to mess around with the pear juice and champagne, you can simplify this into a two-ingredient cocktail by replacing those with a Pear Cider like Samuel Smith’s Organic Perry Sparkling Pear Cider or the more adventurous could use an apple-infused Lambic like Lindemans Pomme/Apple Lambic.

Tasting Notes: Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA from Stone Brewing

StoneSBIPAPour1000For this week’s installment of Tasting Notes, we track down some tropical fruit refreshment in a tall pour of Scorpion Bowl IPA from Stone Brewing (Escondido, California).

Released as the newest Year-Round offering to join the brewery’s respected lineup of IPAs, Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA is Stone Brewing’s take on those trendy, fruit-forward beers that are so popular right now but “with absolutely no addition of fruit.” Relying solely on Mosaic, Loral and Mandarina Bavaria hops, Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA (7.5% ABV, 76 IBUs) offers a tiki-like experience that possesses “hints of passion fruit, pineapple, tangerine, guava and mango . . . as well as strawberry, blueberry and subtle herbal notes.”

Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA is out now and available in 22 oz. bottles and on draft.  You can expect to find this new Year-Round at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia, and throughout the rest of Stone Brewing’s nationwide distribution area.

With all that background information now out of the way, let’s stretch the weekend out into this Monday and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA from Stone Brewing

Appearance: This IPA pours a deep golden in color and is capped with almost two fingers of chunky, white foam.  Held to direct light, its appearance brightens and radiates with light orange and brilliant yellow hues.  The beer is impeccably clear and alive with a steady carbonation presence.  Head retention is decent, but the foam does end up reducing down to a thin ring that draws intricate lines of lace across the glass.

Aroma: Tropical notes abound as mango, cantaloupe, papaya, guava, and pineapple are all eager to greet the nose.  In addition to those fruity tones, the hops also offer a subtle musty and earthy quality that hangs out in the background.  This dynamic hop character dominates the profile, but there is just a hint of lightly sweet, bready malt that works its way in to lend some support.

Taste:  Just like the nose, this brew’s flavor is all about that tropical hop goodness.  It starts with a sweet tangerine/orange character (almost candied orange at times) that opens up to welcome notes of pineapple, passionfruit and mango.  Mixed berries then surface and bring with them some subtle floral and herbal tones.  The malts supply some nondescript but balancing sweetness, but this beer is pretty much just straight hoppy fruit punch.

Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium in body with a lighter carbonation, this beer comes across as smooth and slightly creamy.  Although it is more on the hoppy than bitter side, this IPA is still allowed to retain some West Coast bite that lingers a bit in the finish.  The ABV is well hidden and does not influence the experience really at all.  The aftertaste is a satisfying mix of various tropical fruits.

Final Thoughts: From the first sip to the last drop of this bomber, Stone Scorpion Bowl IPA definitely lives up to its name by conjuring up memories of tiki-themed, fruity drink-fueled good times.  The amount of fruit flavor that Stone Brewing coaxed out of these hops is absolutely staggering and impressive.  With that said, it was refreshing to see that the brewers did buck the low IBU trend by keeping this IPA both hoppy and bitter.  This results in a ridiculously enjoyable combination of fruitiness and hoppiness that is innovative, playful and in your face. In other words, it’s everything that an IPA from Stone Brewing should be.  Prost!

Tasting Notes – Book Review Edition: Booze and Vinyl by André and Tenaya Darlington

BoozeVinylcover
Photo credit – Running Press. All other photos in this post are the property of Mashing In.

In recognition of this past Saturday’s Record Store Day festivities, this week’s special edition of Tasting Notes has us uniting recently acquired vinyl treasures with our love for all things beer and liquor in a review of the newly released Booze and Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music & Mixed Drinks by André and Tenaya Darlington.

Written and compiled to act as “the ultimate listening party guide”, Booze and Vinyl was born from André and Tenaya Darlington’s memories of time spent “[flipping] records on their father’s Thorens turntable, surrounded by jovial guests and the warm glow of the amp.”  The siblings – now food and drinks journalists – have recreated those feelings and experiences in this book by using eye-catching colors, striking photography, and gorgeous graphic design to showcase 70 iconic albums from the 1930’s through 2000’s alongside delicious cocktail recipes that properly convey the mood of the music.

The chapters of Booze and Vinyl are broken down into four genres/moods: “Rock”, “Dance”, “Chill” and “Seduce”. Each album then goes on to serve as its own mini-chapter with informative areas such as “Liner Notes”, trivia-laden background info on each artist/album (did you know Led Zeppelin’s IV “was recorded in a Victorian mansion where the band took breaks to roam the grounds with cups of tea in hand”?), and the “When to Spin” and “Before You Drop the Needle” sections that help you plan the perfect get-together.

Each album is then matched with two cocktail recipes, cleverly dubbed Side A and Side B. These cocktail pairings range from the more-than-obvious – such as Gin and Juice with Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle or a Brass Monkey with the Beastie Boys’ License to Ill – to the imaginative yet wildly appropriate – think a lavender-colored Fallen Angel with Prince’s Purple Rain or a Long Happiness to pair with Björk’s “Violently Happy” from Debut.  Whether it was a band member’s favorite drink, references or originated in the band’s hometown, or just speaks to the overall soul of the band/album/song, it is quite clear that each cocktail pairing was laboriously thought out to ensure that it would enhance the drinker’s experience while enjoying the featured album.

Once you get beyond the beautifully arranged album and cocktail pairings that make up the bulk of the book, you begin to notice some subtly placed how-to and instructional sections meant to help you hone your skills as a host and at-home bartender.  The authors throw in a handful of food recipes to enhance a few of the featured albums and corresponding cocktails – like Punk Rock Tea Party Sandwiches that you can put together while listening to Blondie’s Parallel Lines.  Readers can also find a separate index that helps them easily track down two and three ingredient drinks, tips on “How to Host a Boozy Listening Party”, advice on “How to Host a Whiskey Tasting”, and a short final chapter that helps novice bartenders better understand things like working with eggs in cocktails, making simple syrup, and creating large batches of cocktails for a crowd.  To put it simply, if a reader is left confused or has a question about a recipe in Booze and Vinyl, the book is set up so that he or she can find the needed answers somewhere in those pages.  Every consideration has been made and there is no googling required.

All of that is well and good, but you do not really know much about a book of this sort until you put it to the test.  Since everyone in this office tends to be in the mood for “Rock”, we thumbed over to that chapter, broke out our copy of Appetite for Destruction by Guns N’ Roses, mixed up some Rattle Skulls and held an impromptu listening party to do just that (recipe below is quoted directly from Booze and Vinyl):

BoozeRattle2x675

 

 

Rattle Skull

A popular colonial drink that packs a wallop, this cocktail comes straight at you from revolutionary times to help woo that sweet child.  Why chase your beer with a shot when you can just have them together? That’s the early-American logic of this drink that is hard to refute. Try it over ice or without — the taste is similar to a Cuba Libre (rum and Coke). 

 

  • 12 ounces porter (Our choice was Night Swim Porter from Coppertail Brewing Co.)
  • 1 1/2 ounces rum or brandy (We went with some Dogfish Head Brown Honey Rum)
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 sugar to water)

Add ingredients to a chilled beer mug and stir. 

The often shunned combination of beer and liquor nicely parallels the reckless reputation that Guns N’ Roses earned in the late ’80s, but the Rattle Skull comes together to produce a cohesive, nuanced experience that has stood the test of time . . . just like Appetite for Destruction.   The added lime juice brings out Night Swim Porter’s citrusy hops while the Brown Honey Rum accentuates the beer’s more malty and roasty notes.  Just as the recipe mentioned, the Rattle Skull comes across as a more balanced and dynamic Cuba Libre. This cocktail makes for the perfect drink to enjoy as you scream the lyrics to “My Michelle” (Track 7) or groove along to “You’re Crazy” (Track 10).

With that incredibly fun experience under our belts, we can now confidently declare that Booze and Vinyl is a cocktail guide that goes well beyond any previous experiences you may have had with cocktail recipe books.  It takes the sometimes intimidating art of bartending and makes it incredibly accessible by relating it to something we all love: music.  If a recipe proves challenging, the music – because you know it will be playing in the background – is always there to either draw out that calming, centering breath or pump you up with the confidence needed to totally crush one hell of a cocktail party.  This unique attribute makes Booze and Vinyl much more than just another coffee table book.  It can be read cover to cover or used as a quick reference guide for bartenders of varying experience levels.  Beyond that, this book arms its reader with a wealth of cocktail/listening party ideas that can be employed during a casual Friday night in with friends or in planning full-blown theme parties.  Just pick a genre or artist, stock the bar and fridge, fire up the turntable, and you are set.  Above all, this book mirrors the joy that music provides by putting a smile on your face, conjuring up memories of the past, and offering you the fuel to make some new ones.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes: The Waldos’ Special Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

aviary-image-15241871400464/20 is officially upon us and we are joining the party by getting into some Tasting Notes on The Waldos’ Special Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

Inspired by the Waldos and the “unbelievably-heady-but-totally-true story of” their daily, 4:20 search for a “Secret Garden” (click here to read more about those shenanigans), The Waldo’s Special Ale is brewed with the help of the Waldos and is Lagunitas’ only official Triple IPA.  Tipping the scales at 11.3% ABV and 100+ IBUs, The Waldos’ Special Ale is a 4/20 – or 4:20 . . . whatever works for you, man – appropriate beverage that is meant to be all things “Herbaceous. Botanical. Dank. [and] Resinous.”

The Waldos’ Special Ale is available during the month of April in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft.  You can expect this One-Hitter Release to be on shelves and taps “in HIIIIIIIGHly limited areas” located within Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution footprint.

Now that we are all caught up on this beer’s backstory, let’s pass thing around and start working on these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for The Waldos’ Special Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance: Waldos’ is a hazy, dark orange in color and is wearing well over a finger of tight white foam.  Held to direct light, those orange tones burst with vibrancy as some sunshiny yellows push through.  Although the haze makes this beer almost opaque, a slow and steady carbonation presence can be seen ambling about in there.  Head retention is pretty fantastic, and the only reason the foam cap reduces in size is because of the mind-blowing amount of sticky lace it leaves behind on the glass.

Aroma: The first thing to come to mind here is a huge amount of . . . let’s just be blunt . . . skunky, dank-ass weed.  It so blatant and abundant that is just beautiful.  That herbaceous, earthy note eventually shifts into more of a resiny pine quality.  Citrus and tropical fruit notes do attempt to push their way through the dankness, but they are pretty much sequestered in the background with a little caramel maltiness.

Taste:  The script flips a bit here as pineapple, mango, apricot and orange peel find their way to the palate first.  A grassy quality then slides through and brings that raucous, dank character with it.  This builds to become a pure danknesss that is filled with straight weed, pepper, oregano, various herbal and floral tones, and sticky pine resin.  A sweet honey and caramel sweetness sits underneath all of this, but it simply cannot compete with these hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium in body with a soft carbonation, this beer has an almost creamy texture that possesses a good amount of coating stickiness.  Bitter hoppiness is the name of the game here, but the malts do what they can to loosen the hops’ hold on the tastebuds.  The ABV is nearly unnoticeable and that is absolutely shocking considering this beer sits at 11.3%.  The aftertaste is all honey-laced bud.

Final Thoughts:  Well . . . it is incredibly easy to confirm that The Waldos’ Special Ale lives up to its billing as a 4/20 tribute beer.  The hops are just off-the-charts dank, and they certainly grab a hold of the palate with authority.  That said, this beer is definitely more than a one trick pony.  For instance, the malts are dialed in nicely to impart just enough flavor and balance to keep this lip-smacking, jaw-numbing, enamel-stripping experience manageable.  Also, we still cannot wrap our heads around how the brewers were able to completely hide an ABV of this height. It is simply mind-boggling.  Once you get beyond those pungent hop notes that may conjure up some memories of your college apartment, the level of craftsmanship in this beer becomes so clear that you could literally spend hours contemplating its beauty.  Considering the date, I think many of us have the time to do just that today.  If you can, get yourself some of The Waldos’ Special Ale and settle in for one hell of a ride.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Aloha! Berlin from Stone Brewing & Maui Brewing Co.

StoneMauiBottleThis week’s installment of Tasting Notes has us fending off the midweek malaise with a very special bottle of Aloha! Berlin Imperial Coconut Porter from Stone Brewing (Escondido, California) and Maui Brewing Co. (Kihei, Hawaii).

Originally released back in late 2016 as the first of fourteen Stone Groundbreaking Collaborations brewed to commemorate the opening of Stone Berlin, Aloha! Berlin is an Imperial Coconut Porter that carries on a long history of collaboration between Stone Brewing and Maui Brewing Co.  Filled with “the welcoming spirit of the Aloha State”, Aloha! Berlin echoes past collaborations between the two breweries as it showcases “ingredients familiar to the islands – rich coffee and pounds of hand-toasted coconut – and introduces hazelnuts into the mix.”  Clocking in at 9.3% ABV, Aloha! Berlin boasts an experience “deeply rooted in Hawaii, San Diego, Europe and friendship, capturing the true essence of the word ‘aloha,’ which also means on a deeper level ‘joyfully sharing life.'”

Although Aloha! Berlin was originally released in 2016 via a special-order campaign, a limited amount of it and six other Stone Groundbreaking Collaborations were re-released back in December of 2017.  It may be a bit more difficult to track them down these days, but a few of these 750ml and 1.5L bottles might still be tucked away on shelves at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Virginia and throughout the rest of Stone Brewing’s distribution footprint.

That should just about wrap up this beer’s background info, so let’s properly introduce Aloha! Berlin to a glass and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Aloha! Berlin Imperial Coconut Porter from Stone Brewing & Maui Brewing Co.

Appearance: Aloha! Berlin pours a seemingly black in color and wears right at a finger of almond colored foam.  When held to direct light, the color opens – especially at the edges – to reveal that this Imperial Porter is actually a rich, dark brown.  The beer is opaque, but a pulse of carbonation can be seen near the edges of the glass.  Head retention is decent, but it does eventually fall to a lasting ring that leaves behind chunky lace patterns after each pull.

Aroma: Toasted coconut leads the aromatics with a supporting cast of mixed nuts – mostly hazelnuts and cashews.  Coffee rises up to establish a bit of earthiness and a whole lot of roasty goodness.  That roast then draws your attention to the underlying malts that also offer notes of indulgent caramel and bittersweet chocolate.

Taste: A firm Porter base establishes itself first with really nice layers of dark chocolate, caramel and toffee.  A toasted coconut presence that is both sweet and booze soaked then emerges alongside a dollop of cream.  Just before the entire experience becomes awash with a closing flood of roasted coffee, a European influence settles in as hazelnuts ride in on another layer of rich chocolate.  There is a lot at work here, but it is all nuanced and ridiculously tasty.

Mouthfeel:  Sitting on the fuller side of medium in body with a moderate carbonation level, this beer has a great weight that maintains a smooth, easy sippin’ experience. Although it is mostly sweet on the palate, the roast from the coffee brings out a nice bitterness that assists with balance and keeps this thing from getting cloying.  The ABV does bring a touch of heat to the throat and further promotes this beer’s intention to be a sipper.  The aftertaste leaves behind some dark chocolate and coffee.

Final Thoughts:  Aloha! Berlin comes together as a wonderful mashup of a solid but larger representation of Maui Brewing’s respected Coconut Hiwa Porter and Stone Brewing’s love of everything that is unapologetically big and bold.  That combo on its own is more than enough to result in an amazing beer, but they took this experience to the next level by recognizing the establishment of Stone Berlin with the addition of hazelnuts – an ingredient that is often used in German treats and chocolates.  All of these layers result in a sip that simultaneously possesses plenty of tropical goodness, a European quality that has a comforting familiarity, a robust coffee character that serves as some middle ground, and a careful mix of the three that translates as a slightly scaled back, not-so-sweet German chocolate cake note.  It is everything you could possible want when you see a beer label that reads “Aloha! Berlin Imperial Coconut Porter“.  It is all things Maui Brewing Co. . . . It is all things Stone Brewing . . . and it is abundantly clear why this offering served as the first of the fourteen beers in this series.  If you are lucky enough to run across this beer out in the wild, you owe it to yourself to try it.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Coastline Lager from Due South Brewing Co.

DueSouthCoastlinePour600For this week’s Tasting Notes, we seek out a quiet, relaxing patch of sand so that we can properly enjoy some Coastline Lager from Due South Brewing Co. (Boynton Beach, Florida).

Back in March of this year, veteran owned and operated Due South Brewing Co. announced that it would transition all of its packaged beer to 16 oz. cans.  This move includes all Year-Round offerings that were previously sold in 12 oz. packaging and is being appropriately spearheaded by the emergence of Coastline Lager.  Descriptions are brief when it comes to this new Year-Round offering as the brewery quickly sums Coastline (4% ABV) up as a “crisp and delicious [American-style lager], expertly brewed for wherever your adventure takes you.”  Coastline Lager is available now in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans and on draft at craft beer-focused establishments located throughout Due South’s distribution footprint in Western Florida.

Now that we have those pertinent details out of the way, I do believe it is time to crack these cans, put our toes in the sand and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Coastline Lager from Due South Brewing Co.

Appearance: Coastline fills the glass with a pale, straw yellow-colored brew that is capped with a little over a finger of airy white foam.  Held to direct light, the yellows take on a slightly golden hue, but those straw tones hold most of their ground.  The beer is pristine in clarity and shows a fervid carbonation presence streaming upward in countless uniform lines.  Despite the zealous nature of those bubbles, the head quickly falls to a bubbly ring that occasionally leaves thin threads of lace behind on the glass.

Aroma:  As is the case with most lagers of this kind, the aromatics are light and unobtrusive but still have the ability to make an impact.  A clean grain presence leads the way here with earthy and lightly sweet notes.  The yeast contributes just a touch of fruitiness, and the hops close out the profile with some faint grassy and citrusy tones.

Taste:  Just like in the nose, the first thing to surface is a lightly sweet, reserved grain presence.  The hops are a bit more confident here, pushing forward to balance this thing beautifully with floral and grassy tones that are held up by a light but refreshing lemon and lime presence.  These notes are all distinguishable but remain light enough to quickly cancel each other out in anticipation of the next sip.

Mouthfeel: Light in body with a bright carbonation, this lager is crisp and refreshing.  It is wonderfully balanced on the palate and cleans up nice and quickly.  The 4% ABV is completely hidden, keeping things smooth and easy-drinking.  Aftertaste is a light grain sweetness with a twist of lime.

Final Thoughts:  All in all, this glass holds a clean, crisp lager that wants nothing more than to be just that . . . a lager.  Make no mistake, that statement is not at all calling this beer boring. It is wonderfully executed, but it is a beer that you do not have to think about in those moments when all you want is something cold, refreshing and flavorful.  Coastline Lager is that go-to brew that you can crush on the daily after work, the gym, yard work, a hike, while on the beach . . .  and the list goes on.  Not only that, but it also has gateway potential for those occasions when you have to entertain non-craft drinkers.  It allows you to appease the masses without funding the big boys that mass-produce American Lagers.  Coastline Lager is 16 ounces of easy-drinking, thirst-quenching canned convenience.  When you boil it all down, that is typically what most of us are after when we reach for a lager anyway.  Its simplicity is its allure, and we dig that.  Be sure to give it a shot the next time you get that itch for a lager.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes: Wild Ones from Red Cypress Brewery

RedCypressWildOnesPour1000For this edition of Tasting Notes, we journey into the untamed areas of the craft beer landscape to hunt down a pour of Wild Ones American Wild Ale from Red Cypress Brewery (Winter Springs, Florida).

Originally released by Red Cypress Brewery on December 2 of 2017, Wild Ones is an American Wild Ale that has been “oak fermented and aged . . . for 14 months.”  That lengthy aging process and the use of Brettanomyces yeast ultimately allows Wild Ones (7% ABV) to emerge from its rest with “a big nose of earthy funk and fruit and tastes slightly tart with a white wine oakiness followed by a dry body.”

Wild Ones was released in limited quantities at the tail end of last year, but a quick internet search shows that 500ml bottles of this Limited Release might still be available in Red Cypress Brewery’s taproom and at select craft beer establishments located in and around the Winter Springs/Orlando area.

Alright . . . now that we are all caught up on the back story of this quiet release, let’s crack open a bottle and subject this Wild Ale to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Wild Ones from Red Cypress Brewery

Appearance:  Wild Ones presents itself as a bright lemon yellow in color and is wearing over two fingers of tight, white foam that builds and reaches well above the brim of the glass.  When hit by direct light, this beer absolutely glows as it takes on a shimmering gold tone.  The beer has a soft cloudiness to it, but it remains clear enough for us to observe an insane amount of exuberant carbonation bubbles darting about within.  Head retention is spectacular, eventually reducing down to a chunky finger that lays wide sheets of lace down on the glass.

Aroma: Brett notes just permeates the air with earthy, funky goodness that translates as damp hay, barnyard, musty wood in the attic, leather and touch of pepper.  A gentle sweetness then rises in form of a vinous, white wine character.  The grains hold it all together by adding both earthiness and sweetness.  Gorgeous.

Taste:  The flavors do not deviate far from the aromas as barnyard funk and earthiness once again take lead with some wet hay, grassiness, oak, fresh leather, and a dash of black pepper.  A pop of fruit then surfaces in the form of ripe pear, lychee, and a sweet, semi-dry Gewürztraminer grape/wine character.  A gentle tartness creeps in for just a moment, but it is quickly held in check by a lightly sweet grain character.

Mouthfeel: Light side of medium in body with an effervescent carbonation level, this beer is bright, crisp and refreshing.  It is mostly funky, earthy and lightly sweet on the palate, but there is a slight tartness that carries throughout to balance and dry this thing out.  Although it weighs in at a respectable 7% ABV, there is absolutely no hint of alcohol to found in this beer.  The aftertaste is all white wine and oak.

Final Thoughts:  This lovely beer can be summed up in just three words: Pure Brett Bliss.  Wild Ones is exactly what I – Guillermo, self-proclaimed Brettanomyces fanatic – look for in a Brett beer.  Earthy, barnyard funk is here to carry nearly the entire experience, but it still remains elegantly composed and beautifully executed thanks to its slight tartness and spot on level of sweetness.  Even with all those dynamic flavors and aromas, this beer’s balance keeps the experience refreshing, approachable and damn near gulp-inducing.  It is just so ridiculously good, and it is clearly one of the finest beers to hit our tasting table this year.  If you see it, get it.  Prost!

**Side Note – Wild Ones can also serve well as a gateway beer for wine drinkers. If you have a buddy that enjoys delicate white wines and vehemently claims that he/she just does not enjoy the taste of “beer”, pour them a glass of Wild Ones and watch his/her mind explode.**

 

Tasting Notes: Looking Glass IPA from Starr Hill Brewery

SHBLookingGlassPour600_editedThis week’s installment of Tasting Notes finds us reflecting on the India Pale Ale style as we take a long look at Looking Glass IPA from Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, Virginia).

Currently serving as Starr Hill’s 2018 Spring Seasonal, Looking Glass IPA is a fruity India Pale Ale that sources pronounced “notes of juicy pineapple, mango and passion fruit” from an impressive hop bill comprised of Galaxy, Citra, Mosaic and Columbus hops.  Although Looking Glass (6.5% ABV, 40 IBUs) is packed with a “big hop aroma and flavor”, it remains incredibly easy-drinking “with minimal bitterness.”

Looking Glass IPA is available now and will hang around through April 2018.  You can expect to find this Seasonal brew available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Virginia and throughout the rest of Starr Hill’s distribution footprint.

Now that the background data has been properly presented, let’s gaze deeply into the Looking Glass and lose ourselves in some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Looking Glass IPA from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance:  Slightly hazy in appearance, this IPA presents itself as a pale golden in color with just over a finger of bubbly white foam resting on top.  When held to direct light, the golden tones take on a bit of a soft orange hue.  Although hazy, the beer avoids being ridiculously cloudy and allows the drinker to see the tiny carbonation bubbles hard at work within.  Head retention is good, falling gradually to a lasting cap that leaves an intricate web of lace behind on the glass.

Aroma:  A strong tropical wave hits the nose first with a crash of pineapple and mango.  Grapefruit zest and orange juice act as a solid foundation for those tropical notes and the hops close out with just a grace of pine.  Malts lie underneath with a subtly sweet presence of clean grain.  Mighty juicy and oh-so pleasant.

Taste:  That juiciness carries over onto the palate as Looking Glass basically comes across as a fruit bowl of mango, passion fruit, grapefruit and pineapple blended into a base of sweet orange juice.  The zest of various citrus fruits and a touch of resinous pine then surface to cut the fruitiness at the perfect moment.  The malts and yeast mingle throughout the experience to add some balancing sweetness, but otherwise they are not really players in this game.  The hops are the star, and they flex their ability to provide both a fruit-laden flavor and a subdued but present level of bitterness.

Mouthfeel:  Falling on the lighter side of medium in body with a moderate carbonation, this IPA provides an experience that is quite smooth and easy drinking.  It is nicely balanced and dry, but there is a sharp – but not harsh – jab of bitterness that creeps in near the finish.  The ABV does bring a bit of warmth to the throat at times, but it is not at all out of hand.  The aftertaste is a lingering presence of orange juice with a twist of pineapple.

Final Thoughts:  What we have here is middle ground. Looking Glass IPA has found a comfortable spot somewhere between classic American IPAs and those newfangled hazy brews that everyone is so gaga over these days.  Sure, it definitely has some characteristics of the New England/Hazy IPA: a slightly hazy appearance, a good amount of balance, and a serious burst of tropical juiciness sourced from a sublime hop bill.  With that said, it is not so hazy/cloudy/muddy that it comes across as a tall pour of orange juice in a fancy glass.  It still retains a semblance of that invigorating hop bite that many of us long for when we see the letters “IPA” or the words “India Pale Ale”.  It is there in middle.  It is a balanced and juicy not-so-filtered American IPA.  It is a more bitter, less hazy New England-style IPA.  It is the neutral ground between the two where fans of either style can come together and discuss their allegiances (like adults) over a beer that appeals to both of them.  Now that we are at a point where we are altering and adding style guidelines to accommodate changing tastes and preferences, Looking Glass IPA serves as a much-needed place to discuss where we have been and where we will go in this ever-evolving, hop-fueled realm of craft beer.  It sparks a conversation and I can certainly get behind that.  Be sure to check this one out before its Seasonal run comes to a close at the end of April.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Cold Brew 2.0 from Rogue Ales

RogueColdBrew2.0x1000This week’s Tasting Notes satisfies our mid-day cravings for both coffee and beer with a look at Cold Brew 2.0 from Rogue Ales (Newport, Oregon).

Developed to be a bit of an unconventional union of coffee and a lighter beer style, Rogue’s Cold Brew 2.0 is a Seasonal Blonde Ale that “explores the intricacies of coffee aromatics and delicate malt notes.”  Beer and coffee fans alike can expect Cold Brew 2.0 (5.6% ABV) to supply them with an enjoyable experience that “opens with a big hit of coffee aroma and flavor” – thanks to the recipe’s use of Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee – and closes with the subtle “nuances of the hops and malts.” This Seasonal offering is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft, and you can find it through June 2018 at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Oregon and throughout the rest of Rogue’s nationwide distribution area.

Now that all the pertinent details are out of the way, let’s take a little coffee break and get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Cold Brew 2.0 from Rogue Ales

Appearance – The look is that of a straight-up Blonde Ale.  It pours a pale golden in color and wears a solid finger of creamy, bright white foam.  When held to direct light, the gold gains some intensity and picks up a more vibrant honey-like appearance.  The body is clear and displays an exuberant carbonation presence coursing within.  The head falls quickly to a thin cap that leaves behind pencil-thin streaks of lace on the glass.

Aroma – The nose is greeted by a pronounced note of lightly roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate.  A sugary cream presence builds and comes across as a bit of a marshmallow note.  All of this is supported by a soft maltiness that is most notably characterized as toasty cereal grains.

Taste – This brew hits the palate with a heavy dose of cold brew coffee and a touch of cream. Lightly sweet notes of vanilla and cocoa support the coffee before the experience settles into a full-on Blonde/Cream Ale mode filled with clean malts and balancing hops.

Mouthfeel – Light in body with a medium carbonation, Cold Brew 2.0 still has an impressively sneaky weight to it.  The beer puts those taste buds to work by playing with a soft roastiness, a pleasant level of sweetness, and a gently contrasting bitterness.  All in all, it is nicely balanced and does not overly exhaust any side of palate.  ABV is light (as expected) and keeps things easy drinking and refreshing.  Aftertaste is just a bit of toasted grain and cream.

Final Thoughts – This beer definitely plays with your mind’s expectations as the look and feel are all Blonde Ale while the aromas and flavors possess characteristics that you would expect more from a Porter or a more playful Brown Ale.  That said, the cold brew coffee note is spot on and runs this show.  This dynamic coffee presence rides upon a light Blonde Ale experience to mimic the satisfying nature of an iced or cold brewed coffee.  Rogue Ales absolutely accomplished their mission here by creating an easy-drinking and refreshing coffee beer, and Cold Brew 2.0 can proudly sit alongside Rogue’s Cold Brew IPA as shining examples of successfully innovative and unexpected approaches to using coffee as an ingredient in the brewing process.  Be sure to get your hands on a pour of Cold Brew 2.0 before its Seasonal Release comes to an end.  Prost!