Tasting Notes: SWEET ACTION Blonde from Sixpoint Brewery

6ptSweetActionCan1000As another week comes to a close, the latest Tasting Notes segment has us slipping into the weekend with a little SWEET ACTION from Sixpoint Brewery (Brooklyn, New York).

Staying true to their evolutionary, mad science approach to craft brewing, Sixpoint Brewery recently announced that they have reformulated their entire line of Core beers to create “the rawest, juiciest, and most modern iterations” to date.  The affected beers and their updates are as follows:

  • BENGALI IPA – “With BENGALI, we tweaked the hop character, and incorporated some new hop strains we’ve just recently acquired, to seriously dial in that citrusy-tropical aroma. Then we smoothed out the texture with oats, and dried out the malt body to let the hops take full control. This thing is all about huge tropical character up front, and a clean, dry finish.”
  • THE CRISP Pilz – “We went to Germany for this one. When it comes to German hops, American breweries are often left with the scraps (we call that the “hop sausage.”) So we go straight to the source to get the prime cuts. For the first time, the Tettnanger and Hallertau hops in THE CRISP are sourced 100% directly from farmers in Tettnang, Germany — now that bright, floral aroma on this dialed in Pilz comes absolutely flying out of the glass.”
  • RESIN IIPA – “This dank dive into the hop cone just got more potent — unfiltered RESIN is insane. The hop aroma coming off this thing is almost scary.”
  • SWEET ACTION Blonde – “You can think of SWEET ACTION Blonde as a cleaner take on SWEET ACTION, with a massive focus on the juice. The addition of Huell Melon hops, a new and super legit strain, plus the unfiltered nature of the beer give you an amazing hop aroma that you’ll still recognize as distinctly SWEET ACTION. It’s got aspects of a blonde ale, a wheat beer, and a juicy pale ale.”

To keep the packaging as fresh as the updated beers within, Sixpoint has added “both Canned On and Best By dates” to their cans.  Additionally, the 6-pack holders now include a “Freshness Window” – a clear opening on the bottom of the package – so that you can easily check these dates at the time of purchase.

The reformulated Core beers are available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft.  You can find these updated brews at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, New York and throughout the rest of Sixpoint Brewery’s distribution area.

The update information seems to indicate that SWEET ACTION has undergone the biggest overhaul of the four beers, so let’s crack open a can and take some Tasting Notes on this reinvented brew!

Tasting Notes for SWEET ACTION Blonde from Sixpoint Brewery

Appearance: After a careful pour, SWEET ACTION presents itself as burnt orange in color with a little over a finger of slightly off white foam sitting on top.  Held to direct light, the colors brighten to expose deep golden yellows that surround an orange core that remains at the beer’s center.  The beer is moderately hazy, but it still allows the drinker to observe the streaming carbonation presence within.  The head has fantastic retention, falling marginally to just under a finger of creamy foam.  This ever-lasting head leaves behind considerable chunks of lace all over the glass.

Aroma: The hops are definitely running this department.  Fresh and fruity hop notes of melon, tangerine and a touch of berry confidently lead the way for a more reserved malt sweetness.  The aroma is all business.  Attention grabbing, straight-forward and direct, its mission is to cut through all the BS to take you deeper into the SWEET ACTION experience.

Taste:  This is probably one of the cleanest representations of Huell Melon hop character that we have ever experienced.  This hop is clearly the star attraction here, and its melon notes are incredibly blatant and lovely.  A bit of orange zest comes through, but that melon just dominates the hop flavor profile.  Reserved but not anywhere near forgotten, the malts do surface toward the finish with a doughy, bread-like character to add some balancing sweetness to the equation.

Mouthfeel:  This brew is on the light side of medium in body with a crisp carbonation level to it.  The beer teases both the bitter and sweet areas of the palate.  The flavors do lightly linger a bit before clearing out, but this is more than welcomed considering that melon note just further adds to the beer’s overall refreshing and easy-drinking nature.  The 5% ABV is hinted at from time to time, but it is absolutely no cause for concern.  The aftertaste is just a touch of citrus zest.

Final Thoughts: Just as Sixpoint Brewery says in the updated description for SWEET ACTION, this brew seriously does show characteristics of three different styles.  To start, the appearance leads you to believe that you are looking at an American Wheat Beer. An American Pale Ale then boldly surfaces in the aromatic and flavor profiles with a forward hop character that is wonderfully balanced by the malts.  Finally, the mouthfeel goes all American Blonde Ale on you to supply an overall experience that is refreshing and approachable.  With all of this considered, it is easy to declare that the reformulated SWEET ACTION has all the moves necessary to capture and keep your attention for quite a while.  This beer is a hit and you really need to check it – and the rest of Sixpoint’s reinvented Core lineup – out as soon as possible.  Prost!

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Tasting Notes: Grateful Pale Ale from Starr Hill Brewery

GratefullabelAlways grateful for another amazing week, we show our thanks by having a look at the newly “Remastered” version of Grateful Pale Ale from Starr Hill Brewery (Charlottesville, Virginia).

Not too long ago, we hit you with the news that Starr Hill Brewery had “Remastered” a classic by updating the recipe for their Grateful Pale Ale.  The brewers decided to take Grateful back in the direction of an American Pale Ale instead of a Session IPA.  The beer was tweaked so that it would carry a fuller mouthfeel to support “a revamped hop bill [featuring] Cascade, Mosaic, Centennial and Falconer’s Flight.”  Thanks to hop-bursting techniques, Grateful Pale Ale now has enhanced aroma and flavor profiles that have been carefully balanced by the beer’s sturdier malt backbone.  Grateful Pale Ale – Remastered is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles, 12 oz. cans, and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Virginia and throughout the rest of Starr Hill’s distribution area.

Now that the particulars are out of the way, let’s really see what these changes are all about by getting into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Grateful Pale Ale – Remastered from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance: Grateful Pale Ale pours up a soft golden in color with a little over a finger of white foam resting on top.  Held to the light, bright yellows gain vibrancy, push forward and dominate the color.  Despite a slight chill haze, the body is clear and shows off a vivacious carbonation presence.  The head recedes quickly to a fluffy ring that successfully lays down a complete sheet of lace on one side of the glass.

Aroma:  Lemon and orange zest make themselves known first with a very fresh floral tone following closely behind.  This opens a bit further to expose a bit of grassiness and grapefruit.  This fresh and citrusy aromatic profile just screams of refreshment and clean hop goodness.

Taste: Right off the sip, citrus gets all up on the palate with big notes of grapefruit, orange and tangerine (zest and juice).  That floral and grassy earthiness turns up here as well to break things up a bit.  All of this hop character eventually gives way to a softly sweet malt layer.  The malts are nondescript in flavor, adding just enough sweetness for balance.

Mouthfeel:  This Pale Ale is medium in body with a medium carbonation level.  The beer has good weight to it, allowing it to linger just a bit on the palate.  Although this brew is hop forward in flavor and aroma, the bitterness has been nearly canceled out with a beautiful balancing sweetness.  The ABV has minimal effect, and the beer proves to be wonderfully refreshing and easy-drinking.  A little orange zest is left behind to linger in the aftertaste.

Final Thoughts: With its newly reformulated recipe, Grateful Pale Ale – Remastered certainly harkens back to the days of the classic American Pale Ale in body and feel while still staying current with its pronounced but balanced hop character.  Don’t let us mislead you because this beer absolutely highlights all the citrusy and refreshing qualities possessed by the utilized hops.  Hop fiends will surely find plenty to like in Grateful Pale Ale, but there is more at work here that must be lauded. This beer’s dedication to the Pale Ale may appear subtle on the surface, but it easily gets your attention if you happen to go looking for it. Its mouthfeel has a luxurious weight and texture to it that you just cannot find in today’s Session IPAs.  Then you have Grateful’s laser-focused balance that gives you hop flavor with very little residual bitterness.  This approach to the American Pale Ale provides us with a beer that can either be crushed without a thought after mowing the lawn or slow-sipped and contemplated over while relaxing after dinner.  Grateful Pale Ale – Remastered has depth, and it is clear that a lot of thought went into its development.  Incredibly well done and we will definitely be back for more.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Hatchery Series #2 – Mexican Style Lager from SweetWater Brewing Company

hatcheryMEXlabelNow that we have successfully completed the move of Mashing In’s headquarters, it is finally time to celebrate with a little Tasting Notes action featuring Hatchery Series #2 – Mexican Style Lager from SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia).

Released as SweetWater Brewing’s official beer of Cinco de Mayo and summer (a.k.a. Lawnmower and Shower Beer Season), Mexican Style Lager is the second packaged release from the brewery’s Hatchery Series – a line of limited release beers (typically draft only) created on the brewery’s new pilot system.  For their take on the Mexican-style lager, SweetWater laid a base with a proper malt bill (2-Row, Flaked Maize, Vienna Malt, Carapils) and then dosed it with “El Dorado hops to give this brew slightly sweet, malty, and tropical fruit aromas.”  At just 4.8% ABV and 29 IBUs, Mexican Style Lager is an easy-drinking, go-to option meant for any occasion during the summer months.  12 oz. bottles of Hatchery Series #2 – Mexican Style Lager are available now exclusively in SweetWater’s Summer Variety Pack alongside Cool Breeze Cucumber Saison, Goin Coastal IPA with Pineapple, 420 Extra Pale Ale, and Hash Session IPA.

Now that the details are covered, that can only mean one thing: cerveza time!  Let’s get into these Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Hatchery Series #2 – Mexican Style Lager from SweetWater Brewing Company

Appearance: Mexican Style Lager fills the glass as a bright golden brew topped with a finger of loose, pure white foam.  When held to the light, the beer radiates with tones of rich golds and electric yellows.  The body is perfectly clear and wonderfully displays the beer’s spirited carbonation activity.  The head has decent staying power, but eventually falls to a chunky ring that notches the glass after each pull.

Aroma: The aromatic experience begins with that alluring and quintessential lager note of lightly sweet, bready grains.  A touch of corn rises up and gives way to a delightful hop character.  Notes of apricot and sweet melon easily distinguish themselves, but do so in a manner that still allows room for those gorgeous malts to remain and bloom. Beautiful.

Taste: Malts once again lead the way with notes of quality bread, sweet corn, and just a dollop of honey.  The hops play more of a role here by really showcasing a pronounced apricot character, but a touch of pineapple and watermelon can be found kicking around in the back.  The fruitiness is relatively subtle, but just forward enough to give the flavor profile a bit of added depth and complexity many may find lacking in typical Mexican-style lagers.

Mouthfeel: Just as it should be, this lager is light in body with a pretty sizable carbonation presence.  The beer is playful on the palate with a slight sweetness that is consistently canceled by just enough hop bitterness.  Skillfully balanced, incredibly clean, nicely crisp and damn refreshing.  At just 4.8%, the ABV displays zero effort to make its presence known.  Aftertaste is a slight but wonderful mix of grain and apricot.

Final Thoughts: Hatchery Series #2 – Mexican Style Lager is exactly as billed . . .  a really good take on a Mexican-style lager.  Although the El Dorado hops are a fresh (and lovely) addition to this established style, the beer remains a beautiful homage to the many beers that came before it.  It pulls this off by really emphasizing each and every aspect of its malt bill to give it that incredibly recognizable lager grain quality.  By perfectly setting the dials marked “malt” and “hops”, the brewers at SweetWater have supplied their fans with a stunning lager that is somehow both simple and dynamic.  Those terms may sound contradictory, but those descriptors are truly a requirement for any great lager of this style.  You simply do not run across many memorable Mexican-style lagers, but Hatchery Series #2 – Mexican Style Lager absolutely is one.  Be sure to check it out this summer.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Tropical IPA from Garage Brewing Co.

garageTropIPA1000Our well documented love of hops surfaces once again in this week’s installment of Tasting Notes as we have a look at the Seasonal release of Tropical IPA from Garage Brewing Co. (Temecula, California).

Established in 2013 in what was once an eight-bay garage, Garage Brewing Co. hit the California beer scene with a mission “to provide exceptional beer in an array of styles that appeal to a broad spectrum of beer lovers.”  Since many homebrewers got their start in a garage, Garage Brewing Co. uses their own to adopt the homebrewer’s freedom to dabble and experiment so that they can “stay on the cutting edge of the craft beer industry.”  This approach allows their brewing team to “maintain four or more year round styles and regularly rotate in five to six seasonal creations.”  The beers of Garage Brewing Co. are currently available in over 100 locations within the Inland Empire and San Diego County areas of California.

One of the most recent releases from Garage Brewing Co. is their Tropical IPA.  This Seasonal brew is an American India Pale Ale that has been heavily dosed with the flavors of grapefruit, pineapple and passion fruit.  At 7.5% ABV, this refreshing brew promises to be the perfect balance of tropical fruit notes and hoppy goodness.  Tropical IPA is available for a limited time in 22 oz. bottles.  It just so happens that we were lucky enough to get our hands on a bottle, so let’s pry off this cap and get to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Tropical IPA from Garage Brewing Co.

Appearance: Tropical IPA fills the glass as a bright orange-colored brew with a frothy two fingers of white foam lounging comfortably on top.  Held to the light, sun-kissed yellows appear but that deep, vibrant orange holds its ground at the center of the pour.  The beer is pristine in clarity and displays an enthusiastic carbonation activity coursing within.  The head drops down to a complete and lasting finger that lays down wide sheets of lace after each sip.

Aroma: Tropical leads in the name and it certainly leads in the department of aromatics.  Incredibly clean notes of pineapple and grapefruit hit the olfactory quickly and clearly.  Seriously, the pineapple is impressively pronounced and enticing.  Orange and tangerine notes reinforce the tropical character before giving way to a lightly sweet grain presence.  A wisp of hop resin breezes through to close things out.

Taste: Juicy, tropical fruit notes once again strike first with passion fruit and grapefruit immediately establishing their dominance.  Those notes eventually allow the hop character the chance to show off a playful bitterness that bounces back and forth between pine and the zest of various citrus fruits.  Pineapple slips through the back door with the malts to lay down a bit of balancing sweetness.

Mouthfeel: This IPA is on the lighter side of medium in body and has a prickly carbonation level.  This combination keeps the beer easy-drinking and constantly begging for another sip.  The hops do have some stick to them, and this allows the beer’s flavors and bitterness to linger a bit.  Both sweet and bitter on the palate, balance is eventually achieved so the beer can clear out and allow the palate to reset.  At 7.5%, the ABV presence is well masked and never makes a noticeable appearance. The aftertaste keeps things tropical with lasting notes of pineapple and grapefruit.

Final Thoughts: Garage Brewing’s Tropical IPA absolutely showed up to represent itself in the incredibly popular fruited IPA segment while still remaining true to its West Coast IPA roots.  The tropical fruits definitely get top billing in this release, but the hops are still given a chance to work and add their own distinctive dimension to the experience.  The real showstopper with this beer is the aroma.  I simply cannot think of another beer that has such a blatant and pronounced pineapple character billowing from the glass like this Tropical IPA.  Once you combine that with the juicy tropical fruit flavors and the hidden ABV, you are left with a ridiculously easy-drinking and refreshing IPA that is a fantastic go-to option after any hot day.  If you happen to be in the SoCal area, be sure to give this one a shot.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Daycation IPA from Highland Brewing Company

daycationbottle1000This week’s installment of Tasting Notes provides us with an early jump on the weekend as we get into a little Daycation IPA from Highland Brewing Company (Asheville, North Carolina).

To provide their fans with a bit of an escape from daily life, Highland Brewing Company launched Daycation IPA as their newest year-round offering back in March.  While creating the recipe for this low-gravity, sessionable IPA, the brewers at Highland intently focused on the grist bill – comprised of six malts: 2 Row Brewers Malt, White Wheat, Rye, Vienna, Caramel 20 and Flaked Oats – so that they could achieve a “desired balance and body” that would make a memorable impression on the drinker.  Once this goal was met, the recipe was then loaded with Mosaic, Azacca and El Dorado hops to yield a refreshing, 4.9% ABV India Pale Ale that is packed with “tropical, lemony, pineapple leaf flavors and aromas, perfectly balanced with a bready, bright, sessionable body.”  Daycation IPA is available now as a year-round offering.  You can find this brew available in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Highland Brewing’s distribution footprint.

Now that the particulars are out of the way, it is finally time to kick back and experience all that a Daycation has to offer!

Tasting Notes for Daycation IPA from Highland Brewing Company

Appearance: Daycation IPA presents itself pale golden in color with a solid finger of fluffy white foam resting on top.  Held to the light, the color softens even more to expose some straw-colored tones.  The body is immaculately clear and displays a bustling carbonation activity.  Although stubbornly persistent, the head eventually falls to a thin but complete top cap that sporadically spots the glass with lace.

Aroma: Ripe to overly ripe peaches hit the nose first with a bright, juicy sweetness.  This is followed quickly by an interesting mix of mango, pine and grassiness.  Things then take a tropical turn as lemon, tangerine and pineapple all raise their hands for roll call.  The aroma closes with a lightly-sweet, cracker malt presence.  Beautifully dynamic and complex here.

Taste: Papaya and its slightly spicy/peppery seeds delightfully kick off the flavor experience and open up further to expose a wealth of tropical fruits.  Mango, pineapple, tangerine, sweet orange, cantaloupe and grapefruit are all accounted for.  A wave of earthiness then moves in with piney, grassy and floral tones.  Consistent with the nose, the flavors subside to expose a wisp of bready malt character.

Mouthfeel: This beer is light in body and has a spirited level of carbonation. Although it is light, the beer still retains some weight to it.  It is difficult to explain, but it possesses an airy creaminess that allows its flavors to casually move across the palate.  With that said, the beer remains ridiculously refreshing, easy drinking and clean.  At 4.9% ABV, there is no indication of alcohol presence.  Just bitter enough on the palate to remind you that this is an IPA, but not at all aggressive.  Aftertaste is just a touch of citrus and pine.

Final Thoughts: Overall, Daycation IPA coolly represents all that I expect when I think “Session IPA”.  It quickly checks the boxes of light and easy drinking, but it still showcases a level of complexity that demands your attention.  The aromas and flavors sourced from the hop bill are markedly impressive and dynamic.  Its hoppy bitterness has enough presence to grab you by the palate, but it then politely excuses itself before any destruction can take place.  Then you have the malt bill . . . I never thought I would be noting the exceptional mouthfeel of a Session IPA, but here I am.  Being both airy and noteworthy, the feel and texture of this beer is nearly indescribable.  Everything about this beer keeps things interesting and complex while somehow remaining effortlessly approachable.  Honestly, not a gripe can be found.  In fact, the best course of action here is to just close the laptop and have another pour.  Prost!

Tasting Notes – The Classics: KBS (2017) from Founders Brewing Co.

KBSfeature_editedThis week’s segment of Tasting Notes shows some appreciation for the classics by taking a look at the 2017 vintage of KBS from Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Michigan).

As we reported a little over a month ago, Founders Brewing Co. initiated their annual frenzy within the craft beer community on April 1 when they began to distribute this year’s vintage of KBS.   Known as “one of the craft world’s most prized annual releases,” this highly coveted Imperial Stout is brewed with generous amounts of coffee and chocolate.  Once the brewing process is completed, the beer is then aged in oak bourbon barrels for over a year “in caves that were at one time gypsum mines, beneath Grand Rapids.”  This all results in an 11.8% ABV offering filled with complex layers of indulgent chocolate, coffee and bourbon.  Although KBS is an incredibly limited offering that quickly sells out each year, we have still seen it on shelves at various locations in Alabama and Florida.  If you strike out at the bottle shop, your best bet is to track it down on tap at fine beer bars and restaurants throughout the distribution area of Founders Brewing Co.

Any day is a good day to get into a glass of KBS, so let’s pop the top on this bottle and take down some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for KBS (2017) from Founders Brewing Co.

Appearance: A steady pour of KBS produces two fingers of creamy, mocha-colored foam resting above a body that is black as pitch.  Completely opaque, there is absolutely zero opportunity for light to find its way through this brew.  Over time, the head reluctantly falls to a chunky top cap that dutifully notches the glass with lace after each sip.  Simply a gorgeously presented Stout.

Aroma:  The aromatics open with rich, lush notes of fine chocolates.  In particular, dark chocolate and bitter cocoa nibs develop nicely to fill the bulb of the glass and hit the nose on every approach.  This shifts to a lightly bitter, but wonderfully roasted note from the coffee and malts.  Vanilla, molasses and just a grace of bourbon close out the profile.

Taste:  Molasses, brown sugar, and dark caramel notes get the party started in the flavor department.  A massive chocolate presence follows closely behind with tones of cocoa, dark chocolate and milk chocolate.  Roasted malts provide a hearty grain presence that readily supports a heavenly vanilla note and a blatant bourbon quality.  This immense flavor experience eventually subsides to leave behind a lingering note that strikingly reads as dark chocolate covered espresso beans.

Mouthfeel: This beer is full bodied with a moderate to low carbonation level. This produces a silky-smooth texture that displays some weight and completely envelops the palate.  At 11.8%, the ABV is somehow incredibly tame this year and it actually takes quite a bit of searching to locate a slight tinge of heat near the end of the glass.  Considering its weight and size, the aftertaste does settle in for the long haul to allow the drinker to get lost in notes of espresso roast coffee and dark chocolate.

Final Thoughts:  Imposing. Unapologetic. Beautiful.  These three terms are applicable descriptors for any year of KBS, but it never fails to amaze how each year’s batch seems to take on its own personality.  This year’s vintage absolutely offers up more pronounced tones of vanilla and chocolate than previous releases.  Chocolate . . . it is simply impossible to express with words how much luxurious chocolate fills this glass.  Although the bourbon is clearly present, the beer manages to avoid having that one dimensional barrel character by allowing so many other flavors and aromas to establish themselves.  One of the more remarkable achievements of 2017 KBS is how it handles its ABV presence.  Last year’s batch came out of the gate pretty hot, leaving its drinker with the impression that a little aging could do the beer some good.  Not at all the case with this year’s supply.  This may just be the easiest drinking batch of KBS we have ever experienced, and it easily allows you to enjoy every aspect of this beer as fresh as possible.  Seriously, it is perfect NOW . . . so drink it NOW and as often as possible to learn why KBS has earned a reputation for being one of the best barrel-aged Stouts in the world.  Prost!

 

Tasting Notes: Coffee King of Hop from Starr Hill Brewery

4kingscoffeepour800To celebrate the workweek finally reaching its midpoint, we are getting into some Tasting Notes action with a little help from Coffee King of Hop Imperial IPA from Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, Virginia).

As we recently reported, Coffee King of Hop comes to us by way of Starr Hill Brewery’s Four Kings IPA Pack, a limited release mixed 12-pack that showcases the versatility of King of Hop Imperial IPA by offering it alongside inventive variants that feature various natural ingredients.  The lineup changes each year, and the 2017 Four Kings IPA Pack contains three bottles of each of the following four offerings:

  • King of Hop Imperial IPA
  • Coffee King of Hop
  • Mango Habanero King of Hop
  • Orange King of Hop

The Four Kings IPA Pack officially released on April 1, and these mixed 12-packs are available for a limited time at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Virginia, and other states within Starr Hill’s distribution area.

Coffee King of Hop immediately caught our attention when we opened the box, so let’s get into some Tasting Notes and see what this beer is all about!

Tastings Notes for Coffee King of Hop Imperial IPA from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance:  Coffee King of Hop presents itself as a deep golden in color with hues of burnt orange radiating at its core.  Held to the light, bright yellows and oranges push through.  The body is crystal clear and displays a lively carbonation presence.  The pour produced two fingers of lily white foam.  Those carbonation bubbles are quick to feed the head, so retention is fantastic.  The foam has great stick to it, and massive webs of lace are left behind on the glass after each pull.  An absolutely beautiful beer to look at.

Aroma:  One might expect the aroma of any Imperial IPA to begin with big, bursting notes of juicy hops, but this one actually leads with the coffee.  It is nothing crazy or over the top, just a lightly-roasted coffee note that is definitely motivated to quickly stake claim to this beer.  Proving to have floral and lightly fruity characteristics, the chosen coffee beans complement the hops with ease and actually accentuate their notes of fresh citrus fruits.  A touch of light caramel sweetness from the malts finishes off the experience and adds further cohesion to the profile.

Taste:  Things flip flop a bit here as the hops take the lead in flavor.  The base Imperial IPA’s hop notes of grapefruit, tangerine and passion fruit lay down a wonderfully juicy foundation.  Just as some herbal hop notes begin to reveal themselves, they are quickly overtaken by the rising coffee tones.  The coffee is easily identified by its roasted character and soft bitterness, but it then delights and surprises the palate with those floral and fruit notes found in the nose.  Translating as flavors of citrus, stone fruit and berries, these fruit notes fuse easily with the fruitiness of the hops to create a seamless and mighty tasty experience with each sip.

Mouthfeel:  This beer is medium bodied with a somewhat assertive carbonation level.  This combo keeps things refreshing and easy drinking, but the beer does retain a bit of stickiness on the palate.  The tongue is entertained by a hearty helping of hoppy bitterness and a touch of sweetness.  For an Imperial IPA, the 7.5% ABV is incredibly reasonable and further reinforces the easy-drinking nature of the beer.  Aftertaste is made up of juicy hops notes and a bit of lingering coffee roast.

Final Thoughts:  Although I have had many previous experiences with beers that combine coffee and hops, I was honestly a bit wary of Coffee King of Hop because it is an Imperial India Pale Ale.  Although uniting coffee and hops definitely makes sense on paper (and a practice I am fully on board with), it just seems that it would translate better in styles like American Pale Ales and India Pale Ales that possess a little less aggressiveness in the hop department.  In this case . . . I must say I was totally wrong because Coffee King of Hop absolutely nailed it.  The base beer’s established hop presence works beautifully with the chosen coffee beans to create aromatic and flavor notes that are simply unmatched in my experience.  Factor in the lower ABV level and the beer’s overall drinkability, and all those worries surrounding an Imperial IPA have been washed away.  In conclusion, Coffee King of Hop is certainly a standout offering in the Four Kings IPA Pack as well as in the Coffee IPA trend in general.  If distribution in your area allows it, be sure to pick up a Four Kings IPA Pack and let us know which of these tasty brews establishes itself as your favorite.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Bloody Show from Against the Grain Brewery

bloodyshowbwr1000The lager love returns to Tasting Notes this week as we take a look at Bloody Show Lager with Blood Orange from Against the Grain Brewery (Louisville, Kentucky).

Bloody Show – read into that name as much as you wish – was originally brewed in 2012 as a draft-only collaboration beer between Mikkeller (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Against the Grain. Still going strong, this lager is “brewed with German Pilsner and Munich malts, hopped with American Citra, Columbus, Amarillo and Czech Saaz and fermented with Danish lager yeast.”  This Bohemian Pilsner is then finished off with “the zest and juice from a shit-ton of blood oranges” to result in “a nice easy drinking lager that exhibits a tart and citrusy aroma and flavor.” Bloody Show recently hit packaging in 2016, and is currently available in 4-packs of 16 oz. cans at craft beer establishments found throughout Against the Grain’s distribution area.

Now that we all know the background information on Bloody Show, let’s crack open this can and get to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Bloody Show Lager with Blood Orange from Against the Grain Brewery

Appearance: Bloody Show pours a bright bronze in color with a good two fingers of white foam.  When held to direct light, the body brightens dramatically to display golden yellow and vibrant orange hues.  The body is clear and shows off a very active carbonation presence.  The head has good retention when you consider the large amount of chunky lacing left on the glass after each sip.

Aroma: The aromatics may be subtle, but there is still plenty to find kicking around in here.  Tones of orange zest and juicy, tropical hops are easily recognizable and comprise the majority of the profile.  There is also an undercurrent of earthy and floral hop notes.  Bready malts do come through at times to lend support with a clean grain presence and a touch of sweetness.

Taste: Ah, here we go.  Things really open up and develop in the flavor department.  Blood orange juice and zest step forward first to provide a punch of citrus and an incredibly refreshing tart character.  This easily transitions into a dynamic hop profile pumping out notes of grapefruit, lemon, apricot, dank herbal tones, earthy grassiness, and just a dash of black pepper.  These notes clear out to leave behind just a fantastic, lightly sweet grain character.

Mouthfeel: Light, bordering on medium in body with a crisp carbonation level.  This beer skips across the palate to touch the bases of bitter, sweet and tart.  The ABV (5.5%) is light and only hints at evidence of its existence.  Aftertaste is minimal, but there is a slight amount of blood orange zest and grassy hops left to linger.

Final Thoughts:  Bloody Show proves that it is indeed possible to pay respect to a traditional style while still putting your own twist on it.  Sure, this lager strays from tradition by being loaded with tart blood orange and juicy American hops, but that does not mean that the experience is devoid of notes characteristic of the Bohemian Pilsner.  Once the bright and shiny new ingredients subside, the tried-and-true notes of beautifully clean grain and earthy/spicy noble hops are there to provide a solid, time-tested backbone. All the ingredients play off of each other nicely to raise the established easy-drinking nature expected in a lager with that slight tinge of tartness supplied by the blood orange.  This takes the refreshment level to crazy new heights, proving it to be a damn good choice to enjoy after a long day in the Tampa sun.  Well done.  Nicely executed.  Stupid good.  Prost!

Tasting Notes: Share This: OC from The Bruery

BruerySTOCglass1000This week’s Tasting Notes finds us drinking with a purpose as we take a look at Share This: OC from The Bruery (Placentia, California).

Not too long ago, we let you all know about the recent release of Share This: OC (click here to check that out).  If you happened to miss that post, this offering comes to us by way of The Bruery’s Share This program, a beer series that acts as a fundraising effort for charities in regions that supplied ingredients or inspiration for each release.  For Share This: OC, the brewers focused on their “home county and its history as a significant growing region for oranges” by creating an Imperial Stout “dosed with orange zest, TCHO cacao nibs, and vanilla beans.”  For each bottle of Share This: OC produced, The Bruery will donate $1 to Food Forward of Southern California – a 501(c)(3) charity that provides hunger relief within their community by rescuing “fresh, local produce that would normally go to waste from backyard fruit trees, public orchards, farmers markets, and the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market.”  Share This: OC is available for a limited time in 750ml bottles.  You can support this wonderful cause by picking up a bottle at craft beer establishments located in Florida, California and throughout the rest of The Bruery’s distribution network.

With that information now covered, I do believe it is time to pour up a few glasses for the Mashing In family and get to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Share This: OC from The Bruery

Appearance:  Deep black in color, Share This: OC presents itself in the glass with a look that is similar to highly polished obsidian.  When presented with direct light, the oily blacks stand firm to deny any light from penetrating.  The body is completely opaque and reflective.  The pour produced a good two fingers of creamy, dark tan foam.  The head displays good retention and eventually settles in as a chunky half finger that lasts throughout the experience.  Each sip leaves behind a solid sheet of lace on the glass that slowly slips back down to rest in the top cap once again.  Truly stunning in appearance.

Aroma:  As soon as the nose approaches the glass, it is greeted by intense notes of heavily roasted malt and the finest dark chocolate.  The chocolate is splendidly pronounced, but it eventually opens up a bit to reveal a layer of freshly scraped vanilla beans.  Just as you think the beer is done, it closes out with a lingering, comforting fragrance of fresh orange juice and zest.

Taste:  Just as in the aroma, the chocolate is more than happy to bat lead-off in the flavor.  We are talking about some incredibly rich chocolate qualities that span from notes of bars of bittersweet dark chocolate to luxurious chocolate pot de crème to tall glasses of chocolate milk.  Vanilla builds and merges with a heavily roasted, black coffee character to lend some light mocha tones. At 11% ABV, a touch of alcohol presents itself in the flavor but it finds a place with the orange zest to create an orange liqueur note.  All of these flavors harmoniously work together to make each sip an indulgent delight.

Mouthfeel:  Fullest of the full in body with a moderate carbonation presence.  Slick and coating on the palate, the flavors are allowed to linger so that the drinker can truly savor everything hitting the taste buds.  With that said, the hops and citrus qualities lift the beer a bit to keep it from being cloying.  The ABV is absolutely there and creates a warmth that rises slowly from the belly.  The aftertaste conjures memories of chocolate oranges at Christmas.

Final Thoughts:  True to the name of the series, there is no denying that Share This: OC is a massive beer that is meant to be sipped and shared with friends.  Once you get beyond the sheer size of this brew, it becomes quite easy to get lost in its intoxicating chocolate and citrus notes.  The use of the orange gives the beer added dimension and supplies it with a bright freshness not often found in big ol’ Imperial Stouts.  That being the case, Share This: OC can be enjoyed on its own, as a pairing with dessert, or could even have some play with a few savory dishes as well.  No matter how you choose to enjoy it, we highly suggest you pick up a bottle of Share This: OC during its limited release.  Not only so you can enjoy a truly delicious brew, but to also support the very worthy cause of Food Forward in the process.  Make it happen because there is absolutely no way that you can walk away from this beer disappointed.  Prost!

foodforward

Tasting Notes: Double Bass from Starr Hill Brewery

doublebassbottle500As the work week finally comes to an end, we settle into our Friday by indulging in some Double Bass Double Chocolate Stout from Starr Hill Brewery (Charlottesville, Virginia) for this week’s Tasting Notes.

Starr Hill Brewery introduced Double Bass Double Chocolate Stout in January as a new member of their All Access Series, a limited lineup of the brewery’s “most unique & inspired beers.”  This offering is a 7.8% ABV Imperial Stout that has been loaded with six malts (2-Row, Chocolate, Caramel, Crystal, Golden Oats and Flaked Barley), cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, vanilla beans and lactose.  Clearly all about that malt and chocolate, the decadent recipe for Double Bass produces aromatic and flavor notes of dark chocolate, mocha, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate and dark fruit. Double Bass Double Chocolate Stout is a limited release that is available in 4-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft.  If you wish to try this offering, Double Bass is still pouring in the Starr Hill Brewery Tap Room and can also be found hanging around on shelves and taps at select craft beer establishments in Alabama, Virginia, and other areas within the brewery’s distribution footprint.

Now that we are all caught up on this beer’s background information, it is finally time to put some Double Bass in this snifter and get to some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Double Bass Double Chocolate Stout from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance:  Double Bass pours as a glossy, inky black in color.  Held to direct light, the deep and dark blacks hold but a bit of cola brown presents itself at the top of the pour.  The body is completely opaque, so the carbonation level cannot be observed visually.  The pour produced well over a finger of mocha colored foam (impressive considering the size of this snifter), and the head gradually falls to a thin top cap over time.  When swirled in the glass, the beer leaves behind a coating oil slick that makes it difficult for any lace to gain a firm hold.

Aroma:  Sweet and deeply roasted malts hit the nose first.  The malts eventually open up to expose luscious notes of chocolate.  Creamy fudge, rich dark chocolate, and satisfying milk chocolate are all present.  The roasted malts circle back around to finish things off with a black coffee character that works beautifully with all the chocolate currently filling the air.

Taste:  The flavor profile begins with a huge pop of bittersweet dark chocolate, and this note holds for quite some time.  As it fades, tones of cream, vanilla, cocoa and milk chocolate develop to create a flavor combination that is strikingly reminiscent of a gourmet, scratch-made hot chocolate.  The roasted malts supply closing notes of caramelized brown sugar and dark coffee.  Rich and intense, but still smooth and composed.

Mouthfeel:  Silky in texture, this Stout is on the lighter side of full-bodied thanks to a lifting carbonation presence. It is sweet on the palate, but still has a good amount of balancing bitterness from the heavily roasted malts, cocoa nibs and added hops.  Although gently warming, it certainly does not feel like this beer is pushing 8% ABV.  Decadence also resides in the aftertaste as it leaves behind notes of dark chocolate and fine coffee.

Final Thoughts:  To put it simply, Double Bass is a wonderfully executed, big, beautiful Chocolate Stout.  It possesses all of the roast and chocolate character you could possibly want while still somehow avoiding being overly sweet or cloying.  The hops are dialed in perfectly to stealthily provide balance while hiding behind the lightly bitter qualities supplied by the cocoa nibs and the more heavily roasted malts. Oh, and the mouthfeel on this Stout . . . a thing of beauty.  It has more than enough weight to it to firmly establish itself as a robust representation of the style, but it does so with a gliding gracefulness while on the palate.  Factor in that the ABV is so well hidden, and then you are left with a full-flavored Imperial Stout that maintains an almost unrivaled level of drinkability.  If there was a list of beers out there that makes a case for any time of year being Stout Season, Double Bass Double Chocolate Stout would certainly make our Top 5.  Prost!