Tasting Notes: Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

LagunitasUndercoverPour1000In order to get a head start on St. Patty’s Day weekend, we are shutting down the office early and getting into some Tasting Notes on the infamous Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

Brewed in “remembrance of the 2005 St. Patrick’s Day Massacre and in commemoration of the 20-day suspension that followed” (click here to get more info on that event and an explanation of the featured photo above), Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale is Lagunitas Brewing Company’s “especially bitter” response to the ABC’s claim that the brewery was operating a “Disorderly House” on that fateful day.  Best described as an American Strong Ale, Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale is a “malty and rich beer with a snappy hop finish [that] truly defies style…Imperial Mild?…Uber ESB?” Who knows?! What we do know – besides the fact that this beer’s name is incredibly long – is that Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale clocks in at an unruly 9.6% ABV and 66.6 IBUs and cannot possibly be held accountable for its actions.  Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale is available now as a Limited Release offering, and you can track it down in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s vast distribution area.

Now that we have covered the background on this subject, let’s dig deep and crack the case on this Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance: This brew presents itself as a dark amber in color with just a slight orange hue to it.  When held to direct light, that orange tone gains intensity and the liquid takes on more of a bright, shining copper appearance. The beer is impeccably clear and displays a bountiful carbonation presence dedicated in its mission to feed the perfect finger of frothy white foam resting above.  Head retention is quite good, and that foam provides a huge amount of lace that utterly coats the Mason Jar-style glass by the end of the experience.

Aroma:  Pine confidently steps forward first and fills the nose with resiny hop goodness. This eventually takes a gentle turn to the floral before a countering presence of caramel and grain settles in.  Not to be outdone, the hops surface one last time with a parting pop of citrus zest.

Taste:  The script flips in this arena as the flavors lead with a soothing presence of caramel and toffee.  To keep things from getting overly sweet, the hops follow closely behind with a resinous pine note that is accompanied by grassy and floral tones.  A fruit-filled character then surfaces in the form of tropical mango, candied orange and a bit of grapefruit zest.  Still, even as all these hop notes gain momentum, there remains a composed layer of sweet grain and malt interwoven throughout to keep the bitterness in check.  Really nicely done here.

Mouthfeel:  With a spot-on medium body and a moderate carbonation level, this beer has a creamy feel and a somewhat long finish that leaves behind notes of orange and grapefruit zest.  Although it puts in some serious work on both the bitter and sweet sides of palate, this beer’s level of balance is simply stunning. Combine that with an ABV that translates much lighter than its 9.6%, and you are left with a big ol’ brew that is dangerously drinkable.

Final Thoughts: This may be another beer that steps outside the norm to defy style guidelines, but somehow it is blatantly obvious that Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale nailed the brewery’s intentions and expectations.  We say that because every aspect of this beer is synced up. Its look is absolutely gorgeous and coyly lures you in for sip after sip.  The aromatics and flavors have achieved a brilliant level of balance.  The feel is so damn smooth and has just enough weight to properly carry the experience. And then there’s that hidden ABV . . . We wracked our brains but could not come up with another beer that exceeds 9% ABV and drinks this easy and refreshing.

All in all, we had a hard time deciding whether this beer was more dumbfounding or sensical, and then it hit us. Not only does this beer properly commemorate a moment in the history of Lagunitas, but it also lives up to its name (especially the “Undercover Investigation” portion) by being a well-orchestrated, sneaky brew that will get you into trouble if you let it.  It warns you to proceed with caution while still encouraging you to enjoy the hell out of every moment spent with an Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale in your hand.  If a beer could be a maniacal genius, it would be this one.  Be sure to check it out.  Prost!


Tasting Notes – The Classics: Bigfoot (2017) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Bigfootpour1000This week’s installment of Tasting Notes has us revisiting an old favorite as we get into a pour of the iconic Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2017) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. (Chico, California).

The legend of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot started in 1983 and has since grown to establish this beastly Barleywine as a cult classic in the American craft beer community.  This strong and robust American-style Barleywine reached this status by showcasing “bold flavors of bittersweet malt and heaps of aggressive whole-cone Pacific Northwest hops.”  Since it weighs in at an imposing 9.6% ABV and possesses a substantial hop bill, Bigfoot can either be enjoyed fresh or it can age “like a fine wine, developing new flavors and character as it matures in the bottle.”

Although we are stepping back a year in time for these Tasting Notes, the 2018 vintage of Bigfoot is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, California, North Carolina and throughout the rest of Sierra Nevada’s expansive distribution area.

Now that we have covered the history of this classic, let’s grab a glass and sit down to some Tasting Notes with the Bigfoot.

Tasting Notes for Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale (2017) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Appearance:  Bigfoot fills the glass as a dark caramel-colored brew that has a reddish undertone to it.  When held to direct light, that caramel tone softens a bit and its red hue shifts to become more of a vibrant copper.  The beer is pristine in clarity and shows a good amount of tiny bubbles streaming skyward.  The pour produced just over a finger of tight, sandy-colored foam that has fantastic retention and thoroughly coats the glass with chunky gobs of lace.

Aroma:  The aromatics on this beer are gorgeously distinct and aggressively storm the nose as soon as its cap is removed.  There is a firm earthy layer up front that is both floral and piney.  Those notes are then followed by sweet tones of brown sugar, caramel, and toffee.  A touch of dark fruit and a bright burst of citrus character smooth it all out to close the profile.

Taste:  Resinous pine strikes the palate first with a hoppy bite that is then quickly tempered by a sweet and sturdy malt backbone of toffee and caramel.  Dark fruits – mostly reading as sticky, caramelized dates – then emerge and bring with them some more earthy and floral characteristics from the hops.  Gaining a second wind, the hops assert themselves once again by saturating the finish with a parting dose of grapefruit-laced pine.  Absolutely delicious.

Mouthfeel:  Full-bodied with a mild carbonation, Bigfoot has a hefty weight to it and sticks a bit on the palate. Even after a year, the hops still have a good amount of bite to them, but an underlying sweetness is there to do what it can in providing some balance.  As expected, that 9.6% ABV brings with it a building heat that settles in the throat and radiates down to the belly.  The aftertaste is a long lingering note of pine.

Final Thoughts:  There is a lengthy list of reasons for why Bigfoot is so respected and beloved, but its unwavering degree of consistency must be near the top of that list.  Year in and year out, fans of this American-style Barleywine just know that it is going to be aggressively and deliciously hop-laden when fresh but still has the potential to turn into a balanced, sweet sipper over time.  Those of us who cellar beer rest easy knowing that there will be no surprises with this brew as we stash a sixer or case of each vintage away for years on end.  It is just a given that our Bigfoot cache will effortlessly evolve into a steady progression of captivating flavors and aromas as the years tick by, and I think many of us take the beauty of that for granted at times.  Sierra Nevada has achieved an artful level of craftsmanship with Bigfoot that unquestionably holds its own against time, and – for that reason – it has inspired countless brewers to create their own American Barleywines over the last 35 years.  Bigfoot truly is a standard for its style and the craft of American brewing in general, and that is why it deserves our attention, appreciation and praise with each year’s release.  That is why it is a classic.  Prost!


Tasting Notes: Beyond the Galaxy IPA from Terrapin Beer Co.

IMGP8751_editedFor this week’s installment of Tasting Notes, we find ourselves cruising through the mid-week doldrums at warp speed thanks to a little help from Beyond the Galaxy IPA from Terrapin Beer Co. (Athens, Georgia).

Arriving as the single hop successor to Terrapin’s Mosaic Red Rye IPA, Beyond the Galaxy is a new Seasonal India Pale Ale that features a “stellar flavor and . . . aroma of candied pineapple and tropical fruit” sourced from “an astronomical amount of Galaxy hops.” Clocking in at 6.3% ABV and sporting “a soft, juicy bitterness”, Beyond the Galaxy IPA aims to “take you on a voyage where no man has gone before.”

Beyond the Galaxy IPA is available now and will hang around throughout the spring months.  You can find this new Seasonal offering in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at beer-friendly establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and throughout the rest of Terrapin Beer Co.’s distribution area.

Now that we have appropriately covered all those necessary particulars, let’s crack open a few cans and single hop our way into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Beyond the Galaxy IPA from Terrapin Beer Co.

Appearance:  Beyond the Galaxy presents itself as a deep, golden colored beer that has a solid orange hue radiating at its core.  When held to direct light, that orange tone softens and the golds glow.  This IPA is completely clear and displays an abundant carbonation level coursing within.  The pour produced nearly two fingers of bright white foam that quickly retreats down to a wispy but complete top cap.  No matter its size, the head still coats the glass with some serious lace coverage.

Aroma: The aromatics are dominated by distinct, tropical fruit notes of passionfruit, grapefruit, orange, mango and pineapple.  An undercurrent of pine progressively settles into the background and the experience closes with just a grace of sweetness from the pale malts.  Just as it should be, this aroma is all Galaxy hops.

Taste:  Leading with pronounced notes of passionfruit and pineapple, the Galaxy hops have come ready to work in this department as well.  A slight malt character eventually threads its way in as the hops transition to juicy and sweet citrus tones.  This opens further to bring some pine resin and dankness just before the experience closes out with a vibrant pop of orange and grapefruit zest.

Mouthfeel:  Falling on the lighter side of medium in body with a bright carbonation presence, this India Pale Ale is pleasantly crisp and dries out nicely.  This beer does have a moderate amount of bitterness, but it cleans up quickly.  Weighing in at just 6.3%, the ABV is incredibly reasonable for the style and further adds to the easy-drinking nature of the experience.  The aftertaste is minimal, but there is a touch of orange and grapefruit left to linger.

Final Thoughts:  Just as expected, Beyond the Galaxy IPA is a super solid study in Galaxy hops and all the tropical goodness they have to offer.  The hops absolutely rule the arenas of aroma and flavor, but the bitterness is kept in check with just the right amount of balance.  That deft level of balance combines with the beer’s juicy character, lighter mouthfeel and reasonable ABV to create an absolutely crushable, thirst-quenching experience.  Seriously, this beer is ridiculously drinkable, and it deserves your consideration whenever you are partaking in a little warm weather drinking this spring.  Check it out.  Prost!



Tasting Notes: Front Row Golden Ale from Starr Hill Brewery

FrontRowbottle1000This installment of Tasting Notes provides us with a little mid-week beverage break supplied by Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, Virginia) and its newly released Front Row Golden Ale.

Debuting this month as Starr Hill’s newest Year-Round offering, Front Row is a light and refreshing Golden Ale that finds “the perfect balance of hop bitterness and a honey-like malt body.”  Coming in at a sessionable 4.9% ABV and 20 IBUs, this accessible ale promises to keep you in the front row when “savoring life’s moments in-person and sharing the experience with others.”  Front Row Golden Ale is available now in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Virginia, and throughout the rest of Starr Hill’s distribution area.

Now that all that background information is out of the way, I do believe it is time to grab a few glasses, find a bottle opener and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Front Row Golden Ale from Starr Hill Brewery

Appearance:  Front Row fills the glass with a honey-hued golden colored brew that is topped with a perfect finger of bright white head.  The beer is pristine in clarity and displays countless single file lines of carbonation streaming the length of the pour to feed the top cap.  As dutiful as that carbonation presence is, the head does dissipate down to a chunky ring that leaves behind sticky sheets of lace whenever the glass is jostled.

Aroma: A clean Pilsner presence greets the nose first with honey-filled, biscuity tones.  The malt character picks up some light caramel notes before the hops stealthily balance things out with a lovely floral presence that is laced with a tinge of citrus.

Taste:  Pils malt takes the lead again by laying down a firm base that is biscuity and lightly bready.  A light layer of caramel and a dollop of honey then work their way in to round off the malt profile.  The hops easily glide in to restrain that sweetness with a balancing presence of ruby red grapefruit and floral tones.

Mouthfeel:  Although it is light in body with a moderate carbonation level, this beer still establishes itself with a little weight and texture (no doubt thanks to the added oats).  The balance is on point, never tipping one way or the other toward sweet or hoppy.  This level of balance keeps the experience super refreshing and easy drinking.  The ABV is light and it never really efforts to make its presence known.  Overall, this beer cleans up nicely and quickly, but there is just a wisp of honey left behind in the aftertaste from time to time.

Final Thoughts:  All in all, Front Row achieves exactly what it set out to do: be an accessible, easy-drinking brew that can go anywhere and pair well with any moment.  Although it is accessible and balanced, the Cascade hops have just enough presence to give the beer a likable personality and add dimension to that light malt foundation supported by biscuity, caramel and honey notes.  It is non-distracting while still remaining memorable . . . it is coy.  It is an experience that just works in a seemingly effortless manner, and the aptly named Front Row is here to join you front and center whenever you are out enjoying all that means most in life.  Prost!


Tasting Notes: Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) from Rogue Ales

RogueRollingThunder2018_editedAfter barreling through another awesome week of beer news, we close it out in proper fashion by jotting down some Tasting Notes on Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) from Rogue Ales (Newport, Oregon).

Just last week, we hit you with the news that Rogue Ales had officially begun the limited release of its Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018).  If you happened to miss that post, Rolling Thunder can basically be summed up as a massive Imperial Stout “brewed with ingredients grown at Rogue Farms, and then ocean aged for nine months in barrels made by hand at Rogue’s Rolling Thunder Barrel Works.”  The house-made Dead Guy Whiskey that once filled those barrels lends notes of whiskey and vanilla to complement the base beer’s dark roasted malts while raspberries – the special ingredient for 2018 – provide a unique thread of lightly tart sweetness.

Rolling Thunder is available now for a limited time in 16.9 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located throughout Rogue’s nationwide distribution footprint.

That should just about catch everyone up on this release, so let’s keep this thing rollin’ and get into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) from Rogue Ales

Appearance: From a bottle hand-numbered as Barrel #4 of 17 & Bottle #249 of 413, Rolling Thunder pours an inky black in color and has just over a finger of creamy, chocolate milk colored foam resting on top.  The beer is completely opaque and remains so when held directly against a light source.  Head retention is good, but the foam does eventually fall to a thin but lasting top cap.  The beer itself does leave a yellow-tinged slick on the glass after each sip, but some spots of lace are just stubborn enough to grab hold sporadically throughout the experience.

Aroma:  The aromatics begin with a defined sherry presence that is loaded with nutty and sweet dark fruit character. This elegant note gracefully transitions into a subtle raspberry tone that is quickly overtaken by a closing barrage of roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla and oak.

Taste:  The barrel grabs your attention first here with a big ol’ pop of vanilla and oaky whiskey.  This shifts into those sweet sherry notes of dark fruit (fig mostly) and molasses.  The raspberries are slightly jammy and pull double duty by bringing both complementary sweetness and a contrasting dose of tartness.  Those bright raspberries refresh the palate just as the beer stoutly settles in with satisfying, decadent notes of caramel, brown sugar, roasted grains, dark chocolate, and fudge studded with pecans.

Mouthfeel:  Full bodied with a moderate carbonation level, this enormous Imperial Stout has a chewy, viscous feel to it.  The beer takes its time on the palate, allowing the flavors to linger and fully develop at their own pace.  Sitting at 14.4%, the ABV certainly has a presence that establishes a building warmth in the throat and belly.  The aftertaste is all vanilla, chocolate and booze-soaked oak.

Final Thoughts:  From the first sip, it is quite evident that Rogue built this year’s Rolling Thunder to come out swingin’ and clear a place for itself among the highest echelon of barrel-aged Imperial Stouts.  It achieves this with an artful composition that sandwiches that raspberry addition between oaky whiskey notes and the base stout’s chocolaty, roasty goodness.  Simply put, this Imperial Stout is pretty much a whiskey-infused raspberry truffle . . . and it is heavenly.

Over the last 30 years, Rogue has amassed a long list of beers that have become standards in the industry, and we confidently predict that this year’s version will add Rolling Thunder to that list.  Yeah . . . it is that good, and you need to get your hands on a bottle or pour of Rolling Thunder Imperial Stout (2018) before this Limited Release dries up.  Make it happen.  Prost!


Tasting Notes: Dry Hopped Censored Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

LagunitasCensoredPour1000For this edition of Tasting Notes, we ease into the workweek with a little help from the “kroniky krunk” Dry Hopped Censored Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company (Petaluma, California).

Born out of a happy accident, the aptly named Dry Hopped Censored Ale entered this world as a normal batch of the classic Censored Ale and was then given new dimension when it was unintentionally “brightened up with a generous dry-hopping of Centennial, Chinook, Simcoe, and Citra hops” meant for another tank.  Being the laid back, cool kids that they are, the folks at Lagunitas decided to roll with this “mistake” and ultimately discovered that the additional hops supplied a pleasant bite to the beer’s “malty, roasty, and deceptively smooth” character.  It was so good that they eventually brewed more and sent Dry Hopped Censored Ale out as a Limited Release.  This tasty little number is available now for a limited time in 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles at select craft beer retailers located in Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois and throughout the rest of Lagunitas Brewing Company’s distribution network.

Now that we have cleared our way through the background information, let’s get an uncensored look at this brew with some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Dry Hopped Censored Ale from Lagunitas Brewing Company

Appearance:  This brew pours a caramel laced amber in color and has over a finger of slightly off-white foam resting on top.  When held to a light source, deep orange tones push through to create a vibrant copper look.  The beer is completely clear and displays a bountiful carbonation presence streaming within.  The head has fantastic retention and coats the glass with some seriously chunky lace patterns.

Aroma: The dry-hopping has worked wonders here as the aromatics lead with incredibly inviting notes of citrus (aromas of orange peel and grapefruit) and floral hops. That hop presence does soften a bit to expose a lightly sweet malt character of caramel, honey, and toasted bread.

Taste:  The malts take point in this department and treat the taste buds to notes of lightly roasted grain, caramel, toffee and just a slight undercurrent of chocolate.  The hops advance at the perfect moment and balance the experience out with floral tones, resinous pine, grapefruit, passion fruit, and a touch of earthiness.

Mouthfeel:  On the lighter side of medium in body with a bright carbonation, this beer is just a touch creamy in texture but retains an incredibly easy drinking nature.  Sublimely balanced and clean, this experience teeters gracefully between sweet and hoppy/bitter on the palate.  The ABV is deceptive for 6.7%, and it drinks like a much smaller beer.  Aftertaste leaves behind some notes of pine and caramel.

Final Thoughts:  Dry Hopped Censored Ale is a happy accident indeed as its dry-hop addition is dialed in to perfectly interlace with the malty goodness that was lying in wait within the original Censored.  The piney and citrusy hops are definitely there, but the toffee and caramel-filled malt notes are still allowed to step forward and own an equal share of the overall experience.  This beer’s balance is a thing of beauty and it results in a dangerously drinkable brew that simply should not be missed.  Make sure you get your hands on some Dry Hopped Censored Ale before its Limited Release runs its course.  Prost!



Tasting Notes: Hatchery Series NE Style IPA from SweetWater Brewing Company

SWNEIPAPour_editedThings get a little hazy as we close the week with some Tasting Notes on Hatchery Series Release #5 – NE Style India Pale Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia).

Arriving as the fifth release from SweetWater’s pilot system (a.k.a. The Hatchery), NE Style India Pale Ale is the brewery’s experimental, small-batch take on the hazy IPAs that are currently running rampant throughout the country.  With a hop bill comprised of Centennial, Amarillo, Azacca, Idaho 7 and El Dorado hops, this offering is meant to be an “extremely hoppy beer” that has the New England IPA’s signature “restrained bitterness and . . . soft mouthfeel.”  Staying true to the Hatchery’s focus on experimentation, the brewers at SweetWater did take some liberties with the style by adding “flaked rye for a bit of a dirty southern twist.”  Hatchery Series Release #5 – NE Style India Pale Ale (7.5% ABV and 50 IBUs) is available now for a limited time in Tackle Box Variety 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and throughout the rest of SweetWater Brewing’s distribution area.

With those pertinent details now properly covered, I do believe it is time to work our way through this haze and put down some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Hatchery Series NE Style India Pale Ale from SweetWater Brewing Company

Appearance: SweetWater’s NE Style India Pale Ale fills the glass with a cloudy, deep golden yellow colored brew wearing just over a finger of bright white foam that is lightly stained with a streak of sediment.  The beer is more than adequate in the haze department, and that sediment turns up again as a crazy amount of floaties are suspended throughout.  Although it is a bit on the murky side, a steady carbonation can be seen coursing within.  Head retention is good, eventually falling to a lasting half finger of creamy foam that leaves chunky bands of lace behind on the glass.

Aroma:  Absolutely saturated with tropical fruits, the nose leads with a note of straight up orange juice that is followed by tones of tangerine, pineapple, apricot and grapefruit.  That fruity sweetness mellows out just enough to allow the development of a piney and dank hop presence.  The profile closes with a pleasant earthiness and a barely decipherable pale malt sweetness.

Taste:  The brewery uses the term “fruit cocktail” to describe this beer, and they are spot on as juicy fruits dominate the flavor.  Sweet mango and peach hit the tongue first and then it is awash with a variety of fruit juices: a mix of orange, pineapple and grapefruit juices spiked with a zing of lemon.  As that lemon sharpness builds, the palate encounters a dank, hoppy bite of resinous pine and the experience finishes with a tinge of earthy, spicy rye.

Mouthfeel:  Medium in both body and carbonation, this brew has a nice and soft texture to it.  Although it is gentle and pillowy on the palate, it still retains a light hoppy bite that cleans up rather quickly.  The ABV is well hidden and pretty non-existent for 7.5%.  The aftertaste is minimal, but does leave behind a bit of pine, pineapple and grapefruit.

Final Thoughts:  When all is said and done, Hatchery Series Release #5 – NE Style India Pale Ale comes together as a nice tribute to the OG New England-style IPAs that may not have been much to look at – think The Alchemist’s Heady Topper and its label directing you to “Drink From the Can” – but still have that trademark mouthfeel and reduced bitterness.  Although it may be reduced, be warned that this brew does still retain some building bitterness that acts as a constant reminder that it is indeed an IPA.  Also, the rye addition was a unique Southern touch that contributed to the haziness/cloudiness and added some earthy spice that mingled well with the beer’s overall dankness, but it could also act as a bit of surprise for those seeking a straight-up New England-style IPA.  That said, it still has that lush, juicy experience that everyone is after and . . . it just works.  If you keep the word “experimental” in mind while drinking this one, you are going to walk away from your pour a happy hop head.  Be sure to check this one out before its limited run comes to end.  Prost!


Tasting Notes: Partner Ships Wee Heavy from Heavy Seas & MadTree Brewing

HSBWeeHeavyPour1000For this week’s installment of Tasting Notes, we recognize Tampa’s Gasparilla festivities in our own little way by getting into a bottle of The Partner Ships Wee Heavy from Heavy Seas Beer (Baltimore, Maryland) and MadTree Brewing Company (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Brewed as a locally-infused collaboration with MadTree Brewing Company, this Wee Heavy comes to us as Heavy Seas Beer’s latest release from The Partner Ships Series, a line of Limited Release “beers produced in collaboration with other regionally and nationally recognized brewers in the spirit of friendship, creativity, and adventure.”  To create this offering, the brewing team began with a pretty straightforward recipe for a Scottish-style Wee Heavy and then “loaded [it] with local flavor” by adding Burundi Mpanga coffee from Deeper Roots in Cincinnati, Ethiopian Harrar coffee from Chesapeake Bay Roasting Co. in Baltimore, and cocoa nibs from Maverick Chocolate in Cincinnati.  This creative approach resulted in a robust, 8.25% ABV Wee Heavy that is “deep mahogany in color with layers of malt, chocolate, and roasted complexity.”  A limited supply of The Partner Ships Wee Heavy was released back in November, but there still might be a few bombers and kegs floating around out there at craft beer establishments located within Heavy Seas Beer’s distribution footprint.

Now that all the background information on this brew has been properly handled, what do you say we lay siege to this bottle and get into some Tasting Notes?

Tasting Notes for Partner Ships Wee Heavy from Heavy Seas Beer & MadTree Brewing Company

Appearance: Partner Ships Wee Heavy pours as a dark brown, nearly black brew that is wearing a half finger of brown sugar colored foam.  Other than a touch of light forcing its way through at the edges, the beer remains mostly opaque.  With that said, a slow but dutiful carbonation presence can be seen feeding the head at the top of the pour.  Despite the effort, that head does quickly fall to a thin but lasting ring that leaves some spotty lacing on the glass.

Aroma:  Sweet caramel and chocolate notes rise up first before being overtaken by a gorgeous layer of roast.  The roastiness has qualities of coffee, grain, toasted bread and just a touch of smoky peat.  Dark fruits then surface with tones of prune and plum.  The aromatics ultimately close with a parting waft of milk chocolate.

Taste:  The flavor profile nearly mirrors the nose, but the cocoa and chocolate notes have more of a foothold in this arena.  Lovely tones of milk chocolate, dark chocolate, light fudge, and cocoa powder are all accounted for.  Caramel, toffee, vanilla and almonds then move in to support.  A comforting presence of roasted coffee and grain then saturates the previous flavors to cut away at the sweetness.  Earthy hops and a touch of dark fruit (plum and date) supply further balance and close the profile.

Mouthfeel:  Medium to full in body with a light carbonation, this Wee Heavy is smooth and slightly creamy in texture.  Although most of our descriptors would lead you to believe this beer is sweet, earthy hops and ample roastiness balance the ship and avoid any possibility of cloying.  At 8.25%, a warming ABV presence builds in the throat and settles in the belly.  Aftertaste allows dark fruit, roast and chocolate to linger.

Final Thoughts:  This is an incredibly nice, subtly dynamic Wee Heavy.  What we mean by that is the first sip seems innocent and direct, but each subsequent sip builds upon the experience with a growing complexity.  Most of that complexity resides in the roast as the coffee acts as more of a complementary note that accentuates the roasty characteristics of the grain bill.  That deeply layered roastiness is skillfully achieved, but in a manner that never forces the beer to declare itself a “coffee beer”.  Although this clever approach results in a truly unique Wee Heavy, it remains respectful of tradition and values the expected characteristics of the style.  I guess what we are ultimately trying to say here is that The Partner Ships Wee Heavy is a hidden gem that you need to seek out.  Prost!



Tasting Notes: Radegast Triple IPA from New Realm Brewing Company

RadegastPortrait1000This week gets a double dose of Tasting Notes as we get into a celebratory bottle of Radegast Triple IPA from New Realm Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia).

Arriving as New Realm’s first packaged Specialty Release offering, Radegast – named for the ancient god of brewing and hospitality – was specifically brewed to honor the grand opening of their beautiful new facility on Atlanta’s Beltline and serve as a proper introduction to the area’s craft beer community.  With a hop bill showcasing Warrior, Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado hops, this Triple IPA promises to be a “wonderfully aromatic, . . . incredibly citrusy and extremely juicy hop nectar [that] lingers just long enough to tempt another sip.”

Radegast Triple IPA officially released at New Realm Brewing Company on Saturday, January 13 with availability in 750ml bottles and 4-packs of 16 oz. cans, and it appears – at the time this post was published – a limited supply is still available for purchase at the brewery.  Radegast is also available on draft at New Realm and select craft beer establishments located throughout Atlanta.  This is a one-time release that is meant to be consumed fresh, so be sure to get your fill of Radegast while you still have the chance.

Speaking of getting one’s fill, I do believe it is time to get into some Tasting Notes so that we can finally experience the Radegast for ourselves.

Tasting Notes for Radegast Triple IPA from New Realm Brewing Company

Appearance:  Radegast fills the glass with a deep, honey gold-colored brew that is wearing two fingers of pristine white foam.  When held to direct light, the color brightens and intensifies to become more of a pure yellow gold.  The body is perfectly clear and displays an ample carbonation presence coursing throughout.  Head retention is good, but it eventually fall to a lasting 1/4 finger or so. The foam does attempt to put some lace on the glass, but the slick nature of the beer forces each web to eventually slip back down into the top cap.

Aroma:  An unabashed and pronounced hop aroma proudly billows from the glass.  We are talking about notes of citrus & tropical fruits; mostly grapefruit, tangerine, melon and a touch of stone fruit.  A light malt character brings up the back end with a nondescript sweetness and subtle hint of alcohol.  The nose is basically all hops, and we have no problem with that.

Taste:  That big hop presence carries over into the flavor and it is absolutely laden with orange, tangerine, and grapefruit.  A slight resinous character builds with tones of pine, grass, and pure dankness.  A tropical wave then moves in with a slight dose of passionfruit, berry and papaya.  As the hop profile closes with an interesting pop of peach candies, the malts then interject with a slight thread of balancing sweetness that is just enough to keep the bitterness/hoppiness from completely overwhelming the experience.  Damn, this is good.

Mouthfeel:  This Triple IPA falls on the heavier side of medium in body and has a bright carbonation level that keeps it surprisingly refreshing and easy drinking.  Hoppy bitterness gets unlimited access to the palate, but there is just enough malt backbone to clean up the finish.  For 11.5% ABV, the alcohol is incredibly well hidden and only surfaces with a tinge of heat from time to time.  The aftertaste is an abundance of tropical and citrus fruits.

Final Thoughts:  From top to bottom . . . aroma to flavor . . . look to mouthfeel, Radegast can easily be summed up with one word: “masterful”.  Now that is not a word that we like to throw around, but it absolutely applies here.  For a Triple IPA, this beer has more than enough hop bite to make you feel alive while a ridiculously juicy hop flavor has just as much opportunity to please the taste buds.  Seriously, you will be hard-pressed to find a rival for this hop experience. With that said, the impressive nature of this beer does not stop there.  The aroma is lovely and clean, the massive ABV is muted, the feel is gorgeous, and this enormous IPA somehow remains refreshing.  A lot of the Triple IPAs out there can make a case for themselves having one or maybe two of these attributes, but Radegast can claim them all.  That’s special.  That’s masterful, and that fact makes Radegast the perfect beer for New Realm to send out first to confidently announce, “This is just the beginning.”  Prost!


Tasting Notes: Orgine from Saint Somewhere Brewing & Tampa Bay BEERS

originepour1000We are kicking off the 2018 series of Tasting Notes this week with a serendipitously provided bottle of Orgine, a collaboration beer between Saint Somewhere Brewing Company (Tarpon Springs, Florida) and Tampa Bay BEERS.

Orgine came to be as a Saint Somewhere collaboration brewed to recognize the 25th Anniversary of Tampa Bay BEERS, the Gambrinus Club Award winning homebrew club that has produced “many brewers and brewery owners including Saint Somewhere, 7venth Sun Brewery, Green Bench Brewing Co., Cigar City Brewing, Six Ten Brewing, and too many others to list, locally and nationally.” With a recipe provided by Rob Roberson, Orgine “started life as Belgian Dark Strong” before taking on the added character of Saint Somewhere’s brewery and brewing techniques.   This offering experienced limited availability in 750ml bottles at the start of 2017.

The background information on Orgine may be a bit sparse, but I (Guillermo) do have a good story to tell about how we happened across this bottle.  The situation actually started at another Tampa-area brewery during a random introduction to its head brewer.  While we were going back and forth with me describing what Mashing In is all about and him explaining his approach to brewing, he abruptly stopped to ask if we did reviews on the site.  I showed him an example of Tasting Notes, and he quickly responded by reaching into a cooler, pulling out this bottle and saying, “My friend Bob at Saint Somewhere made this beer.  He is a world-class brewer and this beer is fantastic.  Would you be willing to write about Bob’s beer?”  Already being a huge fan of Saint Somewhere and their gorgeous taproom in Tarpon Springs, I was more than happy to oblige this request.  As I walked the bottle back to my car, I could not help but reflect on how crazy that whole exchange was considering this brewer could have easily used that opportunity to gain some free publicity for his beers and brewery. With that thought seemingly never crossing his mind, he instead took that moment to laud the work of a fellow brewer in the hope that it would gain another brewery some recognition.  It was an incredible act of respect and a literal display of the camaraderie that we all talk about existing in the craft beer community.  In fact, moments such as that define craft beer better than anything you will ever find in a glass.

Now that the heartwarming anecdote above has been recounted, it is finally time to make good on our promise by popping this cork and getting into some Tasting Notes!

Tasting Notes for Orgine from Saint Somewhere Brewing Company and Tampa Bay BEERS

Appearance:  Orgine presents itself as a medium brown colored brew that holds some soft orange tones.  When held to direct light, those oranges gain some vibrancy, pull out some reddish hues and result in a rich mahogany look.  The body is mostly clear and displays a gentle carbonation level working about within.  A solid finger of off-white foam was produced from a cautious pour.  Retention is absolutely fantastic, eventually falling to an everlasting, lush half finger that consistently notches the glass with chunks of lace after each sip.

Aroma:  Belgian yeast character and dark fruits lead the way.  Bready tones emerge along with a touch of candi sugar, caramel and toffee.  The profile closes with a growing waft of farmhouse funk and earthiness that just simply pulls everything together.

Taste:  The Belgian characteristics are beautifully presented up front with notes of Belgian yeast, candi sugar, a bit of spice, and loads of dark fruit.  The fruits are many: raisin, prune, plum, and fig.  Toffee sweetness builds and brings with it a lovely dried apricot presence.  That apricot note then lays a foundation for some light funk, leather, wet wood and musty hay.  Complexity abounds, and it is just exquisite.

Mouthfeel:  Full bodied with a soft carbonation level, this beer is lightly silken in texture.  The ABV is subtle, bringing just a touch of warmth that builds on the throat.  Mostly sweet, Orgine is gracefully patient on the palate and allows the flavors to linger and last.  The aftertaste leaves behind notes of apricot and leather.

Final Thoughts:  Simply put, Orgine is elegantly complex and artfully composed.  Each sip is a proud piece of evidence that this beer was important to all those that had a hand in brewing it.  It does a fantastic job showing off the traditional beauty of Belgian styles while still possessing a subtle but unmistakable infusion of Saint Somewhere’s soul.  In a word, it is divine.

Although Orgine may be a little tough to come by these days, you will have the opportunity to try a wealth of magnificent European-style beers from Saint Somewhere and other breweries from across the world at Brasserie Saint Somewhere’s First Anniversary Party on Saturday, January 20.   This event’s featured tap list and spread of bottles will certainly be can’t miss, and . . . who knows . . . you just might happen across a bottle of Orgine being opened at the bottle share.  What we do know is that you will absolutely regret it if you miss this event on Saturday.  With that in mind, just go ahead and make plans now so that you can be in attendance to raise a glass with the crew at Saint Somewhere and experience the truly special beers that they are brewing out in Tarpon Springs.  Prost!