Saturday, 17 February 2018
The 355mL cans of Hopness Monster feature an adorable hop-headed sea beast and I love it! The beer, an India pale ale, comes from Morganton, NC, where it is brewed by Catawba Brewing Co.
The 6.5% ale is a hazy gold number that pours with a fluffy white head. Its nose combines fruity notes, yeast, and cracklin’ hops. The flavour has some tropical notes that precede a significant burst of bitter stank.
Fruity up front and arid hops out back make Hopness Monster a winner in my books. 6.5% is a bit low on my preferred booze scale for an IPA, but the IBU count is more than adequate. The only real fly in the ointment is the transition between front and back end is a bit thin and unremarkable.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
Thursday, 15 February 2018
From the “Old North State”, North Carolina, comes Long Leaf India Pale Ale. Brewed in Boone, by Appalachian Mountain Brewery, this stuff contains 7.1% alcohol and comes in a 473mL can. According to the copy, some of the proceeds from every can go to support the “revitalization of our mountains and rivers”, so that’s cool.
Long Leaf is a hazy gold-orange. It pours with a fluffy off-white head, and exudes a a sweet, dank, and fruity aroma. The beer is extremely sweet to the tongue, with a slightly syrupy mouthfeel. The flavour has sweet citrus notes, evergreen and resinous hops, and a boozy streak.
Strong-tasting and flavourful are normally some of my favourite adjectives in an IPA, but in the case of Long Leaf, these attributes are a bit undermined by the overpowering sweetness that clings to this beer from start to finish. It’s not a bad offering, but I wanted it to be a bit different. To its credit, the back of the can has the “NC State Toast”, which was immortalized (at least to me) in song by American Aquarium in “The Old North State”, which is pretty cool.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
Tuesday, 13 February 2018
Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is the fount of Frostbite Black IPA, a 6.2% 74 IBU, an obsidian ale with a loose, off-white head. Frostbite has a rowdy aroma crammed full of roasted malts and dank hops. Its flavour is rich in nearly-charred malts, built on top of a very bitter and resinous lupulin body.
Black IPAs are a big ask, since I expect jumbo bitterness combined with roasty, malty elements. Foothills IPA does a pretty fair service of walking those boundaries—it’s hoppy and dank, but bold and well-rounded. I’d have liked it to punch a bit harder in terms of booze, but the IBU count is admirable, the colour is nice, and the aroma is robust.
Rating: 8.0 out of 10.
Sunday, 11 February 2018
Fresh Squeezed IPA came into my possession as a leftover from my NYE beer and cheese extravaganza. The beer, brewed in Bend, Oregon, is produced at Deschutes Brewery. It’s a 6.4%, 60 IBU piece of work that pours a strikingly clear copper colour, under a thin disc of off-white head. The labels on the 12oz bottles of Freah Squeezed are nicely designed and quite sharp.
Not surprisingly, citrus notes are a major player in both the aroma and taste of this India pale, with grapefruit and tangerine leading the pack. Under these fruit-forward elements, there are some gritty and resinous hop tones.
Juicy is good in an IPA, but I’m wary of over-sweetness. Fresh Squeezed almost tightropes that boundary, though it does manage to keep its toes on the agreeable side of the line. I’d gladly enjoy this stuff again—and it should be noted that it finished tied for second place among the beers schlepped to my beer an cheese competition, so it’s clearly a crowd pleaser.
Rating: 8.0 out of 10.
Friday, 9 February 2018
At a hearty 8% alcohol, Wandering Monk Belgian IPA packs some significant heft into each 500mL bottle. From Elora, Ontario’s Elora Brewing Co., this potent ale is an orange-gold elixir. It’s hazy and pours with a very lively layer of thick, sudsy off-white head.
Wandering Monk has a yeasty nose, augmented by white wine vibes. The flavour is multifaceted; it kicks off with Belgian-style funk and opens into a curious melange of fruity notes. The back end remains yeasty, but swivels into a bitter posture.
This beer would be a nice partner in crime with a strong cheese—methinks the funks would make a joyful noise together. On its own, it’s pretty good stuff, though the somewhat unusual flavour almost certainly precludes teaching for a second bottle—given the potency, that’s probably not a bad thing. I’d have liked a bit heavier hand in the hopping of this brew and it’s a touch sweet, but these are minor complaints about a largely impressive and well-executed ale.
Rating: 8.0 out of 10.
Wednesday, 7 February 2018
During my debut visit to Rorschach Brewing Co., I asked my server to recommend the beer that was most characteristic of the brewery. Without any hesitation at all, she recommended Truth Serum, a 6.5% double-dry hopped IPA brewed with oats.
Truth Serum is a hazy dull-gold ale. It arrived with a thin covering of loose eggshell head. Its nose is a veritable clangor of hoppy, tropical fruit notes. To the palate, the beer is bitter, particularly in the early going, with grapefruit elements. Behind that, there is a bit of a thin spot where the flavours are a touch less rambunctious than I might have hoped, leading into a fairly dank, hoppy finish. The oats give Truth Serum a lovely, smooth mouthfeel that added to my enjoyment.
If Truth Serum is indicative of the quality of Rorschach’s brewing acumen, then I’m a believer. It’s not the best dry-hopped IPA I’ve ever tried, but it is clearly skillfully brewed according to a grand design and to suit someone’s personal specs. I prefer my IPAs to be a touch stronger and more pushy, but Truth Serum left me feeling satisfied and contemplative, which is a definite win.
Rating: 8.0 out of 10.
Monday, 5 February 2018
Getting ready to host a beer and cheese competition to ring in the New Year, I took a different approach than I usually do to create my pairing: I actually chose my cheese first and then went in search of a complimentary beer. The cheese I landed on was a semi-soft cow’s milk number from Quebec called Le Cendré de Notre-Dame—creamy and mild, with a delicate flavour. Traditionally, I have gone beer hopping first and then found a cheese to match, but I was feeling impish.
After some soul-searching, I decided that what I wanted was either a local (Toronto) brown ale or a stout, not too sweet, and not too strong. I put my internet skills to work and decided on a likely contender: Latent Construct is a coffee and oatmeal stout. From Rorschach Brewing Co. in Toronto’s east end, sourcing LC provided me with an opportunity to visit a brewery I’ve been hankering to try for ages. And at an even 5%, the flavour of the beer would be able to shine.
Latent Construct has a bold, java-heavy scent, with dark chocolate and brown sugar notes. It’s flavour is likewise bold—strong brewed coffee is paramount, giving the beer a bitter and rich tone—but this is supplemented by chocolate notes and a lingering hops finish. It is a handsome obsidian ale that arrived with a lush off-white head.
When I host a beer and cheese event, I always play to win. With my duo of Cendré and Latent Construct, I went into the party feeling pretty confident. This is a beer I’d gladly revisit, and one that left me feeling extremely curious about the rest of Rorschach’s lineup.
Note: I did won both the coveted best pairing and best beer awards.
Rating: 9.0 out of 10.