Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Tricerahops Double IPA

Eugene, Oregon's Ninkasi Brewing Company scored a Stout Man twofer with its Tricerahops Double IPA--two things I can't resist--a strong IPA and clever name. So, naturally, I ended up with four 12oz. bottles of the stuff.

At 8%, Tricerahops has some muscle but isn't like that 'roid rage monster at the gym who folds bricks for fun. It's an opaque orange grog crowned with a durable inch of off-white fog. 

I was battling a cold when reviewing Tricerahops, but my sub-optimal sniffer was easily able to detect sweet, fruit aromas as well as dank hops. Raisin, booze, and sticky bitterness were the big tastes. 

Like certain strong IPAs, this one toyed with being too sweet for comfort, but fortunately, on video review, it managed to keep its feet in bounds. I have had better Double India Pales, and Tricerahops doesn't offer much to separate it from the pack, but it certainly was an agreeable ale. An ale I'd buy again without hesitation.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Introvert Session IPA

When I spotted this beer on a shelf in Upstate New York, I rushed to pick it up. As a sometimes shy and often reserved lad, Introvert Session IPA sounded just about right.

Sold in 12oz. bottles by Longmont, Colorado's Left Hand Brewing Company (the outfit responsible for Polestar Pilsner and the Stranger American Pale Ale), Introvert contains a low octane 4.8% alcohol, making it well suited for weekend afternoon drinking or bringing to a house party. 

I poured myself a goblet of the hazy orange grog and enjoyed an aroma that featured fresh Valencia oranges. By the time I'd finished photographing and sniffing my pint, the loose, off-white head had receded. Introvert had a dry mouthfeel, but a fruity flavour. The chassis of this beer, however, was its surprisingly potent, hoppy backbone. Far more bitter than one would expect from a 4.8% ale, this stuff crammed big hops into a light-bodied package.

Introvert wasn't without its flaws though. The bottle promised heaps of tropical flavours, particularly papaya and kiwi. While I found there to be a nice, fruity vibe, I found it to be more domestic than exotic. Additionally, the flavour proved agreeable, but I could have done with a bit more of it. All told, though, this was a tasty and well built beer. One I'd happily buy again.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Stone IPA

Billed as "The Quintessential West Coast IPA" on the 650mL bottle, Stone IPA can be called many things, but certainly not humbly offered. At 6.9% alcohol, this India pale ale from San Diego, California's Stone Brewing Co. doesn't mince words. It's a hazy sunset orange brew that pours with a ceiling of thick, sudsy, off-white head. According to the Stone website, there are 77 IBUs' worth of bitterness in the stuff.

Historically, I've only been able to enjoy Stone products on trips south of the border, but I recently found some bottles in a Toronto area liquor store, so I jumped at the IPA--historically my fave of the Stone brews I've tried.

It boasts a big nose replete with chunky hops notes--citrus and evergreen, balanced against stanky resin. Stone IPA has some sweet elements up front, with some citrus juiciness in evidence. Hops are the executive producer of this film, though, with bitterness taking charge early and wielding a short leash through the dry, lingering finish.

Stone IPA is one of the more popular American IPAs, and with good reason. It's got oodles of flavour, hops to spare, and style for miles. Small wonder it's found in practically every beer bar from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.

If you're in the mood for an IPA, this one will never disappoint. It isn't unique or quirky--what it is is well-executed.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

New Scotland Brews--Propeller Double IPA

Another Propeller Brewing Company offering, Propeller Double IPA hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia and comes in 500mL bottles. At a sizable 8.2% alcohol, PDIPA is a Haligonian ale that packs a punch. It's a clear copper brew that pours with a healthy measure of off-white head.

To the nose, it's sweet, fruity, and backed by a bitter blast. Likewise, its flavour has a load of sweet elements that kindle before a bold, hoppy flame. Flowery and a tad dank, there's some real life in PDIPA, particularly toward the back end.

It's a beer that suffers from over-sweetness, but benefits from vivid heat, powerful hops, particularly as it finishes.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

New Scotland Brews--Hell Bay English Ale

Hell Bay English Ale comes from Liverpool, Nova Scotia where it's lovingly constructed by the Hell Bay Brewing Co. It's got 5.2% and comes in 500mL bottles with what looks like a submarine mine on the label.

The English Ale is clear and chestnut coloured. It pours with a fluffy off-white head and has a lovely caramel and malt aroma. For flavour, the English Ale has a toasted malt vibe that is supplemented with notable hops placement.

This is a quite enjoyable beer. Neither hop bomb nor weakling, with a fair measure of interesting flavour, it gets the job done. This Nova Scotian, Liverpudlian ale has lots of flavour and works well from start to finish.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

New Scotland Brews--Full Steam Stout

Another new-to-me Nova Scotia brew was Rare Bird Craft Beer Full Steam Stout, a coffee stout brewed in Guysborough, Nova Scotia. It's brewed with Full Steam Coffee, comes in 650mL bottles, and contains 7% alcohol. According to the label, there's also liqorice root in there, too.

Full Steam Stout has a deep, dark brown colour that approaches black. It has a strong black coffee nose, with a molasses kicker. It's flavour is quite potent, bitter, and unexpectedly, a bit red wine sour. There is some coffee in there too, but it's more evident in the aroma than on the palate.

There's a bit of an unusual flavour, but not a disagreeable one. The characteristic smoothness I was expecting wasn't there, either, which was a bit of a miss. Still, nice enough little beer, and potent too.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Friday, 18 September 2015

New Scotland Brews--Propeller Rye IPA

I'm a damn sucker for rye beers. They're spicy and sexy and I love them. So when I visited Halifax, Nova Scotia's Propeller Brewing Company and saw their Propeller Rye IPA, I needed it.

At 6.8%, it's got some heat. I bought a 650mL bottle, and dumped out an elegant, honey-hued brew topped with a fuzzy off-white head. It has a sweet, syrupy fragrance with only a modicum of bitterness. The flavour is also quite sweet--unexpectedly so--and not necessarily ideally. Behind the wall of sweetness, there is some tangy rye and a nice measure of bitterness, but these are a bit downplayed.

Propeller Rye IPA is nice enough, but doesn't hold up compared to their flagship brews like the ESB and the IPA. It's just too sweet.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

New Scotland Brews--Uncle Leo's IPA

Checking out a liquor store in Halifax,Uncle Leo's IPA lept off the shelf and into my life due to its awesome label--old timey and featuring a dapper gent in suspenders. Bottles are 650mL and contain a clear, honey-hued brew. Brewed in Lyons Brook, Nova Scotia by the Whiffen Brewing Company for Uncle Leo's Brewery, it pours with a chunky cloud of off-white head.

There is a mild, evergreen aroma with a suggestion of boozy warmth, though it only contains 6% alcohol. Flavour, too, is pretty mild. It contains some piney notes and some fruity sweetness, but not much else of note.

Not a bad beer, but not one I'd seek out again. Too mild to be a winning IPA. However, I enjoyed it alright.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Monday, 14 September 2015

New Scotland Brews

I found myself in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia recently. I was there for a wedding and to visit with some of my best pals, but during my stay, I found time to write up a few reviews too. After being away for almost seven years, I found a craft beer scene that is burgeoning and bustling, and a host of brews that were new to me.

Stay tuned to the Bitter World for the next week, and I'll introduce you to five of 'em.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Smuttynose Robust Porter

From Hampton, New Hampshire, where they live free or die, comes Smuttynose Robust Porter. It's a 6.6% alcohol brew sold in 355mL bottles that feature a curious carnival scene rendered in black and white. It's a dark, nearly black ale that looks like a mug of root beer with its foamy tan head. There is a soft, malty aroma that has notes of molasses and cocoa. In terms of mouthfeel, the stuff is very creamy, but with a short stab of bitterness at the finish. The taste is characterized by vaguely sweet and vaguely bitter molasses notes, and there is also a touch of dried fruit.

This beer proved itself hard to keep in my fridge. I bought a sixer, but it disappeared before I had the chance to scratch out a review. On to six pack number two, I was down to the last two bottles before I managed to put pen to paper. This effort, from Smuttynose Brewing Company, isn't a remarkable or innovative porter--just a very well made one. I like it a lot.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

A Hopwork Orange

A Hopwork Orange is a drolly-named product of the Blue Mountain Brewery, which does its beer-ing out of the Blue Mountain Barrel House in Arrington, Virginia. It's an "orange-infused IPA" and an "ale with natural orange flavour". Moreover, it's a clear, brassy brew topped with a fluffy cloud of off-white head. At 7% alcohol, it's a punch-packing flavoured ale.

As you'd expect, A Hopwork Orange had a juicy tangerine/orange aroma, sitting heavily on top of a dry, bitter body. The flavour was heavy on the orange and unfortunately light on the hops end of the bargain. 'Twas sweet, citrusy, and fairly agreeable, but it lacked the desired punch of arid hops that I was pining for. According to the 355mL can, there were 65 IBUs of bitterness, which I found very enticing; however that hoppiness must have been hiding, because I couldn't detect anywhere near that order of oomph.

A Hopwork Orange wasn't disappointing at all. It just didn't have as much IPA bombast as I was counting on. It did have a pretty nice, juicy heft to it, though, and loads of booze.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Flagship India Pale Ale

Pittsboro, North Carolina is the home of the Carolina Brewery and the birthplace of Flagship India Pale Ale. I enjoyed a 355mL can of the copper coloured grog. The can featured a nautical theme, bearing the image of of a four masted ship, but no indication of the percentage (according to the website, it contains 5.9% and 66 IBUs). It did, though, feature the slogan "First in Flavour", a cute nod to NC's famed "First in Flight" slogan.

Flagship poured clear and sassy, speckled with yeasty deposits, and with a covering of off-white head. An English-style IPA, it had a warm, malty aroma built around caramel notes and backed by a hint of floral hops. Caramel sweetness drifted through the flavour as well, along with a dose of modest hops--bitter, but not battering.

A buttery-textured ale, Flagship had a lot to like, little to distinguish, and less to complain about. It was a nice beer. Flavourful and fine, it was the kind of India pale that one could down in unseemly quantities, had one the inclination and nowhere to go. While it didn't wow me, it did deliver pretty near to exactly what I was after. A brew that I'd happily revisit should my travels turn me back to the Carolinas, as they seem, periodically, to do.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

HopDevil India Pale Ale

I was in Buffalo, NY recently and had the privilege of visiting a Consumers Beverages store. I had to restrict myself greatly, but I managed to get out with only four new beers, all of them amply hopped and potent. One of these was HopDevil India Pale Ale, a 6.7% alcohol offering from Downington, Pennsylvania's Victory Brewing Co.

Ruddy and relatively clear, HopDevil poured with a fog of off-white head. It had a sweetish, boozy aroma that was one part raisin and one part resinous hops. To the palate, HopDevil was malty initially, with fruitcake notes. It's back end was dank with swampy bitterness and a tad spicy. A touch malty and sweet for an IPA, but otherwise quite enjoyable. 

HopDevil is sold in 12oz. bottles that feature a cute and friendly-looking green devil.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Over the Edge American IPA

My delightful friend KC is possibly the greatest of the Bitter World's many benefactors. Seldom does she darken my door without a couple of cans or bottles of something new and typically enjoyable. On her most recent visit, she brought 355mL cans of Over the Edge American IPA. Produced by The Unknown Brewing Co. out of Charlotte, North Carolina, this beer comes in at 6.9%. It pours a murky and attractive swamp orange, topped with a layer of loose, cream head. Cans are marked with an awesome hoppy question mark and the assertion that "[i]f you're not living over the edge, you're taking up too much space." This stuff is listed as an American IPA on the Unknown website, which makes sense, since it contains 6.9% alcohol.

O.T.E. has a sticky, resinous hop aroma that has a slightly floral quality. The beer itself has a hearty roasted malt skeleton that is dominated by bitter, hoppy musculature with a stanky, earthy bent. 

Strong for an APA and quite tasty, Over the Edge has a lot in its favour. I'd have enjoyed a whisper more crisp dryness as things roll to a stop, but that's a paltry whine.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Equilibrium Extra-Special Bitter

As if the name isn't enough, the 473mL cans of Equilibrium Extra-Special Bitter feature a teetering elephant and the slogan "balanced brilliance". I think they're suggesting the beer is balanced.

The "they" I'm referring to is Burlington, Ontario's Nickel Brook Brewing Co., the outfit responsible for this 5.5%, 43 IBU ESB. Equilibrium pours a comfortable toffee colour under a layer of sudsy off-white head. Pretty murky stuff, too.

My nose was met with a classically English-style pub ale aroma; a blend of caramel and copper, with a malty spine. The flavour, believe it or not, does exhibit a nice degree of balance (though I think that, semantically, balance doesn't have degrees--it's an all or nothing proposition). Malty, sweet notes of caramel and raisin are set off against bitter ones, while a tinkling metallic undercurrent keeps pace.

I haven't had a really nice ESB for some time. For one thing, I think of them as a fall brew, and it was decidedly July when I tasted Equilibrium. But also, I just haven't found any that have tickled my fancy outside of the traditional English ones. However, in Equilibrium, Nickel Brook has put together a charming ESB--one that contains a hearty hops bill to lend it something different.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.