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Beer Review #296 Blind Faith

06-14-03Along with Elder Betty and HiCü, Magic Hat Brewing Company sent me Blind Faith, an IPA that comes in at 6.2% ABV. Magic Hat puts out a lot of IPAs as part of their IPA tour and this is one that I’ve had the chance to try before. I’m on a bit of a IPA kick right now so a free IPA made me super excited.

Blind Faith pours a deep orange color. It is perfectly clear and has a thin off-white head. The nose has a good amount of hops. The hops are pretty grapefruity with other citrus flavors in there. I guess the best way to describe them is floral and bright. I didn’t get much in the way of malt; just hops.

On the first sip I was really to find that this beer has a malt backbone. There are some light caramel flavors to begin with that lead into some bready flavors. A light hop flavor of citrus comes in and reminds you that you are drinking an IPA. The citrus is light and really warms the beer up and then a good smack of pine flavor comes in at the end to clean it all up and assert the IPAness of the beer.

I’m always a fan of a balanced beer and this one fits the bill. The hops are clean and bright and pack a good helping of flavor. The malt balance is spot on as well. While I’ve had better IPAs before, this is solid and could be a staple of some other breweries. (more…)

Beer Review #251 Encore IPA

The last beer in my winter sampler from Magic Hat Brewing Company is Encore IPA. The bottle says that this is an American Wheat IPA and that it comes in at 6.4%. I’ve seen other breweries refer to wheat IPAs as white IPAs and I am glad that Magic Hat has decided not to follow suit. There really is not a need to distinguish a typical IPA from one made with a higher percentage of wheat malt. I understand the different naming for a black IPA, but most wheat IPAs look like a cloudy version of their base style.

Encore IPA pours a cloudy orange color and has a fluffy white head. The head sinks away quickly in the center and sticks to the sides of the glass. The nose is full of bright citrus hops. I didn’t get any malt smells but I did get a bit of an orange tang, that I will attribute to the hops.

You get a nice malt feeling when first tasting this beer but the malt doesn’t have any stand out characteristics. A good hop bitterness comes in quickly and provides a lot of flavor. The citrus hops start as an orange-like flavor and then move into grapefruit before finishing cleanly. On subsequent sips, the citrus flavor carries though the whole beer and is not only relegated to the second half.

This is not super bitter IPA. I didn’t leave me with a punched in the face by hops feeling but it is full of flavor. I enjoy IPAs that don’t only focus on bitterness but instead focus on hop flavor. It’s a fine line, but Magic Hat did a very nice job on this one. As the last post about Magic Hat beers for this sampling, I want to reiterate how much I enjoyed this group of beers. Each beer was solid and provided some surprises. I would rate the beers in order of review for likeability in my book. All of the beers were good, but the Heart of Darkness stout was just killer. (more…)


Beer Review #240 Le Freak

I’ve only reviewed one other beer from Green Flash Brewing Company on this site before, but I am well versed in their beers. I have a few reviews from them piled up and I figured a beer named Le Freak would be appropriate for Halloween. The bottle says this beer comes in at 9.2% ABV and that it is a “zesty brew.” Le Freak is a Belgian Tripel and an IPA, more commonly called a Belgian IPA. This style of beer is not traditional in any way, but Belgian (and American) brewers have been brewing them a fair bit as everyone seems to have a hop craving. Belgian IPA is still coming into its own as a beer style, but I’m not complaining. My personal favorite example of this style is Raging Bitch.

Le Freak pours an orange color with a large off-white head and some haze. The nose has a slight Belgian spice to it but a strong citrus hop knocks that odor out of your nose pretty quickly. I enjoy a fresh, crisp hop smell, and this beer had it.

On my first taste I was surprised to taste the amount of Belgian spices that hit first. Usually these spices relegate themselves to the end of the beer, but these were up front for the world to see. A solid hop punch follows with some really wonder citrus flavors. There is a slight bit of heat mixed in there which isn’t too surprising considering the alcohol percentage and the fact that it’s a half-tripel.

This one is pretty tasty. The Belgian IPA “style” is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Le Freak has a great balance of hops and Belgian notes with a good touch of dryness at the end to make this beer very drinkable. Green Flash continues to impress. (more…)

Beer Review #122 Citra Blonde Summer Brew

Today’s beer review, a summer ale, comes from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company out of Portland, OR. When I originally saw this beer in the store I thought twice about purchasing it. The “citra” in the name made me think that they added some extra citrus flavor to the beer which can be a good or bad thing. I grabbed it anyway and decided to give it a chance.

Citra Blonde Summer Brew pours an orange color unlike what the name indicates. It has a white head and I halfway expected this beer to be hazy, but it was perfectly clear. The nose gives off some super citrus notes, with a touch of sweetness. It smells more like a health drink than a beer, but then again you could argue that beer is a healthy drink.

On my first taste I was kind of confused on what just went over my taste buds. There isn’t a lot of flavor upfront but then the citrus kicks in on the back-end. The flavor is not light like you would have in a Blue Moon or something of the like, but it felt more like an orange juice. Do you know what your mouth feels like just after you take a drink of orange juice? Well this beer will leave you with the same feeling. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be as strong as it was.

I didn’t really care for this beer all that much. The citrus kicks in so oddly for a beer that it threw me off. I could only handle a bottle of this one per sitting, and at that, I was burping citrus all night long. If you like that kind of flavor in your beer I suggest you try it. I think there are other summer selections that are more refreshing out there. (more…)

Beer Review #39 Celebration Ale

Happy New Year and welcome back to Today we are celebrating two things; New Years and our first anniversary. Yup, one year ago today we opened the site  and this marks the 175th post on the site since that date. And what better way to celebrate these two events than with a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale.

Celebration Ale pours a nice orange-amber in color  and has a massive, fluffy, off-white head. There are lots of tiny, medium, and large bubbles to be found. The beer is also clear if you are into that type of thing. The nose of the Celebration Ale is complex and hoppy right off the bat. The most immediate smell is citrus hops. followed by a bit of pine odor, and there is also a bit of malt sweetness that sneaks in. Citrus hop is by far the most dominate smell with the others taking a back seat.

The beer’s flavor is also complex. The initial taste is malty while is immediately followed by a citrus flavor. The citrus hop flavor is very refreshing and fits in so well. Then the pine takes over. As I said on my last post, I remembered this tasting like a Christmas tree. And boy does it. The pine flavor dominates all of the early flavors. Even the aftertaste is pine. I find the pine to be not as terrible as I used to but it is still a bit too strong for my liking and it really crashing on the  tongue in a harsh way. I do like that the malt backbone is just strong enough to support the hop.  The interesting thing about this beer that more further you get into the drink the less of the pine flavor you get and the more of the citrus there is.

Celebration Ale has a medium body and nice, lasting carbonation. It comes in at 6.8%. This is surely not a beer for a newcomer to craft beer. Heck, this might not be for people who have had their fair share of craft beers. You have to be an IPA lover to enjoy this beer and also enjoy piney hops. Pine is not my favorite at all, it is probably the hop flavor that I least like. The saving grace for this beer, in my mind, is that the pine fades and the citrus comes through. IF you are a hop head and enjoy other Sierra Nevada products then this beer is right up your alley. (more…)