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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 #208 Ruthless Rye IPA

I’m not sure how long this beer has been out, but it recently showed up on  the shelves of my local beer store and it hasn’t left since it showed up (like a lot beers tend to do). Ruthless Rye IPA is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company of  Chico, CA and it is obviously a rye IPA. I’ve had a number of different takes on rye beers (pale ales and doulbe IPAs among others) and I have really liked the extra flavor component that it gives a beer. It imparts a very distinct note to the malt character of a beer that fits perfectly with hops.

Ruthless Rye IPA pours a nice amber color and has an off-white head. The nose is packed with bright hops that leap out of the glass. The hops are full of citrus aromas with some piney smells lingering in the background. There is also a spiciness to the nose. Some people might attribute this to the rye as rye is often said to be spicy in beers, but I think it is more from a mix of hops than anything else. Maybe the rye does impart a smell, but I didn’t notice it enough to make note of.

On my first tasting I was impressed with the amount of malt that comes through on such a hoppy smelling beer. The malt is very nice and slightly sweet with a good amount of rye flavor. The spiciness pops up again but it is slightly different than a hop spice as a spicy hop flavor comes in quickly after the rye flavor departs.

I found this beer to be super drinkable and something that I could have on a regular basis. I plan on getting more so that I can try to construct a homebrew recipe around this beer. I liked it that much. The flavors are very balanced and while the hops are prevalent, they are not the stars of the show. The balance is what is key to this beer and the rye flavor just adds a cherry to the top of this one. (more…)

Beer Review #193 Whitewater IPA

I was excited to try my last beer reviewed, but it left me wanted. Perhaps the most interesting beer in the Sam Adams Variety Pack is Whitewater IPA. The bottle says a “wheat ale brewed with apricots and spices.” According to Sam Adam’s website the idea behind this beer was to combine an IPA with a Belgian-style White Ale. Before I dive into this review I want to share a few quick thoughts on the Boston Beer Company with you. For such a big brewery they really seem to embrace the “homebrewer mentality.” They do not seem to be afraid to try something different and out there. While they don’t get the acclaim of a Dogfish Head I really feel like they do a great job of making different beers. They are also 100% American owned, have a beer buyback program, and encourage homebrewers to try new things, which, with all things considered, makes them pretty badass. Maybe I am alone in that feeling as they have grown out of the microbrewery category, but I really respect what they do. Your regularly scheduled beer review continues below.

Whitewater IPA pours a hazy yellow-orange color and have a fluffy white head. The nose is very much that of an IPA. The hops are on the citrus side of the hop world with lots of grapefruit coming through as well. I didn’t get any Belgian odors nor did I find any apricots in there either.

The first sip lead to some very solid hops. This IPA has a fruity character to it. The hop flavor really enhances some of the fruit vibes in this beer. I did get a slight bit of apricot mixed in before the hops hit, but it wasn’t very strong. There is a strange flavor about halfway through a gulp that made my tongue feel slightly numb. I’m not sure if it was the Belgian component to the beer, but it was noticeable enough to make note of. The hops come in right after the strange flavor and do a good job or cleaning up the beer. They are full of citrus with some piney notes at the very end.

This IPA is one of the creamiest IPAs that I have had in awhile. I’m assuming that it comes from the use of wheat malt which can help contribute to mouthfeel. I really liked the balance on this one. The apricots didn’t add anything to the beer, but we can let that slide. I liked this much more than Might Oak Ale, too bad it is only in the variety pack right now. (more…)

Beer Review #186 90 Minute IPA

I have reviewed a lot of Dogfish Head beer on this is in recent month, but give a guy a break, I live in Delaware. I would be remiss if I didn’t support the First State’s first craft brewery. DFH makes some really great beers and they also make some beers that are just not my style, but you can never deny that they aren’t afraid to try anything (even if it is just for marketing purposes). 90 Minute IPA is the middle child of their famed IPA series, 60 Minute and 120 Minute being the other “young and older” beers respectively. DFH also makes a 75 Minute IPA but it is only released on draft and can be a bitch to find.

This IPA comes in at 9% ABV and is continually hopped from 90 minutes during the boil. It pours a nice orange-amber color and is crystal clear. The head is a soapy white with a good mix of bubble sizes. The nose has a nice hop odor to with with lots of floral and citrus notes. There is some slight sweetness mixed in behind the hops.

On my first taste I was surprised at the malt behind this beer. There is a solid malt backbone and some biscuit notes are there to add some nice depth of flavor. Before the malt really has a chance to settle in the hops come in and really give a good kick. The hops are in flavor what they were in smell, floral and citrus. I also got some grapefruit in there as well. The robust hops really dry out the beer well and help lead to a crisp ending.

I really dig this one. Of the “big three” this is my favorite. I found it to be nicely in balance and it had a really nice selection of flavors. For an  Imperial IPA this one is fantastic. If you haven’t had this one before, go get it! (more…)

Beer Review #184 Union Jack IPA

In the past few years I have heard a whole lot about Firestone Walker Brewing Company and how amazing their beers are. Until recently, they have not distributed to my area and I haven’t been to an area that they did distribute to so I was SOL. Imagine my surprise when I was browsing the shelves of the beer store and stumbled upon a whole bunch of Firestone Walker beer. Now I didn’t get to grab as many as I wanted, you know budgets and all of that, but I did grab a Union Jack IPA. I have been on a slight IPA kick recently, and generally west coast IPAs do a good job of filling my IPA need. Firestone Walker is located in Paso Robles, CA and a quick Google search shows that area being in the middle of Los Angles and San Jose, IPA country.

A nice orange colored liquid flows out of the stout bottle along with a fluffy white head. The nose is pretty sweet with a good mix of hop aromas. There was lots of grapefruit and pine to go around with this one. Union Jack IPA is 7.5% ABV and I didn’t get a single drop of that on the nose of this beer.

There is a light malt flavor on the front end of this beer which is then follow by a healthy kick of hops. They are mainly citrus in flavor. I found them to be a wonderful mix of crisp but also lasting. By that I mean that the beer finishes out, but a fresh hoppy aftertaste stays. This isn’t like some hops that just stay on your tongue and don’t leave, these hops are squarely in the aftertaste realm.

I really dug this IPA. I found everything about it refreshing. It was perfectly balanced and didn’t have a ton of piney hops. The hops really flowed in well and then faded out. I might have to pick up more Firestone Walker beers if this beer is any indication of the quality of beer they produce. (more…)