ad astra per alia porci

Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
December 27, 2013, 4:15 pm
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Pour: Modest one-finger head with numerous bubbles that dissolve quickly to reveal the pitch-black body.

Nose: Typical roasted malt, chocolate, cream. Less sense of coffee though.

Palate: Slight carbonation. Understated sweetness and toasty with an almost medicinal, herbal, slightly astringent undertone. Medium but crisp. Strangely muted creaminess and coffee tones.

This does not taste like a conventional rich stout that hammers home the toast, coffee and cream. Instead, this polished brew is strangely herbal in character. I find it hard to put a finger on it, which makes it intriguing and inviting, always urging me to take another sip to unravel its mystery. A very unique stout that challenges my expectations. After the previous big-bodied, creamy, chocolatey and intense coffee stouts, this brew stands right out.

Great Divide Titan IPA
December 27, 2013, 2:29 pm
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Pour: Very thick whitish two-finger head, with orange hazey amber body and some floaters inside.

Nose: Very sweet and perfumy. Citrus, pine, lychee, floral. Good omens.

Palate: Oily, thick mouthfeel, with some umami. Very crisp, yet with the complexity and sense of weight reminescent of a Belgian beer, oddly. Very strong, solid hops backbone that lingers.

A very solid, straightforwardly bold beer that is unabashedly a hophead’s dream with a rich malty backbone. Well-balanced despite its brashness, and very, very good. Great Divide does really good beers.

Sierra Nevada Stout
December 20, 2013, 3:02 pm
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Pour: Two-finger light brown, very foamy and organic head with large bubbles. As expected, a very dark brown, almost black body, but with a amber tinge at the side. Intriguing.

Nose: Coffee, toffee, roasted malts, chocolate, hazelnut. The cream is not so strong. All the expected, rich stout smells but not very strong.

Palate: Medium mouthfeel, with soft carbonation. Coffee and hop bitterness are the first tasttes that hits the tongue, with a very sweet, crisp backbone. Rich and sweet, yet crisp in the resolution, so it is not overwhelming on the tastebuds.

This is a stout that is less creamy but sweeter and crisper in orientation, with more characteristics of a pale ale. It is more balanced, simple and less aggressive for its type. Very nice, solid and tasty, but not the best.

Green Flash Brewing Co West Coast IPA
December 20, 2013, 1:52 pm
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Pour: Two-finger whitish head with many large bubbles. Hazey, orangey amber body. Inviting.

Nose: Citrus, floral and pine leaps to the nose. Sweet and fruity, strong grapefruit scent. Malt and bread too as it warms.

Palate: Slight oily and full mouthfeel, with soft carbonation. A very sweet and fruity beer, with a very lively and organic taste that resolves into a mellow and sustained hop bitterness as it finishes.

This is a really pleasant and delicious American IPA. It is intensely hopped, but more in terms of its aroma rather than the palate, and very well balanced against the sweetness without losing an inch of vibrancy. A very fine example of its type. I am very pleased. One of the very best American Pale Ales. I will be looking out for other offerings from West Coast.

Firestone Walker Pale 31
December 14, 2013, 7:36 am
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Pour: Slim one-finger thick foamy white head, with a light, slightly hazey orange body

Nose: Rounded sweet nose, reminiscent of orange, citrus.

Palate: Very refreshing, light, with slight carbonation. Citrus body. Mild bitterness at the end, with a very clean and crisp finish.

This should be drunk on a lazy, hot summer afternoon, and will go well with burgers and chips at 4.9%. Good beer.

Deschutes Obsidian Stout
December 13, 2013, 3:50 pm
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Pour: Pitch dark brown body with minimal caramel head with large bubbles.

Nose: Roasted malts, coffee, cream all leap to the nose. Very pronounced and sustained aroma. Very enticing and delicious, like a melted chocolate bar.

Palate: Coffee and dark cholocate notes hit the tongue immediately, following very smoothly and naturally from the nose. In the middle cream and roasted malt is revealed. Finishes with a pleasant, dry and crisp coffee bitterness. Hops are not very pronounced. A faint hint of smoke may be perceived. As the brew warms, the sweetness of the malt comes through, with a fuller and more rounded feel on the tongue.

Damn good stout, dessert in a bottle. This is on par with the the Voodoo Stout, Anchor Porter and Yeti, but for different reasons. The former come with greater complexity and more excitement and even brutality. This brew is more conservative, with its very delicious coffee, chocolate and roasted malt notes, as well as a much sweeter body. An excellent expression of the genre, with almost dessert-like qualities and super pleasant and tasty. Can’t recommend it more.

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
December 13, 2013, 2:17 pm
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Pour: Two-finger white thick foamy head with tangerine-amber slight hazey body.

Nose: Typical fruity citrus IPA nose. Sweet. Much more on the citrus side.

Palate: Slightly thick and oily on the palate. Very vibrant and fruity – mango, lemon, orange. Very tropical fruit flavours. Medium malt backbone that progresses smoothly in hop bitterness. Bitterness is of medium body but radiates at the end in a pronounced finish. Leaning on the light side for an IPA.

Very pleasant beer, basically a very tropical fruity IPA. I cannot see why Ratebeer and Beer Advocate gives this beer a 100. I am a bit in two minds about this one; on one hand, the tropical fruit notes are really impactful and outstanding, on the other hand, the very same fruitiness, for some reason, brings its marks down. I might need to try this again because the current bottle says “Enjoy by 11/27/2013”, which is about two weeks ago.

Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale
December 6, 2013, 4:32 pm
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Pour: Dark hazey amber with tan, foamy two-finger head.

Nose: Really pleasant sweet citrus, grapefruit, lychee, pine. Sweet notes are pronounced. Smells delicious and enticing.

Palate: Wow. Mouthfeel is full, slightly oily, with light carbonation. Slight toasted malt at the start. Bergamot, tea leaves, with a mildly sweet, smooth malt backing. The hops is very mellow and subtle and this is quite surprising given the nose which suggests a robust hop bitterness. Finish is very clean, light and crisp, and not taxing on the tastebuds. Rather, it cleanses the tastebud as one would expect a tea to do. Clearly a sessionable beer, almost like iced tea with no sugar. As the beer warms, subtle caramel notes surface.

Really pleasant and surprising beer. Once again, Anderson Valley blows me away. But I must say that I prefer the Hop Ottin IPA better, but it is really comparing apples and oranges. This beer is mellow yet complex with multiple layers, and very drinkable.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
December 6, 2013, 4:31 pm
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Pour: Very dark brown body with very robust, light brown, thick foamy three-finger head.

Nose: Roasted malt, chocolate, caramel toffee, coffee notes. Smells very much like a stout, but more reserved.

Palate: As expected, very pronounced roasted malt, chocolate, toffee, coffee notes. But with a malt backbone, solid hops bitterness, and a clean and crisp ending.

A good ale, but I find that it is caught between being a stout and an ale. Interesting enough for the short term, but it lacks identity and a stable character.

Left Coast Voo Doo American Stout
November 29, 2013, 3:42 pm
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Pour: Modest one finger light brown head that resolve quickly to reveal a pitch black body.

Nose: Wow. Wonderfully nutty, creamy. Hazelnut, peanuts, cream and coffee. Roasted malts and toffee. Very sweet and pleasant aromas that wafts to the nose. I am quite excited.

Palate: Light carbonation. Really robust, pleasantly bitter coffee notes. Roasted malt, toffee, dark chocolate. The creaminess is less pronounced. Lingering and pronounced hops bitterness at the end; the hops are rather strong for a stout brew. As it warms, it has a thicker mouthfeel and tastes sweeter, but the bitterness never really diminishes. Despite its robust tastes, it leaves the palate surprisingly clean.

So damn good. I really like how it balances the robust notes with preserving a clean slate at the end, as well as the really enticing nose that screams of cream and nuts. It assaults the senses, but in a way that has some measure and control.

Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale
November 29, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale

Pour: Modest one finger off-white head, dark reddish brown body

Nose: Aggressively aromatic fruity hops, lychee, grapefruit, citrus, pine.

Palate: Really tasty and dry, with bracing and piercing bitter hops at the end. Malt backbone and full-bodied.

An aggressive and strongly-hopped ale, but remains pleasantly drinkable and strangely robust. Very good.

Rogue Mocha Porter
November 22, 2013, 2:21 pm
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Pour: Thin caramel brown head, barely one-finger. Very dark brown body.

Nose: Coffee, mocha, sweet, roasted malt. The nose is much lighter than I expected.

Palate: Black coffee, slight cream, vanilla, thin and light on the palate. Very little hops bitterness; rather I taste sweetness at the end. As it warms, the rounded sweetness steps forward and the coffee rich bitterness becomes more subtle.

Very pleasant brew that appeals even to a non-coffee drinker like me. I just wished the nose and the body were slightly more intense (even though I think the fact that the palate is lighter than expected adds to the character of the beer). This gets better as it warms. I find the Hazelnut better.

Stone Ruination IPA
November 22, 2013, 12:48 pm
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Pour: Whitish one-finger head, hazey light yellow, orange-amber body.

Nose: Very fruity and strong IPA smells, tropical fruits, grapefruit, lychee, pineapple, floral, pine, citrus.

Palate: As expected, a very traditional IPA taste. Surprisingly oily on the palate. Grapefruit, tropical fruits. A subtle backbone of malt at the backstage. Very dry and sustained hop bitterness right at the end, but it is not aggressive so, but much more consistent and drawn-out.

My previous Stone ales were not very good; I found them too bitingly bitter with nothing else in between. However, this one is surprisingly mature and measured, and I like it. The nose is really attractive and strong, the body more balanced, and it opens up with even more fruits, citrus, malt and hops. Really good. Marks too for the beautifully-printed bottle.

Pauwel Kwak
November 15, 2013, 4:20 pm
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Pour: Tan two-finger, foamy, frothy head. Slight hazey, chestnut leathery darker brown body.

Nose: Sweet, candy, carbonated. Can’t really get a head on it until I accidentall inhaled some of the beer: musty, raisins, dried fruits, caramel, candy.

Palate: Very clean and mellow on the tongue, almost lager-like. Predominantly sweet, some dried fruits, without the usual heaviness. Caramel notes, but slight. As it warms, the fruit tastes livelier. Almost no hops. Pleasant and accessible.

Tastes different from the Belgian beers I had so far. However it lacks complexity and is somewhat one-dimensional. I tried this before at a bar and my first impression was that it was not, well, impressive. My second tasting confirms that. Different, but not in the sense of being really good. It is like a good, steady friend who is not particularly interesting.

Anchor Porter
November 15, 2013, 4:16 pm
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Pour: Light-brown two-finger, foamy, frothy, organic head. Very dark brown body, almost black.

Nose: Very sweet smelling, roast malted, carbonated. As it warms, its nose really blossoms: chocolate, coffee, toffee, milk even. Really creamy, vanilla notes. I am smelling a lot of cream and milk at the end.

Palate: Very smooth, inviting, creamy, coffee, dark chocolate, which is complemented by a slight carbonation. Surprisingly light on the tongue for a porter, yet maintaining a high but subtle degree of richness. Finished dry, with a more pronounced hops signature, and as smoothly as it started. As it warms, I taste more dark fruits, sweetness and nuts.

A very smooth and refined porter, very approachable and easy to drink despite its colour. I like how the roasted malt and chocolate coffee notes is calibrated finely against the hops and dryness, with a measured amount of carbonation. One of the best porters, and one of the best beers, that I have tasted.