ad astra per alia porci

Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA
October 18, 2013, 3:03 pm
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Pour: Huge three-finger robust, growling, foamy, frothy, off-white head. Dark copper hazey body. Very good first impression, it is begging to be appreciated. Once the foam settles down, there is a lot of cloudy sediment that can be seen in the foam.

Nose: Grapefruit, citrus, pineapple, lychee, pine, full and aggressive aroma to the point that there is some funk and must, malty, soy sauce notes. Some carbonation and fizz. Leave it to warm, and the malt and bread notes emerge.

Palate: Moderate and oily on the mouth. Sweet, citrus and grapefruit hits the tongue first, malty and bread notes, with resin and a sense of earth. Then the hops set in, with a pleasant, approachable bitterness that is not overwhelming and leaves one thirsting for more. s it warms, one sense tea. Leave it a bit longer and some roasted malt notes appear. Finish is crisp and dry with subtle lingering bitterness, with a perfume of grapefruit, wood and floral, vegetal hops. Very well-balanced, highly drinkable and is not heavy on the palate despite its complexity. The lingering aromatic bitterness in the finish lasts forever, by the way.

Wow. A really delicious and deliberately refined American IPA. We all know that hops is the mainstay of American IPAs, so it is really special when a brewer shows that he can do something much more than just go full throttle with the hops bitterness and instead impart some delicious complexity into his brew. I can taste the stages that this beer brings to the drinker’s experience, and the concomitant complexity and cornucopia of deliberate tastes. The complexity is organic and morphs with time, and this is deeply intriguing. This beer ranks above the Dogfish Head, but for different reasons. While the Dogfish Head is in your face bitter, this one is complex and more subtle. This is truly world class. My favourite American IPA.

Weihenstephaner Vitus Weizenbock
October 18, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Pour: Huge 3-finger, very foamy white head. Hazey, yellow-wheat body.

Nose: Citrus, banana, orange, spicey,

Palate: Surprisingly thick, creamy and oily on the mouth. Sweet, banana, lemony, fruity, pineapple, citrus, spicy, bright. Rather carbonated. Spicy. Slight must. Hops almost non-existent. Slightly nutty. Light and refreshing with little aftertaste. Packs a punch though.

I imagine this going well with spicy and sour Thai food on a sunny weekend afternoon. This beer is interesting and unexpected in that the mouthfeel is almost creamy and rather substantial. Very good, easy-drinking beer. Definitely more interesting than a Hoergaarden though.

Trappistes Rochefort 6
October 14, 2013, 2:13 pm
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Pour: Giant 4-finger yellowish bubbly head in the goblet. Yellowish-brown, dark honey colour. Hazey.

Nose: Malty, biscuit, caramel, sweet, roasted malt,

Palate: Thick on the tongue, very carbonated, so much that it hits my nose. Mellows off into a thick, almost syrupy, malty, candy taste. Finish is slightly malty and more refreshing than intense and complex.

After trying all the beers in the Trappistes Rochefort line (the 6, 8 and 10), I am of the view that the 6 is the shallowest and least impressive of the lot. 8 and 10 are marvellous beers, and both are two of the best beers I ever had. The 6 stands under the very long and dark shadow of the 8 and 10, and struggles in the best company. I can see to which audience the 6 would appeal to (those who are just stepping into the muddy waters of Trappist ales and/or the casual beer drinker), but that audience does not include me. On its own it is really drinkable and a good beer, but it truly pales in the company it keeps.

Stone India Pale Ale
October 11, 2013, 4:41 pm
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Pour: Amber-orange, hazey with thick frothy one-finger head.

Nose: A breadier American IPA smell. Fruit, citrus. Not particularly floral.

Palate: Marked carbonation. Hops hit the tongue direct, and ends with a lingering bitter-hop aftertaste with some malt. The bitterness really comes through, almost metallic and vegetal.

A solid and robust American IPA with the characteristic focus on the hops. However, I remain of the opinion that Stone beers are quite one-dimensional and too direct in its taste; this is my second Stone beer and it seems to follow the same path as the first. This is a beer for those who like hops, full-stop, and nothing more.

Victory Hop Wallop
October 4, 2013, 11:01 am
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Pour: Light hazey orange-yellow, with foamy three-finger white head.

Nose: Typical American IPA, grapefruit, lychee, citrus, pine.

Palate: Clean tasting. Contrary to the beer’s name, the hops are very pronounced and slowly sets onto tongue, finishing with a long bitter aftertaste that is substantial but not overwhelming. Malt backbone that is more in the background. The star is really the hops.

Very good but not great. Delicious. In the crowded American IPA market, this is one of the good but not the outstanding ones. Dogfish Head is still the best for me. Despite the rave reviews online, I can’t see how it is that outstanding. It lacks a certain complexity.