Two from Eureka Brewing to dig into today starting with a hazy pale using the Pink Boots hop blend.
Pandora Wakes pours a bright yellow with a top heavy haze to it. Crisp taste with a little watery edge to it. I know that is contradictory but this beer comes across more session/light. Some bitterness up front with a cherry note. Not what I would consider hazy though.
La Brea Stout promises chocolate and coconut. I get some of the former and none of the latter. It pours a nice dark color but no head to it. There is a soft roasty character that I like.
Before I dive in to this 2002 first edition of Utopias, read on about the history of the beer from noted beer writer, Jay Brooks right HERE.
Reviewing a beer like this is hard. It is not a new release and more museum piece. New Utopias are not done in the same manner and barrel-aging is totally different now than in 2002. Even the naming convention was abandoned after this beer.
But, the beer was due to be opened after nearly twenty years and I need to talk about it. First off, the top is twist off and then there was a bottle cap as well. Was kinda of expecting cork but this was much easier. The first aroma was a bit on the soy sauce side which had me concerned but then wave after wave of maple started hitting the air. The kitchen smelled like a pancake breakfast.
The three main words I would use to describes Utopias is maple, sweet and viscous. At first you get a big hit of alcohol heat but that really fades as the beer warms up. I have had much more hot, cheek warming beers at lower ABV’s.
I gave samples to two other gutsy drinkers and got descriptions such as vanilla extract, molasses, syrupy and caramel.
I now want to compare a newer version to do the whole compare and contrast thing.
Tucked inside the 12 Days of IPAs variety box from Stone Brewing was the new Features+Benefits “healthy IPA”, so today, let’s taste that vs their Gluten-reduced IPA, Delicious and see which comes out on top…
Delicious– nice fruit aroma and taste. Fruit punch comes to mind. Very crisp and bitey. Some pine in here as well.
F+B – Super light and bright yellow. Pretty watery. Has a big cat pee aroma to it. Has quite a bit of bitterness. Lemon notes as well.
This is a no brainer to me. Delicious wins by a country mile. It maybe gluten reduced but it tastes like a full bodied session IPA.
This is the second virtual festival assortment from the California Craft Brewers Association and with 10 beers total (I will touch on 6 of them) from up and down the state, let’s dive into some mini-reviews…
All Clouds Everything from New Glory – Super big pineapple notes. Like opening a can of sliced pineapple rings. Very soft texture but still holds a charge of bitterness.
831 from Sante Adairius – Not my favorite label design for sure. Quite dank with both pine and menthol notes shining through. One word review would be woodsy.
Today’s Forecast from Pizza Port – Another solid seasonal IPA from Pizza Port. High bitterness, Concord grape notes, toasty malt and nicely crisp.
Peanut Butter Cup Narwhal from Sierra Nevada – Just wow. They nailed the aroma and the flavor doesn’t strike you as sickly sweet. The light bourbon touch of this super rare beer takes it to a higher level.
Lazy Lasers from Three Weavers – Murderers Row of hops from El Dorado to Motueka to Citra and my new favorite Strata. Getting jasmine flowery perfume notes and as it warms more tangerine. Strong bitterness at first then earns into a softer texture.
Apricot Sournova from Almanac – Sour upon opening the can. Getting a little oak, a little apricot and zero vanilla bean. Gets more lemonade flavor as it warms. Thankfully not super sour but everything needs to be amped up.
A few days ago, I showed a some photos from inside the CPB and now time to taste test the beers….
Kolsch – this is a tricky beer because it can drift closer to other styles that are close to it. I prefer it to be more akin to a blonde ale than pilsner and this beer does that. Though I do get a bit too much hefe to it. Some mineral notes to but overall I quite like it.
California Common – clocking in at 4.9% this is quite flavorful for such a low alcohol beer. Lots of malt taste mixed with a touch of sweetness. This one tastes a touch green to me and finishes a little too heavy on the mineral side.
Pilsner – if blindfolded, I would not have said pilsner. Much like the Kolsch, I am getting that hefe yeast note here. The snap and bubble that I expect is not there either. It even pours a little to dark yellow for my liking.
Wheat – perhaps a little tilted in the sour direction. Lots of wheat character here. Nice and light. Watery citrus note as well. Has a fluffy mouthfeel as well.
I would return for the Kolsch first of the four. There is some room to grow d I hope to taste some of the beers that explore the heritage of the brewer because I think some extra ingredients would bump up the ratings of these beers.
We have all seen the reviews that start with, I hate this style of beer. Part of me wants to scream. (see above tweet) But part of me wants to give some credit for trying a style again and again. It would be so much easier to just give up.
But maybe as we wait for the Untappd app to load up and find your beer, we need to press pause and really think before starting to type. I know this is a Tweet First, Ask for Forgiveness later society but just stopping for a moment or three will make all the difference. A new flavor might pop out as the beer warms, that descriptive word you had on the tip of your tongue might reveal itself or you might overhear what another tap room patron is saying about that same beer.
Use that time to find a way to describe the beer that does not involve a preconceived notion. Maybe use only three or only five words to best illuminate the aroma and flavor and mouthfeel. Hell, just use emoji’s if that is your jam. But find a way to inform the person that stumbles upon your mini-review about the beer. What about the grapefruit is rubbing you the wrong way? Too much pith? Does it taste like grapefruit candy and not actual citrus? Are the hops muted by the fruit?
In that downtime before typing, remember that people may be reading who aren’t reading to learn about YOU but about the BEER.
The Duo of Reviews today are two California brewed beers that I recently received samples of. Both feature agricultural products as well. We got peanuts and citrus.
First up is Oggi’s Roasted Peanut Stout.
Pours a super dark black. Espresso head fades super quickly. Missed getting a photo with my camera. You have to search out the peanut aroma but it is in the taste right up front. You can probably make some interesting food pairings if you look past desserts. Not a heavy beer. Mostly peanut and some chocolate. Simple and direct.
Next is the Citrus Wheat from Angel City.
The mural artwork on the new labels is quite cool. Grounds the beer as part of a community. Citrus Wheat pours an orange juice color. A bit hazy. Has a just juiced orange taste to it. Leaning toward tangerine. Once the juice is gone, the beer leaves you with the wheat taste solidly. Little sticky on the palate. As advertised on the name.
I must say, that I get more excited by Stone releases that are missing hops. It is out of their wheelhouse and the chances of something exciting happening are heightened. Like seeing an actor in a comedy that usually does drama. (Crowe in The Nice Guys, see it.) So I was anticipating cracking open the media bottle that I received from Stone of the junior high school named Scru Wit.
This Stone Spotlight is imperial for sure. And very well spiced. It is primarily Wit to me followed by Sahti and Gruit. I like the creativity of it. I would like to see it in a lighter ABV version as well where some of the spices could pop even more because this is a little too cheek warming. Balance is there but this is still a heavy beer. The spice really sticks with you and the malt bill is heavy. Sense a trend? Heavy.
We head to Temecula and Wiens Brewing for this review. Far Post Brown Ale conjures up images of soccer fields to me but the brewers have other ideas. Envisioning arrows and banners and battle.
This ale starts with an aroma of chocolate lava cake. Milk chocolate primarily. That doesn’t follow into the flavor though there is a touch of cocoa in the taste. It is light but still cake-y. And the label does not lie. It is quite the dry finish. I noticed a pucker in my mouth as I sipped away on this one.
I wasn’t sold at first but the chocolate keeps coming at you and I am starting to ponder which desserts to match with it as I drink.
Wiens beers are starting to pop up on L.A. beer shelves and are worth a look.
For August, I have grabbed a variety of beers to review that are adjacent to Los Angeles and we start with Claremont Craft Ales and two of their canned offerings….
First up is Baseline which began it’s journey as the 2nd Anniversary beer and is now, as the can explains, “part crisp blonde ale and part over-the-top Double IPA”. With lemon peel.
It certainly has a hop kick and the lemon peel weaves in and out as you sip the beer. After I poured the beer, I looked at the ABV and noticed that it certainly is imperial at twice the percentage of the Hoppy Wheat Ale. As the beer warms up, the lemon becomes a bit more pronounced in the aroma with almost a candied note to it. There is a bit of viscosity off this beer as well. That combination makes this beer stickier and slower to drink. Probably best as a taster as opposed to a full glass.
Next up is Indian Hill part of the weird nomenclature that makes this sorta / kinda a Session IPA or XPA. How will it compare to the recent Citra Bend from Golden Road that is also in the WHA category?
The focus here is squarely on the Wheat. It starts behind a citrusy aroma and hoppiness but then the grain just takes over the palate which is the opposite of what most in this group are like. There are also some orange notes in the back as well. Despite the lightness of this beer it doesn’t fall into the watery trap that can be the downfall of the session beer.
Both beers are interesting and well above average and I certainly hope a steady supply will be in stores.