Review – Humans Vs. Wizards

Time to choose a side. Wizards and Hazies or Humans and West Coasties?

This challenge comes to us from Smog City and Three Weavers and their two IPA’s…

We start with…

More Wizard Than Human Hazy IPA – fruit plus Sweet Tart on the aroma. Soft on the palate. The bitterness is there but more lurking than upfront. The spell of hops is from Strata, Cashmere and El Dorado. I get some tea like notes from the Strata plus a little twisted malt note.

More Human Than Wizard West Coast IPA – according to the label art, much bigger hops used. Though really it is the same big three just expressed differently. Tilted more British in styling with a bready note. More earthy and woody and no fruit.

Verdict – I like the fruity notes in the hazy over the earthy in the West Coast. I also like the wizard over the Thor like dude with the big H mash paddle.

Dublin or West Indies – Guinness Porter Taste-Off

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The Brewers Project an offshoot of the main Guinness brewery as sent the Irish in America (and any other beer drinker) a pair of porters with stylized labels modeled after the original old-timey-wimey bottle designs.

# 1 Dublin Porter – Originally created in 1796 during a time when porters were all the rage in London, Guinness brewed up its own Irish version of the style at St. James’s Gate and shipped to England. While the porter originated in London, the Guinness brewer’s Irish take on the style proved quite popular with its earthy and lively flavor. Today, the Dublin Porter delivers a sweet, smooth beer with dark caramel and hoppy aroma notes with a burnt biscuit finish for a beer reminiscent of a different time — when after a hard day’s work, you’d visit your local haunt for a porter, the “working man’s beer,” and Guinness would have been the respected choice. (3.8% Alc/Vol)

# 2 West Indies Porter – Constantly pushing the envelope to showcase what its brewers could do, Guinness sought to create a porter that could maintain its quality taste and freshness aboard West Indies-bound ships across the ocean for more than a month. In 1801, the brewers at Guinness rose to the challenge, developing a beer with higher hops and more gravity that didn’t just survive the journey, but offered a unique new beer. Based on the original recipe, today’s porter remains an immensely flavorful beer, with generous hops and notes of caramel-toffee giving it a sweet, almost chocolate aroma. In fact, this beer was a precursor to Guinness™ Foreign Extra Stout enjoyed all over the world today. (6% Alc/Vol)

Those are the descriptions from the brewery but who wins the taste test for me?

The Dublin Porter is quite light. It has a creamy, sweet milkshake quality to it. It is smooth with caramel notes. They would really have to amp the hops for me to taste them. What Dublin thinks is hoppy is not to someone in California. There is an Oyster stout mineral note tucked in this beer as well. It is nicely complex and is a beer for a spring with clouds.

The stronger West Indies Porter could be mistaken for the regular Guinness stout. It has more meat on the bones, as it were, with notes of smoke and chocolate and savory salt notes to it. The aroma is very biscuity to the point of toast. It is deceptive in that it tastes rather light despite the higher ABV.

In the end, I would take the heartier West Indies Version. It dispenses with the sweetness and heads straight to thicker and more mineral tasting. No mucking about.

Gin Taste-Off

Every once in awhile, I delve into other spirits (and sometimes wine) to broaden my palate and since I used a Christmas BevMo gift card on mini-bottles of gin, I thought I should give my thoughts on it. *with all due apology to gin bloggers…

The two gins were Broker’s (the be-hatted mini-bottle) and Martin Miller’s.
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I tried both straight and then in my favorite cocktail and the simplest, the Gin & Tonic using a basic/simple Food Network website recipe.

I went with the Hat first, Brokers was strong from the get-go. It was hot on initial taste and blazed a burning path through my palate and it was also viscous and a bit on the medicinal side. In the G&A, it was too much gin. I was forced to amp the tonic to compensate.

Miller’s was way more softer which came as a great relief. Also way more herbal with some lemony essence as well. It had both a kick and warmth without going overboard on either. In the G&T there was a serious elderflower note and it was much sweeter. The taste grew on me though.

In the end neither has the right balance for me and I think I would need something smack in the middle to whet my gin whistle.

IPA Taste Test – Stone Edition

Whilst wandering through my Trader Joe’s, I stopped at the “orphan” bottles and cans section of the beer aisle and I saw a “classic” Stone IPA right next to the newer Go To Session IPA. Immediately, I thought, it was time for a taste test. How did the two compare. Is there a stylistic shift or are they just variations on a theme?
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Classic IPA
Pours clear and fizzy orange. Compared to the Go To, it has less head to it. Pine/woodsy aroma and a strong punch of bitterness. There is some notes of citrus and fruit punch in there as well which fades as the beer warms and more of a spicy rye quality becomes more evident. A bit too astringent for me after a strong start.

Go To Session IPA
Pours a hazy yellow color. Oddly no “enjoy by” date on this bottle. Lighter tangerine aroma here. Much softer and a little more floral/ soapy notes here. Both have lingering hop presence to them. Just that this fades out quicker. A little watery as well.

Verdict – Neither have much malt presence to them. My preference for lighter hands on IPAs leads me to Go To but in the end the harshness of the Classic loses the battle more than Go To wins it.

IE IPA X2

A bit cryptic of a title for a blog post. Certainly not SEO friendly, but I have never been into that. Beer Geeks with a little LA knowledge will get the reference and that is enough for me.

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I will be comparing and contrasting (apple and orange-ing) two IPA’s from the Inland Empire.

First up is Wiens Brewing Type 3 IPA.  According to the label it is their 3rd IPA and it has five different hops in it.  It pours quite redder than most IPA’s which stay in the orange or yellow realm of the rainbow.  It leaves a lot of lacing on the glass especially for a beer at only 6.5% ABV.  I get a mango and tropical note that is in line with the pineapple that the label talks about which is a good start.  That fruit centric aroma fades as the bitterness is the star of the flavor show.  But it does dissipate quite quickly.

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The aroma is stronger than the flavor but there is a hearty dose of hops to contend with until they drop.  For my first beer from this particular brewery it makes for a promising start but will it better it’s Redlands counterpart?

Hop-O-Matic from Ritual Brewing is another beer that doesn’t make its way into Glendale or LA much if at all.  (Which is fine, I don’t mind if a brewery wants to serve it’s community first).

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This take on the IPA comes in a little heavier on the ABV and sits in the orange hued spectrum.  The aroma is quite spicy hence the pairing advice of Tikka Masala.  This one certainly has a front loaded jolt of bitterness and carbonation that strike the palate but then it, like the Wiens fades off very quickly.  And what I am left with is a reminder of bitterness and the taste of powdered cinnamon.  A taste that I don’t believe that I have had in an IPA before.  And that note is probably what triggered the donut and carrot cake pairing suggestions.

In the end, I would choose the Wiens first.  Yes it was watery in comparison but the tropical notes were quite nice in the aroma and while they lasted in the taste.  That strange spice in the Hop-O-Matic just didn’t grow on me like some beers can do.