Billy's Beer Blog - A Layman's Guide to Great Beer


Posts Tagged ‘India Pale Ale’

Something To Crow About

January 12th, 2011 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Blitzkrieg was right on target

The aptly named Hopfest is Darren The Mad Zymurgist's latest creation

Ladies and gentlemen, there’s a brand new brewery in Sarasota. And I can definitely say that it’s worth crowing about!

The Mad Crow Brewery & Grill opened its doors last Thursday, and I stopped by the other day to give it a try. In addition to crafting their own ales, the brewery has an eclectic artisan’s menu ranging from mussels and duck hot dogs to Arctic char and a beef shank that serves 6-8 people. There’s even a appetizer on the menu that features bone marrow! For the less adventurous, there’s also standard pub fare such as bangers on a bun and fried mac & cheese.

I ordered a grilled cheddar cheese & bacon sandwich, with a side salad, then talked beer with Darren Fehring, the brewery’s resident Zymurgist, and Jeff behind the bar. The first beer that I had was Mad Crow Blitzkrieg (Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; Marzen; ABV: 7.2), which is their German style offering. Caramel in color, it’s a smooth well balanced beer with big notes of sweet malt and spices. The alcohol content is more than 7% is well concealed, and Blitzkrieg has the feel of a session beer, albeit a robust one. Per Jeff, this has been their most popular beer to date.

Darren, who hails from New Hampshire and has been brewing for more than 20 years, decided to escape the New England winters and set up shop here. He brought out a sample of his latest creation, Mad Crow Hopfest (Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.2) for us to try. Amber in color, it’s a hop head’s dream with several varieties of hops, such as Cascade and Amarillo, complimented by fine notes of Brettanomyces yeast, with a crisp clean finish. Like Blitzkrieg, the alcohol content of this ale isn’t very noticeable.

I finished up by trying a sampler of several other brews currently on tap. Among them:

Mad Crow Winter Wheat; Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; American Pale Wheat Ale; ABV: 5.5. Brewed for the Winter, this golden wheat ale has a smoother, more full-bodied taste than traditional wheat beers.

Mad Crow Oatmeal X; Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.2. The first beer of Mad Crow’s experimental series, this amber ale has hearty notes of flaked oats balanced by a malty backbone. Delicious!

Mad Crow Hoppin’ Mad; Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; American Pale Ale; ABV: 5.5. This APA has rich hoppy notes and makes an excellent session beer.

Mad Crow Perseverance Porter; Mad Crow Brewery & Grill; Sarasota, FL; Porter; ABV: 5.5. A blend between a porter and a pale ale, Perseverance has hardy notes of chocolate and coffee and is velvety smooth from start to finish. The first batch brewed by Mad Crow, hence the name. Darren said that he’d take the “Pepsi Challenge” with his porter against all comers, and I think that Perseverance would more than hold its own.

Ales, artisan dishes, and ambiance…what more can you ask for? The Mad Crow Grill & Brewery will appeal to beer lovers and foodies alike.

Hop Bombs Away

October 22nd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Sculpin more than lives up to its world class ranking

I got a chance to reaquaint myself with an IPA that I tried for the first time last year out West. It’s considered to be one of the world’s best IPAs by both Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, and I ordered a pint while attending Mr. Beery’s Beer Nerd Show & Tell earlier this week.

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (Ballast Point Brewing Co.; San Diego, CA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0) is an absolute hop bomb and well worth its reputation. Golden honey in color, Sculpin has humongous notes of citrusy fruit, especially grapefruit and apricots. The citrusy notes are balanced by breaded malt and piny hops with a dry bitter finish. Considering the substantial amount of citrusy and piny hops, this is a well balanced beer and not as intense as might be expected. In many ways, its reminds me of a lighter version of Bell’s HopSlam Ale.

I strongly recommend this IPA, especially if you’re a hop-head. And speaking of Show & Tell, I’ll be doing a review of several beers from that night in a future post.

99 Bottles of Beer: Part Deux

October 10th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Unplugged Cherry Stout was one of the evening's highlights

As was the Troegenator

Anne and I attended 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall Part 2 at Mr. Beery’s on Friday night. We were on vacation when the first one took place, and were fortunate enough to catch this one. For $20 apiece, we each received some nice glassware and participated in sampling beers 51-99.

In addition to trying some old favorites, I had the opportunity to sample many new beers for the first time. Some that truly stood out are listed below.

Bullfrog Double Coffee Stout; Bullfrog Brewery; Williamsport, PA; American Stout; ABV: 7.3. This stout was actually brought in as a growler by Dave, and was the first beer sampled. A rich mocha color, with sublime notes of Expresso coffee complimented by dark chocolate and roasted malt. Very creamy and delicious, DCS has the feel of an imperial stout to it.

New Belgium Lips of Faith – Eric’s Ale; New Belgium Brewing Co.; Fort Collins, CO; American Wild Ale; ABV: 7.0. A superb sour ale. Amber in color, with big notes of tart fruit such as cherries and green apples with a crisp clean finish.

New Glarus Unplugged Cherry Stout; New Glarus Brewing Co.; New Glarus, WI; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 6.5. A delicious, full-bodied cherry stout. Chocolate in color with big notes of Wisconsin Montmorency cherries complimented by chocolate and sweet malt. This stout would make an excellent dessert beer.

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red; New Glarus Brewing Co.; New Glarus, WI; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 5.1. One of the brewery’s signature beers. This deep red ale has outrageous notes of Wisconsin Montmorency cherries complimented by an oaky backbone and a tart finish similar to a sour ale. Like drinking a black cherry soda with a kick!

Port Brewing Older Viscosity; Port Brewing Co.; San Marcos, CA; American Strong Ale; ABV: 12.0. This jet black strong ale is aged in bourbon barrels, and the substantial notes of bourbon are very apparent throughout the beer, with a very nice oakiness in the background from the aging process. There’s hints of chocolate and vanilla spices as well, and the potency of this ale is very apparent. Older Viscosity reminds me of Ola Dubh on steroids!

Real Ale Sisyphus; Real Ale Brewing Co.; Blanco, TX; Barley Wine; ABV: 11.5. A smooth, full-bodied barley wine. There were three vintage bottles on hand (2007, 2008, 2009), with the 2008 offering being the best. Sisyphus is copper in color and the notes of honey, caramel malt, and piny hops are perfectly balanced.

Sixpoint Grand Crue; Sixpoint Craft Ales; Brooklyn, NY; Belgian Strong Dark Ale; ABV: 12.4. A rich, oak aged strong ale. Big notes of caramel, brown sugar, and dark fruit with a bourbon feel in the backbone. Quite smooth for a beer of its potency.

SKA Modus Hoperandi IPA; SKA Brewing; Durango, CO; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8. Continuing a trend in the craft beer industry, this IPA comes in a can. Amber in color with generous notes of Cascade and floral hops complimented by caramel malt. Very crisp and refreshing.

Surly Brutal Bitter; Surly Brewing Co.; Brooklyn Center, MN; Premium Bitter/ESB; ABV: 4.2. Another excellent canned beer, this is a very creamy and malty ESB. Light amber in color with the rich malty presence balanced by sweet caramel and floral hops.

Surly Furious; Surly Brewing Co.; Brooklyn Center, MN; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.2. Continuing the trend of superb canned beers, this is an absolute hop bomb. The huge notes of citrusy and piny hops are apparent throughout this ale, with a slight bitterness at the end. Furious has the feel of an Imperial IPA to it.

Tröegs Trogenator; Tröegs Brewing Co.; Harrisburg, PA; Dopplebock; ABV: 8.2. A truly outstanding dopplebock. Deep mahogany in color and tasty as hell, with big notes of sweet caramel complimented by dark fruit and cinnamon spices.

Wachusett Green Monsta; Wachusett Brewing Co.; Westminster, MA; American Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3. Named after the famed wall at Fenway Park, this complex APA is like a strong ale mixed with an IPA. Light copper in color with notes of sweet malt balanced by caramel and citrusy hops.

Kudos to Mark for his generosity and for putting together such a wonderful evening.

Respect This Elder

September 25th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Pliny The Elder is the quintessential West Coast IPA...

As is the equally superb AleSmith IPA

I have been a huge fan of West Coast IPAs for some time now, and had the chance recently to savor two of the world’s best. I reacquainted myself with the first one, while trying the second ale for the first time. Suffice to say, it was a very rewarding experience.

Russian River Pliny The Elder (Russian River Brewing Co.; Santa Rosa, CA; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0) needs no introduction. This is the Imperial IPA that many a beer aficionado thinks of when discussing world class offerings in this style. Golden orange in color, Pliny The Elder has big notes of grapefruit up front, highlighting the array of citrusy hops. The hoppiness is complimented by roasted malt and caramel with a crisp, clean finish. It never fails to amaze me how this ale can have such a sizable hoppy presence, yet be so surprisingly smooth to drink.

AleSmith IPA (AleSmith Brewing Co.; San Diego, CA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3) is categorized as an IPA, but has the feel of an Imperial. Light amber in color, this is a very well rounded beer. AleSmith IPA has substantial citrusy notes up front, particularly grapefruit and orange, balanced by sweet malt and resiny spices with a piny hops backbone at the end. Like Pliny The Elder, this ale is as smooth as it is complex.

Each of these IPAs are among the best in their style, and I highly recommend both to hop-heads and no hop-heads alike.

Carolina In My Mind

August 31st, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

The natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains...

Was a nice backdrop to Asheville's great brewpubs like The Thirsty Monk

Anne and I had a great vacation in North Carolina last week, and savored the best that this wonderfully diverse state had to offer. The Tar Heel State also has a diverse list of breweries and brewpubs, from Raleigh-Durham to Asheville. I’ve already highlighted several excellent beers from Highland Brewing in my previous post. I will take the time in this post to review the best of the remaining beers that we sampled on our tour.

Triangle Belgian Golden Ale; Triangle Brewing Co.; Durham, NC; Belgian Strong Pale Ale; ABV: 8.0. On tap at James Joyce Irish Pub in Durham. An outstanding golden amber ale, with notes of citrusy fruit and light malt complimented by honey and peppery spices. Silky smooth from start to finish with the 8% alcohol content very well hidden.

Duck-Rabbit Amber Ale; The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery; Farmville, NC; American Amber / Red Ale; ABV: 5.0. In bottles at The Carolina Ale House. Easy drinking amber ale with big notes of caramel malt and cinnamon spices balanced by sweet fruit, nuts, and a slight bitterness at the end.

Lonerider Chef’s Wit; Lonerider Brewing; Raleigh, NC; Witbier; ABV: 5.1. On tap at the Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh. This straw colored Belgian style wit is a collaboration between the brewery and the chef from the Busy Bee Cafe. The big peppercorn notes are complimented by hints of orange and coriander with a wheat backbone. It complimented the fried green tomatoes and Bee’s Nuts that we enjoyed from the cafe’s wonderfully eclectic menu.

Mother Earth Dark Cloud; Mother Earth Brewing; Kinston, NC; Munich Dunkel Lager; ABV: 5.1. On tap at The Raleigh Times in Raleigh. An exceptional full-bodied dunkel. Chocolate in color with notes of caramel and roasted malt.

Aviator Caveman Alt; Aviator Brewing Co.; Fuquay Varina, NC; Altbier; ABV: 7.2. On tap at the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh. A very smooth amber colored altbier. Notes of sweet caramel and roasted malt with a slightly bitter finish. The alcohol content of more than 7% isn’t too noticeable.

Appalachian Craft IPA; Appalachian Craft Brewery; Fletcher, NC; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.7. On tap at the Bier Garden in Asheville. Copper red IPA with a huge hoppy presence complimented by sweet malt with a nice dry finish.

Craggie Battery Hill Bitter; Craggie Brewing Co.; Asheville, NC; English Bitter; ABV: 4.2. On tap at the Bier Garden in Asheville. Brewed from a century old family recipe. A perfectly balanced ESB, brown in color with notes of sweet malt, brown sugar, light floral hops, and cinnamon spices.

Pisgah Reserve (AVL); Pisgah Brewing Co.; Black Mountain, NC; Saison / Farmhouse Ale; ABV: 5.0. On tap at The Thirsty Monk in Asheville. Previously retired, this superb Belgian blonde is back in a limited offering. Notes of breaded yeast, coriander, and roasted malt. Exceptionally smooth from start to finish.

Oyster House IPA; Oyster House Brewing Co.; Asheville, NC: India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.0. On tap at Oyster House Brewing, which is located in the outstanding Lobster Trap restaurant in Asheville, NC. Amber colored IPA, with intense notes of floral hops backed by a rich malty backbone. This IPA was a perfect compliment to the Maine Lobster Roll that I had for the main course, in addition to the oysters that we enjoyed for an appetizer.

Asheville Red Light IPA; Asheville Brewing Co.; Asheville, NC; India Pale Ale; ABV: 5.2. On tap at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. in Asheville. Brought out of retirement, this IPA is an absolute hop bomb, copper red in color with the big notes of citrusy hops balanced by sweet malt. Red Light is a hop head’s dream, and has the feel of a more potent IPA. Asheville Brewing also crafts another excellent IPA, Asheville Shiva, that’s a smooth hoppy IPA, with a malty backbone, at 6% ABV. Each paired well with the excellent Mad Mushroom pizza that we had for dinner.

All in all, we had a great trip and it was great to sample a wide variety of craft beers from the Tar Heel State.

Asheville Pizza & Brewing CO on Urbanspoon

Busy Bee Cafe on Urbanspoon

Lobster Trap on Urbanspoon

Rogues Gallery

August 19th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

Oregasmic will be good for you too

Anne and I met our friend Lori for Rogue Brewery Night at World of Beer last evening. There were about a dozen Rogue beers on tap, and I had the opportunity to sample several for the first time. Additionally, the beers were paired with cheese from Rogue Creamery, which added to the tasting as well.

Rogue Maierfest Lager; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; Marzen; ABV: 5.6. I’ve always enjoyed this style of beer, and Maierfest is one of the better Marzens. Golden in color, with big notes of breaded malt complimented by sweet caramel, light floral hops, and spices. Maierfest is smooth and well balanced throughout, and makes for an excellent session beer.

Chatoe Rogue Oregasmic Ale; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; American Pale Ale; ABV: 6.0. A superb APA, deep amber in color with notes of caramel malt and citrusy hops balanced by hints of chocolate and spices. Crisp and clean from start to finish. Like Maierfest, this ale makes an excellent session beer, so it’s quite easy to have multiple Oregasmics! Per Christian, WOB had one of only three kegs outside the state of Oregon.

Rogue Brutal IPA; Rogue Ales Brewery; Newport, OR; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.2. Called an Imperial bitter by Rogue, and recently bottled in Oregon under the name Portland State IPA, this beer combines the piny hops of an IPA with the malty notes of an ESB. The hoppy presence and sweet malt backbone are perfectly balanced, with a slight bitterness at the end.

All in all, it was a fun filled evening and I relished the chance to try some excellent beers.

Take Flight – Part 2

August 6th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

I just had to go for seconds

I enjoyed the initial flight with the cheese pairing so much, that I ordered a second one featuring the following beers:

Blue Point Double Blonde Ale; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; American Blonde Ale; ABV: 7.4. A delicious blonde ale with notes of floral hops complimented by sweet caramel and toasted malt. Very easy to drink as the alcohol content of nearly 7 1/2% is well hidden.

Blue Point Old Howling Bastard; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Barley Wine; ABV: 10.0. One of the the best barley wines that I’ve had this year. Amber in color, with big notes of sweet caramel well balanced by bready malt, citrusy fruit, and piny hops. Old Howling Bastard goes down smoothly, and the 10% alcohol content is well hidden.

Blue Point 10th Anniversary IPA; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.0. A truly outstanding IPA. Copper in color, with big notes of citrusy and piny hops complimented by sweet caramel malt and a slight bitterness at the finish. Very easy to drink, 10th Anniversary Ale makes an excellent session beer.

Blue Point Rastafa Rye Ale; Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Rye Beer; ABV: 7.5. A well balanced rye beer with the feel of an IPA. Deep amber in color, Rastafa Rye Ale is an array of grassy hops, citrusy fruit, and caramel malt with a nice rye presence in the backbone. This IPA is silky smooth with a nice clean finish.

I talked shop with Rob later in the evening, and was pleased to learn that one of my favorite all-time IPAs will be coming out of retirement. Blue Point No Apologies Imperial IPA (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Imperial India Pale Ale; ABV: 10.0) will once again be brewed in the coming months. This amber colored DIPA is an absolute hop bomb, with the substantial notes of earthy hops balanced by caramel malt and dark fruit.

Take Flight – Part 1

August 5th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

I really enjoyed the first flight and cheese pairing

I met my friends Bret and Kelly at Mr. Beery’s last evening for Blue Point Brewery Night. Mark put together one might have been the best beer and cheese pairing yet, and Blue Point Southeast Sales Manager Rob Johnson was on hand as well. I have long been a fan of the Long Island brewery, so I was really looking forward to having a flight of beer and sampling the artisan cheese.

The first pairing featured Blue Point Toasted Lager (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; American Amber Lager; ABV: 5.3), one of my favorite amber lagers of all time, with Beechers No Woman Cheddar with Jamaican Jerk Spice. Toasted Lager is crisp and clean, with the toasted malt flavor complimented by sweet caramel, and light citrusy hops. At just over 5% ABV, it’s an easy drinking session beer, and quite comparable to other superb Vienna style lagers such as Brooklyn Lager. The spicy flavor of No Woman played well off the silky smoothness of Toasted Lager.

The second pairing was the best of the evening. It featured Blue Point Hoptical Illusion (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; India Pale Ale; ABV: 6.8) with Grafton Duet – Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue Cheese Sandwich. A delicious golden IPA, Hoptical Illusion has big notes of citrusy hops with a sweet malt backbone. Duet’s blue cheese flavor was really drawn out by the hoppy presence of Hoptical Illusion.

Blueberries were the theme for the third pairing, between Blue Point Blueberry Ale (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Fruit / Vegetable Beer; ABV: 4.6) and Vermont Creamery Fresh Goat Crottin rolled in Blueberry Sugar. Light amber in color, with generous notes of blueberries balanced by caramel malt and a hint of floral hops, Blueberry Ale is a perfect Summer ale and really complimented the Fresh Goat Crottin.

The fourth and final pairing if the night featured Blue Point Oatmeal Stout (Blue Point Brewing Co.; Patchogue, NY; Oatmeal Stout; ABV: 4.5) and Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper. Chocolate in color, with well balanced notes of chocolate, roasted malt, and oatmeal, this stout brought out the smokiness of Lamb Chopper.

Many thanks to Mr. Beery’s and Bluepoint for putting the beer and cheese pairing together.

Mama Mia!

July 30th, 2010 Bill Zavorskas No comments

One sip will turn you into a Mama's boy...or girl

I had the good fortune of trying one of the world’s top 10 IPAs, as rated by Beer Advocate, Beer Pal, and Rate Beer, when I stopped by Mr. Beery’s this past week. During Beer School Night, Mark brought out a growler of Town Hall Masala Mama IPA (Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery; Minneapolis, MN; India Pale Ale; ABV: 5.9) for us to sample. Needless to say, I was very impressed.

Masala Mama pours a deep mahogany color, with big notes of Cascade hops in the nose and taste. The latter is complimented by citrusy fruit and toffee, with the sweet malt backbone apparent at the end. This IPA is silky smooth from start to finish, and with an alcohol content of just under 6%, is quite easy to drink. Masala Mama would make an excellent session beer for hop-heads, and non hop-heads, alike.

I highly recommend Masala Mama, and thank Mark for sharing with the class.

No (Green) Flash In The Pan

July 3rd, 2010 Bill Zavorskas 4 comments

Green Flash West Coast IPA is another superb ale from the brewery

I’ve been a fan of San Diego area brewery Green Flash for some time. And I recently got reacquainted with another of their outstanding ales.

Green Flash West Coast IPA (Green Flash Brewing Co.; Vista, CA; India Pale Ale; ABV: 7.3) is a crisp and refreshing IPA. Copper in color, this beer is a traditional West Coast IPA. There’s big notes of Cascade and Simcoe hops in the nose and taste. The hops are prevalent from start to finish, with a slight hint of malt and a nice grapefruit backbone at the end. Smooth and quite drinkable, Green Flash West Coast IPA is not only a hop-head’s dream, but would make a nice introduction to newbies that are interested in trying a substantially hoppy beer.

Needless to say, I highly recommend Green Flash West Coast IPA.