Rogue XS Imperial IPA

Rogue XS Imperial IPA
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Hello again fellow craft beer lovers! I’m back again with another interesting craft beer review. The beer I chose to post today was one that I had a few weeks ago. I’ve been pretty busy with the brewery and building our website which is still a work in progress but no matter! I am here with my review of Rogue’s XS series Imperial IPA.

I love IPAs. This is a fact. I bought this one because its a Rogue beer. What’s not like about Rogue? Most beers they do are really really good. This beer is no exception but has a catch to it.

Style: Imperial IPA

ABV: 9.5%

Serving Size: Ceramic bomber into Sierra Nevada IPA glass.

Pours a light copper color (almost gold) color with a white fine head to it. Head retention was average with some lacing on the glass as the beer was drank. The color of the beer was off putting a little for me. I like to think of all imperial IPAs to be big bitter hopped up monsters with massive malt backbone and a good balance of hop choice and grain. With most substantial grain bills in brewing comes a little darker color from using different malts to support large hop additions. That being said, the nose of this beer wasn’t that of a huge hop monster either. Maybe I was going into this beer with the wrong expectation. Time to put everything I like about IPAs aside and review this beer as though I am not a hop head.

The aroma from this one was light and piney with a subtle hint of citrus. Upon tasting this one, I was surprised at how balanced and light this beer is. It’s not one of those hop monsters, Rogue instead chose to go a different route with this and break from the typical “West Coast” IPA. The finish is crisp and clean with some hop oils lingering to leave you with a light piney and tropical fruit note on your palate. My only major complaint about this one is the high ABV. I feel as though, the 9.5% ABV was a little too much for this beer’s character. Towards the end of my first glass the alcohol made it’s presence known in a bad way. Out of no where I was hit with a strong taste of ethanol across my palate which totally destroys the light and subtle notes of the beer itself. A lower non imperial version of this would be very good. I would love to try a regular release of this if they lowered the ABV to around 6-7….

Would I buy it again? I would but I would go into this beer with a different mindset. I wouldn’t expect massive hops, I wouldn’t expect a big malt profile. I would approach this as I would an ale or a marzen. I would be looking for more subtlety.

Epic Brewing Utah Sage Saison

Sorry I’ve been absent fellow beer geeks. I recently got sick and have been pretty busy with work and brewing and haven’t had time to post any reviews of any of the great beers that I’ve recently had.

Today however, I’m reviewing a saison from Epic Brewing out of Utah. As most of you can tell, I’m an IPA person. I prefer my beers to be bitter and have a strong malt presence. Today’s beer however does not have either presence to it’s brew. Now on to the brew!

Utah Sage Saison #6

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Brewery: Epic Brewing, Salt Lake City
Style: Saison
ABV: 7.6%

Pour
This saison pours a cloudy copper color with a one inch head on it. Sage and flowers are present in the nose and fill the air when poured into my tulip glass. Yeast still present in beer as this is an unfiltered beer which settles to the bottom of the glass.

Taste
This beer tastes like a summer day near a spice garden. The beer is sweet and tart at the same time. You can taste the sweetness of sage and some honey notes in this beer. Some would even say it tastes like cough drops as the sage gives this beer a somewhat eucalyptus cooling feel to the beer. This is balanced by the high ABV which is prominent once the beer warms to 65 or so. There is a little bit of a biscuit finish to this beer but it’s buried under the spice and alcohol notes.

All in all this beer is very good for a warm summer day. You kinda have to be in an adventurous mood to try it. Would I buy this one again? Probably not but it’s worth trying out.to see what brewers are doing with their beer.

XXX Black Double IPA

Tonight I’m enjoying a beer from Alaska.  I know I promised a beer that is near and dear to my heart and fear not! That beer is still coming here soon.  Back to the beer of the evening.  I bought this on a whim as we have been brewing a black IPA that is very good and I figured, “Let’s see what Midnight Sun Brewing Co. does to make this a double.”  Here’s my review for this beer.

XXX Black Double IPA
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  • Brewery: Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
  • Type: Black DIPA (Double India Pale Ale)
  • Serving Size: 22 oz. bottle. Enjoyed in a tulip glass
  • ABV: 8.5%

This beer pours a pitch black almost like a stout, with a relatively small light tan head that soon dissipates.  When the head goes away, it leaves a film on the surface of the beer like most IPAs.  The nose is mildly hoppy with more chocolate and alcohol notes.  I kept finding myself looking in the nose for the bold hop aroma that this beer should contain.  However, each time I went looking, results were negative.  I was expecting more hop aroma from this one but we’ll see what happens in the taste.

Upon initial tasting, the beer has a strong coffee and chocolate taste.  Tongue feel feels like a weak stout and not an IPA, it sits heavily and leaves a fairly strong chocolate flavor on your tongue.  It’s not bad, but it’s not living up to being a double IPA in my book.  The malt is too pronounced and kills the hops.  I wasn’t expecting this to be so malt heavy.  A lot of black IPAs are built on a good malt backbone with generous hops to balance out the high gravity.  This beer seems to miss the boat so to speak.  It’s overly malty. It’s not bitter enough to balance the malt.  The alcohol harshness lingers on your taste buds before leaving you with chocolate notes.  I wish this was more bitter. I wish the malt was less pronounced as it kills the bitterness of whatever hop content is here.

Bottom Line:

This beer is so/so.  It’s not an F or a D because it’s drinkable but it’s a low to mid C.  It feels as though the beer wasn’t planned out and perfected before releasing it.  All in all, it feels very unbalanced and the overuse of malt to cover the high gravity is a sad miss.  Save yourself the time and money and go with something better like a Sublimely Self Righteous Ale from Stone.  It’s what this beer should have been like but missed this target completely.

Pliny the Younger

On Monday the 18th, I was given the opportunity to work security in exchange for some Pliny the Younger as well as pay for the day.  The location of this gig? Hollingshead’s Deli in Orange, CA. The weather? Beautiful.  The line? around the shopping center. The person in the front of the line got there at midnight to ensure that he was assured a 12oz pour of the “Best Beer in the .  I’m a huge hop head. If it’s an IPA of any kind, I’ll try it and I don’t mince words when it comes to my thoughts on an IPA.  Being from sunny So. Cal. I’m a fan of the “West Coast” IPA.  Personally, I love Denogginizer, Maharaja, Hop Wallop, Ruination IPA, and Black Market’s Rye IPA.  Bottom line, if the malt can support huge hop content and all the alpha/beta acid goodness that comes with it, I’ll drink it.
 photo BrianHollingsHead.jpgThanks to Brian from Hollingshead’s for making this possible for me.

We arrived at Hollingshead’s at 6:30am and the line was easily 120 people deep.  We didn’t open until 10am for pours. I checked in with my boss for the day, Ken Hollingshead who really appreciated the help he was receiving from us security guys. Ken really appreciates all beers and shares his love for this with anyone willing to stop in and have a beer.  Hollingshead’s gets my seal of approval for beer culture for sure. We worked the lines and helped people until about 5:30 and we were able to finally get our “hallowed” pours of Pliny. Here’s the inside as the line finally died down around 5pm……

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The Beer: Pliny the Younger photo Pliny.jpg

  • Brewery: Russian River, Santa Rosa, CA.
  • Style: Triple IPA, Imperial IPA.
  • Serving: 12oz Pour into Hollingshead’s commemorative mug.
  • ABV: 10.5%

First off, let me start by saying this beer is very solid. It’s very well balanced, well hopped, and well made. I had the pleasure of having it twice in the same day, one sample from my dad’s 12oz pour and most of my 12oz pour later in the evening but more on this later…

Pours a light copper color, and has a light tan head that lingers for about a minute or so before dissipating and leaving a nice “oil slick” of hoppy goodness on the surface of this beer. After letting the head settle, I tasted it from the first pour at about 12pm.  I was tremendously unimpressed… What happened? I’ve heard tales of this nectar of the gods. I let it sit a little bit and tasted it again, same story.  It was very bland. For all of it’s hop content and clean grain bill, it had little to satisfy my palate.  I saw they had Maharaja on tap and had my dad get some of that so I could sample against a beer that I know like it’s my hometown. Compared to Maharaja the Pliny the Younger didn’t stand a chance… Maharaja was more robust, more malty, more hoppy, sweeter yet had more hop bite. I was disappointed and went back to work for 5 more hours before getting my whole 12oz pour to myself to analyze.

At the end of my shift I sat down, collected my earnings for the day and got my pour in my mug. I smelled it to take all the aromas that this beer contained.  I had to catch myself as I was getting lost in the aroma… What is this madness? This isn’t what I had earlier!  This was very floral, very piney, with a splash of citrus thrown in.  No alcohol smell, just sweet sweet hops! Upon tasting this 2nd pour I was blown away with the taste.  This was as if the Pliny the Younger I had earlier was a baby and this was the matured fully grown triple IPA of myth! The mouth feel was smooth and sweet. The malt was prominent and crisp in this beer. Overall the malt was crisp and had a very light biscuit to it on the finish. Focusing on the finish of the beer, the hops come back to let you know that they are in there and make a pleasant return before leaving a lot of hop oil on your lips and tongue.  You can tell this is a triple by the hop oil content it’s there in full force but not bitter due to using more hops with more beta acid than alpha.  Very very good. I do wish that there was more hop bite to it though as it reminded me of the same hop bitterness as a Stone Pale Ale but much more complex. This tasted much better because this pour had opened up a lot before I was able to drink it as it was poured a little earlier.

Bottom Line:

  • Solid triple IPA without many faults
  • Hoppy goodness
  • Very well balanced

Cons:

  • Very limited release
  • Massive hype around this beer
  • Pricey (about a dollar an ounce at most places)
  • Looooooooooooong lines to get a pour into your hands

If big, strong, robust, bitter IPAs DIPAs TIPAs are your thing, this beer may disappoint IF you’re expecting a big bitter malty beer.  I personally feel that this beer does not live up the massive hype or title of “The Best Beer in the World”.  I can honestly think of several IPAs that are better without going through my notes.  Maharaja, Denogginizer, Double Daddy IPA, and Hoptimum.  I’m not saying don’t get this beer.  The experience of hanging with craft beer people all day really made it an experience I will never forget.  I’m just saying avoid the lines and the wait and grab some limited release IPAs from some other fantastic breweries.

Dogfish Head Indian Brown

Earlier this evening I enjoyed a brown ale by Dogfish Head brewing. For those of you who don’t know, Doggish is out of Maryland and are known for their 60, 90, and 120 minute IPAs as well as some of their experimental “Ancient Ales” beers… I’ve been drinking Dogfish’s brews for sometime now and I haven’t really been all that impressed with their beers. They aren’t consistent with their IPAs in my opinion. Sometimes it will be hoppy and have a strong hop note to it, other times it will be sweet and not hoppy at all. I digress, on to the beer of the evening:

Indian Brown Ale

  • Brewery: Dogfish Head
  • Type: Brown Ale
  • Serving Size: 12oz bottle served in Sam Adams tulip glass
  • ABV: 7.2%

This beer pours nicely with a relatively small head of about 1/4 of an inch which settles soon afterwards leaving a very slight oil on the surface. Color is dark amber typical to this style with a light tan head. This beer gives off strong aromas of caramel, coffee, and chocolate with very little hop note in the mix. The initial taste is that of chocolate and coffee with a little bit of a nutty caramel finish to it. Not a lot of hops in the mix again in the taste. Compared to other browns this is a hopped up version of a brown ale but it was not what I was expecting since it’s touted as “A clean well-hopped brown ale….”  Don’t get me wrong, its very good. I recommend trying it out if you’re in to browns, plus it’s available year round and isn’t expensive.

About half way through the beer really started to open up and became more aromatic with a sweet caramel-coffee aroma settling in the glass which was very pleasing. The finish was medium and settled on the tongue for a decent time at which point the hops came out to say hello to my palate.  I was starting to wonder where the hops were until this point.  I’d recommend pouring and letting sit for at least 10 minutes to really let this beer open up.

Bottom Line:

This beer is a very good beer, possibly the best brown I’ve had in a long time. I STRONGLY recommend letting this beer sit for a bit before drinking to really get the full effect of the malt and the hops.  Definately a solid brown ale.  If brown ales are your deal, do yourself a favor and give this beer a try.

Starting Things off at Home

I know I said I was going to review one of my favorite beers but plans have changed. I have to drink some of our (my dad, mine, and two of our friends) brewery’s beer.  It’s been in the kegs for a bit and we need to finish it off so we can put some new stuff in it’s keg. 

On to the beer:

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Mars Street Brewing Citra Pale

Style: Pale Ale

Hops: Citra

ABV: 6.0

Glass: 20oz bar glass

This is a pale ale of ours made with citra hops. It pours an light amber color with clean white head.  The lacing is very good as it clings to the glass and maintains a little bit of head the whole way through.  Upon initial pint fill, there’s a bit of a haziness due to the chill which clears up after a few minutes in the glass.

 It’s an easy drinking beer that has a very floral nose with a very balanced and smooth malt profile which is very pleasant. Because it is brewed with citra hops, it is not very hoppy.  It’s rather sweet and has notes of grapefruit, passion fruit, and a little hint of mango. It’s very sweet, but has a very mild yet pronounced fruit taste to it. It’s very very good.

Now, I’m not a big fan of “fruity” beers… I.E. Hangar 24 Orange Wheet, Magic Hat Brewing No. 9 but this is a very good easy drinking beer. I can see this beer being enjoyed on a warm day but even now at 8:30pm in 68 degree weather in Southern California it is enjoyable. I don’t have anything to say on this beer as far as the bad goes… I’m a little biased as this is one of our beers that we make so naturally, any complaints have been addressed to make this beer better.

Take Aways: 

Easy drinking, not bold, easy entry level craft beer for beginners to enjoy, would make a great growler fill to share with a group of friends. Only downside? Not available yet. Stay tuned for brewery updates on here if you’re interested!