Draft Notes

One beer at a time…

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s IPA

Oskar Blues started brewing beer in the basement of their restaurant in Lyons, Colorado in 1998 and became the first craft brewery to can their beer (Dales Pale Ale) in 2002. I think it is safe to say that the Dale’s can is one of the iconic cans in American craft beer and should be credited with the craft can craze. Fast forward to 2012 and now we have the Deviant Dale’s in the new 16oz can, not to mention Oskar Blues opening a new brewery in North Carolina. Deviant Dale’s is an India Pale Ale weighing in at 8% ABV and 85 IBUs. Four hops are used during the brewing process and a 5th(Columbus) for dry-hopping. This beer was a silver medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival in 2011. The Oskar Blues website tells a tale of Dale, the flagship, selling his soul to create the beer that sits before me. I have consumed a number of Dale’s Pale Ale and have also been known to throw back a few of Mama’s Lil Pils, both of which I enjoy very much. I am excited to crack this can and see what Oskar Blues has cooked up.

Deviant Dale’s India Pale Ale

As I pour the beer from the 16oz tall boy into my chalice, the aromas jump out at me before I even start thinking about the appearance. This beer is a cloudy copper/orange with a cream colored head. Now back to the aromas, it is absolutely breath taking (can’t believe I said that, but true).  I smell citrus, passion fruit, and pine. I don’t even need to stuff my face in the glass, but I do anyway to take it in. Excited to taste, I immediately take in the obvious hoppy taste that comes with an IPA. In addition the pine is still there and it actually is fairly sweet beer. There is a balance of hops and malt that I have not tasted in many beers. Definitely an alcohol taste, but very minor considering it is 8% ABV.  Mouth feel is velvet smooth and I mean real smooth. I would say a medium body.  Draft Notes is a young site, but this is by far the best beer I have reviewed to date. I will have to give 4.5 mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale. I gave this high rating due to the amazing aromas and absolute balance of hops, malt and bitterness.  Don’t tell my wife, but I may go to great lengths to name my first born boy Deviant Dale.

This review was done in collaboration with my beer blogging community at Reddit.com.  It is our first community review and we are looking to help promote each-others work, you can read my peers reviews at: http://www.reddit.com/r/beerblogs/comments/yuwbz/rbeerblogs_first_communitywide_review_oskar_blues/

For more information on Oskar Blues Brewery, visit their website at http://www.oskarblues.com/.


Port City Derecho Common

On June 29th, 2012, a ferocious storm hit the DC metro area with such might that over a million residents in the area were without power for up to a week. Most of the damage was done within 10 minutes due to extremely high winds associated with the type of storm known as a Derecho. One of those residents impacted was Port City Brewing Company located in Alexandria, Va. Adding to Port City’s dilemma was a record breaking heat wave and all in all it was a bad situation for the young brewery. Thankfully they were able to procure a generator and save the beer. Yah! However, one batch (I assume the pilsner) fermented at a higher temperature than usual and the brewery was able to make some slight adjustments resulting in a California Common.  Dubbed the Derecho Common, Port City recently released this unexpected and potential one time brew to the public.

A California Common (aka steam beer), is a lager which uses a special strain of yeast allowing it to ferment at a higher temperature than the average lager.  Beer Advocate states that this style of beer was born and raised during the California gold rush of the 1800’s due to the lack of refrigeration.  Anchor Brewing Company is credited with reviving/modernizing the beer style with their Anchor Steam Beer first bottled in 1971. Port City’s version, Derecho Common, uses Saaz hops and pilsner malts (like the Downright Pilsner previously reviewed) and then is dry hopped with Amarillo hops to add a little extra spice character to the beer.

In order to taste this beer, I had to visit the brewery or find it at a limited selection of local restaurants. I decided to go straight to the source in Alexandria.  I paid $4/pint and it was well worth the trip. The beer pours a brilliant gold color with a thin white head. There is a moderate amount of carbonation. I smell the combination of citrus and the spicy hops. If it tastes as refreshing as it smells, we will have a winner. Taste immediately reminds me of the Downright Pilsner with a little extra spice and even more bitter finish. Citrus is definitely present in this beer. The mouth feel is light to medium and is very drinkable. Overall it is a very refreshing beer that at 4.8% ABV could find itself in my regular summer drinking rotation. Too bad it may only be a onetime deal!  My wife joined me at the brewery and she was drinking the Pilsner, so I had to do a quick comparison and I could really detect a difference in the finish with more bitterness and spice. Derecho Common is every bit as good as the pilsner and has a little extra on the finish, so I am going to rate this 4 mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale.

Port City Derecho Common

As a side note: During the power outage/heat wave I found it really awesome to see the way our DC area breweries supported Port City Brewing Company by promoting a few events on their behalf to Twitter, Facebook, etc. followers. DC Brau in particular was encouraging their fans to attend a pint party delayed by the storm to help Port City through a tough week. With non-stop collaborations in the VA/DC/MD area, the craft beer scene is exploding and I think the breweries willingness to work together should be credited.

To read more about Port City you can see their website here: http://portcitybrewing.com. I did not see the Derecho on the website, but there is a great write-up available at the brewery. Also DC Brau here: http://www.dcbrau.com. Last, to learn a little more about Steam Beer you can visit Anchor Brewing’s website which has a short video on the subject – http://www.anchorbrewing.com/beer/anchor_steam.

Devil’s Backbone Azrael

Devil’s Backbone Brewery is nestled up against the mountains just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. It is not well known outside of Virginia except for the hardcore beers enthusiasts who know this small countryside breweries award winning ways on the world stage. The 2012 World Beer Cup gold for Vienna style lagers was given to DB’s appropriately named “Vienna Lager”. This award was preceded by the 2009 Great American Beer Festival gold at the prominent Denver contest. Additionally DB has received awards for their pilsner and hefeweizen.  It would be too easy for me to review and brag about the Vienna Lager, so I have selected their Belgian inspired strong golden ale, Azrael. A quick googling of Azrael informs me that this beer is named after the Angel of Death (At least in the eye of Sikhs and Muslims). If this were a hot wing challenge I may back away, but I think I will take a chance as the rendering of Azrael on the label is an alluring blonde. Famous last words in many stories; however, I press on.

A Strong Belgian Ale is generally spicy, hoppy, and fruity with a high alcohol volume. This particular beer is 7.8% ABV and the brewer promises a dry spice and the usual hints of fruit. Popular Belgian Strong Ales you may be familiar with include Duvel (translates to “devil” – I see a theme), Delirium Tremens, and Brooklyn Breweries Local 1. None of which are known to go easy on the drinker, so moderation with this style is important.

When I pour the 12 ounce bottle into my chalice, I am surprised by how light a golden color this beer is. When I think of strong beers, a light straw color is not what I am expecting. This must be part of the trap by the prior mentioned blonde angel of death. I proceed cautiously and try to detect the scents of Azrael. It is very sweet and pear comes through along with a little citrus. Seems safe to drink, so I continue. The Belgian yeast strain is unmistakable, very slight spice, what I thought was a pear scent tastes more like a green apples, and I taste heavy cloves in the after taste.  As for mouth feel, once again I would point out how light this beer is and it has minimal but persistent carbonation. After a few more sips, Azrael is proving to be easy drinking and I could see how this could get you in trouble fairly quickly. Overall, I would rate this beer 3.25 mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale.

Devil’s Backbone Azrael Belgian Strong Ale

For more information on Devil’s Backbone Brewery, visit their website here: http://www.dbbrewingcompany.com. I am scheduled to visit the brewery in November, so look out for my brewery write-up later this year. Cheers!

Brewdog Old World India Pale Ale

BrewDog is a post Punk apocalyptic mother fu*ker of a craft brewery. Well, at least that is how this Scottish brewery describes themselves. I have seen their beers here and there, but to this point have not tried one. Based on their self-praise, I am excited to taste the limited release Old World India Pale Ale and it better be good. This IPA is categorized as an English IPA which generally doesn’t pack as much punch, errr… hops, as the American IPA. This style of beer was developed, as I believe is fairly common knowledge, using a higher amount of hops than the traditional ales of the time in order to ship to British troops stationed in India. The hops are a natural preservative and therefore created a beer that did not spoil on the long boat ride half way across the world. English IPAs of today tend to have lower alcohol content and less hop character than those of the past. I have read it is related to avoiding higher taxes on the higher alcohol content, but I think it is because boat rides to India are faster these days. This particular beer is a throwback to the “Old World” version with 7.5% ABV. Brewdog made this to be sold exclusively in the United States, so maybe the higher ABV (and hopefully hoppiness) is an attempt to compete with their American counterparts. What ever the goals, I am excited to try my first Brewdog.

Brewdog Old World IPA

Beer me! I pour from the 22 ounce bottle into my glass to reveal a cloudy copper beer. The head is a caramel color and minimal. The smell is nowhere close to the hoppy American version where you can pick up the fragrance without sticking your face in the glass. I detect slight hops, bread, and citrus; however, none seem to jump out at me as a dominant scent. My first taste reveals so much more than I expected based on the smell. Hops are much more present in the taste along with toffee/candy, a nice amount of malt, and bitter finish. I actually expected it to be overly malty for my taste, but it really is quite balanced though slightly sweet. The mouth feel jumps out at me as silky smooth and very light with little carbonation. Overall I like this beer and would buy again, especially at a reasonable $5.99 (Total, Wine & Beverage) per 22 ounce bottle. Unfortunately this is a limited release, so you will have to snatch it up fairly quickly. Final grade on the Old World IPA is a 3.75 out of 5 mugs on the Draft Notes scale. I definitely look forward to trying a few more of the Brewdog offerings as this “Punk apocalyptic mother fu*ker of a craft brewery” are on to something.

For more information on Brewdog, you can visit their website: http://www.brewdog.com/. One last note, as you can see on the picture I have included the art work on the bottle is pretty cool. A little back ground and other work by the artist can be found here: http://www.johannabasford.com/blog-article/239

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