Draft Notes

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Archive for the category “IPA”

Virginia Beer Month 2015 – A Beer a Day

While conducting my usual review of all things craft beer on the world wide web, I ran across an article by Chris Lang of “The Burg” which peaked my interest.  Chris proposed I (and anyone else who was listening) celebrate Virginia Beer Month with a different Virginia beer each of the 31 glorious days. My immediate thought… challenge accepted and it will be the 2nd return of Draft Notes to feed the 4 or 5 parched individuals frequenting my mighty blog each day. So here we are.

I was inspired by Chris’ list, but unfortunately our state beer availability is slightly different. Here is my consumption list which I will continue to update through the month. Also keep up on Twitter.

Saturday August 1, 2015
Brewery: South Street Brewery
Brewery Location: Charlottesville, VA
Beer: Virginia Lager
Style: American Light Lager
Notes: Crisp lager to get the month started. Slightly malty and sweet, works well on the patio during a hot day. Not exactly an exciting beer, but would take it over the big macro options.

Jet NoiseSunday August 2, 2015
Brewery: Young Veterans Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Beer: Jet Noise
Style: Double IPA
Notes: Balanced DIPA which allows you to forget the 8% ABV quickly. Smooth, Nice hop aromas, sweet piney notes. Paired well with Jamaican Jerk Chicken off the grill.

Monday August 3, 2015
Brewery: Old Ox (Not to be confused with Red Bull)Ox
Brewery Location: Ashburn, VA
Beer: Year of the OX (2015)
Style: Double IPA
Notes: Beer created to celebrate the Old Ox’s 1st anniversary. Orange and grapefruit aromas. Grass and grapefruit notes. Bitter, boozy finish.

Tuesday August 4, 2015
Brewery: Heritage Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Manassas, VA
Beer: American Expedition
Style: Wheat Ale
Notes: This is a Honey Ginger Wheat which is extremely smooth and easy drinking. Really crisp and slightly sweet finish. Had this from the can, but in the past I had it on draft which was even better. Maybe I was just thirstier!

Wednesday August 5, 2015
Z damBrewery: Legend Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Richmond, VA
Beer: Z Dam
Style: Golden Ale
Notes: Limited aromas. Grass, ginger, and citrus notes. All very subtle. Dry mouthfeel. Interesting beer, but a little light for me.

Thursday August 6, 2015
Brewery: Champion Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Charlottesville, VA
Beer: Killer Kolsch
Style: Kolsch Style Ale
Notes: Crisp, bready, light hops. Another great summer beer. Champion took an ale and fermented it at cooler lager temperatures, hence the style is listed as kolsch “style”.

Ways and MeansFriday August 7, 2015
Brewery: Port City Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Alexandria, VA
Beer: Ways & Means
Style: Rye Session Ale
Notes: My hometown brewery and I dipped into one of my favorites. Spicy, full flavored work of art at 4.5% ABV. Holds up in all weather and I just had to throw it in the VA Beer Month mix.

Saturday August 8, 2015
Brewery: Blue Mountain BreweryOfest
Brewery Location: Afton, VA
Beer: 13.Five Ofest
Style: Marzen
Notes: A delicious Oktoberfest beer which quenches the thirst. Could drink it by the liter. As for the name, found this on the Blue Mountain website: What’s in a name? Only beer conforming to the “Stammwürze” law, which states a beer must have an Original Gravity of 13.5° Plato, can be served at Oktoberfest in Munich.

Sunday August 9, 2015
Brewery: Chaos Mountain Brewing
Brewery Location: Callaway, VA
Beer: Mad Hopper
Style: IPA
Notes: Big citrus aromas, all hops, no mercy. An in your face IPA.

Wildcat - Image from OBH website.

Wildcat – Image from OBH website.

Monday August 10, 2015
Brewery: Old Bust Head Brewery
Brewery Location: Warrenton, VA
Beer: Wildcat IPA
Style: IPA
Notes: Almost the opposite of last nights Mad Hopper. Still has the citrus, but a lot more balanced with sweet malts making their way through the hops. Great beer, but I definitely prefer the Bust Head English Pale Ale.


DC Brau – On The Wings of Armageddon

The Craft Brewers Conference is in full effect here in Washington DC with more tap take overs and beer releases than I have ever seen in this town. In response to CBC 2013, I decided to take a look at a local DC beer which caused a little stir last week leading into the conference: DC Brau’s On the Wings of Armageddon (OTWOA).

This is not a new beer as it was first released in February 2012 as we rode the ride to the Mayan’s end of the world prediction. The splash was made by the first release in cans of a beer that has been difficult to find on tap, even in the DC metro.

OTWOA is an imperial IPA (9.2% ABV) brewed with Pale malt, Cara-60, CaraPils and Malted wheat along with Falconer’s Flight Hops. Falconer’s are an interesting story itself. As stated on the DC Brau website:

Falconer’s Flight™ is an exclusive proprietary “hop blend” created by Hopunion LLC to honor and support the legacy of Northwest brewing legend, Glen Hay Falconer. For more information on the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation, visit www.glenfalconerfoundation.org, or for more information on Hopunion LLC, visit www.hopunion.com.

DC Brau OTWOA 6I purchased my six-pack (12oz cans) on the release day at the brewery for $17.99. Not too bad for a sought after Imperial IPA after paying $23.00 for Bells Hopslam a few months back. Not cheap though! There were only 250 cases made and it sold out quickly.

Before I move on to the actual tasting and review, I think it would be criminal of me not to take notice of the sweet art work on the can. Check it out in the pictures… not bad!

So now I can pour the can into my favorite tulip glass and check it out.

Appearance is a cloudy copper with snow-white head.

Aromas I pick up are floral, citrus and pineapple. Though I would say this is very fruity, I can definitely pick up those bready malts.DC Brau OTWOA glass

Tastes are pine, grapefruit, caramel, earthy, boozy, lingering bitter taste over takes my entire mouth. Almost paralyzing the taste buds as I wait for my next sip.

Mouth Feel contains a medium amount of carbonation. It is a bit chewy and I would still consider it of medium body.

Overall this big IPA packs that expected hop punch. They did a great job of balancing it out with the malts; however, this is definitely in that “palate wrecker” category.  The bitterness at the end completely takes over your taste buds. DC Brau has combined the look, smell, and impact I look for in an imperial IPA. I will rate On the Wings of Armageddon 4.5 Mugs out 5 on the Draft Notes Scale. Hop heads should line up for this beer, other should approach with caution.

A video of the original release at a popular DC beer spot named Church key: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6ftN_r6sQQ

Learn more about DC Brau here: www.dcbrau.com

Cigar City White Oak Aged Jai Alai IPA

This week I am returning to my collection of Cigar City beers (Tampa, Florida) which I purchased online and wanted to review while they are fresh. Last week I reviewed the Maduro Brown Ale and based on the hype of this brewery I was not completely thrilled. I am excited to see what I have in the White Oak Aged Jai Alai India Pale Ale. I quite enjoyed the regular Jai Alai IPA (sorry no review on that one), so I am definitely curious to taste this oak aged version.Oak Jai Alai Label

As a somewhat educational note, the term Jai Alai refers to what was known as the “Merry Game” or “World’s Fastest Game” which was once very popular in the Tampa area. This sport of Spanish origination is a mix of lacrosse and racquetball/squash (well, that is how I would describe it). Four players are on an indoor court about the size of basketball court with a wall at the end and sling a ball back and forth at very high speeds against a wall with a basket type sling (think lacrosse but shorter and deeper).

Now back to business with a quick look the specs on this beer.  Weighing in at 7.5% ABV and 70 IBU, White Oak Aged Jai Alai is part of the Cigar City’s year round selection. My serving will be from a 12 oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.Oak Jai Alai Glass

The appearance is a cloudy copper with a thin layer of head which sticks around for a couple of minutes.

Aromas are dominated by oak with a sprinkling of pine, vanilla, and raw sugar.

Tastes I pick up are the expected oak followed by vanilla, citrus, pine, and some bitterness followed up with more of the oak.

Mouth feel is very smooth with a medium body and a satisfying amount of carbonation. Very nice.

Overall, this is an outstanding beer which reminds me of a hopped up version of Innis & Gunn Original. The oak aromas and flavors are strong, but it is needed to keep up with the hops.  Aromas are very enticing and complex. The mouth feel is so smooth and with perfect carbonation. I will rate the Jai Alai White Oak 4.5 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale.

This beer shows me why Cigar City has received such praise and I feel that this particular beer will appeal to most beer drinkers. Additionally I see this as one of those beers with the potential to convert white wine lovers with the oak/chardonnay type flavors giving them something familiar while introducing to hops. I believe I may have mentioned this with Innis & Gunn too.

Learn more about Cigar City here: http://www.cigarcitybrewing.com/ and if my awesome description has enticed you into a Jai Alai career: http://www.dania-jai-alai.com/.

Bell’s Hopslam

Hopslam 6 packBells Hopslam is one of those beers with a cult following who anticipate the annual/seasonal release. It carries a lofty reputation with ratings of 100 by Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. The hype associated with this beer is evident on social networks such as Twitter and Untapped and of course as soon as I saw it was coming to my neighborhood, like a teenage girl stalking Justin Bieber, I had to find this Michigan beer.

I paid enough attention to the craft beer scene to know that 1/21 was the Virginia release week. In anticipation I was tracking my local beer stores like a hawk and finally a batch hit Arrowine who posted a note on Facebook at 11am. During my lunch break I make the call to have a 6 or two held, to my disappointment all 25 cases had sold out in an hour. F!!!. I call another small beer joint in Vienna (Norm’s) to see if they had received their delivery and sure enough it is coming in the following day. What time?  I ask.  Between 11am and 4pm I am told, as if setting up an appointment with Comcast cable. This is a risk I cannot take, so I check in with mega store Total Wine & Beverage. Bingo! Just landed on the floor is the word, so I head down to the store immediately. $22.99? WTF? Who, besides Belgian Monks, charge that much for a six-pack? After coming this far and all the anticipation, of course I pay.

Let’s talk the anatomy of this Hoplsam. The beer is an Imperial IPA weighing in at 10% ABV and about 80 IBUs (based on a few independent websites, not official).  Bells included six different types of hops into this beer, to include a hefty dry hopping with Simcoe hops. The interesting addition to this big IPA is a “dollop” of honey. This particular six-pack was bottled on January 15, so quite fresh at 2 weeks.

Time to drink up. As usual I am using my tulip glass to ensure I can take in all the aromas which I love in these Imperial IPAs.

The appearance is a cloudy orange with a quickly receding white head.

Aromas are not as strong as I expected considering the 6 hops in there and the dry hopping (not to mention the name).  I definitely detect piney, grapefruit, & floral notes.

The tastes I pick up are earthy, citrus, pine, and all things Pacific Northwest. The honey is evident, which brings a unique touch of sweetness before you are smacked by the bitter finish.  An alcohol taste is present, but far from what you may expect at 10% ABV.

Bells GlassMouth Feel is somewhat syrupy and chewy with minimal carbonation. It leaves a distinct coating around the mouth leaving me smacking my lips taking in more of that bitter taste.

Overall the only negative I have on this beer is the lack of aromas I look for in my hopped up beers. However, once I got past that I can see the appeal of this brew with its fine use of hops. The addition of honey works well to throw the taste buds before the bitter finish. It makes you want to go back for more and more of this very drinkable 10% ABV IPA. I will give Hopslam 4.5 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale.

Part of me wants to rate this beer a little lower due to the price tag, but it truly is a nice beer. I would recommend trying this if you get a chance, but I think there are equally good choices in the Imperial IPA category at better prices. As usual I am going to suggest one of my favorites Deviant Dales by Oskar Blues; however, Lagunitas Sucks (released in VA this last week too $8.99/6), Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Victory Hop Wallop, and Green Flash Palate Wrecker are fine substitutes at a better price (Most are year round too).

Learn more about Bell’s Brewery here: http://bellsbeer.com/. Other suggested beers from Bell’s include Two Hearted Ale (IPA), Amber, Kalamazoo Stout, and most of their seasonal beers (Oberon, Java Stout, Christmas). Can’t go wrong with this brewery!

Southern Tier Brewing Company 2XIPA

2XIPA labelIt has been a relaxing break for Christmas and New Year’s, but time to get back to work. To start off 2013 I have decided to take a look at Southern Tier’s 2XIPA, as nothing gets a year started better than an Imperial India Pale Ale.

Southern Tier Brewing Company of Lakewood, New York was founded in 2002 by Phineas DeMink and Allen “Skip” Yahn. This brewery distributes about 50,000 barrels annually covering most of the United States and about 7 other countries.

Southern Tier has a fairly standard year round line up including a pale ale, IPA, wheat, and a porter. They also have quite a few seasonal releases such as Old Man Winter Ale and a Crème Brulee Stout (try a taster before ordering this – very sweet, great for dessert though!); however, I think they are most known for their annual release of “Pumking”, an Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

The 2XIPA I will be reviewing has an ABV of 8.2%, but I can’t find an IBU rating. It most likely would fall between 70 and 100 IBUs for this style. The brewery uses 4 types of hops, 3 malts, and ale yeast to brew up this beer. I have placed this beer on the counter for about 10 minutes to give it time to warm and will taste this beer in my usual tulip glass (conveniently the glass recommended by the brewery).

Appearance is a deep gold with small amount of white head which recedes very quickly.

Aromas I detect are piney hops, vanilla, and citrus notes. Not as big in the aroma department as most imperial IPAs I have had.

When I taste the beer, huge hops jump out immediately which is a surprise based on the aromas. I thought it may be lighter, but it is delivering that imperial punch one would expect. I pick up some earthy flavors and definitely the malts in the distant background. A very bitter finish stuns the tongue.

2XIPA glass n bottleMouth feel is light to medium density, minimal carbonation, and it is quite crisp which about dries out my mouth within seconds.

Overall this is a solid Imperial IPA with all the features one would expect. 2XIPA does not stand out in any major area, but it is definitely not lacking anything I look for in this style. I would definitely drink this beer again, but probably would opt for others if I had a choice. I will have to give this beer 3 mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale. Try Oskar Blues Deviant Dale or Dogfish Head 90 Minute before you choose this one.

To learn more about Southern Tier, check out their website here: http://www.stbcbeer.com/ and more specifically their beer list is here: http://www.stbcbeer.com/our-beers/. For my international readers, here are all the regions distributed to outside the US: Australia, Denmark, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Ontario, British Columbia, and the United Kingdom. Cheers to 2013!

Breckenridge Brewery 471 Small Batch Double IPA

This week I wanted to take a look at another Imperial IPA, this time by Breckenridge Brewery out of Breckenridge, Colorado. I would like to see how this one measures up to one of my all-time favorite beers, Deviant Dale’s, which is also from the Rocky Mountain state. The brewery was founded in 1990 by a self-proclaimed ski bum home brewer just off the popular slopes of Breckenridge. A couple of years later as the brewery grew; they expanded with an additional facility in Denver. Today they distribute to 32 states, so most of you should be able to find a Breckenridge Brewery beer at your local beer oasis. I primarily see the Avalanche Amber and Lucky U IPA, but in Virginia/DC I am also able to get some of their Seasonal and the Small Batch series. The Imperial/Double IPA I will be reviewing today is the 471 Small Batch. This beer combines Munich, Pale, Carapils, Caramel-30, and Torrified Wheat malts along-side of Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, and Fuggle hops. The ABV is 9.2% and IBU measures in a 70, so I am expecting a nice hop punch out of this one and curious to see how well they balance all those malts with the hops.

This beer’s appearance is a deep copper with a creamy white head leaving moderate amounts of lacing on the glass. The aromas include apricots, citrus, pine, and an earthy/grassy scent. All very nice as is expected with most IPAs (at least in my opinion), especially the doubles. The tastes I find are citrusy hops, grapefruit, and pine. Additionally, there definitely is a little sweetness to be found, followed by a bitter finish. Not as hoppy as expected, but it is very well balanced with the hops and malts coming together quite well. There really is minimal alcohol taste for a 9.2% ABV which is a result of this nice balance. The mouth feel is fairly light with medium carbonation. Overall, I would say this is another very solid DIPA and one that I would recommend you try if you can get your hands on it. I can’t say it quite meets Deviant Dale’s (Oskar Blues) level, but give it a shot as you will not be disappointed. I will rate Breckenridge Brewery’s 471 Small Batch Double IPA 4 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes Scale.

Learn more about Breckenridge Brewery at: http://www.breckbrew.com/.

Boatswain Double IPA Twin Screw Steamer

As I was waiting in line to check out at Trader Joes I noticed a couple of 22 ounce beers staring me down amongst the chocolates, granola bars, and other “impulse buy” items surrounding the checkout line. Trader Joes is well-known for their cheap but quality wine – 3 Buck Chuck, so I decide that a Double IPA for $1.99 is worth a try. The beer is brewed for Trader Joes by Rhinelander Brewing Company in Monroe, Wisconsin; however, when you look on their website the Boatswain labels are nowhere to be seen.  I have also read it is by Minhas Brewery which is also in Monroe, so I assume these two are somehow related. It is now fairly common to see these larger chains contracting a brewery or winery to produce their own label of beer or wine (Costco and Whole Foods for example). Trader Joes actually has a few personalized brands/brews like Name Tag Lager and Trader Jose’s all sold at very low prices covering a variety of styles.

Botswain 2IPA Bottle

This particular beer is the Boatswain Double IPA Twin Screw Steamer and it weighs in at 8.4% ABV. As mentioned earlier it is 22 ounce bomber at a cost of $1.99. My last Imperial/Double IPA reviewed a few weeks back, Oskar Blues Deviant Dale, was one of favorites to date so it has quite a bit to measure up to.

The beer pours to reveal a brilliant copper color with fairly minimal tan head which recedes almost immediately. The smell is very nice with the obvious hops for an IPA. Grapefruit and pineapple aromas combined with a very present malt give it quite a sweet smell which actually overpowers the hops.  The taste once again starts you off with the obvious IPA hops, citrus, piney tastes. The alcohol taste is present, but not overwhelming due to the malt over powering most of the flavors giving it a sweet finish. The mouth feel is chewy and dense with very small bubbles of carbonation. Overall, this IPA reminds me more of an English style than American as the hops seem to be earthier than the American floral hops; however, it may just be that malt masking the true aromas. Given the price point of $2, I think this is a good buy and well worth a try. Measuring it up against other Double IPAs I will have to give 3 Mugs out of 5 on the Draft Notes scale.

Next time you are at Trader Joes, don’t be afraid to try this and their other labels as they have prided themselves on high quality with low prices in all their products. While trying to find some information on Trader Joe’s beers, I ran across a nice and simple beer style guide which I would like to share. Check it out at: http://www.traderjoes.com/guides/beer-styles.asp#1.

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