A couple of pints at Brennan’s in Berkeley during some NFL games. On the left, Speakeasy’s Untouchable IPA (a 2 of 4), and on the right, Allagash’s Saison (a 3 of 4). Both are extremely highly carbonated, I’m assuming owing to Brennan’s tap system. The speakeasy is all sweetness and citrus. Not that bitter in the body, but a bit more earthy and resinous there. The malt sweetness tends to dominate the body in a mostly generic way - not a lot of caramel, nutty, or other nuanced notes. Allagash’s saison is a classic (yet not shown up here yet), and it’s a bit brighter and thinner than most. Smells as you would expect - lots of wheat and spice and floral notes and some faint lemon. Drinks cleanly - the body is a bit thin and unremarkable, but not problematic. Easy-drinking and delivers the belgian qualities you’d expect in a nice package.

4 hours ago 3 notes

New Holland’s Mad Hatter IPA (Thanks, Brad!). A 3 of 4. A nice deep, malty color and a piney and even some caramel malt in the nose. Not a hop bomb up front at all, but has a nice earthy, piney character that plays well with the roast and caramel malt character.  Drinks with a medium body that carries the earthy hops well - and at the lower end of ABV (5.25%) and IBU (55), this is very easy to drink.

1 day ago 3 notes

A pint of DC Brau’s Citizen Pale Ale on tap on the patio at the Washington DC Hilton. A 3 of 4. A Belgian pale ale, this delivers what you’d expect in a simple, good package. Some citrus and candy-like notes in the nose, as well as the sweetness you’d expect. The body is thicker than most, which is refreshing. Not that bitter - the focus here is on the yeast, and it is quite good. Very drinkable and the thicker body makes it pretty awesome.

2 days ago 4 notes

Siren’s Whiskey Sour - Limoncello IPA Aged in Bourbon Barrels (Picked up at CASK Pub and Kitchen in London). A 3 of 4. One of the most cocktail-ish beers I’ve ever had. The color is tawny from the bourbon barrel aging - and this picked up a ton of fresh bourbon notes as well. Lots of lemon and citrus up front, and then some caramel and wood and vanilla arrive. Finishes bitter and alcoholic and a bit oily on the palate. Quite a wallop on the palate - between the bitterness, the bourbon, and the strong lemon presence, this tastes like a whiskey sour. It is, however, a bit weird. Definitely worth trying.

3 days ago 21 notes

A trio of beers at Harry’s Tap Room in Blue Bell, PA. On the left, Troeg’s Hop Knife IPA (3 of 4), in the middle Prism’s Red Zone (2 of 4), and on the right, Magic Hat’s Elder Betty (2 of 4). The Hop Knife has a massive nose - lots of citrus and resin and an almost citrus juice quality. The body is relatively highly carbonated and prickly, which combined with the bitterness is quite refreshing. The Red Zone has a ton of spices in it - lots of spices reminiscent of fall and winter - yet none really stand out above the rest. A bit astringent and bitter on the palate from all the spices. Finally, the Elder Betty is a simple, drinkable white beer - the addition of elderberries is noticeable and adds a subtle tartness, but it also seems to add a touch too much sweetness as well. Very easy to drink in a relatively light body.

4 days ago 4 notes

Dogfish Head’s Olde School Barleywine 2012 (Picked up at Capone’s outside Philadelphia). A 3 of 4. A powerful yet incredibly smooth American barleywine, this is a joy to sip. At 15%, any more than sipping will hit you like a ton of bricks. Fortunately (or un-), this is incredibly easy to drink. The added dates and figs give it a complex sweetness that helps it roll across the palate. Relatively clear orange-red appearance and some solid lacing that hangs around forever. The nose is mostly alcohol with some complex raisin-ish sweetness as well as some caramel. The body is a similar story - there is some bitterness here, but the dominant note is caramel and candy sweetness that help conceal a wallop of alcohol. Not my favorite, but a clear example of what this style can do when pushed to its upper ABV limit and still remain drinkable.

5 days ago 6 notes

Lancaster’s Boss Hog Double IPA on tap at Prime Stache in Philadelphia. A 2 of 4. A bit deeper reddish color than I was expecting, and the malt nose and body on this show. The nose has a fruity, tropical hop presence, but also a decent amount of malty sweetness. Honestly drinks a bit like a barleywine a bit with all the malt, but then there’s some very firm bitterness in the body. A bit “bigger” and boozier than I like in the body, but the nose is awesome.

6 days ago 5 notes

Ol’ Burro’s El Güero Blonde Ale (Picked up at Trader Joe’s). A 2 of 4. Solid for the price - some faint bready malt notes, but almost no hop presence whatsoever. Smells quite sweet, and drinks relatively sweet with a thin body and relatively crisp carbonation. This is a beer. It is not a bad beer, but compared to where I would place the other Ol’ Burro offerings in their styles, this is far lower.

1 week ago 4 notes

A couple of beers from Red Apron Butchery in Union Market in DC. On the left, Victory’s Wild Devil (a 3 of 4) - quite a lot of funk and sourness here with some lighter fruit notes poking out. Up front, this appears to be a solid sour comparable to some of the best wild ales. The body gets a bit more bitter and has some more sweetness to it - but this really doesn’t come close to an IPA for me - it seems just straight wild. On the right, Hardywood’s Virginia Blackberry (a 3 of 4) - a relatively straightforward incorporation of a lot of blackberries in a wheat beer base. Lots of berry notes here as you’d expect, but the sweetness and tartness play well together. Still, the fruit dominates most of the other spicy yeast character in the body. Nicely tart from the berries. Also, awesome that you can grab a beer and shop the rest of the market with it in hand.

1 week ago 9 notes

Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale (Thanks, Brad!). A 3 of 4. A nice unfiltered body with a lot of grain going on in the nose - the hop presence is earthy and floral, but there’s a lot of nice cereal and pale malt notes. Drinks a bit more bitter in the body, but there’s quite a lot of nuance to the pale grain bill here - and some nice thickness to carry it. A nice change of pace from other pale ale’s with the typical pine/citrus profile, and the focus on the grain here fits the Midwest perfectly. Nice stuff.

1 week ago 11 notes

A trio of beers at Prohibition Tavern in Philadelphia. On the left, Long Trail’s Brush and Barrel Saison (a 3 of 4), Brooklyn Blast DIPA in the middle (a 3 of 4), and on the right, Yards Hoppy Lil’ Hudson on Cask (a 3 of 4). The Brush and Barrel has a great, typical nose - some spiciness and other yeast notes. Drinks a bit on the sweet side with a rather clean cereal grain body - not a ton of complexity here. Still, there’s more good yeast-driven nuance here. Brooklyn Blast is a bright, juicy hop bomb. A touch oily and resinous on the palate, and firmly, firmly bitter. The nose is quite herbal and piney, and some sweet citrus notes. Solid stuff - the backend is quite bitter and a touch boozy. Finally, the Yards is a solid English-style IPA on cask - the body is very creamy and some nice sweet malt presence dominates, with just a touch of resin bitterness. Very much in the English tradition with a touch more bitterness - good stuff.

1 week ago 6 notes

Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Extra Ale (Picked up at Trader Joe’s). A 4 of 4. Had this, as well as the Wild version before, yet somehow it hasn’t shown up here. A simply excellent juicy, oily, citrus-forward IPA. Smells of a variety of citrus, and drinks with a powerful citrus presence as well, accompanied by a decently strong sweetness up front and a firm bitterness in the finish. Extremely well-balanced – the sweetness makes this so easy to drink, and the body carries it incredibly well. Simply great.

1 week ago 13 notes

Two outstanding beers at Right Proper Brewing in Washington DC. On the left, dry-hopped Songlines farmhouse (an easy 4 of 4), and on the right, King Harvest farmhouse cream ale (a 3 of 4). Also a delicious French dip here. Songlines is simply delicious - a 4.6% farmhouse with brett and featuring galaxy and motueka hops, this is simply awesome. Bright tropical fruit and a yeasty flatness - although the bright notes shine through. A touch tart, but not overly so, and incredibly complex yet easy drinking. Incredible packing in 4.6%. The King Harvest features corn and oats alongside a typical grain bill, with a nice farmhouse flair. The body is a bit on the sweet side, and the sticky lacing and relatively thicker body are quite nice. Excellent stuff all around - I’d be a regular here if I were in DC.

1 week ago 3 notes

St. George Beer Premium Lager at Cafe Colucci in Oakland. A 2 of 4. Served ice cold, this is a relatively simple light lager. Faint grain sweetness in the nose, and drinks cleanly on the palate with some more clean grain sweetness. Clean, drinkable, and good with some spicy Ethiopian food. Beer-wise, there’s not much to remark on here besides the fact that it is a beer. It doesn’t stand out.

1 week ago 15 notes

A handful of shared beers at Bluejacket Brewery in DC. On the top, Travlr’s 12k (Aged in Cab Franc barrels), and Spectre brett IPA on the right. In the middle, The New Black session IPA on the left, and Bird of Prey IPA on the right. On the bottom, Snallygaster 2014 on the left, and Travlr’s 11k (Aged in Chardonnay barrels) on the right. All easy 3’s of 4’s, although I’d definitely say the Travlr’s 11k and 12k are deserving of a 4. The sheer variety and constant quality of all these beers is great - they are all within style, and done very well with an interesting twist. The wine barrel character in the Travlr’s is on point, and some nice tart complexity lurks as well. The Spectre is simply excellent - I’ve had a few brett IPAs, but this is one of the most drinkable, and I wish I could have this all the time. The session black IPA and standard IPA are very good - relatively standard hop profiles with some decent malt development. The Snallygaster is a bit weirdly highly carbonated, but has some nice spice elements alongside a nice fruitiness, although it’s probably my least favorite of the bunch. Nothing absolutely blew my mind here, but everything is quite good.

2 weeks ago 7 notes