Golden Road’s Heal the Bay IPA (Picked up at Trader Joe’s). A 3 of 4. A great IPA - nice golden color and solid carbonation and the nose is full of citrus and grapefruit and other tropical fruit. Drinks slightly sweet with some pale malt notes and with some firm bitterness that creeps in. A bit of a bitter bite on the finish. A solid pale/tropical IPA.

19 hours ago 8 notes

St. Bernardus Abt 12 (Picked up at a Carrefour Market in Brussels for 1,70 euro). A 4 of 4. As always, this is an exemplar of what an abbey quad should be, and as the most readily available one, is quite good. Definitely a touch more watery and less depth than some of the trappist’s, but not bad at all. Lots of plum and dark fruit notes and spice and other yeast-driven qualities, as well as a wonderful toffee and caramel body. For about ~$2 a bottle, I couldn’t resist picking this up again, despite having had it plenty of times before, both relatively fresh and with some age on it.

1 day ago 8 notes

A couple excellent sours - Thanks, Keith, for sharing! On the left, The Rare Barrel’s Hypnotized (a 4 of 4), and on the right, Upright’s Blend Love (a 4 of 4). Hypnotized has a beautiful reddish body - this was aged in barrels previously used for Ensorcelled, which had raspberries in it. The raspberry notes aren’t overwhelming, but this definitely picked up the fruity, puckering tartness they provide from the unrinsed barrel. Like all of Rare Barrel’s stuff, this is quite puckeringly sour and quite acidic, although I find this a bit more easy drinking than their other offerings. The Blend Love is possibly the best thing I’ve ever had from Upright - and I’ve had plenty of good things from Upright. Great orange color, and the nose lets on what this is all about - lots of funk and tart fruit and a nice tartness. Drinks quite dry on the palate with a decent bit of oak and tannins, as well as other berries on the palate, including some sweetness from the cherries. Great sourness, great balance, and great fruit presence. Excellent stuff all around.

2 days ago 5 notes

Chapel Down’s Curious IPA (Brewed at Hepworth) (Picked up at Whole Foods, Piccadilly Circus, London). A 2 of 4. Relatively nice orange/red color yet incredibly transparent and not much lacing or body at all. Smells faintly of citrus and some herbal notes. Drinks on the sweet side of things, without much firm bitterness in the finish. Relatively well-balanced and easy to drink, but not quite enough bitterness nor body to carry it.

3 days ago 6 notes

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America West Coast Double IPA (Picked up at Berkeley Bowl West). A 3 of 4. Also managed to grab the collaboration 12-pack, which we’ve already seen. A simple, great, double IPA. Smells resinous as well as some nice citrus notes. Drinks on the sweet side of things after a strong spicy/bitter presence up front. A bit oily and thick mouthfeel, yet quite easy to drink - not overly bitter and not too sweet, yet firmly bitter and balanced. Great stuff.

4 days ago 13 notes

Trumer Pils (the Austrian version! - picked up at Merkur Hoher Markt in Vienna). A 3 of 4. I’m assuming this is an identical recipe to the Berkeley version, so no surprise that this is nearly identical. Extremely pale, clean pilsner. High carbonation with some grain sweetness and grassy notes in the nose. Drinks easily like the style should - nice and clean.

5 days ago 9 notes

The Commons 2014 Brotherly Love Beetje Series (Picked up at Star Grocery). A 3 of 4. Bourbon-barrel aged with sour cherries and cocoa nibs - and it shows. Smells like barrel with some dark fruit notes, as well as a clear bourbon presence. Drinks on the sweet side of things with a lot of candy-like dark fruit notes and some bourbon. Almost reminds me of a chocolate/bourbon candy covered cherry. The flavors all work nicely together, and this drinks easily even at 10%.

6 days ago 8 notes

Kaapse Brouwers’ Bea Black Rye IPA (Picked up at de Bierkoning). A 2 of 4. A decent black IPA - lots of roast and toast in the nose, as well as a piney/resinous hop profile. Carbonation is quite high, and combined with the decently high bitterness, is a bit too aggressive on the palate. On the bitter end of things, although some faint chocolate-y malt notes help balance a touch, although even the roasted notes and rye spiciness are a bit astringent and dry here. Solid, and the profile gets far more complex as this warms a bit, although the dryness never really gets checked.

1 week ago 8 notes

Brew by Numbers 01/06 Saison Motueka & Lime (Picked up at CASK Pub & Kitchen in London). A 3 of 4. A great bright saison that brings a pretty amazing citrus and tropical presence from the motueka and the lime zest that’s added. It’s not overkill either - the yeast produces a nice and robust yeasty saison presence with some nice spiciness and dryness. Would be quite enjoyable out in the sun - lots of complexity here, and the lime zest + motueka addition to what would otherwise be a nice, light, standard saison is quite a wonderful call. Not overboard with nuance, but all the notes complement each other quite well.

1 week ago 8 notes

Finally, the bottom four (yet still great!) beers of the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America 12-pack. Alt Route, Yvan the Great, Tater Ridge, and There and Back. On the top left, Alt Route, a 3 of 4, brewed with Victory. A relatively simple, easy-drinking alt. Some nice toasted notes in this, as well as some grassy and floral hops up front, but not much. Middle-of-the-road in body and carbonation, and most everything. The body is much nicer than many alts, but otherwise in a pack of weird things, this doesn’t stand out. On the top right, Yvan the Great, a 3 of 4, brewed with Russian River. A relatively simple, good belgian ale with slight more hop presence than usual. Quite dry and crisp, and some earthy and herbal hop notes make their presence known. On the bottom left, Tater Ridge, a 3 of 4, brewed with Asheville Brewers Alliance. Would love if this starts a trend - the sweet potatoes in this add a really interesting depth that some beers would benefit from. Some nice brown sugar and pumpkin-spice notes are here as well, and some nice dark sweetness. The body carries these notes well with a medium thickness. Easy to drink, and the sweet potato is clearly noticeable and quite interesting - it was clear the beer was made around this ingredient. On the bottom right, There and Back English Style Bitter, a 3 of 4, brewed with New Glarus. A wonderful spiciness to this - a lot of peppery and toasted notes, as well as some faint citrus as well. Quite a lot of complexity here, yet the spice up front seems to dominate. Not a traditional English Bitter in the sense this has a lot going on and a bit higher carbonation, but very interesting, and very easy to drink. All in all, a great finish to a great 12-pack. Definitely worth having if you can find it - everything is above-average, just like Lake Wobegon.

1 week ago 7 notes

Budweiser Budvar (Picked up at Merkur Hoher Markt in Vienna). A 2 of 4. A bit on the sweeter side of things for the style, especially in the nose. There’s a decent amount of grain sweetness shining through, and some faint hoppy notes, but not much bitterness to speak of like some. Given that, it’s not as clean and crisp as some - there’s a bit thicker grainy body here. Easily drinkable, but not particularly impressed nor disappointed in this.

1 week ago 7 notes

Avery’s Karma Belgian-Style Pale Ale (Picked up at Liquor Mart in Boulder). A 2 of 4. A relatively powerful apple-ish fruit note that dominates the taste, and the body has a decent amber color but not much lacing at all. The nose lets on a lot more spice and yeast complexity, but the body falls a bit flat comparatively. Not bad, but definitely not my favorite from Avery, and a relatively standard belgian-ish pale ale.

1 week ago 8 notes

A couple beers at ├śL Beercafe & Bottle Shop in Walnut Creek. My first time here, and the taplist and built-in bottle shop are quite impressive. Not the largest selection ever, but everything on hand is expertly picked. On the left, Wild Beer Co’s Modus Operandi (3 of 4), and on the right, Prairie’s Funky Gold Mosaic (4 of 4). Having grabbed a bottle of Modus Operandi in London a few months ago and brought it back (only to have them start distributing here!), I’m quite happy the beer is quite good: a 7% old ale that’s soured quite a bit. Some beautiful sticky lacing, and smells quite a lot of dark tart fruit. Quite sour on the palate - not overly acidic, but this definitely has some bite to it. There’s some malt depth here and some powerful tannic notes as well - it’s not the easiest to drink, but it is well-executed. Funky Gold Mosaic is simply excellent. I like hops and I like sours, so a heavily-hopped sour is my idea of heaven. And this delivers - tons of tropical fruit and citrus, and some soft tartness on the palate. Not too funky, just a clean acidity and some grape-like notes. Very drinkable and quite awesome.

1 week ago 6 notes

Girardin 1882 Gueuze (Black Label - unfiltered) (Picked up at de Bierkoning). A 4 of 4. One of the better gueuze’s - what sets this apart in my mind is a brighter, citrus-ier, more floral character than the other best gueuzes. Had this side-by-side with the white label (thanks Keith!) last year, but happy to fully unpack this by myself now. Some almost wine-like character here, plus lots of tropical and stone fruit notes, as well as the obvious and ever-present funk and tartness. More easy drinking than the others, but the tartness is still firmly there. Absolutely great stuff.

1 week ago 6 notes

Dark Star’s Imperial Stout (Picked up at Whole Foods, Piccadilly Circus, London). A 3 of 4. A very good imperial stout. Not a ton of carbonation or lacing, nor was it expected. On the sweeter side of things in the nose with quite a lot of chocolate and roast and some espresso-y coffee notes. Drinks sweetly in the body as well, with the booze relatively well hidden. Finishes dry and suddenly the booze appears in the finish. A relatively simple, well-executed imperial stout. Begging for some more complexity, whether from the barrel or added ingredients, or something else. Yet, in its relative simplicity it is quite great.

2 weeks ago 9 notes