Dipping back to a familiar style, the IPA has re-entered my household. While usually I stick to random craft beers, I spotted one a while ago that I had never seen before by the name of Henry Weinhard’s. I left it on the shelf for another day, and out of the blue my brother in law brought some over for Halloween. Looks like a craft beer, so it must be one right? Hold on just a minute…
First a history lesson: Henry Weinhard is an actual person. Much like Cincinnati’s own Christian Moerlein, Henry was a brewer from the old days, who actually spent some time here in the area before settling down in Oregon. For a long time, he crafted beers under his own name, and at one point, as it sometimes happens, his company was bought by another larger company. This “craft” beer just happens to be made by the folks at SABMiller, but for some reason they don’t want you to know that. Well, they are not advertising it at least. Anyway, lets see how this IPA stands, enter the Woodland Pass IPA:
The beer pours like a normal IPA, with a good looking copperish hue. Smell wise I am picking up mostly pine aromas, and not much else. Taste wise, this beer is surprising. Right out of the gate, you pick up a nice hop flavor, but not overpowering like most IPAs that you will find nowadays. It is mild, but nice. Mixed with the hops, you will notice quite a bit of malt flavors, which mellow out the hops even more, and the beer finishes a little bitter. This IPA is lighter than most, and that is not a bad thing. This would be a good, cheap, grilling out type of beer.
Overall, I like this beer. True, it is not a real craft beer. True, it is more along the lines of a pale ale than an IPA. This is a beer that you could drink a few of and not find yourself without your pants the next morning. Not that that is a bad thing, or that it has happened to me. Well done Henry Weinhard’s, err…SABMiller, not great, but not a bad start.
IPAs are a mainstay in my household. Nothing finishes off a day better than a smooth, highly hopped, bitter IPA. Sometimes though, the West Coast style burns me out, and I start to look elsewhere for my evening beer, branching out to stouts and porters, etc. but I always find myself back to the IPA. Surprisingly though, I have never had an IPA from the origin of the style: Great Britain. Time for that to change, enter Meantime’s IPA:
The style got it’s start in the UK in the mid 18th century. Folks traveling to India wanted a beer that would make the journey, and what a beer they got. English IPAs became very popular, and the style crossed the pond in the early 1900s, and now almost every brewery here in the states has their own version. There is even the difference between East and West coast IPAs. Enough about that, lets get down with Meantime.
This IPA pours like your typical IPA, maybe just a tad lighter in appearance. Scent wise I am picking up a nice mixture of fruits and alcohol, which this beer is around 7.5% ABV so that is no real surprise. Taste wise, this is not your normal stateside IPA. Very mellow in comparison, but also very enjoyable. Fruity, bitter, smooth, a well balanced beer. The carbonation reminds me of drinking Anchor’s Old Foghorn, as it is very crisp and well done. This is an easy drinking IPA that I am glad that I found!
If you are like me, and drink a fair share of IPAs, give this one a try to mix it up a bit. Not your normal IPA, but historically, it is right on par for the style. This one I will buy again!
Well done Meantime!
Based out of the woods outside of New Orleans, Abita Brewing is a bit of an enigma to me. I have only had 1 or 2 of their products before, but I had always assumed that they were based on the West coast. Turns out, they use Pacific Northwest hop varieties. That would explain my confusion. Anyway, this nice can of beer showed up during some bicycle wrenching time, thanks Eric! Enter the Jockamo IPA:
This IPA pours a very good looking amber/orange with a respectable head left over. Once the beer is poured, pine scents hit your nose to remind you that you are about to drink an IPA. Once you start to drink this one, you will find that it goes down very smoothly. Those hops from the northwest show up with some nice citrusy flavors, and mix with an almost bread or biscuit like malt, to create a fine beer. Not extraordinary, but good nonetheless. This is a very respectable IPA, and it comes in a can, which that automatically makes me a fan.
This beer usually hangs with the $8.99/six pack crowd, which is a great deal in my book. Sometimes it is nice to not be drinking an imperial double American style IPA from hell, and just head back to the basics with a smooth, classic IPA. That is what this one is. Well done Abita!
For some reason, Michigan has become one of the bigger craft beer markets. Quite a few breweries are gaining traction in the beer world, while being based out of the state up North. One brewery that I have not really heard too much about is out of Battle Creek, called Arcadia Ales. Since I have been on an IPA kick as of late, a farewell to summer if you will, I decided to take a walk with their version of a double IPA, called the Hopmouth.
This beer looks like an IPA, and smells like an IPA, so it should be an IPA right? Yes, yes and yes. The beer pours a perfect looking IPA, just a little darker red than normal. Some IPAs rush right to the top of the glass when poured, but this one came out of the bottle perfectly. For the record, I pour every beer the same, right down the middle of the glass, no tilting. Tilting is for cans or kegs. That is another rant altogether. Back to the beer. Once in the glass, the beer smells a bit of pine, and a little fruity, but not as powerful as you would expect. Taste wise, this beer is excellent. Hops meet your taste buds at the gate, then fade away to a few different malt flavors, one that jumps out at me is a bit caramel like. The hops do not make an encore, and the beer finishes nice and dry, with a touch of alcohol, which clocks in at 8% ABV for those who care.
This beer was a great pick, unfortunately for the Hopmouth though is that it had to follow Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum in my beer que. Overall, this is a solid beer, a little maltier than I expected, but a nice change for a double IPA. If you see it, you should try it out. Well done!
Once again, I dig deep into the wonderful vault of Sierra Nevada. One of the early craft brewers, they consistently toss out beer after beer that ranks very high in my beer opinion. Very rarely do I have a drink from them that I do not enjoy. Their stout does come to mind though. Anyway, let’s pick the vine of Hoptimum, in their words, “the biggest whole cone IPA” that they have ever produced.
This beer pours like every IPA wishes they could, in a beautiful amber with an off white head that sticks to your glass. The aromas are what you would expect from a beer with 100 IBUs; hops, glorious hops. The smell is very flower like as well, with a touch of pine. Start to drink this, and you will be bombarded with the amazing hop flavors. This beer almost has a thick feeling, with the hops taking center stage, followed by an almost sweet grapefruit like taste. I am not one for grapefruit, but this I do enjoy. Another touch of pine at the end, and this beer goes down way smoother than you would expect. One thing that I was surprised that did not show up in the taste was the alcohol. This beer clocks in at 10.4% ABV, so I expected to taste that. However, it stays nicely hidden, with no noticeable alcohol burn. That is a nice touch.
This beer goes down smoothly, and I would say almost too smooth. This is the type of beer that gets me into trouble, as I finish one, and go straight for another. Next thing that I know, I am in the basement peeing on the floor, thinking that I am in the bathroom upstairs. Strange things happen with high quality beer. Anyway, this beer is a classic in my book, and I am now putting it in my group of favorites. Well done!
I like Great Divide. To me, they are one of the better craft brewers in the industry these days, that you barely hear anything about. Well, maybe there is more play out West, but here in the Midwest, nothing much is mentioned about this company. That is a damn shame. Last week, I decided to pick up this special sixer to do a write up for IPA day, but missed the boat entirely. So, fashionably late, enter the Rumble:
Great Divide’s Rumble is an oak aged India pale ale, which is a little bit outside of the norm. And for an IPA, this beer is not what you would expect.
At first glance, this beer looks like a normal IPA. Nice coloration, and a nice sticky lacing that hangs out on your glass for a few minutes. The aromas are a nice mix of oak, vanilla, and a tiny bit of hops thrown in, just because it is an IPA. Once tasting though, this beer delivers. Up front there is a small bitterness, that gets taken over by caramel malt sweets. Vanilla decides to show up in the middle, then the beer finishes with a nice, small hop flavor that rounds out this delicious beer. Not your normal hop monster IPA, but more of an almost creamy flavor IPA. It feels weird to say, “creamy IPA,” but that is what comes to mind. My only drawback to this beer is the weird aftertaste that I get from drinking it. I would almost describe it as a resiny aftertaste, not immediate, but shows up a couple minutes after the swig is down. Just a minor drawback, and nothing to make me avoid buying this beer again. And buy it again I shall.
This has been a great beer to celebrate my late IPA day. I would definitely recommend it if you need a break from burning out your taste buds on some of the greater hop concoctions out there. A creamy IPA, who would have thought?
Well done once again Great Divide!
San Diego, also known as the whale’s vagina. Also home to around 50 or so craft breweries. During my recent two weeks out west, I tried to find some of the beers that I used to really enjoy and cannot find here in Ohio. I also tried to discover some new beers to lust after once my trip was over. That was accomplished thanks to some friends who live in the quiet little mountain town of Alpine, which is just around 30 miles east of the city. Little did I know that Alpine was the home to one of the finest little breweries that is known to man. You might think that is an exaggeration, but you would be wrong. Enter the Alpine Beer Company:
Located off of I-8, on the main strip of Alpine, you will find this little gem of San Diego county. The brewery is split into two sections, which oddly there is a book store in between the two sides. The book store did look interesting, but every time that I was by the brewery they were closed, which was a good thing since I like book stores. Anyway, the first area that my friend and I walked into was the brewery sales area, which had a variety of Alpine Beer company goods, and also sells their beer directly via growlers and 22oz bottles, no sixers here.
After spending some time chatting with their friendly staff, with me basically pestering them to ship beer to Ohio, (Which was responded with, “Yeaah, that’s not going to happen”) my friend and I walked to the other side of the beer company, their brewpub.
This is where the magic happens, when it comes to beer. Everything that I had from them was delightful. Sometimes I overuse that word, but drinking their beer was downright enjoyable. First up was a bourbon barrel aged Russian imperial stout by the name of Odin’s Raven.
Odin’s Raven was an amazing beer. What I remember: The bourbon alcohol flavor hits you at the first sip, but then you are overtaken by malty chocolate tones, but not too sweet, and finishes off like a stout should. It also clocked in at around 11% ABV, which makes it a very heavy hitter. Definitely a must have from a company that is more known for their hop varieties.
Next on my plate was their Chez Monieux, which was a Belgian style Kriek. I have not had too many of this style to give a great run down, but it was a sour, tart cherry carbonated blast that had a dry wine like finish, which makes sense, since it was aged in wine barrels. Good, but not normally my thing. I was glad that I had it though.
I finished off my tasting with their Alpine Ale, and also some of their Nelson IPA, both of which were again, delightful. Add these beers to the two that I have reviewed earlier in the week, and that equals one of my new favorite breweries. Be sure to check out their website here to learn more about this fantastic company, do not miss them if you are in the San Diego region. Big thanks to my friend Jimmy for taking me to the place (And letting me stay at your house!), and my friend Thom for the recommendation!
Well done Alpine!