Archive | December 2011

Sierra Nevada – Torpedo Extra IPA

Style: American IPA
ABV: 7.20%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

If I had to sum this beer up in one word it would be…HOPS! This beer was so hoppy up front, I was a caught a little off guard. Honestly I don’t know what the hell I was expecting.Obviously with a name like “Extra IPA” I should have been ready for it, but this is more like a double IPA with how bitter it was. Fighting through my noob taste buds which struggle with handling heavy hops, I actually began enjoying this beer. It started with the pour that had a beautiful golden amber color with a thin layer of head that left some pretty great lacing. I brought the pint glass to my nose to give a whiff and I wasn’t dissappointed.

The smell was a nice mix of pine, citrus, and hops. It blended well and made me think of some California walking trail, maybe not too far off from the picture found on the label. I took my first sip and like I said, BOOM! The hops hit me right away. As I let it hit all the parts of my tongue, I was impressed on how the bitterness lingered throughout the whole sip and continued through the finish. It was so dry, I considered getting a glass of water!

The body itself was good and the carbonation was pretty standard. Despite the fact that I’m the biggest fan of American IPAs, I thought this one was done surprisingly well and is a good example of what to look for if you’re new to the style. It’s also a great choice if you enjoy eating hops!

Overall: 3.75/5 – Bombs away!

Sierra Nevada Brewing

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Lagunitas – Censored

Style: American Amber
ABV: 6.75%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

Lagunitas is a pretty solid craft brewery and this is a pretty solid craft brew. This “Rich Copper Ale” is pretty much….copper color. It had a nice half finger of head to it and left a little bit of lacing after each sip. Pretty good start I should say…

Next came the smelling of the brew, which I admit sometimes I suck at distinguishing smells, but this one had a pretty distinct aroma.  I took a whiff and was somewhat surprised by the nice sweet caramel malt smell that had a nice hop character mixed in with it. I like where this is going…

Finally I take my first sip. I get a similar experience to the smell. Sweet malts up front, with a nice hop character bringing up the rear. I like the balance of this beer, and don’t even mind the slight bitter finish it has to it. The beer is somewhat lighter than what I was expecting, but it had a good amount of carbonation and it went down pretty smooth.

I wasn’t sure about this beer at first, as the hoppy bitterness in the finish made me rethink how I felt about it, but I found myself liking it more and more after each sip. Sufficient to say it grew on me and I’d give this one another go if I was in the mood.

Overall: 3.5/5 – Give it a try!

Lagunitas Brewing Company

New Belgium – Snow Day Winter Ale

Style: Winter Warmer
ABV: 6.2%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

Not to jinx anything, but here in Chicago we have yet to receive any snow that hasn’t melted immediately after hitting the ground. We are sitting pretty in the mid 40’s which is almost unheard of at Christmas time around these parts, so I figured I’d give this winter brew a whirl anyway to get my winter juices flowing. I assumed the first day of winter would be a good enough time than any to finally crack this one open.

To start, the color is a very dark red, almost brown to be honest. There was a thin layer of tan head that left a decent amount of lacing behind after each sip. I honestly think the best part was the smell. This beer smells absolutely amazing! If you asked me to literally describe Christmas in beer form, it would be something like this. It’s pretty hoppy and fruity with a hint of pine to it and it’s followed by a taste that’s somewhat similar to the smell.  I got to say there’s a perfect amount of carbonation to this and a nice creamy feel to it.

Overall, this is a very good beer. This is the kind of beer that makes me look forward to a “beer and video games” kind of day on a particularly brutal Chicago snow day! As long as I don’t have to ever leave my house of course…

Overall: 3.75/5 – Cheers!

New Belgium Brewing

Magic Hat – #9

Style: Fruit/Vegetable beer
ABV: 5.1%
Serving type: Bottle into pint glass

I’m not sure what the name of this beer really stands for. My only guess is that on a list of fruits to use in their beer, apricots was the ninth best choice for Magic Hat. But saying that out loud just doesn’t make any sense, because I wouldn’t even name apricots on a list of fruits to use at all. But apparently they are good enough to warrant adding some zing to a beer, though this one seems to have missed the mark in my opinion.

This beer was kind of deceiving in that it looked amazing when I poured it into my glass. It had a really nice golden color and started with a half finger of thin white head, which lasted about a minute before disappearing. It left a good amount of lacing behind which is something I really appreciate in a brew.

Now for the not so great part – I wasn’t exactly sure what the smell I was getting from this was, but it’s fruity mixed with something else. It’s definitely not terrible, but it’s far from great. I took my first sip and I could definitely taste the apricot flavor they were going for. It has a nice balance between the sweet malts and hops, but the apricots somewhat overpowered it in the end and unfortunately it’s not a particular taste I wanted to stick around.

I will say though that it was carbonated nicely and it goes down pretty smooth like a pale ale should. Overall, the strong apricot flavor sort of ruins it for me. For some reason, I feel like I’ve seen this beer around quite often the last couple of months which is why I picked it up, although I’ll probably never go out of my way to find this one in the future.

Overall: 2.5/5 – Far from being a #1

Magic Hat Brewing Company