Rogue Dad’s Little Helper Black IPA – draft – 6.8% – smells like feet. No bueno. Tastes great though, very malty, the mark of a good black IPA. I think the lines at the place I drank this one were poorly cared for, since I noticed an off flavor in both this one and the Foothills Hoppyum I drank before it.
New Belgium Pumpkick – 6% – bottle – Pours amber and clear. Smells just like every other pumpkin beer I’ve ever had: spicy, mildly fruity, low on the hop character. I must say that seeing pumpkin beer in my bottle shop in the middle of Summer is extremely strange. Anyway, New Belgium put their little European twist on the typical American pumpkin beer with this one. They say they added cranberry, but honestly I didn’t detect any. The spices are nice, but as I’m not a fan of pumpkin beers in general, this one’s pretty low on my list.
Ommegang Hennepin Saison – draft – 7.7% – Hazy and dark yellow, it’s the pinnacle of a European saison. Very tart, with some orange rind bitterness and a heavy alcohol kick in the back of the throat. Reminds me a bit of Delirium Tremens. I think I like American saisons better though, since they tend to be slightly milder, and without that harsh tang that gets old for me about two-thirds of the way through the pint.
21st Amendment Hop Crisis Imperial IPA – can – 9.7% – Pours gold and hazy with a thick head that lingers and leaves heavy lacing. Smells sweet and mildly piney, like many IIPAs. UNlike many IIPAs, the flavor is loaded with fresh hops, and very bitter. The hops overpower almost all maltiness, and I can only barely detect any of the oak spirals they aged it on. I’ve found that double and imperial IPAs tend to be sweeter to balance the bitterness of the additional hops, and it is sweet, but not in the same way, it’s hard to describe. Mouthfeel is a little slick, but the flavors linger a good long time. After it warms up, the oak comes out more, but the hop flavor is just as intense as ever.
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp – This 12-pack contains three hoptastic beers yielded by the latest Beer Camp, which is something I just found out about, and it sounds really cool. SN invites “its biggest fans” out to the brewery for a week of learning and experimentation, and the best brews are produced and sold in the beer camp pack. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for next year’s batch.
- #93 IPA – 6.9% – It’s hard not to compare this to their Torpedo Extra IPA, but the flavors are definitely distinct, and while I like Torpedo better, I’m a huge hophead, and I’d say this one is more drinkable by those who don’t necessarily like their hops with a little beer.
- #94 Belgian Style Black IPA – 7.7% – An excellent malt flavor throughout this beer. Definitely my favorite beer in the bunch, and from other reviews I’ve read, I’m not alone. Nice dark malts run rampant here, and it avoids the dangerous chasm of smokiness that I vigorously avoid. If I could buy this on its own, I totally would.
- #95 Imperial Red Ale – 8.5% – Reds aren’t typically my favorite, but the imperial-ness of it vastly improves it. It’s nice and hoppy, and the malt sweetness balances the high gravity well.
- A League of Its Own Rye Berliner Weisse – 4.8% – Tart and dry, with good rye spiciness and a smoky finish, but only when I exhaled. I also tasted some lemon and apple. This is one of the most complex beers I’ve had recently, and while I might not get it again, I’m glad I tried it.
- Yellow Belt Hoppy Wheat – 5.5% – Looks like orange juice, tastes like bitter sunshine. The sorachi ace hops are a favorite here at Trophy, not that I’m complaining. I can see this being a great beer for someone who doesn’t like standard American IPAs but wants a little more bite than you get from your standard wheat beer.
Fullsteam Working Man’s Lunch – draft – 5.5% – A very well-crafted sweet dark ale, made with Raleigh-born Escazu chocolate and based on the traditional working man’s lunch, the Moon Pie. They use weizen yeast, which brings some fruity esters into play and brightens the whole thing up.
And the winner is… 21st Amendment Hop Crisis!
Imperial IPAs are very dear to my heart, so this one had a distinct advantage going in. So fresh, so damn hoppy. 21st Amendment is pretty pricey in general, so I don’t typically get their sixers, but since this one’s seasonal, I think I’ll have to make another exception…or two.