Another month gone already. Is it just me or did March pass more quickly than February? I blame Daylight Savings Time. This month I read The Complete Beer Course: Boot Camp for Beer Geeks: From Novice to Expert in Twelve Tasting Classes by Joshua M. Bernstein. Its title is quite a mouthful, but Bernstein knows what he’s talking about, and I love that he gives multiple examples of each of the beer styles he describes. I’ve learned so much about what to expect from my beer this month. I highly recommend it! I may even use it as the basis for some future posts. I’m playing around with the stoplight-style quality indicators on this post, so let me know what you think of them in the comments. Helpful? Cheesy?
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Very hazy for a pilsner, with an aroma of musty yeast, cedar, and a hint of orange. The flavor is bittersweet, woody and hoppy. It has a dry mouthfeel with good effervescence that fades into a lingering bitter citrus peel finish. I wouldn’t classify this as a typical pilsner – it’s so good though, definitely unusual, but a great beer. Always trust Dogfish Head to push a style in a great direction.
Billed as a “Kentucky Common,” this cidery lager is not really my cup-o-tea. After my recent aggressive lager campaign, I’m all for a nice light lager, but something about the intense apple flavors in this one turn me off of it. Addendum: After drinking this one, I learned about this style in the Complete Beer Course book, I’d like to try it again. It’s much more cider-like than I was expecting, since the only other “common” beer I know is California Common, which is not the same thing at all.
IGOR: Redux. You may remember that I reviewed this beer back in the January post, and I didn’t like it one bit. There were some really funky off flavors to it and it just did not work for me. Well, I was at the brewery last month, and by some stroke of luck they had this Fall seasonal on tap. I decided to give it another shot, and I’m SO GLAD I did. A complete turnaround from the bad bottle I got. Rich and roasty with some great woody caramel flavors backed up by coffee and black cherry notes. You really get the character of the bourbon barrels without the alcohol being overpowering. A touch of hop bite at the end rounds it out nicely. Very smooth.
Sierra Nevada 4-Way IPA Box
I’m only reporting on three of the four brews in the box, as the fourth is their Torpedo Extra IPA, and my thoughts on that one are a matter of public record.
A very well-balanced white IPA, Snow Wit is lightly hazy, with a great hefeweizen aroma of lemon and yeast. The flavor has a lot of orange, clove and coriander, along with some piney hop for good measure. It sounds like it’s all over the place, but it’s really quite good. I haven’t had any really fantastic hefes lately, so this is a pleasant surprise. It tastes a lot like New Belgium’s Sunshine Wheat, if memory serves.
Wonderful aroma of roasted dark malts, coffee, pine. Light wood smoke dominates the first taste, followed by dark chocolate and coffee notes that segue to bitter piney hoppiness. There’s heavy smokiness in the finish, which is also bitter and slightly dry. I like it, though there are better black IPAs out there coughUINTADUBHEIMPERIALBLACKIPAcough.
Smells like grass and crackers and a little lemon, has a nice light gold color with a persistent foamy head. Right off the bat, this beer is real bitter. Lots of lemon rind, a touch of pine flavor and a light, pilsner-like malt flavor. The finish gives me a lasting dry bitterness. Overall it’s got a great malt profile, but the intense bitterness is unbalanced, so I won’t seek this one out again.
Nice spicy, fruity aroma, vaguely reminiscent of Dogfish Head’s Raison d’Etre, though with a more noticeable alcohol scent. The color is a deep red, almost burgundy. This beer is very full-bodied and so very smooth. The light carbonation produces very fine bubbles that coat the tongue, keeping the bite from the high ABV at bay. The prominent flavors are the spicy rye, mellow resinous wood flavors from the cask aging, and a scant citrus twist from the Citra and Ahtanum hops.
This has been hit and miss over the few I’ve had. There has been a lot of sediment in all of the bottles, and one or two have had some off flavors, like a touch of sourness and soap. However, the ones that are on are really nice. A sharp citrus note pairs well with the high alcohol content. There are great woody flavors in this beer as well. I’m not sure I would get a six pack of this, but it’s definitely worth a try.
This month you’d be hard pressed to get me to choose a favorite. My Antonia, IGOR, and Rye-on-Rye are all so different and so excellent! I highly recommend trying all three, though it’ll be difficult to get your hands on IGOR since I don’t think Fullsteam distributes very far, I haven’t seen a bottle in-store in months, and unless you’re in town and very lucky, they probably won’t have it on tap.
FINE. If you’re going to twist my arm and make me pick one, I’m going with IGOR for most improved between tastings. Special recognition goes to Sean from Fullsteam for paying attention to what weirdos like me are saying about his beer on the internet and taking the time to comment about it. Not only does it make me feel super special, it shows that he cares a ton about both his beer and his customers. Thanks Sean!