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Greetings fellow NFL fans and beer drinking enthusiasts. I’m yeah right, the resident food guy on this here site taking a shot at my first “Beer Barrel.” While I don’t even pretend to have the sophisticated beer pallet of our regular host Make It Snow or many of the other beer guru folks who have filled this spot before me, I do have an appreciation for a quaffable beer and I’m quite handy with a dick joke and a fucking “F-bomb” so that will have to serve as my bonafides for this outing.
A few weeks ago my oldest brother “wrongest right” officially retired. As in, stopped working and slaving for “The Man” and now he doesn’t have to work again if he doesn’t want to. This is going to be a foreign concept for you younger readers who may not be able to ever reach the magical land of “retirement”. Stranger still, the brother will be drawing from 2 separate “pensions.” You may have to google for whatever the fuck a pension is because companies that provide pensions are as rare as finding a Raider fan without an STD. I still have a little over 11 years before I can retire and this is after being in the work force for about 38 years.
I think I told my brother “Fuck off” when he told me he was retiring. We’re tight like that.
Sorry for the regression. Any way. at the bros retirement party he was given a huge collection of going away presents. Seriously ridiculous amounts of cash and gift cards and shit like that but one of his previous co-workers gave him a box that had ten (10) 22 ounce bombers of IPAs. He obviously shared his affinity for an IPA with his coworkers and they reciprocated thusly. Oldest brother lived in San Diego for decades before moving to LA a few years back and he is a big fan of the San Diego craft beer scene. In fact he gave me my introduction to “West Coast Craft” several years back.
The box-o-IPAs contained 10 different beers from 9 different brewers and over the course of a couple of weeks we sampled and compared each one. The results are what I am bringing you today. Most of these brewers were new to me and it was quite the interesting fucking cornucopia of beverages indeed. I’ll present these in the order they were consumed.
* Quick disclaimer: I have no idea how long these beers were refrigerated/not refrigerated which is HUGE in the IPA world and may have caused a beer or two to age improperly. It’s quite possible one or two of my negative reviews may be related to the storage of the beer versus blaming the brewery. So there’s that on top of it.
Alesmith Double IPA
Alesmith is a San Diego brewery that’s been doing it’s damn thing since 1995. The DIPA sampled comes in at a pretty goddamn impressive 8.5% ABV but has the uncanny ability to drink a lot smoother. The beer poured a nice reddish amber and had a solid foamy head. My tasting notes say “Clean! Hoppy without being too hop forward. Malty, bitter and easy to drink. Arrogant Bastard like.” This was a good damn beer. I would most definitely drink again and now I want to seek out their standard IPA.
Garage Brewing Company Double White IPA with an ABV of 9%. If you’ve ever been to Temecula, where this beer hails from, you will get more than one meaning from the “Double white” moniker. This was a brand new brewery to me. I had a former girlfriend that moved to Temecula and I’ve been there a bunch of times but this was the first Temecula stamped beer I’ve sampled. The bottle description says ” Wheat ale with mosaic and Idaho 7 hops.” It poured a lighter amber color with a very frothy head. The beer had a “hef” like cloudiness to it. Tasting notes say “Caramel notes. Piney, rich but very tasty! Not a session beer. Could only drink a few. Sweet finish. MILK DUDS!”
Would recommend as part of a flight but good luck drinking a sixer.
Cismontane Brewing Company “Double Rainbow” Red DIPA.
Cismontane Brewing is located in Rancho Santa Margarita CA down in south Orange County about midway between LA and San Diego. From the look of their website they are located in a strip mall and also serve brew pub food. The Double Rainbow weighs in at a hefty 9% ABV and swings a dick swaggering 130 IBUs. I’m a fan of the red IPAs and this one reminded me a lot of “Lucky 13″ from Lagunitas brewing. Ruby red pour, good solid 1” head of foam with just a touch of sweetness. Very effervescent while remaining not too hop forward. It’s malty and I bet you could throw back a burger while drinking a few of these motherfuckers. Tasting notes say “NICE!”
Saint Archer Brewing Company IPA. 7.0% ABV.
Saint Archer is another San Diego brewery (who I just discovered is actually owned by Miller Coors dammit) that produces the epitome of West Coast Craft brewing. Pours pale with a gratuitous head! Right up in your nostrils! You get the Simcoe, Citra, Chinook and Amarillo hops. It’s hoppy but not too aggressive. A pleasing bitterness that won’t lock your jaws. If you are new to the craft beer scene and want to try a prototypical IPA then give this one a try. If you don’t like this you can officially say that you don’t like IPAs.
Black Market Brewing Company Imperial Style “Liberation IPA” 8.3% ABV.
Hey look! Another Temecula brewery. What else do I know about Temecula? Well, they have some wine production there. There’s a hmmm, an Indian casino! It is strategically located for all of your meth cooking needs and it’s home to the “Metal Mulisha” for all you motocross big air fans. That’s about it. This beer? Honestly if I hadn’t taken notes I would have completely forgotten about it. Notes say “extremely foamy, pour with caution. Massive head. Reddish amber pour. Cloudy. Slightly bitter without too much character. Not the best of the bunch.” The final note says it all: “I’m ‘whelmed’.”
Verdict? Go to Napa for your wine tastings and San Diego for your beer tastings.
Mortal Kombat “Sub Zero” Imperial IPA. Sound Brewing, Poulsbo Washington. 8.5% ABV.
Our first Washington beer! There are so many fucking questions about this beer but I guess you could boil it down to “why?” Yes, that is Sub-Zero from the video game Mortal Kombat. Yes, Sound Brewing did get Warner Brothers permission to market this. They also released a “Scorpion” Imperial Stout and a “Raiden” Imperial Saison. Quick note to Sound Brewing, before you get all ambitious and shit and release a series of beers based on a classic video game series maybe you should take the time to ensure that the beer doesn’t, you know, suck balls. This was not a good beverage. At all. It couldn’t figure out what it wanted to be when it grew up so it was light on the hops with vanilla and caramel notes. There some some bitterness and a high acidity that left a nasty after taste. It almost finished like an imperial stout.
Verdict: Stay the fuck away from this one.
Here’s Sub-Zero’s “Fatality” to get the bad taste out of your mouth.
Moving right along now.
Battle Cry IPA from Wicks Brewing Company in Riverside, CA 7.0% ABV.
I’m gonna cover this one quick. This could possibly be a solid California Craft style of IPA – or not. It had the right nose of piney, citrusy action going and there was the hoppy passion fruit thing that denotes simcoe and citra hops but this fucker just did not taste fresh. I can’t give it a fair grade because it was obviously past its intended expiration date. This is why you drink your IPAs as soon as you can. They age about as well as Sally Struthers.
Art of Dankness Double IPA from Ritual Brewing of Redlands CA. 9.2% ABV.
Here we go! This was a solid fucking beer right here. You get the boozy punch of the 9.2 ABV yet it still drinks clean. Nice pour with a big frothy head, it has notes of banana and citrus with a quite lovely nose. Three of us sampled this beer including someone who is NOT on team IPA and it was given “thumbs up” from each one of us. One of the better DIPAs I’ve sampled.
Verdict: Drink this fucker!
XXX Black DIPA from Midnight Sun Brewing in Anchorage Alaska. 8.5 ABV.
Ahh, the yin to The Art of Dankness’ yang. Actually this one deserves the “yang” title. Maybe there’s a target audience for this “seasonal release” in the frigid climes of greater Alaska. Maybe they get shut in and will drink any damn thing. All I know is I am most definitely not in the target audience.
Particulars. You get a sour note right off the bat from the nose. Not sweet or hoppy or bitter but sour. There’s a little brown sugar thing at work and I was starting to notice a coffee taste and maybe a fig note but I gave up before I could sort it all out. Of the three of us sampling each and every one of us poured theirs out. Entirely possible this thing sat out too damn long on the trip down from Alaska.
Verdict: A unanimous “1 flush!”
Finally: Beer #10
Black Belt Triple Black Rye IPA from Black Market Brewing in Temecula CA. 11.2% ABV.
Another entry from Black Market Brewing. The lack of excitement I had from the #5 beer – Liberation IPA – has been redeemed. This is a beauty right here. The pour is solid and very “Guinness” like. It’s got a nice complex nose and the head is rich and full. First thing you get out of the box is stout. This bastard tastes like a quality stout with notes of vanilla, coffee, chocolate and easy on the hoppiness. The next thing you notice is the wallop. At 11.2% this motherfucker will knock you on your boo-boo if you don’t pay attention. I like it! In fact I would like to try and finish a couple of bombers on my own and reap the whirlwind.
Verdict: Hell yes. This bad boy works for fans of IPAs or fans of stouts or porters.
And that is about that!
Hope I didn’t overwhelm you with all of these options. I did have fun sampling these, all for the good of science!
I have a god son who is part owner of my local brewery El Segundo Brewing Company and a certified cicerone and he tells everyone that if you don’t like beer, you just haven’t tried the right one yet.
Amen Tommy. Amen.