Monthly Archives: December 2012

369. Stone Brewing 12.12.12 Vertical Epic Ale

Stone 12.12.12 Vertical EpicOn 12-12-12 I decided to be just like everyone else and open my bottle of Stone’s Vertical Epic 12.12.12. I was not aware of the Stone Vertical Epic series until last year so I missed out on most of the series including the 10.10.10 which I really want a bottle of as October 10th is my birthday.

12.12.12 is a Belgian Strong Ale that also incorporates a lot of characteristics of a winter warmer. Pours almost entirely black with a very nice tan head. Aroma has plenty of spice; cinnamon and nutmeg being the most prevalent. Taste is quite nice with tons of cinnamon, there area  couple other things happening here but they are masked by the huge amounts of cinnamon. There is a bit of alcohol warmth and mouthfeel is OK, not too thick and not too thin.

Overall this beer surprised me as I was not expecting much but it is unlike any other beer I have had and certainly enjoyable. 
Pros: 

Cons: 

Alcohol Content: 9.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness):
Rating: ★★★☆
Brewers Website: Stone Brewing
Brewers Description:  APPEARANCE -Deep black with a dark brown, foamy head.

AROMA – First impressions are of cinnamon and allspice, combined with fruity banana esters and hints of clove from the Belgian yeast. As the beer warms in the glass, swirl it around and take in the aromatics one more time-caramel, dark toffee and molasses notes come into play as well. The end result is a wonderful juxtaposition of roasted malts, yeast esters and baking spices.

TASTE – Intense cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice with banana esters dominate up front. Hints of citrus arrive mid-palate, while molasses notes persevere in the finish along with a very nice dark-roasted malt dryness.

PALATE -A full, but not sweet, extremely dry finish. Very complex with great flavor balance.

OVERALL – The aromas wafting through the brewery as we brewed this beer were amazing! We couldn’t think of a better way to sign off this Epic series of beers.

This beer will transport you to a very warm place; the house is warm, a fire’s going and grandma’s in the kitchen baking away.

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368. Lawson’s Finest Liquids Hunger Mountain Coop 40th Anniversary Ale

Lawson's Finest LiquidsHunger Mountain Coop is one of three stores that sells Lawson’s Finest Liquids bombers and they teamed up for a 40th Anniversary beer to celebrate 40 years  of the Coop. I grabbed this beer on a trip to the coop before the Hill Farmstead Harvest Festival event.

This is one of the best Amber/Red ales I have had. The beer pours a nice brown color with single finger tan head. Aroma has a little bit of everything with some very sweet malts and a fair amount of floral, herbal and pine hops. The taste is excellent with the same mix of malt sweetness but still with a big hop punch. No idea if this beer is still available or if it will be released again under a different name but if it is you should attempt to find a bottle.

This is the second really good amber/red ale I have had in just a couple of months with the other being Red Ryder from Earth Eagle Brewings. Glad I finally found some reds worth drinking. 
Pros: 

Cons: 

Alcohol Content: 6.1% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Lawson’s Finest Liquids
Brewers Description: A collaboration between Lawson’s Finest Liquids & Hunger Mountain Coop to celebrate 40 years of cooperation in our community. This dark ruby red Vermont-style Extra Special Ale is brewed with Pale, Carapills, Caramunich 120, and flaked barley malts to complement a wealth of Simcoe, Citra, Cascade and Centennial hops!

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367. Backlash Beer Company Declaration

A couple weeks ago I spent an entire week drinking Allagash Brewing beer including 2 different Belgian IPAs. This one has been in my beer fridge for a while after a friend picked up for me on a trip to Mass and I decided to give it a try. The packaging is beautiful with a very simple but effective label, white wax on the top and the Backlash brass knuckles pressed into the wax on top of the cap. A beautiful presentation and certainly something that will grab your eye if you are wandering the aisles.

The beer pours a slightly hazy light copper with solid white head. Aroma has some herbal hop and plenty of Belgian yeast. Aroma is much lighter than American style IPAs but still pleasant. Hops are the first thing you taste followed quickly by the Belgian yeasts and malts. This beer is clean and refreshing for a Belgian style beer and the bottle was gone very quickly.

Really enjoyed this beer and looking forward to more from Backlash Beer Company. 
Pros:
Refreshing, well balanced and great packaging
Cons: 

Alcohol Content: 7.2% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 47
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Backlash Beer Co
Brewers Description: Declaration is a Belgian Style IPA which packs a hop presence we’ve never seen in this style before. There is a massive hops profile from our heavy-handed dosing of American hops, yet still enough room for our Belgian yeast to make an appearance. Dark golden in color and light in body, Declaration will dry you out and make you want more with each sip.

In fact, Declaration may just be one of the hoppiest Belgian style beers ever — but don’t take our word for it.

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Growlers – the best way to drink beer at home

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366. White Birch Brewing Hop Session Ale

I stopped by White Birch Brewing for the first time a couple weeks ago and grabbed a couple of growlers of their Hop Session Ale. This is another growler to add to my collection and reminds me I need to update that post as it has been a while. It was great timing as I had a family gathering to go to on Sunday and a couple growlers of a fairly low ABV beer was the perfect thing to bring along.

The beer pours a very nice light orange with a solid two finger head. Aroma is reserved but pleasant with a bit of floral hops and some caramel malts. Not a lot happening with the aroma but what is there is nice. Taste is quite nice for a low ABV beer with a nice sweet start followed by some slightly bitter, citrus hops and a nice clean crisp finish.

The name of this beer pretty much says it all as it is slightly hoppy and certainly sessionable at just a hair over 5% ABV. 
Pros:
Low ABV, decent amount of aroma and flavor
Cons: 

Alcohol Content: 5.1% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: White Birch Brewing
Brewers Description: Hop Session is in. Starting with a blend of west coast hops for a balanced, bitter effect. We close the session out by late hopping the beer for a nice resiny mouth feel.

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365. Marshall Wharf Brewing Cant Dog Imperial IPA

I originally reviewed this one from a growler a few months ago and when I heard it was coming out in cans I knew I had to try it again. The growler had almost no hop character with huge malt flavors and seemed much closer to a barley wine than a double IPA. Read the original review here. The 16 oz cans are sold individually not in 4 or 6-packs as most people expect and you can plan on at least $5 per can. This may seem like a lot but when you compare it to some of the bombers and even the smaller 16.9 oz bottles from other brewers it is in line.

This beer was an entirely different experience out of can. Super fresh, lots of hop aroma and a very nice deep orange color make this a very appealing double IPA. If you like Maine Beer Company’s Lunch, Full Throttle from Sebago Brewing or any of the other big IPAs out there you should definitely give this one a try. 
Pros:
Huge hop character, very fresh
Cons: 

Alcohol Content: 10.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Marshall Wharf
Brewers Description: This beer is the one beer that our brewers and I would take to that mythical deserted island if we could only bring one Marshall Wharf beer. Huge malt backbone matched with huge amounts of hops.

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364. Firestone Walker Brewing Double Jack

Firestone Walker is a brewery that I had heard good things about but never seen in Maine. I happened to be at The Drinkery in Londonderry, NH a couple weeks ago and saw some bottles on the shelf. I cannot figure why some beer makes it to certain States of shops and not others but fortunately I make it to enough of them to find these little surprises. After asking the very helpful owner of the store what I should purchase I came home with a bottle of Double Jack. Being an Imperial IPA this is probably what I would have chosen anyway but with her recommendation that made it even easier.

The beer looks and smells like your typical Imperial/Double IPA. Nice orange color with 2 finger off white head. Plenty of citrus and a bit of pine in the aroma with just a hint of alcohol. Taste is solid with a lot of hops and just a little sweetness from the malts. Plenty of citrus, grapefruit, pine and some lingering bitterness. Double Jack leaves a nice coating in the finish and is a good big IPA. Would love to try this one on tap somewhere. 
Pros:
Flavorful
Cons: 

Alcohol Content: 9.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 100
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Firestone Walker
Brewers Description: Double Jack IPA is our first ever Imperial IPA. It features a big malty middle to cloak the high alcohol and mouth puckering hop bitterness. Huge tangerine, grapefruit and juicy fruit aroma blossom over the herbal blue basil and malt earthiness of this aggressive beer. Best enjoyed in moderation.

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363. Sixpoint Diesel

When Sixpoint started to distribute in Maine I quickly became one of their biggest fans but I also heard about this great Winter seasonal called Diesel. While visiting my local beer store yesterday I found a 4-pack on the floor that had not made it to the cooler yet and grabbed one.

The can is typical Sixpoint and a full 16-ounces (I believe the only 12 ounce can is Resin). Beer pours black with a nice tan head, very appealing. Aroma has plenty of pine and roasted coffee with some hints of chocolate. Sixpoint’s website describes this beer as “part black IPA , part American Stout” and that is a good description of the taste.

Plenty of hops here and the mouth feel is certainly closer to an IPA than a traditional stout but there are plenty of roasted coffee, chocolate flavors to balance out those hops. Finish has a light bitterness. A very easy drinking enjoyable dark beer, if you like the other options from Sixpoint I am sure you will like this beer too.
Pros: Appearance, unique combination of styles
Cons:
Alcohol Content: 6.3% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 69
Rating: ★★★★☆
Brewers Website: Sixpoint
Brewers Description: This undefinable black brew is part black IPA, part American Stout, but 100% Diesel powered. Robust chocolate and roasted flavors, with thick pine hop flavor and aroma.

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362. Candia Road Brewing Lotus Eater

Had no idea what to expect with this one as it is from a brewery I had never heard of before but it is a small brewery located in New Hampshire so I decided to give it a shot. When I opened the bottle there was a major eruption of beer, I let it sit in the sink for a couple of minutes but then decided I better start to pour or I wouldn’t have any beer left. After pouring, sipping and repouring for a couple of minutes I was able to get enough in the glass to have a drink and take this picture.

As you can tell from the photo this beer is beyond cloudy – my best description would be merky like pond water. Can’t even begin to see through it. I like my beer unfiltered and floaties are fine but this beer is beyond anything I have ever had. Aroma is very interesting with lots of different hop aromas; tropical fruit, grapefruit, pineapple. Taste has much more balance than the aroma with plenty of hop and some caramel malts. Certainly skewed toward the hops but that is to be expected from a double IPA.

Mouth feel is a bit thin and certainly over carbonated. Overall I enjoyed this beer but the brewer needs to work on the level of carbonation and if they cleaned it up a bit I think it would be appealing to more people. 
Pros:
Great aroma
Cons:
Excessive carbonation, thin
Alcohol Content: 8.2% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness):
Rating: ★★★☆
Brewers Website: Candia Road Brewery
Brewers Description: 

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361. Stone Brewing 16th Anniversary IPA

Stone likes to push the limits with its beer and they certainly tried to do that with the 16th Anniversary IPA, unfortunately this mix doesn’t seem to work that well. It is a nice looking beer with a deep orange color and thick off white/tan head. The only things that stand out in the aroma are lemon and alcohol which is just strange.

Taste has a lot going on but doesn’t seem to have any balance. Lot of competing flavors with some big hop character, strong lingering bitterness and a bit of a soapy taste as well. The alcohol burn is also quite strong. This is not nearly as good as Ruination 10th Anniversary
Pros:
Appearance, bottle art
Cons:
Unbalanced taste
Alcohol Content: 10.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 85
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Stone Brewing
Brewers Description: We’ve been loving creating Collaboration beers with great creative brewers from all over the world these last several years-unique beers that would never have existed without the free-flowing imagination and idea generation of the collaborative process. However, when it comes to the Stone Anniversary Ales, it’s all us. Yet, it is indeed still a collaboration with great creative brewers (if we do say so ourselves). We’re talking about our own brewing team, of course. And while some of our beers, anniversary and otherwise, have been designed by a single person, the Stone 16th Anniversary IPA was definitely a team effort.

This year our brewing team was inspired by some exotic-ish additions of the lemony persuasion. Yes, it’s a Double IPA (can you really say you’re surprised?), but as we strive to do with all our Stone Anniversary Ales of the let’s-take-this-IPA-in-a-new-direction variety, we’ve brewed up a Stone-worthy divergence from tradition. The amount of rye malt we used isn’t quite enough to warrant the appellation “Rye IPA,” but it still adds hints of spiciness that contrast deliciously with the tropical fruit flavors and aromas of the Amarillo and Calypso hops. Add a few European specialty malts, some lemon verbena, and three more hop varieties to the mix, and you have a highly complex brew melding both bitter and fruity hop notes with rich toasted malt character punctuated by nuances of spicy rye and subtle lemon.

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