425. Portsmouth Brewery Project X Nugget

Portsmouth Brewery Project XI picked up this growler after the Seacoast Winter Brew Fest lat month. Don’t worry I didn’t wait a month to drink it I have just been a bit slow in getting the review posted. Project X is their single hop pale ale project and I feel lucky they had Nugget on when I was in the area as this was a really good beer.

As you can tell from the photo I drank this during a pretty good snowstorm which probably added to my enjoyment. The beer has an unfiltered look to it, a little cloudy and orange with a thick off white head. Aroma is subdued but pleasant with a nice mix of hops and sweet malts, nothing too exciting but certainly not bad.

Taste is slightly bitter with a nice herbal hop presence. This was a  nice beer that was a good choice for a growler fill as it was very easy to drink. If you see a Project X beer on tap at Portsmouth Brew you should give it a try. 
Pros: 

Cons:  
Alcohol Content: 6.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Portsmouth Brewery
Brewers Description:

424. Kern River Brewing Citra Double IPA

Kern River CitraWell it is not often that I give 5 stars to a beer as I always feel there is something better out there. In 424 reviews this is the second time I have given a 5-star rating (there probably should have been a few more) with the other being Ephraim from Hill Farmstead. I received this beer in a swap with a friend in New Hampshire and boy am I glad I did.

Appearance is an amazing orange with a clean white head, it doesn’t get much better than that. Hops, hops and more hops in the aroma – if they could make an air freshener that smelled like this beer I would have one in my truck. Taste is incredibly balanced yet full of hops, tons of grapefruit, some citrus and pine and just enough sweetness. My wife typically does not like IPAs yet she finished the last 6 ounces of this beer. The beer finishes dry with almost no bitterness.

If you have any way of getting this beer you need to, and if you happen to get an extra bottle I would be happy to trade, buy or beg for it. This is a truly exception beer that even non-IPA drinkers would love. 
Pros:
Everything
Cons: Very hard to obtain 
Alcohol Content: 8.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 60+
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Kern River
Brewers Description: A double IPA that is hazy pale in color with a strong pungent aroma that comes from large amounts of Citra hops. The alcohol content is 8%.

423. Allagash Brewing FV 13

Allagash FV13FV 13 is a limited release beer from Allagash. It went on sale at the brewery exclusively and then made its way to some retail stores in the following weeks. I picked up my 4-bottle limit at the brewery the day it was released and then grabbed a couple more at The Vault when it hit their shelves. I went an entire week back in December drinking all Allagash beer including many of their most expensive releases that I had been sitting on for some time. With this one I decided not to wait and had a bottle shortly after I purchased it.

This beer is an amazing copper color with a very thin off white head. Aroma is very inviting if you like some sour funk in your beer. Allagash sums up the taste pretty well in their description of the beer “The flavor is a blend of sweet and tart, with notes of fruit and caramelized sugar” I can’t say it any better so I will just use their description. This is a very nice beer that is already four years old but I would not be surprised if this one continued to improve over the next few years. With 3 more bottles in the cellar I am sure to find out. 
Pros:
Very tasty
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 8.9% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Allagash
Brewers Description: FV 13 marks our first venture into the world of foudre beers. Foudres are giant oak tanks used for aging (this one holds 2700 gallons.) FV 13 is a blend of wild yeast and bacteria, a base beer with lots of malt character, and about four years of patience. The finished beer is copper in color, with an aroma of cherries and caramel. The flavor is a blend of sweet and tart, with notes of fruit and caramelized sugar. The full mouthfeel gives way to a tart, mouth drying finish.

422. Big Sky Brewing IPA

Big Sky IPAAnother beer from a friend in New Hampshire. This one is from Big Sky Brewing in Montana and may be my first beer from that State.  This beer is your standard every day IPA in a 12 oz can.

Appearance is quite nice with a color that almost matches the can and thick off white head. Aroma is minimal with some tropical and piney hops but not a lot happening. Taste leans more towards the pine/resin than the tropical hops and again is OK but nothing too memorable. Fairly bitter finish and lingering aftertaste bring this down a notch for me.

Overall not a bad beer and something that could be an every day beer for a lot of people. I am sure in Montana this beer is fairly inexpensive and readily available. 
Pros: 

Cons:  
Alcohol Content: 6.2% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 65
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Big Sky Brewing
Brewers Description: In Montana, many classic memories are made right after someone says “hold my beer and watch this.” These bold assertive moments deserve a bold and assertive beer – Big Sky I.P.A. – Distinct hop presence and malty backbone will leave you refreshed and ready for your moment of glory. So hang on tight & enjoy the ride!

421. Bell’s Brewery Hopslam Ale

Bell's Brewery Hop SlamGot this bottle from a friend in New Hampshire and was glad to finally try this beer. Double IPAs are one of my favorite styles of beer and no doubt this is a good one. Appearance is fairly typical of the style with a nice orange color with off white head. Aroma is not as big as I had hoped with some floral and pineapple but not very aromatic.

Taste has much more hop character with plenty of citrus and tropical flavors. Enough malt sweetness to balance things out but as you would expect this one is mostly hops. Overall this is an excellent brew that anyone should make an attempt to try but I think Maine Beer Company’s Lunch and several offerings from Hill Farmstead are better and more readily available to us in the Northeast. 
Pros:
Nice hop profile
Cons: Aroma is not as big as expected
Alcohol Content: 10.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 60+
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Bell’s Brewery
Brewers Description: Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell’s Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.

420. Hill Farmstead Brewery Juicy

Hill Farmstead JuicyI did not make it out to the brewery for this release but fortunately had someone pick me up a bottle when they were out. This is a 375 ml bottle which was way too small for such a good beer.

This beer was aged in wine barrels and that is very apparent in the aroma. Plenty of wine characteristics in the aroma as well as a bit of funk and citrus. Taste has lots of complexity with a fair amount of hops, some funkiness from the brett and a bit of white wine from the barrel aging. Lots going on within this one and it is a solid combination of flavors. Really enjoyable and wish this was the typical 750 ml bottle and not just the small bottle.  
Pros:
Very complex flavor
Cons: Small bottle
Alcohol Content: 7.4% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Crafted with American and European malts, American and New Zealand hops and conditioned with our resident microflora in barrels that once held Mimosa. 7.4% abv. Zero ICUs.

419. Oskar Blues Brewing G’Knight

Oskar Blues G NightThis is another beer I purchased at Top Shelf Brews in Hampton New Hampshire. This is the second imperial red/amber that I had in a short amount of time. The first was Red Sky at Night from Blue Lobster which was excellent and this was a great follow up. Not quite up to the same standard as Blue Lobster but still a very flavorful beer.

As you can see from the picture this beer has a great red color with a huge off white head. Aroma is mostly caramel malts but there certainly are some fruity hops in there as well. Taste has  more hops than I expected from the smell but it is also fairly sweet  with a fair amount of bitterness. Overall this is a pretty tasty beer.

Quite impressed with my first beer from Oskar Blues and looking forward to more from them soon. 
Pros:
Very flavorful
Cons: 
Alcohol Content: 8.7% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 60
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Oskar Blues
Brewers Description: Our “Velvet M-80” is a hefty, dry hopped double-red ale with a nose full of aroma, a sticky mouthfeel, a malty middle and unctuous hop flavors. G’Knight sports a surprisingly sensuous finish for a beer of its size (8.7% ABV, 60 IBUs). It’s brewed in tribute to a fellow Colorado craft beer pioneer and Vietnam vet who died fighting a 2002 wild fire outside of our Lyons hometown.  For all the details behind this tribute follow this link to www.N3978Y.com. G’Mornin’.  G’Day.  G’Knight.

Bissell Brothers Brewing

If you have been following my blog for a while you have probably read about the Bissell Brothers and their beer The Substance (see photos and review here). It has been almost 9 months since I had this beer and posted this review, long enough for a child to be born. BBBIn this case it is not a child but  a brewery that is being born. Peter and Noah Bissell (the Bissell Brothers) have taken over the old Maine Beer Co space on Industrial Way in Portland and will be working on opening their brewery over the next few months.

The plan is to provide 4-packs of 16 ounce cans with their double IPA being the premier and flagship beer. If you are one of the few that has been lucky enough to try The Substance you know this is going to be one of the best IPAs on the market when it hits the shelves of your favorite beer store. Be sure to tell your local beer store and bar that they need to carry this beer when it is released.

Over the past 9 months I have met up with Peter and Noah several times at The Thirsty Pig where they both work and they are both great guys. Peter is a professional photographer which I love and Noah has a true passion for brewing beer. In the coming months follow their progress using the links below and wish them luck as they continue down the path of opening a top notch brewery in Portland, Maine.

Facebook Page – Not sure this is the official one but I will update if not
Twitter – This is official
Blog –

Video interview with Peter and Noah:

418. Oskar Blues Brewery Deviant Dale’s IPA

Oskar Blues Deviant Dale'sThis is another beer I purchased at Top Shelf Brews in Hampton, New Hampshire as Oskar Blues does not distribute to Maine. Their beer is sold in 4 packs of 16 ounce cans and Top Shelf seemed to have them all in stock when I visited them last month.

Deviant Dale’s is a beautiful beer with a deep orange color and thick off white head that goes well above the rim of the glass. Citrus and pine hops make up the aroma on this one, not my favorite IPA as far as aroma goes but certainly solid.

The taste is very well balanced for a fairly high ABV IPA with plenty of malts to balance out the piney, resin hops. Alcohol is completely hidden with no hint that it is 8% ABV. This beer is a bit thick and not something I would drink more than one in any session but overall it is a solid IPA that is worth picking up if you happen to be in a New Hampshire beer store. 
Pros: 

Cons:
Alcohol Content: 8.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 85
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Oskar Blues
Brewers Description: Deviant Dale’s IPA (8% ABV, 85 IBUs) was born at the crossroads, in a juke joint, as if Dale’s Pale Ale sold its soul to balance Deviant’s foreboding aromas of citrus, grapefruit rind and piney resins with a copper ball-of-fire color and inscrutable finish. The 2011 GABF Silver Medal Winner (American IPA Category) is the Devil incarnate with untold amounts of malt and hedonistic Columbus dry-hopping. Oskar Blues’ southern spirit caught a northbound blues bus to ColoRADo to deliver the boundary bustin’ brewery’s first 16 oz. tallboy can.

417. Sebago Brewing Grand Crue

Sebago Grand CrueGrand Crue is a blend of several different beers from Sebago Brewing Company and the combination of these beers makes a very complex and tasty treat for anyone lucky enough to try it on tap or bottled. See notes from the brewer below for the combination of beers used for the 2012 version.

This beer pours a very dark red with a slight tan head that dissipates quickly leaving just a small amount of lacing on the glass. Aroma has plenty of roasted malts, chocolate and some oak/bourbon, very complex. Taste follows the nose with lots going on and the flavor continues to change as the beer warms a bit.

Carbonation is minimal but that does not take away from the experience on this beer. Overall this is a very nice blend of other Sebago beers and something I would recommend you try. 
Pros: 

Cons:  
Alcohol Content: 6.4% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating: 
Brewers Website: Sebago Brewing
Brewers Description: Sebago Brewing Company Grand Crüe (6.4% ABV) is a celebration of the art of brewing. Our 2012 edition is a blend of four distinct beers: barrel-aged Slick Nick Winter Ale and barrel-aged Midnight Porter, fresh Lake Trout Stout and Barleywine. Each beer adds its own complexity to the mix, from the vanilla and oak notes of the two bourbon barrel beers, to the roasted malt of fresh Stout and the chocolate, toffee-like notes of our Barleywine. The result is an intensely aromatic and malty beer with a surprising hop bitterness and a dry finish. Celebrate the holidays with a glass of this exclusive single-batch offering.

Grand Crüe is a limited release, available while supplies last on draft and in 22oz bottles at all Sebago locations.