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Friday, October 29, 2010

Widmer Bros Barrel Aged Brrrbon

Barrel Aged Brrrbon
Brothers' Reserve Series
Brrr aged in Bourbon Oak Barrels
9.4% ABV
Purchased at 99 Bottles

Aroma: Fresh white oak, if there is such a thing. I say fresh and white because the wood character comes off the top edgy and young. Second to the oak you'll find Bourbon notes and alcohol, with the Bourbon slightly winning over. No hop aroma, little to no malt in the nose either. There is an underlying 'rust' aroma, and I don't mean to imply Metallic. Simply an earthy blend of wood and alcohol.

Appearance: The lightest brown to mahogany red with crystal clarity. Head is but a trace of an off-white ring at the edge of the glass. Touches of lacing here and there.

Flavor: Sweet toasted bread malt with the expected wooded bourbon quickly following up the malt. These two flavors dominate the palate, while black pepper, some clove and all-spice blend into the mix. Finish is biting from the bourbon, but the malt sweetness hangs on.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with light carbonation. The carbonation is similar to cask conditioned ales, with only the slightest presence. 9.4% Alcohol hits the back of the throat in the finish

Overall: There is a welcoming Winter Brew character to this beer that fits the season nicely. The Bourbon oak aroma is like sticking your nose in a freshly toasted oak barrel. Typically I find oak aged beers have a deeper wood presence, but the barrel aging here tells of youthful oak. Personally I enjoy the change, but some will find the wood to be too 'green' I imagine.

I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.

Note: After rating this beer on I noticed my rating carried a deviation of 12% greater than the current norm. Overall, as of this writing, this beer scores a solid “B”. While I am certain I have a bias toward Widmer Brother’s for my own reason, I am also certain there are many people who carry the opposite bias, for whatever reason.

I may choose to write further on this subject. Though for now I can only speculate why I often see negative comments toward this long-running and successful brewery. Perhaps it’s their relatively large size, their affiliation with AB-Inbev, or perhaps because they weren’t going out on a limb with extreme brews for a number of years. Whatever the reason I would challenge any beer dork to blind taste tests with Widmer in the mix, it would probably be healthy for me as well. I would wager the results would be surprising.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oskar Blues GUBNA

Oskar Blues GUBNA
Imperial IPA
On Tap at the 4 Daughter’s Irish Pub. Medford, OR

Aroma: At first, and especially when the beer is cold, the primary aroma is rich citrus and grapefruit hop aroma. Letting the beer warm up, a deeper oragne-peel cooked in bread malt aroma will make itself present, accompanying the straight up hop presence. Light traces of alcohol burn the nose just enough to let you know this beer is 10% ABV.

Appearance: Light diluted copper with a medium amount of chill haze, or more likely a haze from excessive hop additions. A thin white head forms along the sides of the glass, though not across the top of the entire beer. Alcohol presence aids in good lacing down the sides.

Flavor: Sweet malt presence is surprisingly strong with this beer. There is almost the sense of under-attenuation here but thankfully there is enough hop bitterness and alcohol presence to balance things out. Bitterness comes out a moderate amount at the middle, but is more pronounced at the end. Alcohol warmth and bite are probably the most prominent, along with biscuit-malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body with medium carbonation. Prickly carbonation combine with hop bitterness to clean out a sticky-sweet malt from your palate. The finish is an equal balance of the hop bitterness and alcohol warmth.

Overall: This is certainly the sweetest representation of a Double IPA I’ve tasted in memory. In a way it’s overly sweet, as you drink the glass it becomes a bit too much as your palate adjusts. It’s a delicious brew never the less and I recommend it, as it’s a tasty interpretation on this sometimes over-the-top style. Easy drinking, warming and certainly packs an alcohol punch.

I rated this beer a “B” on BeerAdvocate.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stone Ruination IPA

The movie How to Train Your Dragon was recently released. My house has been overrun by Dragons. Here they are with Stone's Gargoyle. Note the actual beer to the left...

Stone Ruination IPA
American Double IPA
ABV 7.7%
Purchased at 99 Bottles

Aroma: Moderate levels of orange peel hop aroma with some pepper thrown into the mix as well. Quite resinous throughout the nose, but not unbalanced or undesirable. Malt is hidden but you can pick up some bread crust if you look past the hop cones.

Appearance: Deep golden to nearly orange with a well retained, but thin, white head. The beer is quite hazy which makes you expect a yeast presence, though I suspect it is from dry-hopping. Good lacing down the sides of the glass.

Flavor: A sting of hop bitterness right off the bat, then there is just a touch of bready-malt sweetness coming through for a moment. More orange peel and grassy hop bitterness and flavor come through in the middle and they hold on to the bitter end.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium to high carbonation. The prickly sensation of extreme amounts of hop bitterness could be perceived as carbonation in a way. Hops attack the tongue and back of the throat with bitterness that both cleans the mouth dry, yet leaves an oil in your mouth that continues to spew bitterness long after the beer flows down the throat.

Overall: The hop aroma in this beer oddly doesn't fully give the full story as to just how bitter this beer truly is. It has a beautiful hop nose, but the bitterness and flavor far out weigh the aroma. This is liquid hops. Citric and grassy hops are highlighted in ways that I've only seen otherwise in fresh hop beers.

I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stone Vertical Epic 10.10.10

Stone Brewing Company
Vertical Epic 10.10.10
Purchased at 99 Bottles.

Aroma: Clove, coriander and Belgian yeast phenolic spice all come to mind with the first intake of this beer. A mild alcoholic pepper fills in the background of this generally flowery brew. Hop aroma is not detectable beyond the floral notes, but there is a faint undertone of fresh white bread to bring out the malt here.

Appearance: As gold as a wedding band with diamond clarity. There is a strong presence of carbonation bubbles seen rising to the top. They break to form a solid but thin layer of white head. Traces of lacing.

Flavor: Light pale malt sweetness hits the tongue for just a moment then it's pushed away by a tangy, but not quite sour, grape skin. There is a blend of pepper and spices that constantly crash together in your mouth. Trying to pick out each one is nearly impossible, but I'd say clove and all-spice are prominent. The blend of spices, as well as a touch of alcohol, does tend to confuse the palate if you focus on it too much.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation. The culmination of Herbs and Spices in this beer tingle the tongue, roof of the mouth, and back of the throat as it works its way around your mouth. This has a refreshing effect overall. Finish is dry with a final report from the alcohol as it bites the back of the throat.

Overall: There is a mess of flavors in this beer that I admit I am not able to entirely pick out. Looking into each spice can be daunting with a beer like this. And while there is a lot going on, the beer does not come off mottled or overdone. Taking a straight forward sip however, this years Vertical Epic has a cooling and refreshing quality. The spices are crisp with just enough alcohol to let you know it's there. Though I wouldn't have guessed it's the 9.5% as stated on the bottle.

I purchased 2 bottles, and I doubt the second will last in my house 6 months. But if you're the aging type, I'm guessing this beer will mellow quite nicely. But if the spices remain as clearly defined, only time will tell.

I rated this beer an “A-” on BeerAdvocate.
99 Bottles. Federal Way, WA

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Beer enthusiast and advocate. Recognized beer judge and traveler of west coast beer destinations.