Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

sierranevada_ipaBrewer: Sierra Nevada Brewing, Mills River, NC
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.2%
IBUs: 65

Description: This classic American-style IPA is part of the brewery’s year-round lineup, and was the first of their beers to feature the “Hop Torpedo” – a special dry-hopping device that controls how the level of hops infused into the brew. It is fashioned using Two-row Pale and Caramel malts, bittered with Magnum, Crystal and Citra hops.

Tasting Notes: Oftentimes, I get comments about my Best Of lists, usually by someone who is surprised their favorite beer didn’t make the cut. Alas, one commenter did make me realize that this is one beer that, though I have tried, I have never reviewed. And while it won’t be making my Best Of list just yet, it is certainly a good and faithful example of a solid IPA. Rich and slightly sweet malts compliment a hop profile that is powerful and varied, combining both dry-hops and finishing hops to give it a grassy, citrusy, and mildly tropical flavors – in short, all that North American hops are known for. A noble creation and one that makes me want to explore Sierra Nevada’s wares again. Thanks for the recommendation Brandon Kump!

Appearance: Deep amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong malt, big hop nose, grassy, citrusy, tropical fruit
Taste: Rich malt, syrupy sweetness, bitter and dry hop finish, grass, citrus rind, herbs
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind and dry herbal hops
Overall: 8.5/10

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Alameda Klickitat Pale Ale

alameda_klickitat-Brewer: Alameda Brewing, Portland OR
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: 36

Description: Named in honor of the Klickitat people of the Pacific Northwest, this pale ale is part of Alameda’s regular lineup. It is fashioned using Caramel and Munich malts, and then bittered with 3 different additions of Northwest-grown Cascade hops to emphasize the different aspects of their flavor.

Tasting Notes: All told, this was a very descent and well-balanced pale ale. The mouthfeel and smooth malt flavor reminded me a red ale, but the hop bitterness – which really comes through in a variety of flavors – was that a good solid pale. Added to that is the nice amber hue and a cloudy profile that makes it an all around pleasurable drinking experience!

Appearance: Amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, baked bread, herbal hops, grassy and citrus notes
Taste: Smooth malt, chewy mouthfeel, grassy and piney hops, mild citrus bite
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, citrus rind, smooth malt finish
Overall: 8.5/10

Fernie Rockpile Red IPA

Fernie_rockpileBrewer: Fernie Brewing, Fernie BC
Style: Red India Pale Ale
ABV: 7.2%
IBU: 80

Description: This beer is the first in Fernie’s 2014 IPA Bucket List – a repeat of last year’s tribute to IPA’s – with seasonal availability from Nov to Dec. This brew is fashioned using Caramel and Crystal Malts, and then bittered with a large dose of Admiral, Ahtanum and Chinook Hops.

Tasting Notes: This IPA is an interesting combination, being rather malt-forward in character despite its high IBU rating. The rich red malts are immediately apparent in the lacy head it creates, and the flavor is reminiscent of baked bread, caramel and toffee, and with a slight, mineral tang. The hop flavor comes through with notes of grass, pine and herbs, but which are decidedly dry. All of this strikes a nice balance, and which provides a good intro to the 2014 Bucket List.

Appearance: Deep ruby, clear, good, lacy foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Deep roasted amber, caramel, minerals, dry hops
Taste: Sharp malt, sweet bread, caramel and toffee, grassy, piney, dry hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering hop bitterness, hint of citrus, grass and herbs
Overall: 8.5/10

Ommegang Take the Black Stout

OmmegangIf there’s one thing I can appreciate almost as much as beer, its an inspired yarn, the likes of which that authors like George R.R. Martin (aka. “The American Tolkien”) has been known to spin. So you can imagine how enthusiastic I was when I found out that a craft brewing operation from Cooperstown, New York was partnering with HBO to create a series of beers with a Game of Thrones theme.

And this week, as part of my series on holiday beers, I finally managed to get a bottle of their Take the Black Stout, the first beer in the series. Currently, the only other is their Iron Throne Blonde, with a third – Fire and Blood – due to come out in spring of 2014. In truth, the only reason I waited this long to get into this series is because I’ve been so backlogged with new beers and just haven’t found the time to try them all. But the holidays are a good time for imbibing and catching up on things!

Named in honor of the oath taken by all the Night’s Watch, the men who stand the Wall in the GOT series and defend the Realm against all the threats from the frozen north. The stout consists of a malt base composed of Caramel, Chocolate and roasted barley, as well as Northern Brewer and Columbus hops. It is then spiced with licorice root and star anise to give it a full-bodied flavor that is coarse, slightly sweet, and has a distinct Belgian yeast flavor. And of course, it ranks in at solid 7% alc/vol, making for a

game-of-thrones-beer-take-the-black-stout-zap2itAppearance: Dark black, opaque, thick lacy dark head and good carbonation
Nose: Roasted malts, espresso, licorice, mild yeast
Taste: Bitterness, yeast, anise and citrus hops, giving way to espresso beans
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness giving way to hint of licorice
Overall: 8.5/10

Not a bad beer at all, and this is coming from a man who doesn’t normally enjoy extra strong stouts, especially ones flavored with licorice. In all honesty, it really didn’t make me think much of the Night’s Watch or the wall. Perhaps it’s because I’m a committed geek of the franchise, but I can’t imagine them enjoying a Belgian-style stout flavored with spices. That just seems to high-end for the Black Brothers! 😉

What I was reminded of was Unibroue, another Belgian-inspired operation that is also in the habit of serving its beer in three-quarter liter, corked bottles. And much like this Quebec-based operation, these folks do seem to appreciate traditional recipes while still remaining open to crossovers and experimentation. Onto the next beer and hopefully more in this brewery’s GOT series!

And be sure to check out the brewery’s website. It promises for some interesting reading 🙂

Lighthouse Numbskull Imperial IPA

Numbskull-1024x682Lighthouse has been doing some impressive things of late. Whether its been their “Big Flavor” series, or their Mountain Goat Maibock and Three Weeds Belgian Wit, or their Switchback IPA and Tasman Session Ale, they’ve been pretty much killing it as of late. And now they’ve unveiled this latest beer, the Numbskull Imperial IPA, which pretty much accomplishes everything an extra strong, hopped-up IPA should. This includes boasted a rather rich malt profile, a wide array of hops (in heavy concentration), and a strong and powerful alcohol content (9.1% alc/vol).

According to the brewery’s own website, the malts of choice include Munich, Pale and Caramel Malts, which allow for a sweet and potent combination. Meanwhile, the hops include the Rakua, Galaxy and Citra varieties, which add up to a citrusy and tropical profile that is both appetizing and quite potent. Especially where the tropical nose and flavor come through. I can honestly attest that it’s like drinking pineapple juice, except with a lovely, malty, alcohol-laced kick!

Appearance: Gold, light amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Very strong hop bouquet, floral, citrusy, tropical aroma, strong malts
Taste: Sweet, syrupy malts, some coarseness, notes of pineapple, citrus
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt and hop bitterness
Overall: 9/10

Next up is their anniversary ale, which I intend to enjoy thoroughly! Congratulations, Lighthouse, you’ve been blowing it out of the water of late. At this rate, you might just become my favorite BC brewery!