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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Tree Rickshaw Raspberry IPA

tree_rickshawBrewer: Tree Brewing, Kelowna, BC
Style: Fruit-infused India Pale Ale
ABV: 5%
IBUs: 64

Description: A spring/summer seasonal beer, Tree’s Rickshaw combines traditional lager malt (Pilsner and Vienna) with a significant dose of Northwestern hops (Centennial, Cascade, Columbus, and Crystal) and an infusion of fresh raspberries.

Tasting Notes: As combinations go, this one seemed a bit odd and quite gutsy. For instance, I would have expected an IPA to employ a pale malt base rather than ones consistent with a lager. That, and the combination of raspberries with an IPA-size dollop of hops seemed especially gutsy. But guts aside, the end result seemed mainly skunky and bitter, with very little raspberry to speak of and not as much refreshment as say a raspberry wheat, pale or lager. Not a bad idea, but needs a reboot!

Appearance: Deep ruby/orange, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Crisp, skunky malt, notes of herbal hops, hint of raspberry
Taste: Smooth malt, strong hop bitterness, citrus rind, skunk, light raspberry finish
Aftertaste: Lingering skunky malt and citrus rind bitterness, hint of fruit
Overall: 7.2/10

Elysian Loser Pale Ale

elysian_loserBrewer: Elysian Brewery, Seattle WA
Style: Pale Ale
Alc/Vol: 7.0%
IBU: 57

Description: As part of this Seattle brewery’s regular lineup, this beer is brewed in honor of Sub Pop Records – a Seattle-based record company that is celebrating its 20th anniversary. To craft this beer, the brewery combines Pale, Munich, Crystal and Cara-hell malts and then bitters it with a combination of Sorachi Ace and finished with Crystal hops.

Tasting Notes: This pale ale is quite balanced, with a certain crisp and smooth base. And the combination of Sorachi with Crystal hops makes for an interesting flavor profile – bringing a certain lemony and dry hop flavor with notes of citrus and tropical fruit. The end result is somewhere between a smooth and balanced pale ale and an ESB.

Appearance: Deep Amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good malt, citrus hops, lemon, tropical fruit
Taste: Crisp malt, mild tang, notes of lemon, mild citrus, pineapple
Aftertaste: Lingering tang, dry hops and mild bitterness
Overall: 8.5/10

Ninkasi Radiant Pale Ale

ninkasiBeer season has been slowing down a bit in recent days, thanks to the holidays being complete and the need to get back to work. But luckily, there is still time to shop for new brews and seasonal releases which are arriving just in time to toast the ending of winter and the coming of spring. And today, I happened to find a bottle of something left over from last summer, a beer which I enjoyed at the time, but neglected to review.

ninkasi_radiantSo in this post-holiday lull, I thought I would give it sampling and follow through with a proper review. It’s known as Radiant Pale Ale, a summer seasonal produced by the Ninkasi Brewery out of Eugene, Oregon. As far as Pacific Northwestern breweries go, this is one of my favorites. There flagship lineup of beers is tough to beat, consisting of a wide array of American Pale and India Pale Ales, as well as a good smattering of other British, European and American styles.

In this case, I found the Radiant to be a well balanced customer, consisting of a good combination of Crystal, Vienna and Northwest hops, as well as a smooth array of pale malt. One can instantly taste the summery influence of the beer, being just light enough to be refreshing, but with a dry, bitter finish that is appetizing and sure to slake a heat-induced thirst!

Appearance: Medium amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Gentle malt, crisp hop nose, mild grassiness, slight floral texture
Taste: Smooth, amber-like malt, good tang, earthy hops, slight bitterness
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

I can recall sampling this beer alongside another seasonal release last summer. It was their Maiden the Shade IPA, another beer I failed to review at the time. What was I thinking? Guess I’ll just have to wait another six months before I can that one it’s due as well, huh?

Ninkasi Believer Double Red Ale and Total Domination IPA

ninkasi_breweryHello great state of Oregon! It seems I have another two-fer that is the product of mere chance and good fortune. Recently, my local beer store began carrying some of Ninkasi’s product line, and given that I’ve seen it around several of my other haunts, I decided to give it a spin. In the past week, I’ve tried two of their regular lineup, a double red and an IPA, and was pretty impressed with both.

ninkasi_believerFirst up, the Believer Double Red Ale. As I said before, I was quite impressed with this first installment from their lineup. Immediately I noticed the interesting floral and sweet bouquet, which was also present in their IPA. And the flavor was consistent, delivering a hop flavor that smacks of your traditional Centennials, plus the Summit variety which are largely used in Barley Wines (another aspect that is apparent from the get go).

Combined with a deep, rich malt profile, this beer packs a bit of a double-whammy. It begins with a deep malty taste that is slightly sweet and syrupy, also reminiscent of barley wine, and a complex hop flavor that’s both citrusy and grassy. The flavor then transitions where the malts and hops deliver in the aftertaste department, becoming coarse and bitter respectively.

Appearance:
Deep red, high gravity, transparent, good foam and carbonation

Nose: Rich malts, discernible hoppiness, floral and citrusy
Taste: Deep malt flavor, slight sweetness, citrusy and grassy, then bitter
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, coarse malts and citrus rind
Overall: 8.5/10

ninkasi_total_dominationSecond, there is the Total Dominion IPA. Of the two, this was my favorite, though only by a small margin. Much like the Believer, it is a complex beer boasting a good strength (6.7% compared to the red ale’s 6.9% alc/vol) and a combination of hops that lend it a distinct aroma and flavor. But unlike the Believer, it is lighter in terms of appearance and malts. Light in color, relatively light in malts, the main thrust of this customer comes through in the hops.

Rated at 85 IBUs, its no secret that this IPA has a bitter hop profile! However, said profile has many layers to it and this is noticeable in the smell as well as the taste, consisting of Summit (once again), Amarillo and Crystal hops. In terms of taste, this results in a citrus bite, followed by notes of tropical fruit (I detected passion fruit and pineapple), followed by a long, lingering bitter finish.

Appearance: Deep gold, transparent, mild foam retention, good carbonation
Nose: Floral hoppy aroma, citrus, tropical fruit
Taste: Immediate burst of bitter and citrus hops, giving way to passion fruit and pineapple
Aftertaste: Bitterness once again, long and lingering
Overall: 9/10

Not a bad start for this operation, located in Eugene, Oregon and not far from where my sister and brother-in-law live. Perhaps I shall arrange for that road trip sooner other than later 😉 And that’s all for now. One of these days, I really MUST find the remaining beers on my winter list and polish that long document off! Otherwise, I’ll be transitioning into Spring seasonal beers before I ever complete it. How humiliating would that be?