Tuatara Double Trouble Extra-Dimensional APA

tuatara_logoQuite the mouthfull, isn’t it? Well, believe me when I say that nothing about this beer seems tame or conventional. In addition to a label that is designed to look like something that requires 3D glasses, this New Zealand brew and its patrons were clearly going for something overwhelming, yet nuanced, powerful, yet balanced.

Tuatara_DoubleTroubleAnd the style, IAPA, I can only assume means Imperial Australian Pale Ale, or possible Imperial American Pale Ale. Hard to say. All I know is, given its strength, maltiness, and extreme hoppy profile, this beer is essentially an Imperial IPA with a big twist!

But I digress… This beer came highly recommended from one of my buds at the beer store. Weighing in at a heft 9% alc/vol, and loaded with hops to the point that it ranks at a stunning 167 IBUs (most IPAs rank between 40 and 80). The varieties include Pacific Jade, Nelson Sauvin, and Simcoe hops to bitter the beer, then Zythos late in the boil for flavour and aroma, and then more Nelson Sauvin for the first dry-hop, followed by more Simcoe and Zythos a second dry-hop. And the result, as I said, is something truly multi-faceted and powerful, though not overwhelming.

Appearance: Deep orange/amber, cloudy, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Very malty, syrupy nose, massive bouquet of citrus, pine, floral, tropical fruit
Taste: Sweet, slightly coarse malts, citrus fruit and rind, notes of pineapple and apricot
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and heavy malt flavor
Overall: 9/10

awards2012poster

Apparently, this brew also won a the silver medal for the 2012 Brewers Guild of New Zealand (BGNZ) Awards. This is just one of several medals collected by the brewery in 2012, but don’t expect them to brag about that much. For as they say on their website, no doubt with much irony: “Awards are just irrelevant wank for beer snobs. But dammit, somebody’s got to win them!”

My God… can you really say “wank” on a website? Apparently, they can! A good first sampling from this Kiwi brewery, and I will be looking for more. In addition to much foul language, their website would seem to indicate they have a rather full lineup. I will have to go searching for some very soon…

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Moon Under Water Tranquility IPA

MoonLogo1moonunderwater_ipaIt has taken me some time, but I have managed to finally complete Moon Under Water’s new lineup, ever since the brewery underwent a change in leadership and stopped producing sessionals. Unfortunately, I have been rather remiss in taking notes and providing comprehensive reviews. And since I refuse to do reviews based solely on memory (as mine can’t be trusted anyway!), I’ve finally managed to pick up some fresh bottles and resample them.

And here’s what I thought of the Tranquility IPA, a beer without which no West Coast brewery operation would ever be complete. True to its roots, this India Pale Ale combines a strong, semi-sweet malt character with a generous dose of hops. And in what is increasingly becoming the norm with Northwestern IPAs, it combines multiple varieties of hops in order to produce a more complex hop profile.

Appearance: Light golden-amber, transparent, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Citrus and tropical fruit, notes of melon
and passion fruit
Taste: Strong malt beginning, burst of citrus and piney hops, touch of sweetness
Aftertaste: Sweetness giving way to hint of coarse malts, bitter hop finish
Overall: 8.5/10

Not bad Moon, you’re three for three so far. Now there’s the matter of sampling your Victorious Weizenbock, and giving it a fitting review. Spoiler alert: it was good! But as usual, neglected to take notes! I will try to do better next time…

The Season of IPA!

IPAMy apologies for the prolonged absence, fellow beer snobs. Unfortunately, the Spring season has not been kind to me, as it chose to greet me with the worst cold I’ve had in ages! Luckily, I’ve emerged from my self-imposed two week hiatus from all things alcoholic, and have chosen to do not one review, not a two-fer, but a three-fer! Alongside an older sampler from late last month, I managed to procure two entirely new beers that fit with my latest theme – Spring Seasonals. And since the venerable IPAs are now making the rounds, I thought I might also dedicate the rest of March to sampling as many new limited releases and old favorites as I can. Here’s what I’ve managed to try so far…

Driftwood Twenty Pounder IPA:
driftwood_20pounder_largeThis is now the third year in a row that Driftwood has released its signature double IPA. And lucky me, I finally got my hands on a bottle and sat down to give it a thorough tasting. Named in honor of Victoria’s proud naval tradition, where field guns that relied on 20 lbs cannon balls were deployed to defend the coast, this beer is an IPA that lives up to its name. Extra strong in alcohol content and employing a double dose of hops, it is surprisingly light in color but heavy on flavor and hardcore hop and citrus content!

Appearance: Light amber, transparent, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Highly floral and citrusy bouquet, notes of orange and grapefruit
Taste: Sweet malts, citrus hops, piney, touch of sweet grapefruit flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering piney bitterness, more notes of citrus
Overall: 9/10

Gigantic India Pale Ale:
Gigantic IPAThis beer and its brewery are entirely new to me, and comes to us from south of the border. Not surprisingly, it is brewed in Portland, Oregon, the state with more breweries per capita than any in the US. And what better place to start with their lineup, now that the season of IPA is upon us! And all in all, I was quite pleased with this beer. In every measurable way, it was a faithful and fitting example of a Northwestern IPA and craft brewing.

Appearance: Deep golden, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong hints of tropical fruit, light malts
Taste: Immediate burst of Cascade hop bitterness, light malts, little sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and taste of citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

Vancouver Island Absolute Darkness:
absolutedarknessLast but not least, there’s the latest release from Vancouver Island Brewery. As I’ve said before, I approve highly of the way they’ve started to incorporate limited releases into their lineup, effectively demonstrating a renewed committed to craft brewing. And with this beer, a combination Dark Ale, India Pale Ale, they’ve once again shown that they’re current. For the past few years, dark IPA’s (or Black IPAs as they are sometimes known) have been all the rage. And named in honor of Vancouver Island’s coal mining heritage, it combines stout-like characteristics with traditional IPA, resulting in a beer that is tawny, malty, hoppy, has some strong notes of coffee and some citrus.

Appearance: Deep black, good foam retention, dense with lower carbonation
Nose: Tawny malts, notes of coffee and Cascade hops
Taste: Immediate bitterness and citrus, giving way to coffee-like bitterness
Aftertaste: Long and lingering taste of dark toasted malts
Overall: 8.5/10

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?