Sound Dubbel Entendre Abbey-Style Ale

sound_dubbelBrewer: Sound Brewery, Poulsbo, WA
Style: Dubbel
ABV: 8.0%
IBUs: 20

Description:  This beer, brewed in the Belgian Abbey tradition of Dubbels, is part of the brewery’s regular lineup, and was also the silver medal winner at the 2012 North American Brewing Awards.. A strong, dark malts base and mild hops are combined with Belgian yeasts and bottle conditioned to create a particularly sweet, malty brew of respectable strength.

Tasting Notes: Sound Brewery first became known to me thanks to the Advent Beer Calender, and I was pleased to find more of their wares being offered locally. And this Dubbel had all the right qualities to it, with notes of brown sugar, molasses, dark fruit, and some yeasty, malty goodness. However, it also had a crisp and tart quality that reminded me of cider, and made this end on the lighter side of things. Good all around, and a nice follow-up to their Entendez-Noel.

Appearance: Deep amber/brown, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malts, brown sugar, molasses, cherries, raisins plums, acid
Taste: Rich malt, hint of brown sugar, yeast, plums, raisins, apple cider
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavor, semi-sweet and tart, yeast
Overall: 8/10

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Red Hook Audible Ale

redhook_audibleBrewer: Red Hook Brewery, Woodinville, WA
Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 4.7%
IBUs: 22

Description: The latest addition to the brewery’s regular lineup, the Audible Ale is the result of a collaboration with sportscaster Dan Patrick to create the ultimate sports-friendly craft beer. Combining a lighter alcohol content with a mild hopping, this pale ale is brewed with drinkability in mind.

Tasting Notes: This beer was a bit on the light side for my taste, but given the focus on drinkability, this was not surprising. While the hop flavor is a bit subdued, it does have a pleasant malt character that is in keeping with a good session ale. It also finishes clean and is quite refreshing. This is the third and final beer from the Red Hook sample pack, and it was an all-around good drinking experience!

Appearance: Light orange, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Good malt, dry, mild floral and citrus hops, minerals
Taste: Smooth malt, slightly crisp, light, dry hops, hint of grass, minerals
Aftertaste: Lingering mild malt flavor, mineral tang, clean finish
Overall: 7.8/10

Red Hook Long Hammer IPA

redhook_ipaBrewer: Red Hook Brewery, Woodinville, WA
Style: India Pale Ale
ABV: 6.2%
IBUs: 44

Description: As part of their regular lineup, Red Hook has been brewing this classic Northwestern-style India Pale Ale since 1984. Moderate in terms of alcohol and hop content, this beer is bittered twice – both during the boil and then dry-hopped for a dry finish.

Tasting Notes: This here IPA is the second offering from my sample pack, and it is the firs time I have ever sampled it. On the lighter side, this beer still has everything one would expect from a Pacific Northwestern IPA. This includes a rich, semi-sweet malt base and a good dose of citrus and piney hops. And of course, the dry-hopping adds an extra dimension of drier, grassy notes. Two down, one to go!

Appearance: Golden/amber, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, notes of citrus, pine, and grassy hops
Taste: Crisp malt, sweet bread, medium notes of citrus, pine, dry grassy-hop finish
Aftertaste: Lingering malt sweetness, hop bitterness and citrus rind
Overall: 8.2/10

Red Hook ESB

redhook_esbBrewer: Red Hook Brewery, Woodinville, WA
Style: Extra Special Bitter
ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 28

Description: As part of their regular lineup, this brew is fashioned in the style of a traditional British ESB. A mainstay of the brewery since 1987, it is fashioned using (what I assume are) caramel and amber malt, and lightly bittered with a combination of dry, earthy, and citrus hops.

Tasting Notes: This is the second time I’ve tried Red Hook’s ESB, which I first drank while visiting family in Seattle back in 2011. This time around, I am drinking it as part of a sample pack sent to me in exchange for an honest review. And honestly, I was quite pleased with the natural balance it struck. Smooth caramel malts mingle with dry, earthy and mildly citrus hop flavor, before finishing with a tang of minerals. In may ways, I was reminded of a Marzen. And, given my predilection for that style, that’s not a bad thing.

Appearance: Amber/orange, clear, medium foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malt, syrup, caramel, mild floral and citrus notes
Taste: Smooth, semi-sweet malt, tang, English shortbread, citrus and earthy hops
Aftertaste: Lingering malt flavors and mineral tang
Overall: 8/10

Two Beers Forester Double IPA

forester_doubleipaBrewer: Two Beers Brewery, Seattle WA
Style: Double IPA
Alc/Vol: 7.8%
IBU: 92

Description: The Forester Double IPA is a seasonal beer and the brewery’s expansion on their Evo IPA. And as the name suggests, is naturally stronger, maltier, and hoppier than the original. In terms of malts, it employs Base, Crystal, Vienna, Munich, and Carapils, and is bittered using Simcoe, Amarillo, Centenniel, and Super G hops.

Tasting Notes: I’ve had many India Pale Ales in my time and more than a few doubles. But this was definitely one of the better ones. In addition to not being terribly high in alcohol content or very coarse, the hop flavor was also just bitter enough, and plenty diverse. It’s the mark of a good double IPA that it can be strong all around, but maintain a nice balance. Looking forward to the next one!

Appearance: Orange-amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich malts, strong hop nose, citrus, grassy, and piney
Taste: Strong, semi-coarse malts, rich hop flavor, resin, pine, citrus rind
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness, coarse malt flavor
Overall: 9/10

No-Li Spin Cycle Red Ale

no-li-brewhouse-logo-squareBrewer: No-Li Brewhouse, Spokane, Washington
Style: Extra-Special Bitter (ESB)
Alc/Vol: 5.75%
IBUs: 49

Description: A combination of English, German and American brewing techniques, this beer takes its name from the fact that it brings 2-Row, Crystal, Munich, and Chocolate malts together with Cluster, Liberty, and Cascade hops to achieve a balanced pale ale. Formerly known as Crystal Bitter ESB, this beer has the distinction of being the 2012 Gold Medal Winner of the Great American Beer Festival.

Tasting Notes: As ESB’s and Red Ales go, this beer is certainly consistent, combining that dry, subtle hop flavor with a malt profile that is nicely syrupy with just a hint of sweetness. The combination of malts is also discernible, with a sharp tang and a slight taste of cocoa that comes from the Munich and Chocolate malts. It also manages to finish clean, with a slight bitterness that lingers just long enough on the tongue. A refreshing and complex brew.

Appearance: Dark copper, clear, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Subtle malt nose, mild syrups, light hint of dry hops
Taste: Sweetbread, honey, dry herbs and hop bitterness, mild cocoa
Aftertaste: Mild, lingering bitterness, quite clean finish
Overall: 9/10

Two Beers Heart of Darkness CDA

TwoBeers_HeartofDarknessCDABrewer: Heart of Darkness, Seattle, Washington
Style: Imperial Black IPA
Alc/Vol: 6.8%
IBUs: 67

Description: A seasonal release, available from November through February, this Imperial Black IPA is brewed according to the increasingly popular “Cascadian Dark Ale” style – a characteristically Pacific Northwest ale that combines dark, roasted malts with an intense hopping to achieve a strong but balanced flavor that reminiscent of both a stout and an IPA.

Tasting Notes: As far as Black IPAs go, this beer is definitely a winner. While the addition of “Imperial” seems a bit much – at 6.8% alcohol, it hardly seems that strong – the flavor is complex, varied, and delightfully strong. In addition to a good hop bitterness, its darkened malts are rich and flavorful, calling to mind a good stout’s balance of chocolate and coffee flavor. Definitely one of the best CDAs I’ve had in awhile.

Appearance: Black, opaque, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Roasted malt, notes of espresso and dark chocolate, piney hops
Taste: Rich smokey malt, citrus hops, espresso flavor and bitterness, mild chocolate
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and smokey notes
Overall: 9/10

Also, this was my 250th post! Yay for beer!