Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Breckenridge Brewery: Lucky U IPA

I grabbed a single of this at Party Source. I like the bottling, the glass even has the brewery's symbol stamped into it. I think marketing/bottle design in the craft beer industry is severely lacking in many places and thriving in some places. There is a wide range of quality in beer labels, but this Lucky U IPA has a very nice appealing label and I appreciate that.

The color is a bit amber, but not far off from a classic IPA color. The taste is a bit sweet, but mostly piney. There are some hints of malt sometimes, but then it is taken over by a refreshing pine needle flavor. There is not much smell, but the little bit there is is all pine as well. The mouthfeel is fantastic, just crisp and refreshing. This is the second IPA in a row I have tried from Party Source though that is a little flat and lacking the aroma. I think they tend to have bottles sit on their shelves for a long time while they sell kegs. Makes me think I should grab the more age-friendly beers next time I am there.

My sister wanted to open some wine right after I poured this, so I spent about 15 minutes searching the house for a corkscrew and then stabbing the cork with a screwdriver before I got to enjoy it, so that might contribute to the lack of carbonation. Anyways, it turns out the corkscrew was in the silverware drawer the whole time. So I give this IPA a refreshing 7/10 well-placed corkscrews.

Lagunitas CENSORED Rich Copper Ale

Lagunitas is a brewery that does not get enough attention on this blog. They sometimes get lost in the list of great left coast breweries. Lagunitas is in the San Francisco Bay area, and is about to become the dominant force on the Bay area craft brewing scene, with a plan to expand by nearly 6x in the next year. I suspect we may be hearing a lot more from them here in the Northeast as well.

Censored is described on the label as a Rich Copper Ale. It pours a rich coppery red (no surprise there). There is almost no head, and only a subtle malty aroma. At this point I am not too excited for this beer, but I will reserve judgement until tasting.

Post taste reaction - I may have spoken too soon. Most good beers I have also smell and look good, but this one saves all of its goodness for the flavor. It has the distinctive malty and sweet backbone of a great red ale, but has a really crisp and sharp finish, perhaps caused by the nice balance of hops. There aren't too many hops here, and you don't need them. The flavor is astounding and supremely balanced. I almost want to call it "dry", even though I don't really know what that means, only that it is usually a good thing in wines.

This beer is very sessionable, but beware: it packs a surprisingly strong 6.75% ABV according to the label. You can certainly start to feel the effects of that about half way through, especially on an empty stomach. I highly recommend this, and you won't be dissapointed if you go for a 6 pack. I found it in the "Craft a Pack" selection at Wegmans, probably one of the better bets there.

I give it a solid if not spectacular 7/10.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

It was my first trip to the Party Source, one of Syracuse's few dedicated beer stores. I was a little disappointed when walking in because it was pretty much an empty room with a row of shelves along one wall filled with six packs. The selection was not great, mostly American breweries and no Belgian or German section. They have a few things that you can't find at Wegmans, but Weggies definitely has more selection. I won't be making trips to PS very often unless I am buying a keg of PBR (So not very often).

I bought a four pack of Weyerbacher's Simcoe IPA for about 9 bucks. Pretty expensive, but a Simcoe IPA is an exciting thing. I had a single hop Simcoe IPA before by Mikkeller, a Danish brewery. It was fantastic, I didn't review it at the time, so I will try to get it again, but it was at least a 9/10. Seeing another Simcoe IPA was exciting, I've never really liked Weyerbacher, but Simcoe is such a unique hop that I had to try it.

The beer pours kind of chunky, like there is still some yeast in there. Not something I am really looking for in an IPA. The color is nice but a little burnt, pretty dark for an IPA. I was pretty disappointed in the taste immediately. It was not very carbonated and definitely not fresh. There wasn't much smell to it at all. I wonder how long it had been sitting on the shelf at Party Source. I don't really like judging this beer now, cause I think it would be a lot better if it were fresh. The taste grew on me after a while. It has a very full body and not too much bitterness. It was pretty sweet, but a bit too much caramel for me. It was not the uniform taste of an Imperial IPA. Much more sweet and kind of like an Amber IPA. It felt kind of heavy and that just wasn't what I was looking for. The word "Double" is kind of hidden in the label, I thought it was just a straight Simcoe IPA in the store.

If I accept that it is not a typical Imperial IPA and also think about how it is 9%, then it is enjoyable to sip with some cheese and crackers. I would like a little more finishing hops in this. I give it 6/10 spicy Habanero cheese on lightly salted Ritz crackers.