Night Shift Brewing, Bennington Oatmeal Stout, Everett, MA
7% abv. Canned 1/27/17 so this is 7 days old. Pours jet black with a tan head that dissipates quickly. Wonderful coffee and tiramisu aroma. Great full-bodied mouthfeel. Rich chocolate covered espresso bean flavor upfront with just a touch of bourbon vanilla. Oatmeal, cocoa, and very faint maple notes give it a kind of chocolate chip pancakes flavor! Nice hop bite at finish helps to balance it. Some astringency at finish from big malt billing, but it is smooth and drinkable. Wonderful aromas jump out with every sip, this really is a great smelling beer. This is a limited seasonal offering, so if you see it, grab it.
Ruhstaller Farm & Yard Brewery, The Kenyan Ale, Sacramento, CA.
A gift from the amazing Jamie Okuma. 6.2% abv. 46 IBUs. Made with cold brewed Camellia Coffee Roasters Kenyan beans. Pours a dark amber, almost garnet color. Rich dark roasted coffee aroma jumps right out of the bottle with an amazing combination of espresso and dark chocolate notes. This beer smells awesome. First sip has a smooth mocha flavor to it followed by a quick hop tingle and then stronger coffee notes. Each sip presents a unique milk chocolate, caramel, and coffee flavor that I have never experienced in a beer before. The hops are right there at finish, perhaps a bit subdued because I didn’t drink it as soon as I received it. Overall it is a pretty well-balanced beer. Each sip finishes with a creamy smoothness, almost like coffee ice cream.Hops, coffee, and malt profile get a touch astringent at the end, but by no means in a bad way. This brewery does not disappoint.
Ruhstaller Farm & Yard, Dixon Cascade IPA, Sacramento, CA
6% abv. 52 IBU Cascade Hops with California Metcalf and Copeland barley – A gift from my friend, the amazing designer Jamie Okuma. Pours gold with a touch of copper and a white head. I love the smell of this beer. It has a wonderful flowery cascade hops aroma with light citrus notes, but the sweet caramel and bready malt scents are right there as well to help balance it. I swear you can smell the freshness of the ingredients. The hops were grown, dried, and baled, and stored on the farm.
First sip is pine resin with distinct floral notes. Just a touch spicy, but citrusy as well. The flavors are subtle, complex, and delicious. I really love the delicate spiciness and mild citrus bite. With a relatively low abv, this beer is excessively drinkable and flavorful throughout.
This isn’t a typical west coast style IPA, but it is a delicious old school take on the style that I could drink every single day.
Night Shift Brewing, One Hop This Time IPA (Topaz hops, 7/5/16), Everett, MA
Canned 7/5/16, 6% abv. Brewed with only Topaz hops. This beer pours a gorgeous milky yellow color with a big white head. You can smell it as you pour. Solid Belgian lace.First sip is slick and incredibly thirst quenching. All hops but it isn’t astringent or overly bitter. Grapefruit, lemon zest, and floral notes all combine to create a series of hop explosions in the mouth. Bursts of ripe clementines, apricot, and mango as well.Bitterness lingers on the gums, sides of the tongue and back of the throat in the best of ways. I’ve had this on draft at the taproom and in the 7/5/16 canning and it was delicious and a joy to drink on both occasions.
8% abv. Thanks to my brother Tim who brought it over for our 2016 July 4th celebration. Pours a beautiful hazy gold color with a white head. Huge grapefruit, orange zest, and pineapple aroma.First sip brings a nice hop tingle all over the mouth. Alcohol is masked well, but you know it is there, sneaking around the corner, waiting to knock you down. Juicy tropical fruit with pine and fresh cut grass flavors.Some caramel and dry cracker malt flavors help balance it. Hop bitterness lingers with pine, herb, and floral notes. It has the slightest burst of lemony candy at finish as well.This is a tasty beer that goes down too quickly.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Five Hop Experimental IPA, Chico, CA
5.8% abv. Got this in a mix pack of Sierra Nevada IPAs. They created this beer with a blend of traditional and very new hop varietals. Pours gold with a tinge of copper with a white head. Mild citrus hop aroma. Decent Belgian lace. Hop flavors include spruce, orange zest, fresh cut grass, and even some floral notes. Some caramel malt sweetness. Astringent at the finish. A solid effort, especially with the relatively low abv, but so many of their beers are much better.
Goose Island Beer Company, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale
This is the 2014 version that I cellared for more than a year. Many thanks to my buddy Jeff for the 2015 version that just took its place in the beer cellar. I was also lucky enough to get my hands on the Bourbon County Stout and the Bourbon County Coffee Stout. Patience is a virtue and these will have to sit for a while before I crack them open.
12.3% abv. Wonderful port wine, caramel, and dark fruit aroma. First sip is sweet and super smooth with a comforting boozy warming in the back of the throat. All of the oak, sweet bourbon, and rich dark fruit flavors you would expect from a beer this big. A touch of cloves and mildly peppery spice, but otherwise this is all malt and all delicious. Raisins, bourbon vanilla, fig, honey, port wine, caramel, toffee, milk chocolate, creme brûlée, and even a touch of coffee. Lot’s of similarities to an English style Old Ale. I mentioned a slight boozy burn at the beginning, but as you work through this beer the alcohol totally disappears. I drank this one way too quickly. Damn it is dangerous. A fantastic offering that just made it to my top 100 beers of all time.
About 16 years ago I started rating every beer I tried and added each of them to a database on my trusty old HandSpring Visor PDA. I am guessing that some of you younger folk are thinking that is some kind of gymnastics head gear sealed with a kiss. At one point I tasted close to 200 new beers each year…trust me, that was serious work…but I am getting to old for that now. As I type, I am rating beer number 2,200. I keep pretty good records. Beer #1,000 was Westmalle Tripel, it is pretty amazing to think that I tried 999 beers before basking in the glory of this classic. Beer 1,500 was Brooklyn One, a fabulous beer that was at the top of the industry at the time. Beer #2,000 was Alesmith Holiday Ale and I had it on my 40th birthday!
Tonight I marked 2,200 with an American version of one of my favorite styles, a quadrupel. Big number, big beer! I love the fact that Olive, our rescue blue tick coonhound, tried to get in on the action. You can see her nose on the left side of the pic above. Here is my review:
The Sixth Glass, Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, MO
10.5% abv. Pours a beautiful amber/ruby color with a thin white head. Cloves, banana bread, honey, citrus, and a touch of pepper on the nose. Well-balanced with caramel, banana, pepper, cardamom, cloves, toffee, and candy sugar flavors as well as a delicate and subtle floral hop tingle. Some alcohol burn on the back of the throat after a few sips. Dark fruit flavors get richer and richer with each sip, including figs, raisins, and prunes. Sneaky alcohol and this is a 25oz bomber so it is going to take me a while! Constant blend of sweet malt and light spice makes this interesting all the way through. A very solid offering and certainly one of the better American quads I have come across. You really can’t go wrong with anything from the good folks at Boulevard Brewing Company.
Easy Jack IPA, Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, CA
4.5% abv. About a one month old bottle. It has a light and refreshing floral, citrus, and fresh cut grass hop aroma. First sip let’s you know that this is not your average session beer. Hops are fully present in each sip. Delicate water cracker or light wheat bread malt profile. Hops tingle the gums and bouncy around the palate. I have now had this on draft and in the bottle and both are excellent. This is a certain go to beer for summer BBQs and post lawn mowing hydration. It is a session beer, but it is better than many of bigger IPAs out there. I have a few more in the fridge and I think I will save them for a pairing with some brats on 4th of July. You really cannot go wrong with this brewery.
Founders Brewing Company, Dark Penance Imperial Black IPA, Grand Rapids, MI
8.6% abv. An insane 100 IBUs. Pours dark brown with a thin white head. Decent Belgian lace. Coffee, roasted nuts, dark chocolate, and citrus aromas. First sip is dark chocolate cake with orange zest frosting. Full bodied and rich with an aggressive mouthfeel. The acidity in the hops and astringency from the malt profile assault your tastebuds. The hops linger a long time and continue to tingle all over the mouth. Dark chocolate flavors and aroma seems to get stronger with each sip. Other flavors include burnt toast, anise, burnt salted caramel, pine, and a touch of black pepper. Alcohol is masked well behind all of these flavors.Noticing a touch of dark maple syrup toward the end of the bottle. Delicious and definitely a beer worth trying, but I don’t think I’d choose to have more than one of these in a sitting. This beer really does taste like dark chocolate cake with orange zest frosting!