8.23.2011

Green Tea IPA Collaboration - (7.5)

name: Japanese Green Tea IPA
% alc: 9.2
type: India Pale Ale
vendor: Whole Foods, Seattle
price: $3.99 (12oz Bottle)


first impressions:
Video about the collaboration



I appreciated this beer a lot more once I watched that video. The beauty in the concept and it's goal is what makes this beer a must try. First of all it is a beautiful beer. It is the sunniest orange like a fresh squeezed glass of orange juice sitting in the morning's low light. Secondly, it tastes like a Stone beer. They make great IPAs and this is no exception except that the extra flavors of the green tea transform it into an IPA that wasn't quite what I wanted to drink. I found that to the clean focused palette it was a bit strange but interesting. The tea addition comes in strong at the end of the taste with a licorice, faintly tea-like bitter. However when I finished writing about it and started eating my dinner with it, a home made flat bread pizza, the beer became more of a traditional tasty Stone brew. 



This was all before I had watched the video on making it and I had it scored about a 6.5. After I learned about who was involved and why, I found the international collaboration to be really exciting and amazing. The precision to craft the alc/vol to be 9.2% to put a positive spin on the disaster in Japan, the proceeds going overseas to relief, it all is pretty remarkable and worthwhile. So I stepped it up to 7.5 in terms of merit, plus I want people to try this one. 




I want to paint the picture of this beer as a thing to try, a thing to participate in. Pick up a bottle, donate your money to relief, and try out an ale that came together through the goodwill on this planet, what's left of it.

review (/10): 7.5
recommended setting: Find some Japanese style rocks (an actual garden is even better) and take off your shoes. Walk a few steps into it and shimmy your feet a little to cover them with rocks. Now become mindful of the each rock as it communicates through your nerves to your brain. You will begin to transfer your heat to them. Now take a sip of your Green Tea IPA and witness the flavors communicating and transferring. Be entertained by the interesting flavors and feel warm in your decision to donate to this cause... OR if your not into the meditation thing, after a few sips the 9.2% should have you pretty warm and fuzzy.
  
extraneous ramble (optional): 

7.22.2011

Organic Pale Ale - (7.5)


name: Organic Pale Ale
% alc: 5.1
type: Pale Ale
vendor: Whole Foods, Seattle
price: $3.99 (22oz Bottle)


first impressions:
It smells delicious. It smells like flowers in an alpine forest, piney, floral hops. It tastes like it smells but is finished with a toasty malt flavor and touch of sweet. It's amazing. The way a flower looks and smells when it first blooms. Such an organic beautiful creation. 


But then it begins to wilt, it begins to fade. Just as organic things are more likely to fall away back into the earth, this ale seems to lose its initial perfection. Sadly, halfway through my glass I can't taste it all that much anymore. Aroma hops but not flavor hops? Does this opening scene waft away in to the atmosphere. At this point the beer certainly isn't decayed it just isn't what it was.


I think Laurelwood does tremendous things with their hops. They put out a nearly endless supply of seasonal IPAs each one fresher and tastier than the last and I didn't see that fail in this ale. Where it fails is in it's inability to maintain the initial balance. It's a promise vowed that means the world and doesn't quite pan out the way you expected. A dream come true after so much anticipation that you just end up feeling numb halfway through it's realisation.

review (/10): 7.5
recommended setting: Head on down to Portland for the weekend, or up or over, depending on where you are reading this from. Laurelwood has a brewpub in the Hollywood District where you can hopefully grab a pint of this while it lasts. And after you experience this fleeting bliss, grab an IPA like Hop Monkey and treat your tongue to those hops it has been missing since your first taste of Organic Pale Ale.

extraneous ramble (optional): 

7.07.2011

A Sunny Belgian Farmhouse - (8.5)

name: Colette
% alc: 7.3
type: Farmhouse Ale
vendor: Quinns Gastropub, Seattle
price: $6.00 (12oz Bottle)

first impressions:
First of all, this is my first out of the house beverage that I'm deciding to write about. Because, well, it was a great beer, I haven't seen it in stores yet, and the environment was perfect for it. Evening sunlight was being thrown through a patterned glass making for a soft white glow. I saw this Colette from Great Divide on the menu in the bottles section with no description. The server thought it might be something dark but would have to check. I thought, well my backup plan will be this other summer session style ale but lets see what it is. I like Great Divide a great deal and she came back with a seriously exciting answer: "it's a Farmhouse Ale." "Done!"

Cut away to a quick background on this ale format...

This is one of my favorite styles of Belgian origin. It is one of those beers that just stands apart from the rest, the kid in the group who can hang with a bunch but can also be a part of several other groups. This was me in high school. But that part of my life aside, this type of ale speaks to those who think Belgian beer is generally too strong, too dark and dank, and often times too fruity or sweet. This ale is golden, with a touch of tart, and an earthy body that comes from special yeasting. This particular one had 4 strains in it. It's a little fruity but it all comes to a close with a dry, crispness. Now back to our hero...  
Colette was a great rendition of the farmhouse ale. I sipped my glass slowly, as though I didn't want it to go away. Not that I'm too cheap to order another but in the moment it seems like your only ration. Great Divide 6-pks can be pricey but most of them are worth it, so as soon as you see this on the shelf grab a single and check it out. Don't be surprised if you end up running back for the whole pack before the shelf is pillaged.

review (/10): 8.5
recommended setting: I love the idea of a Belgian farmhouse with ale being created in it or nearby. As the sun is showing its last colors I wouldn't mind being there swirling the last yeast-clouded sip and with a euphoric sigh, tipping it onto my tongue.

extraneous ramble (optional): Unfortunately I only had my phone's camera for these.

7.01.2011

Sierra's Beer Camp Variety - (7.0)

name: The Best of Beer Camp Series (4)
vendor: QFC, Seattle
price: $14.99 (12pc)


name: Camp#8 California Common
% alc: 6.5
type: Lager/Steam Ale
Rating: (8.0)
Also known as Steam Beer, California Common style is named for the yeast used who prefer a hotter temperature to bask in and the recipe's history dating back to the mid 19th to 20th centuries. It is usually associated with San Francisco and Anchor Steam who have perhaps the most widely known Common. However, I much prefer this one. Its bright but malty make-up is complicated with a grapefruit-like citrus that bitters it nicely. It is relatively hoppy, after-all this is Sierra Nevada we're talking about, but it doesn't linger. It slips away quickly into a caramel hinted malt background. Overall this is a beautiful balancing act and I found myself wishing this was available in a 6er or 22oz. Also like its yeasts, I too would recommend a warm environment for this beverage, and what do you know, the weather is just about getting there.

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name: Camp#29 Double IPA
% alc: 8.5
type: Strong India Pale Ale
Rating: (7.0)
IPA, Double IPA, Imperial IPA?
Apparently the Double is pretty much exchangeable for the Imperial. Although the terms may contain a bit of history and origin in them. The Double IPA can be considered to have been invented and coined on the west coast of the USA so quite possibly this is why Sierra Nevada might have gone this route instead... Verbal preferences aside I enjoyed this one quite a lot. I always enjoy when an imperial or double IPA of such high alcohol content leaves you none the wiser. Not too sweet, it felt nicely balanced (considering its pedigree), with plenty of piney hops. The term brawny came to mind. I would enjoy this one on a mountain in California, save a bottle for the summit and enjoy the views, smells and tastes. 

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name: Camp#37 Weizenbock
% alc: 6.8
type: Weizenbock
Rating: (6.0)
This is one of those beers made for summer. Its fruity, light and looks like someone shoved the sun into a keg and poured you a fresh pint. Its a German wheat brew with some interesting other flavors: Apricot, Banana and some orange peel aroma. For a drinker of this sort of beer, I usually don't opt for the fruity types, I would think this would be a great new option to try. Hell, when I get outside I'm pretty happy drinking a beer like this. It would do nicely with some seats in the sun at a baseball game.

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name: Camp#16 Juniper Black Ale
% alc: 8.0
type: Black Ale


Rating: (6.5)
I generally tend to neglect these types of beer come this time of year. I want sunshine in a glass even if this mythical Seattle sun isn't exactly shining. But this was a different type of dark beer. It seemed to me like a blend of a piney pale ale and a toasty porter. The viscosity is about equivalent to this blend as well. It was remarkably tasty and satisfying for this time of year. It also didn't bite like the 8%er it is, which is great. On an evening where you're just interested in a single pint of beer, not the marathon that is sometimes social drinking, grab this bottle and sip to enjoy, this will warm you from the core.

avg. review (/10): 7.0
recommended setting:  Grab this case and make camp of your own near to some piney trees which will compliment Sierra Nevada's hop assortment. Bring 2 friends who will enjoy something new and special to taste...
1. Pitch your tent while intermittently sipping, staking, and poling.
2. Hike to a nearby summit and enjoy a hearty Double IPA. *Note: Take time before you climb down. 
3. After relaxing back at the camp, likely eating some things, head out to a meadow and toss a frisbee in the sun with the Weizenbock in a safely sippable spot.
4. As the sky turns a luminous purple, the color on the Juniper Black Ale label, pass the bottles out round the fire and sink into the warm night.
5. That should be all the beers in the Beer Camp. Again?

extraneous ramble (optional): 

6.15.2011

Fancy Labeled Homebrew IPA? - (5.0)


name: Invasive Species IPA
% alc: 6.3
type: India Pale Ale
vendor: John's Market, Multnomah Village, OR
price: $4.59 (22oz)

first impressions:
Off the bat, straight away this was an interesting and tasty beverage. It was malty for an IPA and exorbitantly cloudy. I liked it. The head was like mashed potatoes and it didn't bite with carbonation. Hoppy, bright, citric and smooth, it just tasted like a great, possibly homebrewed because of it's odd quirks, IPA. At this point it's a 7.0 rating for me. I had my tastes and left enough in the bottle to take pictures of later once my lighting was right.  
When I returned to shoot my photos I filled the pint and got my macro shots. I explored the resealable, reusable bottle top, and the One Dollar Bottle Deposit notification on the bottle. Which was possibly larger than the beer name and brewer logo.
Then, I sat down to drink the rest of the brew. I was surprised to find it had become more earthy and less bitter. It had lost some carbonation, to the extent that it was almost flat. It seemed to have decayed in short amount of time having been opened resealed and reopened again an hour or so later. My review at this point would be around a 3.5 or worse. It didn't taste like a properly brewed or sealed ale at this point. So, sadly my average lands around a 5.0 on this one. Love the artwork on the bottle. Love the bottle, but it needs to last a bit longer before it turns into an elixer that should be served only in a bog by a shriveled forest wizard.

review (/10): 5.0
recommended setting:  Drink this right away! Well, maybe not in the parking lot but right when you open it somewhere suitable. Grab a friend and just have a go of it. Or... Instead of getting it by bottle, a keg is likely to be a great option. Captured by Porch appear to have some sort of Mobile Haus brew bus operation in Portland which sounds like a fun way to find this on tap. If you do, its likely to be an ale worthy of my 7.0.

extraneous ramble (optional):