Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: Great Divide 18th Anniversary Wood Aged DIPA

Locale:  Denver, CO
Craft Circa: 1994
Style:  American Double / Imperial IPA
ABV:  10%

Notables:  This is a limited but seasonal anniversary brew, brewed once a year released in late spring, early summer. 

Label:  It’s nice and definitive, however I think I like the 17th anniversary label a little better.  The label gives it that bourbon distillery look that indicates some sort of aging, either in barrels, or in this case, wood chips.  The only thing that could enhance this appearance is to put it in a decorative cardboard like case for presentation.  Maybe this is the eco-friendly route.  In that case… kudos for saving a tree. 

Overall:   Great Divide’s 18th Anniversary brew was opened, consumed, and it ironically was the anniversary of my marriage. We’re still new at this, only going on 4 years… although at times, it feels like it’s been 18 years!!! 

 It’s nice to know there is a reasonably priced, reasonably attainable anniversary beer to get your hands on each year.  If the 18th Anniversary ale is any indication of the subsequent beers to follow, it’s definitely something to look forward to each year, and find yourself a bottle when released. 

Solid all around.  The pour is a dark amber, the head lays thick, and the lacing is quite impressive.  Taking a whiff of it, the caramel runs the show, but the oak hints are a noticeable sidekick.  Maybe not as flamboyant as Daffy Duck, but more like a Scottie Pippen of sorts… either way, it compliments it nicely.

The flavor is that of sturdy dark malt, along with a conspicuous but not overwhelming oak hint.  One of the unique characteristics of this brew is that the heavy presence of malt not only acts as the backbone or support for the brew, but it also hits you up front which is rare for a DIPA.  The malt and the oak are up front, and then the grapefruit and dash of pine come in fashionably late, joining in on the fun.

The majority of IPA drinkers, including myself may expect a bit more bitterness, especially in a DIPA.  There is not a lot of bitterness here, but it doesn’t steer you away by any means, it works nicely.  The overall balance of the concoction is pretty exciting.  Between the oak, the wood chips, the malt, and let’s not forget the double dosage of hops, this artisan undoubtedly answers the call. 

This beer popped my Great Divide Anniversary Brew cherry, and it was gripping.  Look forward to next year’s batch, and here’s to another 18 years!

Acquisition:  22 ouncer - $11

Windfall: Per wiki, The Great Divide, another term for the Continental Divide of the Americas, is the continental divide that separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain into the Atlantic Ocean.  There are various other hydrological divides in the Americas; however the Great Divide is by far the most prominent of these because it tends to follow a line of high peaks along the Rocky Mountains. 

These plates are constantly drifting, at about 7cm a year,  Heightening the Rockies, and lowering the Appalachian Mountains each way with its continental drift.  More importantly, that means the Great Divide Brewery will be in the Chicagoland area in about 23 million years; give or take a couple hundred years. 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

“Pāhoehoe?” More like “Pā-OH-NO”! Review of Two Brothers Brewing Company’s Pāhoehoe Coconut Ale

Brewery: Two Brothers Brewing Company
Locale: Warrenville, Illinois (30 miles west of Chicago, IL)
Craft Circa:  1997 
Style:  Ale (artisanal variety w/coconut)
ABV:  7.1%
IBU: 16.1
Notables: Limited 15th anniversary retro release #10 of 15 (that’s 1 beer per year).

Label: Great label.  Volcano peaks erupting with what looks to be “coconut” lava.  As the label states, Two Brothers was inspired to brew Pāhoehoe after a trip to Hawaii to participate in the 2011 Kona Beer Festival on the Big Island (Hawaii).  The beer is named after a type of lava flow found at the Kilauea volcano. 

Overall: Meh.  Yes, that’s right: “meh.”  I was very intrigued, excited, and disturbed by the prospect of trying this beer.  Yinzer gave me the heads up and, lo and behold, it appeared before me as I browsed the beer aisles of a local retailer of all things alcohol.  I had to buy it.  Showtime.  I was disappointed.  The beer barely sustained a semblance of a head.  And the coconut?  The label says they used coconut water, coconut milk, and toasted coconut meat.  So you would expect some coconut flavor, right?  WRONG.  It’s almost like they forgot to put the coconut into this batch.  I mean, I wasn’t looking for a “beer-colada,” but I was looking for SOME coconut flavored notes.  The beer started off slightly sweet on the front, a bit of bite on the tongue, then nothing special going down.  There was a weird sort of “nutty” aftertaste but minus the “coco”.  Maybe I had higher expectations; should’ve gone in with low expectations.  But it’s Two Brothers!  They brew some quality beers.  I don’t know what all the fuss is about.  I mean, feature this as an anniversary beer?  Maybe we should steer clear of these Two Brothers anniversary brews.

I bet you were wondering how pāhoehoe is pronounced?  I’m going with the second one.  Kind of rhymes with this man’s phone greeting:

Acquisition:  22oz. -(Actually $8, I’m not sure you can pay with coconuts.)

Windfall: Pāhoehoe is a Hawaiian term meaning “smooth, unbroken lava.”  It is basaltic lava that has a smooth, billowy, undulating, or ropy surface.  Pāhoehoe lava flows are quite common at the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.  The term “Pāhoehoe” was first introduced as a technical term in geology by Clarence Dutton. (Wikipedia)   



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Mikkeller Invasion IPA

Brewery:  Mikkeller
Craft Circa: 2006
Style:  American IPA
ABV:  7%

Notables:  Per wiki, Mikkeller is a so called “phantom” or “gypsy” microbrewery.  The company brews at a variety of host facilities in several different countries.  The “legendary” Mikkeller founder Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, has travelled around the world thus far brewing more than 200 different beers at other breweries.   Hell of a gig.   This brew appears to be produced at Drake’s Brewing in California based on a couple release articles I came across.  B&B has another one on hand “RisGoop”; which is a rice beer in collaboration with 3 Floyds.  We’re excited to give that one a whirl, and look out for a possible review down the road a piece. 

Label:  Clean and crisp like the brew within. 

Overall:   Like I mentioned, this is a collaboration IPA, but to be frank, I’m not sure how these collaboration beers work.  Do these guys show up with grain bags in hand ready to steep, merely using their equipment, and then off into the sunset the gypsy roams?  Or is there actual collaboration with master brewers, deriving the perfect chemistry driven formula based on all the experience they’ve absorbed over the course of their lives churning out the next ‘Heisenberg’ blue ice of artisans? 

Either way… it’s a delicious brew and I’d have another if I so haphazardly came across one.  The pour was partly cloudy, almost opaque, amber yellow.    The head retained its stature for a bit, and appeared like a beer many IPA fans would agree on by mere looks alone.  The smell is a courteous one in that it invites you into its humble abode that is scented with a punch of big citrus, blended with some sort of mango, or other tropic born outgrowth. 

The beer has a taste that you can tell was acute, and focused on delivering the goods.  This brew was quite clean and quite crisp from start to finish.  This journey begins on a grassy noted trail in a sense, but still refreshing.  I think a pine tree sprouted up on this road less traveled as well, but any piney finish was a delicate one.  It’s a wonderful beer.  I’ll refrain from describing this as an almost perfect IPA because of the longevity of Mikkeller brews, and the scarcity of it (from what I’ve read).  The hops were a bit milder, but still provided a jab or two of kick in there, maybe even a Glass Joe uppercut snuck in there.  Great balance. 

I enjoyed savoring this beer, and you almost have to take your time and savor it to enjoy all it has to offer, because there’s a good chance it may not be back around again.  This applies to not only the Invasion IPA but with many other Mikkeller brews.  Mikkeller’s business model appears to be constantly focused on the next brew in the hopper, the next brewery they can join forces and collaborate with.  The experience as a beer drinker feels a lot like a hot one night stand where you never exchanged digits.  It was a great time, but there’s a remote chance that your paths will cross again.  This model works for them, but I wish there was some more appreciation from Mikkeller for their brews, and a reoccurrence every once and a while… a “second date” if you will.   

I guess that’s the beauty and mystique of a phantom menace such as Mikkeller.  It’s a great beer, so find yourself a bottle, and if you see one on the shelf, grab it before it poofs in a dark black cloud smoke before your very eyes. 

Acquisition:  Bomber - $10