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Recent Beer Discoveries?

Anyone found anything new that they are enjoying right now? Doesnt neccessarily have to be new but if its new to you that works too. I have had and been wowed by

Captain Lawrence's Smoke from the Oak-This is a smoked porter from Pleasantville NY. It is aged in Pinot Noir Casks. Lightly smoky with definite pinot characteristics. This one went down smooth, very unique. You get those dark fruit/prune like flavours mixed with the chocolateness of a porter. This one isnt so easy to find, I had it at the recently opened Blind Tiger in NYC. This was my first beer from this young brewery and i was very impressed.

Victory Hopdevil-Now this one is fairly common place but i had probably not had it since 1998 or so. Having lived in SD for 2+ years this was a revelation of sorts. I gotused to the SD and other West Coast strongly piney/grapefruity IPA's so this was really interesting. The hops in this arent as overpowering but in some ways seemed so fresh and floral. Totally different fromm West Coast IPAs.

I have a bottle of Dogfishhead Worldwide Stout in the fridge right now. So that could be next on the list. I am frankly a little nervous.

So what new beers are people discovering for themselves?

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  1. I was just in Connecticut and picked up a few great ones, and one that I hope will be great that I haven't opened yet.

    Brooklyn Local 1 - Belgian strong golden ale, refermented in the bottle. Some saison-like yeast esters to my taste. Nice hops component, more pronounced than you'd see in a typical Belgian. When you go back to NY you should be able to find.

    Hitachino Ginger Beer - This is one of the most amazing beers I've ever tasted. Imagine a combination between ginger beer and a malty brown ale. It was like a ginger beer with the sugar fermented out. So, so good. Really wish I could get it here.

    I too have a Dogfish Head waiting to be consumed. I scored a bottle of their Pangaea ale while I was back there. Looking forward to opening that one up.

    On the local front, last time I was at O'Brien's I had the Alpine Nelson rye IPA. Amazingly good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Josh

      That Brooklyn Local One is pretty tasty. Belgian like yet not Belgian. I will have to give that Hitachino Ginger a try as i love ginger beer.

    2. norwegian brown ale called nogne O -- malty and delish, really seems more like a porter.

      the ginger beer is one of the hitachino offerings that i haven't tried yet, i'll have to grab some along with some more nogne on my next trip to knightly spirits.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hitachino

        If in Texas, try beers from the Real Ale Co of Blanco, Texas. They make a nice Pale Ale. I alwasy make sure to have one when in Texas.

        1. re: MOREKASHA

          I had their rye pale ale and nut brown ale when I was in TX. They were great.

      2. A co-worker took a trip to Burlington, VT last weekend, and brought me a growler of Magic Hat's Chaotic Chemistry as a thanks for recommending they visit the American Flatbread brewpub in downtown Burlington. I'm really looking forward to cracking that open.

        2 Replies
        1. re: braineater

          braineater, have you tried American Flatbread in Waitsflied, their original location? I haven't been to the brew-pub in Burlington, but always recommend the the Waitsfield one.

          I am not a fan of Magic hat, but I do respect what they are doing with their beers, and do occasionally like one.

          1. re: McJ

            I find their (Magic Hat) brews often have a "perfume" taste to them which I do not like.

        2. I'll admit, I'm a little scared of trying the Victory Hop Devil, something that hoppy doesn't sound very good to me, but everyone tells me IPAs are an acquired taste.

          Due to the InBev/Anheuser Busch distribution issues, I haven't had Bass in a while, so I picked up some Old Speckled Hen in hopes that it's a good substitute. Other suggestions are certainly welcome.

          20 Replies
          1. re: air

            but have you tried an IPA?

            granted, i am more of a malt than hop fan, but i've found that i really like some micro ales that are touted as IPAs - and ironically enough, i can barely finish many of the rogue offerings that are supposed to be hazelnuts, porters, browns, etc. (i guess that they use ungawdly amounts of hops)

            old speckled hen is water to me, and it's in a clear bottle.

            a beer in a clear or green bottle, particularly if it's an import, is something i'm very doubtful of.

            as for suggestions for a substitute for bass ale --- any US microbrewery's red ale or amber ale might float your boat......

            1. re: hitachino

              Yes, I've tried Redhook's IPA and definitely didn't like that. Also tried Rahr Stormcloud, though my friends who enjoy IPAs have told me it doesn't have enough hops to be called an IPA. They market it as a "German IPA"

              My Old Speckled Hen is in a nitro can, not too worried about anything going wrong with it.

              1. re: air

                Redhook's "IPA" doesn't have the strength or hops that the style requires. It's really a pale ale.

                I was seriously underwhelmed by all of the Redhook beers. Well, they had a coffee-infused stout some years back which was interesting (it actually delivered a mild caffeine buzz), but it was light-bodied and colored for a stout; more of a porter.

                1. re: Kenji

                  They used to have a rye beer that was nice, but it's been years since I had it.

                  1. re: Josh

                    Yes, I had Redhook's rye beer once.

                    Bear Republic's Hop Rod Rye is a fine, robust rye IPA.

                    1. re: Kenji

                      Bear RepublicHop Rod is one of my favorites! Definetely Recommended!

                  2. re: Kenji

                    Do you personally make any distinction between American IPA and English IPA?

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      Absolutely. As far as distinctions in beerstyles go, the one between English-style IPAs and American ones is stark. Compare Great Divide's Titan to Sam Smith's IPA. Or Anderson Valley's Hop Ottin' to Fullers IPA.

                      Generally speaking -- of course there are exceptions -- American IPAs are much stronger and hoppier than English ones.

                      1. re: Chinon00

                        In my opinion, British and American IPAs are different enough that it doesn't make sense to even think of them as the same style. Even within the American IPA there is a huge spectrum.

                        Here on the west coast, and more specifically in San Diego, we have an IPA style that is quite different from other parts of the US. If you are interested in more info, I ranted on the subject a while back:


                        1. re: menuinprogress

                          Double IPAs are pretty big -- or, to be more precise, pretty *popular* in -- Colorado as well. Avery makes one, Oskar Blues makes one, Great Divide makes my favorite example of the style.

                          1. re: Kenji

                            I just went to Great Divide on a recent road trip. Great brewery, and I loved the Hercules Double IPA.

                            Pictures here:


                            1. re: menuinprogress

                              GD is indeed a great brewery. BTW, in addition to their fine variations on the IPA style (their Hercules and Titan are frankly my favorite examples of those specific IPA substyles), Great Divide also makes Yeti -- a beautiful imperial stout.

                          2. re: menuinprogress

                            So when you stated above: "Redhook's "IPA" doesn't have the strength or hops that the style requires" you were speaking specifically of AIPA?

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              I believe it fits the style guidelines, but everyones perceptions of what that style is keeps getting bigger. I enjoy a big IPA once in a while.

                              1. re: niquejim

                                I was at a place that carried Redhook's IPA a few days ago, and I noticed that they've increased the ABV to 6.5%. It used to be in the 4 - 5% ABV range, which is absurdly low for the style. That plus the beer's absence of hop character led me to conclude it was just a misnamed pale ale. 6.5 % ABV is an acceptable strength for an IPA. Does it have sufficient hop character? I don't know; I wasn't tempted to find out.

                              2. re: Chinon00

                                Redhook's IPA doesn't do it for me no matter what style i expect iit to be. It is just mediocre even as an EIPA. Definitely too weak to be considered a AIPA

                    2. re: air

                      Hop Devil is devilishly hoppy in name only. It's actually quite a mild IPA, more in line with the traditional British version, as opposed to the turbo-hopped West Coast version.

                      1. re: Josh

                        Yes hop devil is a milder sort of IPA, like a Brooklyn IPA. The hoppiness in Hopdevil is very different from a west coast ipa. Granted i love hoppy beers so people who dont might not see the difference. Give it a shot

                      2. re: air

                        Victory is a terrific brewery and makes a range of beers to fit most palates. Hop Devil is certainly worth a try, as is their Prima Pils, which will force you to change your thinking about Pilsners if all you have tasted are imports that have failed to travel well to this country.

                        I recently visited the brewery and really enjoyed some of their less well known beers - I was really impressed by both the Irish Dry Stout and the English Bitter.

                        1. re: air

                          i just started LOVING gulden draak. its a belgian triple but its dark! wierd, right?its brewed by the vansteinberg brewery who also do piraat. the draak, like the piraat, is a wholesome 10.5% ABV, but its so darn good. a big ass beer altogether, but wonderful to savor. highly recommended. pretty darn sweet, tho:)

                        2. Bigfoot barleywine has just become available here. This is very nice. Also the high alcohol line from Bell's, although I have to drive a bit for them. Expedition Stout is trying to return me to a stout drinker. Two Hearted is fighting from the other(hop) side.
                          A battle it is nice to be in the middle of.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Bobfrmia

                            Expedition Stout is top of the line seriously great stout.

                            If you like bigfoot barleywine (which I do), try also: Victory Old Horizontal, Dogfish Behemoth, and Anchor Foghorn.

                            1. re: Bobfrmia

                              I love the Bell's beers and wish I had regular access to them. Expedition is a fine imperial stout. I also very much liked Bell's Two Hearted IPA and Eccentric Ale.

                              1. re: Kenji

                                Just had Bell's Porter, Pale Ale and Kalamazoo Stout for the first time...the only Bell's beer that hasn't blown me away is their Amber Ale, but even that is a prefectly fine beer. I was distraught until I found that I can get Bell's when I visit friends in Philly. (no distribution in NY)

                            2. Worldwide Rocks... in a class by itself literally. Tastes more like a port than a stout.

                              As for new recent discoveries, I just recently tried Brooklyn Chocolate Stout for the first time... tremendous stuff. I'm going to have it in a stout tasting event as soon as I can get around to it.

                              1. Had a Bay Harbor Blueberry Ale (on draft) last night that I really enjoyed. It was my first blueberry ale, but I like other "fruity" beers (Pyramid Apricot and Purple Haze are always good). Are there any other good blueberry ales I should look for? I'm in Austin, Texas, but have access to a few good stores/providers.

                                1. New to me, at least is the New Belgium Brewery "1775" ale. Really smooth, not super hoppy and a pleasure to drink. I've been drinking it for a few months now quite happily.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: ccbweb

                                    I think you probably mean "1554". It is NB's best beer, IMO, although in a similar style I think Abita Turbodog (from Louisiana) is even better. Actually, Sam Adam's black lager is also very good.

                                    1. re: mitchgx

                                      Hmmm...you're right. Where on earth did I get 1775? Thanks!

                                  2. New to me, and rapidly disappearing from my fridge, is Stoudt's Scarlet Lady ESB. Really a textbook example of an ESB, a perfect beer.

                                    Also, Stone just began selling Ruination IPA in 12oz bottles, which is very nice. 22oz of that is a bit much in one sitting, 12oz is perfect.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Josh

                                      That is good news. Ruination seems like it should be in 12oz bottles.

                                      i have been drinking alot of Brooklyn Local 1 since i have been back in NYC. I have also rediscovered how good Brooklyn Lager is too. Not too many American brewers are making a lager of this quality.

                                    2. 312 from Goose Island out in Chicago. Its a great wheat ale. The beer is unfiltered and a little more flavorful than most other wheats. I've had a hard time finding it out on the east coast but it is more than plentiful in the midwest, on tap almost anywhere in Chicago.

                                      I did spot 312 at the Red Hook Fairway in Brooklyn, so that's my light at the end of the tunnel.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: kasiav

                                        Im in Jersey and have looked everywhere for Goose Island, hoping distribution picks up our area.

                                      2. Rogue Brutal Bitter, really nice and clean. Strong bitter flavor, very much enhanced the rare roast beef sandwich I was eating.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Pajama Cat

                                          I have the remnants of a sixer of this in my fridge. Great stuff.

                                        2. Just got back from the midwest, had lots of great beer. Three highlights:

                                          Bell's Two Hearted ... nudged out Smuttynose as my favorite American IPA. Amazingly fragrant, pleasingly bitter, yet balanced and on the light side (I love hops but don't much like most DIPAs). I wish we could get Bell's in NY, their products are amazing.

                                          Three Floyds Rabbid Rabbit ... Super delicious saison made with chamomile. YUM.

                                          Surly Brewing Company: in Minneapolis, I applaude the bold move of keeping their beer fresh and protected by packaging in 16oz cans. I had the Furious IPA, quite good, and Bender, a nice hoppy brown ale.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: kenito799

                                            Kenito, Welcome to the cult of Bell's Beers. I've even made a detour on a business trip to Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo! Bell's is closer than it used to be. It's now available in DC and Northernt Va. Just a drive down the NJ Tpke and I95. Their stouts are legendary, I think they have 11 at last count.

                                            1. re: kenito799

                                              Publix is now carrying Bell's Two Hearted Ale. It is delicious.

                                            2. Here in TX have had some nice ones over the past few days:

                                              Blanche de Bruxelles - REALLY nice Belgian witbier. Standard witbier flavors, very rich mouthfeel.

                                              Rahr & Sons Ugly Pug - Schwarzbier made in Ft. Worth, TX. Great roasted flavors.

                                              Left Hand Milk Stout - lacto stout made in Colorado. Nice and creamy stout with deep roasted flavors.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Josh

                                                In FL , local packies (yeah I know it's a noreast term) just started getting Dales Pale Ale in the can!! It's from Oskar Blues Brewery on Lyons, CO. Best beer in a can I've ever had. Nice hoppy IPA. Good to take out on a camping trip or kayaking where you can drag it along in the water to keep it cool and then not have to worry about lugging rattling bottles back out, Can crushes real nice and flat.

                                                1. re: crewsweeper

                                                  dale's is fantastic. can anyone suggest any other really good beers that come in cans?

                                                  1. re: baconodka

                                                    see my post above: Surly Brewing Co, Minneapolis. Furious IPA is pretty good.

                                                    1. re: baconodka

                                                      Good beer in cans in a frequent topic currently on the beer forums of BeerAdvocate and RateBeer, so a search of those will turn up most of the available choices, altho' they tend to be regional. Somewhere there's a beer can site with ALL of the new micro cans listed, as well.

                                                      In NJ, my favorites are Pikeland Pils from Sly Fox (PA) and Pilsner Urquell's 1/2 liter cans. In New England, you might be able to find New England Brewing's Sea Hag IPA out of CT.

                                                      I'd drink more Dales' and their other beers (Gordon, Old Chub) if they were date coded, like P/U and Sly Fox's (they also have a canned IPA and two seasonals, a Weisse and a Dunkel). Just seems to me that a lot of stores in NJ still seem to have the same few 12 packs of Dale's sittin' around (and the other day I saw a place with the very early paper label Gordon's still on the shelf- I like the can as a beer package, but still have a prejudice against "aging" beer in them, and tho' Gordon has the ABV to age I like hoppy beers fresh.)

                                                      1. re: baconodka

                                                        Yes! Old Chub, also from Oskar Blues, is a *fantastic* Scotch Ale (oddly, they pronounce it a "Scottish Ale" on the label). It's among my top ten favorite beers right now.

                                                        Dale's Pale is also terrific, probably my favorite pale ale.

                                                        I'd love to try Oskar Blues' Gordon (a double IPA), and I'm sure I'll get around to it, but a four-pack of it is nearly twice the price of a sixer of Old Chub.

                                                  2. I have been drinking aalot of Brooklyn Abbey Singel, a Belgian style pale ale. Really phenomenol. this is a session drinking Belgian. Lightly sweet with a great body, with some mild banana/clove flavours. Really excellent. Try some if you come across it.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                                      Brooklyn Abbey Singel- that's a draft only beer? I saw a "Summer Ale" from Brooklyn the other day, but passed on it since I didn't know anything about it (I stay away from "Summer" beers unless I know it's not lemon-flavored or some other perversion of the brewer's art). Sorry I didn't pick it up now that I read about it http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/beer/?...
                                                      sounds like a great session ale.

                                                      1. re: JessKidden

                                                        It is a Belgian Pale, unlike a wit. It sort of tastes like a mild Tripel if that makes any sense. I have only seen it on tap. The first few weeks they didnt even have the tap heads made up and were serving it from generic. now they are marketing it a little more. I live about a 10 minute walk from the brewery so we see things pretty early.

                                                        Bklyn's one shots(I dont know if they will brew them again) the past few months have been excellent. The Smoked Weissbock in the winter and the Antwerpen Ale in the spring were both winners. With those two and Local One, Garrett Oliver has made a successful transition into German Wheat/Belgian style brews. now if they could only improve the Brooklyn Weiss recipe, all would be good.

                                                        As to the Summer Ale, I have not tried it yet. Like you I try and stay away from lemon flavoured brews.

                                                        1. re: JessKidden

                                                          Brooklyn beers are uniformly worthwhile. I would be very surprised to ever have anything less than excellent from them.

                                                        2. re: MVNYC

                                                          I haven't had Brooklyn's Abbey Singel, but their Local 1 is one of the best Belgian-style beers I've had.

                                                          1. re: afty698

                                                            I also love Local 1. Great stuff. If you like that, you should try the Unibroue 16 Anniversary Ale. It just came out and will knock your socks off.

                                                        3. My new favorite is the Kona Brewing Company's Fire Rock Pale Ale. It is a refreshing new pale out there. The main brewery is located on the big island in Hawaii (although the mainland stuff is contract brewed through Widmer in Oregon).

                                                          If you are on the big island (or Oahu, where they have a restaurant/bar) I highly suggest a brewery visit. It has a great feel and excellent food (try the pizzas). Their longboard lager is OK, too. I'd steer clear of their big wave ale...it's not so tasty! These are the only three they bottle and the others they make are only available on the island.

                                                          I always like to change it up and it seems like I end up with a different beer with every trip to the store. This one seems to have stuck around with me for quite a while now...give it a shot!

                                                          1. Wells Banana Bread. It started showing up in the stores not long ago, so I somewhat reluctantly gave it a try. Says it's brewed with bananas; and it does have a pretty strong banana flavor. Not the banana-estery taste of a hefeweizen, but sorta like a mild ale with bananas in it, which seems to be pretty much what it is. I liked it better than I thought I would; it kinda grows on you, about halfway through the bottle.

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: Bat Guano

                                                              I've been wondering about that beer (and your name - if that really *is* your name).

                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                The Banana Bread beer is too... gimmicky, or nontraditional or something, for me to drink on a regular basis; but like I said, it was better than I expected, and I probably will buy it again at some point. If it ever shows up on tap I might try it there.

                                                                Have you seen Dr. Strangelove?

                                                                1. re: Bat Guano

                                                                  Of course, that was Mandrake's line, "Bat Guano, if that really is your name". Some incredible stuff in that film.

                                                                  To keep this OT, sounds like an interesting beer.

                                                                  1. re: Bat Guano

                                                                    Id actually really like to try a Banana flavored beer, Ive never seen one available. Any recommendations or knowledge of where I can find some?

                                                                    1. re: yankeefan

                                                                      I don't know where you live. I'm in Austin, TX, and I just started seeing the Wells showing up here a couple of weeks ago. I've seen it in a couple of different stores with good beer variety, which leads me to believe that a distributor just started carrying it. Maybe the same is true whereever you are; my only advice is to look around in the stores that generally have a good selection of different beers.

                                                              2. As a self professed beer geek, a hop head, former brewpub bartender and homebrewer of 26 years, I have recently found the best beer the I have ever had.
                                                                Its a double IPA from Avery called Maharaja.
                                                                Its a seasonal that they only make until August.
                                                                If you like hops, nothing tops this.
                                                                I live in North Carolina and buy it at Whole Foods for $6.99/ 22 oz bottle.

                                                                13 Replies
                                                                1. re: bluejworld

                                                                  Thanks for the heads up! I think that Avery's Bitter is currently the best on the market (although I love the Rogue Brutal also.) I was so disappointed when NC stopped carrying the Fischer's Bitter, which was awesome. Bitter's seem few and far between, in the bottle atleast. Have you tried Kasmir IPA (Highland). It is pretty good.

                                                                  1. re: heartofgravy

                                                                    I tried the Kashmir IPA when I was down in NC, it didn't do it for me. Though to be honest I did live in San diego which along with the locals I was drinking the best IPAs in the world.

                                                                    Recently I have been enjoying Brooklyn Summer Ale. A very easy drinking session beer. Subtle but with a great malt backbone, delicious.

                                                                    I also tried Baldin Nora out of Italy, a great spicy Saision which is great in the summertime.

                                                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                                                      I have recently had the new victory (cant remember the name) but thought it was fantastic- had a lot of pop to it which was surprising.

                                                                      I am embarassed to admit, but got my first taste of rogue's dead guy- awesome. Are there any other rogue's versions that hounders would recommend? I was very impressed.

                                                                      1. re: yankeefan

                                                                        Rogue makes a number of good beers. Some of my favorites are Brutal Bitter, Imperial Stout and Morimoto Imperial Pilsner. Santa's Private Reserve is also a nice one.

                                                                        1. re: yankeefan

                                                                          Rogue makes some excellent beers. In addition to Brent's suggestions, which I would second, I'd also suggest the dry-hopped St. Rogue's Red, Morimoto Soba Ale (both Black and regular - they are equally good, though different in flavor), Imperial IPA (this comes in a black ceramic bottle like the Imperial Stout), and Chocolate Stout. If you can find their Chipotle Ale, that is also an interesting brew.

                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                            All good recs, I will add Shakespear Stout and Smoke Ale.

                                                                            By the way I had a ROgue Chocolate Stouot with a scoop of Ciao Bella Lebanesee Yogurt ice cream, fantastic. The tartness of the yogurt worked really well against the chocolatey sweetness.

                                                                            Josh I wonder how Yogurt world would fare? You should try it out next time at O Briens.

                                                                            Also I further love both of the Soba Ales as well, very unique

                                                                            1. re: MVNYC

                                                                              I would love to, but Tom doesn't stock much from Rogue. I feel Rogue is kind of under-appreciated. They are one of the original microbrew companies that survived, but I don't hear them get as much love as they should. Same goes for Deschutes and Full Sail.

                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                Sometimes it is all about the new breweries. A lot of the breweries that got me in to good beers in the first place are still churning out great stuff. I have not really seen a dip in quality from Sierra Nevada, Rogue, Anderson Valley, Unibroue and other breweries like Brooklyn have just gotten better and better.

                                                                                1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                  There's a newish brewery that opened in Poway called Lightning. Been open about a year. They have been making some incredible traditional styles. I had an old ale they made that was really great. I also was recently at Rock Bottom in La Jolla and they had a schwarzbier that was perfect in every way.

                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                    The only Lighting beer I had before I left San Diego was a baltic porter which was decent. Do they bottle?

                                                                                    1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                      No, not yet anyway. I hope they do soon. They have an Imperial lager that's awesome.

                                                                                2. re: Josh

                                                                                  When I lived on the west coast, I drank Rogue beers -- American Amber, Santa's Private Reserve, Old Crustacean, their imperial stout, and my favorite, Shakespeare Stout -- all the time. My impression was that they were pretty widely enjoyed. But on the east coast, Rogue is wildly overpriced. One can get a six-pack of a first-rate NE microbrew, such as Mercury Brewing's Ipswich (whose oatmeal stout is actually more intense than Rogue's Shakespeare Stout) for a few cents more than the price of a mere bomber of Rogue.

                                                                      2. re: bluejworld

                                                                        I've had Maharaja. It's good, very intense with the hops, but as far as 2IPAs go, I'd give the edge to Great Divide's Hercules and Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA.

                                                                      3. I had Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema the other night and was surprised. Cream Ales have never done it for me but this was unbelievable.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: tommio

                                                                          I haven't tried that yet, but I read about it and was amused. The US micros have brilliantly conquered so much beer-style territory that they've even taken to doing high-end versions of "cheap" beer genres. Dogfish Head's malt liquor, featuring gourmet corn, is another example of this.

                                                                          AV's controversial Hop Ottin' IPA is an old favorite of mine.

                                                                          1. re: Kenji

                                                                            I always liked the Hop Ottin' - haven't heard about controversy with it, though. What's the deal?

                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                              Some beergeeks complain that Hop Ottin' is out of whack and ham-fisted with the hops. It *is* hop-heavy -- especially compared to English-style and even east coast IPAs --, and I'm thankful that such beers exist. There is a place, to put it mildly, for intensely hoppy beers.

                                                                              1. re: Kenji

                                                                                Huh, guess they never had Ruination or Racer 5.

                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                  Hop Ottin' was ahead of its time. When it came out, around '96, I guess, it was the only beer in its general (IPA) style with such an aggressive hopping. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale was probably the next hoppiest thing in that general gravity range (6 - 7% ABV), but it's got more of a malt/hop balance.

                                                                                  Nowadays, on the west coast, anyway, hop monsters are everywhere.

                                                                                  1. re: Kenji

                                                                                    I didn't know Hop Ottin was controversial. It has always been one of my faves. i am not sure i would call it well balanced but the hops aren't harsh like in some other west coast hop teas that are out there.

                                                                            2. re: Kenji

                                                                              I like Hop Ottin' a lot. We almost always have some in the fridge as it is one of the best IPAs we can get easily (Trader Joe's).

                                                                          2. Been downing Leininkugels Sunset Wheat all summer...
                                                                            had a Sly Fox Saison just before, very refreshing.
                                                                            Reallly miss my porters though....hope it gets cooler sooner than later.

                                                                            1. In the Hartford Ct. area we have a local beer thats called Ten Penny Ale Its on tap. Not to bad.

                                                                              1. If it were April now, I would be enjoying a Big Hoppy Monster, developed by Terrapin Brewing in Athens, GA and bottled by the big guys in Frederick MD. Unfortunatly only a springtime seasonal brew, but in Athens last week I did find a couple of four packs at a beer/wine shop. Wonderfully malt flavor with a very tasty hop presence.

                                                                                1. I have been enjoying some Southern Tier brewsthis summer, Hop Sun, an aggressively hopped wheat beer and Uber Sun, basically a double version of that. Both are excellent beers and I have been impressed with the overall line. I have also recently enjjoyed Peak Brown Ale which is a great example of an American Brown.

                                                                                  1. At the start of the summer, I found a beer called Tripel Karmeliet, A belgian triple that is light, creamy, crisp, complex. It's incredible. Every time I have it, it tastes new.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: McJ

                                                                                      yeah, I just had Tripel Karmeliet at Burp Castle in NYC and it was unusually refreshing for a tripel, almost like a cross between a tripel and a witbier.

                                                                                    2. My newest discovery was Liefman's Frambozen, which was on tap at the publick house up in Beantown. It was unreal.

                                                                                      I was a little let down by the Rogue Stout in that I was looking forward to trying it- but Im still going to venture into the other rogues.

                                                                                      Left Hand Milk Stout was not all that terrific but still determined to put away as many Anchor Summers as I can while still the season.

                                                                                      Would love to get back out west to have some more Fat Tire, man do I miss that one.

                                                                                      1. I tried Smuttynose's latest offering in their "Big Beer" series, a "wheat wine," (a barleywine-strength American-style wheat ale) last night. It was very good.

                                                                                        This brewery's "Big Beers" (a double entendre, since these are all powerful styles of beer packaged in 22 oz. bombers) are not to be missed. The imperial stout, doppelbock, and maibock are all among the very best examples of their respective styles.

                                                                                        1. Just had Ommegang's new one, Ommegeddon. Really interesting brew. Definitely worth a try.

                                                                                          I'll let Ommegang's description speak for itself:
                                                                                          Belgian pale & pilsner malts w/ Styrian Golding for bittering and Saaz for aroma. Ginger predominates the spicing. Fermented in primary with Ommegang's house yeast, followed by secondary with Brettanomyces bruxellensis. Dry-hopped in secondary w/ a blend of hops; Tettnang being the stand-out. The flavor profile is very herbal with an earthy undertone (very fitting for a Belgian-style farmhouse ale). The dry finish and pronounced hop aromas hide the 8% abv very well. Dangerously drinkable for its strength and character.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                                            that sounds excellent. I will be happy to try that one

                                                                                            1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                              Lost Abbey Devotion. It was first bottled in March (I believe), and I enjoyed it then, but I have cracked a few bottles recently and have been loving it. It's described as a Belgian Pale Ale - light, refreshing and interesting. It has a nice fresh hop bite to it, but it is unlike many of the Belgian IPA's that have recently been hitting the shelves. I am sensing that the hops are of the European variety. It's my understanding that the recipe is loosely based on Westvleteren Blond, but that's speculation. It does taste similar, for sure.

                                                                                              The ABV is 6.25%, which is nice because I grow tired of high alcohol beers during the summer months.

                                                                                          2. Phuket - a nice island lager.

                                                                                            1. Terrapin Impy Pils.
                                                                                              A little cloudier than I expected, but tasty.

                                                                                              1. Flying Dog Double Dog. It's a double IPA, with 10% alcohol and, IIRC, 115 IBUs. An impressive beer - it's very well balanced and clean-tasting - by which I mean that there aren't too many other flavors besides the very obvious citrusy hops and the sweet maltiness. Even with the high alcohol it doesn't taste especially hot. Very good, but if I'm looking for hops I think I like Stone IPA better. I think; may have to do a head-to-head tasting. But even putting it in the same class as Stone is high praise.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Bat Guano

                                                                                                  I must ask, if they came out with a triple or quad IPA with 25% abv and 185 IBU that was "very well balanced and clean-tasting" and not "hot" would that for you rank even higher?


                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                    No. That's why I called it an impressive beer, rather than something like 'great' or whatever. I found it impressive from the craft angle - as a homebrewer, I know how much skill is involved in producing such a high-gravity, highly-hopped beer that IS well-balanced and clean tasting - you're definitely riding the razor's edge in a lot of areas. And I'm definitely a hop-head, but this double is sort of on the borderline, for me, of being just a bit too much. Sometimes too much is just enough, but then again sometimes it's just ... too much. If you know what I mean.

                                                                                                  2. re: Bat Guano

                                                                                                    Tried the Double Dog a few weeks ago. It was only the 3rd Double IPA I've tried. I ranked it a little behind Bell's Hopslam, and Three Floyds Dreadnaught, but I enjoyed it, and it's the only one available in Iowa.

                                                                                                  3. I just had a St. Bernardus Abt 12 last night - Wow, what a delicious beer. It's a brown abbey ale, just loaded with flavor, and perfectly balanced. The bottle only mentions malt, hops, yeast and water, but it tastes like they've got all kinds of spices or other flavorings in there - it's chocolatey and fruity with just enough hops to prevent it from being too sweet... and it's bottle conditioned, so that it can be cellared for up to 15 years, according to the label. I'm definitely going to get a few more for stashing away, though it'll be hard to keep from savoring them sooner rather than later.

                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Bat Guano

                                                                                                      I recently learned that those spice flavors actually can come from yeast alone. Apparently yeast determines something like 90% of a beer's flavor.

                                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                                        Sure, like the clove and banana flavors that hefeweizen yeast gives. And the sourness from lambic yeast; whatever combination the St. Bernardus monks have hit on is just amazing, though - complex and delicious. Highly recommended!

                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                          I have heard this before but I'm not sure I buy it. It's probably true with certain types of beers but with others I think the yeast is in the background.

                                                                                                          To illustrate my point, the flavor of an American Wild Ale is likely to be heavily yeast dependant while the flavor of a Double IPA is likely to be much more a function of the malt (caramel base or not) and the hops (grapefruit, tangerine, pineapple or pine; aspirin elements or not).

                                                                                                          1. re: brentk

                                                                                                            The best way I can think of to experience this is to make your own beer, or befriend an adventurous homebrewer. One that I know will often make a split batch, where he uses different yeast strains on the same wort to make two different beers. The difference in flavor is surprising.

                                                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                                                              I understand that and I have some homebrewing experience.

                                                                                                              My point is not that yeast doesn't matter. It is that yeast does not account for 90% of every beer's flavor.

                                                                                                              1. re: brentk

                                                                                                                Yeah, depends on the beer. Bottom-fermented lagers don't get a lot of flavor from the yeast, by design, although the yeast does express itself in mouthfeel or the 'crispness' of the finished product. And if you add a ton of hops to an IPA (or anything else, for that matter), that will overwhelm much of a yeast flavor profile; but even there, there will be differences in the hop/yeast interaction depending on the yeast. In ales without a superabundance of hops that 90 percent figure is probably about right, though.

                                                                                                                1. re: Bat Guano

                                                                                                                  It's sometimes said that lagers are ingredient-driven and ales are process-driven. In an ale you have marked differences, for example, between British-, Belgian- and American-styles, due in large part to the yeast. (This assumes yeast contributes more to process than as an ingredient, which is valid since yeast is often removed before the beer is served.) Then there are such practices as dry-hopping, which are generally associated with ales.

                                                                                                                  You used to see marked differences between American and German versions of certain lager styles. This might still be true to some extent, but the major change over the last several years is probably that continental malts are more readily available in the US, resulting in less difference. (This ignores the potential huge difference between a fresh American beer and a tired import.)

                                                                                                                  IAC I can't see how one would derive a percentage. How would it be measured?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                                                    What about the aging process? Being the dour NY'er that I am, I susupect that here in the States our brewers don't have the time, space or $ to age their beer as they do in the Czech Republic or Germany. Am I wrong?

                                                                                                                2. re: brentk

                                                                                                                  I hear what you're saying. Not sure what to say to you other than the fact that it seems to be a widely accepted point of view among beer makers. To a man, every professional brewer I've met has expressed this point of view.

                                                                                                                  I can see where in the case of a lambic w/fruit, or a really heavily dry-hopped beer, that the 90% figure could be overstating things, sure. I also find that figure pretty surprising. As I'm not a pro brewer, I don't have much to stand on.

                                                                                                        2. It was Allagash night in our home last night. Among the more standard (but by no means average) lineup of dubbels and trippels was a true standout - "Interlude, January 2007." I grabbed this bottle from my local beverage shop on a whim and did I get a serious reward. This finely crafted brew is like no other that I've tried. According to Allagash, this is, "the first release in our new experimental series." I hope they've got more coming - my local shop says they've reordered numerous times to no avail.


                                                                                                          1. A few new beers I have enjoyed:

                                                                                                            Southern Tier Pumking=Pumpkin pie in a bottle but not just spice. A rich pumpkin flavour thing going on here

                                                                                                            moylans 2xIPA=sort of balanced yet geared to the hop head. Tasty

                                                                                                            Rodenbach Grand Cru=almost like a sour Dr Brown's Black Cherry. phenomenal.

                                                                                                            Alpha King=just a great APA. one of the best I have had. A rare one better than Sierra Nevad PA.