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Other Half Quadruple Feature

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Time to check in with our friends up north. Other Half opened in 2014, but only started canning in February of this year. They built their reputation almost entirely on word of mouth, and that word is "excellent", so can releases tend to be pretty crowded affairs. Such is the way of Northeast IPA brewers, I guess. Fortunately, cans have been finding their way into my possession often enough to know that their hype is at least partially deserved. Will I be driving up to Brooklyn and waiting in line anytime soon? Probably not. But I know some people who do, and for that, I am grateful. Here are the four latest brews I've had from these folks, two single hop beers, a duo, and one of their staple triple IPAs.

Other Half Double Dry Hopped Double Mosaic Dream

Other Half Double Dry Hopped Double Mosaic Dream - Similar to regular Double Mosaic Dream, but with moar dry-hopping - Pours a hazy yellow gold color with a finger of white head, decent retention, and a little lacing. Smells great, tropical fruit, citrus hops, a little dank pine. Taste follows the nose, huge amounts of tropical fruit and citrus, mangoes, pineapples, and whatnot, sweet up front with a well balanced bitter note in the finish. Mouthfeel is perfect, well carbonated, tight, medium bodied. Overall, delicious. Not sure how different it is from the non double dry hopped version, but it's still exceptional! A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/8/16. Canned 9/23/2016. Batch: Violently Hoppy.

Other Half Amarillo IPA

Other Half Amarillo IPA - I love Amarillo, but have found it to be a poor choice as a bittering hop, so single-hop beers like this tend to suffer a bit because of that. - Pours a cloudy, dark yellow gold, almost brown, with a finger of white head. Smells very nice, sweet with lots of citrus hops. Taste starts off sweet with lots of citrus hop flavor, maybe a bit of pine, finishing with a sharp, astringent bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, crisp, and relatively dry. Overall this is rock solid stuff, one of the better Amarillo Single Hop beers around, but it still can't quite overcome Amarillo's sharp bittering character... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a charente glass on 10/9/16. Canned: 9/23/16. Batch: Pretty Daddy.

Other Half All Green Everything

Other Half All Green Everything - A triple IPA brewed with Motueka, Amarillo, Citra and Mosaic hops, this one certainly doesn't fall into the "Isn't this just a hoppy barleywine" trap that many TIPAs are susceptible to, even if it doesn't quite reach the top of that mountain. - Pours a mostly clear, dark, golden orange color with a finger of white head. Smells nice, sweet citrus and pine, with some floral, grassy notes too. Taste has a big malt backbone, hits a more dank piney aspect than the nose, but plenty of citrus, finishing with a well balanced and soft bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbonated, but with a fair amount of boozy heat. A very good beer, but a little disappointing given its reputation. On the upper end of B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a teku glass on 10/9/16. Canned: 9/22/2016. Batch: Best Coast.

Other Half Simcoe + Wai-Iti

Other Half Simcoe + Wai-Iti - I think this might have been my first Wai-Iti hopped beer ever, though it turns out that two of those Veil beers I recently posted about also had them. It certainly has that New Zealand flare to it and works well enough for me, though I'd like to try more. This combo with Simcoe worked out quite nicely. - Pours a pale, almost clear yellow color with a finger of head and great retention. Smells great, sweet, candied citrus and pine hops, nice and dank, as Simcoe is wont to be. Taste has more Wai-Iti hop influence, much more tropical than your typical Simcoe, though you get a bit of that Simcoe dankness, and a good sweetness/bitterness balance. Mouthfeel is perfect, light to medium bodied, well carbonated, dangerously quaffable. Overall, this is awesome. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/14/16. Canned: 9/22/2016. Batch: Yeast Coast.

Phew, I think that's enough IPA reviews for the time being (only 8 over the course of two posts!). No more Other Half in the immediate pipeline, but you will almost certainly be hearing about them again soon. Indeed, I hope to perhaps try something that's not an IPA at some point...

The Veil Quadruple Feature

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Richmond, Virginia's The Veil Brewing Co. opened it's doors around six months ago. Brewer Matt Tarpey spent some time at several Northeast breweries, including the likes of The Alchemist and Hill Farmstead, as well as completing an apprenticeship with Jean Van Roy at Cantillon in Belgium. That's a pretty impressive pedigree. Since they're just getting started, I imagine their spontaneous fermentation program will take some time to develop, but their IPA game is already turning heads amongst the beer dork community.

The name of the brewery comes from Tarpey's time in Belgium. He was discussing pellicles, the thin film that forms on top of the beer during spontaneous fermentation, and he noted that "Jean has a lot of friends in Italy that are natural winemakers and he told me that his friends in Italy call pellicles 'the veil.' That moment was very special and I just remembered it..."

I managed to get my grubby little biscuit snatchers on four different cans of relatively fresh stuff. No spontaneous fermentation here, but one great IPA, two interesting takes, and one that didn't work out. So a pretty decent batting average and a promising start. I'm really intrigued to see where these folks go next.

The Veil Crucial Crucial Aunt Aunt

The Veil Crucial Crucial Aunt Aunt - Double Mango Double Dry Hopped Double IPA - Pours a cloudy, turbid yellow orange color (orange juice looking) with a finger of white, fluffy head, good retention, and some lacing. Smells of pure, unadulterated, juicy citrus hops. Taste starts off very sweet up front, hitting lots of those juicy citrus hops in the middle before heading to a balancing bitter hop town in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, fine, medium bodied, juicy up front but more dry in the finish. Overall, this is a rock solid Northeast IPA and it's delicious. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.4% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/7/16. Canned on 09/20/16.

The Veil Joooseee Boizzz

The Veil Joooseee Boizzz - Triple IPA with Raspberries, a collaboration with Monkish (another brewery that I need to become more familiar with) - Pours a milky orange amber color with a couple fingers of off white, almost pink head. Smells of fruity, juicy hops, but also a sorta fruit roll ups or fruit by the foot aroma. Taste follows the nose, lots of citrus hops, ample malt backbone, and some more gummy fruity notes. Sometimes this came off as a sorta artificial feel, as befits fruit roll-ups, but it was still pretty darn tasty. Mouthfeel is full bodied and heavy, well carbed, but certainly a sipper. Overall it's an interesting and tasty beer, worth checking out. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/9/16. Canned on 09/20/16.

The Veil Boss Man

The Veil Boss Man - Sour Double IPA - Pours a golden orange color with a finger of white head that doesn't last too long. Smells of citrus and some sort of souring twang. Taste is quite sour right from the start, some resinous citrus hops, but mostly dominated by that sourness with a bitter hop note towards the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and quite acidic. Overall, the notion of sour IPAs always seems to disappoint me. It is well crafted, for sure, but not really my thing. B-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/14/16. Canned on 09/19/16.

The Veil That Part

The Veil That Part - Double IPA hopped exclusively with New Zealand Wai-iti hops - Pours a murky golden color with a couple fingers of fluffy head. Smells... odd, almost like bubble gum, but with some strange notes. Hop notes almost absent. Not bad, per say, but certainly not your traditional IPA. Taste is, ugh, not good. Something is wrong with this. Astringent, off flavors, weirdly spicy, and earthy (and not in a good, funky way). I'm guessing it's a yeast problem and I'm curious if it fared better when it was initially canned... but then, it's only been a little more than three weeks. Mouthfeel is again kinda weird, medium bodied, well carbed, but again with some sort of strange astringency. Overall, yeah, avoid this one. I may have gotten a bad can or something, but this is really awful. F

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/14/16. Canned on 09/20/16.

Many thanks to fellow beer nerd Nick for making the trip down to Virginia and securing these cans for me. He's a great American, and I'll be discussing more of his generous acquisitions later this week as well.

Jack's Abby Copper Legend

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I did a pretty good job cobbling together a functional relationship with lagers last year, but have mostly fallen off the wagon in 2016 (I guess the barrel-aged Troegenator counts, but it feels like cheating). I know, I'm the worst and it's not like I was really comprehensive last year or anything, but I have drank a bunch of lagers this year, just not anything I've reviewed. You guys don't need me to tell you that Prima Pils is awesome, do you?

The brewery I keep coming back to for lagers of late is Jack's Abby. Since we're in full Oktoberfest season and since they put out very nice tallboys of their take on the style, I figured it's time to get back in the swing. Last year, in reviewing one of their collaborations, I mentioned that they could turn me into a lager man yet. They responded: "ONE OF US! ONE OF US!" As a fan of that movie, this only endears them to me even more. Gooble gobble!

Jacks Abby Copper Legend

Jack's Abby Copper Legend - Pours a burnished golden orange, dare I say, copper color, with a couple fingers of fizzy head that nonetheless sticks around for a while. Smells of bready, toasted, lightly caramelized malt, earthy noble hops. Taste has a great sweetness to it up front, again with the toasty, caramelized malt, and enough Euro hops to balance it all out. Maybe some nutty flavors as it warms up. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, soft, easy going, refreshing, near quaffable. Overall, yes, this is my kinda Octoberfest! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a mug on 10/15/16.

Alas, no other lagers in the review pipeline just yet, but I'm sure we'll find something in the nearish future. In the meantime, I've got a ton of IPAs and DIPAs clogging that pipeline, so we'll spend the rest of this week covering those...

Burlington Peach of Mind

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During the leadup to Halloween, I get in the mood by watching tons of horror movies. I usually snag some seasonal beer to pair with my spooky viewing habits, but there are multiple approaches to pairing beer. Pumpkin beers and Märzens are great complements, but you can also gain traction by contrasting gruesome visuals with bright and refreshing beer, which is where this peach dosed saison comes in. He says, as if pairing beer with movies is a real thing.

This is a saison brewed with Saccharomyces Bruxellensis Trois (formerly known as Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois, so changed due to some genetic sequencing research - all the gory details are available if you want to really nerd out), which lends "characteristics of mango and pineapple", which seem like a good complement to the peaches and plums added to this beer. Let's dive in:

Burlington Peach of Mind

Burlington Peach of Mind - Pours a cloudy orangish yellow with a finger or two of fluffy white head. Smells very nice, saison spice, a hint of musty funk, with a heaping helping of those peaches and other fruity esters. Taste hits the yeasty spice notes lightly up front with some earthy character and fruit (peach is there, but it's not overpowering) emerging quickly and lasting through the finish, which has a nice tart note to it (though not full-on sour, as is proper). Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, well carbonated, low acidity, bright and refreshing. Overall, a well executed, bright peach saison with hint of funk. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 10/7/16. Bottled: 8/4/16.

My supplies secured during Operation Cheddar V are rapidly dwindling. Only a couple things left, including one more Burlington sour that I can't believe I haven't drank yet. Look for a review of that in the nearish future. In the meantime, I've got a big cache of IPA reviews piling up that I think you'll be interested in next week.

Stone Oakmeal Bourbon Barrel Stout

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Hard to believe, but it's been twenty years since Stone declared that we weren't worthy to drink their beer. This turned out to be a successful reverse psychology gambit, as they've enjoyed quite a bit of popularity over the years. For their 20th Anniversary, they embarked upon a series of Anniversary Encore beers. Back in January, they released a rebrew of their 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, but they also reserved some for the Bourbon Barrel treatment, released in August and dubbed Oakmeal, which is what I have here.

For a brewery as big as Stone, it's always been surprising how small their barrel program was, but they started beefing it up a couple years ago. That initial batch of Fyodor's Classic was superb, but subsequent batches lacked that one's pop. I know, I don't like it when people proclaim that "Last year's batch was better" either, but in this case, there's actual cause for speculation. The great batch was aged 12 months, the not-as-great batch was only aged 7 months. Length of aging isn't the only variable, but it seems like an important one and the difference was palpable. Now, Oakmeal's base is a little less hearty than the Fyodor's base and it also incorporates healthy doses of bitter chocolate and oats (cerealously, oats!), but it also only got the 7 month aging period. How will that work out this time? Only one way to find out, which is to ask Wilford Brimley. Ok, two ways, we can drink it too:

Stone Oakmeal

Stone Bitter Chocolate Oakmeal Bourbon Barrel Stout - Pours black as a politician's soul with a finger of gorgeous brown head that sticks around for a bit. Smells nice, lots of roast malt, chocolate, coffee and little caramel, oak, and vanilla from those barrels too. Taste starts off sweet, rich caramel, vanilla, and then we move on to more prominent roasted malt, dark chocolate, finishing on a small amount of a boozy bourbon note. The barrel character is nice, but not exceptional, and again, I noticed that it's at 7 months, where the best Stone BA stuff I've had was at 12 months... Not sure if that is the culprit, but it seems likely. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, moderate carbonation, a little warming booze. Overall, a rock solid bourbon barrel stout, not going to open new vistas of the mind, but worthwhile in its own right. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11.4% ABV bottled (500 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 10/8/16. Brewed: December 5, 2015. Bottled: July, 2016.

Stone seems to have focused this year's barrel aging efforts on creating variants of their Xocoveza beer, which I'd gladly try... but I'm still jonesing for well-aged Fyodor's again. Fingers crossed.

Union Chessie

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To celebrate their underrated brewery's anniversary, Union brewing makes a barleywine named after local legend Chessie, a sea monster said to live in the midst of the Chesapeake Bay. As with most local legends of this ilk, there are many sightings but no actual evidence of its existence. Funnily enough, speculation meant to explain the sightings sound even more far fetched than a legendary sea monster and include a "mutant eel" theory, large river otters, prehistoric Zeuglodons, and South American anacondas escaping from 18th- and 19th-century sailing ships.

Fortunately, there's plenty of evidence for the beer's existence: namely that I was able to purchase and drink a bottle. It's a little over a year old and I get the impression it would be better fresh, but as it is now, it occupies that same strange territory in the DIPA/TIPA/Barleywine triangle. Regardless, Chessie's come out to play and behold! Photographic evidence:

Union Chessie Barleywine

Union Chessie 3rd Anniversary Barleywine - Pours a dark amber brown color with a finger or two \ of fluffy off-white head that sticks around for quite a while. Smells of faded citrus and resinous pine hops with some crystal malts lurking in the background. Taste also hits the citrus and pine hops pretty hard, with a light crystal malt backbone and dry, bitter hop finish. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, medium bodied, and surprisingly dry for the style. Not red wine dry, but still much more attenuated than your typical barleywine. Overall, this is an interesting beer, somewhere in that DIPA, TIPA, Barleywine triangle, tasty too. Would like to try fresh (or aged in a barrel). B

Beer Nerd Details: 9.8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a snifter glass on 9/23/16. Released: August 2015. Bottle No. 336/800.

This was the third anniversary beer, but they also released the second anniversary Chessie that had been aged in Elijah Craig 12 barrels last year. Here's to hoping I can snag the BA version later this year...

2SP Chardonnay Barrel Aged Tripel

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Take a Belgian Style Tripel and pop it into Chardonnay barrels for 10 months. Sounds groovy, but to be honest, if it doesn't also include Brett and/or souring bugs, this sort of thing hasn't worked out spectacularly for me in the past. This is a matter of personal taste, not quality. Often well made beer, but not something that bowls me over. For instance, I wasn't a huge fan of Victory's White Monkey, but I know lots of folks who love it. I have a feeling my reaction to 2SP's take on the style will fall into the same bucket. Well crafted and I enjoyed drinking it, but it never really wowed me or got me revved up...

2SP Chardonnay Barrel Aged Tripel

2SP Chardonnay Barrel Aged Belgian Style Tripel - Pours a warm orange gold color with afinger of slowly forming white head. Smells quite nice, lots of that white wine character, vinous fruit, expressive Belgian yeast, hints of spice. Taste starts off very sweet, we get that Chardonnay barrel character right away, fruity yeast with just a hint of spice, finishing with a little booze. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, moderately carbonated, with a bit of boozy heat. Overall, it's a decent take on a non-funky barrel-aged tripel, not my favorite style in the world to be honest, but it's getting the job done. B

Beer Nerd Details: 9.8% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 9/24/16. Batch Date: 8/16/15. Bottle No. 53.

I've generally enjoyed 2SP's offerings and will continue to explore them. Nothing in the immediate pipeline, but I'm looking forward to the return of The Russian, and its bourbon barrel treatment as well (perhaps the next bottle won't be overcarbed!)

Casita Cerveceria Del Árboles

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Casita Cerveceria is a contract brewery (funny and yet welcome that they don't go for the formerly trendy "Gypsy" designation) mostly based at Hill Farmstead. Let that sink in for a moment. It turns out that brewer Ryan Witter-Merithew has a long history with Sean Hill, having collaborated on Hill's initial run of Grassroots beers in Europe as well as working together at Denmark's Fanø Bryghus. Heck, rumor has it that Hill considered him a sort of unofficial successor in case of tragedy ("I told my brother Darren that if I died or something he should reach out to Ryan and have Ryan take over the brewery."). After a stint at England's Siren brewing (where he again collaborated with Hill Farmstead on that Lemon Cello IPA), Witter-Merithew returned to the US to work at Hill Farmstead for a spell, and now he's heading up his own operation, using some of the excess capacity from Hill's recent expansion.

My one prior exposure to Casita Cerveceria beer was something I didn't even realize at the time, a collaboration with Stillwater called On Fleek, a big 13% Imperial Stout that was wonderful (I neglected to take notes whilst drinking because I was not expecting it to be anything particularly special - I was wrong, because I am the worst).

Del Árboles (Spanish for "The Trees" and featuring a nifty, anthropomorphized evergreen on the label) is a saison brewed with Juniper, Pine, and Cedar. It's also brewed in collaboration with another contract brewery operation centered in Vermont called Wunderkammer. The label sez: Del Árboles tienen ojos, meaning that the trees have eyes. Ok, this is getting scary, let's see how it stacks up:

Casita Cerveceria Del Arboles

Casita Cerveceria Del Árboles - Pours a hazy golden orange color with a finger of white head and ok retention. Smells fabulous, lots of funky, fruity twang, some more earthy notes, a healthy dose of oak. Taste starts sweet, some spicy phenols, earthy funk but not quite barnyard (perhaps the spruce and juniper give it a fruity, floral kick), finishing with a well balanced sourness and oak. I say oak, but I can't find anything saying it's barrel aged, so perhaps it's cedar? I don't know cedar well. Whatever, it has the character of something barrel aged. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, highly carbonated and dry up front, but that lessens as the sour acidity takes over in the finish. Overall, this is a very well done saison in the Hill Farmstead mold and certainly compares favorably, which is high praise indeed. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a wine glass on 9/16/16. Brewed in May 2016.

Two beers, two winners. So yes, this is a brewery to look out for. I know I will be hunting down more as soon as possible. Alas, I only have more of this beer readily available. I know, boo hoo, right?


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