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Foley Brothers Native IPA

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This will be the fourth, and sadly, final round of Vermont Beer Roulette that we'll be playing this year. For those not following along, this is when I pick up a random Vermont beer that I've never heard of and drink it to see what happens. So far, we've had decent luck, but I have to admit to cheating a bit with this one, since Foley Brothers Native Brown Ale was a beer I snagged last year, so this is not as "random" as the other roulette contestants. It's ok, go ahead and clutch your pearls in horror at my transgression, I deserve it.

Foley Brothers Native IPA

Foley Brothers Native IPA - Pours a clear golden color with a finger of fluffy white head. The smell is full of citrus and pine hops, maybe some floral notes poking around as well. The taste follows those lines, with lots of citrus and pine hop flavors, some floral, maybe even herbal notes picking up towards the bracing, bitter finish. Mouthfeel is very light, maybe even a bit on the thin side, but it's very crisp and clean and goes down quickly. Overall, a solid IPA, nothing earth-shattering, but worthy of a try. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/14/14.

My Vermont haul goodies are dwindling at this point, so you can expect the near relentless onslaught of hoppy beer reviews to slow a bit in the near future. It's one of the tragedies of beer acquisition that it seems like I always end up with, like, 10 amazing beers in the same or similar styles. I really do try to keep things varied in terms of what I review, but sometimes I end up reviewing 10 IPAs in just a few weeks. We will hopefully get away from that in the coming weeks...

September Beer Club

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Due to various scheduling mishaps and vacations and whatnot, the August beer club never happened, and September ended up being a little on the delayed side. But we finally made it, and a good time was had by all. For the uninitiated, beer club is a gathering of like minded coworkers who get together for food and optional libations at a local BYOB. Tonight we hit up a regular Mexican establishment and had a rather good time.

Beer Club

For the sake of posterity, tentative thoughts on each beer are below, though they should be taken with a grain of salt, since tastings like this are not exactly ideal conditions. So here we go, in order of drinking (not necessarily the order pictured).

  • Kona Castaway IPA - A surprisingly decent IPA, lots of mango in the aroma and flavor, tropical fruit hops and so on. It's not a mind-blowing beer by any stretch, but it's actually pretty damn decent. B+
  • Devil's Backbone Catty Wompus - A Belgian IPA that kinda come off a little light on the Belgian and even IPA character, though it did have a pretty solid amount of bitterness towards the finish. That being said, it felt like the Belgian elements were canceling out the hop character, rather than combining with each other. Certainly not a disaster, but not really my thing either. B-
  • Victory Prima Pils - A beer I've obviously had on numerous occasions, and it's as good as it ever was. Pilsners are not really my style, but if I was asked what I would want to drink within the style, this would be a worthy candidate. B
  • Victory Headwaters Pale Ale - I always forget how good this beer is, even if it's still not my favorite pale ale evar or anything that silly. Still, it's a rock solid take on a standard style. More thoughts here. B+
  • Sly Fox Oktoberfest - A decent take on a standard style. Nice toasty malt character, and a very drinkable beer for this time of year. B
  • Round Guys The Berliner - This Berliner weis is almost like a sorta crazy lemonade/beer hybrid. It's got a nice tarness to it, and the color is crazy pale, almost white. It's an interesting beer, something I'd like to try someday on its own, though it seems ideally suited for hot weather, and we're sorta heading away from that these days. B+
  • Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black - Not quite as good as I remember from last time I had this, but it's still got a nice roast and coffee base with a bit of hoppiness to follow. The first one of these I had a while back seemed a little more balance and hop focused, so who knows what's going on here. That being said, it was still quite nice to revisit this beer. B
  • Kaedrin Trystero Barleywine - So I gave up on hoping that my barleywine bottles would carbonate, dumped everything I had into my keg, and attempted to force carbonate the stuff. The result is decent, though I need to figure out a better way to transport the stuff (carbonation is better from the tap, but loses some of its punch in traveling in a resealable bottle). On the other hand, this turned out rather well, with a really nice bourbon and oak character to it. B+
  • Element Extra Special Oak (ESO) - This is quite an interesting beer, even if it's not particularly fantastic. It's a sorta amped up English ESB, with a little more alcohol and some oak aging. For something oak aged, there wasn't a whole lot to salvage, but it does have that sorta rich barrel feel that often pervades these types of beers. B
  • Neshaminy Creek Punkless Dunkel - Basically the same thing as last year's Punkle Dunkle (no idea why the name had to change), with a slightly different label (that, so far, is the only meaningful difference we've found yet. Big pumpkin and spice (cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg, and the like) notes, fabulous carbonation and smooth, wheatey mouthfeel. Really fantastic brew, just as good as last year, and probably my favorite of the night. A-
  • Elysian Oddland Ginger Berry Brown Ale - Doesn't seem like much of a brown ale, it's very pale, like an IPA. But this is brewed with ginger and wheat, so it should work itself out. On the other hand, I don't care much for ginger, so I'm obviously not going to love this. Still, it was decent enough. C+
  • DuClaw Bourbon Barrel Aged Serum - I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of BBA pale ales, or pale beers in general (i.e saisons, etc...). It comes off as more of a barrel aged barleywine than a DIPA... It's got the richness imparted from the oak and bourbon, but the playfulness has disappeared. Decent enough, but nothing particularly famous. B+
And that's all for now. Already looking forward to the next meetup...

Three Floyds Man-O-Awe

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Most breweries will have an American Pale Ale in their portfolio. Three Floyds has ten. Alright, that's a bit disingenuous, as looking closer at a few, I see a couple things that may have only been made once or in extremely limited quantities for special events. On the other hand, two of their most popular beers, Alpha King and Zombie Dust, are featured amongst the ten along with several other popular offerings, and I'm not including the similar stuff like Gumballhead (a pale wheat ale). Plus, it's not like Three Floyds shies away from regular old IPAs and Double IPAs, which represent a similar proportion of their output.

They like hops, is what I'm trying to say. So all these pale ales have to have some differentiation, and in this case, we've got a beer made primarily with Michigan hops. This is not that far from Three Floyds, which is situated in the northwest corner of Indiana, and thus somewhat local. Alas, Michigan is not exactly known for their hops. As per usual, Three Floyds does not really mention what specific hop varieties are used, but I'm guessing it's along the lines of classic American C hops like Cascade, Centennial, or Chinook. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that, and it's probably a good idea to decentralize hop production in the US (which is currently centered on the Pacific Northwest), but it means that this beer probably won't be blowing the hats off of snobby beer nerds in the way that Three Floyds manages to do with many of their other beers, like the Citra-based Zombie Dust.

But I'm a big tent guy, and when you have ten pale ales, you have to differentiate them somehow, so let's drink some Michigan hopped beer, least that aggressive looking gentleman-o-awe on the label get angry.

Three Floyds Man-O-Awe

Three Floyds Man-O-Awe - Pours a bright orange/amber color with a finger of fluffy white head. Smells of straightforward citrus and pine hops, with some grassy notes and a little crystal malt hanging around to say "Hi". Taste goes along similar lines, decent malt backbone, with crystal malt doing its thing, and plenty of grassy citrus and pine from the hops hitting in the middle, with a slightly bitter, pretty standard pale ale finish. Mouthfeel is on the lower end of medium bodied, and it sorta thins out towards the finish, which has a slight drying aspect to it that makes it go down rather quickly. Overall, this is a pretty standard pale ale, which would be fine, except you know, Zombie Dust. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/12/14. Bottled: 06/17/14.

Damn, this was almost three months old by the time I got to it... but then, I still rather enjoyed it. I suspect it would be even better fresh. Speaking of which, I've nearly exhausted my Three Floyds beer supply. They were mostly hoppy, so I wanted to get through them pretty quickly... I feel like I've been really hitting the hops pretty hard over the past month, so bear with me. We'll have plenty of other interesting stuff in the near future...

Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow

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When my beer mule texted me from Three Floydia (that's where the brewery is, right?) and asked me if I wanted a bottle of Apocalypse Cow, I had several thoughts. First, I responded asking her to purchase as much as she could fit in her car, and that I'd reimburse her with Vermont beer (as you can tell from recent posting, she fully complied and is, in fact, the bestest evar). Second, I kinda assumed this would be a milk stout (what with that "Cow" in the name), something akin to Moloko. Then I looked it up and hmm, an 11% ABV IPA? Well ok. It turns out that I wasn't that far off the mark, as this is an IPA brewed with a lactose addition. An unusual choice, considering that most 11% ABV beers don't particularly need any additional unfermentable sugars in the mix, but on the other hand, the added sweetness and velvety mouthfeel allow for moar hops. This is actually the first time I'd even heard of lactose in anything other than a stout, so I guess we're in for an interesting experiment.

It works better than you might think. Now, why there's a very angry, cyclopic cow on the label is a bit of a mystery, but then, Three Floyds isn't exactly known for sensible label artwork. At least in this case, the artwork is very well done. Alrighty then, I think that's enough babbling. You can either surf, or you can fight! Or, um, drink. Colonel Kilgore seems like a guy who'd enjoy beer.

Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow

Three Floyds Apocalypse Cow - Pours a deep, dark orange color with a finger of off white head that leaves lacing as I drink. Smells enormously dank, piney and resinous, with some citrus and almost spicy hop notes playing along as well. The taste is very sweet, with that dank pine and resin kicking in quickly, leaving the juicy citrus notes and spicey hops towards the finish, which has just enough bitterness to balance out the sweetness. Mouthfeel is almost full bodied, but smooth and creamy (that lactose in action), with enough carbonation to cut through it all, though it does feel a bit sticky in the finish. While it certainly feels like a strong beer, the alcohol is reasonably well hidden... The full 22 ounces is a bit much, so perhaps it's a good one to share. Overall, this is a very interesting beer, and I haven't really had anything quite like it. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 9/6/14.

My Three Floyds supply is slowly but surely dwindling. But don't worry your pretty ears (ears? What's wrong with me?), there's plenty more to come.

Jack's Abby Hopstitution

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While it's easy for a homebrewer to pop over to a shop and purchase all the ingredients needed to make a beer, things are a bit more complicated for larger scale brewers. Ingredients like malt and hops are often purchased under contracts that need to be signed years in advance. Small or new breweries are often squeezed out of the most popular hops because they're all contracted out for several years. That being said, sometimes small quantities of popular but supply constrained hops will often become available. If you're a tiny brewpub operation that is constantly churning through new brews (a la Tired Hands), you can probably swing that sort of inconsistent approach. But if you're a larger brewer (and believe it or not, most are), that small amount of hops might allow you to make one batch of beer, but not more.

Hopstitution is Jack's Abby's answer to this conundrum. They'll make the same recipe, a 5.5% ABV extra pale lager, with every batch, only varying the hops based on what's available. What I have here is batch four, made with Australian hops (the label sez Aussie Rulez). Specifically, this was made with Ella, Topax, and Galaxy hops. I've actually not even heard of Ella or Topax, but Galaxy is one of the trendiest and thus supply constrainediest of hops, so let's see how this little experiment pays off:

Jacks Abby Hopstitution 4 Aussie Rulez

Jack's Abby Hopstitution #4 Aussie Rulez - Pours a slightly hazy, golden yellow color with a finger of white head that leaves lacing as I drink. Aroma is beautiful, tons of tropical fruit hops. Taste is somewhat less powerful than the nose implies, though there's plenty of hop flavor to go around, with less bitterness than expected. Mouthfeel is crisp and clean, light bodied, quaffable. Overall, this actually might be my favorite Jack's Abby beer yet. B+

Beer nerd Details: 5.5% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/6/14. Bottled: 7/31/14 (I think? The day is hard to read on my bottle).

I also had a Session Rye IPL from my little Vermont Trip that was pretty darned good. I suspect Jack's Abby would be a regular purchase if they were local, and I should really figure out a way to try some of the more sought after brews...

Floyd D'Rue

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Conundrums all around. If you're a brewer, and you embark on a massive 14.7% barrel aged imperial porter aged in rum barrels only to find out that the resulting beer was infected with lactobacillus, what do you do? Well, this happened for The Bruery and Three Floyds collaboration beers Rue D'Floyd and Floyd D'Rue, and their solution was to release the bottles, but with a Caveat Emptor attached. They went all full disclosure on us, and informed the public that they should drink the bottles before 6/30. Those that did, seemed to get a pretty fantastic beer. Dipshits like myself only managed to accidentally acquire one of these deviants via a beer mule two months too late.

So you can obviously see my answer to the consumer's conundrum, which is whether or not to buy something you know has the potential to be infected. Given the transparency, it's a little hard to get too worked up over this, but on the other hand, damnit, this would have been a spectacular beer if I had managed to acquire it fresh. Not particularly surprising, given the fact that it's a collaboration between two of the best brewers around, but still. I get that this was an expensive batch of beer, so again, I can't really begrudge them from releasing it and trying to recoup their losses, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing. Especially because you can really see how spectacular this beer could have been. It was also pretty damn expensive. Let's just hope they get together to try this again, this time without the lacto infection. Even as it stands, I managed to take down a 750 of this infected beast with little real challenge...

The Bruery and Three Floyds Floyd D Rue

Three Floyds & The Bruery Floyd D'Rue - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of light brown head. The smell... is slightly troubling. This could end up being ok, because there are lots of spices and rum and oak and vanilla in there, but maybe a faint twang indicating infection... or is my foreknowledge playing tricks on me? Well, no, it does seem to have a light infection going on. It's not entirely unpleasant, but it does overtake most of the flavors in the taste. You get less of that spice and rum, and the oak aging contributes more of a general richness and full bodied mouthfeel than the oak or vanilla. It doesn't really come off as sour, but theres a sorta tart fruit thing going on that doesn't really match well with the rest of the beer. Overall, this could have been a great beer, and even as it is, I think I'd rather drink it than a generic fizzy lager, but it's ultimately a disappointment. C+

Beer Nerd Details: 14.7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 9/5/14.

I guess they can't all be winners, though this one surely would be, were it not for that pesky infection. Moar Three Floyds reviews coming soon, so don't touch that dial...

Bent Hill India Pale Ale

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This is the third round of Vermont Roulette, wherein I drink a random Vermont beer I've never heard of, and see what happens. So far we've had one big success and one... not quite as good.

Bent Hill is a brand new brewery, having opened their doors in June, so information is a bit sparse. The founders were environmental engineers or somesuch, and thus have all sorts of grand plans, including an initiative to grow most of their hops locally and, as I generally presume of so-called "green" brewers, the creation of a weather control doomsday device. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them. And I, for one, welcome our brewing overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted blogging personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their hop fields.

In the meantime, let's see how this rather unconventional take (at least, for an American brewer) on an IPA goes:

Bent Hill IPA

Bent Hill India Pale Ale - Pours a cloudy, dark orange color with a finger of white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells distinctly English, earthy, spicy, floral hops, with some berries and pine in the background, with a substantial malty aroma, in the crystal malt or biscuit mold. Taste again feels more in line with an English IPA, with those earthy, herbal, spicy, floral hops doing their thing, and some citrus and pine playing along too, with a substantial malt backbone, light caramel and biscuits. While most IPAs tend to overdo the hops, this one may have overdone the malt side, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing either. It never reaches diacetyl levels English, which is a good thing, but it still feels very English in execution. The label sez they use Cascade, East Kent Goldings, and Chinook hops, so I guess it's a sorta old-school hybrid English/American IPA type of thing. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, generally pretty easy going. Overall, it's an interesting change of pace and completely off the path of what your typical American brewer is doing with IPAs... which is refreshing in its own way. B

Beer Nerd Details: 5.6% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 9/5/14.

Three rounds of Vermont Roulette, and I survive to play the final round, coming next week. Stay tuned.

Three Floyds Space Station Middle Finger

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Recent acquisitions have tended towards the hoppy, so I think you better hop aboard the hop train to delicious, as we'll be spending a lot of time there in the next few weeks. Here we have an American Pale Ale from the midwest ballers and Conan fans at Three Floyds. I don't normally go in for marketing blurbs, but this one is pretty funny:

From the dawn of time, humans have looked to the sky for answers. Space Station Middle Finger replies to all from its eternal orbit.
The notion of expending the resources to create a space station in this shape tickles me. A beer like this calls for proper glassware:

Three Floyds Space Station Middle Finger

Three Floyds Space Station Middle Finger - Pours a hazy gold color with a couple fingers of fluffy white head with good retention and lacing. Smells of citrus hops, with some piney and floral aromas poking in too. The taste amps up the floral hop aspect a bit, but those citrus and pine notes stick around and an ample hop bitterness rounds things out in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, light bodied, thin, relatively dry, highly quaffable. Overall, this is a solid pale ale, but it's not really in Zombie Dust territory (which might not be fair, except it's the same brewery and it sorta begs the comparison). Not that I'm complaining, as I could drink this all damn day. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of whatever you call that Star Wars glass on 9/1/14.

Three Floyds sure knows how to craft themselves a pale ale, and I'm lucky enough to have a couple more in the wings, not to mention a sour and a couple other rarities (well, rare for us lowly East Coasters).

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

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