Recently in IPA Category

At this point, the annual sorty into Vermont for beer (codename: Operation Cheddar) has a consistent plan of attack: Warren Store, CBC in Waterbury, Alchemist Visitor's Center, Lost Nation for Lunch, Hill Farmstead, and Foam are always onboard, with the occasional target of opportunity presenting itself (this year: Fiddlehead came into our sights). It's a fun day trip for me (embedded as it is in a vacation rooted in upstate NY, which is like, totally closer to VT than PA), but since I do it every year, I'll try not to bore you with repetition. Again. Anywho, enjoy some pics from the trip, a recap of the haul, and a few quickie reviews (that are light on tasting notes and heavy on ruminations, so less skippable than usual).

Alchemist Artwork
Some artwork from the Alchemist Building, it's purty.

Lunch at Lost Nation
Lunch at Lost Nation, a smoked chicken sandwich thing that was great. If you're ever ripping through Vermont, it's worth stopping here for lunch, the food is excellent.

Fiddlehead Logo
A Fiddlehead sign

Hill Farmstead Poetica 2

Hill Farmstead Poetica 2 - Operation Cheddar involves a lot of driving, so I'm generally reticent to partake in actually drinking beer at all. The only exception is usually a 5 ounce pour of something at Lost Nation. But since it looked like I was going to be at Hill Farmstead for a while and they actually had this interesting sounding thing on tap, I figured I'd give it a swing. You see, Hill Farmstead was hosting their annual Festival of Farmhouse Ales in the coming weekend, so they were packed with newly arrived beer dorks. Alas, since they planned on releasing a bunch of limited stuff during the festival, I had to settle for their "normal" shelfies (which are still phenomenal, to be sure). This was a special DONG release though, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Poetica 2 is basically Hill Farmstead's Mary, a pilsner, but instead of simply lagering in stainless, they lagered in a single French oak puncheon in their cooler for three months. After that, they moved it to a stainless tank and krausened it with a new batch for carbonation (this is apparently a step they always do when lagering). Anywho, the result is a very good pilsner, much like Mary. Grassy, earthy hops, minerality, quaffable stuff. I was not detecting much in the way of oak and I didn't take detailed notes, but I do want to say that it had more complexity than I'm used to from a pilsner. This, of course, means that the beer was a placebo and Hill Farmstead is now experimenting with mind control and we should indeed be quite worried because they're good at everything so why not world domination? Ok, that got away from me there for a second, so I'll just say that the beer is very nice and fans of Pilsners should look for future iterations on this mind control potion oaked lager. Let's just say B+ and get on with it.

Beer Nerd Details: ~5.6% ABV on draft (10 ounce pour). Drank out of a charente glass on 8/2/18. Batch 2.

And so we come to the haul pics. For the record, some duplicate cans/bottles not pictured, nor did I hoard all these cans for myself. Indeed, I would say the majority of my purchases were passed along to (or shared with) friends. I'm not exactly a full time mule, but I enjoy spreading the wealth. So here goes:

Nice Cans

Can Haul - Part 1: Hill Farmstead Citra IPA (seems to have been rebranded as an IPA, and I'll say that these cans were straight fire, very nice), Hill Farmstead Works of Love: Earl Grey Tea & Lactose, Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #4, Hill Farmstead Walden, Fiddlehead Mastermind.

Moar Cans. Mark likes cans.

Can Haul - Part 2: Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine, Alchemist Holy Cow IPA, Simple Roots New North End, Foam Built to Spill (many thanks to Kaedrin friend Eric for gifting this can and a few others to me when I met with him at Foam), 14th Star Make the Cut (not pictured, see below), Upper Pass First Drop, Alchemist Focal Banger, Alchemist Lightweight, Suarez Family Brewing Palatine Pils (not technically an Operation Cheddar acquisition, full explanation to come in a separate post), Alchemist Heady Topper, and Alchemist Hellbrook.

Funny observation: While Hill Farmstead was packed with long lines due to FoFA, Alchemist had a practically nonexistent line. Each year, the Alchemist gets less crowded. Plenty of people milling about, but I basically just walked up to the counter and got my beer. Go figure.

Haul of growlers

Growler Haul: Foam Galaxie 500, Hill Farmstead Abner (we will be talking more about Abner sometime in a separate post), Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #9, Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #4.

Haul of Hill Farmstead bottles that I want to lick

HF Bottle Haul: Hill Farmstead Arthur, Anna, Grassroots Brother Soigne, Florence, Dorothy, and Clara.

Miscellaneous Haul

Miscellaneous Haul: von Trapp Golden Helles Lager, von Trapp Dunkel, Jack's Abby Cordon Rouge Barrel-Aged Framinghammer, Good Measure Tawny (#BiL), Lost Nation The Wind Bretta (not to be confused with the "plain" Wind), Stone Corral Bad Rooster IPA, Rock Art Citra DIPA, Burlington Peak Nostalgia, and Lawson's Finest Liquids Super Session #7.

Moar Miscellaneous Haul

Moar Miscellaneous Haul: 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze Cuvée Armand & Gaston 1.5 L Magnum, Suarez Family Brewing Postscript, Proclivity, and Call to Mind (again, not technically Operation Chowder, but we'll cover that in a separate post), and Crooked Stave Blueberry Origins.

The non-beer haul

Non-Beer Haul: Alchemist Red Heady hot sauce and Cheddy Topper cheddar cheese.

Phew, that's quite a bit of beer. Now let's take a closer look at a few of these that I drank:

Hill Farmstead Society and Solitude 9

Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #9 - Pours a cloudy, golden yellow with a solid finger of white head that leaves plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells nice, sweet, lots of tropical fruit hops, mango, pineapple, and so on. Taste is also quite nice, sweet, citrusy, pine, balance in the finish. Mouthfeel is perfect, tight, soft carbonation, medium bodied, drinks like a dream. Overall, oh jeeze, another excellent HF IPA, stop the presses. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV growlered (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a charente glass on 8/4/18. Growler filled on 8/2/18.

Foam Galaxie 500

Foam Galaxie 500 - Pours a very cloudy, milky looking straw yellow color with half a finger of white head that doesn't stick around too long. Smells of bright citrus, tropical fruit, stone fruit, and the like. Taste is very sweet, lots of those bright citrus hops, with a sharp edge to it, finishing sweet and juicy. Mouthfeel is a tad low on the carbonation, medium bodied, with a sharp alcohol note. Overall, this is a really nice Galaxy DIPA, a bit on the strong side, but no less delicious for it. B+ or A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV growlered (750 ml swing top). Drank out of a charente glass on 8/4/18. Growler filled on 8/2/18.

Alchemist Holy Cow - Apparently one of their staples during the halcyon days of the old Alchemist brewpub, it was a local favorite long before Heady became the hotness. Pours, well, I don't know, because I drank it from a can. I'm guessing pale. Smells citrusy, bright graprefruit. Taste is light and citrusy, finishing with a nice balancing bitterness. Mouthfeel is crisp, clean, and dry, good carbonation, light, quaffable stuff. Overall, it's not going to blow people away, but I could drill a four pack of these with ease. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.16% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of the can (like a man) on 8/5/18.

Alchemist Hellbrook

Alchemist Hellbrook - A pretty straightforward Amber ale, a style I can appreciate when done well (and when hopped to high heaven), this doesn't quite live up to the reputation of the Alchemist's best work. Indeed, I think the pattern is that after Heady and Focal, there's a distinct stairstep in quality to their other offerings. I don't know that I've had anything outright bad, to be sure, but all of these others are somewhat standard takes, if well executed. None are quite the style-defining heights of Heady or Focal... This one pours a dark amber, almost brown color with a couple fingers of off-white head. Smells of citrus and dank, resinous pine, with crystal malt lurking in the background, light caramel tonez. Taste hits that crystal malt character, with plenty of piney, resinous hops in the middle, finishing with a balancing bitterness and dank hop profile. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and pretty well balanced. Overall, another solid brew here. Not going to make headlines, but it's better than your typical amber ale, if not quite at the top of the style. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/5/18.

Alchemist Lightweight - Look, I'm not sure what I was expecting from this American Blonde Ale, but what I got was an almost Kolsh-like easy drinker, earthy, grassy, and herbal. Nice lawnmower beer, but again, not going to set the world on fire like you might expect from the Alchemist. I feel like I'm bagging on Alchemist here, but in reality, these are all solid little beers. Sometimes they're disappointing due to the high bar set by Heady and Focal, but I will say that I'm still going to continually seek out additional varieties of Alchemist stuff. None of it is bad, and it sometimes approaches the sublime, so why not? B-

Beer Nerd Details: 4.4% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/5/18.

Frost Beer Works Lush - I had the Plush DIPA a while back, which is a variant of this beer, and heck, they're both really good DIPAs. Typical Northeast IPA type stuff, not going to replace the top tier, but certainly worth a flier if you're making your way through VT's hop laden waters. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/6/18.

Lawson's Finest Liquids Super Session #7 - If you've had any of the Super Session beers, you know what you're in for here (I haven't had them in close enough proximity to notice a major difference, but who knows...) Typical session IPA territory, but it doesn't quite feel like a "diet" IPA like some of them do, it's a really nice, quaffable, citrus IPA that is light and crisp. It may not stand out against a sea of DIPAs, but it's a nice summer beer. B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (12 ounce). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/10/18.

Foam City Lights: Pineapple & Tangerine - A pretty straightforward kettle soured fruit beer, it reminds me a bit of Burley Oak's JREAM beers, though I think those are better. For whatever reason, this one didn't quite connect with me. C+

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV canned (12 ounce). Drank out of a flute glass on 8/11/18.

Simple Roots New North End IPA - Pretty straightforward NEIPA stuff, not top tier, but better than the last Simple Roots stuff I had on a previous Operation Cheddar mission. One thing about these non-hyped cans that always gives me pause is that they tend to be a bit less fresh, which will have an impact. This is not entirely their fault either, as I bought this on 8/2 (when it was already a couple weeks old), but didn't drink it until 8/17. Not a ton of time, to be sure, but this wasn't the can I was rushing to try either, and you can see that the highest rated stuff in this post tends to be the freshest as well. Freshness isn't the only lever here, but that's probably a part of it. Regardless, this is a fine beer, worth a flier if you're in VT. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/17/18.

Burlington Peak Nostalgia - This is a Strawberry Milkshake IPA with Vanilla & Milk Sugar, a style that is hyped to high heaven thanks in large part to Kaedrin's local Tired Hands, who make a whole series of Milkshake beers that are awesome. This Burlington take certainly emphasizes the strawberry aspects well (moreso even than the Tired Hands equivalent), but the balance isn't quite on point and it's overall a little disappointing. But my frame of reference is the Tired Hands Milkshakes. I've certainly had worse takes on the style, and while it's a wholly different beer, this beer is far better than Burlington's Strawberry Whale Cake, which I got on a previous Operation Cheddar. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/17/18.

14th Star Make the Cut Saving Grace

14th Star Make the Cut Saving Grace - Apparently there's a local homebrew competition where the winner's recipe is scaled up and brewed at 14th Star. This is a very nice Northeast IPA dry hopped with Mosaic, Citra, and Ekuanot. And it's really good, lots of juicy citrus and pine, good mouthfeel and pretty easy going. Would try again, though I suspect we've seen the last of this particular beer due to its origins. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.3% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/18/18.

Phew! That's a lot of beer, folks. Many apologies for the lack of blogging recently, I hope this makes up for it. I've still got quite the backlog of reviews, and plenty of things from this trip that I haven't dug into yet, so much moar to come. Stay tuned.

This brings this year's Operation Cheddar to a close. Next year promises to hold at least a minor shakeup in that Lawson's Finest Liquids is finally opening a brewery, taproom, and retail store in Waitsfield, VT (not far from the Warren Store, which was always my scheduled stop to find Lawson's and thus will probably fall out of the rotation next year). Most exciting!

Again Burley Oak Quadruple Feature

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In what's become an annual tradition, I stopped in at Burley Oak on my way home from a vacation in Ocean City, MD for a big, pre-holiday release. Last year, I was taken aback by how bonkers the release was. This year, I was mildly prepared for the insanity. I wouldn't think to put Burley Oak in the top tier of breweries capable of sustaining releases like this (i.e. TreeHouse, Monkish, Other Half, etc...), but I suspect their location matters, and it helps that it was a holiday weekend.

For their part, Burley Oak has implemented some practices to minimize the strain, such as numbered wrist bands and pre-orders (though not pre-payment, which would make the line move faster, but probably presents challenges of its own). The facility has morphed a bit as well, and is more conducive to the whole beer swap/share environment that inevitably emerges during such events. I talked to a guy who was third in line; he'd arrived at 7 pm the night before and hadn't left. Me? I was 173rd in line. But I still got everything on offer, so there is that:

Burley Oak 100 Citra

Burley Oak 100 (Citra) - Last year's Mosaic 100 was amazingly good. Here we have the same beer, but with Citra hops. Alas, I don't think that this rivaled last year's version, though it's obviously quite nice. Pours cloudy, downright murky, a muted, milky looking yellow color with a finger of white, dense head that sticks around for a while. Smells great, lots of sweet citrus and floral notes. Taste is sweet and citrusy, orange juicy, that floral component kicking in for complexity's sake, with a perfectly calibrated finish. Not noticeably bitter, but not sickly sweet either. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, a little chewy, well balanced stuff. Overall, it's great. I'd put the mosaic higher, but this is quite good. B+ or A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/30/18. Canned: 06/29/2018. Batch: Y WAS THE B BALL COURT WET?

Pretty Girls Like Hazy IPAs

Pretty Girls Like Hazy IPAs - This is a "Pink" IPA (whatever that means) triple dry-hopped with Vic Secret, Summer, and Mosaic hops. Pours a murky pinkish hued color with a finger of off-white (a hint of pink?), dense head that sticks around and leaves some lacing. Smells great, citrus, pine, pineapple, really nice. Taste isn't quite as great as the nose, sweet with a little of that citrus going on, and a balancing bitterness towards the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, moderately dry, again, not quite as good as the nose would have you believe. Overall, it's a solid little IPA, but nothing special. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6.9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/1/18. Canned: 06/29/2018. Batch: BECAUSE OF ALL THE DRIBBLING.

Double Blackberry Mango JREAM

Double Blackberry Mango JREAM - The acronym stands for "Juice Rules Everything Around Me", in case you were wondering, and last year's entries in this series were nice, but didn't particularly blow me away. This one turns things around, perhaps because of the "double" nature providing a wallop of richness, or maybe just Blackberry Mango combo is more to my palate. Pours a hazy, bright red color with a finger of striking pink head. Smells nice, lots of fruit, those blackberries coming through strong, less of the mango. Taste starts off with rich and sweet, with bright, tart fruit coming through in the middle, again with the mangoes taking backseat to the blackberries, finish with a lactic sour kick. Mouthfeel is rich and on the higher end of medium bodied, well carbonated, moderate acidity. It's not something you could slam several of in a row, but it's really great. Overall, this might be my favorite take on a JREAM yet. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/1/18. Canned: 06/25/2018. Batch: I DON'T TRUST THAT TREE

Strawberry Banana JREAM

Strawberry Banana JREAM - Pours a hazy yellowish orange color with a finger of white head. Smells decent, sweet, I'm getting both strawberry and banana in there, though who knows if I'd be able to pick that out blind. Taste starts off sweet, hits a sugary strawberry and banana note in the middle, finishing with a tartness that escalates into sourness. Mouthfeel is well carbonated but smooth and medium bodied, a sorta sweet soft drink feel to it, but with that acidic note in the finish. Overall, it's not the eye opener that Double Blackberry Mango was, but it's pretty good and compares favorably the ones I had last year. B or B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/6/18. Canned: 06/25/2018. Batch: IT LOOKS A BIT ...SHADY

So there you have it. Not sure it'd be worth getting in line at 7 PM the night before, but I'm glad I got there when I did...

Finback Social Fabric

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Yet another member of NYC's beer renaissance is Finback brewing. Located in Queens, it's not just a borough where you can sow your royal oats or discover a worthy bride anymore. Between Finback and their neighbors at SingleCut as well as brethren in Brooklyn like Other Half and Interboro, things are looking up in the NYC beer scene. This particular beer is a double dry-hopped DIPA made with Mosaic and 007 (the hop formerly known as Idaho 7, which if this beer is any indication, is a wonderful match with Mosaic). The Social Fabric may be fraying, but beers like this might help knit things back together. Yeah, fat chance, but let's give it a shot, eh?

Finback Social Fabric

Finback Social Fabric - Pours a cloudy yellow color with a solid finger of head that sticks around for a bit, leaving a bit of lacing. Smells fantastic, sweet, bright, tropical fruit, mangoes, oranges, and a wallop of pineapple. Taste starts off sweet, hits that bright tropical fruit note, juicy citrus, mangoes, and pineapples, finishes with just enough balancing bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, light, and crisp, well carbonated, drinks like a lower ABV beer. Overall, this is fantastic. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/24/18. (No canning date, but I'm guessing this was within 2 or so weeks of canning.)

Many thanks to Kaedrin beverage compatriot Dana for slinging this can my way. I will most definitely need to be checking out moar Finback in the future. In the meantime, IPA season continues next week, but we'll start to see some other styles float in too....

And so we enter IPA season here at Kaedrin HQ. I know, I know, all year is IPA season, especially these days, but the summer months tend to be an attractor for hops. For whatever reason, my fridge just magically starts to fill with new and unique IPAs around this time of year, much moreso than the winter months. As such, the next several reviews will feature hoppy beers. I usually try to mix things up here, but sometimes the pipeline gets clogged with hops. Oh, the horror!

First up is a pair of Tree House IPAs thoughtfully passed along by Kaedrin friend Danur (many thanks!) I also had two additional Tree House beers at a share (also thanks to Danur), but they were small pours and I didn't take notes because I'm the worst and I know everyone loves tasting notes and finds them super-useful and entertaining to read so I'm sorry that I don't have much to say about them and by the way, I only really took detailed notes on the first of these beers, so enjoy it because the rest of the post is blatant rambling and run-on sentences kinda like this one. Annnd... go:

Tree House Bbbrighttt with Citra

Tree House Bbbrighttt with Citra - I initially mistook this for plain ol' Bright w/Citra, but apparently the extra b's and t's mean something. I think this was, like triple dry hopped instead of whatever they normally do? Something like that? Let's see: Pours a moderately hazy but kinda radiant (bright?) pale straw yellow color with a solid finger of dense, fluffy head. Smells great, lots of juicy citrus (dare I say bright?) with a nice floral component. Taste starts off sweet, again that juicy citrus with a solid floral note, followed by just a hint of balancing bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, perfectly carbonated, crisp, refreshing. Overall, big shock, another great Tree House IPA. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/22/18. Canned on: 06/12/18. Batch: NNNEVER EVER SAW THE STARS SO BBBRIGHT

Tree House Hurricane

Tree House Hurricane - I didn't take detailed notes for this, because as previously mentioned, I'm the worst and I'm just going to blather about it for a bit and maybe make a Bob Dylan joke (or maybe just mentioning that is enough). My general impression is that this has a great citrus nose, but the taste is dryer and more minerally than I'm used to from Tree House. It's still got your typical citrus hop notes, but they're not quite as pronounced here. But the dryness makes for a good mouthfeel and a nice match with food. Still a pretty good IPA, but not near their top of the line. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7.7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/26/18. Canned on: 06/12/18. Batch: EVERYBODY'S PLAYING IN THE HEART OF GOLD BAND

Tree House Juice Machine

Tree House Juice Machine - This apparently very limited release (2 cans pp) appears to be a sorta mix between King Julius and Very Green, with a convoluted hop schedule consisting of Magnum, Columbus, Amarillo, Citra, and Galaxy, resulting in a complexity not quite present in, for example, the above beers. Lots of citrus, juicy tropical fruit, pine, and floral notes, pretty much running the gamut of what hops are capable of. It's totally delicious. That being said, I suspect ratings are entirely driven by rarity here. It deserves a good rating, to be sure, but this gets astronomical ratings. I will abstain from rating because I was not in a hermetically sealed environment like I usually am (but seriously, not ideal conditions here). Who knows, maybe if I have ten more of these I'll think they're worth the trouble.

Beer Nerd Details: 8.2% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a wine glass on 7/5/18. I don't remember the canning date, but I assume it's around 6/12 like the above.

Tree House Very Green

Tree House Very Green - The plain ol' Green was actually my first Tree House beer way back when, shared by a visiting friend from Vermont, and it was phenomenal (once again, I never really wrote about it because it was a social situation and it's not like I drank a whole can, and so on). Like Juice Machine, this one is hyped to high heaven, probably because of the rarity. It's also totally delicious with all that great NEIPA character, juicy hops with some big floral notes - the word green actually does come to mind, but that may just be the power of suggestion and my puny willpower. Again, totes great beer, but the hype and rarity drive the ratings perhaps a bit to far. Of course, here I am posting terrible pictures and no tasting notes, so it's not like I'm immune to hype.

Beer Nerd Details: 8.6% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a wine glass on 7/5/18. I don't remember the canning date, but I assume it's around 6/12 like the above.

So there you have it. I continue to pine for Tree House beers and will most certainly be seeking them out in the future. Many thanks again to Kaedrin friend Danur for braving the Massachusetts wilderness to acquire and share all these beers.

Levante Quintuple Feature

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Drink local, they say, and so I do. Levante is the closest brewery to Kaedrin HQ, and I do find myself at their taproom on a semi-regular basis. Alas, I've been woefully neglectful of their wares on this here blog. Since opening a few years ago, they've grown considerably, both in terms of quantity and quality. In particular, they've stepped up their NEIPA game, as these last few releases illustrate (also telling: the number of people in lines for this stuff). Of course, their stout program is also strong, and while my ambivalence to coffee is well known, we'll cover a couple of coffee-dosed offerings too (hint: they're fantastic).

Levante Retail Therapy

Levante Retail Therapy - The perfect gift for dorks who work for a retail website and are breathing a sigh of relief after the usual Q4 rush (i.e. me). Brewed with spelt malt and oats and hopped with Simcoe, Amarillo, Citra, and El Dorado. Pours a cloudy, milky yellow color with a finger of white head. Smells of sweet, juicy citrus hops, fresh, green, pretty darned great. Taste is sweet and juicy, lots of citrus. Mouthfeel is medium bodied but kinda thick, well carbonated. Overall, one of the better Levante offerings, not quite Hop Cartel level good, but very nice. Probably shouldn't have given half of these away as Christmas gifts. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/22/17. Canned: 12/21/17.

Levante Gran Gianduiotto

Levante Gran Gianduiotto - Imperial stout brewed with lactose, Ghirardelli cacao powder, hazelnut, vanilla, and three blends of over 70 pounds of Italian Espresso from Gran Caffe L'Aquila. Pours a very dark brown color with off white head. Smells of roasty coffee, chocolate, coffee, roast, and coffee. Did I mention coffee? As it warms, it gains a sweeter, richer caramel note. Taste is a little less roasty, more rich caramel, but still plenty of coffee and chocolate, I wouldn't have picked out hazelnut blind, but since I know it's there, I can kinda see it if I do the tasting equivalent of squinting. Mouthfeel is rich and chewy, full bodied, moderately carbonated, a hint of booze. Overall, this is fabulous, even for a coffee beer. Kinda wish I didn't give most of my cans away as gifts... A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/29/17. Canned: 12/21/17.

Levante Coffee Shoppe Terminology

Levante Coffee Shoppe Terminology (Barrel Aged 2017) - Brewed with a blend of shade grown, locally roasted, organic Sumatran and Guatemalan coffee supplied by Golden Valley Farms Coffee Roasters in West Chester, PA, then aged for six months in American Whiskey Barrels from Manatawny Still Works in Pottstown, PA (they do not make bourbon, but I think their standard offering is primarily malted barley and wheat, with some oats and rye). Pours a very dark brown color with a tan head. Smells great, lots of coffee, roast, and a heaping helping of that whiskey, oak, and vanilla. Taste is rich and creamy, caramel, whiskey, oak, and vanilla, with a dose of roast coffee, finishing on a pleasant boozy note. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, and chewy, with lots of boozy (but again, pleasant) heat. Overall, maybe I do like coffee beers (i.e. if they're this boozy), great barrel character and pretty darned great. For some reason, I feel like people are sleeping on this, as evidenced by the fact that I just bought another couple bottles about a month after I bought this one... on second thought, forget I said anything. A

Beer Nerd Details: 10.1% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a snifter on 1/5/18. (not sure when bottled, bought it at 12/21/17 release)

Levante Tickle Parts

Levante Tickle Parts - Another NEIPA that's a little short on specifics (label sez: El Dorado, Mosaic, Citra hops were used). They released this a couple months ago (I had an extra-hopped cask version at a local watering hole, and it was great), then did a rebrew in January, which is the batch I'm reviewing here. Pours a murky yellow color with a finger of white head that leaves plenty of lacing as I drink. Smells fabulous, tons of fresh, juicy citrus hops. Taste hits those juice notes hard, citrus with a little bit of dank pine in the finish, which isn't very bitter (but maybe just enough to keep things in balance). Mouthfeel is medium bodied but thick, well carbonated, decent balance. Overall, a good example of the hazier NEIPA. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.1% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/19/18. Canned: 1/11/18. Batch 2.

Levante Glitter Parts

Levante Glitter Parts - Another NEIPA variant, this time with added lactose, coconut, and vanilla (kinda Tired Hands Milkshake-esque), with a similar hopping schedule to Tickle Parts (Citra, El Dorado, Simcoe, Mosaic). I drank this out of a shaker pint glass because I was watching the Eagles slaughter the Vikings on Sunday, and as you can see, it was totally my glassware that put them over the edge. Pours an even murkier pale yellow color with a finger of white head that leaves lots of lacing as I drink. Smells great, those fresh, juicy citrus hops, maybe a bit more tropical here. I didn't pick up coconut directly (and probably wouldn't blind), but if you do the olefactory version of squinting, maybe it's there? Taste follows the nose, sweeter with lots of juicy citrus hops, with maybe that vanilla showing up a bit here. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a higher viscosity than Tickle Parts, that lactose definitely felt here, well carbonated and decent balance. Overall, yep, another winner. A

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a shaker pint glass on 1/21/18. Canned: 1/11/18.

I feel like perhaps my lesser homer instincts are kicking in, as I only seem to find myself reviewing beers I love from these guys. But these last two releases were pretty killer. I will say that they make plenty of beers that I'm not entirely on board with (and in fact, their regular lineup isn't all that spectacular), so there is that. It's hard to get all fired up about writing them up on those though, perhaps a topic for another post.

Tree House Doppelganger

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Tree House is one of those little Northeast breweries with a cult-like following where dorks line up for hours on end for a chance to snag a few cans of NEIPA sludge (I kid because I love). I've had a few tastes of their stuff before, and they're uniformly excellent, so maybe queuing up for sugar water isn't quite that dumb (ugh, who am I kidding with this?)

This particular beer is an imperialized version of their Alter Ego beer, itself a variant (or Alter Ego, hur dur) of Julius that adds tons of Mosaic and a little Amarillo to the dry hop. Everyone follow that? No? Too bad, here comes the boring tasting notes:

Tree House Doppelganger

Tree House Doppelganger - Pours a cloudy golden yellow color with a finger of head that has decent retention. Smells great, like an orange juice soaked pine cone, juicy citrus, tropical fruit, pineapple, dank, resinous pine. Taste starts of sweet, that juicy citrus pitching in during the middle, followed by pine and a well balanced bitterness towards the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and nimble, almost quaffable. Overall, what a surprise, another dank-ass winner from Tree House. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 1/5/18. Canned on 12/27/17. Batch: THE MAN WHO STEPPED INTO YESTERDAY

Fabulous, as expected. Will always be on the lookout for more from them. Many thanks to fellow Beer Nerd Adam for the cans...

Carton IDIPA

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Every year around Halloween, I gird my loins and make a trek into New Jersey for some spooky beer hunting. Alright, fine, it's a day with some sort of seasonal-themed mini-golf and a haunted restaurant, and while I'm there, I hit up some Jersey liquor stores to see what I can find.

Carton has been a reliable little brewery for a while now, and I really enjoy Boat beer and 077XX, so when I saw this newish IPA offering that was unheard of by me, I grabbed a four pack. I was initially confused by the name, thinking it was some form of Double IPA, though I couldn't figure out what the leading "I" stood for. It turns out that this beer is actually a reference to the Id (and that Carton also makes beers called EGOIPA and SUPEREGOIPA, the latter being a whopping 13% ABV). Very Freudian:

Carton IDIPA

Carton IDIPA - Pours a clear golden yellow color with a finger of fluffy white head. Smells of dank, resinous hops, a little citrus. Taste is sweet, some crystal malt here, with citrus and pine hops. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, easy going. Overall, solid old-school IPA here, a little more muted than I'd expect, but I'm chalking that up to freshness (though it should probably keep this long) and it's not like it's really bad at all or anything. B

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/28/17. Canned on 10/03/2017.

Carton continues to interest me, of course, and I will always snag something from them when I see it...

Upper Pass Double Feature

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This isn't exactly Vermont Beer Roulette, that venerable practice wherein I just grab a bottle (or can) of something in Vermont that I've never heard of and hope for the best, but it's close. In accordance with tradition, I did a little asking around before this latest Operation Cheddar to see if there was anything I should be on the lookout for, and one of the things that came up: get some Upper Pass!

They've only been around for about a year and a half, but if these two cans are any indication, they'll be here to stay. Currently brewing on a tiny one barrel system, they do manage to slip in the occasional big batch at the Von Trapp Brewery in Stowe (I believe my two cans hailed from one of those supplementary batches). I don't know what it is about Vermont that breeds great IPAs, but Upper Pass has joined those hallowed ranks. Maybe it's in the water.

Upper Pass First Drop

Upper Pass First Drop - An "American Pale Ale" (but seriously, pretty much indistinguishable from an IPA) made with Golden Promise and Pilsner malt, a blend of two "East Coast" yeasts (and we know how important that is to the NEIPA style), and a lineup of hops that include Azacca, Centennial, Citra, and Mosaic. Pours a cloudy golden orange color with a finger of white head that leaves lacing. Smells great, sweet stone fruit, almost peachy, with some dank pine peeking through. Taste hits that juicy citrus and dank, resinous pine note hard, peaches and pineapple, with a balancing but only moderate bitter bite in the finish. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, well carbonated, relatively dry, and quaffable. Overall, this is fabulous stuff. Very well balanced and crushable. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/11/17. Canned on: 7/27/17.

Upper Pass Cloud Drop

Upper Pass Cloud Drop - Pours a little paler orange, cloudier, and a half finger of white head and lacing. Smells just as good, less stone fruit and less dank but still juicy and citrusy. Taste hits that juicy citrus hop character, sweet and less bitter, but still relatively balanced. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, a little thicker than First Drop, sticky with a faint but pleasant hint of booze. Overall, while I think I might actually like First Drop a teensy bit better, this is still pretty fantastic and earns the same grade! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 8/11/17. Canned on: 7/27/17.

Always something new and great brewing in Vermont, these folks are putting out some great beer and we will be on the lookout upon future sorties into Vermont.

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

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the IPA category.

Gueuze is the previous category.

Irish Red Ale is the next category.

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