Friday, November 30, 2012

Devil's Backbone Kilt Flasher

For a beer so titled the "Kilt Flasher," one may cheekily suggest that I approached this particular beer naked. 

Kilt Flasher - The Devil's Backbone Brewing Company
8.0% ABV, 20 IBUs

That is to say that I had no idea what to expect.  

I selected Kilt Flasher not because of what I knew about it specifically, which was nothing, but because of my sincere appreciation for Devil's Backbone, a superior, high quality and local brewery. In fact, according to the Great American Beer Festival, 2012's Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year.  

What I discovered in the Kilt Flasher was quite the complex brew.  

I liked it mostly, and I what I like mostly about it was the Kilt Flasher's peculiarity.  

This was a flavor profile that challenged me in good ways; so excessively unique initially that I feared my own inability to describe it accurately. 

That said, nothing about the way the Kilt Flasher appeared or smelled offered any indication of the wild flavor that awaited.   

It poured a dark mahogany with nearly no head to speak of.  

As the beer level lowered, the glass in which it was contained remained remarkably clear.  In other words, the Kilt Flasher clung not at all to its vessel. 

The scent, nearly nonexistent, did very little to prepare the consumer for the boldness to follow upon consumption.   

At first sip, I sensed Belgian influence, and, otherwise, a cacophony of things going on that I was then unable to clearly sort. 

I was taken back a bit by the finish, which provided strong, bubbly carbonation.  

While the mouthfeel was not as thick as the beer's tint may have suggested, the Kilt Flasher left a rather strong and lingering toffee aftertaste.  

As I continued to sample, two characteristics, likely related, were presented: sweetness, and cherries. 

The Kilt Flasher seemed a rather sugary beer.  Had I drank it blindfolded, I may have assumed it a Schwarzbier.  

Overall, I enjoyed this beer.  Although, I would not consider the Kilt Flasher sessionable.  It was too rich, too decadent, and exhibited too much of a candy-like quality for  multiple consumption.  

The Kilt Flasher was, though, a fun, single beer.  Perhaps best served as dessert.  

If you happen to locate a bottle for sale at your favorite pub, it is certainly worth enjoying.  

Although I prefer their delicious (and award-winning) Vienna Lager and Eight Point IPA, the Kilt Flasher is another high quality offering from the Devil's Backbone Brewing Company. 

Considering how enjoyable the Kilt Flasher is alone, this is a three star beer.  However, because appreciates brews offering flavors distinct from the pack, an extra half star is granted, resulting in 3.5 stars of a possible 5

If your local retailer offers the option to build your own six-pack, I recommend adding a single of Devil's Backbone Kilt Flasher to the pack.  

And savor as a nightcap after a hearty supper. 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Resin by Sixpoint

On a weekend during which many in the United States are giving thanks, what could be more American than beer sold in a can? 

Resin by the Sixpoint Brewery, 9.1% ABV, 103 IBU

Resin is a delicious India Pale Ale but perhaps too similar to many other bold brews to stand out from the hops-rich crowd.  It is a bit like a mildly tamed version of Oskar Blues Deviant Dale's

Resin poured from the can with a hazy and orange tint.  It was nearly light brown with an autumnal sort of hue.  The head dissipated quickly but remnants remained, clinging consistently throughout the inside of the glass. 

The aroma was not overwhelming but pleasing.  A subdued lemony scent presented itself. 

Upon first sip, strong bitterness was encountered.  The taste was at first of something citrus, and, more so, of something very intense.   

The mouthfeel was thick, but maybe not as oily as a name such as "Resin" may suggest.  The aftertaste burned a bit; soda-like carbonation, but not at all unpleasant.

At first taste, the spicy Resin was good but not great.  The quality of its flavor, however, increased as the beer sat.  Balance developed as some of the pepper-like characteristic of the hops subdued.  

About halfway through the glass, Resin was at its best.  At that point, a delicious apricot flavor shined through, providing rich satisfaction.  

So... while very good, Sixpoint's Resin is not necessary distinct.  Big, powerful IPAs tend to be excellent.  Unfortunately, only the most special of those may be considered four or five-star beers. 

In summation, and influenced heavily by Resin's lack of distinction from those in its class, offers three of five stars with a recommendation to those enthusiasts who crave hops.  To beer lovers of different styles, Resin is only tepidly recommended. 

Enjoy the weekend.  


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lagunitas Brown Shugga'

No words more accurately describe this beer than its name...

Brown Shugga' by the Lagunitas Brewing Company. 9.9% ABV

...well, except perhaps "delicious." 

And, okay: "rich," "decadent," and "satisfying." 

But maybe also "smooth" in the sense that the sweetness masks any abrasiveness from nearly 10 percent alcohol by volume.  

Otherwise, my vocabulary lacks the adjectives more fitting than those chosen by Lagunitas. 

I had eagerly anticipated picking up Brown Shugga'.  Not so much because I was excited by what may be of the quality of its taste, but because I am a Lagunitas groupie of no shame, and grow genuinely excited when the brewer offers something new.  

This beer was bought with a collection of other mostly excellent, or near-excellent, beers

...but anticipation had earned Brown Shugga' a special place in the night's moderate imbibing.  

Allow us to add reason to the discussion. While always eager to try, is not unanimously impressed by Lagunitas' offerings. 

I did not, for example, offer the overly-positive opinion of DayTime shared by many of my craft beer enthusiast peers. 

But, nonetheless, I sure was excited as heck to try it.  

Excitement, again, adequately described my emotion cracking this bottle.  This - Brown Shugga' - well, dis is gud

There are few beers that I select each and every time I encounter them available.  In fact, until now, there are two. Founder's Breakfast Stout and Sculpin by Ballast Point.  

A third has joined that group. 

Brown Shugga' by Lagunitas: Four (perhaps earning a 5th after a revisit) out of five stars


Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Conversation: Goose Island's IPA

I visited a local watering hole tonight that is quickly becoming a favorite.  

Legends, 9969 Jefferson Davis Highway, Fredericksburg, VA

Legends' class is a slight bit much to describe it a "dive," but it's a sports joint through and through.  And the beer selection is not great.  But they are committed to maintaining a local beer on tap, which I appreciate.  

At Legends tonight, the subject of conversation between the bartender and me was a beer they consistently offer on tap, Goose Island's India Pale Ale

5.9% ABV. Image courtesy

I should say first that I really, really like Goose Island's IPA; much more than I ever anticipated.  

Goose Island is mostly owned by mega-brewer, InBev.  And, being a bit of a "beer-snob," I associate corporate ownership with poor product. 

But, truth be told, Goose Island's IPA is delicious.  It begs the question as to whether some craft beer enthusiasts, me included, simply know too much.  

If Budweiser suddenly tasted like Sculpin, would I be too proud to admit I liked it? 

But anyway... 

Tonight, my bartender at Legends indicated that she did not like most IPAs, but did very much enjoy the Goose Island.  And this immediately made sense to me. 

The Goose Island India Pale Ale contains an assortment of hops, two of which include the cascade and centennial varieties.  

But, unlike many IPAs from the United States, the cascade and centennial hops in the Goose Island IPA take a back seat in the overall flavor profile.  

These particular varieties of hops are renown for their "piney" scent and flavor characteristics.  And, it is that powerful characteristic that makes Lagunitas, Stone, and other west coast breweries near and dear to the hearts of many craft beer advocates. 

But let's be honest; an overwhelming floral, piney quality is not for everyone.  And it may even be a turn-off for consumers who, otherwise, typically drink much less bitter brews.  

And here is the niche that the Goose Island IPA embraces perfectly.  

It's bold enough to satisfy the lover of hops-rich beers, but it is not so bitter as to overwhelm those that otherwise drink typical American offerings.  

Something good should be said about that.  Instead of hating Goose Island because of its current owner, perhaps craft beer lovers should embrace it for the purpose it could serve. 

The Goose Island IPA is the near-perfect gateway beer. 

This is the beer that we should share with friends whom we wish to invite into the craft beer community.  

The flavor profile of Goose Island's IPA is simultaneously sensible and bold so as to serve as the perfect transition from average beer to the beautiful world of great beer. 

So... if you already appreciate Lagunitas, Stone, Ballast Point, and Founders, than perhaps the Goose Island IPA is not for you. 

But if you are a fan of those brewers and wish to get a friend to transition toward enjoyment of them, I would suggest the Goose Island IPA as a means of bridging the gap.   


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale

On their site, Lagunitas does not describe their Imperial Red Ale as a beer containing rye.  But I love my rye-beers and this, to me, tastes like one of the best. 

This beer pours as its name implies.  The tint is reddish, but in that aspect: imperial.  The color certainly surpasses copper, is beyond auburn, and even something darker than amber.  It is, in fact, imperial red

Imperial Red Ale by the Lagunitas Brewing Co, 7.8% ABV

This is a beer good by all characteristics, but is best in its aroma.  The scent is heavy in scintillating rye and backed by other hardy cereals.  Its musky and worth savoring. 

I observed no head.  Any that may have built, faded immediately. 

The taste is first of overwhelming rye. "Overwhelming" in the very most positive sense. 

The rye influence is a flavor hard to describe, but I identify as "rough."  But so deliciously rough, indeed.  Imperial Red presents initially a flavor of char, but in a way that makes one wish all flavors featured such a smoky appeal. 

The aroma thankfully remains constant throughout the drinking experience and is always immensely pleasing. 

Like most offerings from Lagunitas, the Imperial Red is not without hops.  In this case, 54 IBUs worth.  Here, however, the hops take a backseat; they are the vehicle in which the rye-dominated flavor is delivered. 

The hops are most noticeable on the front end.  There, they spice the tongue.  That spice, however, is quickly overcome by immense depth of flavor.  

While the spice prepares the palate, the richness of the rye that follows makes the Imperial Red stand out amongst the Lagunitas collection

The mouthfeel is only moderately syrupy.  Relative to other red India Pale Ales, this one seems comparatively less aggressive in its thickness. 

Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale is an extraordinary beer.  And, unfortunately for most, out of season.  

If you can find it, grab it.  This beer comes with a very high recommendation from TheCraftBeerGuru; in fact: 

Four out of five stars