#14 – Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (can)

ballast-point-sculpin-ipa-can-cropBallast Point Sculpin IPA is a damn fine IPA, and is exactly what you expect from a West Coast IPA. It smells like fresh fruit, mango, peach, apricots.

It pours golden amber with a roughly inch head that fades to a collar as it warms up. The smell is absolutely amazing, everything a West Coast IPA should be. The “sting” that Ballast Point mentions definitely is there. The hops very much stick around and coat your mouth. It’s a damn smooth IPA, at 7 % ABV and 70 IBUs. It’s not super bitter, and it’s not super hot.

Now to the Ratebeer style review:

Appearance – Golden amber, light carbonation, off white head

Smell – Smells like fresh citrus fruits, with malt slowly sneaking in. Alcohol smell creeps up as it warms

Mouthfeel – Lightly carbonated, coats the mouth. It definitely sticks around.

Taste – Tastes like it smells, with herbiness as it fades out. You get some heat, with the 7 % ABV

Overall – 4/5 . A very solid IPA. I can’t compare it to bombers (but I’d love to) or draft (but I’d really love to), but it’s very good. I was happy to see it on my trip home from work, One Stop Market in Haverhill, MA has a great beer selection and I look forward to getting more from not only Ballast Point but everything else they carry.

 

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Lucky #13 – Victory Brewing Company “Storm King”

StormKing-bottleFor lucky #13, I present Victory Brewing Company’s Storm King American Imperial Stout.

This beer lives up to the name. It’s a very dark, very intense beer. Lots of flavors, lots of malt, and lots of alcohol.

It pours dark black, and a heavy pour brings a 1-1/2 inch head. The smell is lots of roasty malts, and the alcohol hits you as well.

The taste is very complex, with the malt taking over everything. Toward the end, it fades to coffee and chocolate, with the hops poking their head in. The alcohol is very much there as well.

This beer runs at 9.1% ABV, and it definitely make you aware of it. I enjoy this one quite a bit, and it definitely opens up as it warms. I’d love to cellar a bottle and try it in a year. This is a year-round beer, so you should be able to find it anywhere that sells Victory beers.

#12 – Sixpoint Brewery “Hi-Res”

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Tom’s Beer #12 is Sixpoint’s “Hi-Res”. I hope you get to pick this one up. Harkening back to Spinal Tap, this beer “goes to 11” both figuratively and literally (it’s a theme of the beer).

This is a scary beer, for a few reasons. I love it, and I’ll tell you why it’s scary in a minute. First comes some basic info.

This beer runs at 111 IBU, and the first sip really brings that out after a couple of seconds. It’s 11 SRM, so a deep amber. It also is 11.1% ABV, and that is the scary part.

When you first sip, you get the sweetness of the malt, then all of a sudden you get a hop bomb all over your tongue. This beer has a crazy amount of bittering/flavor hops, but you don’t get that in the smell almost at all. As it heads down the throat, you get a little bit of the ABV burn, but it’s hidden well. So well that you could drink this beer very rapidly, and a lot of it. The fact that this is such a smooth beer at 11.1% ABV is incredible.

I highly recommend you get this beer if you can find it, and are a hop fan. It’s a seasonal beer, so get it while you can. Overall 4.5/5.

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#11 – Smuttynose “Durty: Mud Season (2014)”

This is a fun beer to review. It was released originally as Short Batch #18, and has graduated into a spring seasonal. This is a “durty” brown ale, that’s hopped like a Double IPA. It runs at 8.4% ABV, and 97 IBU.

It pours dark reddish-brown, with a light brown head that doesn’t stick around but does lace well.

The smell is very clean, leaning much more toward hoppy than brown.

The taste is all hops, with the malt sneaking in later. According to Smutty, the hops used are “Bittering-Magnum, Flavor- Nugget, Dry Hop- CTZ and Chinook” while the malt is “North American 2-Row, Munich 10L, Chocolate, C-60, Brown Malt” with White Labs WLP-001 American Ale yeast. This is a very complex taste that you really don’t expect from a brown ale. Everything bounces around, and you get lots of flavors all over the tongue and all throughout the drinking process.

This is a beer that I feel like I really deserved today, after shoveling my driveway out. It started shipping in January (my bottle said best by 6/6/2014). Distribution is obviously limited, so pick one up while you can.

I give this one a 4/5. A very good hop-forward brown ale. The hops are very well-balanced against the malt, and the ABV is very subtle. It definitely mellows out as it warms.

#10 – Stone Brewing Company “Enjoy By 02.14.14”

The Stone Enjoy By series is one of my favorite recurring (but slightly changing) beers. This is a beer that is specifically crafted to not last. The flavors and aromas in this beer will not be nearly as good after the “Enjoy By” date, and you WILL NOT find that batch on the shelves after that date. If you’re a hophead (and in a state that the current batch of Enjoy By is distributed to), definitely pick one or more up. You’ll probably see this one near you, as this was the largest batch made, and it was released to roughly half of Stone’s markets.

You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. While freshness is a key component of many beers – especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs – we’ve taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA. You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last. We’ve not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you’re getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the label, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and consumers. Instead, we’ve sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA

It smells like dank, wet, West Coast hops. Tropical fruit and sweetness. Definitely some of the Simcoe “cat piss/onion” smell, but not as much as previous versions.

Color is a dark golden amber, with a thick head that turns into a few millimeter ring of bubbles. Not a whole lot of bubbles in the glass. Very clear.

Simcoe really shows up in the taste, especially when you first get it in your mouth. The herby, resiny flavor sticks to your tongue. Not super bitter, but lots of flavor. The malt backbone brings out good sweetness. Can’t really taste the alcohol, despite this version running at 9.4% ABV.

Very smooth in the mouthfeel. Not too thick, but it definitely clings. As it’s not super carbonated, there’s not a super dry feeling.

Overall, this is definitely a favorite for me. It hits all the BJCP notes to a T.  This is a beer that seems to fly off shelves, if only partly because of its scarcity. This is a scary smooth, easy drinking Double/Imperial IPA. Buy this one if you can.

#9 – Sixpoint Brewery – Sweet Action

Sweet Action is a classic style Cream Ale. It’s a balanced beer, with not too much bitterness from the hops, and not too much sweetness from the malt. This is a perfect fit into the style. BJCP says that Cream Ales have faint sweetness and faint hoppiness. This was a good example of the style, and a nice break from the farmhouse/saisons we started our night out with, and the IPAs and stouts that came later in the night. Sixpoint makes some very good beers, and this is one of them.

#8 – Smuttynose – Smuttlabs: Pure Biss

If you’re sensing a Smuttynose theme, that’s because one of our guys works part time at Smutty and brought some stuff he had laying around.

Up next is a beer that very few people have ever tasted. There are only 77 checkins on this beer EVER. It’s a very off the wall beer, purely experimental. While you’ve tasted a witbier, this unconventional witbier gets its swerve from the contributions of Chef Jamie Bissonnette. Instead of the traditional coriander and orange peel, Jamie brought kaffir lime leaves, spruce tips and 25 pounds of grapefruit zest to the brewday.

The biggest taste I noticed was the spruce tips. The grapefruit and lime were definitely evident, as well as the grapefruit zest, it smelled and tasted like walking through a forest. Unfortunately, someone had to mention how they thought it smelled like soap, so that became all the rest of it tasted. THis was a very interesting experiment, and I look forward to whatever comes next from Smuttlabs.

Pure Biss Vital Stats (from the Smuttynose blog):

5.4% abv 15 IBU

Malts: North American 2-Row, Wheat, Flaked Wheat, Flaked Oats
Hops: Bittering-Magnum, Flavor-Sterling
Yeast: White Labs WLP-400 Belgian Wit

Batch Size: 30 barrels, packaged in 5.2 gallon kegs and crown finished, 375ml bottles.