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Taste Notes

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1 - 20 of 49 Christopher P.'s Taste Notes
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Hop Rod Rye May 23, 2011
Overall Rating

Last of my four beer tour of Bear Republic's locally available brews was their Hop Rod Rye, a beer which defies classification but was a blast to try out. It poured a brilliant deeply reddish hue with a filmy white head. The hop aroma is outstanding, much like a highly citrusy hopped IPA, but the flavor comes through with a heavy, rich body which smacks mostly of caramel sweetness and a subtle alcohol twinge in the finish. Quite a delectable mash-up of a couple of my favorite styles.

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Red Rocket May 23, 2011
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Third in a one-night lineup of four Bear Republic brews I was able to find locally is their Red Rocket amber ale. Of the four, this one stood out to me as particularly fun and interesting. As it poured, you can see that it's a pale brown color, but sitting in the glass it takes on a gorgeous ruby red color with a minimal beige head. The aroma is fantastic, with exceptionally sweet and toasty warm molasses and caramel maltiness coming through strong! This seems like a prototypical amber ale aroma done the way it should be. The flavor continues to malt showcase, with roasted caramel sweetness predominating but not over the top. Really, this one is simple but it's done well. As it warms some chocolate malt stands out a bit more and bitter dark chocolate starts to hit in the finish. I'm not sure how to detect the hop character in a beer like this, but I'm not caring to much about it. It seems well balanced and finishes pretty clean for a beer this rich, with only a subtle malt sweetness lingering for a bit. This is some delicious stuff!

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Racer 5 IPA May 23, 2011
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Continuing a single-night tour of four of Bear Republic's brews in 22's, second on the list was their Racer 5 IPA. The IPA is a style which got me into craft beer, and while this one certainly hits on all of those familiar notes and is a great example of a style, it also has a somewhat generic quality about it as well. It poured a clear, pure gold at first, and the aroma seemed more on the malty side, with bready and grainy scents standing out with just traces of citrusy hop character behind. The hop elements seemed more prominent in the flavor, where a nice bitter orange quality stood out over a classic pale malt background. In terms of bitterness, this seems mild for an American IPA, like a just barely more bitter version of their XP pale ale which finishes pretty clean. The last thing to dissipate in the brief finish is the subtle, soft bitterness with almost just as much maltiness, reminding me just how well balanced this recipe is (though I tend to prefer hop-balanced IPA's).

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XP Pale Ale May 21, 2011
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Thankfully, the BevMo near me stocks four different Bear Republic beers in 22oz. bottles, and one of them is their XP Pale Ale. At home this poured a deep gold with a thin white head which dissipated quickly and left little speckled lace down the side. The aroma was great: a subtle but familiar citrus quality (they report using both Cascade and the "super-Cascade" Centennial hops) which was accompanied by a sweet, caramelly (think candy apples) quality as well. In the flavor the grains stand out like nothing I've had before, like very accentuated pale malts as if they were fresh, and it was a delight. The texture is also a bit grainy, in fact, and the finish is only a bit bitter with a subtle citric tang which comes from those same hops. As the beer warms it takes on a more English style character, smelling a bit danky, and the toasted quality of the malts stand out a bit. A nice feature of the bottled beer was the suspended yeast from bottle conditioning, making the last few sips a bit different and, of course, a tad more yeasty, which I actually liked. Through and through, this California microbrewery makes some good stuff!

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I tried this one at home from the bottle, where it poured a slightly hazy amber with a subtle reddish tint underneath a big, bubbly off-white head. The aroma had a sweet, honey-like and caramel malt scent along with some warm biscuit or bread-like qualities. The flavor had a strong citrus element to it which combined with the hop character made it taste like lemongrass. There's a bit of nuttiness and some more obvious crystal malt characteristics with a strong caramel and honey presence. The body of this beer came off exceptionally thin and watery, which killed it for me. The finish smacked of lemon essence again and ended light, but with a thinner body than I'd like in an ale.

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This is always a treat to get at Eureka!Burger. They pour ten ounces into a Chimay goblet, and it arrives rich brown, nearly black with a thin, dense tan head. It's definitely a double IPA, but it's not overwhelming in terms of hop character or alcohol, and powerful citrus and pine scented hop notes dominate the aroma along with the highly black, almost burnt malts and a hint of molasses, which is obvious even before you pick this one up. As you might expect for such a dark beer, the malt profile is potent, including notes of bitter dark chocolate and sweet molasses. The high hop bitterness works to balance this intense beer, and both the bitterness and the maltiness linger on the palate, but in a very rich, interesting way. As the beer warms, you will notice the alcohol more in the dryer finish and the malt character will get even richer, though the hop character will not let you forget this is an IPA at heart, because a strong but smooth hop bite ends it. This one surpasses the notion of novelty and could become one of my staple double IPA's sand is one of my absolute favorite discoveries.

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This seasonal was available on tap one happy hour, so I have it a shot. It came out a brilliant pale gold, getting close to straw, and smelled of noble hop character and a lemony, citrusy zest on top. This beer has a very "fine" character to it, though I'm having a hard time articulating that more. I guess it's thanks to a nice, moderate body and a lot of bubble (almost too much) which gave it a substantial, champagne-like mouthfeel, though no real sweetness to speak of. This ale has some lager-like qualities in it, with a strongly earthy and dank finish which lingers for a while. It also leaves a more sweet, lemony afterthought on the lips, which was a treat to balance out the other characteristics. Overall I thought it was pretty good, somewhat interesting, and definitely appropriate for the season. Nothing's going to make me come back to it, though.

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Blind Pig IPA May 16, 2011
Overall Rating

Bind Pig pours a lot like Pliny the Elder, a hazy gold, and the similarity in the aroma is striking: both have a very fresh, potent citrus and floral character to them. I was wondering where the distinction was going to come from, and as soon as I took a sip I found that the similarities were over. The Pig's aroma does not seem to lead into a flavor one might expect, as it gets pretty biscuity and has a much more malty profile compared to Pliny. I thought the bitterness was also quite a bit stronger and lingered longer on the palate in the finish, and while I'm a big fan of IPA's, the lingering qualities in this one made it seem too unbalanced and hurt the drinkability. At the very end Blind Pig left me with a dry, somewhat fruity sweetness coating my mouth.

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Stone Ruination IPA May 16, 2011
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After a long love affair with Stone's original IPA, it was about time to give this one a try. Ruination pours a hazy, pure gold with a big fluffy white head. The aroma is a delightful blend of sweet and bitter pine and orange blossoms, at first. I was glad it was not simply a rehash of the Stone IPA profile, because as much as I love that one, I was looking for something different from the Stone folks. This beer is not overhopped, like Sierra Nevada's Hoptimum which I found to be ridiculous. According to the measurements Stone provides, this beer is "100+" IBUs, but it is not an extreme beer. I did find it more bitter than their original IPA, but it certainly did not "ruin" my palate or blow me away with hoppiness. It's imbalanced towards hops like a good IPA, but not in a silly way. The malts are practically non-existent to me, providing merely a canvas for the thrilling hops. As the beer warms, some of the more familiar bitter grapefruit notes start to take over, reminding me a lot of their original IPA. This one stays smooth despite the intensity, never biting or stinging in terms of bitterness or alcohol, and while I would't sit around drinking this all day, as far as a 22oz. bottle goes, I'd likely pick this over just about anything else.

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Pliny the Elder May 15, 2011
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Alright, I'm sitting in the afternoon sun on the patio of Russian River, on Easter Sunday no less, about to try the number one rated beer in the world. I showed up knowing full well this beer has been the benefactor of a lot of hype online, so I was a bit skeptical but ultimately very pleased. It was served cold with a slightly hazy, mostly golden amber with a little white head. The beer clarified as it warmed and all the elements improved along with that. A citrusy and floral fragrance dominated the aroma and hints of sweet orange came through to me as well. I was struck by the wonderful balance just a bit towards the bitterness side like a traditional IPA, though I thought it wasn't as well balanced as their Russian River IPA. I enjoyed the somewhat nutty maltiness underneath the more enduring bitterness, which even had a spicy characteristic to it. Overall it started sweet and fresh and ended with a nice lingering bitterness and a tropical fruit fragrance haunting my nose. Quite a treat!

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Stone IPA May 15, 2011
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This is a prototypical American style IPA and one that got me started in my love affair with the IPA. Into a pint glass it pours a chill hazed pale gold with a one finger-thick, pure white and dense head which leaves hosiery lace down the glass as you go. The aroma is big but not overwhelming, packed with grassy, herbal, and overt grapefruit notes (thank you, Chinook). That quality of the character enhance as the beer warms, and more bitter citrus notes emerge along the way as well, both in the aroma and the taste. The beer is not malty, and the balance emphasis is on the hops, so you'll notice the bitterness at the back of your tongue more than anything else, but don't be afraid of this IPA because they emphasized aroma hopping over bitterness hopping and the carbonation keeps it crisp. Further, the texture is not as oily or resinous as in some highly hopped beers, so this IPA stays highly drinkable. The mouthfeel and finish is dominated by the grapefruit essence and a very subtle, fresh tasting pale graininess.

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This treat of an IPA was available at BC's on tap so I jumped on it. It came out a pretty clear cherry-amber color with a bubbly off-white head. The aroma was the first delight, with strong and clean citrusy orange notes over a hint of alcohol. The first sip was interesting, as I was not expecting such a malt presence! Between the big bodied maltiness and the unobscured alcohol, this one could turn some folks off, and I couldn't imagine having two in one sitting. The malt character is almost syrupy sweet and lingering, but it's balanced by a nice spicy and grassy hop bitterness in the end. Altogether it's tasty, but as it warms all the intense qualities get even more so and the drinkability suffers.

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Firestone Pale 31 May 12, 2011
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I tried this pale from the bottle poured into a pint glass. It appeared a pretty, crystal clear, and pure gold with a thin off-white head. The aroma was astounding, a potent blend of bitter grapefruit, fresh floral, and sweet caramel notes. The flavor is similar, hinting of more subtle citric sweetness and crystal malts with almost no toasted quality whatsoever. The finish is pleasantly crisp and the body on the lighter side of moderate with only a subtle bitterness, like an afterthought which does not linger. This has become one of my favorite pale ales.

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Firestone Union Jack May 12, 2011
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I tried this one from the bottle at the Tasting Room, where it poured a hazy, pretty deep gold with a filmy head which was gone in minutes. There was almost no effervescence and almost no lace as the glass emptied, but it was definitely carbonated. The aroma was a powerful grapefruit and dark fruit bouquet, much like their pale ale, which I really enjoy. It had a light mouthfeel and thin body which I thought was well balanced with more subtle fruity hop flavors and bitterness. I couldn't detect much of the malt character aside from a bit of toasted crystal, and as the beer warmed the alcohol really started to make things a bit hot, so the drinkability suffered for me, but all around this was a delightful IPA and one of my preferred in this style.

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Lost Coast Great White May 11, 2011
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This Witbier was a wonderful introduction for me into the world of this super pale Belgian style. From the tap at Eureka!Burger it was served a very pale, hazy, and vivid yellow gold with a lot of effervescence and a thin head which dissipated quickly. The aroma was a richly citric blend of lemon and orange zest. With a light, fizzy carbonation, this beer almost had the feel of a deliciously crisp champagne without all the sweetness. A very light and subtly dry mouthfeel where almost nothing lingers also contributed to the incredible drinkability of this beer, and it was a wonderful beer to sip sitting outside in the spring. On the tip of the tongue a lemony sweetness hit first which soon gave way to a hints of grassiness at the end, without any real bitterness. The light bubble was noticeable in the middle of the tongue, but this beer was nowhere near gassy. Overall an absolutely wonderful beer to sit around with outside when the weather is warm.

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I had this the first time on tap from Eureka!Burger. It came out almost completely opaque molasses color with red tints along the edge where the light hit and a thin white head. The mouthfeel was really creamy and rich flavors of chocolate and a subtle coffee-like bitterness stood out most to me. It also struck me as clean with not much lingering in the finish except for a subtle nuttiness, which didn't register for me at first as hazelnut. The lingering qualities do intensify as the beer warms and it almost seems as though the malts explode because the last few sips seemed like sweet caramel and hazelnut galore!

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Tried this on tap from Eureka!Burger where it arrived so dark brown it seemed pitch black except for the tiniest bit of a thick, brown translucence around the edges. It had a wonderful espresso roast-like aroma at first with hints of dark, burnt, sweet malts. The taste struck me as clean for a porter with a thin, creamy mouthfeel and low on carbonation which made it smooth and easy to drink. As it warmed the flavors got more complex with strong caramel and molasses notes taking over near the end. It was delicious!

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Well into my tour of Mendocino Brewing's selection, I grabbed a pack of these to try at home. It pours a crystal clear, deep golden color with a patchy, filmy white head which dissipated into a ring pretty fast. The aroma seems classic for this style, with strong notes of caramel and roasted malts, plus a hint of alcohol. The alcohol is not nearly as present in the taste, which is a plus for such a high octane beer (8% ABV). The flavor is really well balanced and seemed best as the beer warmed a bit, with a number of well blended flavors working well together and creating a very rich, moderately bodied mouthfeel. Most prominent in the menagerie were toasted grain and warm caramel, which added a hint of sweetness along with the subtly alcoholic finish. For a "strong" ale, this beer seems pretty drinkable, ending crisp and just a tad dry. This is my favorite of Mendocino's.

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Peroni Nastro Azzurro May 9, 2011
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I tried this Italian lager on the patio of a cute Italian restaurant in Carmel during a day trip there. It poured a crystal clear golden straw with a big, pure white head and a lot of effervescence. The aroma had some really pleasant floral and noble hop character to it, and the flavor was of fresh and clean grain with just a bit of bitterness, which ultimately came off a bit dull but very sessionable. I thought this beer was highly carbonated, and between that and the likely simple recipe, the mouthfeel was refreshing and the finish was crisp.

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White Hawk Select IPA May 7, 2011
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I tried this one from a bottle at home, poured a hazy gold with a thick and pillowy white head and lots of effervescence throughout the glass. The aroma struck me as musty, earthy, and grassy with a noticeable herbal spiciness and a hint of that Cascade citrus quality as well, and it was subtle like I would expect, as this is described as a very traditional English-style IPA. The flavor is well balanced, smacking of musty, bitter hops and a nice, slightly roasted and grainy malt backbone. This beer has a big mouthfeel and is not crisp, leaving a lot on the palate well after the swallow. The finish is of course hoppy but not all that bitter, leaving an earthy, woodsy, and herbal aftertaste which I thought was accentuated by the slight bitterness. The lingering qualities intensified as the glass emptied, making me not want another one right away.

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1 - 20 of 49 Christopher P.'s Taste Notes
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