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The Weekend in Beer

Eno Sarris, August 31, 2015 -   

Between trading, traveling, and interviewing, I enjoy a wide selection of beers most weekends. Why not round them up and review them generally? Instead of in-depth single reviews of each beer, this column will aim to canvass new beers and provide context and comparison. 

Thursday

Drake's Aroma Prieta
Surly Todd the Axe Man
Modern Times Blazing World

Rate beer says this version of Prieta has Nelson Sauvin, Pacific Jade, and Motueka and Aussie hop Helga in the double dry-hop, so it's as fruity as it sounds. I've now had it in the growler, on tap, and in a bottle, and felt it was flat, but others in my untappd and BeerGraphs world have not had the same problem. It's worth trying because the taste is nails, and if there was just a random assortment of flat ones that I managed to run into, then the world is just a cruel, cruel place. 

Todd the Axe Man... well I previewed this on Friday's chat, so I'll quote myself.  "Axe was full of bubbles and smell and made me feel like I was eating a mango in a meadow full of flowers while floating on bubbles blown by my family as I get a foot massage," is what I said then. I wish I had more, now. If you can get any of this from Surly, in a collaboration with Danes Amager Bryghus, get it. It's so perfectly balanced and full of lightness, thickness, and juiciness in equal parts that you'll write to someone about it, guaranteed. Thanks very much to Nick Campion for sending this one out. 

Blazing World? It's supposed to be Alpine Nelson plus Surly Furious, and really that's what it is, though you might have guessed Troegs Nugget Nectar as a comp, too. Think of a fruity amber IPA. Thick, wooly, but juicy and fruity at the same time. Apparently, you can find Mega Blazing World on tap in San Diego right now. In related news, I wish I was in San Diego right now / all the time. 

Friday

Harmonic Brewing Batch1 IPA
Sierra Nevada Harvest Newly Developed Hop IPA

I had more than two beers Friday night, but I didn't steal a menu or take a picture at Harmonic Brewing, so you'll have to rely on my brain piece until I transcribe the interview I did with the head brewer there. This new brewery over in the Dogpatch in San Francisco is worth going to for their well-balanced beers.

They have a sour cherry English bitter in which you don't even get the cherry until you're about half way through. And though some of the first tastes I had of their beers felt a bit bitter and malty, something wonderful happens when you stick with their beers -- they change. Not just from warmth, since beers do change with warmth, but because you get used to some of the bitterness and you start to explore the other tastes they've hidden within. Batch1 is a Mosaic IPA, fruity and thick, and though it's not as thick as a Blazing World, it does come off with more bluster until you sit and chill with it a while. 

Everyone should go get the Sierra Nevada Harvest because it's super weird. Not because it's the best beer you've ever had. You should almost stop reading this. In fact, maybe I won't say what I tasted. Because I drank the thing, and then I looked at the label, and I saw only one descriptor that I thought I had tasted. No matter what, these hops impart a unique set of flavors to this beer, and you'll take a few looks at your beer as you plug your way through the reasonably-priced bomber. 

Saturday

Surly and Lervig 1349 Pale Ale
Evil Twin Mosaic Single Hop Imperial India Pale American Wheat Lager
Evil Twin Moltov Lite

Here's the dumb thing about Saturday. Both of these beers were IPAs but they just had to be special. 

Eh, maybe the 1349 Pale is a pale, but at 6.66% ABV (devil), it's a little stronger than your normal pale. And in taste, it's so bitter that it's hard to call it a regular pale, too. By thickness and color, it's a pale. What saves the beer from being a bitter bomb is that it has a lot of fruit in the nose, and some herbal quality to the pine citrus bitterness that dominates the taste. What's maddening is that you just want those things upped a bit, and the pine/citrus mellowed out just a bit. Because the way it is, you just get hints of fruit and herbs, but you don't really get the fruit and herbs. Another Campion special here. 

The Evil Twin is available nationally, and I liked it. It's a bit like a fruitier Gumballhead, a wheat IPA with mosaic. When you say it that simply, you wonder if that long ass name was needed. And yet, if you look at the long-ass name, you get a good sense of what the beer is: a medium-bodied wheat IPA with a fruity hops. Here's the thing. It's 8% ABV. I guess the beer was probably 'lagered' but the 'lager' part of the name might make people think it's thinner than it is. Translate in your head accordingly. 

If you pour your Evil Twin Molotov Lite into the same beer glass that held the end parts of the wheat beer they make (I can't write all of that all over again), you'll just get an even fruitier version of the wheat beer. So: clean your glasses between beers, folks, or enjoy your strange concoctions. 

Sunday

August Schell Cypress Blanc Barrel-Aged Dry-Hopped American Adjunct Lager
Allegash Cuvee D'Industrial American Wild Ale
Almanac Pluot Sour
Steel Toe Sticker Fight IPA
Ten Ninety Imperial Black Saison

Sunday's first was like Saturday's Evil Twin naming debacle. I'd rather the label said Berliner Weisse on it, becaust that's what it was. To be fair, there was mention of Berliner Weisse on the label somewhere, and I guess this way they really told you what they did to the damn thing. It could have said 'fizzy grape beer wine' for as much as my wife is concerned. But I did think of something. My wife drinks wine and hard liquors and isn't as beholden to beer as I am. Perhaps this is the fizzy wine for the beer drinker. 

The Cuvee from Allegash was almost all there. Nice thickness, nice fruit coming through. But it didn't have the single-note excellence of the Almanac Pluot, or the freshness of the Weisse/Lager. The Plout had more fruit complexity than the Cuvee. But others at the table said the Almanac was the sourest of the sours, and that's not something you can really disagree with. Still, it's beautiful.

The IPA was fruity, the dark Saison full of alchohol. At this point in the night I'm looking for one-note reviews, one-word sentences, and all that. I could see how people like the Sticker Fight, and the Ten Ninety was entirely too much but perfect for the end of the night/weekend. It was all alcohol from front to bottom. I did my best to hold on for a full weekend review.

Best of the Weekend:

  1. Todd the Axe Man
  2. Almanac Pluot Sour
  3. Steel Toe Sticker Fight
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