Came back from Arizona with the spoils of war -- a bag full of beer given to me from a baseball scout that travels the country, gathering beer. He admitted that what I gave him -- Alpine Nelson, Alpine Duet, Deschutes Black Butte XXVII, Cellarmaker Lite Jade, Almanac Citra Sour -- was better than what he gave me. But he also promised me Tree House Julius later, so all is well. Probably.
But I dove into those spoils of war this weekend, and it made me giddy, even with a few meh beers. You see, I didn't pay for these beers! I know, I paid for other beers, but I didn't pay for these! So it's like free beer! Sort of.
Two Brothers Heavy Handed Wet Hop IPA (w/Cascade)
Tree House Eureka Blonde Ale (w/Nelson)
Two Brothers made a wet hop single-hop beer and I got so much malt I didn't know which hop it was. Well, I knew, because it was on the label. And it did have some of that green, thick, vegetable wet-hop goodness. But it didn't have any of the bitter brightness that's also part of the best wet-hop beers. And since it was a single hop, that was even more upsetting. I bet they should have dry-hopped the wet-hop with the same hop. Then you'd get some aroma and finish, and the wet hop would give you that middle body.
I can't recommend Tree House enough, based on one beer. This was light, fruity, thick, and fresh at the same time. There was some grass in there, and I guess there are those that don't love Trillium, don't love grass in their beer. But still, it was so well-balanced that a grass-hater may not even worry too much. One thing, though. If you dry and boil hop a blonde ale... is it a blonde ale any more?
SanTan Moon Juice IPA
College Street Fraternity of Hops IPA
Almanac Wakatu Sour
Destihl Hoperation Overload DIPA
Squatters Hop Rising DIPA
Honestly, this list looks impressive, maybe. I don't think I recommend any of it.
The SanTan was especially upsetting because it was a Galaxy IPA with 'juice' in the title. I was hyped on this beer. The smell is fruity, and so I was primed to really enjoy this. But the body had none of the fruit or juiciness in it. Smells like a million bucks, tastes like twenty.
I had the Fraternity of Hops. My note says "super bitter no nose." I probably won't have it again.
The Almanac Citra Sour is one of my favorite beers of all time. Melon, grass, sour. Super refreshing. The Simcoe was alright. The Wakatu -- a hops I'd never had before -- may have had some pineapple in it, but I didn't get a ton of fruit. Mostly just sour. Almanac is doing well right now, but this isn't one I think you have to have.
Got so much malt in the Destihl that I didn't rate it. The Squatters' Hop Rising was actually pretty good. Never had a beer from their brewery before, but this was floral and sweet and fresh, and didn't taste 9% even though it is 9%. Squatters is in Salt Lake City, I guess. They have bad rules about selling beer, but they make good beer.
College football. I was happy to eat duck off a spit and drink Lagunitas out of a tap sticking out of the side of an RV. Very happy. Then Stanford lost to an unrated team by two points on a dropped two-point conversion in my end zone as time ran out. Blarg.
I really did like the Marble IPA when I got home. It was fresh and big and clean enough to cut through the sorrow and the pain and all the unnamed types of alcohol that I ingested at the many tailgates and band events that I enjoyed before and after the sad game.
Two Brothers Heavy Handed Wet Hop IPA (w/Chinook)
Two Brothers Heavy Handed Wet Hop IPA (w/Cetennial)
Santa Fe Happy Camper IPA
Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale
It's a bad sign when you have a single hop wet hop series and the beers are virtually indistinguishable. I'd like to do a blind taste on these, I'm guessing that nobody could separate them. And it's really a shame. Single hop beers are usually the best way to get to know a hops better. In this case, all you get is wet, thick hops and malt. I think any wet hop beer still gets 3.5 stars from me, because I like that 'green' taste. Still.
I had the Santa Fe a couple hours ago and already forgot it.
The Maduro Brown Ale from Cigar City, though, it was nice. You've got your normal brown smoothness augmented by a little oatmeal something something, but the Maduro also adds a little spice. I think it's actually some acidity, not a chile spice or anything. But a little bite beyond the regular brown smoothness. That puts some distance between it and something like a Moose Drool from Big Sky, or Turbodog from Abita, the other browns that come to mind when someone tells me they like browns.
A good weekend despite the loss. And despite some underwhelming beers. You just have to hit those high notes.