I was very disappointed by a few beers this weekend, but there's some value in being burnt -- you don't need to go back. I'm glad to scratch beers off my potential list, it makes things easier for me.
The beer store is my candy store, and I'm often paralyzed by choice, even though I'm an informed voter. Knowing that I will not need to buy a few of these beers again is refreshing. (Although I would rather have had better beers.)
Alpine Duet IPA
Prescott Brewing Achocolypse Porter
The Duet is so good. You can totally get the Simcoe and Amarillo -- it's almost like two blended single-hop beers in that way. Such an aptly-named beer. The two hops really marry in aroma/taste in a way that tastes like a duet sounds. I still have Nelson number one, but Duet is a very close number two, and we are all better now for having Alpine distributed to our locals.
A chocolate porter is going to make my taste buds do the happy dance, and is going to push the star counter past 3.5 or so. So this one? It got a 3.5. As much as I love the choco thickness, this one had some burnt sugar going on that dominated the end of the taste. By the end all I could smell was burnt brown sugar or molasses, and it pushed the chocolate from my palate. It's okay. Maybe 3.6 or something, but just not something I need to tell you to go get, especially since it might be a little sweet for some of you.
The Hop Concept Lemon & Grassy IPA
Really enjoyed this, even as I might have liked it better if it paired stone or tropical fruit with the grassy. This is where a lot of new beers are going, and it's great. Grassy and fruity gives you body, bite, and sweet along with your bitter. Then again, when it's lemon with the grassy, there's something too... lemongrassy about it. Suddenly you're knee deep in Pho. There isn't as much body and depth to the sweetness to balance the bite of the hops, maybe. Anyway, this was still pretty good, and of course it was, since it's people from Port Brewing starting up another label to bring funk to your palate.
Deschutes Chasin Freshies Wet Hop IPA
Alpine Pure Hoppiness DIPA
Stone / Wicked Weed Points Unknown DIPA
Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest Wet Hop Ale
On this day, I cut two beers from my future shopping lists. I've had the Chasin Freshies, but I can't rely on my memory, I guess, because I remembered some fruit there. There was no fruit in this year's edition. It was basically your standard (if nice and bright) IPA with just a little hint of length to the taste, donated by the wet hops. It's not a bad beer, but it's not the 'oh yeah go get that' it was in the past, and I'm pretty sure there was an actual change in the recipe here. Not some 'beer past them by' thing. Oh -- look at that. I had it in 2013 and gave it 3.5 stars and commented that Amarillo didn't tickle my tits. I guess it's about the same then?
Pure Hoppiness has some fruit to its big malty west-coast DIPA, and it's a really nice beer. Big, but not cloying or too thick or too much, at least not for me. It's a safe third to Duet and Nelson, but now you can get it in six packs, and that's really fun. Especially when you're mixing and matching and trying different things, it can be great to mix in a Big Ole DIPA.
Some time passed, and then we went to go get burgers/pork buns. Buffalo in Mountain View has Asian Fusion plus burgers and craft beers, and you might think that was perfect. Just like you might think taking a 1/4 mix of a barrel-aged tripel and mixing it with a Stone DIPA might make for the perfect DIPA. Well, you'd be wrong in both cases, and for some of the same reasons.
The chicken karaage in one bun was over-fried, and the other pork bun was too conventional. The bulgogi/kimchee burger I had didn't hit the right notes hard enough and the kimchee blew out my palate for the rest. The beer had tons of floral brightness, some wood, and some fruit, but the interaction between the tastes was too much and didn't leave me with a good impression. Taste is good, but you need the mix to be right. I'd actually recommend trying the Points Unknown because it was different. But I wouldn't recommend the beer if was more expensive or you had to try hard to get it.
Not buying the Sierra Nevada Northern Hemisphere Harvest again. Just not enough going on for me. It's all vegetable, no fruit, no brightness at all.
Drakes 1500 Pale Ale
101 Cider House India Pale Cider
Almanac Blueberry Sour
Calicraft Barrel Project: Sour Zinfandel
I had some of the Drake's 1500 with a straw because my son was drinking his milk shake with a straw. And boy did that really highlight the usefulness of dry hopping. The beer through the straw was thin, watery, and slightly boring. The beer from the glass was thicker, brighter, more tasty, with a longer mouthfeel. There was more in the nose, obviously, and that really affected the rest of the taste. Take an aromatic beer and ruin it for a few sips with a straw. It's amazing.
Also amazing was the Cider House India Pale Cider. The Citra smell was obvious from the moment I opened the beer, and it really gave the beer an IPA feeling. Melon, citrus IPA smell on the nose, and then a super dry cider that is not too sweet and doesn't have too much apple. I don't like ciders usually, but this one was enjoyable, and perfect for that 1pm slot on a Sunday. Not going to get me ripped, not going to ruin my palate for the evening.
Then it was time to finish the weekend with the sours. Almanac recently hired a new brewer to blend their sours, and I do think I taste more blueberry in this version. Maybe I'm imagining things, because I have that piece of information.
That's a weird thing that happens in art and culture. You research something, you get into something, you know something well, and you start to like it better. I love Abstract Expressionism, but I was lucky to see some of the best pieces of that time period, taught by one of the better art historians of the style. How much of my love for AbEx was taught into me? Is the new blueberry sour more blueberry or not?
The last sour was much more mellow. I got some of the Zinfandel, some of the barrel, but not a ton of depth or fruit. Still, it was super enjoyable and easy to drink. Well done from Calicraft, who have some good beers, but also some duds. An up and down weekend, at least it ended well.