This week, I didn't have beers I'd never had as much as I got to have beers that I've rarely had in succession so that I could compare them better. Call it a consolidating of opinion weekend. I'd had Heady Topper before, but not moments after I'd had a Sip of Sunshine.
It's nice to reaffirm past feelings. And clear up personal top five lists.
Black Raven Raven De Garde Brett IPA
What a great beer. Not perfect. I have Shady Oak Funkatronic ahead and neither at five stars -- I'm waiting for the perfect one of the style, too I guess. Maybe Crooked Stave or Sante Adairius will make it. Wait, this beer was really good, that's what I was saying. I like that horse blanket fruity grass thing, even if that sounds nasty.
Ballast Point Pineapple Sculpin IPA
Goose Island Madame Rose Wild Ale
The best fruity IPAs will do what the Pineapple Sculpin does better than the grapefruit Sculpin: hit us hard with the fruit in the nose and be restrained on how much sweet fruit juice is in the body. Right? I like the Pineapple Sculpin better than the Grapefruit one, if I wasn't clear, but I didn't expect that to happen.
Also, Goose Island makes world-class sours if you ask me. Julliette, Halia -- I've enjoyed the sours sisters very much so far. But the Madame Rose might be the best. Two years in the cask gives it tons of wood, but then the cherries are obvious, and the rose softened it out. The effect is of a soft, jammy cherry brown with a sour finish. Lots of play, lots of balance between opposites. One of the highlights of the weekend, and that's saying something.
Other Half / Tired Hands Oat Overdose IPA
Sierra Nevada Tropical IPA
The first Other Half I had, the IPA, didn't wow me. I was still excited for this beer, and it didn't let me down. It had the fruit and sweet grass of a Treehouse, but the oats softened it out and gave it a fuller mouthfeel. Look at the description: "Oat Overdose is a 6.5% IPA brewed with a ton of oat malt, Pennsylvania Honey and a ton of Nelson Sauvin, Galaxy, Azacca and Amarillo." Of course it's good. Really good.
Had a couple Tropical IPAs while chasing the kids around. I also enjoy this beer. I don't put it in the stratosphere of some of the beers I had this weekend, but I'm not even sure why. Maybe it's a bit sweet without a big counterbalance.
Tree House Lights On Pale Ale
Pipeworks Lizard King Mosaic Pale Ale
Breakside La Tormenta Hoppy Sour
Maine Beer Company Beer 1 IPA
Tree House Julius IPA
Lawson's Sip of Sunshine IPA
The Alchemist Heady Topper
Olde Hickory The Event Horizon
Look at this ridiculous day.
I'll drink anything from Tree House. The Lights On is just an easy drinker. Not as strong willed as some of their other efforts, but stacks up against other easy drinkers. At 5.6%, I guess some don't find it a session, but it's one of my favorite sessions in the world according to me.
The next two were underwhelming to me. Well, the Pipeworks was okay. But I think I like mosaic better as a dry hop than a boil hop. In the boil, I start to get that cat piss thing people talk about from that hop. In the dry hop, it's just melons to me.
The La Tormenta was super unimpressive to me, but maybe I just got too excited for a hoppy sour. It wasn't sour enough, though, and it wasn't hoppy enough, or the hops was just bitter and overtook the sour or, I don't know. It just didn't make any decisions.
Gonna zip by the next four beers because I want to do a top four. The Olde Hickory was an amazing end to the day, all soy sauce / molasses / vanilla backed by an immense bourbon, and only 8.5%, which feels low for an Imp Stout these days. Well done, Hickory, North Carolina. Well done.
Gonna do a Super Sunday Top Four.
1) Lawson's Sip of Sunshine IPA
2) Maine Beer Company Beer 1 IPA
3) Treehouse Julius IPA
4) The Alchemist Heady Topper
I think I struggled more with the top two than the rest of the crew. Maine's experimental Beer 1 was classy and restrained and bright and fresh and I wanted many more. Lawson's is three percentage points stronger, and just a ton danker and fruit juicier. So the fact that it comes off crisp and fresh like Beer 1, while being so much bigger -- I think you have to reward SoS for aiming higher. Or I guess bigger isn't necessarily higher. Still, there are more tastes in the SoS than the Beer 1.
Maybe my friends thought I was crazy about the Julius, I think it tastes like an Orange Julius in a beer if that beer was amazing. So much body. Like a grassy orange milkshake. I hope that sounds good, because it is. They thought I was a little crazy about the thing and asked me when the last time I had an Orange Julius was.
Heady is good. It's fine. But it's not new any more. It tastes like an old school piney IPA and just couldn't separate itself from the beers of the day, from the beers of its region. I'd like to say that it would still rate highly if I put it up against other beers that I didn't have Sunday, but I bet it would slip as I preferred more complex candidates along the way to making a longer list.
What a great day of beers. Great weekend really. I'll remember the Madame Rose, the Beer 1, the Sip of Sunshine, and the Julius most. Worth the effort.