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Last Weekend's Beer, Today

Eno Sarris, February 16, 2016 -   

Peak beer fridge has ended. I had a good run. 

It's depressing, but also invigorating: I can now go out and get more beers! What fun! 

With this last group of beer, and friends coming over on Sunday, I decided to do a bit of a taste test. I grouped beers loosely by style and taste and ABV. I didn't write everyone's opinions down or anything -- it was still a party -- but I did keep my ears open. A tasting run by the masses with the rules of the masses: barely structured, barely useful, and yet representative of how beer is drunk and opined about in most circles. 

Thursday
Jackie O's Mystic Mama IPA 
Lagunitas IPA

This was so sad. I remember this as a fruity fresh IPA, one of the first that was as fruity and fresh as this one that I've ever had, maybe two years ago before I went down that road with every fruity fresh IPA I could find. So when I didn't get any fruit and very little fresh, I had to inspect the can. And there it was -- canned in August 2015. I knew what had happened on the other end of my trade -- we often have leftover beers mixed in with fresh ones, and when you're throwing in extras into a trade, you don't always inspect them as much as you'll inspect other beers -- so I wasn't mad. I was just sad. Drain poured, and replaced by a regular Lagunitas IPA. Fresh. Phew.

Friday
Crux Fermentation Project Outcast IPA

A nice fresh galaxy hopped IPA from Crux did me well Friday night. I think of Galaxy as fruity hop, but this was more mildly fruity. Maybe that's just this beer, maybe other Galaxy beers are fruitier and bigger. I may need to do more research. It seems like a fun hop, and it doesn't have that Mosaic Problem. (The Mosaic Problem, for me, is that beers that are fully hopped by Mosaic, in the boil, get weird and vegetable and maybe like cat pee, while dry-hopped Mosaic beers are the business, all stone fruit.) 

Saturday
Surly Coffee Bender
Chris Baker / Stone Xocoveza Charred Barrel Aged Milk Stout

Okay, I had a little Kronenburg at my anniversary dinner with my wife, and a little Racer 5 at the dive bar we used to hang out in college that didn't have the same pizzaz in our mid thirties -- who would've thunk it. At least Racer 5 has the capacity to turn a bad California dive bar into a, sure, yeah, this place is aight. 

We had a couple fun ones when we came home. That Coffee Bender was an interesting open considering what came after. Lacking the Big Body of the imp stouts, the Bender is a brown ale at heart. So the coffee rules the beer. No charred notes, no molasses, no bourbon barrel. It's like drinking an iced coffee, almost. Which, great. Really enjoyable. I'll say it doesn't enter the top echelon for me because it sorta lacks nuance to me. Or maybe I'm just not nuanced enough to taste everything, or maybe the fact I don't drink coffee made the coffee burn taste everything else out in my mouth. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't text people breathlessly about this one. 

The next one? Not quite that level, but it did convince me that I will buy any barrel aged milk stout I can find. You taste the bourbon, the milk, the thick sweetness, the wood, and yet you don't taste the 10% ABV. I think that'll be true for most aged milk stouts. Not quite the same thickness of the Big Bad BA stouts, but very enjoyable and sweet. What this one brought to the table was a little bit of spice -- peppers, nutmeg, cinnamon. Chris Baker won a homebrewing contest to be able to brew this with Stone, and we all get to benefit. 

Sunday
Group 1: 
Sierra Nevada Otra Vez Gose
Grimm Super Spruce Gose
Evil Twin Nomader Weisse 

These aren't all Goses, but they are all nice, light, tart opening salvos for a tasting session. I preferred the Nomader to the other two. The Otra Vez supposedly has cactus in it, but I tasted mostly grapefruit and their thick yeast, which robbed the beer of the brightness I seek. The Super Spruce certainly had that bright freshness, so I had that second best, but man is that spruce intense. I felt like I was licking a tree. It's not only a spruce tip gose, but it was aged on oak. It's very tree like, and yet bright, which is weird. The Nomader was probably the most true to style, as it was mostly lemon and wheat, but it was just what you want from the style -- bright, airy, with a touch of taste, and a tart finish. Give me that one. 

Group 2: 
Sierra Nevada Tropical IPA
Ballast Point Pineapple Sculpin
Deschutes Fresh Squeezed

This was a natural grouping: sweet tropical IPAs. I think most people had the Pineapple Sculpin going in, and I'll admit I like the pineapple version better than the grapefruit one. Mostly because you get the pineapple in the smell, and then the beer itself is a more normal, tropical citrus IPA. Sierra's Tropical might actually be more 'tropical' in that it was more of a stone fruit taste than a citrus one. But you know what? Man, give me some of that Fresh Squeezed in this grouping. Citra and mosaic bring you melon and mango, and then Deschutes adds that traditional amber look and big body, and their big bitter finish doesn't seem as big and bitter when in the context of the rest of the flavors. Like with Red Chair, when Deschutes turns up all the nobs -- including the sweet -- then I'm on board. 

Group 3:
Tree House Green DIPA
Surly Abrasive DIPA

At some point, the beers you put up against each other start to hurt the flavor of the rest of the beers. Because the Abrasive, to me it was pretty good but solid and almost old-school. I'm reading about tropical pineapple and mango flavors in reviews, but that's not what I remember. I remember some orange, some sweetness, but not super tropical, and more of a bright hops finish that made it interesting. I wanted more, but not in the same way I want more Tree House in my life. Tree House probably blew Surly out of the water on the fruit front, and their grassiness gives me great mouthfeel, so only the finish could go to Surly, and I'm not sure it does. I thought I brought it to this exchange, but Tree House is just killing it.

Group 4:
Evil Twin From Amager With Love

Unfortunately I had to sully the taste of all these great beers with From Amager With Love, which was pretty blah. I mean, it tried to get my attention with all that blueberry sweetness. Serious, thick, double stout, but complete with blueberries, to the point that it was just sickly sweet. Meh. 

Still, a great weekend, and all I have left are a few crazy good Imperial Stouts and a Triple IPA from El Segundo I should make sure to have soon. Hope your long weekend was also great in beer. 

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