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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Grey Lodge 2011, Storified

Saturday, August 27, 2011

3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze (Citizen Review)

Here's another review from Citizen Andy.  Andy is our man in NorCal, doing good work for the Nation.  I met him at Russian River, so you can assume he has good taste.

3 Fonteinen
Oude Geuze

375ml bottled nov 18 2010

Served in: Belgian snifter

Appearance: Thin white head, lots of carbonation, streaming bubbles like Champagne. hazy appearance, carefully poured to keep the lees in a bottle.

Smell: yeast funk, smokey pepper, apple, pear, bubble gum.

Taste: Immediately tart and bitter from the carbonation breaking on my tongue. Acidic pear and citrus, finishing with a great palate cleansing tartness. That apple/pear tartness sticks with you for a while. Something wine like, a mix of grape and barrel, but hard to distinguish between the two. A low level, almost fleeting, plastic phenol taste, but only occasionally.

Mouthfeel: Spot on. The acidity level combined with the amount of carbonation (medium-heavy) is greater than the sum of its parts. Draws all the favor out without being a harsh burn.

Overall: I haven't had many guezes to date, but quite a few sours beers. This is a well balanced sour beer that would be perfect for a first time sour beer drinker. It isn't as funky as a Cantillon Geuze. I have heard the sourness level varies with vintage; this vintage wasn't as sour as a Cantillon Geuze. Given the chance at a Geuze, pick this one up before Cantillon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Executive Meeting at the Iron Hill

Greetings Citizens!  Today El Presidente and his trusty V.P. had an executive meeting in an undisclosed loca... aw CRAP.   Okay, so we were at the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant in Maple Shade, NJ.  Of the eight operating locations, it is my understanding that the South Jersey location is the busiest of the bunch.  That's no child's play considering Iron Hill has never had to close a location and is in fact opening a new restaurant in Chestnut Hill, PA later this year.  Over the years I've had the opportunity to dine and imbibe at many of the locations and I must say that I enjoy the beers more and more every time I go.  Iron Hill focuses on solid sessionable beers like their Ironbound Ale and the impeccable Pig Iron Porter.  Adventure awaits, however.  A rather impressive list of rotating seasonals will challenge your tastebuds if you give them a chance.  We did.
A quick rundown and some first impressions:
Rising Sun IPA: Floral meets bitter as Sorachi Ace hops are featured here.  Not a big fan of Sorachi Ace hops, but if you're into them then don't miss this one.  About 7% abv.
Second Rising: Rising Sun's big brother at about 8.5%.  More hops and a ton of specialty malts.  This brew is very full of body and flavor.  Sweetness from the malt carries the hops through the swallow and the bitterness lingers.  A bit much for me, but well-crafted just the same.
Unassisted Tripel: Belgian style ale made with candi sugar.  It's a big boy at about 9.4%.  Reminds me of Victory's Golden Monkey (one will be sufficient!).
Hopfenweizen: Wheaty and hoppy and very bright.  Nice offering and one of the most drinkable.
Belgian Witbier: Brewed with orange and coriander like a good little wit.  Pretty spicy for a wit.  I enjoyed it  but my fave has yet to be revealed.
Caprice golden American-Belgian ale:  Sweetness and bitterness blend nicely here.  I liked it better than the Rising Sun.
German Pilsner: Representative of the style and very well-made. Clean all the way through 'til the end where the hoppy bitterness lingers.  Wait, it gets better:
Keller Pils:  Unfiltered, cellared version of the German Pils.  Supremely drinkable!  I like it even better than the regular Pilsner, which is pretty darn good.  But check this out:
Scottish Ale:  Rolling in under the radar at less than 4% abv, this ale has roasted flavors, caramel notes, a  medium body and a super-clean finish.  Really, what more could you ask for?  I get into adventurous moods sometimes and like to explore the more extreme and experimental brews that a brewery might have to offer (which is why we opted for the seasonal flight as opposed to the house flight) but this session ale has a lot to offer for pretty much any beer drinker you know.  If you're near the Maple Shade location or if any other Iron Hill has this brew on tap, I'd run out and get it before its season changes.

Speaking of experimental brews:
Iron Hill has collaborated with another South Jersey brewery whose name you probably already know.  Flying Fish of Cherry Hill, NJ has teamed up with Iron Hill to get a little crazy: Iron Fish Imperial Black Belgian IPA (whew! That's a mouthful) is due to be released this coming Saturday, August 27th, 2011.  HOWEVER... The Executive Branch of Ferment Nation was lucky enough to meet Chris LaPierre, Head Brewer of Iron Hill Maple Shade today and ask him a few questions about the upcoming Iron Fish.  Chris was nice enough to grant us a little sneak peak at the brew.  He warned us that the kitchen sink might appear at the bottom of the glass (okay, I made that up) since there was so much going on in the brew.  Chris, along with Casey from Flying Fish, decided to laugh in the face of Belgian-style IPAs and Cascadian Dark Ales by basically knocking their heads together.  The resulting brew was, I must say, pretty darn good.  Iron Fish was supremely interesting and gloriously complicated.  It's still sitting on whole leaf hops and will undoubtedly mellow out before its official outing on Saturday.  The Belgian sweetness and the roasted malts come at you first, but the whole flower hops wrap themselves around your face from the aroma 'til the aftertaste.   It didn't have a huge body, nor did it have a boozy warmth.  I suggested that it would be unbelievable on cask.  Chris agreed, and even thought aloud that it may end up on nitro.  I'm hoping to be around on Saturday to give it a shot in all its glory.  Thanks very much, Chris, for the preview!!

By the way, the food at Iron Hill is pretty delicious.  We had pizza(s) today but I've never had a bad meal at Iron Hill, so feel free to explore the menu to its fullest extent.  The staff at Iron Hill is also very well informed about the brews, especially the bartenders.  Brittany (not sure of the spelling) did a great job of explaining the beers to us and even introduced us to Chris.  Thanks to everyone at Iron Hill for your hospitality!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thanks, #BBC11

Dearest Citizens,
It's been an amazing trip and I've learned quite a bit from my colleagues here at #BBC11.  Re-connecting faces with their Twitter handles has been a joy.  I've met some new folks for the first time as well and all in all, I'd say that everyone has been great company for a slightly hazy, hop-scented weekend.  Believe me, I'll be posting some roundups of the events and some detailed insights but right now I'm really beat up.  It's been a long weekend of eating, drinking beer, panel discussions, blogging, drinking some more beer, more panel discussions, tweeting, facebooking, traveling, texting, snapping pictures, hunting for Bigfoot...

One theme that kept popping up at the Conference was finding one's own voice in the blogoshphere.  Maintaining your originality is tough enough, let alone dealing with the cacophony of shouting that sometimes distracts you from your own work.  I have been inspired by many of the friends and colleagues I've met over the past two BBCs.  They have ignited my creativity as well as my awareness of several issues that flame beer-themed debates across the country.  I have legal issues to write about, community events to organize, publicity to stoke up. However, time and energy could be an issue.  In the pursuit of more investigative endeavors, several bloggers have seriously reduced their beer reviewing efforts.

Wait, what?  I don't think I can do that.  I mean yes, I have already formulated several articles in my head that I would like to write.  And yes, I have several collaborative projects that I would like to propose.  But truth be told, why exactly did I begin writing this blog in the first place?  Because when the craft beer scene began to explode in my region (hehehe) I could only find beer reviews on the big two... Okay, I'll  say the names: Ratebeer and Beer Advocate.  These reviews sounded informative but I'd never know because they were uber-technical and used such ridiculously flowery language that the reader would get lost trying to figure out what exactly a resinous finish might be.  And  yeah, lacing on the glass is neat, but I don't need to read a paragraph on it.  I wanted to know how it tasted, how it smelled, and if it could be compared to anything I might actually drink.  So that's what I decided to do.

Now who was my audience?  Beer geeks who loved craft beer, who loved hearing about the hard-to find stuff, but who were too lazy to write about it themselves.  Basically, my friends (sorry, guys, but you know it's true).  Maybe more beer geeks would be intrigued by descriptive beer reviews with good pictures and they would feel a sense of community, a "national" unity in which they could participate.  These citizens could submit their own reviews and pictures so their voice could be heard, though the unifying voice of the site would be my own.  That's why they read Ferment Nation in the first place, right?

People do read my blog, but not so many that I can begin to feel super important.  I've been figuring that I need more creativity, more self-confidence, more usable features for my readers.  Social media is important to spread the word and develop relationships in the industry, but some real thoughtful analyses of bigger situations or a fine-tuning of a more specific niche could really help me along.  And that all makes sense, but...

If the present finds more and more excellent bloggers with sophisticated palates dropping off from the review business, what will I be left with when I want to read some reviews for myself?  Back to square one.  So guess what: I am not going to stop reviewing beers.  I am going to become more involved in my local craft beer community.  I am going to become more valuable to my current readers.  I am going to jumpstart my blog by kicking my own creativity in the arse.  I am going to start brewing.  I am going to reach out to other bloggers whose good work needs to be spread and who may be able to use some of my work as well.  But I am not going to stop reviewing beers.  It's what I do.  That is my voice.  That is my value.  Oh, the Ferment Naton blog will get better and better, and there may be some alter-egos that emerge from the din.  Stay tuned, dear citizens, and spread the word to your friends.  Keep sending your reviews to us at president@fermentnation.com.

To my fellow bloggers: if you happen to be curating some content for a post and need a review, check mine out.  You like it, you want to use it, it's yours.  There are full-on reviews with really nice pictures and there are lots of first impression "Presidential Brief" reviews that squeeze a description into a quick text-message sized post.  Ferment Nation has some slideshow-style video reviews and some brewery coverage as well, so if you think it's useful, just send me an email.  I will be reaching out to you, if you don't mind.  Naturally, full credit and some links are a no-brainer.

So what is the point of this little rant of mine?  I can rediscover my blog's voice without having to reinvent it.  That's the point.  I sincerely hope you enjoy the Ferment Nation.  Any knucklehead who says that they would like to have fewer followers or make less money is a liar and needs a purple nurple for his or her crime.  Of course I would love to reach a larger audience, but I won't change what I do to achieve my goals as a blogger, I will simply do it better.  Thanks, #BBC11.  All hail #craftbeer!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Victory Summer Love

Victory Summer Love is a summer ale that brings out the refreshing nature of one of my other favorite summer styles. What style is that, El Presidente? Read on...

The very beginning of the sip begins like a pale ale but the malt soon appears in the middle of the draught as malts tend to do. Rich lagers and doppelbocks tend to reveal their sweetness in the middle of the mouthful, allowing the drinker to enjoy the body of the brew... Here, Summer Love reveals its secret weapon employed in the pursuit of a clean, refreshing brew: pilsner malt.

Some of my favorite summertime brews are @VictoryBeer Prima Pils and @Troegsbeer Sunshine Pils. The dryness helps pilsners to finish cleanly, while the Saaz hops provide a unique aftertaste.  Summer Love is an interesting hybrid that utilizes pilsner malt for a light body while its whole flower hops brighten the brew with a citrusy tang.

There's another Philly area brewery that makes a pale ale with pilsner malt... @YardsBrew makes Philadelphia Pale Ale with pilsner malts as well, and it is a go-to beer for session drinking and especially warm weather outdoor events like barbecues and tailgaters. Yards Philly Pale seems to closely align itself with the British brewing tradition of smoothness, balance, and subtlety. The hoppy character is a little more lemony than grapefruity... Victory's Summer Love seems to highlight the brewers' German training. Yes the brew is pale and drinkable but some slightly bolder spicing seems to peek through and crave the company of some home-grilled hamburgers. 

In its first season on the market, Victory Summer Love has made its way onto my summer bring-to-the-party list. Along with the aforementioned Yards Philly Pale, Flying Fish's Farmhouse Summer, Victory's own Prima Pils and Troegs Sunshine Pils, Victory Summer Love really captures the essence of an accessible summer seasonal. Even the artwork on the label features baseball, camping, fishing, fireworks, ice cream and bathing beauties. If you haven't tried Summer Love, give it a shot before it goes into hibernation. The bright, floral hops and the pilsner malt will provide a crisp, refreshing drinking experience.

Victory Summer Love:
Representation: 1.0
Accessibility: 1.0
Style: .95
Personal Preference: .99

Total Score: 3.94 Flags

Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale

@DeschutesBeer Mirror Pond Pale Ale: pale upfront, rouch of amber, dry finish. Good balance for food.

Mirror Pond

Deschutes Flight

So here we are at the Beer Bloggers Conference 2011 in Portland, OR.  After a quick trip to Seattle and a train ride down to Portland, a rather hearty thirst begins to crop up.  Never fear... #BBC11 has been plunked down in the heart of microbrew country for a reason.  Yesterday was my first trip to the City Center and we managed to find Deschutes brew pub pretty quickly.  They were setting up for their street fair that we visited later on during our pub crawl, but the First Lady and I just wanted some quick grub and a few drinks to start the adventure.   Here is a brief description  of the brews we sampled  (Remember that it's hard to do a full-on review with only a sample, but you all know that I've given it my best shot):

Black Butte Porter: roasty yet drinkable, wisp of smoke

Obsidian Stout: Nitro smooth, coffee bitter, very drinkable

The Stoic: crazy quad with zippy fruit tartness; more playful than its name

Wowzenbock: Wow, Zen, and Bock. Oh, and Weizen.

Hop-in-the-Dark: Cascadian Dark Ale with serious character. Roasty and hoppy at the same time. Mmm.

Hefeweizen: some citrus goin' on. Nice, but Wowzen is wheatier.

I also got to drink an entire pint of one of the best session brews I've ever encountered.  Check out the post I put on Facebook at the time of its drinking:

Deschutes Inversion IPA, hand-pumped Cask. Ultimate session brew! British pub meets the West Coast.

I hope to get my hands on some more Deschutes brews throughout the weekend.  Their quality is everything it should be, and their devotion to the craft is evident in the sublime flavors.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hello folks! Here's what happens when a concerned citizen takes the brew by the horns.  Our Citizen Andy Carter (whom I met at Russian River) may just have earned himself a new title: Ambassador!  Andy has a sophisticated palate and a way with words.  We're liking his reviews.  Check out another one...

Pretty Things
Saint Botolph's Town

8/2/11  22oz belgian sniffer

Appearance: dark brown, brick brown, nearly opaque.

Smell: Candy caramel sweetness, as it warms more apple and pear.

Taste: Initial faint plastic phenols, immediately into malty rich sweetness. Some chocolate in the finish. A reasonable bitterness, but just in balance with the malt to reign you in. As it warms its becomes more complex: more malt in the beginning and finish. Reminds me of an abbey dubbel in some ways; I would swear there is some special B in this! They do specify the use of "belgian yeasts" in the beer, but I taste/smell little of those typical characteristics.

Mouthfeel: A bit thin in the mouthfeel given its appearance, but it still holds it own. Mild carbonation.

Overall: A great beer. It stays true to its "rustic" traditions by giving it a belgian kick that british beers probably had. History is funny like that! Overall appreciated this beer more than jack d'or.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grilling in 2011

Here's some food for thought:

There's a certain barbecue warrior spirit that awakens within a man as he lights that grill.  And as a warrior arms himself for the battle, so does a grillmaster take up a beer.  He charges into the fray, mounted high atop his mighty fermented steed to general the conflict between meat and fire... Actually almost any beer will do, but there's something magical that happens when you pick just the right brew to accompany your bbq.  Dale's Pale Ale is mostly magical anyway, but drinking out of a can somehow enhances the grilling experience.  It somehow just feels right, the aluminum, I mean.  Lots of picking up and putting down, switching plates, tongs and spatulas everywhere, the bustle of tools and lots of repositioning ... Keep in mind that canned #craftbeer is also perfect for putting up Christmas lights on the other side of the year.

It helps that Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale matched up perfectly with the grub on this storied day.  We had some marinated beef, peppers, scallops, onions, and mushrooms on the skewers.  The kabobs were extremely flavorful (and cooked to perfection, I might add) but there was nothing overwhelming in the dish that competed with the voluminously hopped mutha of a pale ale that I was drinking.  Sometimes the beer and food compete for flavor dominance, but Dale's is so well-balanced that it accompanies almost any meal with grace.

 bbq 2011

So here in the "Frantic Mid-Lantic" a good #craftbeer to accompany some nice grilled food seems to be the forecast from late March til about Thanksgiving.  Here are some pics of other really nice canned brews.  Recognize the #IPADay challenge?  You may also recall some of these from my can-ping trip review a few months back, but it's always nice to think about barbecuing and camping when you're definitely staring at a phone or computer screen right now, and you're probably stuck inside.

Let's not forget about our bottled friends.  Cans are great, but the vast majority of craft brews out there still served in glass.  Keep in mind that the beers may get progressively lighter as the weather gets warmer as well; See Also  Victory: Summer Love, Prima Pils, Hop Devil;  Flying Fish: XPA, Farmhouse Summer: Troegs: Sunshine Pils, Pale Ale, Dream Weaver; Yards: Philly Pale, Saison; Bear Republic: Racer 5, Hop Rod Rye; Ithaca: Flower Power, Cascazilla.  These are just a few of my go-to brews for grilling up your grub.  What's your favorite brew for cooking outdoors? Do you prefer cans or bottles?  It is certainly more important to acknowledge what's inside the vessel, but all the senses are involved when you enjoy a nice #craftbeer, especially when you are the one doing the cooking.  Let us know, and don't forget to use a pot holder or something.  Cheers!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pilsener House - NJ's First Authentic Biergarten Is Now Open!

This just in!  The Pilsener Haus Biergarten is now open for business!  We at the Nation first heard about the Pilsener Haus from our friends at New Jersey Craft Beer (@NJCraftBeer).  Now the whole world knows!  Check it out, won't you...
This comes to us from Gail Schoenberg (gail@gailpr.com):
It's been two years in the making...

Pilsener Haus & Biergarten is proud to announce
they are now open for business!

New Jersey's first truly authentic biergarten offers 
the old-world experience that Europeans have enjoyed for centuries.

Pilsener Haus'  bar features 20 premium draft beers, including Pilsener Haus Original Brew,  imported from Germany.

The full beer list boasts almost 50 bottles,
including select American craft beers.

View the draft list here.

View the bottle list here.

Pilsener Haus' bar -- centerpiece of the massive bier hall

An Exceptional Austro-Hungarian Menu

Pilsener Haus & Biergarten's Chef Thomas Ferlesch, 
formerly of Cafe des Artistes and Brooklyn's Thomas Beisl,
has created a genuine biergarten menu of
schnitzels, wursts, charcuterie and more.

Hoboken has gained not just a biergarten,
but a superb restaurant as well.

View the Pilsener Haus menu here.

Fun, beer, food & fellowship at communal tables crafted from re-purposed barn wood
Brought to you by one of the founders of Brooklyn's Radegast,
Pilsener Haus will also feature a regular schedule of live music.

Biergarten...restaurant...music venue
10,000 square feet of tradition come to Hoboken!

Read more about Pilsener Haus & Biergarten here.

1422 Grand Street
Hoboken, NJ


Open Monday - Friday, 5 pm to 2 am
Saturday - Sunday, noon to 2 am

Photos, interviews, and recipes available on request.
Gail Schoenberg
(201) 460-3672

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monk's Cafe

Stopped by Monk's on Saturday night and tried an amazing oak aged Flemish red ale.  It was called Mestreechs Aajt and it was pretty darn awesome.  I know that Flemish sour ales can be a bit challenging to folks who are used to more accessible balances of malt and hops... I myself shrunk  back in horror the first time I tried one.  Then I discovered Russian River Consecration and marveled at its complexity.  The sour tang got my tastebuds jumpin' and I began to taste flavors I hadn't been able to appreciate before.  Well, behold: Intro to Sour Beers starring Mestreechs Aajt.
This brew is a lovely red color and has just a hint of cherry in the aroma.  You can taste a bit of tart cherry in the beer as well, which complements the acidity nicely.  Is there a little vinegar-taste in there?  You bet.  But the sweetness of the fruit tames it enough for Mestreechs Aajt to be infinitely quaffable.  In fact, I've ordered plenty of sour beers in the past, but usually one in a row is enough for me.  I tend to move onto something a bit more accessible after duking it out with a Flemish sour or oak-aged wild ale.  But for the first time, I stuck with the sour brew twice in a row.  That speaks to the dual nature of Mestreechs Aajt: friendly yet challenging.  I would recommend this sour brew to anyone who thinks they don't like sour brews.  This may just open up a portal to a whole new world of possibilities.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

#IPADay Roundup

Between midnight on Thursday morning August 4th and midnight on August 5th, I happened to go out with some friends to enjoy a few beers.  Since many of us in the blogosphere were recognizing #IPADay as a fun little holiday, I decided to celebrate by having a few IPAs.  Is that so wrong?  Here are some of the selections I enjoyed during the hours of #IPADay 2011:
Flying Fish Exit 16 Firkin (@jerseyfreshales) @ThePourHouseNJ. Less carbonation and a smoother, creamier delivery really warms the belly. I'm finding it to be less bitter and more citrusy. Bright and happy!

Here was another fine #IPADay brew: @AveryBrewingCo IPA. Earthy and funky. The malt pops after it warms up a bit.

Is there a #DoubleIPADay? @Weyerbacher Double Simcoe @ThePourHouseNJ. Rich, sticky, floral, bitter! This one is hard to pass up when you see it on tap.

Whew! @AveryBrewingCo Maharaja Imperial #IPA 10.46% abv, 102 IBUs. BIG & brutal, balanced by extremes in malt and hops that battle for dominance. Not in a bad way...

Well, I think that's a fine sampling of #IPAs that would satisfy the cravings of even the most ravenous IPA drinkers. From sessionable to imperial, I think I had a successful #IPADay. We here at the Ferment Nation hope you enjoyed yours as well.

If I may opine... beer drinking is fun under most circumstances. I feel that should be enjoyed to its fullest extent by those who have the capacity to do it safely. The brewers who craft it should be commended for their work and it is the variety and availability of so many different styles that make the craft beer scene so vibrant. But is it really so wrong to take a few moments to highlight a specific style? Especially if the other styles will eventually get their turn? Does #IPADay attack something sacred and pure about drinking whatever beer makes you happy? If we "shouldn't" celebrate the IPA as a style, does that mean we "shouldn't" go to a barleywine festival, or a firkin event, or a Belgian night, or a stout challenge... If you can't have a little fun drinking your beer then I don't know what to tell you. If you're not in favor of #IPADay, don't celebrate it.  

It's possible that this debate may come up in the next few weeks at #BBC11, but I hope it's not polarizing. #IPADay made for some cool specials at the local bars and some interesting tweets, so I had fun with it. Hope you did too. Cheers!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

#IPADay re-review Green Flash West Coast IPA

Whether you love #IPADay, hate it, are tired of it, or simply just don't care, many folks are celebrating the style today.  So here's an #IPA review from awhile back, highlighting one of my favorites:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Green Flash West Coast IPA

Green Flash West Coast IPA (draft):

Superior IPA. Chilled-out enough to recommend to any lover of good beers but bold enough to stash away for the occasional hop-fits that plague the hop-head from time to time. Stable malty skeleton with citrusy hops fleshed out on top. Grapefruity yet not overpowering. Light to medium in body with a bitterness up front. The bitterness disappears for the swallow and then magically reappears at the finish. Mystically good.

IPA lovers, drop what you're doing and grab one of these. Sometimes you need a pale; sometimes you need a double or an imperial; sometimes you need something just right. I'd put this in the "go-to" category right along with Victory Hop Devil or Dogfish Head 90 Minute. Also be sure to check out Green Flash Hop Head Red andLe Freak for daring drinkability.

Green Flash West Coast IPA is also one of a rare breed of brews that has a three-pronged attack: bottle, glass, or draft. This is a premier IPA, boasting 95 IBUs and cruising in at 7.3% abv.

As we enter Football Season, here's some Presidential advice: Definitely bring this one with you to a tailgater but guard it closely. You can protect it by saying, "You wouldn't like that... it's too bitter" (and you would be telling the God's honest truth), or you can be a hero to that random hop-head who eyes your brew knowingly. Use a West Coast IPA to barter for an awesome bratwurst sandwich or something but stand your ground on the value of this brew. Rare exception: that guy who has nothing to offer but stands in awe of your superior beer selection. You may bestow a Green Flash West Coast IPA upon this fellow traveler if you see in his eyes the determination to outdo you next time you meet. A truly grateful citizen of the FermentNation will take on this quest and deliver the goods.

Why not let the Brewmaster say it for himself: "A menagerie of hops are layered throughout the brewing process. Simcoe for unique fruitiness and grapefruit zest, Columbus for strong hop pungency, Centennial for pine and citrus notes, Cascade for floral aroma. A multi-dimensional hop experience." --Chuck Silva, Brewmaster.

Green Flash West Coast IPA:

Representation: 1.0
Accessibility: 1.0
Style: 1.0
Personal Preference: 1.0

Total Score: 4.0 Flags

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

#IPADay in the can

Let's prepare a little more for Thursday's #IPADay.  Here's a post from over a year ago, posted by the V.P.  Canned beer has taken even bigger strides since then, but here's a showdown between three different #IPAs:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

IPA in a Can Showdown (Citizen Review)

IPA in a Can Showdown:

As a preface to the criticism and praise, it was pretty great that we could even review more than one craft brewery IPA in a can. Cans are great for coolers and for keeping beer cold, they are probably less expensive to produce for breweries, are easier to stack and transport and less prone to destruction if you drop one. BUT, I could not name off the top of my head a single craft beer available in a can other thanDale's Pale Ale. So why the reluctance on the part of craft breweries? Not sure. Maybe its a pride thing- big breweries use cans, craft breweries use casks and bottles? I guess we will see in the future, but I say, especially for summertime, let's see more cans!

So, we were three reviewers drinking three IPA beers in cans. We conferred with initial tastings and then secondary tastings, and then passed judgment on all three as to the order of quality in taste and representation as India Pale Ales. Here are the notes that were taken. In the interest of propriety and politeness, I will say that the views expressed in the following notes do not necessarily represent the views of The Ferment Nation.
1. 21st Amendment Brewery - Brew Free or Die IPA
- No smell/can smell
- Awful “yommy” aftertaste
- Great design on can

2. Caldera Brewing Company IPA
- Funky
- Cat piss mell
- Not undrinkable, but close
- Can design and green tab bad calls
- More like a pale ale
- Stinky stinky
- Lightest color of the three

3. Sly Fox Route 113 IPA
- Grassy, excellent aftertaste
- Bite that we were looking for
- Nice can
- Nice caramel hue
- Does not taste like it came out of a can

The clear winner was Sly Fox's Route 113 IPA. In second place was 21st Amendment, and coming in last was Caldera. And although Citizen E. has a connection to Suzanne Woods of BeerLass.com fame, I will not doubt her opinion as being unduly influenced. I totally agree with the overall judgement. As a final comment, I would say that all three IPAs fall short of outstanding representatives of the style like Green Flash's West Coast IPA, or even recent favorites of mine like Bell's Two Hearted Ale and Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA. Obviously, now there are a whole lot more craft beers in cans than a year or two ago, and producing beers in cans could be the future, but it looks like there is still much work to be done. And so we wait, patiently, thirstily.

email the VP

Monday, August 1, 2011

In preparation for #IPADay this Thursday, August 4th, we at the Ferment Nation are re-visiting some previous IPA posts for your reading pleasure.  How will YOU celebrate #IPADay?  You will be celebrating, right?  This is one that I brought home from the #BBC10 "Night of Many Bottles."  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Haverhill "Leatherlips" IPA

Haverhill "LeatherlipsIPA:

Leatherlips IPA from Haverhill Brewery in Haverhill, MA was a score from the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder, CO. Dan (on Tap) handed me a tub of ice stocked with unopened brews from our BYOB event and said, "Take this!" So I did. A bunch of bloggers hung out awhile longer and sampled some more brews after the event "ended" at 11:00 pm. But we couldn't get to everything, could we? So here it is back in South Jersey, just waiting to be reviewed...

Leatherlips is potently dry and has a pleasant hoppy bitterness. It's only listed at 50 i.b.u.s, which is a little less than I was expecting. I figured the measurement would be higher, considering the nice grapefruity aftertaste. Centennial and Chinook hops are listed as the main culprits in the bitterness department, which makes sense considering the brew's passing resemblance to Founders Centennial IPA.
What I didn't know about Leatherlips was that it would be the perfect accompaniment to my meal. My wonderful lettuce wraps (thanks, Honey) were prepared with brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, mushrooms, chicken, and onions. The earthy, tangy, caramelized sweetness of the food needed a dry, citrusy beer to cut through the richness and cleanse the palate. Likewise, the brown sugar sweetness attacked the beer's bitter aftertaste in a really pleasant battle of the buds.
I have to say that as an IPA, Leatherlips gets the job done but doesn't exactly raise the bar. Though at 5% abv, it's worth trying a few to see how it goes. This is a session beer with quite a lot of flavor; super-fresh from the tap in Haverhill, MA may be the way to taste this one. I just may do that someday. Keep in mind, it's perfect for cutting through a sweet and tangy meal. It would go great with some honey-bbq ribs or chicken, too, so look for it to come up big at a tailgater or barbecue.

Haverhill "LeatherlipsIPA:

Representation: .795
Accessibility: .925
Style: .88
Personal Preference: .895

Total Score: 3.495 Flags
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