Beer Review: Cigar City’s Hopped on the High Seas Calypso



Hopped on the High Seas from Cigar City is a year round release they call their Carribean Style IPA. Each batch is dry hopped with a different hop variety, for this review I have the batch dry hopped with Calypso. In the past I have enjoyed the batches with Simcoe and Kohatu, sorry no reviews on those. They brew the IPA at the Cervezas del Sur Brewery in Ponce, Puerto Rico and they dry hop it before it gets shipped back to Tampa for canning, hence the name. Hopped on the High Seas is 7% ABV and comes in at 70 IBUs. 

Appearance: Dark copper, similar color to Jai Alai but a little lighter and translucent. Once again it has a nice head turning into some sticky lacing down the entire glass. Love the can as well.

Nose: Not super hop forward at all, definitely not what I remember from the other batches of this I have had. Some citrus but more of a really sweet sugary smell with some maltiness as well. Not what I was expecting from the nose at all.

Taste/Mouth: Get some tropical fruits, mostly pineapple before a real sharp bitterness crushes your palate. Lot of sweet maltiness in the taste as well. It finishes really dry, piney and resinous. From the nose I was not expecting such a hop bomb of bitterness from the taste.

Availability/Price: New batch, new hop so I think this is the last we will be seeing of this particular variety of this beer. The Hopped on the High Seas series is pretty readily available in states that get Cigar City distribution and at a similar price to Jai Alai it isn’t bad.

Overall: This beer was a huge letdown, especially after I have enjoyed the Simcoe and Kohatu batches of it. It was pretty hard for me to drink the two cans of it I had. Freshness wasn’t an issue as the can was less than a month old when I drank it. I think it must have just been this hop variety wasn’t working with it. I will continue to try this series when I see it but will definitely avoid anymore of this particular batch.

Grade: C-


Beer Review: Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA


Got two Cigar City reviews coming out here in the coming days, this being the first of those. Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA, a beer that has built up quite a reputation for itself. I always grab some when I am in NY or Philly as Cigar City does not get distributed to NJ unfortunately. It gets its name from a Spanish game that was once very popular in Florida. Jai Alai comes in at 7.5% ABV and 70 IBUs.

Appearance: Pours a really nice deep copper color, cloudy and not able to see through the beer. Really good looking head on this one that turns into super sticky lacing all the way down the glass.

Nose: This beer smells phenomenal, gushing with tropical fruit and citrus. Specifically getting grapefruit and tangerine right up front. It also has a nice piney character in the nose. Very pleasant to take in.

Taste/Mouth: This beer is so juicy. Grapefruit and citrus flavors are just gushing right out front. The tropical and citrus fruit flavors really shine without coming off as too sweet or syrupy balanced out perfectly with nice bitter and pine notes. Perfect carbonation as well complements the flavors.

Availability/Price: Not incredibly readily available in the northeast part of the country. I have a place I go in NY state that almost always has it, always see it down in Philly as well and on draft in NYC occasionally. Price isn’t terrible and well worth it in my opinion, six pack of cans goes for 10-12$ depending.

Overall: Without a doubt one of the best IPAs you can get your hands on in the country I would say. Once you get your first whiff of the nose you know this one is gonna be good. Nose and Taste are both just so full of incredibly pleasant flavors and aromas. Seek this one out, its worth it.

Grade: A

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada’s Snow Wit White IPA


This is part 2/4 of my reviews of Sierra’s Box of Hops Variety 12 pack. Next up is their new White IPA so cleverly called Snow Wit. Like Nooner this is Snow Wit’s first release and as of now only scheduled release. White/Belgian IPAs have never really blown me away as I am not always terribly keen on Belgian beers and I feel like many times this style has seen poor execution from other breweries. I feel like breweries are often just throwing a Belgian yeast into a cookie cutter IPA recipe and expecting something amazing. Now I definitely don’t think Sierra would do something like that. This beer comes in at 5.7% ABV and 40 IBUs.

Appearance: Pours a very hazy, light copper color with a good sized white head. Appearance-wise this beer looks like a straight up Belgian Wit. Real nice lacing on this one as well.

Nose: Right off the bat you get that spiciness from the Belgian yeast mixed nicely with some spicy notes from the Summit and Experimental Dwarf Hops. I also saw on the brewing notes lemon peel and coriander were added and they give it some more Belgian-y notes. You can get a little citrus/grapefruit on the back end of the nose but it is definitely mostly dominated by the Belgian yeast and strong lemon peel.

Taste/Mouth: Good carbonation contributes to this beers light, crisp mouth. You get a little bite from the Summit hops and they give you some spicy hop notes. I gotta say I am happy the Belgian yeast isn’t crazy overpowering in the taste and it takes the backseat to some nice citrus notes up front in this beer. Definitely get the lemon peel and coriander too. The taste is a good balance between Belgian Wit and Sierra style American IPA.

Availability/Price: As always Sierra keeps the price reasonable, I think I paid about $18 for the variety 12 pack and I have seen it at a bunch of places. As far as how available this beer will be down the road, I am not entirely sure. Like Nooner I am not sure if this beer will see another release.

Overall: Definitely one of the better Belgian IPAs I have had because the Belgian notes were more subtle than I have experienced in some of the other beers. Still I find it hard to call this one an IPA. It definitely has some crossover appeal though. I gave one to my dad and he enjoyed it quite a bit as a Belgian beer guy and me being a hophead always making him try crazy double IPAs this was a nice somewhere around the middle of the road for the two of us.

Grade: B-

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada’s Nooner Session IPA


This is part 1/4 of my reviews of Sierra Nevada’s Box of Hop variety 12 pack. Starting the reviews off with the beer I was most excited to try in the pack their new session IPA, Nooner. This beers first release was in this box of hops variety pack and as of now I think it is its only scheduled release. Haven’t heard anything about this getting it’s own six pack release. I can’t believe it took Sierra this long to jump on the session IPA train honestly. This one comes in at 4.8% ABV and 40 IBU, pretty standard numbers for session IPAs.

Appearance: Pours a pretty transparent golden color, super filtered. This one had a really nice head and plenty of sticky lacing as I drank it down.

Nose: Very standard Sierra hoppy beer nose, they have the hops they like and that’s what they stick with. This one has Centennial, Chinook and Sterling. You get lots of earthy and flowery notes up front with some citrus and pine behind it. Smells somewhere between the Pale Ale and Torpedo, so pretty enjoyable.

Taste: Right off the bat the taste is super similar to Sierra’s Pale Ale, like eerily similar. It is slightly more bitter than the Pale Ale and feels a little more light and refreshing. You get some citrus and pine coming through as well making it a little more complex than the Pale Ale. I could definitely session this beer on a hot day.

Availability/Price: As always Sierra keeps the price reasonable, I think I paid about $18 for the variety 12 pack and I have seen it at a bunch of places. As far as how available this beer will be down the road, I am not entirely sure. Not really worth it to have to buy a 12 pack just to get 3 of these.

Overall: This beer definitely did not impress me nearly as much as I was hoping it would. I really wanted it to blow me out of the water but I guess I was a little hopeful on that. Sierra tends to always just make really solid beers but their new stuff is never totally mind-blowing. I think the really underwhelming thing about this beer is just how similar it felt to the Pale Ale. I would definitely session this IPA but wouldn’t pay anymore for a six pack of it than what a SN Pale Ale six pack costs.

Grade: B-

Beer Review: Great Lakes Chillwave Double IPA



Moving on to a Double IPA for my next review. Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Chillwave Double IPA. This is an annual March release for the Cleveland, Ohio brewery and is definitely a little different of a beer for the brewery most known for their porters, stouts and lagers. It showcases Mosaic, Nugget and Cascade hops and comes in at 9.4% ABV and 80 IBU.

Appearance: This beer is a really deep copper, almost an amber color which is definitely a darker color than I normally like to see for my double IPAs. It had an okay sized head which produced some decent lacing down the glass.

Nose: This beer definitely has a very strong nose but not the normal dank really strong fresh hop nose you get from most other doubles these days. You get a lot of tropical fruit right up front in a big way, almost like a tropical mixed drink smell. You can get some cranberry juice, maybe even some orange juice out of the nose as well. Sugary sweetness and malt are definitely present as well.

Taste/Mouth: It has a syrupy, thick mouth with a good bite from the carbonation. The tropical fruit and fruit juices from the nose definitely carry over to the taste. The taste is far too sweet in my opinion for a double IPA with not nearly enough hop bitterness to balance it out. The fruit flavors are nice but combined with the malt sweetness this beer becomes far too sweet.

Availability/Price Point: Great Lakes is a very accessible brewery and available pretty much everywhere on the east coast. The price wasn’t terrible either for a 9.4% beer, it comes in a 4 pack and I got mine for $9.99 at Bottle King I am pretty sure.

Overall: I like my Double IPAs to be far more bitter than this one was. The sweetness greatly overpowers what are some of my favorite hops for an IPA or Double, Mosaic and Nugget. This might be an enjoyable Double for some people I guess it depends on your pallet and what other Double IPAs you have to compare this one too. Fortunately I have had a lot of Double IPAs and a lot of ones better than this. Glad I got to give this one a go but doubt I will ever purchase it again.

Grade: C

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (2014)


Trying to cover a good amount of styles and breweries as I roll out my initial beer reviews for this site. For my next review I have Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale. This has been one of the best and most consistent Barleywines and is praised as one of the innovators of the American take on the style. First released in the Winter of 1983 it recently celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. Bigfoot is loved by many for how well it develops with age and is quite common to find in most beer cellars. Coming in at 9.6% ABV and 90 IBUs Bigfoot really is the beast we all thought.

Appearance: The beer is a really beautiful, deep copper/amber color as you can see above. I poured quite aggressively and was able to get a decent sized off white head which turned later into some nice lacing. One more time let’s look at how nice of a color this beer pours, damn.

Nose: Immediately pick up very piney and spicy hop aroma as expected from how packed this beer is with centennial and chinook hops. The pine on the nose is very pleasant, something like standing near a pine tree outside or the smell of your hands after holding pine needles. You are also able to pick up some sweet malt and caramel.

Taste/Mouth: Beer has a syrupy feel to it with some nice carbonation. Tastes sweet but is balanced out nicely by the spicy/piney hop bitterness. They bitter this beer with Chinook and it really shines throughout the beer. It has such a unique spicy/piney taste and smell balancing out it’s syrupy sweetness and the alcohol. You do pick up some heat from the alcohol on the back end of the taste but it adds more complexity and is quite enjoyable. Bigfoot is a complex mix of spicy, sweet and hot while maintaining supreme drink-ability.

Availability/Price Point: As usual Sierra is really fair with price and makes their beer very available. I paid $8.99 plus tax for a four pack which is more than fair considering its a 9.6% Barleywine. This is a winter seasonal release but I’ll see 4 packs hanging around into the summer months probably. I think the best thing about a beer like this is I can drink two now and put the other two in the cellar for aging.

Overall: Another great offering from Sierra’s enormous collection of incredible beers. I think this one could use a little age on it to really shine, but it was still very enjoyable young and I don’t think it absolutely must be aged for it to be a great beer. I will enjoy the other one I have in my fridge for drinking now and I am excited to crack open the ones in my cellar down the road at some point and see how well Bigfoot ages. Definitely one of the best (pretty) readily available Barleywines out there, give Bigfoot a try if you haven’t yet!

Grade: A-

Beer Review: Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS)


I am very fortunate and was able to get my hands on a total of 5 KBS’s this year, one a friend saved for me at Bottle King and I was able to buy an entire 4 pack at a local liquor store. I plan on doing reviews on the KBS at various different points in the aging process (6 months, 1 year etc.) and figured I would start with a nice fresh one, bottled sometime between 2-4 weeks before consumption. This is the first time I have had KBS but obviously not my first time having a bourbon barrel aged stout. That being said I will have a totally unbiased opinion, only thing I know about this beer is that it is one of the most hyped annually releases in the US.

Appearance: KBS pours a dark, dark black as you would expect from a BBA stout or any imperial stout for that matter. Really small vanilla colored head that turned into some really nice lacing as I slowly drank this one down.

Nose: This beer had a really nice, complex smell to it that kept me constantly picking up new scents as I made my way down the glass. I got lots of chocolate and coffee/espresso both initially and throughout the beer. I was picking up some hints of tobacco, vanilla, toffee and caramel along the way as well. Deep in the nose you could also pick up some of the oak and bourbon from the barrel aging process but I would have liked to get some more of that,

Taste/Mouth: First I would like to say that the mouth was way thinner than I expected it to be, I was hoping for a super thick stout but I would guess because of all the additions of coffee/chocolate along with the aging process this one thinned out a bit. Good carbonation. Initial taste is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. I mean damn this thing is loaded with chocolate flavors that run the gambit anywhere from milk to dark chocolate. You also get coffee woven in with the chocolate flavors as well but not nearly as obvious as the chocolate. Some other flavors I picked up were hints of vanilla, some raisin and caramel all of which carried over from the nose. It had a nice amount of hops to help bring some more balance to the malt and sweetness of this beer. On the back end of the taste you can get a little bit of the bourbon and some heat from the 11.2% ABV but not as much as you would expect. I would have liked some more oak and bourbon in the flavor.

Availability/Price Point: This is where this beer kind of sucks. I appreciate limited edition things and hype behind stuff but this beer just promotes price gouging. It is almost impossible to get a whole 4 pack of it and most places around me in New Jersey were charging $8.50-$10.00 a 12oz bottle. That is insane. Most stores only got 1-2 cases of it as well. I have to take that into my final grade of this beer.

Overall: I love Founder’s and think they are definitely among the elite craft breweries in the US. Like I said before I also appreciate the idea of a limited production beer but the hype behind this one didn’t quite live up to what I got. This is definitely an amazing world class beer but do I think it is better than some readily available bourbon barrel aged beers? Not really. I think it is probably right there with a lot of the other great BBA Imperial Stouts I have had (most of which are far more readily available), maybe this is a little better but is it worth spending $10 a bottle on, not in my opinion. I am really glad I got to have it and I am glad I get to see how this one ages with the other four I have in my cellar but not sure I will go out of my way to get it in the future. I know this and Breakfast Stout aren’t related but I’ll take a four pack of that over one bottle of this any day, and probably pay around the same price!

Grade: B+