Another hoppy lager from the good people over at Jack’s Abby for my next review. This one is their Extra Pale Lager, Hopstitution which was created by the brewery to help showcase small quantities of specialty hops they are able to acquire. This beer is brewed all year round when they can get their hands on some specialty hops, so the hops used are never exactly the same from batch to batch. Each bottle lists the specific hops used in the batch. Hopstitution comes in at 5.5% ABV and the IBU varies from batch to batch.
Appearance: Poured from a .5 liter bottle into a long tulip glass. Nice golden yellow color with some haze to it as all Jack beers are unfiltered. Big thick 3 finger creamy, billowy head. After dissipating a little the head looked like a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the beer. The color of this beer is really very nice and the lacing is incredible.
Nose: Real nice pine, resin and tropical fruits coming up front on this one. The nose on this one is really very like an IPA. Although the bottle is missing the hops used I found out from the site this version was hopped with Citra and Calypso. Explains why the nose blew me away.
Taste/Mouth: Very crisp and refreshing as all of the Jack beers I have had thus far, It has a nice bite of earthy and piney hop bitterness. It finishes really dry but is refreshing at the same time makes you want to keep drinking it. Some biscuity malt backs up the hop bitterness nicely. It has a very nice full mouthfeel to it.
Price/Availability: Each version is only brewed once so this is a one and done. As usual the price from Jack is good, the bottle was around $5.
Overall: Another beer from Jack’s Abby I would definitely seek out again. Great idea as well to change up the hops in each version of this beer as different ones become available. Reminds me a lot of an updated 2014 version of the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Coming out of Brooklyn, NY it is Sixpoint’s Bengali IPA. Formally known as Bengali Tiger they shortened up the name as they began to can this IPA in six packs as opposed to 4-packs of 16 ouncers. Slowly it seems Sixpoint is beginning to offer all of their beers in six packs now as opposed to the original four packs. This was definitely the right move on their part, not sure I agree with the name change though as I liked Bengali Tiger. Bengali comes in at 6.5% ABV and 69 IBUs.
Appearance: Poured from a 12 oz can into snifter. Has a nice, slightly hazy golden color. Pours a creamy white 1 finger head which laces down the glass pretty nicely. You know me, love canned beers especially IPAs.
Nose: Fresh hop, pine, tropical and citrus fruits and resin. This one really hits on all the major American IPA hop notes. It is a really dank awesome nose and you can smell it pretty much the second you crack the can.
Taste/Mouth: Really nice smooth mouthfeel. Some pine and citrus hop notes shining up front with some good biscuit malt balancing it out in the back. Really great easy to drink IPA, clean and refreshing.
Price/Availability: Very available in the Northeast especially the tri-state area. The recent change to six packs makes the price point a little better as well.
Overall: Definitely an IPA that in my mind is overlooked a lot and underrated in many peoples minds. Now that it is in six packs I can see myself seeking this one out more often than I used to. Good dating on all boxes as well to tell the freshness.
Sierra continues to put out more seasonal stuff that I feel like I have to drink and review, with their constant release of great seasonal beers it is really restricting my ability to review other breweries! Either way I am back with the review of another Sierra beer, this one is a real mouthful. This is the second in their series of five releases showcasing different hopped IPAs (fresh, wet, wild and single hop) it is their Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop IPA. It features Southern Cross, Pacifica, and Motueka hops picked in New Zealand dried and shipped to the brewery within 7 days. Southern Hemisphere Harvest comes in at 6.7% ABV and 67 IBUs.
Appearance: Poured from a bomber into a snifter. Nice deep copper color, slightly hazy with a creamy white 1-2 finger head that left sticky lacing down the glass.
Nose: Floral, earthy and citrus fruit up front. Get some malt sweetness in the nose as well as a bit of the typical Sierra house yeast smell. Earthy hop definitely domination this but the unique fresh hop smell is definitely apparent.
Taste/Mouth: Spicy and earthy hop bitterness definitely dominate upfront. Biscuit malt presence big in the mouth as well. Finishes dry and with some pine bitterness. The hop taste is pretty mild and balanced well with the malt as Sierra IPAs often are. You also get the Sierra yeast taste as you get with most beers and the malt bill appears to be similar to many other Sierra IPAs. That being said it was a pretty enjoyable and different tasting IPA.
Availability/Price: It is available in the Spring for the hop harvest in New Zealand, bottled in May to be specific. Really good price as usual from Sierra at around $5 for the bomber. This is released every year in May I believe.
Overall: Pretty good seasonal release from Sierra, will definitely probably purchase one every year. Love the idea, Sierra is always pushing the envelope and using their huge pull in the industry to be able to do such awesome things with beer. The beer itself doesn’t blow me away but it is definitely something new and different. For the price it is definitely worth buying and getting to try, also feel like buying a beer like this will let Sierra know that people like the one-off stuff like this they do and hopefully they will do more!
Michigan based brewery Founder’s is definitely among the US elite craft breweries and has one of the most diverse catalogs of beer releases especially for a brewery its size. My next review is of one of their year round, flagship offerings Centennial IPA. While it does not specify on the bottle or on the Founder’s website you would assume this is an IPA hopped with nothing but Centennial hops. I have heard this is not completely true and that there are some other hops thrown in such as Cascade. If this is true or not I am not entirely sure but I assume the majority of the hops added to the brew and dry hop are Centennial or why would they name it after that specific hop. Centennial comes in at 7.2% ABV and 65 IBUs.
Appearance: Poured from a 12oz bottle to a pint glass. Copper color with a small less than 1 finger head. This beer is unfiltered and is pretty damn hazy which I like. It is kind of dark for an IPA though in my opinion and looks closer to an amber. Almost looks like a glass of iced tea.
Nose: Pretty dank nose smells of piney, earthy and lemon citrus. You get some malt sweetness on the nose too. It overwhelmingly smells of hop nuggets though.
Taste: Earthy and piney hoppiness carries over from the nose upfront with a nice wave of dry hop bitterness. Pretty nice balance with a good backing of malt sweetness. The all centennial (and maybe some of its little brother cascade) make for a really nice taste and mouth on this beer.
Availability/Price: Very available around the country and has a decent price tag. I like that it is now available in cans as that is definitely my preferred vessel for an IPA to be packaged.
Overall: This is a very enjoyable IPA from Founders, it is also very widely available which is nice. Is it the absolute best available, I don’t think so but it is definitely in the discussion for best readily available IPAs and some people could argue it is the best. I definitely always keep this one in the back of my mind when looking for a great fresh IPA to drink.
First Smuttynose beer I will be reviewing for the site and it is their mud season hoppy brown ale, Durty. I actually had this when it was originally released as a short batch in bombers a year or two ago. I was visiting friends in Amherst and managed to snag the last two bombers of it on the shelf at a favorite liquor store of mine up there. That being said I wished the bombers were a little fresher but it was definitely an interesting beer and I had a feeling they might bring it back in bombers again at some point. Instead they brought it back as a Spring seasonal in six packs. Durty comes in at 8.4% ABV and 97 IBUs.
Appearance: Poured into a snifter from a 12oz bottle. It is very dark in color, very dark brown almost black. Pours a big 2-3 finger thick creamy head. Smuttynose doesn’t filter any of their beers as far as I know and you get some floating stuff in this one as well.
Nose: Roasty malt right up front with coffee and caramel. The nose is mostly malty and smells similar to a stout. You can pick up some earth and pine hop notes deep in the nose, expected to pick up more hoppiness as this one is pretty packed.
Taste/Mouth: Roasty malt and caramel definitely carry over into the taste, chocolate and coffee as well. Hops come in more on the taste than nose. You definitely get a bite from the bitterness throughout the mouth of this beer which is pretty full. Drinks a bit like a stout. Definitely hides the 8.4% pretty well don’t really get any heat on this at all.
Availability/Price: This is a Spring seasonal now so availability on this one is probably coming to an end for 2014. Smutty is pretty fair on there prices, six pack of this is probably around $9-$10 which is good for a 8.4% beer.
Overall: I am glad they decided to brew this one again, not sure if it will be too successful though as it is such a niche style. It is okay, glad I only bought one as I don’t think I would want anymore than that especially in one sitting. It is definitely a beer I will have maybe 1-2 of every year when it is released and that’s all I need. Fun concept just don’t really know if the beer world needs hoppy brown ales.
The newest addition to the Firestone Walker Jack family of IPAs is next up on my reviews, Easy Jack Summer Session IPA. The Jacks are some of the most solid, consistent IPAs available and definitely ones I grab if I see some fresh in my area. Firestone is also a brewery that really just produces nothing but quality beers. Regardless I was very excited to hear this would be distributed in my area and got my hands on a six pack as soon as possible so I could review it very fresh. Easy Jack comes in at 4.5% ABV and ~50 IBUs.
Appearance: Poured from a 12oz bottle. Light orange color pretty hazy with a nice 1 finger head that dissipates quickly. Really loved the look of this beer and I would say its definitely a good example in my mind as to what I want a session IPA to look like.
Nose: Good tropical fruit up front, definitely some mango and pineapple. Get some pine and resin as well but the fruit notes really shine on this beers nose.
Taste/Mouth: Piney hop bite up front with some of the fruit carrying over from the nose as well. This beer has a good malt backing though to prevent it from being to dry and bitter. The balance of it makes this one great on a hot day and very crushable. Really refreshing.
Availability/Price: Price is reasonable, I think its around $9 for a six pack. I like that this is gonna be a summer seasonal as that is definitely the season I think Session IPAs are most desirable in.
Overall: Really well done session from Firestone. Pretty much exactly what I expected, they keep the quality releases coming. Pretty much on par with Stone’s Go To which I consider the benchmark Session IPA. I would have it again for sure.
Been trying to get my hands on as much Jack’s Abby beers as I can and thanks to their new found distribution to NY it has made things a lot easier. This is the first Jack’s Abby beer I am going to be writing a review on but there will certainly be more to follow shortly. Mass Rising is Jacks Double India Pale Lager and recently won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Fest 2013 in the category “Other Strong Beer”. Note this is a Double IPL not a Double IPA as Jacks Abby is a strictly lager brewery. Mass Rising comes in at 8% ABV and 100 IBUs.
Appearance: Poured from a 12oz bottle producing a nice 2 finger creamy white head. The beer is a really nice light orange almost golden color that is very hazy as Jacks Abby doesn’t filter any of their beers as far as I know. Really great lacing as I drank this one down.
Nose: Nice strong nose packed right up front with citrus, tropical fruit and some pine/resin. The fruits really are dominant in this though with lots of pineapple and mango notes coming out. They use seven different hop varieties in this one and it really pays off cause the nose is really incredible.
Taste/Mouth: Right off the bat despite the 100 IBU this one is extremely well balanced. It has a nice bite but isn’t overwhelmingly bitter, you get good pine and citrus fruits in the taste carrying over from the nose. It is a really light, crisp, refreshing and very drinkable beer. Jack is doing something really right with these hoppy lagers.
Price/Availability: Seems as though the availability of Jacks beers is getting better as I now see them in NY quite a bit. As far as I know your really only gonna find them in the Northeast as of now. The price is reasonable as well. I like that most of their beers are bottled in the Maine beer 1 pint .9oz bottles and are priced around 4$.
Overall: Really loved this one from Jacks Abby. I have to say its a little low abv to be considered a “double” even if it is a Double IPL. Maybe should have just called it an Imperial IPL. Either way Jack is killing it lately and everything I have had by them recently has been outstanding and I will continue to seek out as much Jacks Abby beers as I can. If you find this one do not hesitate, definitely pick up a four pack of it or two!