Beer Review: Great Divides Fresh Hop Pale Ale

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Tis the season of every brewery making a Fresh Hop beer, hey I am not complaining keep them coming. Great Divide chooses to make their yearly Fresh Hop release in the form of a Pale Ale. I will make a note as I do with most of my reviews involving hoppy beers, especially fresh hopped beers, that I did drink this beer fresh and I am just slow putting the review up. Fresh Hop comes in at 6.1% ABV and 55 IBUs.

Appearance: Light amber/copper color with a 1 finger head which produced some nice lacing. Love the label art of this beer, really clean design.

Nose: Malty  grassy, citrus, earthy, resin, pine and lots of those signature cascade type aromas. Like a really fresh SN PA. It has a good aroma but its not as in your face as some of the other Fresh Hop beers.

Taste/Mouth: Very clean earthy and grassy hop notes with a nice malt balance. It has a good amount of hoppy bite to it for being a Pale Ale and definitely tastes really fresh. Definitely plenty of cascade in this one. As most breweries choose to do Fresh Hop IPAs this is a nice different take on the seasonal style. Has a full creamy mouthfeel and finishes bitter.

Price/Availability: $6 for a bomber and its an annual seasonal release from the brewery.

Overall: Not the most exciting take on a fresh hop beer but its very well executed and extremely drinkable. I enjoyed this and definitely see myself grabbing one for years to come.

Grade: B

Beer Review: Arcade Brewery Grapefruit IPA

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I have been seeing Arcade Brewery’s stuff at my local store and all around Chicago since I have moved here and the Grapefruit IPA has always caught my eye because of the nicely designed label and of course because it is an IPA. It is also pretty affordable and while I tend to stray from beers with added fruit juices (since it rarely ends well) I decided one night to grab one since it was cold in the cooler at the store and I could drink it immediately after arriving home. Grapefruit IPA comes in at 6.3% ABV and 65 IBUs.

Appearance: Second I began pouring this I did not like the look of things. This is way too dark for an IPA if you ask me, its a dark amber brown. One and half finger head with decent lacing. Looks like a darker Sierra Nevada Pale Ale kind of. I do like the label artwork a lot though and feel like the appealing visual label definitely can get some people purchasing this beer.

Nose: Smells really malty which judging this beer by the color isn’t all that surprising. I was expecting way more citrus and grapefruit aromas since the beer is called Grapefruit IPA and has added grapefruit juice. Really don’t get much grapefruit or even hop aromas in the nose, some earthy hop notes maybe some Cascade type aromas.

Taste/Mouth: Malt sweetness in the mouth with some bite from hop bitterness. It’s not terrible but its nothing like the citrusy hop bomb I was hoping for and wanted when I purchased a beer called Grapefruit IPA. You get some grapefruit notes in the finish and aftertaste of the beer. It is a decently drinkable beer, they called it a sessionable IPA which I am not sure if I would want to session this beer but it is definitely drinkable.

Price/Availability: Decent in Chicago, the brewery is like a 20 minute car ride from my house and the price was good at around $7 for a bomber.

Overall: Eh it was not what I thought it would be so I have to call this one a letdown. But really my expectations weren’t incredibly high since I have heard very little about this brewery and even less about this IPA in respects to some of their other releases. It is certainly drinkable but more as a malty pale ale than a grapefruit IPA. Reminds me of a combination of a Fresh Squeezed that has been sitting around a little too long and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I would try some of their other releases in the future but probably avoid this one.

Grade: C

Beer Review: Bell’s Venus (The Bringer of Peace) Blonde Ale

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I unfortunately missed the first installment of this series which was Mars (The Bringer of War), a Double IPA. I did manage to snag this at the Binnys downtown about two months ago at this point since as usual I am behind on turning my notes into reviews.  Bell’s is currently in the process of releasing a series of beers that’s paying homage to the Planet series by Gustav Holst. Venus is a Blonde Ale brewed with honey, apricot, cardamom and vanilla. Venus comes in at 7.5% ABV and doesn’t list an IBU.

Appearance: Slightly hazy with lots of floating particles from the various additions in this beer, most likely from the apricots. 1/2 finger head deep gold/light copper color.

Nose: Lot of apricot right up front with some lemon and citrus fruits as well. Smells a little sour but really mostly just apricot juice. You get the Cardamom in the nose as well and just a little bit of vanilla and malt. Not really all that pleasant to smell.

Taste/Mouth: It’s pretty bitter and sour tasting, not like a bitter IPA or sour like a Flemish beer instead its very off. Really dominating taste of apricot juice hard to pull out very many other flavors it is so overwhelming. Not really very enjoyable at all. Medium carbonation and medium mouthfeel with a very weird and un-enjoyable finish. I suppose some of the honey and vanilla are noticeable at points during the tasting, especially more when it began to warm up a bit. Regardless the combination of flavors is not good.

Price/Availability: Around $3 for the 12oz bottle and it is for one time only during Bell’s Planet Series.

Overall: Pretty hard to drink this beer, as a matter of fact I drain poured the majority of it. I like the idea of the series and despite this one being a major miss I will purchase other Planets as they become available. I guess since Venus looks like an apricot they felt they should dump apricot juice into the beer dedicated to it, not sure why vanilla, honey and cardamom were decidedly brought into this mess though. Sorry guys, love plenty of your other offerings but this one was a big time miss.

Grade: D+

Beer Review: Revolution Unsessionable Imperial IPA

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Chicago’s own Revolution has recently released their response to the Session IPA craze that has swept craft beer this past year or two with their Unsessionable Imperial IPA. Loaded with six of everyones favorite hop varieties; Chinook, Centennial, Amarillo,Galaxy, Citra and Cascade this one is for serious hop loves (hey that’s me!). When I walked into Binnys like a month or two ago and saw this I don’t even think I looked around the store. I checked out and immediately came home and cracked one open I was so excited. This is also Revolutions first special release to be in a can. Unsessionable comes in at 10% ABV and a whopping 100 IBUs.

Appearance: Hazy golden yellow with a nice pillowey white 1 finger head. Really great lacing down the glass as well. Love the can art, as I often do from Revolution (Anti-Hero is one of my favorite cans ever).

Nose: Pineapple, citrus, piney, resin, really really dank nose on this one. Juicy fruit and tropical juice aromas as well. Great combination of all the hops featured, definitely get a ton of Galaxy coming to the forefront of it all though.

Taste/Mouth: Really good balance of pine and resin hops with some sweet caramel malt notes. Sticky finish and a nice full mouth feel. Everything balances itself out nicely and allow the hops to really come through and shine. Juicy fruit and tropical fruits are carried over from the nose as well. So very drinkable on top of everything else.

Price/Availability: A 6 pack of this was about $13 which is an amazing deal, not sure about how regularly this one will be getting brewed yet.

Overall: Absolutely amazing stuff from Revolution here. I previously called Anti-Hero the go to staple IPA of Chicago and I think I’ll go ahead and call this the best Double IPA available in Chicago. Showcases amazing hops in an amazing way and really just one of the better beers I have had the fortune of drinking. Really hope this one is here to stay.

Grade: A+

Beer Review: Pipeworks Citra Imperial IPA

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Up next is a review of another single hop showcase from Pipeworks Ninja Imperial IPA series, this time it is Citra. This is probably the Ninja I have heard the most about and the one I was the most excited to try for the obvious reason that is showcases the incredible Citra hop. Not much to add that I haven’t said on Ninja reviews in the past so I’ll just get to it. Citra comes in at 9.5% ABV and doesn’t list IBU.

Appearance: Deep hazy copper amber. 1/2 finger head with some great lacing. Love the artwork on all the ninjas, I assume it depicts various employees of the brewery?

Nose: Onion, tropical fruit, pineapple, juicy citrus fruit, resin and skunky. This one has lots of great hop character. You can get some of the malt in the nose as well just like some of the other Ninjas I have had in the past.

Taste/Mouth: Sticky medium mouth with a semi dry finish. Pine, resin, citrus fruits and pineapple dominate the taste of this beer. Nice hop bitterness and character with a little malt to balance things out, don’t really get any of the alcohol in the taste which is good.

Price/Availability: Rotating with availability of hops and schedule. I bought it for about $13 and this one sells out pretty quickly.

Overall: This is one of the better Pipeworks beers I have had without a doubt but I still think Mosaic reigns supreme in the battle of Ninjas. This is definitely a great beer I would buy again and one that lives up to the majority of its hype and a fine showcase of Citra.

Grade: A-

Beer Review: Stone Enjoy By Double IPA

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Gonna get this out of the way right now and say that I know this is Enjoy By 10/31/14 and I am posting this review on 12/4/14, do not fear fellow beer lovers I did in fact enjoy this fine Stone Double IPA by its designated date. I am just rather behind on converting my notes into actual reviews on the blog so I had this beer well before 10/31 and jotted down my notes and it has just taken me this long to get it onto the site. That being said this also wasn’t my first time enjoying Enjoy By and it most certainly won’t be my last. I was very excited to finally review this devastatingly fresh Double IPA from the original masters of hoppy brews. Enjoy By comes in at 9.4% ABV and does not list IBU, mainly because I think it might vary each batch.

Appearance: Super hazy glowing orange. 1 finger head and some real nice lacing down the glass. Stone sure does know how to make a real pretty beer and this one is certainly no exception to that.

Nose: Citrus, peach, lemon, orange, lots of pineapple, mango, grapefruit, pine and resin. Most of the usual suspects here for a nice fresh hoppy beer, should be noted I got loads of pineapple over anything else and this is beers nose really packs a punch.

Taste/Mouth: Sticky full mouth feel finishes dry with pine and resin lingering. Lots of pineapple again with some grapefruit, citrus and pine carrying over nicely into the taste. Really good flavors with lots of depth. Its like the best memory you have from the freshest you have had any of Stones other IPAs and multiplied by two. Really just a great showcase of how well Stone knows hop additions and how to utilize hops to yield the best results.

Price/Availability: Rotating, it seems like this one is here to stay as I see a new Enjoy By out every month or so. Sometimes the wait is two months or even two in one month it seems to really all depend I guess on availability of hops and brewing schedule. Price is amazing $7.99 for 9.4% ABV and what I consider to be a limited release and still to this day pretty sought out in some areas.

Overall: A really great product from Stone and a gamechanger in my mind. Awesome concept and obviously very well executed. Fall is one of my favorite time of the year because Breweries release their fresh and wet hop APAs and IPAs, basically Stone took that and made it a year round limited edition beer. The price is great and whether I lived in NJ or Chicago now the availability is great as well and I will always grab one of these from the store without hesitation knowing I am getting a superb Double IPA, one of the best widely available on the market I can say without any doubt. Stone knows their way around hops and if they hadn’t convinced you before then do yourself a favor have one of these immediately.

Grade: A+