Beer Review: Firestone Walker Luponic Distortion No. 002

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Luponic Distortion is Firestone Walkers new revolving hop series beers. The recipe will change every 90 days as the brewers tweak the beer slightly as hops and malt change. Luponic Distortion No. 002 comes in at 5.9% ABV.

Appearance: Crystal clear golden yellow color with a 1 finger head and some great lacing. Classic looking Firestone IPA here.

Nose: Pine, resin, tropical fruit, mango and mandarin oranges. This beer was danker and juicier than I expected. Some pineapple and melon notes as well. Smell it as soon as you crack it.

Taste/Mouth: Great tropical fruit flavors, mango, pineapple, some piney bitterness as well. Real clean, light feel and easy to drink. Finishes with a lingering tropical fruitiness. Some sweetness on the back end as well. This beer is really just super crushable and clean.

Price/Availability: Damn does this beer shine in this category. Super easy to get as Firestone’s footprint is massive and at $10 a 6 pack of cans, hard to beat that.

Overall: A great, accessible offering from Firestone. Just a good go to beer and a great series. Firestone is one of those breweries sometimes people sleep on because of how big they are but don’t because they are still making incredible beers and pushing boundaries just like those hype breweries that you are waiting an hour in line to get 4 cans of. Can’t wait to get a hold of 3 and 4. Always keep Luponic Distortion as a back pocket option when you need a great crushable fresh and delicious IPA.

Grade: A-

Beer Review: Half Acre Beer Hates Astronauts IPA

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Half Acre makes some pretty stellar hoppy beers, especially their seasonal IPAs and Double IPAs. Beer Hates Astronauts is their all Citra and Vienna Malt IPA which is “The official beer of the comic God Hates Astronauts”. This is a very anticipated annual release from Half Acre. Beer Hates Astronauts comes in at 7% ABV.

Appearance: Hazy golden deep orange color. Really nice head and lacing, a great looking beer. Love the label as well, this year along with past years have some fantastic artwork.

Nose: Big nose, tropical fruit, pineapple, citrus, grapefruit and juicy berries. Also has some floral and sweet malt notes. One of those beers you smell the second you crack open. The pineapple and grapefruit notes are amazing.

Taste/Mouth: Juicy tropical fruit, orange, grapefruit juice and grapefruit rind. Some floral and earthy flavors as well. Great feel with a nice bite of bitterness, good light malt presence from the Vienna malt. Super easy drinking IPA. Midwest juice bomb.

Price/Availability: $9 for a bomber, limited annual release usually early summer. Pretty difficult to get and often sells out pretty quickly.

Overall: Awesome IPA from Half Acre and certainly one of my favorites from them. Half Acre continue to put out super quality beers and make a serious push to be my favorite Midwest brewery. All Citra and Vienna malt make for a simple yet incredibly delicious juicy beer. Seek this one out, it is certainly worth it and I look forward to its release every year. Beer Hates Astronauts is perfection.

Grade: A+

Beer Review: Marz Splash APA

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Marz Community Brewing is certainly one of Chicago’s hottest and most hyped breweries around right now. Splash is one of their newest beers, an APA which is fruity but not fruited. I love Maria’s packaged goods and have had a great number of Marz beers there and have tried to grab up some Marz beers as they have expanded their packaging. Splash comes in at 6% ABV.

Appearance: Very hazy golden yellow color with almost no head. Great lacing. Amazing label, Marz has great packaging and branding and it makes their beers very appealing to a general consumer.

Nose: Very fruity, like a now and later. Melon, apricot, strawberry, grapefruit, banana and passionfruit. Very interesting nose filled with a ton of different and polarizing fruit aromas.

Taste/Mouth: Very juicy and fruity. Mild bitterness, melon, tropical fruit and pineapple. Finishes slightly dry but mostly finishes with a lingering fruit flavor. Feels a little over carbonated honestly but still an easy drinking APA.

Price/Availability: Newer release from Marz availability is decent in Chicago as they continue to expand. $9 for a pint and then some, always where Marz fails a little since that price point feels really high.

Overall: A good beer that I could drink regularly if not for the price tag. I would certainly grab this beer if I saw it on draft somewhere like Marias and be pretty excited, as the price would probably be better. The price of a bottle and mouthfeel of the beer bring it down in my book. This seems to be a common issue I have with Marz beers. On the brightside though this beer has awesome and unique aromas and some solid flavors, I would have it again but not regularly buy or seek it out.

Grade: B-

Beer Review: Pipeworks Lil Citra Session IPA

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Pipeworks is further extending their line of  4 pack 16 ounce cans by adding a new Session IPA in Lil Citra. I was excited for this release as I am obviously a huge fan of Citra as a hop and Pipeworks really hit a homerun with Lizard King. Lil Citra comes in at 4.9% ABV,

Appearance: Very slight haze, golden copper color with a small head and some decent lacing. As usual the can art is outstanding, Pipeworks has some incredible visuals on their beers.

Nose: Big dank citra aroma, mandarin orange and orange juice. Citrus zest with some biscuity malt aromas. Earthy and floral hops. Big nose for a session IPA.

Taste/Mouth: Juicy citrus fruits, oranges, mango and some earthy flavors as well. Some biscuit and cereal malt as well. Finishes clean with some lingering fruity flavors. Real easy drinking with some decent depth to keep you interested.

Price/Availability: New in cans around $9/4 pack and availability in Chicagoland seems to be good.

Overall: A nice addition to Pipeworks increasing line of canned offerings. Lil Citra is an easy drinking session IPA that excels in the aroma department while also offering some good depth of flavor. I still prefer Lizard King, although it is an APA and Lil Citra is a session IPA, they still seem comparable and Lizard King is still the top dog. This will be in my rotation though and is a great warm weather beer.

Grade: B

Beer Review: Carton/Barrier SS-C.R.E.A.M. Imperial Cream Ale

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Barrier and Carton got together and decided to make a hoppy imperial cream ale. I imagine after drinking lots of Money and Boat Beer they came up with SS-CREAM. Needless to say I was pretty pumped to give this beer a try as Barrier is becoming a favorite east coast brewery of mine and Carton is one of the most solid breweries from NJ. SS-CREAM comes in at 8.4% ABV and 70 IBUs.

Appearance: Slightly hazy copper/light amber color. Almost no head but some real great lacing.

Nose: Citrus, pine, resin, grapefruit, lots of orange and some tropical fruit aromas. Malty sweetness and spicy as well. Smells like a big beer and has a lot of depth. Some of the notes became a little more pronounced as the beer warmed up.

Taste/Mouth: Spicy, herbal hop flavors and some sweet malt up front. Some vanilla flavors with orange and grapefruit carrying over from the nose. Pear and pine resin in the middle. Full body beer with a nice bready malt sweetness as well. It finishes slightly bitter and dry. I would compare this to a super balanced double IPA, since I can’t compare it to any other imperial hoppy cream ales.

Price/Availability: Brewed once as a collab between these two at Smutt Labs in New Hampshire.

Overall: Love the experimental style of this beer. Two solid east coast breweries teaming up and trying something new, while taking elements from some of their successful beers. It feels like there should have been more hype surrounding this beer. I was excited to get this in a trade and it certainly delivered as an excellent super balanced big hoppy beer. It is currently a one off but if it was brought back as a rotating or seasonal offering I would grab it again.

Grade: A-

Beer Review: Other Half All Dank Everything Imperial IPA

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Finally got my hands on some Other Half hype, this is a collaboration beer (which most of their beers seem to be) with Cellarmaker an SF based brewery. All Dank Everything features Nelson Sauvin, Motueka, and Citra hops. I can get on board with that, let’s see if this lives up to the hype. All Dank Everything comes in at 8.3% ABV.

Appearance: Hazy golden yellow with a nice fluffy 1 and a half finger head and super sticky lacing. Other Half always has some really nice clean looking can designs with great art.

Nose: Earthy, resin, some tropical fruit, peach and pineapple. I was anticipating this to be super dank, it was not as dank as expected. The peach and pineapple notes are quite nice though.

Taste/Mouth: Very interesting. Crisp and light feeling but also slightly dry and bitter. Resin, earthy and some citrus hop notes coming through. White grape from the Nelson is quite noticeable as well. Some malt sweetness and the ABV is masked well. Very deep with flavors.

Price/Availability: I think as of now this was a one off collaboration but wouldn’t be surprised if it returned. Not very easy to get.

Overall: My first Other Half beer, bottom line is I am not sure it lives up to all the hype. It is certainly possible this is a lesser Other Half beer and some of the other beers like All Green Everything or Green Diamonds do, I will have to track those down to find out.  As far as All Dank Everything is concerned I thought it was a solid beer and I was very glad I got to have it but not one I would jump through hoops to have again.

Grade: B+

Beer Review: Barrier Money IPA

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My first crack at a Barrier Brewing beer here with their IPA Money. Certainly Barrier’s most talked about beer and one I have been looking forward to grabbing since I started hearing rumblings about it. Money comes in at 7.3% ABV.

Appearance: Hazy golden yellow, nice 1 finger head with some real great lacing. Awesome label art as well and I like the bottles Barrier uses.

Nose: Lots of citrus notes; pine, lemon and pineapple dominate. Biscuity malt comes through with some sweet malty notes as well. Tropical fruit and some melon is there as well. This is one of those beers that kind of smells like a fruit roll up, love that.

Taste/Mouth: Taste is citrus and tropical fruit forward with a nice crisp bite of bitterness. Orange, lemon, and grapefruit are pretty dominate flavors. Pine comes through from the nose as well. Pretty dank and juicy. Good balance though with some biscuit and grainy flavors. Mouthfeel is really nice and smooth.

Price/Availability: I got this in a trade with one of my friends back east, from what I understand it is pretty available in the NYC area though.

Overall: A fantastic IPA from Barrier. Money is super easy to drink with no sign of the ABV and while being super dank and juicy maintains great balance as well. I am looking forward to having this beer again very soon. If you get the opportunity; drink it fresh, drink it now.

Grade: A