Beer Review: Rushing Duck 4th Anniversary Brux IPA

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More beer from one of my favorite NY breweries and home of the infamous James the Brewery Cat, this is Brux IPA, the 4th Anniversary beer from Rushing Duck. Brux is a celebration of Rushing Duck turning 4 and a platform to show off their beloved brewery cat. Named after the unique strand of yeast Saccharomyces Bruxellensis, RD added pink peppercorn to give it an even more unique twist. Brux comes in at 7.2% ABV.

Appearance: Very hazy deep orange color with a nice 1 finger head, really great lacing. James is popping out of a birthday cake on the anniversary bottle and is also featured on the canned version, what more could you ask for.

Nose: Nice floral, tropical fruit, musty, white grape, some pine resin, lime, lemon, earthy, mango, pineapple and spicy hop notes. It features Azacca, El Dorado, Mosaic, Meridian hops.

Taste/Mouth: Floral, earthy, spicy and some lemon flavors initially. There are some nice tropical and pineapple flavors as well. You get an interesting spicy peppery flavor through the middle from the pink peppercorns. It is nice and easy to drink for 7.2% ABV and feels medium with a nice bite of carbonation. Finishes pretty clean and slightly bitter.

Price/Availability: This was a one time only bottle for the breweries 4th anniversary but they have since brought it back as a canned beer which comes around every once and a while.

Overall: James!!! Cheers to 4 years of Rushing Duck beers, 4 years of some damn good beers I might add. This was an interesting one, but one I enjoyed it quite a bit. Definitely great depth of flavor that kept me interested all the way through. The Saccharomyces Bruxellensis strain of yeast the beer was named after, along with the pink peppercorn addition and a hop bill full of some of my favorites (El Dorado & Mosaic, hello!) this was a great way to celebrate. They have since brought this one back in cans and made it a bit more accessible by lowering the ABV to 6%. Here’s to 4 more years RD!

Grade: B+

Beer Review: Neshaminy Creek The Shape Of Hops To Come Imperial IPA

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The Shape of Hops to Come is quite a mouthful, so from here on out I will refer to it as The Shape. Drawing inspiration from Refused pivotal album The Shape of Punk to Come, Neshaminy Creek has garnered some serious hype with this beer. I have not had a Neshaminy Creek beer for some time, I had one when they were first starting out and I have avoided them since as I wasn’t a fan. The Shape of Hops to Come comes in at 8.5% ABV.

Appearance: Semi hazy copper, amber color. Some active carbonation, pours a 1 finger head which dissipates to some sticky lacy.

Nose: Big citrus, pine and resin nose. Orange and lemon peel come through more as it warms up. Some boozy alcohol on the nose as well.

Taste/Mouth: Pine and resin come through from the nose with a nice big bite of bitterness. Citrus fruit flavors especially orange. Moderate carbonation and finishes super dry with a lingering crushing bitterness and some heat from the alcohol. Feels like a raw west coast IPA with that crushing bitterness.

Price/Availability: 4 pack fo 16oz cans for $12 and I think they distribute to the PA/NJ area I got this in a trade.

Overall: This beer has garnered some serious hype and is certainly sought after by hopheads throughout the country. I haven’t had any beers from Neshaminy for a long time, really since they were first starting out. This beer was definitely a big improvement from the beer I had from them in the past. It is a solid west coast inspired DIPA but not sure it lives up to the hype it gets. Nonetheless it is definitely a beer I would seek out next time I am in Philly and hopefully get to try it on draft.

Grade: B+

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Harvest Newly Developed Hop IPA

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I have always been a fan of Sierra Nevada’s Harvest series which is a rotating series of beers they release and in 2015 the Harvest series explored diverse hopping methods including single hop, fresh hop, wet hop and wild hop beers. This is the newly developed hop variety which showcases some brand new hops: 472, 05256, 431, and 06300. Newly Developed Hop IPA comes in at 6.5%.

Appearance: Golden amber color with a 1 and a half finger head. Some real nice lacing, slightly murky look to the beer.

Nose: Nice earthy, citrus, orange, lemon/lime. You get some aromas from the Sierra Nevada house yeast which you can pick up in just about any of their beers. The orange aroma on this beer is the most pronounced and quite enjoyable.

Taste/Mouth: I was surprised by the taste as the nose wasn’t huge and I was a little disappointed it wasn’t more aromatic. I will say though the taste is huge. Lots of citrus and orange which carries over from the nose and some tangerine as well. Some nice earthy and woody notes in it as well. I can definitely get the coconut as well which they mention in their tasting notes. Very different, as expected, with some brand new experimental hops. Finished pretty dry and bitter.

Availability: Brewed once as part of the harvest series. Price is solid as usual for Sierra Nevada bombers, think it was around $6 and easy to get.

Overall: I will always buy the beers from this series as Sierra releases them. Can’t beat the price and the quality is always there as well. Just another IPA to add to Sierra Nevada’s long list of solid beers in their catalog. Hope to see some of these hops used again in future beers.

Grade: B+

Beer Review: Deschutes Hop Henge IPA

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Got a whole lot of backed up reviews I got to get out. Up first from Oregon’s Deschutes is their experimental IPA Hop Henge. Hop Henge comes in at 9.2% ABV and 95 IBUs.

Nose: Pine, resin, onion, hop nuggets, citrus, grapefruit. Really get the smell of hop nuggets in your hand fresh out of a bag. Super fresh smelling, getting some earthy tones in there as well. Really pleasant nose with lots of elements.

Appearance: Hazy light copper color with a 1 finger head and some great sticky lacing as your drink it down.

Taste/Mouth: Grassy, earthy and piney are right up front. It has a dry mouthfeel throughout with a dry and bitter finish. Its very bitter throughout with some nice citrus, especially grapefruit flavors coming through. Taste and feel are a little disappointing after the really nice nose this beer has, still drinkable and enjoyable though.

Price/Availability: Seasonal release and at $6 for a bomber this is one I grab every time I see it on the shelf for sure.

Overall: Price is right and this is a solid drinkable beer. Nose is really great and the taste leaves a bit to be desired but it is drinkable for 9.2%. Again, this is a beer I will purchase every year at $6 and be very happy each time!

Grade: B+

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum Imperial IPA

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Sierra Nevada continues to roll out what it feels like to be their never ending line of seasonal releases with the 2014 release of the Whole Cone Imperial IPA, Hoptimum. This beer is certainly one of Sierra’s most notorious beers and one that is definitely sought out by hopheads during its springtime release. Sierra claims this to be the biggest IPA they have ever created, boasting hopping, dry hopping and torpedoing to create an intense hop experience. Hoptimum comes in at 10.4% ABV and an even 100 IBUs.

Appearance: Really nice copper color, slightly hazy but pretty translucent. Pours a 1 finger head which dissipates quickly into some light lacing. The bottle artwork is among some of my favorite out and was done by the awesome artist Nate Duval. Sierra always has amazing artwork on their seasonal releases.

Nose: Piney and resinous as well as some earthy hop notes. Pick up some tropical fruit and malt sweetness as well. You can really pick up a difference in the nose from some other IPAs because of the amount of whole cone hops this beer has added to it.

Taste: Bitter and piney right up front with a little heat coming on the back from the 10.2% ABV. You get some fruit in the taste as well, lots of grapefruit. Has a nice balance of malt to back up the intense bitterness as most Sierra beers do have a pretty nice malt presence. The taste is complex and you it becomes enjoyable and evolves as the beer begins to warm up. I actually enjoyed the second half of the beer more than the first I think. More fruit and floral notes began to come out.

Availability: Seasonal spring release from Sierra which is very sought after but as usual Sierra brews quite a bit of it so you should be able to find some if your state gets it. Definitely try to get it and drink it very fresh.

Overall: Sierra Nevada and hoppy beers never seem to really fail. This one is no exception and is certainly a beer I look forward to every Spring. This is one of my favorites to have on draft as well. I think since it’s original inception it has perhaps fallen behind as other breweries have made bigger Double IPAs than this but this will always be a great beer.

Grade: A-

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada’s Blindfold Black IPA

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This is my third review of the beers in the Sierra Nevada Box of Hops mixed 12 pack and it is of their Black IPA, Blindfold. I have had my notes for this beer done for a while now just haven’t gotten around to writing out the review. Blindfold is bittered with Summit and Chinook while it is finished with Summit, Mosaic and of course Cascade. Black IPA’s were a really huge fad in craft beer about a year or two ago and pretty much everyone was doing their own take on the style. I was not a huge fan of the abundance of Black IPAs on the market as I do not think this style is really that impressive. You know Sierra will get involved with any variation of an IPA so they took Blindfold which was originally from their Beer Camp 12 pack and ended up brewing it again for this box of hops. Blindfold comes in at 6.8% ABV and 70 IBUs.

Appearance: Very dark black color and produced a small 1/2 finger head and not very much lacing.

Nose: Coffee grinds, chocolate, dark chocolate, some earthy and piney hop notes and espresso. Also a little bit of smokiness in the back. Basically smells like a stout with a little bit of hoppiness in the middle.

Taste: You get chocolate and coffee carrying over from the nose right out front. Nice bite from the hop bitterness and carbonation. It has a pretty thin mouth before the bitterness hits and it finishes dry and bitter.

Availability/Price: As mentioned in the previous Box of Hops I paid about $18 for the variety 12 pack and I have seen it at a bunch of places. Don’t know if they will be producing this at all going forward or what the plan is.

Overall: This was a decent beer. Find it hard to call it an IPA, sure it had hop bitterness but it really has more characteristics of a stout than and IPA. I wouldn’t seek it out in the future but I also wouldn’t refuse one if it was offered. No brewery can nail down the Black IPA quite like Stone does with the Sublimely Self Righteous, regardless this was one of the better ones I have had.

Grade: B-

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada’s Snow Wit White IPA

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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-