Beer Review: Sierra Nevada/Ballast Point Electric Ray Imperial Pale Lager


Sierra and Ballast Point coming together in the Beer Camp pack to make a hoppy beer! Was very happy to see them choosing a hoppy style, Imperial Pale Lager was nice to see as well keep with the lager trend in the pack and keep the ABV high as many of the other breweries seemed to be doing. They used a lot of familiar hops in this like amarillo, cascade, centennial and nugget to name a few so I knew that this was probably going to be pretty good. As mentioned before I did drink this fresh and make my notes just haven’t had a chance to get the review online until now. Electric Ray comes in at 8.5% ABV and 70 IBUs.

Appearance: Light copper color hazy with a 1 finger head. Had some nice lacing as I drank it down. Little darker than I would have liked to see.

Nose: Citrus fruit, good amount of floral notes, little piney and definitely some pineapple. Lot of pale pilsner malt in the nose as well. Not as explosive of a nose as I would have liked, maybe I have been spoiled with all the amazing hoppy lagers from Jacks Abby I have been drinking but this wasn’t where I would have liked it to be.

Taste/Mouth: Floral and citrus hop flavors with a good malt presence. Grassy and cracker malt especially medium carb and some heat coming from the alcohol on the back end. More heat and malt than I was expecting for sure. Kind of anticipated the malt when I saw the color, I understand trying to balance it but it kind of undermined a lot of the good hop bitterness and flavor I would have liked to get.

Price/Availability: One time only for the Beer Camp Across America pack.

Overall: Was pretty letdown by this one from two breweries who are on top of the hoppy beer game. Wasn’t bad but it wasn’t as masterfully crafted as I was expecting it to be. Like I said before I have definitely been spoiled with the hoppy lagers from Jacks Abby but I thought Ballast and Sierra would be able to make an IPL on a similar level.

Grade: C+

Beer Review: Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union IPL



When visiting some friends in Worcester, MA I was able to pick up a six pack of Jack’s Hoponius Union bottled a mere 10 days before I purchased it. I have been trying to review and drink as much Jack as I can lately because I have been enjoying all of their offerings so much. Hoponius Union is their India Pale Lager or as they like to call it their Wicked Hoppy Lager. Hoponius Union comes in at 6.7% ABV and 65 IBUs.

Appearance: Slightly hazy deep golden color with a nice 2 finger head and amazing lacing. None of Jack’s beers are filtered and since they are all lagers they usually have great head retention and awesome lacing, this one is no different.

Nose: Really big nose that you can smell as soon as you crack the bottle. Right up front you get bountiful amounts of tropical fruit and citrus with some pine and resin in there as well. They definitely have mastered hop additions at Jacks because all the beers I have had thus far have had incredible aromas.

Taste/Mouth: Tropical and Citrus fruits carrying over from the nose. Great balance as usual makes for an incredibly drinkable lager. Nice bitterness and finishes semi dry. Medium carbonation lends to a nice crisp mouthful and makes this beer go down real easy.

Availability/Price: This is a year round release for Jack and one of their flagship offerings I believe. Price for a 6 pack is pretty fair too right around 9$. They do bottle this for 6 packs now along with a few other of their regular offerings.

Overall: Easily one of the best IPLs on the market from a brewery who knows exactly what they are doing with lagers. Would without a doubt buy this one again and would recommend seeking it out especially with so many below average IPLs hitting the markets lately get an example of the style from people who know how to do it right.

Grade: A-

Beer Review: Jack’s Abby Session Rye IPL



Back with another Jack’s Abby beer and one I was quite excited for at that, their Session Rye IPL. This hit on multiple levels since I love Rye beers, I love Sessions IPA(L)s and I have been loving pretty much everything Jack lately. This is a May release from the Mass brewery and I did drink this a week or two ago so it was still pretty decently fresh. It is hopped with Centennial, Chinook, Columbus and Crystal hops. The Session Rye IPL comes in at 3.8% ABV and 40 IBUs.

Appearance: Slightly hazy and is a deep golden copper color. Poured about a 1 finger head and produced some decent lacing.

Nose: Very spicy smell probably split between rye spiciness and spiciness from the hop varieties used. Lot of floral and earthy hoppy notes as well. You can pick up some malt sweetness in the nose too and some caramel in the back.

Taste/Mouth: Huge taste for a 3.8% beer. Nice spicy rye flavors with a decent hop bite. Some earthy hop flavors as well. Has a really dry finish, the finish is a little rough. Nice job getting the rye flavors to come through. Pretty moderate mouthfeel.

Availability/Price: Good on both as usual in NY now for Jack beers. Bottle was right around $4. This is a seasonal release for May I believe.

Overall: This is a pretty unique offering, as many of Jack’s beers are. Coming in at just 3.8% this one packs quite a bit of flavor in their but it is a bit of a mess of flavors at points. The finish of this is a little rough as well especially if this is supposed to be sessioned. I like the idea of this one on paper but the execution may have been just a little off.

Grade: B-


Beer Review: Jack’s Abby Mass Rising Double IPL


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!

Grade: A