Beer Review: Lagunitas 12th of Never Ale

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It seems Lagunitas has finally reluctantly jumped on the canning trend in craft beer. Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas, went on some pretty epic rants on his twitter about canning and how horrible it is and how Lagunitas would never do it a while back. Well its 2016 now and here is the 12th of Never, Lagunitas’s new APA which is definitely in a can. 12th of Never comes in at 5.5% ABV.

Appearance: Pretty clear golden color with a 1 finger head and decent retention, great lacing. The “12 oz mini keg” or a can for most people also features a bottle cap, perhaps an ode to their firm stance on bottles being the better vessel.

Nose: Lots of grapefruit along with pineapple, mango, passionfruit and some toasted malt notes up front. It is a Lagunitas beer, you get a nice dose of their house yeast for sure and you can tell this is a Lag beer.

Taste/Mouth: Taste follows suit with the aroma but is pretty mild. You get the pineapple and grapefruit for sure with lots of toasted  and cereal malt flavors. Super balanced and very accessible. Slightly bitter, crisp, refreshing and very easy to drink. A great session beer, feels very much like a session IPA instead of an APA, although I know that line is sometimes very blurry.

Price/availability: $17/12 pack of 12oz cans which is very solid as Lagunitas prices always are.

Overall: Lagunitas finally, reluctantly, canned a beer! It was the right move, they needed to compete with Founders putting All Day in 12 packs of cans and other breweries making similar moves. 12th of Never is a solid APA, I mean Lagunitas never fails to put out quality product. Here in the midwest though it has stiff competition with Revolutions Fist City which I hold as the staple for canned APAs here. Nonetheless I am glad to have this as an option to grab when heading to a party.

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: De Proef/Hair of the Dog Flanders Fred

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Was thrilled to stumble across this in the international section at Binnys as Hair of the Dog is one of my favorite breweries and I don’t get to drink their beer nearly enough. Alan Sprints of Hair of the Dog collaborated with De Proef as part of their Brewmaster’s Collaboration series to make this beer, Flanders Fred. It is the first time the series has featured a blend, pairing Hair of the Dogs infamous Fred with a Flanders Lambic from De Proef. Flanders Fred comes in at 7.5% ABV,

Appearance: Cloudy deep golden orange color with a small head that dissipates quickly. Super sticky lacing as you drink.

Nose: Smells tart with some funky fruit and lambic yeast notes. Some nice dark fruit and spicy notes as well.

Taste/Mouth: Nice sparkling, clean and mineral feel to it. Some nice fruit notes, sour and tart but not overbearing. Wheat and salty brine flavors come through with a nice counterbalance of malt and vinegar. Cherry and raspberry flavors come through as well. Finishes clean.

Price/Availability: Re-release of a collaboration beer so not available everywhere but certainly found in places where Hair of the Dog normally is not. $12 for the bomber which is a solid price.

Overall: Really happy to have found this beer as I normally don’t frequent the imports and international aisle. Awesome beer all around and one I very much enjoyed drinking. Who knows if it will be released again at any point in the future but if it is I would certainly buy it again. Drinking this really made me want to get back out to Portland and drink some Fred!

Grade:A-

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: 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-

Beer Review: Sierra Nevada’s Nooner Session IPA

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This is part 1/4 of my reviews of Sierra Nevada’s Box of Hop variety 12 pack. Starting the reviews off with the beer I was most excited to try in the pack their new session IPA, Nooner. This beers first release was in this box of hops variety pack and as of now I think it is its only scheduled release. Haven’t heard anything about this getting it’s own six pack release. I can’t believe it took Sierra this long to jump on the session IPA train honestly. This one comes in at 4.8% ABV and 40 IBU, pretty standard numbers for session IPAs.

Appearance: Pours a pretty transparent golden color, super filtered. This one had a really nice head and plenty of sticky lacing as I drank it down.

Nose: Very standard Sierra hoppy beer nose, they have the hops they like and that’s what they stick with. This one has Centennial, Chinook and Sterling. You get lots of earthy and flowery notes up front with some citrus and pine behind it. Smells somewhere between the Pale Ale and Torpedo, so pretty enjoyable.

Taste: Right off the bat the taste is super similar to Sierra’s Pale Ale, like eerily similar. It is slightly more bitter than the Pale Ale and feels a little more light and refreshing. You get some citrus and pine coming through as well making it a little more complex than the Pale Ale. I could definitely session this beer on a hot day.

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. Not really worth it to have to buy a 12 pack just to get 3 of these.

Overall: This beer definitely did not impress me nearly as much as I was hoping it would. I really wanted it to blow me out of the water but I guess I was a little hopeful on that. Sierra tends to always just make really solid beers but their new stuff is never totally mind-blowing. I think the really underwhelming thing about this beer is just how similar it felt to the Pale Ale. I would definitely session this IPA but wouldn’t pay anymore for a six pack of it than what a SN Pale Ale six pack costs.

Grade: B-