Saturday, April 27, 2013

Massive Beer Review Catch Up Time!

Hello! Yes, I am still alive and still enjoying great beers. I've just been slacking really hard on this whole blogging thing. So here we go, a bunch of short reviews on all my favorites that I've had since November 2012. The best of the best, if you will.

Alesmith Brewing My Bloody Valentine Ale

Style: American Amber/Red Ale
ABV: 6.66% (lol the devil!)
Shared this with Cassie on Valentine's Day (d'awww). Truly excellent and well-balance mix between an amber and a red ale. I have yet to try anything not awesome from San Diego's Alesmith Brewing. I only wish we could get Alesmith on draft in Washington, but for now it's 22 oz bottles only.

Rating: 4/5

Alesmith Brewing Speedway Stout
Style: American Imperial Stout
ABV: 12%
One of the very best stouts you can buy in a 22 oz. bottle. Worth every penny and it appears to be available year round, depending on stock. When Alesmith started getting distributed in WA last year, all I heard were rave reviews about Speedway Stout and it did not disappoint. Smooth drinking with really nice coffee and chocolate flavors. Just fantastic.

Rating: 4.5/5

Deschutes The Abyss 2012
Style: American Imperial Stout
ABV: 11%
Where to even start? The Abyss has been pretty much my favorite beer since before I really even knew very much about beer. My old friend Matt gave me a bottle for Christmas, must have been 2007, I think. And it just totally blew my mind. I'd always leaned towards stouts over hoppier, more bitter beers ever since I first acquired a taste for beer, so this was like someone who loves cars but drives a used 88 Ford Taurus and giving them a brand new Bugatti. Anyways, the 2012 version turned out just fantastic and I ended up hording a few to age so we'll see how it's tasting in the years to come.

Rating: 4.75/5

Deschutes Brewing The Dissident 2012
Style: Flanders Oud Bruin
ABV: 11.4%

This one will tickle your taste buds. Deschutes only brews the Dissident once every 2 years, but I was able to snag one at the Thriftway in West Seattle long after most places had sold out of it. Anyways, this beer is very sour. Like slap you in the face and make your brow sweat a little bit sour. The main flavor is cherries, so if you don't like cherries then this isn't the beer for you. Using wild yeast with Brettanomyces, they age the Dissident for 18 months before releasing it. Next time I see it, I'm buying two bottles!

Rating: 4.5/5

Flying Dog Brewing Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout
Style: English Stout
ABV: 5.5%

I had this on my last trip to Minnesota. Flying Dog is a great brewery from Maryland, but sadly they do not distribute in Washington. Your preferences on oysters and shellfish will pretty much dictate how you feel about this beer. Luckily, the oyster flavor is really just a bit a saltiness to go along with the chocolate and malt, making for a pleasant salted chocolate bar kind of vibe. Nice and dry with a low ABV, this would go great with any seafood dinner.

Rating: 3.75/5

Fremont Brewing The Lamb
Style: American Saison
ABV: 6.5%

This beer was Fremont's first foray into this style of wine barrel-aged corked beers using wild yeast. They brewed it once last spring, I think it was. I really like saisons, especially in warmer weather, and this is a solid example of the style with the added feature of Brettanomyces for aging. I bought two so we'll see how the aging goes sometime later this year maybe.

Rating: 3.5/5

Hair of the Dog Brewing Doggie Claws
Style: American Barleywine
ABV: 11.5%

Hair of the Dog Brewing from Portland gets some serious hype all over the country and for good reason; they make pretty incredible and distinct styles of beer in small-batch quantities. Next time I'm in Portland I'm just gonna kick it at their brewpub for a day or so. Anyways, I am a barleywine superfan and this is one of my new favorites of the style. It has very low carbonation, which might detract some. It strikes a fantastic balance between piney hoppiness and that classic sweet and syrupy barleywine flavor.

Rating: 4.25/5

Hair of the Dog Brewing Ruth
Style: American Pale Ale
ABV: 5%

Y'all know I can't resist a solid, low ABV pale ale. This one is very unfiltered with lots of citrus notes, but still a bit on a bitter side.

Rating: 3.75/5

Leinenkugel Brewing Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout
Style: Russian Imperial Stout (durr)
ABV: 9.5%

So Leinenkugel Brewing from Wisconsin, for those unfamiliar, is ubiquitous in the Midwest. Much like Pyramid or Red Hook on the West Coast. Leiny's makes some solid summertime easy drinkin', borderline-macrobrews, but the Big Eddy series is their crafty lil' subdivision of limited releases. This one seems like the most hyped one for some reason and it was long gone when I was in Minnesota last December, but then I found a bottle at the Beer Junction in Seattle when I got back. Verdict: good, not great. Nicely priced, though, for a RIS. The fruit flavors are very much in the forefront, which is kind of unique.

Rating: 3/5

North Coast Brewing Old Rasputin XV Anniversary Barrel Aged Stout
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 11.9%

So the regular version of Old Rasputin, which is readily available year round most places, is a fantastic and very strong RIS. This is the barrel aged version and holy moly it's probably the best RIS I've ever had. My buddy Matt gave me this bottle for Christmas and it was just exquisite. The bourbon and oak flavors help hide the alcohol a bit more and make it incredibly smooth. A world-class beer.
Thoughts: 4.75/5

Olvalde Farm Brewing Ode to a Russian Shipwright
Style: American Porter
ABV: Unknown!

This is one of the strangest and most perplexing beers I've ever had. I brought it back with me from my last trip to Minnesota. The label calls it a Porter Stout, which is silly, and it's brewed with spruce tips. As you can see in the photo, it was extremely carbonated and poured a huge, thick, and rocky head. Beer Advocate calls it a Porter, so we'll go with that. Anyways, it drinks unlike most dark beers. Very bitter, surprisingly hoppy, and then the spruce tips add this crazy almost spicy flavor. It's super weird, but in a good way.
Rating: 3.5/5

Ommegang Brewing Seduction
Style: Belgian Dark Ale
ABV: 6.8%

Brewery Ommegang in New York is perhaps the finest brewery in North America to exclusively brew Belgian style beers. A family friend gave me this bottle of Seduction and it's a rather unique Belgian Dark Ale. Most beers of this style are heavy on the sweet and malty side, but this one throws in a lot of chocolate flavor. It kind of covers the Belgian yeast profile a bit, so I would definitely recommend this to anyone who's not real familiar with the style. But, as a big Belgian fan, I really dug this one.

Rating: 3.75/5

Surly Brewing Co. Coffee Bender
Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 5.1%

Simply put, this is one of my favorite beers in the world. Surly Brewing is truly awesome and whenever I go to Minnesota I try to consume as much of their brews as I can. The regular Bender is an awesome brown ale that almost tastes like a porter. This version of it is steeped cold for 24 hours in coarsely ground coffee beans from the Vinca Vista Hermosa plantation in Guatemala. Y'all know I love my coffee beers. This one is nice and smooth, very drinkable with a low ABV. Perfect for watching a 10 AM football game or for in between games of pond hockey. Maybe that's why Surly doesn't distribute to the West Coast. No pond hockey whatsoever. Anyways, if you find yourself in the upper Midwest, track this one down and then bring me some.

Rating: 5/5

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