Friday, February 26, 2010

Port Brewing Co: Wipe Out IPA

Ever since my friends have moved out of the Haight, I find myself going to Toronado less and less. This is a tragic development as it's one of the best beer bars in the world. One of the many great features of Toronado is the ability to order the latest offerings of many California breweries. To give substance to my claim, I can specifically recall that a number of breweries including Port Brewing Company out of San Marcos California always seem to ship up a different keg to San Francisco just for Toronado. I even remember seeing a new Port Brewing Beer called 547 Haight - created and named after Toronado's address.

Well, just because I'm not frequenting Toronado as often doesn't mean I can't find a wide variety of California offerings in select liquor stores. Recently I snagged a few beers from Port Brewing that I never found time to try at Toronado. This time around I sampled the WipeOut IPA.

WipeOut is brewed with five hop varieties and has a strong hop aroma. Despite the strong hoppy flavors this ale has a large amount of malt flavors. It's almost surprising how much the malt tastes emerge and it gives the brew a very smooth mouthfeel. The aftertaste brings back the bitter hop bite and the beer ends with a very dry finish. Despite hitting the 7.0% threshold there is no alcohol flavors furthering the smooth sensation on the tongue. While drinking Port Brew in the comforts of one home isn't the same as enjoying it the lower Haight while listening to classic rock and observing at the classic clientle at Toronado, it's still an enjoyable experience. Cheers.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Troegs Brewing Co.: Troegenator Doublebock Beer

Troegs is another Pennsylvania brewery that is widely available around here, so it's about time I gate it a review. Their doppelbock is perhaps one of their better-known brews, so I figured I'd grab a six pack and share.

True to the bock style, this beer has got big dark malt flavors and the hops are, as expected, very muted. The featured taste is some sort of dark fruity thing, but happily, this one isn't as sweet as a lot of doppelbocks. This toned-down sweetness, along with the medium body and mild-though-detectable carbonation, makes this pretty drinkable for a bock.

I'm a novice when it comes to appraising bocks, so unfortunately I can't give as thoroughly-detailed a review as I'd like. But I can say that I like this brew quite a bit. The dark malty flavors are very well put together and have a tasty sweetness to them. But the sweetness doesn't linger a moment too long, giving way to a very mild hops and carbonation aftertaste. This is definitely one to add to your catalogue of winter brews. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Harpoon Brewery: Winter Warmer

I am currently sitting through the third giant snow storm of the season. I am told that, already, this year is the snowiest year recorded in Philadelphia history. Work was cancelled today. It's been cancelled for tomorrow. You can't go more than 5 feet outside without a shovel, a wool coat, and an iron will. So I think it's time for a winter warmer.

Warmers are usually heavy bodied, malty, high ABV beers. Harpoon's take on the genre is a little bit different. It has a very dry malt flavor, and is actually pretty light bodied, making it unusually refreshing for a warmer. It's also loaded up with cinnamon and nutmeg, making it one of the spiciest beers I've ever had. Surprisingly, the spices fit very well into this beer. Perhaps it's because it's so light bodied, but I find that the spices never really get to be overwhelming. Finally,
a healthy dose of hops lends this beer a crisp finish.

Fans of the traditional winter warmer will probably find Harpoon's version a little bit disappointing. As warmers go, this one is pretty weak on malt flavor. But a basket of other flavors steps forward to create a bold and satisfying taste. It's also refreshingly drinkable, which is always a plus if you've got a full day off of work to fill with revelry. Cheers!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.: Piraat Ale

It's a strange spelling, but I still have to go for the beer with a pirate on the label.

Piraat is an exceptionally flavorful Belgian pale. It leads with a honey-sweet malt taste that is followed very quickly by a leafy hop taste. The taste of alcohol permeates throughout, which is not surprising, since this brew weighs in at 10% ABV. Unfortunately, there's something about the malt flavor that really sticks to your tongue, and the alcohol sticks along with it. As a result, the aftertaste is an awkward mix of honey, alcohol, and leafy hops. Not a fantastic combo, in my book at least.

This beer is a great example of why I don't really consider myself a devotee of Belgian-style beers. I can see that, for those who really dig the flavors that are typical of Belgian beers, Piraat would be quite exciting. For me, it's just a tad bit overwhelming. It's fun to venture into unexplored territory now and again, but I remain loyal at heart to my Anchor and Stone inspired roots.