Saturday, March 24, 2012

Victory Hop Devil IPA

It's no secret to any regular readers of this blog that was love IPA's, and Victory Brewing Company's Hop Devil just might top the list.

This beer pours a hazy golden, amber color with plenty of creamy white head that lingers on the class quite well. The aroma full of spicy, citric hops that stings the nostrils a bit, with grapefruit being a prominent fixture. Hidden beneath the onslaught of hops is a surprising sweet smell with perhaps a bit of honey.

I love when I try a new beer and the first sip blows me away. This beer does just that. Hops, hops, and more hops! The spicy citric hops unleash an bombardment of awesomeness whilst the sweet malts work quietly in the background. While this is a very aggressively hopped beer, it's incredibly smooth and easy to drink. The bitterness from the hops bites hard on the palate but it's nicely balanced with the smoothness and the subtle sweetness of the malts. Unlike some other IPA's I've had, Hop Devil lacks the warm alcohol taste on the finish, for which I'll score another point in the Win column for this beer.

Simply put, Hop Devil a top-notch, world-class beer. It's crowing achievement is maintaining incredible drinkability despite being so over-hopped. Victory makes the most of it's extreme use of hops by allowing the strong citrus notes shine without being unbearably bitter. This is truly a masterpiece and a must-try for every IPA lover, if not for every beer lover.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Homebrew Update: The Finished Product

After several long weeks of waiting, our first homebrew is finally ready. It has been a fun and exciting process, but this is the moment of truth. This is when we'll know if all time and energy we've invested have paid off, or if it was all a tremendous waste. Going into the project, we told ourselves that this beer really only had to be slightly better than Bud Light for it to be economically worthwhile. Let's find out if that's the case.

At each step in the brewing process there was a certain amount of anxiety over whether or not we were doing everything correctly. Is that fermenter sanitized well enough? Is the yeast still alive? Will our beer sour? Is it carbonated enough? The worst possible scenario would be to open that first bottle, taste it, and realize we'd be dumping 50 bottles down the drain.

I admit I was nervous as we opened the first bottles, but my nerves ease a bit when I hear the first "Tssss" as the cap is pried off of the bottle. Well, at least we know it's carbonated, I say to myself, becoming more excited as the realization begins to set in that we may have actually done this right!

The beer pours a rich amber color with a lot of haze, which is to be expected since we did not filter out the yeast. I'm surprised by the two fingers-worth of thick, creamy, off-white head; it was considerably more than I had expected. I am also struck by just how carbonated it is; I can see a lot bubbles rising to the top from the bottom of the glass. So now we know it sounds like beer and it looks like beer. But does it smell like beer?

In short, Yes. The aroma is dominated by bread malts, no doubt due to the six-plus pounds of malt extract used in the brewing process. There is some noticeable hops aroma as well, but not as much as I would have expected. In fact, there actually seems to be a bit of a sweetness to the aroma that I didn't really expect.

So, how does it taste? I raise the glass and sip the beer from beneath the thick layer of frothy head and the first thing that hits me is the malt. There is some caramel flavor present which adds a bit of sweetness to the taste. There is only a small amount of hops bitterness on the finish, which is a bit of a disappointment. Where I would expect the get a bite from the hops, as in other  Pale Ales, there is a bit of emptiness in this beer. It's not a bad taste, it just tastes like something is missing. Since we did not have a hydrometer at the beginning of the process, we don't know exactly how much alcohol is in the beer. If I had to guess, though, I'd say it's in the 5% to 5 1/2% range. Overall I am pleased with the outcome, considering this is our first foray into beer-making.

This has been an exciting process and something that I'm sure will become a regular hobby for Jason and I. In fact, just a couple days ago we began brewing our second batch of beer. We've learned from this first batch and we've added our own twist to an existing recipe and, hopefully, we'll end up with an even better brew. We'll have more on this in a later post, though. Until then, I'm going to go enjoy some more homebrew! Cheers!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Elevator Brewery Three Frogs IPA

Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus is another local brewery here in Columbus, Ohio. Three Frogs IPA is one of their many year-round offerings available on tap at the Draught Haus and bottled. My particular offering was a bottle purchased at a local grocery store.

It pours a hazy amber color with about one finger of creamy, off-white head. Retention and lacing were both fair. The aroma is packed with a lot of citrus and floral hops along with some caramel malt. I also picked up a note of alcohol in the aroma.

Despite the aroma, this is not the the most aggressively hopped IPA I've every had. The citrus hops are definitely at work with hints of apricot and grapefruit, but the caramel malt flavor is bit more noticeable than I expected. This is actually one of the sweeter IPA's I've tasted which is interesting and enjoyable. There is decent amount of bite from the hops on the finish, though, with a small amount warmth from the alcohol left behind. This is a medium bodied beer with a creamy (if not a bit oily) texture and medium carbonation.

While this IPA is not going to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, or even Harpoon IPA, it is a very solid beer that I wouldn't think twice about drinking again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Columbus Brewing Co. Pale Ale

Columbus Brewing Co. is a local brew pub and brewery in Columbus, Ohio, featuring three year-round beers and two seasonal beers. Their Pale Ale is one of their year-rounds brews and it is a very solid beer.

This beer pours a nice copper color with a slight haze and about two fingers of head. The head dissipates quickly, but leaves behind a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

There is nothing particularly astonishing about the aroma; it's hoppy and earthy with a bit of citrus. It's just about what you would expect from an American Pale Ale, which is in no way a bad thing.

CBC Pale Ale is a very well balanced beer. It is hoppy, but there is also a decent amount of bread malts to balance the bite from the hops. There is some citrus flavor in the form of grapefruit. Finally, I also detected a bit of the earthy, piney flavor that was evident in the aroma. This is a medium bodied beer with a fair amount of carbonation.

As a Columbus native, I am, of course, a big fan of Columbus Brewing Company, and this Pale Ale will keep me coming back for more.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

I've had the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA a few times on tap, but this is my first go-around with the 90 Minute. I was fully expecting it pack a knock-out hops punch to the face, and my expectations were, indeed, met.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is a beautiful bronze color with two fingers of thick, creamy head. Since this beer packed full of hops, the head retention and lacing are fantastic. The huge hops aroma invades your nose first and it is intense. It smells very spicy, but hidden in all the hops, there is a bit of citrus, pine and some bread malt.

As expected, the hops slam the palate right away. The hops bitterness is intense and lasting. There is a bit of malt in the middle with some herbal notes, but this beer is all about the hops. The alcohol really bites at the finish and lingers for a bit with the hops bitterness. It is extremely smooth and actually feels thicker than I would have expected.

If you are at all a fan of IPA's, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA is an absolute must. This is not a beer you're going to be able to drink 2 or 3 of in one sitting due to its intensity (both in alcohol content and flavor), but it is a very rewarding brew. Cheers!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Great Lakes Dopplerock

Doppelrock is a beer that I had heard about but had never actually seen in the store. The 4-pack I picked up happened to be the very last one on the shelf, so I didn't hesitate to grab it. I've been a big fan of Great Lakes for a while, so I was quite eager to give this brew a try.

Doppelrock is a doppelbock beer, which, for anyone who may be aware, basically means this is a very dark, malty lager beer. It pours a very dark brown, copper color with about two fingers of creamy, off-white head. Head retention and lacing are fair to good and there is good bit of carbonation in this beer. The aroma is rich with dark bread malts and hint of caramel. It smells quite sweet, and I may have detected a bit of fruitiness (cherries, perhaps).

Doppelrock is a fitting name for this beer because it rocks. The most prominent flavor is the rich bread malts, but I also noticed some chocolate malts as well. Along with the malts, there is also a bit a caramel, and those cherries from the aroma sneak in there, too. It is sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. On the finish, there is very little hops flavor, but there is a bit a sting from the alcohol that lingers on the tongue.

I have not had too many doppelbocks, but I'm certainly a fan of the style. After trying Doppelrock, I'm going to seek out some others for sure. Let me know if you have any suggestions. This is the first time I've ever seen this particular brew in a store, and since I'm not sure when or where I will be able to get it again, I plan to savor the couple I have left!