Hazed and Infused

OK guys, I know this is starting to look like i’m-an-ipa-fanatic.com. It just seems like IPAs just kind of land in my hand when I’m out beer-hunting. I can’t help it! I promise this will be the last IPA for a while – promise. There are so many great styles of beer out there and we’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. So even though it’s spring, I’m going to try and do some spring beers that aren’t IPAs. So without further adieu, let’s talk about this Hazed and Infused from Boulder Beer.
Appearance: This beer pours a gorgeous coppery color with a great foamy, frothy off-white head. Definitely a lot of hops going on here. The body is a bit fizzy and a bit cloudy.
Aroma: The aroma on this beer is super-hopped! Fruit and citrus abound, but mostly I smell apple and actually, peach. It took me a while to place that, but I’m pretty sure it’s a peachy smell. I’ve really got to hunt for a malt fragrance, but it’s somewhat there, a brown sugar caramel smell. There’s also a nice earth and hay smell from the yeast.
Taste: This beer tastes just like it smells! Boatloads of hops – crazy fruits and bitter up front. The earthy yeast and barely-there malts manage to save this beer from being too bitter.
Mouthfeel: Mouthfeel on this beer makes it really refreshing – light to medium in body and it lands somewhere between watery and oily. A nice balance of carbonation, too.
This beer is great for a hop head, but technically, a poor representation of it’s style. It seems to be labeled throughout the online as an American Pale Ale. If you ask me, this is more like a double IPA. There’s not a lot of balance going on in the malts and hops. So if you’re wild for hops, check this beer out, but if you’re looking for an American pale ale, you’ll get a serious surprise!

The Facts:
ABV: 4.85%
IBU: 70
Original Gravity: 12.5 Plato

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Gluten-free Beer

I think the best part of this post is getting to say gluten-free beer over and over again. Go ahead… try it. Yeah… you liked it, didn’t you? Anyway…. So last night we had dinner at a gluten free restaurant in the West Village, Risoterria. While we were there for the risotto (which was fantastic), Risoterria offered a huge variety of interesting gluten-free menu items. I noticed several gluten-free beers on the menu and thought – what the crap – why not? Thus I bring you today’s review of New Grist from the Lakefront Brewery.
Now I did a good bit of research on this beer. This beer gets a really bad wrap on sites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer which made me think of a post that Jay Brooks did over at The Brookston Beer Bulletin earlier this week. It was about whether or not having just anybody blogging off about reviews can help or hurt a micro brew. Check it out here, it’s a great editorial. Anyway, I was disappointed at how many people missed the point of this beer. Imagine, my fellow beer lovers, having Celiac Disease. This means you can’t eat any gluten products which includes malt. NO BEER. This beer frees these people to imbibe in this great beverage. So think long and hard about that, before you go bashing this product.
Appearance: Pours a very light golden color with little to no head. Very clear and only a few bubbles.
Aroma: Not much aroma. A bit of citrusy or apple scent, but, of course, no malt aroma.
Taste: While this beer comes off a bit watery, it’s not bad. There isn’t a strong hop flavor or rich maltiness, but it does taste like a beer. There’s a bit of an aftertaste of the rice that New Grist is brewed with, similar to the aftertaste of saki, but nowhere near as strong. If you’re familiar with the taste of sorghum (think cous cous, porridge and molasses), you’ll find it here.
Mouthfeel: Watery, like it’s taste, but very crisp and refreshing.
So in the end, New Grist is never going to be the beer I reach for in times of need. But I think it’s great that those who can’t eat glutens have a beer choice at all, and if this is going to be it, well, it ain’t too shabby.

A Classic Breakfast Beer

oatmeal1.jpgBeer for breakfast? Eh, well, it is St. Patrick’s day after all. Well, today’s choice, Goose Island Oatmeal Stout, is a beer I’d have for breakfast any day. Before we delve into this beer, a little about the oatmeal stout –

Oatmeal stout is a beer brewed with a small amount of oats added during the brewing process. Today’s examples don’t use much (usually less than 5%), but many centuries ago, beers were brewed with a lot of oats. This resulted in a pretty bitter stout. So much so that the style died out in the early 20th century. Despite dying out, according to Wikipedia, it was a Charles Finkel who found interest in the style when reading about it in Michael Jackson’s 1977 book The World Guide To Beer. Apparently, Mr. Finkel commissioned Samuel Smith to revive the style. Since then, many breweries have revived the oatmeal stout style.
Today’s Oatmeal Stouts are medium to full body stouts that are incredibly smooth and slighty sweet. This Goose Island Oatmeal Stout is a great example.

Appearance – This beer pours really dark. While I saw many other reviews where tasters saw little to no head, I found that mine poured with a nice big, fluffy one inch head that was a light caramely brown.
Aroma – A lot of fragrance for a stout. I’m catching the heavy smell of sweet oats, grain, or straw. Even a slight roasted peanut kind of smell. A mild scent of coffee and chocolate also lingers. I detect a very faint grassy scent of hops, as well as a barely-there earthy smell, possibly from the yeast.
Flavor: Very slightly bitter up front. I taste that kind of bitter coffee taste up front. More like a sweet espresso taste. But mostly this beer tastes like smooth toasted oats. Almost like when you brown oatmeal in the bottom of the pot. Yum!
Mouthfeel – This is a medium to full body beer that’s nice and smooth. I hesitate to say creamy, because while it was smooth, I didn’t find it overwhelmingly filling. I barely sense the carbonation, but there’s that light astringent finish to it that characterizes many stouts.
Overall, I applaud Goose Island for this great beer. Their oatmeal stout is flavorful, easy to drink, and not too filling or sweet.

The Facts:
ABV: 5%
ABW: 4%
IBUs: 30
SRM: 80

Compare and Contrast

ipa.jpgI begin my week-o-IPAs with two Double or Imperial IPA. The double/imperial (the terms are fairly synonymous) means that it’s brewed with even more hop flavor than the standard IPA. On trial today: The Goose Island Imperial IPA and the Great Divide Hercules Double IPA. Let’s start with the Goose Island:
Aroma: This IPA had an amazing aroma. Full of hops, lots of grapefruit, appley/pear fragrance, a slight hint of spices and slight toasty malt flavor.
Appearance: Gorgeous. This beer pours a nice fizzy dark amber/orangey color that brightens a little upon standing. The head forms a real foamy off-white but diminishes quickly
Flavor: Wow! This baby packs a punch. You really taste all those great fragrances that you smelled at first. Nice fruity hop flavor, followed by a gently toasted malt flavor. The hoppy aftertaste returns and sticks in your mouth afterward.
Mouthfeel: A lot of feel to this beer. It has a thick almost oily feel in the mouth. Carbonation is pretty average.
Overall, the Goose Island Imperial IPA was great, but I have to say, after plowing my way through the whole beer, the fruity flavor became a little overwhelming and a little drying.
Beer #2 – Great Divide:
Aroma: The Great Divide Hercules Double IPA is far less fragrant than the Goose Island. I smell all the great hop flavors and a nice doughy-yeasty flavor. Not as fruity as the Goose Island, but your average IPA aroma.
Appearance: Color is almost identical to the Goose Island IPA, though slightly more amber than orange. Lots of bubbles and a standard head that diminishes quickly. Both of these beers are really hazy, I can’t see through them. Almost like apple cider
Taste: After the taste of the Goose Island that was so fruity, at first I felt that this beer didn’t live up to it’s aroma. It actually doesn’t, but it’s really not too bad. Comparing beers back to back can be dangerous, but I thought it’d be a fun experiment. This Great Divide is pretty decent. At first you hit those citrusy, piney hops, then you taste a real nice roasted malt flavor and an aftertaste of yeasty, bready goodness. In the end, I thing this was a good, drinkable beer.
Mouthfeel: This beer was pretty highly carbonated and had that same oily feel. The fizzy carbon bubbles dance on your tongue. I’d venture to say it’s almost a little too carbonated, but nothing to make me not drink this beer. In the end, I found it a far greater session type beer than the Goose Island Imperial IPA.

The Facts – Goose Island Imperial IPA:
ABV: 9.1%
IBU: 85

The Facts – Great Divide Hercules Double IPA:
ABV: 9%
ABW: 7.0%
IBU: 90
SRM: 12