Beer 10 of Spring – Chill, yo!

Great Lakes Chillwave

Brewer: Great Lakes       Craft: Chillwave Double IPA       ABV: 9.4%

Another DIPA?!  Yes!  Yes!  It would seem that as much as Spring is pilsner season, it is DIPA season as well.  I’m not really sure whether that’s true or not, but it’s working for me.  So I’m riding this wave.  See what I did there?

This craft has the malt backbone consistent with most double IPAs.  The hop character balances well with the malts and creates a solid platform for the added goodness.  If it weren’t for that, this would probably just be your run-of-the-mill DIPA.

But thank God it’s not!  Great Lakes added honey malt to this craft.  Honey malt.  Such an innocuous ingredient.  Bite your tongue.  It adds a warmth, a depth, a sweetness to this craft that I frankly was not expecting.  It’s pretty impressive what one additional ingredient can do to a craft.  It can go very wrong; or in this case, it can go oh so right.

This almost feels like an IPA that could be an intro IPA for those that are hesitant to try them.  Yes, at 9.4%, you’re going to feel it.  But there’s nothing wrong with that if you know what you’re getting into.  This craft surprised me, impressed me, and won me over.  I’d drink this again.  And again.  Cheers!

Rating: I’d buy a case of this (and if you’re into aging beer, I feel like this would age well.  It says to enjoy by a certain date, but suggestions are just that…)

Beer 9 of Spring – DIPA the next

Firestone Walker DJ

Brewer: Firestone Walker       Craft: Double Jack       ABV: 9.5%

Now this is what I expect in a double IPA.  I don’t even need a lot of words to explain.  The aromas are malty, warm like whiskey, and subtly sweet.  The craft drinks well balanced.  The malts and the hops blend together like they were made for each other.  Seriously.  If you’re looking for what a DIPA should be, this is the craft to drink.  Well played, Firestone Walker, well played.

Rating: I’d buy a case of this stuff.  It’s worth whatever they charge.

Beer 8 of Spring – DIPA

Ballast Point Dorado

Brewer: Ballast Point       Craft: Dorado       ABV: 10.0%

A double IPA in the chalice tonight.  Took my time.  Made sure I enjoyed it.  And I expected good things from a solid brewer in Ballast Point.

Dorado has a solid malty backbone, which you would expect from double the malted barley.  The imperial character is definitely there with the 10.0% ABV, which I feel, though not as much as I expected.  The hops – well, there are definitely some bittering hops in there.  But I’m sad to say I was disappointed by the hop characters in this craft.  Or lack thereof.

It was almost too basic for me.  It felt like the malts were overriding the hops.  Obivously, Ballast Point meant for it to be that way.  But I want a DIPA to have a nice balance of malt and hops.  Just too much malty, bready action for me.  So, I look forward to trying some other crafts from BP.  And I hope they are just as enjoyable to drink, even if this one didn’t fit my palate.  Maybe it will fit yours…cheers.

Rating: put one in your fun-pack to try…(a fun-pack is a mix-a-six-pack that you can make yourself.  That’s how I end up trying many of the beers I drink.)

Beer 7 of Spring – It’s the Right Time

Lagunitas NightTime

Brewer: Lagunitas       Craft: NightTime       ABV: 7.9%

If you’re looking for a walk-off, this is it.  This concept is one that was introduced to me by my friend Chris, who also brought me into the craft beer experience years ago.  A walk-off is a craft that you make your last beer of the night – because it is that good and you don’t want to ruin it with anything else.

NightTime is a solid black ale.  It has a nice malty, roasty backbone.  It drinks smooth.  It also has a solid hop presence that balances well with the sweetness of the malts.  There is a smoky character to this craft that is unexpected but welcomed.  I’m getting notes of coffee and cocoa as well, which I’m thinking are coming from the roasted malts.

I’m not surprised that this is a limited release from Lagunitas.  This is a craft that I would look forward to every year.  I’m also surprised that this craft doesn’t get more love.  I think this might be one of my favorite dark beers right now.  Go find it and buy some before it’s gone!  Cheers!

Rating: buy at least one six-pack, maybe – two!

Beer 6 of Spring – more pilsner…

Hardywood Pils

Brewer: Hardywood       Craft: Pils       ABV: 5.2%

Next in line in the pilsner parade…

Hardywood is a new brewery to me, but this is a solid way to be introduced to them.  Their version of a pilsner is a quality craft with some traditional characteristics and some more contemporary ones as well.

The craft is crisp and clean, which again is what you would expect from a traditional style pilsner.  The bitterness is subtle with this one, although present throughout.  Where does the Pils differ from tradition?  I’m glad you asked.  It has a gentle sweetness to it.  And it also has what I would consider a creaminess to it.  I know that sounds strange.  It’s crisp and clean, but it’s also creamy.  Almost buttery.  I like it.

Whenever I try a craft from a new brewery, I’m a little wary.  But I’m always willing to try.  And that again is my lesson.  Keep trying craft beer.  You’re not going to like every one of them.  But you don’t know unless you try!  Cheers!

Rating: buy a six-pack

Beer 5 of Spring – More Tradition…

Sly Fox Pils

Brewer: Sly Fox       Craft: Pikeland Pils       ABV: 4.9%

Here’s another pilsner in the series.  This craft is similar to the one I just posted about in Beer 4 of Spring.  The German malts, and the German and Czech hops, create the bitter, clean, and crisp pilsner you would expect.  The Pikeland Pils is not as deep in character as the Trauger Pilsner.  It is pretty straight forward.  A little sweetness from the malts plays against the bitterness and also contributes to a smooth finish.  And that finish is also dry, which I would expect, from the hops.

This craft is another traditional style pilsner.  And it’s a quality craft.  But if I had choose between the two, I’d probably pick the Trauger.  Though really you can’t go wrong with either.

Rating: buy a case

Beer 4 of Spring – Tradition! Tradition.

NCBC Trauger

Brewer: Neshaminy Creek       Craft: Trauger Pilsner       ABV: 4.8%

A traditional German pilsner.  Yes it is.  Now this is what I think of when I think of pilsner.  This craft starts off clean and crisp.  For me, the colder this craft is the better.  You don’t want this one to warm up.  The pilsner malts used in this craft shine through with their bitterness and subtle sweetness.  There are floral notes and some subtle grapefruit and pineapple notes as well that I pick up on.

I feel like I’m in a hofbräuhaus somewhere in small town Germany when I drink this craft.  Ich essen sollten eine Brezel mit Senf und einer Bratwurst.  Ich bin hungrig!  Sorry.  Fell into my German alter-ego there.  My German teacher from high school, Herr Heinlein, would be proud.  I was saying there that I should be eating a pretzel with mustard and a bratwurst.  I am hungry!

If you’re looking for a standard pilsner, (and remember: standard doesn’t mean general or boring; rather it means: if something is the standard, it is the thing by which all others are measured), then this craft fits that definition.  And it’s easy to drink.  Nice.  Zum wohl!

(And if you’re curious where the Trauger comes from, check out their website: NCBC)

Rating: buy a case