Beer 21 of Spring – Crush it

Otter Creek

Brewer: Otter Creek       Craft: Over Easy       ABV: 4.6%

Crush it!  Crush it good!  Thirsty at breakfast?  Looking for something to replace your orange juice?  Drink Over Easy.  Looking for an alternative to soda at lunch?  Drink Over Easy.  Looking for a refreshing start to your session?  Drink Over Easy.

This is one of those beers that tastes good any time of day.  It fits any occasion.  It serves its purpose.  This session ale is, as Otter Creek says on the bottle, “Highly Crushable Ale.”

The hop aromas are varied and range from lemon to bitter to floral.  It smells enticing.  I want to drink it because it smells so good.  The tastes are less varied, but that’s okay.  It’s a session ale.  I don’t need it to have layers upon layers.  I want it to taste good and refreshing.  The lemon is there, along with some tangerine.  The bitter hop tastes are there, but not overly so.  They balance the sweetness of the citrus notes.

There are a good few session ales out there right now.  This might be at the top of the list for me.  It tastes like spring and makes me yearn for summer nights out on the deck.  I don’t have a deck yet, but when I build it, I’ll be drinking this on it.  I would certainly bring this when I go camping for the first time this summer to drink around the campfire.  Cheers!

Rating: buy a case!

Beer 20 of Spring – take me away

Orkney Skull Splitter

Brewer: Orkney       Craft: Skull Splitter       ABV: 8.5%

I feel like I’m in a pub somewhere in Europe when I drink this craft.  Pretty cool.  It’s not often you’re transported somewhere during a drinking experience.

And now I’m going to let The Orkney Brewery do the talking.  They describe the aroma and the taste of this craft way better than I could.  And, maybe obviously, they are pretty accurate in their description.  So here’s what they say:

“On the Nose: this robust beer has a fruity malt character, with hints of dark fruits, spicy hop, dates and figs.

On the Palate: the sweet toasted malt creates a rich, and complex character of molasses, fresh and dried fruits with hints of warming spices.”

Wow.  Someone certainly spent some time coming up with that, because it is eerily on point.  I don’t really even want to amend any of it as it actually might detract from the craft.  I will say that this feels more like something I’d enjoy in autumn rather than spring.  The one thing I would add to this would be that the carbonation is effervescent, which helps give it legs in any season.

This craft was recommended to me by the beer guy at my local grocery store, which is where I get most of my craft beer.  So I was looking for a good time to give it a try.  I had a phone conversation today with my mother which made me feel like this craft would be appropriate.  Although my skull did not split into pieces, it certainly did help me relax and brought me to a place in which I’d enjoy being.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in a pub somewhere in Europe right now?

Rating: six-pack

Beer 19 of Spring – Goin’ fishin’

Ballast Point GS

Brewer: Ballast Point       Craft: Grapefruit Sculpin       ABV: 7.0%

Talk about balance.  Ok, I will.  Take it easy.  I’ve heard a lot about this beer.  I’ve seen a lot about this beer.  So I’ve been eager to give it a taste.  It was worth the wait.

The aroma is immediately grapefruit.  And that’s what I want.  If the first word in the name of the craft is grapefruit, then I expect it.  But I also get a biscuity, subtly hoppy aroma as well.

Go ahead.  Take a sip.  It’ll make you feel good.  Woah.  Sorry about the peer pressure there.  Not really though.  Here is where the balance beams.  The grapefruit is, again, immediately present.  But it does not overpower.  It does not overwhelm.  The hops counter the citrusy bitterness somehow.  They add another layer of flavor.  And all of the bitter layers are built on a firm foundation of malts.  Although Ballast Point does not mention it, I’m sure the malted barley adds to the warmth and sweetness of this craft.  It’s smooth and crisp at the same time.  Huh?  Yeah.  I don’t know how that works either.  But it does.

Grapefruit Sculpin has met and exceeded all of my expectations.  This could certainly be a gateway IPA, for those hesitant to try an IPA.  But it also meets my standards for a solid IPA.  I can’t wait to try the standard Sculpin now to see if the original can hook me.

Rating: Catch yourself a six-pack: I’d even think about buying a case of this it’s so good

Beer 18 of Spring – Swim Swim Swim

River Horse

Brewer: River Horse       Craft: Tripel Horse       ABV: 10%

Grab the reins. This is one of those crafts that brings back memories.  I first tried this a couple years ago on draft with my friend who introduced me to craft beer.  Thanks again Chris.  It was amazing then, and it is even more amazing now.

This craft starts off malty and full of flavor.  Warm, Belgian-esque (subtly sweet and floral), caramely.  Then the spices build.  Wow the layers of flavor.  Then the tripel takes effect.  Triple the malted barley means triple the boozy goodness.  This craft is even better than I remember.  I’m in a derby that I don’t want to finish.

River Horse make some quality craft.  Tripel Horse might not be just be the place or the show – this might be the win.

Rating: get yourself a six-pack and enjoy the ride

Beer 17 of Spring – Rise up

Stone Levitation

Brewer: Stone       Craft: Levitation Amber Ale       ABV: 4.4%

If you’re looking for an easy drinking, flavor-packed craft beer, this ale is for you.  Stone has a habit of making awesome beer.  Add this one to this list.  Levitation is malty – notes of barley, caramel, and warmth.  It is also hoppy – notes of citrus and bitterness.  All of the characters cast in this craft work well together to make this session ale zesty and quaffable.  Levitation has certainly risen to the top of my go-to list.

Rating: I’d buy a case of this craft to have on hand

Beer 16 of Spring – Off the top rope…

Saucony Creek Hop Suplex

Brewer: Saucony Creek       Craft: Hop Suplex Ale       ABV: 10.0%

Just a quick review tonight.  This craft is malty.  It has a smoothness, sweetness, and warmth from a solid malted barley backbone.  This craft is hoppy.  It has a balanced bitter hoppiness.  This craft is strong.  It rings in at 10%, which could be boozy, but if you take it slow and steady, you’ll be fine.

It’s been hit or miss with me and Saucony Creek, but this one is a hit.  I wanted one beer tonight to sip and enjoy over a couple hours.  This was a solid choice.

Rating: get a six-pack

Beer 15 of Spring – Hot Stuff!

Rogue Sriracha Stout

Brewer: Rogue       Craft: Sriracha Stout       ABV: 5.7%

That’s right.  Get your milk ready.  Wait, no.  I’m not eating spicy wings.  I’m drinking spicy beer.  That’s spicy beer, not spiced beer, mind you.  I am not really a fan of spicy food.  I’ve never been into the whole “my mouth is on fire and I can’t taste my food anymore” type of experience.  I just don’t get it.

But as a service to the general public, and out of sheer curiosity, I had the urge to give this craft the old craft beer try.  So let’s do this.

It smells like a stout.  The aroma is full of cocoa, coffee, roasted malt, and caramel.  A great first impression.  What a ruse.  That first sip though.  I take that first sip and begin to taste the cocoa and coffee notes. Then I swallow that sip and immediate heat rolls down the back of the tongue into the throat.  It’s an intense, but not lingering heat.  It hits me, but then it dissipates in about 5-10 seconds.

As I continue to drink, and as the craft continues to warm up, my palate begins to adjust to the heat and the cocoa and coffee notes start to come through even more now.  Here’s the thing though.  The thing is, I just can’t get used to it.  Drinking a beer should be an enjoyable experience.  And, unfortunately, I’m just not enjoying this one.  I’m a stout guy.  Might still be my favorite style.  But this craft is not my glass of stout.

Listen, if you’re curious like me and you like spicy food, give it a try.  Even if you don’t like spicy, the spicy might hit your palate differently than it did mine.  I’m glad I tried this.  But I wouldn’t have it again.  To be honest with you, I couldn’t even finish the bomber.  One pint was enough for me.

Rating: Adventurous?  Then give it a try…I imagine it would go well with wings or pizza.  Or even as some hair of the dog maybe?  Sweat out the hangover?