Brewer: Founders Craft: Black Rye ABV: 7.5%
Founders just keeps crafting quality beer. Another solid effort. This Black Rye drinks, for me, just like a coffee stout. The roasted malts provide a nice backbone. I get some cocoa, coffee, and roasted barley notes. Founders dry hops this dark ale, as they call it. That dry hopping gives this craft a dry finish and a bitter balance to the sweetness of the malts.
The distinct flavor of the rye – that grain that you know you’re drinking because it’s spice, it’s floral, it’s got a bite, it’s sharp, it’s hoppy, it’s bitter. The rye just elevates this craft from a basic dark ale to a craft that I’m looking forward to having again. And again. I could drink this anytime of the year. It’s too bad it’s only a seasonal release. I guess I better get to the store and get some more…
Rating: Buy as much of this as you can before it’s gone…
Brewer: Heavy Seas Craft: Small Craft Warning ABV: 7.0%
And now for something completely unexpected. So, it being spring and all, the stouts and porters are less appealing right now. Springtime is for drinking clean, crisp, flavorful beers. This means more pilsners, IPAs, and pale ales. Hey, this Small Craft is an Über Pils, which must mean it’s a pilsner?
Ha ha! Fooled you! Just like it fooled me. This is unlike any beer I can remember having. And I’ve had a few (must be close to 800 by now). This is not what I would consider a pilsner. Let’s find out why. As it says on the label, this craft is “a rich, golden bock lager with big malt flavor and a crisp hop finish.”
Let me tell you, this craft is big and malty. I’m not really even sure why they would use the pils tag. Maybe they meant it like it’s so over the top pilsner that it transcends the genre. Über does mean over, so I guess I’ll buy it. But it seems like a misnomer. Call it what it is – a wheaty, lagery, malty, bock with a nice simple hoppy finish that has a full mouth-feel and a carmely, ambery color.
Heavy Seas have created here a beer that kind of blows my mind. It’s easy to drink. It doesn’t fit the mold. It is delicious. I find myself wanting to have another one. Über Pils? Not so sure about that. So maybe that’s my warning for you…don’t expect a pilsner. Expect a hoppy bock. You can’t call me convinced about the nickname, but you can call me a fan of this craft.
Rating: at least a six-pack or two – and if it’s your style, then buy a case
Brewer: Victory Craft: Headwaters Pale Ale ABV: 5.1%
Today I decided to drink a couple pale ales and figured I should compare them. Because, you know, why not? So first up is the Headwaters crafted by Victory. The picture on the label on the bottle shows hops and barley. Well that about says it all right there! The barley provides a malty, bready character to the beer and the hops provide the bitter balance to the sweetness from the malts. I see why my friend Brian loves this craft so much. It’s easy to drink. It’s well balanced. It’s has flavor that, to me, is interesting for a pale ale. It almost borders on creamy. Good stuff.
Brewer: Yards Craft: Philadelphia Pale Ale ABV: 4.6%
This. This is what, in my opinion, a pale ale should taste like. Yards gets it right here. The barley provides a biscuity, cracker-like character to the beer. There is very little sweetness, which I prefer in a pale ale. The hops provide a solid bitterness from start to finish. Again, this falls in line with what I feel a pale ale should be. That being said, I think it’s still easy to drink. But it’s pretty straight-forward and simple. Nothing too complex here. I think though that there’s something to be said for doing something simple, but doing it completely on point and standard-setting.
If you can’t tell, I prefer the Philly Pale Ale. The Headwaters is a quality craft and I would drink it again in a heartbeat. But if we’re talking about pale ales here, which I am, (where have you been?), then Yards takes the win over Victory. Is that like irony or something?
Rating: I’d buy a case of either of these crafts any day of the week.
Brewer: Two Brothers Craft: Outlaw ABV: 6.3%
Warning. Warning. This is not a gateway IPA. This here Outlaw is a hop lover’s craft. The aroma is sweet. There’s notes of malted barley, caramel, orange, tangerine, and bread. This is definitely misleading.
Once you taste this craft, you’ll know. You’ll know what I mean. Hops. Then hops. Oh, and by the way, there’s hops. Did I mention the hops? Now, its not all hops. I do get subtle, very subtle, notes of bread and tangerines. But those hops though. This is just a solid, consistent, malty, hoppy craft from Two Brothers.
I was introduced to Two Brothers by my Uncle Bryan, and frankly I’m thankful I was. They make some good beer. A couple other quality crafts they brew include Domaine DuPaige and Cain and Ebel. Check them out.
So if you love hops, you’ll enjoy this beer. If you’re a hophead, this craft is for you. This is not West Coast. This is not East Coast. This is just, IPA. Cheers!
Brewer: Green Flash Craft: West Coast IPA ABV: 8.1%
Five different hop varieties create aromas and flavors aplenty. When I pour this craft into the glass, which in this picture is not really the glass that Green Flash recommends, but serves it purpose nonetheless, I get such powerful citrus notes that I feel like I’m in an orange grove in California. (Sometime soon I’ll post a new page about proper glassware…my wife will be happy since she keeps telling me I should) Once the head dissipates, the malty warmth of the double IPA wafts up as well.
The taste is just as compelling. Double the malted barley definitely lays down a solid foundation of caramely sweetness. It’s warm and reminds me, albeit subtly, of whiskey. The bittering hops are present from start to finish. That’s really where this craft shines. The hops start at the tip of my tongue and flow all the way back. My mouth is awash in hoppy goodness!
West Coast IPA is completely and utterly its namesake. Its west coast style of citrus notes blending with bitter hops on a base of malty smoothness makes me think I’m missing out on something totally awesome happening out there, dude. Righteous. This DIPA is not an “anyone can drink this” type of craft. If you’re an IPA person, give this one a go. Cheers!
By the way – check out The Beer Wench. She is an awesome purveyor of Green Flash and craft beer!
Rating: at least a four-pack, maybe two!