Beers 24 & 25 – Pale Ale comparison

Victory

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.

Yards

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.

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Beer 23 of Spring – Outlaw

Two Brothers Outlaw

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!

Rating: Six-pack

Beer 22 of Spring – Flash in the Glass

Green Flash

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!

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