Brewer: Jack’s Abby Craft: Hoponius Union ABV: 6.7% IBU: 65
This is my first experience with Jack’s Abby and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Well, it’s a good thing that my first impression is wicked awesome! I must say I feel kinda weird saying that, being from the Philly area, but when (drinking) in Rome, right?
Hoponius Union is an IPL, or India Pale Lager. So Jack’s only crafts lagers. Let’s talk about that. There are only two kinds of beer – lagers and ales. It’s all about the yeast and the fermentation. Lagers are cold fermented – the yeast settle to the bottom and do their thing down there turning sugars into alcohol. Ales are fermented at slightly warmer temps – and the yeast hang out up top and convert those sugars. Lagering takes longer and is more labor intensive. The process creates beers that are drinkable and refreshing.
And then there are variations on the theme once you decide to lager – IPL being one of them. This craft is a Wicked Hoppy Lager, as it says on the bottle. It’s definitely easy to drink. It’s smooth, but refreshing. And the hoppy action is bitter and citrusy, which counters that smoothness well. At 6.7%, this is not quite a session beer. But it sure drinks like one. I could drink a few of these in a row no problem. But I’d probably start to feel it sooner than I’d like…
I’m impressed. Lagers are difficult to brew, let alone master. And when you decide to make your whole lineup lagers, you better know what you’re doing. Jack’s Abby certainly has mastered the craft. If you’re in the northeast, find yourself some lager from them. I’m looking forward to trying more of their crafts as soon as I can.
You may have noticed I started adding IBU to the blog. This is for reference and for those of you that are interested in that measure. IBU stands for International Bittering Unit. It’s just a way to measure the bitterness of a beer. The higher the number, the more bitter the craft. Some folks like to know how bitter the craft is before they try it. So it’ll be included from now on.
Rating: At least a six-pack
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: 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!
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