Beer 31 of Spring – Punk IPA

Brew Dog Punk IPA

Brewer: Brew Dog       Craft: Punk IPA       ABV: 5.6%

Let me introduce you to the Brew Dogs.  These guys know how to make beer and have fun doing it.  They push limits.  They ignore the status quo.  They make their own rules.  If you haven’t seen their show on the Esquire network, then pick up that remote and look for them.  It’s good watchin’.

Now to the beer.  This craft is easily one of my favorite IPAs.  A hearty malt base gives this Punk a solid foundation on which is built an IPA that challenges all others.  Are there others like this one?  Maybe.  But the way James and Martin crafted this Punk goes above the standard and sets a new level of quality.

The aroma is immediately citrus, with some malty sweetness and subtle hoppiness also wafting up.  When I drink it, I just want to keep drinking it.  The word balance is used a lot.  I’ve used it on many occasions.  I apologize.  Because this craft might be the definition of balance.  The malts provide a smoothness and a sweetness that start this craft off.  The hops add in those citrus notes.  And those hops also add in just enough bitterness to get your attention and keep you coming back for sip after sip.  As I continue to sip I get some caramel notes and even some notes of toasted bread.

Listen, I like this beer.  A lot.  And I’ve enjoyed the other crafts I’ve had from Brew Dog as well.  But this is my favorite by far.  And at 5.6%, it is easy enough to drink a few of these in a session.  Even better.  If you’re an IPA drinker, try to find this Punk and thank me later.

Rating: It wouldn’t be cheap, but I’d buy a case of this.  You get what you pay for, right?  This might be difficult to find, since they’re in Scotland and all of their beer is imported right now.  But I just saw today that they’re planning on building a brewery in Ohio.  Woohoo!

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Beer 30 of Spring – Jab

Moat Mt Iron Mike

Brewer: Moat Mountain       Craft: Iron Mike       ABV: 5.6%

Can I tell you I so enjoy receiving gifts?  Yes?  Ok.  I so enjoy receiving gifts.  And frankly, who doesn’t?  Well, I’m an only child, so I’ve been slightly spoiled in my life and I like getting things.  Especially when those things are craft beer!

I’m guessing you’re guessing that I was given this craft.  I in fact was and am ever thankful to Uncle David for thinking of me.  People who know me know I have a thing for craft beer.  So every once in a while I’ll get a present from someone who is traveling somewhere and thinks “Hey, I’m in a place that Ed might not have been.  Let’s get him some beer.”  And how awesome is that!

This pale ale from Moat Mountain is a great introduction to craft beer from New Hampshire.  A solid malt backbone gives this craft a full body, and a warmth and subtle sweetness as well.  The bitterness I would expect in a pale ale is present throughout and balances the malts.  I even pick up on some very subtle floral and dried fruit notes.

With a name like Iron Mike, I kind of expected a knockout punch of a beer.  But instead I got a softly sweet and hoppy balanced, almost creamy drinkable jab to the gut.  I could pound a few of these jabs to my gut and be a happy man.  You can be sure, if I’m ever in NH, I’m making my way up to Moat Mountain.  See what I did there?  Can?  And it’s a pounder!

Rating: Road trip your way up there and enjoy!

Beer 29 of Spring – Rock & Roll

Sam Adams Porch Rocker

Brewer: Samuel Adams       Craft: Porch Rocker       ABV: 4.5%

Talk about accuracy in a name.  Ok, I will.  Good suggestion.  Sam Adams named this craft Porch Rocker and boy if they didn’t just about find the best name for this beer.  I could sit on my porch and drink one after another.  This craft is a Limited Release, which is a little disappointing.  I’d drink this any time of year.

This is another craft that I was glad to have after I came in from doing some yard work.  I was thirsting for something refreshing, sessionable, and flavorful.  So this time I chose the Porch Rocker.  It’s a lager, which gives it a full, drinkable character.  But then they add some lemon in there, which gives it a little depth; and they add some spices, which makes it zesty and full-flavored.

This is one of my favorite springtime beers.  But as I said before, I could totally drink this in summer, or even autumn.  The refreshing taste helps it rock into summer, and the spices keep it rolling into autumn.  Whatever time of year you’re drinking this, your thirst will be quenched.  Do yourself a favor…

Rating: Buy a case of this and savor it.  Hold on to some until summer and autumn and see if I’m right!

Beer 28 of Spring – Peachy Keen

Dogfigh Head Festina Peche

Brewer: Dogfish Head       Craft: Festina Peche       ABV: 4.5%

What can I say – I have an affinity for anything Dogfish Head.  They were the first brewery I ever visited, which happened to be on an anniversary trip with my wife.  (Don’t I have an awesome wife?)  So it will come as no surprise that I really enjoy this craft.

Festina Peche is a perfect craft for those warm spring days.  The style of this craft is neo-Berliner Weisse, which translates to a tart, crisp, bordering on sour beer.  The peach is present throughout as a warm sweetness.  And there you have it.  Nothing too fancy here, and it doesn’t need to be.

I had just finished mowing the lawn and I was thirsty.  I wanted a beer that was refreshing, easy to drink, sessionable, and flavorful.  Festina Peche was a peachy keen choice.  I must say too, that, this craft would travel into summer perfectly well.  Those hot, humid, summer nights call for a craft such as this.  So if you’re willing to wait, grab some while it’s here and hold onto it until summer…

Rating: I’d pay for a case of this no problem.

Beer 26 of Spring – not a taxi ride

Heavy Seas Uber Pils

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

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 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…)