Monday, June 30, 2008

You Can't Get Theirs From Here

I tell you, that girlfriend of mine really knows and loves her beer. That's why I knew that when she was going to Denver with her girlfriends to do girly things she would find time to find a beer store and bring back some goodies. And she didn't disappoint!

In exhibit A, or should I say IPA, we have Green Flash Brewing's West Coast IPA (7%). They aren't misleading with that name. This is a true pacific IPA, which means high hop/low malt profile. Some people whine about these kinds of IPAs, "But they're so unbalanced!" Tough. If I want to see balance I'll watch gymnastics. Lots of pine, lots of citrus in this baby. One of my favorite IPAs both in the bottle and on tap.

The next beer is Flying Dog Double Dog. They label this as a "double pale ale", but the style is really a double IPA. It could also be called a barleywine, I suppose. Flying Dog is a Colorado landmark brewery but is in the process of moving all its brewing operations to Maryland. I don't know how this will affect the distribution out here, but in the case of this beer it doesn't matter because we can't get it in New Mexico anyway. It is a 10% hop-heavy beer that still has a good malt base. I suggest drinking it fresh because the hops need to be the star here. I have tried aging one and the sweetness of the alcohol made it less enjoyable than when the hops dominated.

Next we have two beers from Lagunitas Brewing out of Petaluma, California. Lagunitas is always pushing the envelope in every facet of their business, from the higher-alcohol versions of traditional styles to their graphics to the names of their beers. They are a very creative bunch. And we can't get their beers here. I have had many of their creations before but these two are new for me.

Lucky 13 is an Imperial red Ale that is 8.3%. For style refrences, think Gordon from Oskar Blues, Troegs Nugget Nectar, or Dr. Hopgood from Chama River. Though if you have tried all of those you are probably really into beer and don't need a reference for the style.

Gnarlywine is a 9.7 % barleywine ale. What do I do with this one? I want to drink it, but most barleywines do well when they get a little older. Will I have the patience? We will see. Actually, from the number of beers I have meant to let "age" and more truthfully let "rot" in a hot closet, experience tells me I probably won't ever drink it because then it will be "gone". See how logical I am?

You may remember me writing about Victory Brewing and their Baltic Thunder Imperial Porter in an earlier post. We have here another of their releases, the Hop Wallop Double IPA (8.5%). This is a beer I have enjoyed for years now, and it doesn't disappoint-until its gone, that is, and I have to get more from Colorado or Arizona. The beer is very pale for a double IPA but the flavors are no less intense, hop-wise. There is that lack of malt character that is perfect for me. I have found that this is one beer that has a highly discernable difference in flavor (for the good) when you let it warm a bit, so if you can get some, don't drink it straight from the fridge.

Now here's something you don't see everyday, or in my case, ever: an Imperial Hefeweizen. Pyramid Brewing out of Washington state brings us this 7.5% hefe. Wow, 7.5%; that's two whole percent higher than any other hefeweizen I have tried. I'm excited to try it, especially since it has been so hot here lately. I admit I don't go crazy over many of Pyramid's line of beers. Their Thunderhead IPA is ok, but is not my first choice. Their other beers are solid as well, but none have that "standout" quality for me. They were just bought out by Vermont's Magic Hat Brewery, so we will see what shakeup there is in the future.

And here's my personal "star of the show"- Deschutes Brewing's Hop Henge. This is a beer I had been trying to obtain for two years. With each new stellar review I wanted it more and more, but due to limited quantities and distribution it had been impossible to procure. Until now!
Hop Henge is an 8.8% Imperial IPA. That is all I can say about it because I still haven't tried. I wanted to have it last night when my girlfriend got home from Denver but she was still hung over from the trip and knew she wouldn't be able to appreciate it as much. Maybe we will have it tonight. One thing's for sure: If this beer sucks I'm gonna be pissed!

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