Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Land of Lupulin

Illinois may be known as the Land of Lincoln, but Goose Island wouldn't mind if you thought of Illinois as a haven for IPAs. Lincoln himself probably wouldn't mind either, since most people probably think of Illinois as "where Obama's from...either there or Kenya". Goose Island has gone so far as to name their new DIPA "The Illinois", though after drinking it I'm reminded more of an east-coast style DIPA- heavy on the malt. There is plenty of hop presence (Chinook, Cascade, Citra, Meridian in the hop bill) and 95 IBUs to boot, but the malt makes for a very drinkable DIPA, especially when you consider that it is 9% ABV. Goose Island isn't a major player in the IPA battle, but they never had to be. The Bourbon County lineup was enough for me to love them, though they have won many awards for their English-style IPA. The Illinois is definitely an American version of a DIPA, but I suggest you drink it fresh...and you can, as the version to hit shelves here (Jubilation, Total Wine) was bottled 2.7.14, and retails for around $10 a four-pack.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

You Have to be Scholastic to Spell Stochastic

...but you don't have to be scholastic to drink it. You should be well-versed in bitter IPAs, however, for the new Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA is as bitter as the project itself is pretentious. Or seems pretentious, I should say. "Stochasticity Project Grapefruit Slam IPA seems natural in its cohesive perfection, but it is a beer birthed from iterations both numerous and varied." That's an actual quote from the press release. I had to consult an Ivy League professor to decipher the entire release, but here's what the project seems to boil down to: It's beer releases for brewing science nerds, and for those who want to learn the science involved in the beers they drink. It's a product of Stone Brewing Co. (claimed to be brewed by KoochenVagner Brewing Co., but that's just a play on Greg Koch and Steve Wagner, founders of Stone), a brewery that already has enough quality product out there but wants to go beyond what others are already doing. They want to bring the science to you, going so far as to hire famed crime scene detective Lincoln Rhyme, who brings his gas chromatograph to dig deep into the brewing process to discover off-favors and why they occur in your beer. I didn't detect any in Grapefruit Slam, which combines Centennial, Chinook, and Magnum hops along with hand-zested grapefruit peel in this 8.2% ABV, 95 IBU DIPA. Jubilation has the 22 oz. beer for under $10, a bargain when you consider that the budget for research into the project is higher than NASAs. But then again, who's isn't these days? Look for future releases from the Stochasticity Project in coming months.

500 B.C. A number that makes one think back to the classic film Caveman, starring adequate Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. It's also the name of the DIPA from Humboldt Brewing Company, available now in stores for around $8 per 22 oz. Since Firestone Walker contract-brews the beer, I had high hopes- up until I took my first sip. "Tastes old", I said. Glanced at the mirror. "Looks old", I said. Looked at the bottle, noticed the 9/27/13 bottled on date. Five months doesn't a bad DIPA make, but it can change into a beer that isn't necessarily what I'm looking for in an IPA-DIPA. I want more of the bright, punchy hop flavor that a fresh bottle can give you. If you like a sweeter DIPA, the age on 500 B.C may just please you. Total lapse of any kind of sense on my part not to have looked for a bottling date while in the store. Beer geek, indeed.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sample Stone at Sister

Sister, the Central Avenue spot with probably the nicest looking bar in town, will be hosting an evening of Stone Brewing Company's beers. $12 gets you:

Five tastes and one 10 oz of your choice of:
2012 Red Wine Barrel-Aged Double Bastard
Matt's Burning Rosids Imperial Cherrywood-Smoked Saison
2013 Double Bastard
2013 Old Guardian Barleywine-Style Ale
Ruination IPA

That's only $2 more than the $10 I paid just to get in the place last night, where I still had to pay for a beer, and left before the act I paid to "see" had even gone on. And trying to get a cab after that? Forget it! But the $12 you spend tonight will be well worth it. Ride your bike to Sister, though. There can't be more than like three cabs to serve the entire city.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Poor Man's Parabola

People may be divided over having big-box liquor retailer Total Wine in town, but there's no denying the fact that they are the sole reason we get to try beers from (off the top of my head, so forgive me if I forget some) Flying Fish, Scuttlebutt, Diamond Knot, Pike's, Reel, and Humboldt. Humboldt Brewing Company is the one famous for having a hemp ale (before Colorado totally one-upped them and made it legal to get high and chug a beer at the same time. Or something like that). The best of their lineup, I do believe, is their Black Xantus Imperial Stout. Though the company has undergone ownership changes in the past few years, the beers are still contract-brewed by the good folks at Firestone Walker. A great brewery, and one that was supposed to have begun distributing in Albuquerque by spring, though this has been pushed back till fall. At least. Don't hold your breath- just grab a 22 oz. Black Xantus, seen at Whole Foods for $14.99- though I bet you can get it cheaper. Black Xantus has always made me think of a lighter version of Firestone's incredible barrel-aged Imperial Stout, Parabola, though with more coffee. Black Xantus spends six months aging in bourbon and wine barrels and is infused with Jobella organic coffee. All the things a growing stout needs. 11% ABV, so enjoy your body's battle between the alcohol and caffeine.