Monday, April 27, 2015

Beer Review: Mosaic Single Hop Pale Ale

Reviewing the Mosaic Single Hop Pale Ale from the Hill Farmstead Brewery out of Greensboro, Vermont.

Score: 92

750 ml growler with a "best buy" date of 04/22/15. Served in a Revolution Brewing Company snifter/tulip hybrid glass and enjoyed on 04/22/15.

Appearance: Pours a clean, translucent golden color with two fingers of white head that settles to a thin layer. Good lacing and retention. 4/5

Smell: The nose is a panoply of sweet, tropical citrus: lemon, mango, tangerine, kiwi, papaya, and guava. Herbal notes and pine too. Lovely mix. 4.5/5

Taste: For me, mosaic hops tend to lack the bite I am looking for in a hoppy beer, trading off bitterness for sweetness/fruitiness. This tends to be more pronounced in single-hop brews (obviously). That said, something about Hill Farmstead's base pale ale and Shaun's mastery of the hoppy brew that elevates this well above what I was expecting. The tropical fruit mix upfront is complex and tasty enough to make up for an otherwise mild bitterness on the finish. Sweet fruity malt hits the tongue first followed by papaya, melon, pineapple, and a little lemon/grapefruit. Very mild bitterness on the finish with a long linger of dull orange peel and a hint of bready malt. Quite tasty. 4.25/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, spot on carbonation for the profile. Sweet-leaning, fruity malt profile with a mild bitterness, but a far cry from a "malt bomb." 4.25/5

Overall: One of the better mosaic hop beers I have had, and well above expectations. Kudos to Shaun Hill on another well-done hoppy brew; one that is more nuanced and complex than extreme.

Cost: $7 for a 750 ml growler fill.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Beer Review: Vagabond

Reviewing Vagabond, a collaboration IPA with mosaic and simcoe hops from Mike Saboe (former Toppling Goliath head brewer) and Tree House Brewing Company out of Monson, Massachusetts.

Score: 96

Growlered on 04/02/15. Served in a Kate The Great snifter/tulip hybrid glass and enjoyed on 04/22/15. Thank you Rudzud for the hook up!

Appearance: Pours an opaque, orange-yellow color with two fingers of white, seafoam head that settles to a thin layer. Very good lacing, good retention. 4.5/5

Smell: Smells like Alpine Nelson spiked with a heavy dose of tropical fruits. Dank pine, oodles of grapefruit, mango, pineapple, kiwi, orange soda-like orange, and a waft of alcohol. A kiss of biscuity malt in the background. Quite the bouquet. 4.75/5

Taste: Has a sweet and creamy tropical fruit mix on the palate with a nice, dry bitter finish and a lingering melon and grapefruit flavor. Delicious. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus bodied, low carbonation. Has a bit of heft for an IPA. The carbonation is a bit light for the profile, but that is more an observation rather than a negative here. Has a nice bitter-leaning balance and dry finish. 4.5/5

Overall: It was probably not the best idea to start our tasting with this beer, as it blew the rest out of the IPA's out of the water. This Mike Saboe/Treehouse collaboration lives up to every neckbeard's wet dream. This brew is reminisce of Alpine Nelson (the ones I have had recently, as opposed to the apparently atypical/"off" bottle I reviewed several years ago), with added complexity and a bit more heft to the mouthfeel. Seek this one out with confidence while it's still fresh/available-ish!

Cost: $20 for a 750 ml growler fill.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Beer Review: Lights On

Reviewing Lights On, a pale ale from Tree House Brewing Company out of Monson, Massachusetts.

Score: 85

16 oz can without a date, but I know it is fresh because Rudzud sent it (thanks man!). Served in a Kate the Great snifter/tulip hybrid glass and enjoyed on 04/22/15.

Appearance: Pours a murky, opaque orange color with a yellow tint (definitely darker than Hill Farmstead Mosaic and Tree House Vagabond) and a finger of head that quickly settles to a ring around the glass. Great lacing and retention. 5/5

Smell: Big grapefruit and tangerine citrusy hop notes. A hint of grainy malt too. Much more simplistic than the Hill Farmstead Mosaic and Tree House Vagabond, but nice. 4.25/5

Taste: Has a sweet fruity flavor upfront with minimal bitterness on the finish. Very balanced, well-rounded, but I like a bitter bite on the finish to my hoppy beers. Orange, tangerine, and cantaloupe flavors throughout. Okay finish. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Light bodied. Feels a bit light on the carbonation relative to the profile, very soft on the palate. Has a sweet fruitness and a juicy mouthfeel, with a very light dryness to the finish. 3.25/5

Overall: This would be a great porch beer, but it feels lacking in complexity and bite for a highly regarded hoppy-style beer. Maybe that's my fault for following up a beer like Vagabond and Mosaic Single Hop Pale Ale with this. Still a solid brew nonetheless; just not the best beer I have had from Tree House.

Cost: $5 for a 16 oz can.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beer Review: Cocoa Shake

Reviewing Cocoa Shake, a new variant of the infamous oatmeal stout from from Mikkeller out of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Score: 92

2014 vintage bottle served in a stemmed Mikkeller & Friends glass and enjoyed on 04/15/15.

Appearance: Pours an inky black color with a wisp of brown head that quickly and totally settles. Has a denser appearance with less head than the other Shake beers I have had, somewhat akin to Bourbon County Brand Stout. Swirling the brew lightly tints the sides of the glass with its brown oily legs. 4.5/5

Smell: Nestle hot cocoa powder and malted milk balls. Yum! 4.5/5

Taste: Luscious waves of chocolate coat the palate, like a cold, rich glass of milk chocolate hot cocoa with a good bitter finish. Has a touch of dark fruit on the midpalate, with some raisin flavor that bleeds over in the finish as it warms up. Quite a delicious chocolate-forward brew, albeit somewhat simplistic. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, and seemingly less viscous than its vanilla counterpart. A touch over-carbonated for the flavor profile. Has a mildly bitter finish, and develops a bid of an astringency as it warms up. 3/5

Overall: A pretty damn good beer with a mouthfeel that could use some tinkering. If this had the mouthfeel of Vanilla Shake, it would be on par qualitywise. This one was definitely worth trying. 

Cost: $15 for a 330 ml bottle.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Beer Review: Double Date

Reviewing the Double Date, a quadrupel aged in Elijah Craigh 12 year old bourbon barrels for 10 months from the Goose Island Beer Company out of Chicago, Illinois.

Score: 80

Tap pour served in a snifter glass and enjoyed on 04/08/15.

Appearance: Clear, barleywine-standard caramel brown color. Served with a bubbly ring around the glass of tan head. Minimal lacing/retention. 3.5/5

Smell: Dark fruit, raisin, brown sugar, caramel, and bourbon. Rich, and inviting. 4/5

Taste: Tastes a lot like it smells - a bourbon-spiked mix of dark fruit and caramel/brown sugar notes. Very barleywine-esque, with notes of vanilla oak too. Sadly, the finish is crisp and weak. While I like the flavors present, they come across "watered down" -- like a robust barleywine concentrate cut with too much water. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Very thin bodied, low carbonation (a little undercarbonated). Sweet profile, but not in a Dark Lord kind of way. The wateriness of the brew kills any sort of linger and makes it fall a bit dead on the palate. 1.5/5

Overall: Despite a solid aroma and flavor that drinks like a good barleywine, this brew's watery viscosity and lack of a finish holds it back overall. Definitely worth a pour, but $27 for a bottle seemed awful steep for what it was when something like Nomad Batch #1 is slightly cheaper (and not subject to the hype machine of a sub-500 bottle count, brewpub-only release). Maybe the bottles are better?

Cost: $27 for a 750 ml bottle or $6 for a 5 oz draft pour.