Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rogue Double Mocha Porter

Rogue's Mocha Porter has become something of a staple in their canon of beers.  When it first came out, over ten years ago, it was a unique and impressive combination of chocolate and coffee with a dark, yet medium bodied porter.  Over the years it evolved some and the chocolate started taking over quite a bit of the flavor, however, it still remained one of the better coffee porters on the market. 

Now in our latest beer renaissance, the mocha porter has evolved again, this time as a double in Rogue's new solid colored double bottles, which I really like.  Rogue has undergone a bit of redesign; in addition to their double and GYO (Grow Your Own) series, they've taken to listing all their ingredients on their beers.  In an a time of coveted secret recipes, it shows quite a bit of open sourced attitude, however, many of their grains and hops are homegrown, and amounts times, and temperatures are not listed, so it would be hard to replicate these recipes to the letter. 

The color pours a dark dark brown, practically black.  It's a rich and foamy head, medium lacing with a strong cocoa berry-like grain aroma and very subtle hints of chocolate and coffee.  As always with Rogue, the flavors are complex and evolving.  I'm a bit surprised that the body is as light as it is.  The flavor opens up with quite a bit of carbonation, which disguises a lot of the front end.  The beer begins to evolve into a more a hop dominant bitterness, quite a large hop flavor for such a dark beer.  As it settles down the hops mingle with some roasted grain flavor for a very nice finish and great aftertaste. 

Overall, the beer is very drinkable and has some interesting flavors.  However, for a double I'm expecting a lot more complexity, a richer body, and better balance between the hops and the grain.  Ultimately, this beer has little to offer in grain flavor other than color and aroma and has a disappointing watery front end.  The chocolate and the coffee are barely discernible and the hop bitterness, while delicious, is far too dominant over the grains.  I was pretty excited about this beer, but was a little dissapointed with the end result.  Rogue still knows how to make a good beer, but in their maturity from adolesence let's hope this is just part of the growing (your own) process.

Double Mocha Porter: **

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Drake's Denogginizer at Jupiter

This week I'm blogging live from Jupiter in Berkeley, California.  We're on our way up to Oregon for Thanksgiving and decided to stop, see some family and friends, and catch a Warriors game.  Very excited to hit up some Caldera, Ninkasi and other great local Oregon brews, but the Bay has its own fantastic brewing legacy.  Unfortunately, there's no time to head over the bridge into the city to try some of the great bars like Toranado over there, but trying to make the best of our time.  

I've been to Jupiter before, and as I've stated before, I have a real weakness for pizza and beer, still not sure why there's no place in LA, but hopefully someone will read this and fix that.  Jupiter selection is nothing to go wild about, but their house brews are all brewed by Drake's, which has been churning out some fantastic brews of late.  The 1500 in my opinion is one of the finest Pale's you can buy.  Today I decided to have the Denogginizer, a seriously hopped up double that I meant to review last month, but ended up just drinking it instead.  

The color is a pretty deep orange, almost approaching an amber.  I'm having a little bit of allergies after a long walk, so my nose isn't as sharp as usual, but the aroma is a light lemony/citrus hops with a sweet backbone.  Last time I had this I remember the aroma being much more in your face with serious dry hop flavors, so perhaps this keg has been sitting around.  The taste opens a mouthful of grains, maybe carafa, certainly on the darker side for an IPA, but just enough lightness to distinguish it from an Amber.  As it opens up a huge wheelbarrow of apples gets dumped on your tongue, almost to the point that you start thinking about cider.  However, before the double heads down a truly tragic path, it's rescued by a strong swing of beta hop acids that lend dark bitters and hints of black pepper.  The body is smooth but with substance, perhaps the most attractive quality of this beer.  

It's a well rounded double, which is what you look for in this style, and the reliance on beta acids and apples reminds me a lot of Avery's Maharaja, which is an excellent beer.  I only wish this would push a little harder in the hops department, balancing those strong low end acids with some brighter high acids.  Considering how hopped up their 1500 is, you would think their double would knock your socks off.  Socks are still on, but still enjoying the hell out of this beer.

Denogginizer: ****

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Belgium Lips of Faith

I had been holding on to this beer for a month or so waiting for a good time to try it out and I found an early Friday off before labor day as the perfect time.  I'm not very well versed in Berliner Weissebeers, as they're hard to find in these parts and haven't been completely accepted by the American audience.

This beer has a rapidly vanishing head along with a tart, citrusy aroma.  It has a beautiful straw golden color to it.  The body is light and needless to say there is zero hop presence here.  The flavors are citrusy with a very sour apple, sour wheat tartness and a light grain finish.  This finish almost has promise, but it's really the tartness that takes over the palate and runs away with this one.

On it's own it's has interesting flavors that give it merit, however, not enough complexity nor diversity to make it stand out.  It does have some similar qualities to a white wine, however, and I imagine it would pair very well with anitpastas or other hor d'oevres.  I actually had some homemade green olives from a friend while I tried this and it paired excellently.

But pairing notes aside, I'm a little uncertain what makes this an imperial.  The body, grain, and mouthfeel all skew very light, and other than the sour notes, there isn't much that gives it that over the top imperial quality.  Another interesting endeavor, by the ever creative New Belgium, however, not one that totally came through.

Lips of Faith: ***

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

John John Ale

For those that may be saying, "hey, you reviewed this last year as the Juniper Ale"– few though you may be – let me clarify up front that, no this is not the same beer.  Rogue has collaborated with a Master Distiller, whose name I can only assume is John, to make this very interesting Juniper Ale aged in spruce gin barrels.  I should also probably establish up front that the one liquor that I really can't stand is gin.  To me it has a sort of rubbing alcohol, medicinal flavor that I just can't get down with.  That being said, I don't mind this beer at all.  It has a very light aroma of pale ale, the Juniper flavors make it almost smell a bit lighter like a flavorful lager.  I haven't seen a lot of barrel aged pale ales, but given the unique flavors of this one I'd say it's a great idea for pales.  The body drinks just like a pale, but carrying a load of flavors on its back that open up as you sip it.  That being said, the spruce, juniper, and earthy tones don't weigh down the beer at all.  Instead, the expand your palate to really enjoy the amarillo hops.  This is a very drinkable and very enjoyable creation by Rogue.  Plus a killer name.

John John Ale: ****

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sierra Nevada 30th Anniversary, Charlie, Fred, and Ken's Bock

I don't drink a lot of Sierra Nevada, but when I saw this Imperial Helles on the shelf at Beverage Warehouse, I was intrigued.  Helles and Maibocks are traditionally served in the Spring, so I'm a bit out of season, however, I was also ordering thai food, and the two are well matched for each other.  This beer was a collaboration between Sierra Nevada and some of their favorite homebrewers.  It's nice to see that after all this time, Sierra stays true to their roots.

It pours a deep golden color with loads of head.  Aromas are of a sweet variety, leaning towards apples.  The beer goes down easy, which is nice for an imperial at 8.3%.  That being said, it still has a pretty full body.  There's a significant amount of toasted grain in the flavor with a lot of malts and a sweet and spicy alcoholic backbone.  It's a rich finish, with just the slightest bit of hop character introduced.

Helles aren't usually my bag, but the imperial aspect of this one really brings out some of the rich beer flavors that one would otherwise miss in a single.  The craftmanship on this lager is pretty outstanding; each swig is packed with flavor, yet it tastes immensely fresh with a smooth body that makes for easy drinking.  

30th Anniversary Bock: ****