April 24, 2011

R.I.P.A. on Rye

You may not know it, but I try a lot more beer than I ever post about. I usually only post what I've taken photos of, and I make sure I have tasting notes to go along. But Shmaltz Brewing Company's HeBrew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. on Rye (rye whiskey barrel aged) is one that I ended up not thinking too much about while drinking it. I was so happy just downing huge mouthfuls that I didn't care about analyzing it for malt backbone or hop bitterness or color or lacing or head retention.

My friends know I'm a beer geek, and they appreciate my opinion when choosing new beers to try. I like to let them find out for themselves, since not everyone has the same tastes, but a lot of the time I use a broad yet effective rating system to give them a general idea about what they're thinking about trying.

From the lowest rating to the best rating:
"Try it if you like _______."
"Pretty good."
"Fucking. Delicious."

R.I.P.A. on Rye falls in the "Awesome" category. I loved the creamy head, the taste of the rye, the "liquid bread"-like body (it is on the heavier side for an IPA), and the vanilla and sweetness from the barrel aging. There is some citrus hop flavor, but not much bitterness. There, you got some tasting notes anyway. Check out the full beer description at the Shmaltz website.

April 22, 2011

Brooklyn Local 1

I've only recently gotten into the beer of Brooklyn Brewery. I've had their lager before, and recently had their Detonation Ale (which I loved) at ChurchKey in DC, but I became even more interested after seeing a short video with Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn's brewmaster) talking about craft beer and opening a bottle of Local 1. So I went out and bought not only Local 1, but also a bottle of Local 2, which I have not tried yet.

Local 1 pours golden orange. It has lots of light fruit flavors like pear, apple, and lemon. There's also a little bit of funk to it almost like a saison. Big carbonation, you can see how big the head was on the first pour. Sort of falls between a Belgian golden ale and a tripel. Very satisfying and extremely drinkable, I was taking big gulps of the stuff. Medium bodied, with a fairly dry finish. Local 1 is just all around awesome, and although I didn't eat anything while drinking it, I think it would make a very versatile beer to pair with pretty anything. I also love that it's year round and not limited or seasonal. Go try yourself some of this!

[Garrett Oliver is also the author of The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food.]

April 12, 2011

Mother Earth Brewing

Back in February, the week leading up to Brewvival, Robin (Good for the Palate) and I were in Asheville for a few other beer events. At a cask ale tasting at Barley's Taproom we had the pleasure of meeting Audra from Mother Earth Brewing (she also used to work for Dogfish Head). After trying their delicious barrel-aged Tripel Over Head, we chatted a bit and just before we headed back to our hotel Audra ran around the corner to her car and grabbed 3 bottles of Mother Earth beer for us to try; a bottle each of Dark Cloud (Munich dunkel), Weeping Willow (Belgian wit) and Sisters of the Moon (IPA). Robin had been anxious to try them, so I invited her over for our own Mother Earth tasting.

Weeping Willow Wit:
Pours a bright golden yellow. Has a pleasant spicy taste, with obvious flavors of lemon and coriander, and a hint of orange. It reminded me of Allagash White but with a little more earthiness and bitterness. Smooth and easy drinking, with moderate carbonation and a dry finish. A good wit!

Dark Cloud:
Very clear brownish red, like root beer, with just a little head. This one had some nice flavors, dark malts, caramel, raisin, nuts, but Robin and I both thought this fell a bit short, like everything was muted. Maybe we should have waited longer and cleared our palates after the Weeping Willow. I talked to Josh, Brewmaster at Mother Earth about this, and he was surprised that the flavors were muted, but he did say it was much better, more flavorful and with more carbonation on draft.

Sisters of the Moon:
Deep orange color, nice head, can't really go wrong with most American IPA's. This one has a great toasty, malty character that sets it apart from a lot of other IPA's. The malt character makes for a very smooth and well balanced IPA, not particularly heavy on the hops, but not lacking great IPA flavors like citrus, orange, grapefruit, and a sweet honey flavor as well. This was my favorite of the 3 Mother Earth brews we had that night (2nd favorite overall if I count the Tripel Over Head). I really wish Mother Earth was distributed up in Maryland, but then again, it's a good reason to head south again!