Firestone Walker: Pivo Hoppy Pilsner

From the Brewery: IMG_3183

“Everything we love about classic German Pilsner with a hoppy Bohemian twist. Pils is a bright straw colored lager beer with playful carbonation topped with beautiful white foam lace. Delicate lightly toasted malt flavors underscore noble German hop character. Hallertau-grown Magnum hops deliver the lupulin foundation while generous amounts of Spalter Select hops bring floral aromatic and spicy herbal notes. As a twist on the traditional Pils, we dry hop with German Saphir for a touch of bergamot zest and lemongrass. A refreshing, light-bodied and hop-driven Pils.” 5.3% ABV Czech Pilsner

Purchased from Das Bierhaus in Fresno, California.

The Pour: IMG_3184

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my pilsner glass. The body is straw yellow and crystal clear, aside from some moderate visible carbonation. A mostly-white sudsy head is poured, which leaves mild lacing on the glass throughout.

The Nose: IMG_3185

I kind of expected the hop profile to be more in line with an IPA, but sweet and cracker-y pilsner malts are the first aromas I detect. The hoppiness comes in the form of light lemon, floral, and faint oily grass notes. Again, the scents of this one stay mostly true to its pilsner roots.

The Mouth: IMG_3186


Pivo Pils is medium-thin bodied and goes down relatively smooth, offering a decent dose of spastic carbonation and hop bitterness. As in the nose, the flavors are much in line with a well crafted pilsner – mainly slightly sweet, crackery malts. The lemon notes appear again as it finishes, mixed with some funky musty hops,  as well as a faint bit of spicy/peppery hop character. The carbonation wipes most of the flavor from the aftertaste, leaving just mild bitterness to linger on the palate.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3187

I’m still a pilsner “noob”, and I certainly haven’t had enough European style pilsners to know how Pivo compares. That being said, I think it may be the best of the style I’ve tried. It has a light malt base free from the adjuncts that plague mainstream American macro lagers, and the actual hop character compliments that base well. It is a great sessionable pilsner that most craft beer drinkers across a broad spectrum could find appealing. Another well done Firestone Walker beer. 7.5/10

Firestone Walker Brewery – Paso Robles, California

Posted in Lager/Pilsener | Leave a comment

Sierra Nevada: Porter

From the Brewery: IMG_3169

“Porters were invented as a fortifying drink for the rough-and-tumble working class of London’s bustling markets. It was brewed for good folks with calluses on their hands, doing work that needed to be done. We salute those working-class heroes with our classic Porter, brewed in the hop-forward American style and featuring a depth of malt flavor and complexity with roasted notes of black coffee and cocoa.” 5.6% ABV American Porter

Purchased from Das Bierhaus in Fresno, California.

The Pour: IMG_3170

Poured from 12 oz bottle into my porter/stout glass. It pours a dark, reddish-brown cola color, appearing mostly black in the glass. The frothy light-brown/khaki head has decent retention and leaves moderate lacing. Light carbonation can be seen.

The Nose: IMG_3171

The aroma begins with a distinct nuttiness, similar to a few nut brown porters I’ve had in the past. There are also smells of milk chocolate, toasted malts, black coffee, and a faint underlying lactose twang. I don’t really get much in the way of hops, maybe just a tiny bit of resin-y character. It has a pretty solid depth of aromas from top to bottom, though none are particularly strong. No alcohol can be detected.

The Mouth: IMG_3172

A medium-bodied ale, Sierra Nevada’s Porter offers moderate harshness in the mouthfeel as it goes down. Much more dark roasted malts come through in the flavors than in the aromas, presenting coffee and roasted barley flavors. The resinous hop tones peek out as it finishes, before giving way to a lingering chocolaty, nutty aftertaste.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3173

This is a finely crafted American Porter. Everything is right on for the style. The depth of aromas and character of the flavor profile are very enjoyable. It offers a good roasty balance, not being overly sweet like some bigger porters/stouts can be. Another solid Sierra Nevada brew! 8/10

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Chico, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, Stouts/Porters | 1 Comment

Sierra Nevada: Blindfold Black IPA

From the Brewery: IMG_3159

“Blindfold blankets us in darkness yet maintains a surprisingly light body and bold, hoppy character. This black IPA emerged from our Beer Camp program and builds on Sierra Nevada’s legendary love of hops with roasted malts for depth and complexity. Like its namesake, Blindfold is a bit disorienting—the color of a stout and the intense, hop-forward flavors of a classic American IPA.” 6.8% ABV American Black Ale

Purchased from Das Bierhaus in Fresno, California.

The Pour: IMG_3163

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Sierra Nevada shaker pint glass. The color is mostly black, with some ruby-red hues showing around the edges. A light khaki-brown head is poured, which has good retention and leaves decent lacing. Little carbonation can be seen in the glass.

The Nose: IMG_3164

Ample roasted malts and barley are immediately noticeable. Undertones of coffee, citrus, and piney hops blend together to give a good overall balance.

The Mouth: IMG_3167

Blindfold is medium-bodied, going down with moderate bitter harshness. The flavors begin with a solid punch of roasted, almost burnt roasted barley notes. Faint dark chocolate begins to come through, as well black coffee. The piney and citrus hops from the nose poke their head out for a moment, before giving way to a lingering aftertaste comprising mostly of the bitter roasted tones.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3168

I really enjoyed the dark roasted flavor of this Black IPA. It is less hoppy than other black IPA’s I’ve had, such as 21st’s or Firestone Walker’s, and most of the bitterness seems to come from the dark/burnt roasted barley characteristics. I think this brew could definitely be a “gateway” IPA for those who really enjoy porters and stouts. It is easy to drink at 6.8% ABV, and I wish I could find it in its own 6-pack, instead of in an IPA variety pack. 8/10

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Chico, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, IPA | 1 Comment

Sierra Nevada: Snow Wit White IPA

From the Brewery: IMG_3160

“You don’t need a magic mirror to see the lure of this beer. It’s brewed with seven varieties of experimental dwarf hops. These hops are so called because of their uncommon growing method—shorter hedgerows rather than tall trellis systems—that yields a denser heap of cones with unique flavors that diverge from their full-grown botanical counterparts. Each year new and different varieties are grown in this method, creating untried and exciting shifts in hop character.” 5.7% ABV Belgian IPA

Purchased from Das Bierhaus in Fresno, California

The Pour: IMG_3161

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Spiegelau IPA glass. The body of the beer is ever-so-slightly hazy and yellow in color. A very large fluffy, mostly-white head is poured, which has great retention throughout and leaves thick lacing. Ample carbonation is visible in the glass.

The Nose: IMG_3162

Herbal citrus notes are the main aromas. Faint danky hop character also mixes with some peppery spiciness, which is where the wit beer properties come through.

The Mouth: IMG_3165

Snow Wit is medium-thin bodied and goes down pretty smooth, offering light bitterness and carbonation. A faint cracker-y malt profile comes through initially as is goes down, before giving way to lingering aftertaste the combines the zesty lemon, slightly fruity and earthy herbal tones, and coriander spice.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3166

Snow Wit is a very easy to drink beer. It seems even lighter than it’s labeled 5.7% ABV. As part of an IPA variety pack, it isn’t a bad offering, though it isn’t my favorite. I think that Sierra Nevada accomplished what they intended with this brew, as the imparting of relatively mild Northwest hop character into the lemony, peppery wit style certainly works well as a mix. That being said, I’ve had much better beers, and better beers in the style. 6.5/10

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – Chico, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, IPA | 1 Comment

Speakeasy: Big Daddy IPA

From the Brewery: IMG_3154

“No lightweight, Big Daddy I.P.A. tips the scales with a huge hop flavor and a dry, clean finish that leaves the scene without a trace.” 6.5% ABV IPA.

The Pour: IMG_3155

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my Spiegelau IPA glass. The body is pretty clear, honey-golden in color. A large off-white head is poured, which retains well and leaves heavy lacing. Ample carbonation is visible.

The Nose: IMG_3156

Grapefruit hop aromas dominate, mixed with a bit of lemon citrus and earthy dank to round out the hop profile. And underlying biscuit-y malt characteristic is also detected.

The Mouth: IMG_3157

Medium-thin body, with a solid burst of hop bitterness mixed with a moderate amount of carbonation. Flavors of grapefruit hops again are the mainstays, mixing with light underlying sweetened cereal characteristics. Big Daddy has a bit of a dry finish, with lemon citrus hops coming through in the lingering aftertaste.

Final Thoughts: 

Big Daddy is a pretty good IPA. There is big hop flavor and bitterness, and though it isn’t necessarily complex, it is pretty packed for a “regular” IPA. I certainly wouldn’t mind working on a six pack at a summer barbecue, or having a few pints at a baseball game. Again, pretty solid. 8/10.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers – San Francisco, CA

Posted in Beer Reviews, IPA | 3 Comments

Mission: Shipwrecked Double IPA

From the Brewery: IMG_3125

“Our Shipwrecked Double IPA is like no other. With intense hop character from the use of Cascade, CTZ, and Centennial hops, it drinks like an IPA but has the backbone of a double. Distinct, with depth and malt character perhaps not found in many other DIPA’s, it hits the spot. You will not forget this one.” 9.25% ABV Double IPA

Purchased from Savemart in Madera, California

The Pour: IMG_3126

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a snifter. The color is coppery red, slightly hazy in appearance. A thin off-white head is poured, which dissipates quickly and leaves little lacing. Medium carbonation is visible.

The Nose: IMG_3127

Shipwrecked’s aromas are very malt forward. Caramel sweetness is dominating the aroma profile, and the hop character of the beer is muted. Faint grapefruit dank is about all I detect from the hops. There is also some alcohol booziness as well.

The Mouth: IMG_3128

A substantially rich bodied beer, Shipwrecked is surprisingly smooth going down. Little carbonation or bitterness is present, and what is there is overshadowed by syrupy caramel/toffee sweetness. It is in the aftertaste the some Double IPA characteristics really come through, as some lingering grapefruit hop flavor mixes with the heavy sweet malt profile. Again, there is also a noticeable tinge of alcohol present.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3129

Pretty much every characteristic of this beer screams barley wine. The hops take a backseat to the big malt character. It is really out of the style in its presentation, and though I can’t find a freshness code on the bottle, I doubt it’s old enough to account for a transformation of the magnitude it would take to take this from “in style” to out. It isn’t a bad tasting beer, but definitely not what is expected for a Double IPA. Due to that, I find it hard to give it a good score. 6/10.

Mission Brewery – San Diego, California 

Posted in Beer Reviews, IPA | 2 Comments

Oskar Blues: Dale’s Pale Ale

From the Brewery: IMG_3120

“This voluminously hopped mutha delivers a hoppy nose and assertive-but-balanced flavors of pale malts and citrusy floral hops from start to finish. Oskar Blues launched its canning ops in 2002, brewing and hand-canning Dale’s Pale Ale in the Lyons, ColoRADo, brewpub. America’s first-craft-canned mountain Pale is a hearty, critically acclaimed trailblazer that changed the way craft beer fiends perceive portable beer (6.5 percent ABV and 65 IBUs).” 6.5% ABV American Pale Ale

Purchased from BevMo in Fresno, California.

The Pour: IMG_3121

Poured from a 19.2 oz “Stovepipe” can into a nonic glass. The body of the beer is slightly hazy, amber-ish orange in color. A good sized sudsy, yellow-hued, off white head is poured, which retains pretty well and leaves decent lacing. Medium carbonation is visible in the glass.

The Nose: IMG_3122

The hops take center stage; mostly orange/tangerine citrus mixed with earthy hop tones, as well as a bit of pineapple. Sweet aromas from the base malt also come through, lending some balance to the profile.

The Mouth: IMG_3123

Dale’s Pale Ale has a pretty full body for a beer of 6.5% ABV, with medium light carbonation and hop bitterness creating a surprisingly smooth mouthfeel for its 65 IBU’s. The citrus and fruity esters from the aroma come through in the flavor, mixing with the sweet and biscuity malt tones. As it sits out, the malts become cleaner and smoother. The finish is nicely balanced between the malt sweetness and lingering citrus and earthy tea bitterness.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3124

Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale is a pretty well balanced ale. The flavor and aroma profile isn’t as great as I remembered from when I first tried it, but back then I was already a few pints in. Drinking it for the purpose of reviewing, I feel a bit different about it. There is plenty of flavor offered, but the bit of pineapple-like sweetness (that I’m sure many find appealing) is just not my thing. It is a quality crafted ale, but I don’t find it as great as most others. That’s part of the beauty of drinking beer, not every person is going to feel the same way about every beer. So, my score and experience is just my opinion. A guideline for you, the reader, but everyone’s experience will very. 7/10.

Oskar Blues Brewery – Longmont, Colorado

Posted in Beer Reviews, Light/Pale Ales | 1 Comment

Tioga-Sequoia: Rush Hour Breakfast Stout

From the Brewery: IMG_3115

“Rush Hour is our full bodied breakfast stout that uses sixty pounds of fresh Colombiano Caldono coffee per batch. The beans are roasted and ground locally by Café Corazón. The coffee is then cold pressed and infused into our chocolate milk stout creating a creamy, bold, robust, yet silky smooth breakfast stout. Enjoy the Rush!” 7.2% ABV Milk/Sweet Stout

Purchased from the brewery on release day in Fresno, California.

The Pour: IMG_3116

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into my stout glass. The body pours a dark clean-brown color, appearing nearly solid black in the glass. A thin brown head is poured, which dissipates quickly to a very thin partial covering and leaves almost no lacing. No significant amount of carbonation can be seen crawling up the glass.

The Nose: IMG_3117

Huge (and I really mean HUGE) dark roasted, bitter coffee/espresso notes abound in the aroma. The closest thing I can compare it to is the smell of the used coffee grounds left in your drip maker’s filter after brewing. Some ripe tobacco notes are mixed in the with coffee as well. I really struggle to pull any malt characteristics from the aromas; the coffee is just so dominating.

The Mouth: IMG_3118

A medium-rich bodied beer, with some carbonation harshness initially going down (which calms and smooths as it sits out and continues to warm). The cold brewed coffee again is dominant in the flavors – but more is to be had than in the nose. Bittersweet chocolate notes are also presented, and a lactose presence lends a bit of creaminess to the flavor and more so to the mouthfeel. The finish is moderately dry, with no real alcohol or hop presence, and the coffee with hints of tobacco flavor is what lingerers on the palate.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3119

I first had Rush Hour on tap at a dark beer fest back in December, and I was super excited when I heard they were making a large scale batch to bottle. The recipe seems to have been scaled perfectly, as it tastes pretty spot on from what I remember. The coffee is overloading everything in this beer, in a very good way. This is exactly what I look for in a coffee stout, and I think using a lactose stout base and cold pressed coffee helps drive off the heavy astringency I’ve experienced in other coffee forward beers. If you’re going to brew a coffee stout, pushing the envelope as far as it can realistically go is the way to do it, just as Tioga-Sequoia has done with Rush Hour. I find myself once again very impressed with my local craft brewery. 8.5/10.

Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company – Fresno, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, Stouts/Porters | 2 Comments

Samuel Adams: Rebel IPA

From the Brewery: IMG_3109

“Introducing Rebel IPA, the first West Coast style IPA from the same brewers that started a craft beer revolution in 1984.” 6.5% ABV American IPA

This beer is pretty widely available, but I got this bottle from a friend.

The Pour: IMG_3110

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Spiegelau IPA glass. The beer is remarkably clear, with a nice coppery/honey color. A fair amount of carbonation can be seen rising in the glass. A large, mostly white is poured, which retains decently and leaves good lacing.

The Nose: IMG_3111

Rebel IPA has a pretty mild aroma profile, especially considering most West Coast/San Diego IPA’s are very hop forward in the nose. Understated citrus tones are about all I detect as far as hops go. Again, the style dictates ample grapefruit and some resinous pine dankiness, but that doesn’t really appear in this offering. The malt characteristic is reminiscent of a honey ale, but I also smell some fruity sweetened cereal aromas (like Crunch Berries). There is also just a faint scent of a sourness I can’t quite put my finger on.

The Mouth: IMG_3112

Medium-bodied and a bit harsh going down, mostly carbonation burn but some hop bitterness as well. The flavors are pretty muted, beginning with light citrus hops. The slightly fruity cereal malt base balances out the relatively low 45 IBUs, but the flavor is just as subdued as in the aromas. Some floral hops come through after going down, mixing with the citrus  hops and lingering on the palate. The overall profile comes across as muddled, and what is normally a very clean, distinct finish in other West Coast IPA’s just isn’t what I’m getting with this one.

Final Thoughts: IMG_3113

I have really grown to like West Coast style IPA’s over the last year, and Rebel IPA just doesn’t match up with the quality I’ve become accustomed to. The aroma and flavors aren’t bold or distinct, the hops seem muddled, and I find just about everything to be lacking. There is nothing terribly wrong with this beer, but I can’t find anything I really like about it, aside from it’s very beautiful appearance. I can’t even say I would recommend this to non-IPA drinkers as a lighter entry in the style, mainly due to the fact that it’s just not a good example of the style. 5/10

The Boston Beer Company – Boston, Massachusetts 

Posted in Beer Reviews, IPA | 2 Comments

Stone: Double Bastard Ale

From the Brewery: IMG_3104IMG_3103

“This is one lacerative muther of an ale. It is unequivocally certain that your feeble palate is grossly inadequate and thus undeserving of this liquid glory…and those around you would have little desire to listen to your resultant whimpering. Instead, you slackjawed gaping gobemouche, slink away to that pedestrian product that lures agog the great unwashed with the shiny happy imagery of its silly broadcast propaganda. You know, the one that offers no challenge, yet works very, very hard to imbue the foolhardy with the absurd notion that they are exercising ‘independent’ thought, or attempts to convey the perception it is in some way ‘authentic’ or ‘original.’ It’s that one that makes you feel safe and delectates you into basking in the warm, fuzzy, and befuddled glow of your own nescience. Why so many allow themselves to be led by the nose lacks plausible explanation. Perhaps you have been so lulled by the siren song of ignorance that you don’t even notice your white-knuckle grip on it. You feel bold and unique, but alas are nothing but sheep, willingly being herded to and fro. If you think you are being piqued in this text, it is nothing when compared to the insults we are all asked to swallow streaming forth from our televisions and computers. Truth be told, you are being coddled into believing you are special or unique by ethically challenged “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” marketers who layer (upon layer) imagined attributes specifically engineered to lead you by the nose. Should you decide to abdicate your ability to make decisions for yourself, then you are perhaps deserving of the pabulum they serve. Double Bastard Ale calls out the garrulous caitiffs who perpetrate the aforementioned atrocities and demands retribution for their outrageously conniving, intentionally misleading, blatantly masturbatory and fallacious ad campaigns. We demand the unmitigated, transparent truth. We demand forthright honesty. We want justice! Call ‘em out and line ‘em up against the wall… NOW.” 11.2% ABV American Strong Ale

Purchased from BevMo in Fresno, California

The Pour: IMG_3104

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a snifter. The color is dark amber red, but actually pretty clear. A thin, off-white head is poured, which dissipates almost entirely and leaves minimal lacing on the glass. Hardly any carbonation is visible.

I did get two different pours from this beer. The second part of the bottle was much hazier and hoppier, and judging from the sediment in the bottle Double Bastard is bottle conditioned.

The Nose: IMG_3105

Double Bastard has a huge aroma profile. Rich, syrupy toffee and caramel malts are upfront, combined with dark dried fruits, booziness, and surprisingly light (for this brew) floral hop characteristics. It carries many characteristics of an American barley wine.

The Mouth: IMG_3106

Double Bastard is very rich-bodied and full feeling going down. Intense flavors of syrupy dark fruit and heavy malts hit the palate. A bit of brown sugar also sneaks in, as well as some alcohol bite. Tons of bitterness comes through in the aftertaste, but works in concert with the malts instead of becoming overbearing, as is the case in the regular Arrogant Bastard.

Final Thoughts: 

I certainly found Double Bastard to be more palatable than Arrogant Bastard, mainly due to the revved up malt base that balances the crazy amount of bittering hops. It has a very complex and bold character, which gives a very enjoyable drinking experience through and through. As stated above, it really teeters on the line of being a barley wine, sharing many base characteristics with the style. This is definitely a sipping beer due to its huge body and high ABV, one that would be really interesting to pair with a dessert. 9/10

Stone Brewing Co. – Escondido, California

Posted in Beer Reviews, Dark/Brown Ales | 1 Comment