Friday, January 8, 2016

Beer Friday: #1

Ha! You were maybe expecting "Foamy Friday"?

I don't do that crap. Beer deserves a bit more r-e-s-p-e-c-t.

Feel free to fire Aretha up while you're reading the reviews. I did while I was writing them, and it made the beer taste better, just like drinking your beer from expensive, hand-blown, wildly-accurate-designed-by-pseudoscientific-principles beer glasses that are "pretentious as shit"!!!, it didn't, not really. But I did enjoy the process more that way. Speaking of the process, here's how I'm going to do this. Unless otherwise noted, these beers are samples sent from the brewery, chilled to proper temperature, and sampled from a sleeve pint glass (because I'm an ornery bastard). I will also be trying to include one draft beer each week.

On to the reviews.

Yuengling IPL, 5.0%
Got some fresh at the brewery on Monday, so you bet I'm gonna review it. They want to see this go year-round; does it have the stuff?

It pours pretty, dark gold with a bright white head. Aroma is fresh lager (fresh-moist white bread, tiniest hint of sulfur!) and piney-grassy hop. Not a hint of skunk; IPL comes in brown bottles, thank you! The mouth is a relatively light lager with that bit of extra body you can expect from Yuengling, and an amount of hop flavor (pine, grapefruit zest, and something fruity...melon?) and bitterness that is definitely more than you expect from Yuengling. At 60 IBU, this is twice as bitter as their long-time hoppiest brew, Lord Chesterfield. The bitterness kicks in about a second after entry, gripping in the back, and turning it up in the finish. It's like a subtly spiced curry; the bitterness builds as you get through the bottle. The first gulp doesn't impress, but by the fourth, you can feel the hop every time you breathe; interesting effect.

This is a hard one to pin down. It seems simple, and you could drink it quickly and say it's simple...but it's not. There's a nice little twist here, and I'm not sure if most of us will catch it. I'd like more malt here, the body lets me down, and I'd like more hop aroma from something calling itself India Pale Lager. That's the problem here: expectations. After Yuengling absolutely nailed it with last summer's weissbier, I figured this one would be bolder. And even though the hop continues to breath-mint me on every inhalation... Damn. This beer is not giving up. A 4-ounce and done sample would not do it justice. The further I get into the bottle, the more I like it. It's no Prima Pils, but it's not meant to be. It's not a killer, but it's no baby bottle either.

I still want more, but it's better than I thought on first look. I'd like it sharpened up, I'd like more body, but it's not going to get "Flawed" for being not up to the expectations engendered by the name.

I'm going to encourage Yuengling IPL to be pleased to walk away with "Yawn," because that's not really that bad. Maybe tweak this before the next seasonal release? Maybe a bit more body? Maybe a bit more aroma hopping? Maybe then you'll have a killer on your hands.

Verdict: Okay...with potential

Allagash Interlude, 9.5%

I've been thinking to myself lately, 'You know, I don't like sours, don't like Brett beers, don't like funk.' But damn it, I know it's not true! Because I liked sours and Bretts and lambics 30 years ago, liked them right up through about 2008, when I went off them for a while after full lambic immersion in Belgium. When I tried some new ones...damn. No. But now, drinking my first Interlude in years, it's coming back to me.

This is almost too complex to describe. First, it's a coppery color, with very little foam. The nose is sharp, acidic; there are barnyard aromas and it's a bit reeky, but there are these sharp fruity notes, even some sweet candy flitting around. The beer's thick at first sip, then thins across the tongue: Brett funk and woody dryness blend with punk-sweet fruit and sour honey. It's like tasting some wild fruit I've never had before. A bit thick, a bit sweet, but mostly beautifully buggy.

And it drinks better and better as it warms (served WAY too cold, unfortunately). Wow. it gets even more friendly as it gets toward room temp. This is the funk I remember. This is the funk I desire. (Served on draft at Manny Brown's in Newtown: $7 for a big goblet)

Verdict: Stellar

Hamburg Hoppenstance, 8.0%

Hamburg Brewing is a small outfit south of Buffalo that opened in 2013. I hadn't heard of it before December 26th, when my brother-in-law Chris gave me this four-pack of Hoppenstance double IPA for Christmas. Happy to dive in; let's have a look.

Pine floats above the surface with a speckling of fruits tickling the nose. Very clean aromas, and the beer's clean too: bright gold, paper-white head. Take a great sip; and it's bitter but balanced, with a solid slice of hop bitterness backed with a table of malt. It's a well-built beer, nothing wrong with it, but I'm looking for something to make it stand out, and it's not there. There's nothing wrong with it: a small brewery making a solid, local double IPA. I'd love to try it in Hamburg at the brewery tap, nice and fresh.

Verdict: Okay


Beer Simple Blog said...

Concur on all counts, especially the IPL. It teeters...

Jeff Frane said...

I'm not crazy about sours and these days I simply can't drink them without feeling wretched. Brett, though, I love. In beers as well as wine I'm a huge fan of funk. If I could track down some serious Biere de Garde I would be all over it, but I haven't seen the real deal for yonks.

Lew Bryson said...

You know, I realized after I posted that that it's not quite true: I've been drinking and loving Berliners all through that time period. That's about as pure sour as it gets, and I like it piercingly sour.'s gotta be complex funk.

erictrimmer said...

I love the IPL. Plenty of malt for me, but my tastes skew light. Nice price, too. I wonder how it's selling? I think Straub should ask to move to another seat in the classroom. Someone's peeking at their test answers...

Steven said...

So, how do you feel about the whole IPL trend? Every one I've tried seems to be just another IPA wanna be, and don't we already have enough of those?

Lew Bryson said...

Pretty much bang on. It's just an excuse for IPA freaks to say 'Looka me, I'm drinking LAGER!'