South County IPA + OC Brew Ha Ha!

Artifex Brewing Co, Pizza Port and Left Coast Brewing Co. set to release South County IPA for the Brew Ha Ha! It’ll be on at the fest lakeside and will hit store shelves soon. Tickets and event info for Brew Ha Ha are here! 

Anchors, Oars, and a Green Flash | A&O’s First Beer Dinner

11713720_10207507331666231_4974723395755362688_oOf the many beer dinners I’ve attended and written about, there’s one thing I learned: Nobody likes to read about them. It’s sad really, with the amount of work put into the beer world colliding with a kitchen, and a staff that is on its toes for hours. I promise keep it brief, and show you pretty pictures, if you’re good.

Notable? The location. A&O Kitchen+Bar is nestled in the Balboa Bay Resort with a relaxing view of Newport Harbor and million dollar yachts parked a food-fight away. Location? Unbelievable. Also notable? The brewery phoned this one in.

Fullscreen capture 7222015 113644 AM.bmpIt’s smart to preview a beer dinner in advance; look up any specific beers, ingredients or preparations one hasn’t tried. A beer dinner can be a learning experience as much as it is fun. When four out of five beers on the menu are IPA, red flags, flare guns and tornado alarms go off in my head. Even as a hop-head, I will start out by saying 4/5 IPA’s at a beer dinner is horseshit baffling. I do think it is possible to execute such a dinner, preparing dishes that play off subtle hop notes and alcohol intensity. Lets just say I walked into this beer dinner looking for things to improve.

11731671_10207507330826210_5652225023129678161_oAs A&O’s first beer dinner (ever) and my first time there, I’m in media-mode, absorbing the ambiance and jotting down notes. A&O has a brilliant set of servers, smiling, prompt and thoughtful. My +1 for the evening is Chris Walowski, Smog City Brewing’s ex-brewer who recently took up a biomedical job in the area. It’s great to get second opinions on the pairings and always great to chat about beer things with a beer person.

11053051_10207507331506227_987788644536921173_oOyster Shooters, fried chicken skin, fried blue cheese balls (and a bread ball injection thing?) are passed as the sun sets and guests arrive. Chicken skin easily wins round one, but the beer served threw us for a loop. Normally, a beer rep should say “Hi, I’m from this brewery and you’re drinking this.” The guy with a Green Flash shirt sat with a glass twice the size of ours and said nothing during the reception. Although the menu said “Jibe Session IPA”, we had serious doubts surrounding it’s sessionability. With Belgian yeast esters on the nose and some alcohol warming on the finish, safe to say we were served Le Freak, Green Flash’s Belgian IPA (listed as “Le Freake” on the menu for the 3rd course). The beer is mildly oxidized and is not bursting with the usual hop flair Green Flash beers seem to have.

11053636_10207507329586179_3990557888106167181_oCourse two, however, saves the day. “It’s a deep fried Avo-Crab Hushpuppy,” mentions my seat-mate, Priscilla Willis of shescookin.com. Three components of the dish, Sriracha caviar, sweet dundeonous crab and the perfectly fried greenish ball of crab flash chef’s brilliance. Soul Style IPA brings just enough tropical panache to highlight the sweetness of the crab and offer a needed palate cleanse. IPA and Sriracha is always a win in my book.

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Course 2 – The most flavor ever squeezed into a 12 inch space.

Further courses, A&O’s chef Rachel put on a clinic; the beers, not so much.  With the second, it made the dish unbearable. Imperial IPA paired with the most flavor ever squeezed onto a plate? The uber-sweet booziness of the beer paired with intense braised rabbit and funky cheese fondue was too much to take. Looking at Green Flash’s portfolio, some of the beers they don’t sell any more (Rayon Vert or Saison Diego) could have paired perfectly. Not only is a beer dinner a chance for a chef to try fun stuff, it’s also a chance for the brewery to do the same. Why were there no Green Flash Cellar 3 beers? Natura Morta Plum for instance, might have had enough acidity to cut the richness of the next three dishes (which were all crazy delicious, but not enhanced by the beers paired).

I do hope A&O continues to get into beer, because wow, chef Rachel brings one hell of a lot of fun to a beer dinner. My only hope is they get a brewery that takes Orange County seriously.

The Fest Inside the Fest | GABF’s Farm to Table Pavilion (Now “PAIRED”)

With SAVOR behind us, let’s rewind to an unexpected pairing at the Farm to Table Pavilion inside the Great American Beer Festival – or – I can’t believe I typed 1700 words about what?

Photo credit Davis Tilly Photography http://www.davistilly.com/

The Kitchen Denver – Photo credit Davis Tilly Photography http://www.davistilly.com/

Within three hours of flying into Denver for the Great American Beer Festival, I witnessed someone nearly choke to death. “Don’t fucking give him the heimlich! He’s taking in air!” yells travel buddy/media compadre John Holzer at the bar. The hostess speed dials 9-1-1 as the poor bastard horks air, bent over like a jackknife. His buddy, jaw agape, starts lumberjack-pounding him on the back. “He’s choking worse than John Elway in the 1990 Super Bowl,” I say while looking around…wondering if I’d effectively trolled any locals.

Holding his curly hair under the bar, ‘Choke-man’ makes one last gasp as his buddy jabs at his back. He must have found the secret eject button, as a distinct splatter-noise on the ground preceded the sound of his lungs filling with air all at once.

The restaurant, now completely standing while watching, sighs and sits like they witnessed a healing at church.

“I’m okay…water just went down the wrong pipe,” Choke-man says, stroking moisture down his beard, purple-faced, dripping with sweat and embarrassment. His buddy plops down a fifty at the bar and they both leave in a hurry. “Thankfully I didn’t have to see a dude die right before GABF,” I say to the bartender. “Indeed,” she says, polishing a glass, nonchalantly, “who the hell chokes that bad on water?”


 

As with all great travel-stop traditions, I always stop in The Kitchen Denver for a lamb burger before the Great American Beer Festival. This practice started the year I sat next to Dave Chichura, the “HBIC” of Oskar Blues Brewery (now at Eddyline) at the time and split some littleneck clams over canned beers and fishing stories. The burger, dolloped with roasted red pepper relish and bitter greens, is a call to Denver, and more importantly, a great base to lay before drinking fifty-or-so 1oz beer samples in an afternoon.

The Kitchen Denver is sort of an odd duck with the beer crowd during GABF week. Nearby places like Freshcraft or Euclid Hall are packed to the gills with ninety-minute waits. At The Kitchen, there’s always an open spot at the bar and the food/beer situation always warms my post-flight gullet. Their beer selection and proper glassware is always on point.

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The Colorado Convention Center – Reverse trashbear juxtaposition

Back to the splatter at hand, my appetite has completely vanished. Good thing too. I scored a Farm to Table Pavilion ticket inside the GABF for tonight. Think for a second about the odds of getting a ticket to GABF that sells out in minutes, then nabbing an elusive Farm to Table ticket. It’s a fest inside the fest, except filled with award winning beers paired with James Beard nominated chef-driven food. It’s akin to finding the winning lottery numbers on Wonka’s Golden Ticket, then winning free beer for life, naked.

I leave half of my lamb burger uneaten, carefully chug the rest of my Blind Pig and walk straight to the Colorado Convention Center a few minutes walk away for press credentials. Denver’s gusty winds sweep me down the busy 16th street mall towards the giant blue bear on 14th and Stout.

This year, GABF’s Farm to Table is going to be farm…to table…to hand….to mouth…to….uh…hotel bed, to early morning jog. Badge around neck, I speed walk past the sick kilted ducks blowing bagpipes to get my appetite back. The fest starts in fifteen minutes.


P1060722The Great American Beer Festival is exactly how it sounds. Four sessions of the event sold in a measly thirty-two minutes (in 2014); 48,000 tickets in all. 3,500 beers are poured from over 700 breweries. The Farm to Table event inside is host to 450 and costs an additional $140  per person – 14 tables in all.

Denver itself buzzes during GABF. With beer events from 8AM til 2AM daily, the festival can almost seem like a side-show. Some show up to the city and get crazy at the many walkable breweries, taprooms and brewpubs.


P1080585Just like a kid running to the lunch line in junior high, I’m the first guy at the Farm to Table Pavilion. A brief memory of raspberry coconut zingers and fruit punch-stained lips flashes through my head. I was totally that dork years ago. Crazy to see thirty years later I’m still that kid, now entrenched in the beer world doing the same shit, except now it’s a tart Raspberry Berliner Weisse, or an earthy CoCoNut Porter.

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I do have to admit, I’m a cynic when it comes to big food pairing taste events like this. Out of the fourteen tables set out today, I bet seven will be some kind mediocre slider with way too much bun. Four will be some kind of poké/wagyu/whatever on a partially stale chip. The rest? A plastic salsa cup with pork belly, short rib or some other wild game some hip new chef shot in the wild, cleaned and rubbed with grannies famous ten-spice blend. Bonus points if there’s some duck confit, terrine, or foie. At basically $10 a table, anything is possible and I hope for the best.

P1080613In before the beer-soaked horde, it’s fun to watch chefs putting the final touches on food prep. Beer bottles at each station are poking their necks out of buckets looking like refreshed kids at a public pool…perhaps saying, “hey guys, what’s going on inside this GABF?”. The hall smells vaguely like bacon amid the voluminous high ceilings. I circle the hall quickly and see where to drop anchor first, then chuckle as my statement quickly turns into a stupid pun.

P1080588Two guys, possibly twin brothers in their forties unload a mesh bag of oysters on a bed of dark, moist seaweed right in front of me. I pause as they slice it open. The twin with the sideburns grabs an oyster from the pile, shucks it and slides it over to me on a cocktail napkin, grinning. Without saying a word, I sip the liquor off the top, tilt the shell back and chew it up…naked. My GOD. Do I whip out my phone to take a photo? Do I ask for another? What’s the fucking protocol here, man? Who knew my first sip of liquor inside the GABF would be a dash of briny oyster juice.

P1080589The table sign reads, “Terrapin Rye Cubed Triple Rye IPA 10.7% ABV paired with Marin Miyagi Oysters on the Half Shell.” I grin and nod, thinking the pairing is a joke. “Pairing contains shellfish,” hahaha!

“A 10.7% Triple Rye IPA paired with oy-oysters?” I stu-stutter like my car is being towed. Terrapin’s beer rep bats her lashes and grins, “I know, right?”

Is she implying that the pairing might possibly be terrible? Does she know it’s crazy good? As I witnessed the bag opening, I assume she doesn’t actually know…right?

I’ve had oysters with fresh Murphy’s off the coast of County Cork, Ireland. I’ve had oysters with an old fashioned cocktail in Los Angeles. In Georgia where Terrapin Beer Company makes beer, do they prefer 125 IBU palate-wreckers to wash down delicate bivalves?

P1080587Tom Montgomery, one of the guys behind Monterrey Fish Market in San Francisco, turns the key and unlocks my second Miyagi shell, scooting it my way for another spin. I’ve always found that eating oysters is like kissing someone for the first time. With beer? It’s like kissing someone for the first time while drinking beer, which makes it exponentially more titillating.

P1080611The first oyster a mere peck, my goal for number two is to get to second base. I lick my lips and bite the corner of my lower lip while lifting up the green marbled-patina shell, making eyes with it. Edging closer, I admire its plump-pearlescent body shining back at me, eyes now crossed as I sip the liquor off the top and swish it around my mouth. My salivary glands burst as I take the slightest sip of beer to chase: rye spice, sweet malts, juicy hops and salty oyster brine coat my mouth as I swallow…eyes rolling as I lick my teeth clean.

Making eye contact with the beer rep, I pour a little bit of her beer into the deep oyster shell and nod, replacing the brine now in my belly.

Flicking the raw beast around my mouth, I bite down, noting its firm body. The slick texture exudes a subtle melon-cucumber note with a slight metallic twang; similar to tasting a Moscow mule in a copper mug. Sea salt washes over my memory banks and causes a good three-second daydream of me duck-diving a wave while body surfing back home in Newport Beach. Before gulping it down, I add a sip of the triple rye IPA to the cement-mixer that is my mouth and pause with Denver’s sunset suddenly blinding me outside the thirty foot tall glass windows. Wow, I can see the Rockies from here.

The silky spa like flavors implode into a super salty umami bomb. Chewing slowly, I swallow every last drop. My phone vibrates in my pocket. I don’t bother.

“Spitters are quitters” I think to myself, tossing the shell in a trashcan and downing the rest of the beer. I exchange cards with Terrapin’s beer rep. “I had my doubts, but goddamn that was memorable.”

“I know, right?”

“What are the odds that two things fly from California to Denver, meet in a huge beer fest and one eats the other?” I ask, innocently trying to keep the conversation going.

“I’m not from California,” she says.

I choke-cough and move on to the other thirteen tables, then step out into the main festival, joining 11,999 of my closest friends. Damn. GABF is awesome. Farm to Table? Not to be missed.

Fresh, Local DIPA Tasting on a Thursday Night

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With three fresh local Double IPA’s in the fridge, what better way to spend a Thursday night than to geek out on some beer. Having been to multiple tastings, I decided to start things off blind, having my daughter pour them into random glasses, noting which was which. My previous familiarty is as follows: Bootleggers Brewery Knuckle Sandwich (10% ABV): I’ve tasted every major release with a few bottles each time. Golden Road’s Better Weather IPA (9.4%) is a newer beer, but recently drank 3 of the four cans in the last week, this was my last can in the fridge. Noble’s Tongue Tickles is a brand new beer and have never tasted it. Each beer I believe has been packaged within 1-2 weeks.

IMG_2623Now, my first instinct was to see if I could tell which was which by sight and smell which is fairly obvious for Knuckle Sandwich (KS) being darker. The other two are similar in hue, one slightly clearer than the other. Aroma-wise, I picked out Golden Road (GR) as having a more straight forward “west coast” DIPA aroma, leaving the other guy to be Tongue Tickles…and…I was right!

These glasses suck for actual beer evaluation, so I used my Sierra Nevada IPA glass for further analysis, rinsing and palate cleaning after each. Now, I can honestly say these are all very different aroma/flavor wise and the final outcome is opinion on what I prefer.

Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich: This release seems much different than previous with an overwhelming burnt sugar, caramel, perfumey character that rides over the hops. The areas where KS win for me is appearance and mouthfeel. KS has a very pleasant foamy body chased by sweet beer and boozy finish. It seems more balanced to the malty side with this release and can taste a lot of residual sugar (edit: my bottle settled out to 1.022 in the hydrometer over night). Overall I prefer a dryer DIPA, but I can see why people love this beer.

Golden Road Better Weather IPA. Funny story about this beer; I associated GR’s IPA with being low ABV and didn’t look at the can. After one, I had a noticeable buzz but thought nothing of it. After my second pint, holy hell! I stumbled to grab the can and saw 9.4%. Very glad I was at home! Anyhow, if you can’t tell by my boring story, this is a very drinkable west coast style DIPA. Lots of citrus, catty pine, some mango on the nose with some booze that lingers the hop oils on the palate for upwards of twenty seconds(!). The bitterness rides a little too long, making the front of my tongue numb after larger sips..but all in all, I like this beer. It’s pretty standard in way of DIPA flavors. It’s very well made and recommend it.

Noble Ale Works Tongue Tickles DIPA: Based on the aroma alone I can tell there’s New Zealand hops in this guy. Being a huge fan of Nelson, Galaxy and Matueka, I feel these hops push IPA’s in a refreshing direction (Think Stone Brewing Enjoy By that’s loaded with NZ and American hops). Tickles has a lot of that west coast still intact, but adds a passion fruit, white grape and pineapple aroma. The body is slightly prickly on the tongue and being the lowest ABV of the three at 8% means there is minimal boozey finish. Of the three, this is the beer I drank in its entirety.

Basically it goes like this: I’m not as much of a fan of Knuckle Sandwich with the overall sweetness being more than I’m used to. Golden Road’s Better Weather IPA is a great west coast hopped beer, but 9.4% for an IPA? It’s almost a triple IPA for fucks sakes. Of the three, I’m really loving Noble’s Tongue Tickles for the unique hop choice, comfy 8% ABV, nice clarity and solid lasting flavor. I’d like to put it next to Enjoy By to see how it stacks up.

Have you done a similar tasting with fresh local beers of the same style? I’d love to hear about it! Saturday November 16th, Valiant Brewing Co is releasing their DIPA for the first time in bottles.

 

Vacation in a Glass | Stone R&R Coconut IPA Collaboration #IPAday

stone r&r coconutIPA

mauiLooking like a Maui sunset, Stone Brewing’s R&R Coconut IPA is a mass of orange incandescent liquid. The carbonation flows like an upside-down tropical rainstorm, flooding the head like a freshly crashed wave. The froth begs to be inhaled and releases all tension upon doing so. This beer is a vacation in a glass. (click here for some relaxing ambient wave crashing noise)

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The sun melts away the thick chill haze revealing a crystal clear golden beer. Duck-diving the top wave, I come up with big notes of bit-o-honey candy, some honey graham cracker, pink cotton candy and a touch of sweet herbal tea. Sadly, the coconut is lost on a deserted island. I climb every tree and come up empty, brah! Even as it warms, the hop aroma turns herbal masking any coconut.

P1060224The taste comes in waves; sets of sweet foamy crystal malt, then 90 IBU’s of juicy tropical hops, the next wave carries an ankle slapper of coconut, followed by a ten foot glassy bitter finish. Sip after sip, I go back out for another set looking for the perfect wave. As it warms, the coconut comes out, but by that time, the temp is washed out for the style of beer. The body is notably creamier than the standard “Stone mouthfeel”, making it deceivingly chuggable at 7.7%ABV.

P1060220Overall: This is a damn fine IPA. As a coconut fan, I was hoping to get socked in the nose and gut with coconut, yet walked away unscathed. If you hate coconut (aka you’re a total “Barney”), you’ll probably do just fine with this beer. Stone’s Brewmaster Mitch Steele quotes, “The primary flavor note is coconut, and its intensity was achieved by two additions, one in the whirlpool and the other post dry hop. The selected hop varieties add subtle tropical fruit and berry notes that blend well with the coconut.” I get the tropical thing, but I really have to dig for coconut…only getting a brief flash near the back end of the taste. I don’t necessarily want Malibu Rum in a beer either, just some nice toasted coconut to remind yourself to get outside and enjoy summer. Regardless, I’ll personally be on the lookout for it.

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The chill haze burn off was one of the most intense I’ve ever seen with any beer. I actually prefer the chill haze look as it lends a more summery luau cocktail visual. As it clears, it gets boring like your grand-pappy’s IPA. Pictured left, before and after, ten minutes.

Stone R&R Coconut IPA is a homebrew competition winner re-brew collaboration (with Robert Masterson & Ryan Reschen/RIP Current at Stone Brewing Co.) and is well worth picking up. As with all IPA’s, drink it as fresh as possible. Share it with your mom. Shaka!

Food Pairings: Ahi Poke, SPAM musubi, aged gouda, pineapple cottage cheese, jalapeno/pineapple pizza, thai coconut curry, mango shrimp tacos.

UPDATE: I bought a few more bottles, and the later tastings have displayed more coconut aromatics, retronasal olfaction while swallowing, and coconut finish. Perhaps my initial bottle was served too cold.

Disclosure: Initial bottle courtesy Stone Brewing Co. Purchased three more for personal consumption and further review.  

2014 Russian River Pliny the Younger Releases (OC)

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Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger release dates in Orange County! Read my review of last years release! Cheers!!

 

Orange County

From Russian River Brewing’s Website:

Distribution:

We will begin distributing Pliny the Younger on draft the week of February 10th in and around Sonoma County and the Bay Area. Stone will likely pick up their shipment for Southern California that week or the following week. We will be sending kegs to our distributors in San Jose, Sacramento, Oregon, Colorado, and Philadelphia sometime in February, ship dates TBD. At this time, we do not know what accounts will receive kegs of Younger, but it will likely be available at many of the same accounts who received it last year since the production numbers are very similar. It is our recommendation that our accounts tap it as soon as possible after receiving their delivery to preserve the freshness and integrity of the beer. This beer is not meant to age AT ALL! Pliny the Younger is very much like the fresh catch of the day and best enjoyed right away!

Stone Brewing Co. 16th Anniversary IPA

A blog post about a beer you will most likely purchase and consume is pointless. Instead of boring you with yet another beer review, I think an anniversary is great time to reflect on a brewery, its accomplishments and how they have grown.

WHOA, Hold on a second there mister…this beer has lemon verbena in it? I never thought I would see ingredients commonly found in my wife’s Bath & Body Works lotion in a beer. After a recent ball surgery, I used that lotion to assist with determining my ball swimmer count.  The “Complete Aromatherapy Handbook,” likens the scent of Lemon Verbena to “morning, when everything seems fresh, new and promising.” Exactly what I want my genitals to smell like!

The sun sets as I crack my Stone 16th Anniversary IPA for a tasting. Another balmy 95 degree day comes to a close…not a minute too soon. The fountain outside gurgles and drips. The fire pit crackles and roars as I stare in a daze. While pouring this beer I feel the same nervous excitement when I cracked my first Arrogant Bastard Ale. Thoughts of “How buzzed will I be after drinking this?” and “what if I’m not worthy?” dance around my head. 10% beers drunk alone sometimes push my boundaries.

On the pour, a deep gold molten core is topped with a swiss-cheese cratered moon crust of head. I swirl it and sniff. My eyes pop…Stone has done it again! This time letting some herbs ride shotgun over my palate’s proverbial State Line. Mud flaps are flappin’, truckloads of malt and hops CB each other in a convoy down to my belly. 10-4 good buddy! Notes of clover honey, lemon verbena and salvia on the nose. My first sip is herbal sweet and spicy clover honey, citrus zest, followed by a low scoville hop heat. Salt and pepper even make a cameo appearance; perhaps Rye malt? Interesting. Balanced. Delicious.

Steve Wagner, parties like its 1999 IBU’s

I get the feeling the addition of Stone Farms will continue to play a part in the “Farm to Kettle” movement as seen with Saison du BUFF and GK and LU’s Mixtape beer seen around town. Bottom line, this is still a Stone beer with much of the same mouthfeel and bitterness characteristics fans should expect. At 10%, there’s some heat; somewhere around what the Stone Ruination 10 Year Anniversary beer has. As the temp rises, this beer does not fare well. Split a bottle with friends or keep in the fridge between pours.

Overall, I set out to do a reflection post on Stone Brewing Company but was derailed by a nice imperial herb IPA. Reflections are only good when someone’s dead right? Pick up a bottle, and if you don’t already have tickets to the huge Anniversary Bash on August 18th, I suggest you do so quickly, like NOW.

A Nation Ruined Ten Years Later – Stone Brewing RuinTen

Stone Brewing Co. Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA Review and Release Notes

Road-raging home after dodging a big-rig fender-bender with the venus-crossed sun in my eyes, finding a box on the front porch from Stone Brewing Company instantly snaps me back to a great mood. “I will not be stabbing a hobo today” I think to myself as I pull out a boning knife to open the box. I’m hoping there’s beer inside and not, say, a severed head ala the movie Se7en with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.

I put the bottle in the freezer, set the chicken timer at 30 minutes, then crack this hoppy hell demon.

On the crack, a moist “PSSSSST” sneaks out like a genie from a lamp. I quickly shove my nose in and whiff a hop farm in the tiny two inch headspace.

In the glass, this beer shows gorgeous crystal clear copper with a tinge of white foam that briefly clings to the perimeter. As the malt bill is Pale 2-Row and Crystal 15, I assumed it would be golden. Perhaps filtered lupulin oil gives a red tint? On the nose, a mushroom cloud of Centennial hops hit my sinus cavity like a backdraft from hell and puts me in a daze. This is getting serious.

 From the Stone Blog:

“…an amped-up version of Stone Ruination IPA, with a bit more malt to bring the abv up from 7.7% to 10.8%, and a very heavy dose of hops. “Classic” Ruination uses 2.5 pounds of hops per barrel–which is more than double the amount we use in any other of our core beers–but for Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA, we went double again, using an impressive 5 pounds of hops per barrel, including about a pound each of Citra and Centennial in the dry hop. (Hell. Yes.)”

This beer showcases Centennial hops with wafts of over-ripe sweet juicy grapefruit. Imagine a box of grapefruit in a Turkish prison. No? How about a box of grapefruit in a college dorm? Nah. Box of grapefruit near the ocean after a rain? I’ll go with that. There’s a bit of dank earthyness that hides out among the fruityness. I would highly recommend putting a bag over your glass, then huffing this beer’s aroma until you pass out. Searching for Citra Hops on the nose I come up empty, thankfully, as Citra is one of those hops my nose categorizes as ‘cat urine’.

My first sip freaks me out. This Sub-tropical hop sipper starts out sweet and fruity, followed by a lingering pepper spiced hop bitterness. It’s like french kissing a hell demon after it ate a hop plant. (Those naughty, naughty hell demons!) The mouthfeel is very Stone-like but chased with a sweet-hot alcohol which keeps the bitter hanging out. As I continue to drink, I start to crave street tacos al pastor with onions, cilantro and a dash of lime topped the hottest salsa available. Fresh tortilla chips with a mango habanero pineapple salsa are also calling my name as a pairing.

Remembering my first sip of a Stone beer (IPA), there’s a certain ‘Stoney’ flavor profile that exudes and this beer is no different. As super-hopped beers are commonplace in this era, it’s refreshing to be reminded of what started it all just a decade ago. Stone Brewing Co. makes a strong statement and leapfrogs the vast landscape with this release. I tip my hat to Mitch, Greg, Steve and the entire Stone Brewing family for their efforts. If the twenty year release isn’t 20% ABV and ten pounds of hops per barrel, I’ll be pissed.

Cheers!

Additional Info:

Stats: 10.8% abv, 110 IBUs
Availability: Limited 22oz bottles & draft. One-time release, beginning June 11th
Distribution: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA
Malt bill: Crystal 15, Pale Malt
Hops bill: Columbus and Centennial. Dry hopped with Citra and Centennial.

San Diego Launch Event
Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA Party at Henry’s Pub
Sunday, June 10, 5-10pm |
618 5th Ave, San Diego
We return to the first SD bar to ever pour Stone Ruination IPA, throwing an awesome birthday celebration filled with brews, food, music, and a lot more! On deck are guest appearances by Stone CEO & Co-Founder Greg Koch and Brewmaster Mitch Steele, five taps with special versions of Stone IPA and Stone Ruination IPA, food pairings with dishes created just for this momentous occasion, plus limited-run Stone Ruination Tenth Anniversary IPA glasses and T-shirts on sale. Full details.

Media Sample provided by Stone Brewing Co.

 Additional Pics:

Thrilled About Lupulin!

High on lupulin after a night out at the Bootleggers tap take over at Bruery Provisions, I was thrilled to help write some text for a beer label. Bootleggers Lupulin Thrill is a fantastic hopped up IPA with nice citrus-pine notes on top of a slightly biscuity maltyness. I suggested the pic be a hop cone riding a tongue roller coaster, but Bootleggers did a great job with an actual roller coaster. I need to buy some bottles for posterity!

Notes from the Younger – Sparkling Hop Wine At Its Finest

By now, you know I don’t like to review beers in a blog form. Why? I’m actually not a fan of reading beer reviews. However, when I insert a beer like Pliny the Younger into my supple, furry body, sharing tasting notes is a must. I actually do keep notes on most beers I sample, whether it be on untappd, on a napkin, or scribbled on a bathroom wall and photographed.

I’d like to first start off and say that Selma’s RSM had the best Pliny the Younger roll out. They chose to invite all of their regulars via facebook, create a list, and open it to the public after that. As it was tapped, I merely waved my wrist-band at the bartender and received my pour. No waiting, no lines, no raffle. Rewarding regulars was smart!

8oz was poured into a standard white wine glass at optimal temperature. The insane amount of hops on the nose is euphoric and hypnotic. I found myself sniffing and sniffing, goosebumps on my arms, my excitement: like a tree snake going in for the kill. I picked up on mainly citrus, pine, and floral notes with a hint of malty sweetness.

My first taste: total disbelief how long the hops last. One sip lingers at least ten full Mississippi seconds before leaving quietly. Calling Pliny the Younger a Triple India Pale Ale almost doesn’t do it justice. Younger is a sparkling hop wine! Swirling around the glass, the sticky resinous hops create some nice lingering legs. The head quickly dissipates into a light snow-like dusting. Zero lace is to be expected with this oily hop load. The mouthfeel is very vinous and the 11% ABV is hidden very well with only a slight tinge of burn, similar to wine. The carbonation was adequate, cleansing without stinging.

On the pour, a snow bank of foam clings briefly to the sides of the glass.

Often times you hear the term “malt backbone” in a review. My impression of PtY’s malt backbone? Picture a kilo brick of hops sitting on a box of Hostess Twinkies. The malt is there, much like a picture hanger is to the Mona Lisa. The clarity and color of this brew is surprising as I expected to see some residual cloudiness from the quadruple dry hopping and at least a slight copper tinge. Pliny the Younger has none of that. Its clear honey-golden color reveals nothing of what’s in store for your taste buds.

As there is so much hype surrounding this beer, it’s easy to forget its purpose. Anyone that says “it doesn’t live up to the hype” perhaps built it up too much. Russian River goes above and beyond all with this release, totally perfecting what no one else attempts. In that regard, it is truly outstanding and must be tried.

Great thanks to the team at Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria and Taproom in Rancho Santa Margarita! Last chance in OC to sample the Younger is at their new Ladera Ranch location on 2/27/12. Check their facebook page for details. Also thanks to Joslyn Ellstrom and Justin from Beerventures for sharing their table!