Posts Tagged With: beer review

Sixpoint Bengali Tiger

Earlier this month Sixpoint Brewing Company out of Brooklyn, NY announced that they were entering Ohio. Since then all of the bars and stores that I follow have been flooded with Sixpoint brews. Happily, they have been sending Ohio a large portion of their portfolio as well as a few enticing one-off kegs here and there. Perhaps even more interesting to some people is that fact that Sixpoint is one of the few craft breweries that cans all of their lineup.

To add some insight to those who think that they prefer bottles: cans are cheaper for the brewery if they have the equipment and the demand to justify ordering large supplies of aluminum. More importantly, cans mean that the beer never is exposed to light until it is opened. Light (especially sunlight and florescent light) is the biggest factor in “off” flavored beer – I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the skunky flavor and aroma of Corona or an imported European  lager. Why is this? These beers are typically packaged in clear or green glass – both of which allow a significant amount of light to penetrate the bottle and react with compounds in the beer (namely the hops).

As such, cans should taste fresher. The beer ought to keep longer too, as there is no risk of leakage/oxidation. Plus, cans don’t break as easily, and are more portable for those that hike, camp, or golf. Ready to love the can yet? Well, I’ll admit that knowing all of the above, I still prefer the aesthetic of a bottle. However, let the beer do the real talking. If it tastes good, ultimately who cares what vessel it was poured out of?

So… onto my review for tonight: Bengali Tiger. This is arguably their best-known beer – and as an IPA, it very well ought to be. Dry hopped and bittered to the tune of 62 IBU’s (a little on the bitter side of an IPA). Poured into a pint as this tall boy wouldn’t all fit into a smaller vessel.

The Review

Best by Date: 5/07/2012

Perhaps what I miss most with a can is the lack of the crisp hiss of escaping carbonation that comes with a bottle. While pouring the beer appears relatively clear with a slow-rising head of off-white foam. The golden liquid in my glass isn’t cloudy, but does have the unfiltered look that is welcome in a heartily hopped brew. Leaves excellent lace. Just watch when you pour as there will be some sediment at the bottom of the can.

The aroma is wholly unique for the average American IPA. There’s a very apparent malt backbone – but rather than the caramel/bready notes that some IPA’s exhibit, Bengali Tiger is chock full of moist sourdough and white bread. Then the hops push through in the form of mild pine resin and white grapefruit.

As you sip on this heady IPA you’ll find Bengali Tiger to be quite bitter, but well balanced with heavy golden malt additions. Crackery with a huge pithy kick to it from all the hops. Mild grassy undertones likely from the dry-hopping schedule. The mouthfeel is chewy for the style, with lingering bitterness and thick, tongue-coating hop oils.
Overall this is a fine beer. People discuss the merits of the West Coast vs East Coast style of IPA – but this one doesn’t seem to fit the bill for either. I enjoy the uniqueness here, but after the first can of my 4 pack I was wishing this were one of my Midwest favorites instead.

Well worth a shot for the hop heads out there though.

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Categories: Beer Reviews, IPA | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hoppin’ Frog B.O.R.I.S. #100

Recently Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Company out of Akron, OH announced their limited release of B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout batch #100. This batch is different from other batches of the beer. In celebration of the 100th production run of Hoppin’ Frog’s flagship beer, Head Brewer and Owner Fred Karm decided to play around with the base malt used in the beer.

Instead of the American malted barley that is typically used in B.O.R.I.S. Fred decided to use “the finest English Pale Ale malt” to celebrate batch #100. While changing the malt’s country of origin might not sound like much of a difference, bear in mind that each maltster uses their own unique methods for kilning, drying, and processing the grain. It should be of no surprise that English malts bear the weight of centuries of tradition and time-honored perfection of methodology. Most brewers would readily concede that an English Pale Malt will produce a different beer than an American or Canadian Pale Malt.

When I stopped by the brewery to pick up my bottle over the weekend, Fred Karm was present and he described the beer as being more sweet than the original and perhaps also lending some body to the beer as well. I also caught him make an off-hand remark to an employee about how they ought to try playing around with the base malts of some of their other beers. I like the sound of that…

With all of this said, it should be noted that this beer will still largely resemble the regular B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher. This is a good thing though, because the beer has won Gold at the Great American Beer Festival twice in the last four years.

The Review

The beer was meant to be a playful riff on the normal Russian Imperial Stout. As such, I poured it into a playful glass – a Parra Duvel tulip. This is actually my first time using the glass – what a nice way to christen it!

As with the regular B.O.R.I.S., batch #100 pours extremely thick and straight black like crude oil. A tall slow-to-rise head reaches to the edge of the glass and halts is ascent.

The beer is awash with aromas of bittersweet chocolate and ashy roasted coffee. There’s a slight notion of hard water minerals, and the beer is generally very smooth. Things begin to really shine once you take that first sip. Suddenly you are keenly aware of why this stout is called a Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout. A wonderful helping of hops bring the IBUs to 60, which is IPA territory, but also very necessary for providing balance to all of the malty sweetness going on in this beer. There’s also a really big hit of roasted barley in the flavor – which adds bitterness as well, and a dry coating mouthfeel to the beer.

Speaking of sweetness, lots of rich sweet dark chocolate and gritty fudge really assert themselves as the beer warms. One might also detect flavors of dark bread and caramel. But again, the roast is huge here, bigger than I remembered from the regular B.O.R.I.S.

Batch #100 drinks very smoothly, with a silky texture that is in no small way due to the oats used. However, the English malts are also playing into this somewhat I bet. Overall I really enjoyed this beer, but that can be said of any B.O.R.I.S. variation out there. It’s not hard to do though when the base beer for all of the various incarnations is a world-class award winning stout. Buy Batch #100 while you can, because it’ll likely be a one-time deal! I look forward to seeing something even more unique come about when B.O.R.I.S. hits the batch #200 mark!

I bought my bottle at the brewery for $10.99. While releases like this often wind up being distributed somewhat if the beer doesn’t sell out at the brewery, Batch #100 doesn’t seem to be leaving the brewery. So get on down to Hoppin’ Frog and give this wonderful brew a whirl. You’ll likely get to meet Fred Karm. If you do so, shake the man’s hand and congratulate him on his recent Gold medal for B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher at Great American Beer Festival (GABF). If you’re into this type of thing, he’d also likely be willing to sign your bottle, and possibly give you a brief tour of the facility.

Finally, if you’re looking for cool beer to try or gift someone this season, Hoppin’ Frog also has a cooler stocked with tons of great beer. All of their normal offerings can be bought fresh from the source, as well as some seasonals and rarities:

  • Fresh Frog Raw Hop Pale Ale – their “wet hop” beer from the recent hop harvest
  • B.O.R.I.S. Royale – this is BORIS aged in Crown Royal Canadian whiskey barrels
  • Barrel-Aged B.O.R.I.S.  – a personal favorite
  • Barrel-Aged Naked Evil – a bourbon barrel aged barleywine aged on Belgian yeast. This beer won a Bronze medal at this year’s GABF in the wood-aged strong ale category.
  • Frog’s Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale – a GABF Gold medal winner in 2010

No matter what Hoppin’ Frog has something to satisfy. If you buy a case (12x 22oz bombers) you get 10% off. They also sell a limited amount of merchandise as well, and recently this was on sale for 20% off. If you mention the discounted price to Fred I’m sure he’d honor that if you were looking to buy a T-shirt or something.

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Sierra Nevada & Dogfish Head – Life and Limb

Two years ago when Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head breweries teamed up for the collaborative beer Life and Limb, the beer literally flew off the shelves. There was an unspoken hysteria, and an apparent lack of planning for the demand the beer would incite. As such, I distinctly remember hearing stories where a store was allocated 2 bottles for sale (and then promptly either kept those bottles for themselves, or charged people $50 to buy the $12 beer. I believe that Ohio was given something on the order of 4 cases for the entire state (a mere 48 bottles). I had hoped to try it on tap at Winking Lizard, but the keg blew in under an hour and I missed out.

Much to the joy (and chagrin) of many in the craft beer scene, the two brewers teamed up again to brew batch two of this beer. Only this time, they made a lot of it. Panic stricken when I heard reports that the beer was reaching shelves across the country this summer, I started asking around about where to buy some in Columbus. A friend offered to pick up a couple bottles for me while he was at a bottle shop carrying the beer. I later found some myself, and bought two more bottles. Then, I saw it on tap, and ordered it a few times. What does this all say? Well, first off, they did a wonderful job of meeting demand. Secondly, the beer is just damn good.

I regret that I am blogging about the beer months after the release, however, I fully expect this to become an annual release going forward. And maybe, just maybe, if you get lucky, you may still stumble across a bottle of this at a lesser traveled bottle shop of liquor store. If you happen to find some, buy it. The price is excellent – $10.99 for the 750ml size bottle (same as a bottle of wine).

So, what is Life and Limb?

“LIFE-This beer is naturally carbonated to enhance complexity  refinement, and shelf-life; the family of yeast cells in every bottle working in vibrant unison.

LIMB-The two syrups used in making this beer, (Maple and  Birch) contribute to its unique and earthy flavor and symbolize the collaboration between Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head.”

The beer is 10.2% abv, and a style that’s a bit of an oddball. Slightly stout, slightly strong ale, and mostly a combination of those two styles plus a half dozen others. Maple syrup from Vermont and Birch syrup from Alaska mingle with the combined house yeast strains from both breweries to create something truly unique.

The Review:

I wanted to pour this into a Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head glass, so I selected the globe I have from Dogfish Head that I received with a glass of their Zeno saison earlier this year.

The cork was easy to remove, and the pour showcases a dark caramel colored beer with amazing clarity collecting into a deep molasses brown color in the bowl of the glass. The head is easily controlled, and I decided to keep this one shorter. the foam is airy and a light balsa wood color. A short cap of tight bubbles is always present, down to the last sip.

The aroma showcases all of the ingredients. There is an initial alcohol bite to the beer, and an interestingly fruity aroma I must attribute to the yeast used. Then comes the aroma of molasses and sweet dark Belgian-kilned malts. The birch is very woody and dry, while the maple – though more subtle – adds a bit of sweetness to the brew. There’s a nice nuttiness to the aroma as well, akin to toasty candied pecans.

I love how all of the aromatic elements come together in the flavor. The brew is sweet and woody. Though no wood was used in this version of the beer, one could easily be fooled. I wish it were though, as Dogfish Head makes some of the best wood-aged beers around (Burton Baton, Palo Santo Marron, and Wrath of Pecant). Sticky and drier than one might expect given the sugars used in the brewing process, Life and Limb is a tasty treat. The bottle recommends sharing it with friends and family. A good bet given the high abv. However, this is the third bottle I have savored alone, and while maybe a tad guilty, I am happy to have spent so much time to intimately enjoy what this beer has to offer.

There’s a website dedicated to this beer with a little more info and some cool pictures from the original brew day in 2009. Check out: Life-Limb.com

Below is a video (also on Life-Limb.com) where Sam Calagione from dogfish Head and Ken Grossman from Sierra Nevada discuss the beer.

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