Monday, February 1, 2010

Beer Club, Volume Five - Imperial IPA's

(This took me WAY too long to finish but at least I got it in before February's Beer Club!)

Much like most of the meetings so far, January's Beer Club was timed around the release of a specific beer. This month that beer was Hopslam from Bell's Brewery.

As I mentioned in my first ever blog post, Hopslam was a different kind of gateway beer for me. It was the beer that sparked my interest in moving from the more popular craft beers like Summit, Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada into looking into the hoppier side of life and harder to find beers. I owed this beer a featured month in Beer Club.

It wasn't a hard lineup for me to come up with because I had several beers that I wanted to have in a Beer Club lineup besides Hopslam, including Ruination from Stone, 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head and Un*Earthly from Southern Tier. I added Hop Stoopid from Lagunita's because I thought it was a great beer at a good price (around $5 for a bomber). When Zipps tweeted to me that I should add Double Trouble from Founders, the lineup was set. It was gonna be an epic month.

One nice part about doing IPA's is that the order of the tasting is pretty easy, just do it from lowest IBU to highest. The problem I had with this last time was that the Founders Harvest Ale really blew a couple of beers out of the water that followed it because it was so good. I was hoping that leading off with the highly acclaimed (but low IBU) Hopslam wouldn't have the same effect. Luckily, it did not.

Another thing that worried me was that the two beers I went to Hudson to get (90 Minute and Ruination) didn't appear to be too fresh. I noticed that the 90 Minute had a bottling date of JULY 2009. Luckily for us, it still tasted just fine (and impressive for being a half year old). But I grabbed a bottle that I had bought a couple months ago and it too was "old" so I'm guessing that there's a good chance that I've never had fresh 90 Minute IPA. I guess I have something to look forward to.

The Ruination didn't fare so well however. I don't know if we got a bad batch of it or what the deal was but it really didn't taste like the Ruination that I love and it was the consensus that it was just bad (and confirmed later by two non-beer club IPA lovers who wouldn't even finish the sample I gave them). I opened a bottle that I bought last fall and it didn't have the fresh IPA taste but was still quite good and was further proof that the most recent six pack was just bad and not just old. Damn it sucks to pour $3 bottles of beer down the drain.

The rest of the lineup was awesome though. As expected, everybody loved the Hopslam and while favorites and reviews were mixed, everybody still really liked the Hop Stoopid and the Double Trouble (although I still think the Double Trouble was very good but can't touch the Founders Harvest Ale).

The Un*Earthly finished the night and I was a bit nervous on how it was going to taste. I've had about 4 bottles of this before Beer Club and it ranged from a decent IPA to one of the best things to ever touch my lips. My only conclusion was that this stuff is just very volatile and should be drank as fresh as possible. Luckily for us, this was one of the fantastic bottles and even at a whopping 153 IBU it was still one of the stars of the show and my favorite beer of the night.

Even though imperial stouts have been creeping in as a contender for my favorite style of beer, the IIPA's defended their territory very well and this group of beers reminded me of why I'm such a hop head and did a good job at convincing everybody else why they should be too.

February's Beer Club - Bockfest!

(see the comments section for Becky's notes on January's Beer Club)

1 comment:

  1. Becky's notes -
    1-My favorite was the Southern Tier Un Earthly...Holly Hell! Huge chewy big action packed, lusty beer. (It really was deliciously naughty in my opinion.) My mouth was screamin for more, more and yes some more! The hops were like a fist to the face..POW! POW! Powerful, tense, like "what the heck just happened in my mouth" kinda feeling and very exhilarating. It shook me up and put the crave in I need more. I love the way it looked in the glass and the smell when it hits the nose is action packed and just dreamy.

    2-Hop Stoopid was loaded with the good stuff I love so much. Slightly sweet, very aromatic and the smell of the floral bouquet of hops that just melts me, teasing to my nose with a wonderful consistent flavor that I have come to really enjoy about this beer. It gets me hooked easily cuz it's so frickin hopped up and very affordable price wise. There's a slight tang on the end of each sip that just almost feels like when you sip hot drinks & burn your tongue...only this makes my tongue feel burnt but in a extra special good way. It had a sweet juicy hint of citrus flavor which blended wonderfully with a bit of a bite to it.

    3-Bell's Hopslam was extremely exciting to the tongue. I found it to be absolutely delicious. Big floral smells followed by crazy mouth stinging hops. it was a boom to the fact I just had a bottle for lunch.

    4- I would give to Dogfish...I was actually disappointed in this one. I have had it several times and really liked it, but in comparison to the top 3 it was just not as appealing to me. My notes read there was a slight smokey background to the taste almost woody or earthy. The after flavor left a shot like flavor in my mouth (one of a hard alcohol taste) which I found appealing coming from a beer. It had a distinct slow burn on the pallet after wards.

    5- Founders I just love this had a big full amazing smell, almost pungent. It was light in flavor to me compared to the others though. Was not as strong as the Bell's but a nice drink if I didn't have the others to compare to.

    6- Stone Ruination very gritty tasting, slightly funky I just thought it was ok but big price for the taste. I don't think I would go out of my way to purchase this. Definitely not my favorite. Someone had mentioned it was almost of a latex after flavor...I noted it was like suckin on a condom.