Cody Brewing Company’s No Name I.P.A.

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As we may have mentioned, we here at Craft Beer Social love to support local product, so when I spied this heretofore unknown (to me) brewery’s product on the shelf, it jumped to the top of the list. (Update:  When I went to tag this post, I discovered that Jim actually reviewed this beer six months ago…Batch TWO!  I’m such a slacker.)  Not sure what the size of Cody Brewing Company‘s operation is, but they certainly evoke the image of a guy in his garage based on the stamped-on name and hand-written batch number.  And the small bit of text on the side of the label is speaking my language:

“Brewed and bottled in Amesbury, Mass. this craft beer combines traditional styles with rule breaking ideas that helps to create some of what we [so there are two guys!] feel are the most interesting beers on earth.  Good Beer :: Good Buddies :: Good Times.”

Appearance:  Pours a very nice caramel color, slightly cloudy.  Relatively thin head that recedes quickly leaving a slight film on the surface.

Smell:  Hops, slight grapefruit and pine.  None are over the top though.  Not the most fragrant beer I’ve tried.

Taste:  Medium mouth feel on this one with light carbonation, and a slightly oily character especially near the end.  Predominant flavor notes are caramel, some very mild citrus, and the ubiquitous piney flavor. Nice hop bitterness at the finish, but at 59 IBU’s it’s far from punishing.  A very well balanced and drinkable beer.  “No Name” seems to suit this beer well.  It’s solid, enjoyable, but doesn’t boast a really memorable signature flavor profile.  I liked it, I’d have it again, and hey, the brewery’s in Amesbury, Mass. so they’ve got that going for them.

Which is, y’know, nice.

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Vitals:  Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass (do I really need to type this anymore?).  Served at about 48F.  Batch 6.  5.5% ABV, 59 IBU.  Scruff McGruff, Chicago Illinois 60652.

Taste:  A solid B.  Invited to a session party any time.

Drinkability:  A-  Smooth and balanced. 

 

 

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Blue Hills Brewery’s Black Hops

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After trying their Imperial Red I.P.A. recently and deciding it was something of an enigma beer, I thought I’d try another of Blue Hills Brewery’s offerings, their Black Hops.  

Appearance:  Yep, it’s black. Head disappeared pretty quickly (only about 90 seconds between the first photo and the second and you can see how much had gone.

Smell:  Lots of chocolate, malts and yeast plus a bit of toffee or caramel.  Not the biggest nose of any beer, but decent. 

Taste:  They draw comparisons to Schwarzbier with the finish of a well-hopped Pale Ale.  It actually reminded me most of a porter.  Dark chocolaty malts, breadiness, with lots of tiny carbonation in each sip.  Also some dark cherries, a hint of pine and maybe even some citrus.  Not really much on the aftertaste front, perhaps just a hint of bitterness.  It’s really quite smooth, with the eponymous hops not all that assertive in the face of the malts.  It’s pretty easy drinking, and I think I’ll be going back to this one when the weather gets cold again. 

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Vitals:  Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass at 48F.  6.75% ABV.

Taste:  B  Lots of nice flavors and a texture I really enjoyed.  Not the best of the chocolaty, malty beers, but very nice. 

Drinkability:  B+  A very smooth beer.  I recommend giving it a try this fall or winter.

 

Guess that head?

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and the answer is…..

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Southern Tier’s Imperial Choklat!

 

This was my first time drinking this, and I was excited since I’m a big fan of some of Southern Tier’s other beer (especially their Unearthly IPA!) I was prepared for a big taste, but not really prepared for just how chocolatey this beer is.

As you can see on the bottle it’s made with both chocolate hops and bittersweet belgian chocolate in it:

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that, combined with the 11% ABV definitely made this a little tough to drink for me. I ended up splitting the bottle with three friends, and it proved to be a really nice dessert beer. The overwhleming reponse from all drinkers was “how did they get a hershey bar in there?” It definitely smelled, and tasted like grocery store chocolate – probably not what they were aiming for.

The beer did pour beutifully, with a thick head, and had a really nice smooth, almost creamy mouthfeel. I’d definitely recommend for sharing with a dessert course – or pairing with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream!

 

Vitals: 

11% ABV

Style: American Double/Imperial Stout

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Rock Art/Hunger Mountain Coop Black Moon IPA

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Picked this up at a local store in Waterbury, VT and enjoyed it with my brothers during lunch.

It was deep and dark with a mellow pine hop character in the finish. A nice brew that I’d recommend you check out if you can find it.

Vital Facts: Served into odd shaped glasses at about 45F. 10% ABV and 80 IBUs.
Taste: B+. Nice toasted malts.
Drinkability: B+. Be careful. This one is sneaky.

Maine Beer Company Zoe

I needed to give this one a try after reading Derek's post on the same the other night. My first try of MBC's Peeper was not as positive as Derek's, but I wanted to like it. I figured Zoe might be more my speed after reading Derek's review. 

After a bad pour (check out the pics), I was underwhelmed by the nose. It was really hard to get much. I took a quick sip and BOOM.. it was too cold. I let it warm a few degrees and went in for take two. 

It pours a deep amber with a nice head that clings to the side of the glass as it slowly recedes. The smell is very subtle, so subtle that a few degrees made all the difference for me. It's not a hop bomb as Derek points out, but it smells almost like a pine forest after a rainstorm. If that sounds like a crock of shit, close your eyes and give it a try. It's there. 

While it's not heavy on the hops, it is a potpourri of malts. It's really smooth and balanced, with the hops keeping the malt in check. It's by no means a strong beer, but it's not thin either. If you like Anderson Valley Boont Amber, but wish it had a little more hops, you'll enjoy this beer. Derek mentioned Troegs Nugget Nectar… I don't think that's fair. NN is a hop bomb that'll rip your tongue out. This is a much more subtle brew. 

If you've never tried Zoe, you owe it to yourself to seek it out. Just make sure it's not too cold when you serve it. 

Vital Stats: Poured from a 22oz bottle into my trusty pint glass. Served at approximately 50F. 7.2% ABV. 
Taste: B+. I'm creating a new category for beers like this… it's a Gateway Craft Beer. I'll serve this to guests that don't typically drink craft beer. 
Drinkability: A-. This is actually a lot more drinkable than the ABV suggests. Enjoy!

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Uinta Brewing Company’s Detour Double I.P.A.

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Based on the (usually very solid) suggestion of the folks at Redstone, I tried this double I.P.A. from Uinta Brewing Company’s Crooked Line series, their Detour Double I.P.A.  As I’ve written before, for me, the experience of enjoying craft beer is enhanced by the aesthetics of the packaging, especially if the brewer tells a story.  Craft beer brewing is supposed to be an expression of the personality, interests, humor and values of the people who make it, so I always appreciate when I get more with my beer than just a bottle and a label. 

With that in mind, inside the small card which is attached to the neck of this bottle are these suggestions:

  •  Store upright in cool to cold conditions
  • Serve in stemware and create the occasion
  • Gather round the table with friends & food and pop the cork
  • Slow down, sip and savor
  • Celebrate!

Now, I think Jim and the folks here at Craft Beer Social would agree with me that this is more or less exactly the sort of preamble we would want for a beer that we brewed ourselves.  I’m already looking forward to this one.  So let’s get to it. 

Color:  Beautiful caramel color with a soapy head which dissipates relatively quickly to a thin film at the top of the glass.

Smell:  Not a huge bouquet on this beer.  Lightly hopped with a hint of pine, but I was literally sticking my nose into the top of this glass for several minutes trying to pick up anything at all.  These notes are my best guess, but there’s not much to report.

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Taste: Your sip begins with huge sticky, mouth-coating, bready malts masking the hops and imparting an oily character, transitioning to notes of caramel, citrus, and pine resin.  A nice hop bite at the end balances that oiliness along with a pleasant bitterness and some alcohol warming and resonant carbonation.  This is an exceptionally well-balanced beer with enough bitterness and hop bite at the finish to answer the malts at the beginning.  Hop-heads will probably think they may have done well to back off on the malt which means it’s not quite as refreshing as it might have been, but I really enjoyed this beer’s use of malts.  Very well done.

Vitals:  Poured from a 750 ml bottle into my Movember pint glass at about 48 F.  9.5% ABV.

Taste:  B+.  In my opinion, this is a very enjoyable beer, but might be too bready for the über hop crowd.  A bigger nose would suit it, but there’s not much to complain about here in my view.  This is one I hope my fellow CBS bloggers will try and weigh in on.

Drinkability:  B+.  Despite the 9.5% ABV, this is a very drinkable beer.  In such a large bottle, this is a perfect one to share with a friend.  I plan to do just that sometime soon.

I’d recommend you give this one a try, and hope some of you will do so and report your own findings in the comments.

Maine Brewing Company’s Zoe

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Over the past few months I’ve become a very big fan of Maine Brewing Company‘s Peeper Ale.  Introduced to me initially by Chad Northrup, it’s going to be a go-to (when I can get it) this summer.  But this review is not about that beer.  I only share it as a pre-amble to how I found Zoe.

Maine Brewing Company’s beers don’t attract much attention to themselves on the shelves.  

They’re all in unremarkable brown bottles with pulpy white labels which look like they’ve been made out of 100% post-consumer L.L. Bean catalogues.  The printing on said labels is almost entirely (or in the case of Zoe, completely) monochromatic with minimalist (and I mean minimalist) graphics.  To wit:  the labels of the two MBC beers I’ve tried feature a smiley face (not surrounded by a circle, mind you; that’d be showy) and a jazzercizing stick figure.  If you didn’t know to look for them you’d probably walk right on by.

But that would be a mistake.

As a Peeper devotee, when I spotted their Zoe amber ale on the shelf, my first (and as it turns out, correct) instinct was:  *yoink!*

Now, if you are only a fan of extreme beers which kick down your door with 463 IBU’s, punch you in the face and leave your palette a scorched wasteland which you can brag to your friends the next day about surviving, then you will likely not appreciate what MBC is doing here.  

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Zoe pours a rich reddish-brown color with a frothy head which over the course of enjoying it, stuck to the sides of the glass looking like dishwashing soap rather than the delicate lacing you often see.  The smell was hoppy with pine and grass notes poking through.  Not overpowering, but fresh and inviting.

The taste is reasonably balanced by malt, but hops definitely are in the driver seat here with a hoppy bitterness which runs the length of each sip.  The initial mouth-feel is slightly oily (but not in a bad way), followed by piney resin, and a hint of caramel (which I had to hunt for a little).  The individual flavor notes are there, but they’re subtle.  A slight warming effect from the alcohol at the finish.  This bottle was lot 042811, so it doesn’t get much fresher than this.  

Vitals: Poured from 1 pint .9 fl oz bottle into a pint glass.  7.2% ABV.

Taste:  A-  Really nice hoppy beer, balanced by just enough malts with a few interesting flavor notes to discover.  I’ve seen it compared to Troeg’s Nugget Nectar, and I’d say this one might be better.  I think a side-by-side may have to happen with the CBS crew.

Drinkability:  B.  If enjoyed between 45-50 F, it’d hover closer to a B+.  I let what didn’t fit into the glass warm above 50, and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the bitterness became more pronounced.  This beer doesn’t betray too much of the 7.2% ABV, so watch your step, but I could’ve gone for another one when this was done.