Pilgrimmage to Cisco

Drinking a delicious Indie IPA on tap!

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Anderson Valley Brewing Company Summer Solstice

Let me first say I love Anderson Valley Brewing. Solar-powered brewery? Love it. Their own language? Yup. Great tasting beer line-up? You betcha! So when I saw the Summer Solstice on the shelf I naturally grabbed a six-pack. But as I made my way to the cash register, one of the guys that works in the store – who I respect very much for his beer knowledge – scrunched up his face and said, "Have you tried that one yet?" I admitted I hadn't and he said something like, "IMHO, it's not their best." I thought about it for a minute and then decided not to spend my hard earned $$ on a six pack that's just ok. 

As I checked out, Kamal brought me a bottle of Summer Solstice and asked me to give it a taste (no charge). He hadn't tried it yet either, so we agreed to give it a try and compare notes. 

It pours a deep red with an off white head that quickly dissipates. It smell faintly of fruit, cherries, raisins, etc. vs grapefruit. The first taste is slightly sweet and very smooth. It's lightly hopped, instead focusing on an array of malts that give it a nice sweet flavor and finish. It's a nice beer, but here's the issue I have with it… it tastes just like AVBC Winter Solstice! If I closed my eyes and tasted the two I might have a hard time telling them apart! It was a little weird. 

Am I the only one? Have you tried this beer? Is the same beer/different label? I'd love to hear what you think. Please! I need to know!

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Sebago Brewing Company’s Full Throttle Double I.P.A.

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“You hold in your hand a bomb.  An explosion of flavor awaits you in this very bottle.  Big juicy American hops burst from this unfiltered deep amber ale.  Dominated by Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Simcoe hops, our double IPA has been dry-hopped for over a month.  Sit back, pop the cap, and drop the hammer!”

I like a good preamble to my experience with a new beer, and this is exactly what I get on the label to Sebago Brewing Company‘s Full Throttle Double I.P.A. brewed up in Gorham, Maine.  These guys obviously enjoyed making it, and that comes through in little touches like that on the label.  I’m not looking for the label equivalent of an Ingmar Bergman film on my craft beer (so, be warned, Dark Horse Brewing Company).  Moreover, I see Sebago have just opened a brew pub up in Portland, so I think I’ll be paying it a visit when I’m up to see our friends who live in Gorham (or maybe even the brewery itself).

But enough about my summer travel plans.  You probably both want to know how this beer looks, smells, and tastes.  Well, I’ll tell you.  

It pours a lovely caramel amber color with nice lacing on the glass but not a lot of head sticks around after the initial pour.  The last few beers I’ve tried haven’t exactly been projecting in the power zone so-to-speak when it comes to smell, but thankfully this number from Sebago bucks that trend.  Lots of promise on the nose of this beer, a big, bold blast of dark fruit, caramel, bread and malts.

The taste is big as well, though not that much carbonation.  It’s a bit on the sweeter side, with good malt character to balance the hops, but there’s a bitter hop bite at the finish and a warming effect from the high ABV.  Dark fruit, bready yeast, caramel, molasses, malts, and pine, but no citrus to speak of that I could detect.  NOTE:  I consulted the reviews at BA, and several people mentioned citrus notes (some even prominently).  I personally didn’t see it.  I picked up much more dark-skinned fruit, caramel and molasses.  Also, I’m thinking at this point I’d do well to get some sort of tutorial on the different types of malts; I’m not really being very specific I realize, but I just don’t know enough yet to discern one malt from another.  I recognize my limitations.

Anyway, big beer, lots of flavors going on, but sessionability suffers from the sweetness and ABV.  This would make an excellent after dinner beer, and as always, is best when shared with a friend.  Which reminds me, it’s high time we had another CBS get-together.  Time to get working on that.  

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Vitals:  Poured from a bomber at about 49F into that there pint glass.  9.10% ABV and 85 IBU.

Taste:  A-  Big taste, though a little sweeter than some may prefer.  Still, a wonderful beer.  Congratulations to the (local) folks at Sebago.  You aced this one.

Drinkability:  B-  I think this is one best shared at this size.  It’s 9.1%, so proceed with caution.  Depends on your mood and what you’re pairing it with, I suppose.  Tonight though, I say thank you, Jim Storer for the bottle stoppers!