An IPA Lover’s Pale Ale: Three Floyds’ Alpha King (thanks to @BlearyEyedBKLYN)

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As you know, the name of our blog is ‘Craft Beer Social’, and the ‘social’ part is an important component.  Sometimes, it even results in some unexpected surprises.  Like a few weeks ago when a friend and fellow craft beer fan I met through social media, Melissa Soltis, sent me a care package out of the blue containing a few of Three Floyds Brewing Company’s flagship offering, Alpha King Pale Ale.  

She’d raved about their beers when I met her back in October, and I’m very fortunate she thought of me on a recent trip to the midwest as Three Floyds is not currently available in the northeast.  The contents of the package did not disappoint.  

Alpha King pours a nice amber color with a nice head which left some lovely lacing on the glass.  It smells very inviting indeed with lots of grapefruit and even some orange along with caramel.  I’d assumed it was an IPA, but it is in fact an American Pale Ale.  Now many people who like craft beer kind of blow on past pale ales on their way to the big bold hoppy IPA’s which are sort of the flagship of the craft beer pantheon, but there are some very good ones out there and this is most definitely one of them.  

It’s a medium-bodied beer with the right amount of carbonation.  The first thing that hits your palate is the malts, paving the way for the tart citrus flavors of the hops that follow close behind.  It’s got a nice finish to it, slightly dry and bitter but in just the right amount leaving you wanting more.  

This would be in regular rotation if it were available here.  Thanks very much to Melissa for sharing this great beer with me.  In addition to being a craft beer fan, she’s also a very talented filmmaker.  Check out her blog, Bleary Eyed Brooklyn where she documents the best bands that come through New York City.  

Taste: A- Loved the malty characteristics as the overture to that symphony of hops.  Great hops fix without the attendant bitterness you’ll get in other hop-forward beers.
Drinkability: A-   Easy to drink and the lower ABV means it doesn’t pack the wallop of some beers with this much hop character.
Packaging: B  Solid, but not remarkable.  Nice illustration on the label but the brewer’s ‘message’ is packed into a tiny box on the side of the label.  This is a beer worthy of more than a tweet’s worth of text. 
Vitals: 6.0% ABV.  Served at about 40F from a 12 oz bottle.

Kicking it new style, with Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA

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This is the first of the white IPA style I’ve had, but it won’t be the last. It seems it maybe the hip style of the spring, with Sarnac, Sam Adams, and a few others releasing new offerings in this style. I can’t say I’m disappointed either. While I can take or leave the black IPAs, I’ve always enjoyed wheat beers. So when you combine my new found IPA enjoyment with an old favorite, I’m already sold. 

Now on to the beer. It’s available in 6 packs and the spring brewmasters collection. I opted for the 6, which isn’t something I do too often these days, and I’m glad I did. The beer pours hazy and tangerine like you’d expect from a wheat. It’s easy to get to aggressive with the pour and get a bit more head than desired. I perfer to not rouse the yeast with this one, it seems to have enough haze w/out the added bitterness of suspended yeast. The aroma is citrusy and slightly floral, it’s hard to tell if it’s from the Citra hops, or the orange peel.  The beer is light and crisp, but is very clean, not a lot of risidual sweetness. I was surprized to read there is apricots added to the beer. There is plenty of hop bitterness, there is no mistaking this is an IPA. So, if you like white beers, like Alagash white, and you like IPA’s, and other Dry / hoppy beers, this is a really good beer for you to try. I know I can’t wait to explore the style more, and will be enjoying this one a few more times.

Taste: B+ Hoppy, citrusy, and spicy like a white beer.   
Drinkability: B I’d like to think you could kick back more than a few of these, but honestly they are too bitter, and too spicy to really sit down and have more than a few. 
Packaging: C Your typical boring Sam Adams label design, little info about what’s in the bottle. 
Details: 5.8%ABV IBUs: 60, served at 45 in a Sam Adams perfect pint.

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Three Fine 2xIPAs

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I had the occasion to try three fine 2xIPAs tonight. The first, Haand Bryggeriet Dobbel Dram, Alchemist Heady Topper and Russian River Pliny the Elder. All of the beers I tried tonight were bottled/canned in December, based on labels or time of purchase. 

The Dobbel Dram was given to me by my CBS cohort Derek after I mentioned I’d had a bottle that didn’t seem too fresh. Since he’s a big fan of this beer I owed it a second chance. The Heady Topper came to me by way of my sister, who lives just a couple miles from the Alchemist Cannery. She brought it down around the Christmas holiday. Finally, the Pliny came from my friend Bill, who lives in Sonoma and has become my most recent beer friend (fiend?). 

I poured a sip of each to taste and then poured a larger quantity of each for the photos below. I wanted to try each before I’d too much of one to be able to taste the others (always a risk in this category). 

I tried the Dobbel Dram first and it didn’t disappoint. It poured a light amber with very fine bubbles on the head. The smell was elusive, not giving too much away. The taste was heavy on dried fruit (apricot and mango come to mind), with very subdued hops. I liked this beer, but it wasn’t distinctive. 

Next up was Pliny the Elder. The elder statesman of 2xIPA and arguably the creator of the style, this beer is solid. Crystal clear and nice hope aroma on the nose. The balance is great in this beer, but its age was starting to show. The hop bomb had begun to disappear and it had become just a great IPA. 

Finally, I got to the Heady Topper. For those of you that know me, you know this is a favorite. Well, time may have caught up with this one. Gone was the stinky green bud aroma, and the taste was solid, but not mind blowing. It was a lot hazier than the others as well. Again, it was a solid IPA, but not what I’ve come to expect from the Alchemist. This may have more to do with handling than anything else, so heed their warning and keep it cold. 

The lesson here is to: 

1. Get your 2xIPAs as fresh as you can. 

2. Keep them cold.  

3. Drink them soon. 

Happy drinking!!

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