Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stochasticity Project - Grapefruit Slam IPA Review

Brewery: Stochasticity Project / Koochenvagner's Brewing Co. / Stone Brewing Co.
Location: Escondido, CA
Beer: Grapefruit Slam IPA
Style: Imperial/Double IPA
Serving: Weizen Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 8.2%
IBUs: 95

This beer is a riddle wrapped in an enigma.  On the bottle it says "Brewed and Bottled  by Koochenvagner's Brewing Co." This beer is clearly brewed by Stone though it doesn't actually say stone anywhere on the bottle.  The image below Stochasticity project is like one of those magic eyes and if you look at it long enough you can see the gargoyle appear.  When I visited it is finally revealed this is a Stone beer.  From what I could gather Stochasticity is Stones pet project where they will be trying experimental beer and one offs that they do not want to put out under the Stone name.

The back of the bottle reveals this was brewed with Centennial, Chinook and Magnum hops and dry hopped with Centennial. Grapefruit peel was added as a specialty ingredient to lend to this beers citrus persona. The grain bill is pretty simple with only North American Pale and Light Crystal but you are not looking for a complex malt profile in an IPA just something to balance against the hops.  There is also a confusing, and heavily marketing influenced commercial for the beer as well:

A (3/3): A light golden clear ale with a small off white creamy head that remains covering the beer for the majority of the time.

S (8/12): The aroma isn't aggressive but is present; orange and lime but suprisingly not a lot of grapefruit character.  I definitely do not get the SLAM of grapefruit that is promised on the bottle.  A light bready malt smell can be detected but not an overly aromatic beer.

T (14/20): Definitely contains citrus notes but not deserving of the slam name, also not distinctively grapefruit.  Really the only definitive character I can get from the grapefruit is the bitterness from the peel.  The pithy white layer underneath the zest that remains bitter and is difficult to cleanse from your palate. Definitely a more biting bitterness that lingers with your long after drank.

M (3/5): A medium bodied beer with a thicker texture and medium carbonation.  This beer finishes with a lingering bitterness that does not go away.

O (6/10): An decent beer but I just couldn't get over the bitterness from the grapefruit peel.  If it was just there momentarily it would be fine however the amount of time that it stayed really detracted from the overall enjoyment of this beer.  I am excited to try the next beer from Stone Stochsticity.  According the the website the next one is Varna Necropolis which is a hoppy Belgian style golden strong ale that has been aged in bourbon whiskey barrels.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Firestone Walker - Double Barrel Ale (DBA) Review

Brewery: Firestone Walker
Location: Paso Robles, CA
Beer: Double Barrel Ale (DBA)
Style: English Pale Ale
Serving: Weizen Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 5.0%
IBUs: 30

A (3/3): Topped by a medium rocky head with light yellow coloring.  This clear copper beer Light Yellow, Clear Copper

S (7/12): This beer does not have a strong aroma, but what is present is that of biscuity malt and wet cardboard.

T (11/20): The taste of biscuity caramel supports a light hop aroma and the flavor of wet cardboard caused by oxidization and old beer.

M (3/5): Medium bodied beer with a thin texture and soft carbonation.  This ale finishes sticky with a texture that remain in your mouth after drank.

O (6/10): DO NOT AGE THIS BEER.  I kept getting the feeling that this beer just tasted old and oxidized then I saw there was a bottled on date it was 7/12/12 this beer was a year and a half old, well past it's sustainable shelf life. Also of note, Firestone puts the time on that it was bottled 17:10 which for all you 'Muricans out there is 5:10PM.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Rare Barrel - Ensorcelled Review

Brewery: The Rare Barrel
Location: Berkeley, CA
Beer: Ensorcelled
Style: American Wild Ale
Serving: Tulip Glass (10 oz.) 
ABV: 5.8%
Sourness: 6/10

A (3/3): A very strange head sits on this deep dark purple colored beer.  Like tadpole eggs each evenly sized and spaced transparent bubble covers this beer.

S (10/12): Raspberry.  Just raspberry, slightly sweet with a tinge of sourness to it. Not like Ocean Spray juice but pretty close.

T (17/20): The smell leads you right into the flavor with a strong raspberry flavor with just the right amount of sourness.  This has a great taste that makes you want to go back and grab more.

M (4/5): Medium bodied with a silky texture and soft carbonation finishes with an almost biting tartness.

O (8/10): Fantastic sour beer just the right distribution of sourness and fruit flavor.  One of the more sour beers I tried at The Rare Barrel.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Rare Barrel - Home, Sour Home Review

Brewery: The Rare Barrel
Location: Berkeley, CA
Beer: Home, Sour Home
Style: American Wild Ale
Serving: Tulip Glass (10 oz.) 
ABV: 5.8%
Sourness: 5/10

A (3/3) Sparse and diminishing head with a hazy to cloudy clarity of this clear golden beer.

S (10/12): Very pleasant peach and cinnamon aroma with a light vanilla note dance in your nostrils begging you to take a sip.

T (18/20): Fantastic, the peach and cinnamon are both so well balanced.  Neither flavor is dominant but both are very noticeable.  The vanilla aroma that was in the aromas background transfers to the palate in a similar supporting role.

M (4/5): A medium mouthfeel with a flat level of carbonation and a clean tart finish.

O (9/10): GREAT Sour beer! The cinnamon flavor with the peach counterweight is a flavor combination that I never would have thought compliment each other so well.


Friday, March 14, 2014

CRAFT movie Director/Producer Craig Noble Interview

     I was fortunate enough to conduct an interview with Craig Noble, director and producer of the upcoming movie CRAFT. In this film Craig Noble travels around the country documenting the craft beer scene.  Below is a trailer for this movie and my interview that is sure to interest any craft beer enthusiast. 

Buffalo Theory Brewing: What inspired you to make this movie?
Craig Noble: I love Craft beer.
2 1/2 years ago I came back from an extensive working vacation in Asia and I landed in SoCal. I was either going to do a photojournalism piece on Boarder cities of the SW or do a San Diego brewery tour, I chose the latter.
After being inspired by the scene there I committed to do another feature documentary. It's been all beer all the time since.

BTB: What did you learn from making this movie about the craft beer industry that you didn't know before?
CN: Well, I got to say that I was happily surprised by the general good will within the industry as a whole and the cooperation between craft brewers is pretty special, considering how much competition there is right now. I am also taken aback by the shear growth in the industry, both in volume and number of breweries. The level of enthusiasm for brewers and consumers is amazing.

BTB: How did you choose the breweries to spotlight?
CN: It was very editorial. I wanted to get a complete spectrum of scale and style within the breweries covered, but mostly I chose these breweries for their outstanding product. I had the privilege of drinking some of the best beer on the planet the last 2 years! And when drinking that level of beer you get turned on to and poured so much more amazing brews that it really was inspiring and delicious.

BTB: What challenges did you come across in the making of the movie?
CN: I'm a one-man army, so production, logistics, post, that's all on me, so it's an incredible amount of work, and boarder-line insane. There was a lot of travel involved and a lot of ground covered so I was pretty much a gypsy most of last year.

BTB: Do you have any plans for future beer related projects (not necessarily film related)?
CN: Yes. I have taken a recipe development/brewing position with a start-up brewery in Vancouver,(my hometown) and was basically given carte blanche to design beers that I could drink a lot of, that were not available here, which is awesome. And I will be starting a more geeky bottle-conditioning program as well, which has to remain nameless at this point.

BTB: What made you choose Portland, OR as the city to premiere the movie in?
CN: I have been coming to Portland for years now, and have quite a few friends there. There are a lot of beery cities in America but when it comes to Craft beer, Portland I would say it has the most heart. The quality, number of breweries per captia and the level of support is phenomenal. Portlanders have some of the best beer and selection of anywhere in the world. Luckily for me, it's 6 hours down I5.

BTB: Was there anything that you would have liked to get into the movie that you were not able to?
CN: There are so many great brewers, breweries, scenes, cities and farmhouse breweries that it is impossible to fit them all in. There are some regions I would like to have travel to and filmed at but... there's just too much good beer!

BTB: Do you homebrew? If so how often and in what capacity?
CN: I got into homebrewing a few years ago after I produced a video series on how to make your own booze at home. I have expensive wine making experience and even do my own distilling. For my recipe development contract I build a 10 gallon three tiered system to test batch on. 2 batches per week since the beginning of November.

BTB: What was it like brewing a professional batch at Coalition Brewing?
CN: Elan and Brad are great. The brew day was flawless, and we hit all our gravities and volumes and the quality of raw ingredients were top notch. The Farmhouse Ale for Portland will be amazing. It is a little 10 bbl system with limited automation which was fun. Very crafty.

BTB: What is the story behind the first beer that got you into craft beer?
CN: I was shooting my sustainable food documentary TABLELAND and I went to Crannog Ales to shoot their organic farm brewery. I drank a lot of craft beer there, but I really must say that Brian's Backhand of God Stout is an amazing beer, and gained a full appreciation for hand crafted brews.

BTB: What is your favorite style of craft beer? Why?
CN: Depending on the weather, my mood or food... I would have to say Saison if I was only allowed one style.

BTB: What is your favorite commercial beer? Why?
CN: That’s entrapment! If I was to choose one, I will go super-classic, OG and say Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. It’s almost a perfect beer.

You can buy tickets at the Hollywood Theater website for the world premier of CRAFT on April 3rd.  The premier will be preceded by two of Noble's previous short films.  This event will also be a beer release party for the Altered State Farmhouse Ale brewed in collaboration with Coalition Brewing in Portland durring the filming.  There will also be beer on tap from The Commons, another Portland based brewery featured in the film.  I hope to see everyone at the premier.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Rare Barrel - SKUs Me Review

Brewery: The Rare Barrel
Location: Berkeley, CA
Beer: SKUs Me
Style: American Wild Ale
Serving: Tulip Glass (10 oz.)
ABV: 5.3%
Sourness: 4/10

A (3/3):Sparse and eventually non existent head on a hazy golden beer

S (8/12): The smell didn't have a lot going on other than I could tell this was going to be a sour beer.

T (15/20): Not a real dynamic flavor, a good beer but not much about it other than the sourness. The biscuity flavor did come out a little. The beer tastes like you would imagine if someone poured a little vinegar in a British pale ale.  Not very sour but enough to definitely be a sour beer.

M (4/5): Lighty bodied with a flat carbonation level that finished tart.

O (7/10): Overall a pretty good beer this would be a great beer to introduce people to sour beers.  Not too sour and not a lot of funkiness that throws some people off of sours.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Elysian - Valhala Red IPA Review

Brewery: Elysian Brewing Company
Location: Seattle, WA
Beer: Valhalla
Style: Red India Pale Ale
Serving: Pint Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 70

A (3/3): A light yellow foamy head sets up shop on this beer. A very long lasting head the beer is light red in color with a minor haze.

S (9/12): The aroma from the hops definitely has a citrus character to it.  Not one particular citrus fruit is bold enough to claim the beer as its own, but orange does pull out ahead of the others.  An agreeable balance is made from the light caramel and cookie character offer my the malts.

T (16/20): This is an inverted bell curve of a beer, high malts and high hops reign supreme here.  The Special B and Caramel malts used to construct this beer give it a great flavor reminiscent of buckwheat or tea.  The bottle said this beer was bittered with Sorachi Ace hops and finished with Amarillo.  However in doing my research multiple sites said that it was finished with Citra.  While it was very Citra-ish, Amarillo has a characteristic orange quality so I am inclined to believe what they put on the bottle.

M (4/5): A medium bodied beer with a soft carbonation and a thick sticky finish.  This beer has a soft level of carbonation

O (7/10): Not a characteristic IPA but very easy to imbibe.  The malt profile contrasts drastically against the hops however in the end it makes the beer very enjoyable.  Probably not an everyday drinker but once in a while this beer would be very good.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sierra Nevada - DevESTATEtion Black IPA Review

Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Location: Chico, CA
Beer: DevESTATEtion
Style:Black IPA
Serving: Weizen Glass (22 oz.) 
ABV: 6.7%
IBUs: 67

From the bottle:
It’s a shame when good barley goes bad, but instead of crying in our beer – or lack thereof – we decided to do one better and make something new. Featuring organic malts and our estate-grown wet hops, this black IPA is the evil twin of our legendary Estate Ale. Black in color with a mild roasty flavor and moderate body, this beer has a bold citrusy and earthy hop flavor and aroma from the use of our own wet hops. We’d never let one bad harvest get in the way of a great beer, so join us in a toast to the memory of our devastating season.

A (3/3): Two fingers of thick rocky beige head that reduces to a thin but dense coating and produces moderate lacing.  The head retention on this beer is incredible I did not see anything but foam the entire duration while looking into the glass.  The beer is dark but not as black, as I was expecting; I would say burnt chestnut over black.  The beer is mostly clear but has a light haze, light passes through with little effort.  The bottle is sealed with a tough black wax, had to use a knife to get to it.

S (10/12): Browned toasted malts, slight citrus notes and a bold earthy hops character.  DevESTATEtion also supports a meager touch of dark chocolate and coffee aroma.

T (17/20): Much more malt flavor than hops, like a hoppy stout.  The wet hops can be tasted with a slightly vegetal flavor.

M (4/5): Full bodied with a slight lingering bite from the bitterness associated with both hops and dark malts.  Finishes creamy and slightly oily.

O (8/10): Very heavily malted for a black IPA with the hops take a supporting role in this beer.  I have zero qualms with this, other than the style that it is placed in.  Not what I was expecting, but still a very enjoyable and expertly crafted ale.