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Ales Tanked Matinee: Where the Movies Come to Drink! Tue, 27 Jun 2017 03:36:55 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Riptide (Heavy Seas) Riptide (Heavy Seas)

Riptide White IPA

Heavy Seas Beer (Clipper City Brewing Company)

Baltimore, MD


The Buzz:

        This 7.25% ABV spring seasonal white IPA from Heavy Seas is perfect for anyone looking for something between a wheat and an IPA.



Life of the Party:

        Riptide pours to a cloudy gold with a somewhat frothy head, low carbonation and considerable lacing. Resembling a Belgian Wit, it has a springy, balanced mouth feel with a balanced taste of hop and wheat and smooth, surprisingly dry finish that leaves just a gentle reminder of what you've just drunk. I tasted notes of slightly sweet citrus, floral hops, pine, honey and biscuit (American biscuits, English biscuits are cookies dammit). I was a bit surprised to learn it came in at 45 IBUs, I would have expected a few more given the firm hop presence. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this beer was that the aroma leaned towards the wheat while the taste leaned towards the hops. Bottom line: if an IPA is too bitter and a wheat beer too sweet for you, DRINK THIS.


Potential Hangovers:

        Some purists might think white IPA is a betrayal of the style (especially given Americans' obsession with blistering IPAs) but this beer is so well put together as to silence the haters. There's also a slight tinge of alcohol on the end but the flavors of this beer are more than enough to compensate.


The Vibe:

        I toured the Heavy Seas Brewery at the end of March 2014 (which was a good decision, they had both the end of the winter seasonals and the beginning of the spring ones) and the owner of the brewery gave us the tour but first gave his own beer-inspired version of the Lord's Prayer. Really. The line that stuck with me was "Lead us not into incarceration, but deliver us from hangovers" so that's an indication of the whimsical love of craft that goes into this beer, and it shows. This is a great springtime beer (hence why it's their spring seasonal), perfect for drinking on the first nice, sunny day of spring after a cold winter.



+Exceptionally drinkable

+Great meld of styles, tastes

-Slight tinge of alcohol on the finish, but not nearly enough to be a turnoff

]]> (Chris Ford) Ales Fri, 12 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Hop Devil (Victory) Hop Devil (Victory)

Hop Devil IPA

Victory Brewing Company

Downington, PA


The Buzz:

        This 6.7% ABV IPA is a perfectly balanced, compulsively drinkable experience. If you have even considered enjoying hoppy beer, drink this now.


 Life of the Party:

        Made with exclusively whole flower American hops, Hop Devil IPA has a floral, hoppy aroma (duh) but it's not sharp and biting the way many American IPAs are (seriously, American craft brewers are obsessed with hops). Pouring to a clear amber, its zingy mouth feel produces notes of citrus (mostly grapefruit) and tiny bits of roasted malt and (surprisingly) a hint of caramel. It's sublimely balanced and amazingly smooth while still retaining its hop roots. Two aspects jumped out at me: one, the pleasant decrescendo of hops on the slow finish and two, the fleeting sweetness, like an animal that scurries away when you get too close.


Potential Hangovers:

        I struggled to find something I didn't like about Hop Devil. The most believable thing I could conjure was that it wasn't as potent of a hop punch as many IPA enthusiasts might want but given its superb flavor and texture, that's no fault.


The Vibe:

        The bottle says that Hop Devil is 'gently tamed with time'. If so, the taming was a good call by Victory Brewing. It's what I've always wanted from an American IPA: very hop forward but balanced with a subtle body and feel. This would be a great beer for a small gathering, ideally outdoors on a balmy day (I pictured trees in full autumn color-change). It would also work for a thoughtful solo exbeerience. I could see myself reading a book in a hammock while drinking this.



+Crisp and not too hoppy; a great introductory IPA for the uninitiated

+Extremely drinkable

-Not terribly devilish

]]> (Chris Ford) Ales Fri, 05 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Soulshine Pale Ale (Starr Hill) Soulshine Pale Ale (Starr Hill)

Soulshine Belgian Style Pale Ale

Starr Hill Brewery

Crozet, VA


The Buzz:

        This 5.2% ABV Belgian Style Pale Ale would serve as a potential gateway to stronger Pales.



Life of the Party:

        A firm hoppy aroma and foamy, lace-inducing head give way to a reserved taste with floral and citrus notes along with sour Belgian yeast flavor. For a Belgian Pale, it was surprisingly quick and potency-lacking, though it does seem to get stronger as it's drunk.


Potential Hangovers:

        The finish is a bit metallic and the taste sort of disappears. It's not so much a flavor hole as a flavor cliff. It's there and gone and it doesn't even hang in midair for a bit Wile E. Coyote style. Also, the taste and aroma seem as if they came from two separate beers, the taste isn't as strong as the smell would have you believe.


The Vibe:

        The environment for Soulshine should be a backyard barbecue where you'd like to drink something better than mass market beer but not something you want to seriously consider. While the light flavor and timid hop presence might attract more casual beer drinkers, it wasn't quite enough for me. Still decent and easily drinkable but I was left wanting a bit more.



+not potent, so could be drunk on a variety of occasions

-not potent

-slightly metallic finish

-my soul didn't feel very shiny while drinking it

]]> (Chris Ford) Ales Thu, 14 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Bourbon Barrel Stout (Bluegrass) Bourbon Barrel Stout (Bluegrass)

Bourbon Barrel Stout

Bluegrass Brewing Company

Louisville, KY


The Buzz:

        It's right there in the name: this is a Bourbon Barrel Stout. It's a stout aged in bourbon barrels. Thus, it's a roasty, aromatic, liquory 8.6% ABV experience.



Life of the Party:

       As per stouts, this beer poured to an almost black with a tan head. Aromatically an enticing consort of bourbon, malt and smoke was this beer. At once light on the tongue and flavorful, the not-too-potent roasted malts, long smoky bourbon finish, rich-but-not-cloying chocolate notes and barrel-aged calmness made for a relaxed libation experience. The flavor doesn't linger, but it also doesn't run away. It's around for just long enough.


Potential Hangovers:

        Despite a great aroma, I found this to have a surprising lack of punch for a bourbon stout. Those two things are usually potent on their own so I may have over-anticipated. 


The Vibe:

        This is not a party beer. It just isn't. It's more of a 'sitting by the fire on a cold winter night with a good friend after being out in the snow' kind of beer. Honestly, my favorite part was the aroma. I sat and smelled it for several minutes. Perhaps for too long since the taste was slightly underwhelming (side note: is anything ever just 'whelming'? It's always over- or underwhelming. Why?).



+Smoother and rounder due to aging

+Relative gentleness could serve as an introduction to darker, more adventurous beer

-Lack of carbonation and crispness might turn off some

-Bourbon flavor not widely palatable

-Not much power to the malts

-A bit thin for stout, even a barrel aged one

]]> (Chris Ford) Ales Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Optimal Wit (Port City) Optimal Wit (Port City)

Optimal Wit

Port City

Alexandria, VA


The Buzz:

        Perhaps Port City's most well-known beer, Optimal Wit is a 5% ABV Belgian Wit brewed with coriander, orange peel and grains of paradise.



Life of the Party:

        Optimal Wit pours to a pale, cloudy gold with less froth than perhaps a german wheat beer would have and a noticeably small amount of lacing for a wheat. I also noticed an almost saison-like aroma on the nose. I'd comfortably go on record saying witters and saisoneers (don't we call them that?) would both enjoy Optimal Wit. A smooth, slightly creamy mouth-feel gives way to a long, slightly tart finish that illustrates the beer's Belgian origins. (Note: when pouring, pour out 80-90% into the glass, swill around the remaining beer in the bottle, then top it off - this will ensure you catch all of the sediment at the bottom of the bottle a.k.a. the stuff of true believers)


Potential Hangovers:

        While delicious, this is not a 'pound a six pack' kind of beer. The flavor is very rich and not at all crisp, which could discourage drinking more than one or two. It's a lip-smacker to be sure.


The Vibe:

        Given its belgian style and wheat sweetness, this beer evokes snowy old world villages. We don't really have those in the US, so perhaps this is a bit of a vicarious beer experience. A wit for the witless.



+Great flavor balance, complexity for the style 

+Smooth and creamy without being excessively frothy or cloying

-Finish lingers a bit long considering its juxtaposition to the front of the beer

-Only available in the mid-Atlantic

]]> (Chris Ford) Ales Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Dirty Bastard (Founders) Dirty Bastard (Founders)

Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale

Founders Brewing Company

Grand Rapids, MI


The Buzz:

        Like I wasn't going to buy a beer called 'Dirty Bastard' and pour a bit out for ODB (RIP). This 8.5% ABV, 50 IBU Scotch Ale belies its name with a soft, musty taste and a long, semi-sweet finish. If you're feeling at all dirty and/or bastardous, pick this one up and kick back and it might just level you out.



Life of the Party:

        While I enjoy being surprised by a beer whose aroma conceals its true flavor notes, there is much to be said for a brew that shows its true characteristics upon a hefty sniff. The hints of honey and syrup present in the aroma came through in the first swig. The flavor doesn't come on immediately, it eases in gradually until it comes to a full, malty expanse. The first analogy I imagined was of the 'THX sound' bit you see at the movie theater. When it starts it doesn't sound/taste like much but once it hits you in full, it has your attention.

        Pouring with a moderate head to a slightly cloudy dark amber color, the seven different malts used in brewing give this beer a complex, slightly musty flavor that doesn't quite let you figure it out. Just like the best art, the best beer leaves you wondering and marveling over what you've just experienced.


Potential Hangovers:

        I've found that most casual beer drinkers like a crisp, refreshing finish. I've also found that most casual beer drinkers are more receptive to beers that lean malty rather than hoppy.  This beer has none of the former and a bit too much of the latter. The finish is long and cloying and isn't easily salivated away. While this type of "don't forget me, lover" attitude may be appealing to more seasoned beer folks, I could easily see it putting someone off. I found myself licking and smacking my lips for a bit even after I finished it. Furthermore, there's little in the way of hops in this one, so if that's your bag I'm afraid it won't be filled here.


The Vibe:

        I immediately felt quieter and calmer when I started drinking this (and not nearly as dirty as I expected) so I'd advise against choosing this as libation amid a raucous throwdown. It would be much better suited for a quiet evening. If ever you need a beer for quiet, calm introspection, this would fit the bill. 



+ well rounded taste

+/- strong musty flavor

- too long, cloying finish

]]> (Chris Ford) Ales Thu, 17 Jul 2014 12:00:00 +0000
The Corruption (DC Brau) The Corruption (DC Brau)

The Corruption IPA

DC Brau Brewing

Washington, DC


The Buzz:

        This 6.5% ABV India Pale Ale from DC Brau is undoubtedly named for the defining characteristic (for those outside the beltway, anyway) of the city of its birth. The 80 IBU bitterness pairs well with a hearty dish of political corruption, of which there is no scarcity in Washington. Simply put, it's the beer DC deserves and the one it needs right now. In spite of its nefarious etymology, however, it's damn delicious and available practically anywhere in the greater DC area.



Life of the Party:

        The Corruption is slightly darker in color than the average IPA, pouring to a fairly clear rich copper with a foamy head and a mild but firm hop aroma. The hops come to life immediately upon tongue impact but they quickly recede to a crisp, slightly dry but resinous, piney finish. This, to me anyway, is the defining characteristic of this beer: its tangy, rich hop punch that backs off to a more rounded, calmer, maltier finish than many IPAs. There is just enough malt balance to prevent The Corruption from sliding into the shadow of the many over-hopped American IPAs.


Potential Hangovers:

        Due to its hop-forward taste, The Corruption could turn off less seasoned or malt-favoring beer drinkers. Conversely, however, I'd argue that its quick, subtle finish could allow it to function as an introduction to the more heavily hopped end of the beer spectrum.


The Vibe:

        I've toured the DC Brau brewery and, like the Isla de Muerta in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, it can't really be found unless you already know where it is. Seriously, it's not labeled. There's no sign, it's just in a nondescript warehouse area. Awesome. Also slightly disappointing but still awesome: my Dad was once in DC on the night of the State of the Union address and we entered several different bars trying to find one that hadn't run out of DC Brau Corruption and we couldn't. We clearly were not the only ones that had the idea to throw back some Corruption while observing it in its full colors. You must forgive Washingtonians for being a cynical folk.

         Yet fear not, good people, for this beer is drinkable on any occasion. Political shenanigans sold separately. This beer, though intensely flavorful, could work in a small group or even a larger chilled out party setting and it comes in a can only, so there's no pretense. Here is one instance where DC bitterness goes down smooth. Drink up, America.



+ DC Brau is always canned, thus no possibility of being skunked by light

+/- Some IPA enthusiasts might be a bit disappointed in the quick finish

- comes close to Imperial IPA territory in bitterness and intensity, only for true hopologists (they're called that, right?)

- not available outside the mid-Atlantic


P.S. - The can recommends serving the Corruption in a tulip or goblet, but mine were in the dishwasher, so gimme a break, OK? Geez.

]]> (Chris Ford) Ales Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:00:00 +0000
Sorachi Ace (Brooklyn Brewery) Sorachi Ace (Brooklyn Brewery)

Sorachi Ace

Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn, NY


The Buzz:

        This 7.6% ABV Saison from Brooklyn Brewery, described on the bottle as "a cracklingly dry, hoppy, unfiltered golden farmhouse ale" is named for the Japanese Sorachi Ace hop with which it is made. Nothing terribly original on the nomenclature front but when you have an ingredient as awesomely named as 'Sorachi Ace' you don't need a clever title. I've been consistently able to find a 1 pint, 9.4 fl. oz. bottle at a Washington, DC Harris Teeter for about $8. I'd guiltlessly pay much more.



Life of the Party:

        I've always been a fan of Brooklyn Brewery (especially after touring their brewery and sampling their smaller batch local beers - their tour guide described their brewery as 'classy as fuck' and I vehemently agree) and when I saw a Brooklyn Saison, I had to try it. 


        According to BeerAdvocate, the eponymous hop is noted for it's lemongrass aroma, and while that's the aroma's dominant characteristic, it's much more complex. I noted a vaguely butterscotch sweetness to the aroma that (at least in my experience) isn't common to Saisons but, like all beers in it's style, it still has that floral, springy smell.


        The Sorachi Ace is hazy with a rich, muted gold color, pours with a moderately foamy head and does not leave much lacing. It's fermented with a Belgian ale strain and re-hopped post-fermentation and subsequently bottle re-fermented with Champagne yeast. Thus, it's got a deceptively creamy mouth-feel followed by a zing of floral, grassy flavor and a long, complex, soft but tangy finish. This is not a beer that lets you forget what you're drinking, and it's all the better for it as this is no ordinary hop. It's got an exotic twinge of sweet that turns almost immediately to rich, mellow sour when swallowed. As far as the "cracklingly dry" description on the bottle, I'd agree but only to an extent because my beer experience has taught me that "dry" usually means "quick, crisp finish" and this beer has the long, lingering, ponderous finish that I've always wanted from a Saison.


Potential Hangovers:

        If you're as yet unaware, this is a favorite beer of mine. It's greatest asset might be it's greatest hindrance to wide appeal: it's a truly unique Saison and thus it's not a taste for everyone. The floral punch and the hoppy, zingy, long tangy finish might linger too potently for some. However, if I'm being honest, that's OK. More for us aspiring cicerones.


The Vibe:

        Drink this beer calmly in a laid-back setting and take your time with it so you can truly appreciate the complex flavor characteristics. As per the bottle, enjoy this with seafood and fresh cheese. Risking bottle-wrath, I'd recommend enjoying all by its damn self. It's delicious and substantial enough. Do understand, a party beer this is not. A great beer to share with friends looking to expand their beer palette this IS. If you are the most brew-knowledgable among your social group, I'd recommend this beer as an exotic yet accessible choice for expanding the perception of malleable beer drinkers. Cheers.



+ Complex, enticing aroma

+ Unique taste for it's style

+ Not overwhelmingly 'barnyard' as many saisons are

+ Long, enigmatic finish (seriously, it leaves you plenty of time to think about it)

- not for everyone

- not available everywhere

]]> (Chris Ford) Ales Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:00 +0000
Heart of Darkness (Magic Hat Brewing Company) Heart of Darkness (Magic Hat Brewing Company)

The Buzz:

        A Magic Hat Winter Seasonal (that I've been able to find even this late on sale) that's an inexpensive and easy-drinking stout. 5.7% ABV.


Life of the Party:

        This may just be the first stout I've had that's easy-drinking enough that I could easily enjoy a 6-pack of the stuff. First off, it's a dry stout, so no super-thick malt flavors to slow you down. There's a tiny hint of chocolate on the front end, and a somewhat fruity finish. There's almost no evidence of the alcohol level in the flavor. So if you can find a leftover bottle this late in the season, or just want to keep it in the back of your mind for next winter, Heart of Darkness could easily be your six-pack beer of choice for your next event.


Potential Hangovers:

        Once again, my gripes have to do with bottle marketing that doesn't deliver. The neck label on Heart of Darkness promises a "distinctly rich and flavorful beer." But in reality, this beer is neither of those things. It's dry and drinkable, and flavors are all fairly mild. Now in the case of this beer I found that these were my favorite aspects (not EVERY beer needs to be super thick and have enough flavor to nearly knock you on your ass). But if you're going to advertise it on your bottle, you better deliver.   


The Vibe:

I do believe this might be the first beer I've reviewed on Tanked Matinee that I feel perfectly comfortable labeling as a "party beer." If you're the beer drinker that prefers stouts, and have been looking for one you could drink several of as part of your next party's debaucheries, then Heart of Darkness may just be for you. It can also serve pretty well as a relatively light dessert beer as you wind down for the night.

]]> (Enuncia) Ales Wed, 28 May 2014 12:00:00 +0000
Dogzilla (Laughing Dog Brewery) Dogzilla (Laughing Dog Brewery)

The Buzz:

        A Northwest Black IPA from Laughing Dog Brewery. Weighs in at 6.9%, and promises to be "black and hoppy." Besides a cool bit of label art (yes, I admit that I buy many of the beers I do based solely on label art), and reference to the old Godzilla theme song, there's not much else to find on the outside of this 22 oz bottle.


Life of the Party:

        If you're new the craft beer world, then probably like many of us you see the word (?) IPA and immediately shy away. And I don't blame you; I used to hate IPA's. Many years of the crap alcohol I drank before my beer awakening exposed me to nearly no strong hop flavors, which made IPA's much too intense for me. But I'm here to tell you that that all came to an end when I first discovered the world of Black IPA's. And Dogzilla can be your gateway-beer into a whole new genre that you may have avoided for this long.

        I typically find that, at least in most Black IPA's, strong malt flavors balance out the strong hop flavors, and in the case of Dogzilla I'm pleased to say this remains true. I got a lot of earthy hop notes, balanced by malt flavors and an almost toasted-biscuit finish. I found that the beer begged for a food-pairing; for me it was some nice sharp cheese, though something like a burger might also be worth trying.


Potential Hangovers:

        Really there are only two potential downsides to Dogzilla. The first is that right out of the fridge (which I will admit is set to a bit lower temp than optimal, since it's not only a beer fridge) it tasted a bit...hollow is the only word I can think of, but this was solved as it warmed up in the glass.

        Secondly even with the greater balance of flavors than your typical IPA, you may just not be an IPA drinker, Black or no. But even still I say give it a try, you may just be surprised.


The Vibe:

        To me, Black IPA's fit in two different scenarios: they can be a meal-time beer, or a snack-time beer. Dogzilla serves both equally well. I'd say it's a little too strong for a "party beer," so pour it into a nice glass, and enjoy!

]]> (Enuncia) Ales Wed, 21 May 2014 12:00:00 +0000