Pipeworks Brewing Co. - Closer Encounter Imperial Stout
A little flat and funky on the nose at the same time and ultra bitter for an imperial stout, but this brew is pretty good. I’m definitely tasting the high ABV percentage, but the over-bittered, dark and roast-y malts are left unscathed, coating the tongue nicely.
I give it a solid “B”
Local Option and Pub Dog Brewing Co. - Voku Hila Maibock
YUSSSSSS! Clean, pure, unbridled grain-y goodness. Why in the fuck do the Beer Advocates have this at a sub-80% rating?
First of all, my homie, Jon Scordato, drew the illustration of the emo, mullet-wearing goat head on the label. Second of all, Local Option is one of the best damned bars in Chicago.
That said, I’m coming into this review unbiased by those factors. This beer is brewed in conjunction with Pub Dog Brewing out of New York. The Local Option connection is that one of the co-owners (I could be mistaken on his ownership status) is a brewer, and a talented one at that. And so he brews beers with other breweries (in their facilities) under the Local Option name.
OK, so you already knew that…
So this brew is lighter, both in body and color, and maybe a little over-bitter-ed for its style, but GOT-DAYUM is it good! This beer is as clean and pure tasting as they come. From front to back, all I get is great barley, straw, and toasted bread flavors… Well, that and a bunch of bitter hop on top, heheh.
At first whiff and first taste, this thing tastes like classic German goodness. But soon you get more and more of a good amount of hop-y bitterness that builds increasingly over the course of a glass. And this is what I’m taking as the “problem” with this beer. Well, fuck that; I think this quality is awesome.
It is maybe a little over carbonated, and it’s hazy instead of translucent, but damn I do enjoy it!
Solid A grade beer here.
New Belgium and Red Rock collab - Paardebloem
NOM NOM NOM! Perfectly light and crisp, fruity, tangy- this beer is great!
I’ve never heard of Red Rock Brewery before, but this collaboration beer they’ve made with New Belgium Brewing, as of New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, is just plain fantastic.
On the nose- plenty of yeast esters, floral essence, and fruit juice. On the tongue- more tartness from the wild yeast and peach juice, plus notes of tropical fruit like pineapple. All this is anchored by an awesome grassy, somewhat hoppy backbone. Im guessing that’s the dandelion root kicking in and I love it.
There is also some subtle yet noticeable smokiness, likely from the oak aging. There is a slight alcoholic tint to the overall flavor as well, but it’s not at all a detractor to the flavor profile.
The body is light and splashy, with a nice amount of hard carbonation that hits just right on the top and sides of the mouth.
I shoulda bought two.of these bad boys.
Boulevard Brewing Co. - Smokestack Series Imperial Stout 2013 Limited Release Ale
This thing smells like day old coffee doused in vinegar! Well, only at first whiif (or two). Upon successive smells I pick up some slight notes of dark fruit, dark chocolate, burnt wood, dark, roasted roast-y malt, anise… It’s all so seemingly compacted and complex, though, that it’s an almost faint aroma overall. I feel like there’s so much to intake that my nose just meshes it all together into a mush. Somehow the aroma is just awesome and wanting at the same time.
The brew pours a thick, beautiful dark tan head that looks softer than goose down feathers. The head lingers a while and sticks the glass nicely. As the darkness of the head indicates, the color of this brew is immensely dark. No light seems to penetrate this bad boy- even at an extreme side-angle, this beer sucks up all the light it is provided.
The body, however, is perfectly not-too-light on the tongue. Kind of juicy, kind of coating, the body is easy to quaff without feeling watery. The only thing holding me back from just straight up guzzling this thing down is the whiskey burn it leaves on your throat. Thankfully, the burning subsides pretty quickly.
The whiskey burn is also very present in the flavor and is actually a little overbearing. Certainly, I pick up a lot of the same flavors that are present in the aroma - very dark chocolate, dark fruits (maybe plum or cherry), anise or licorice, burnt wood, burnt sugar, roasted malt grain - but I think it’s all a bit drowned out by the bourbon kick present almost front to back. It’s a complex flavor profile that is, at least to me, suppressed by the barrel aged ale mixture.
I dunno, half of me is very into this beer, and half of me wants to tell the brewers to rethink things a little.
Smuttynose Brewing Co. - Rhye IPA
Like many breweries, Smuttynose has some very exceptional beers and also some not-so-exceptional beers. This rye IPA offering is kinda leaning toward the latter .. It’s not bad at all, but something about seeing Albrecht Durer’s well known illustration of a rhinoceros on the label made me fall into the old “judge a book by its cover” conundrum- based on the label, I assumed the beer to be better than it actually is.
That said, it’s a fairly standard rye IPA. There’s notable rye grain aromas on the nose and plenty of earthy hop character as well. The color is a flat amber hue that is almost completely opaque from the haze.
On the tongue its got an odd bite up front that really contrasts the overall flatness of the brew. The flat body is also surprising as the beer pours a really large head which substantially laces the glass. I dunno but in my ignorant bliss I’m equating large head with full body… Other than that it’s mostly just a standard wallop of bitter citrus-y hop flavors followed by an earthy, almost herbal grain backbone.
Overall it’s very drinkable mostly pleasant, but in the end, I’m kinda “meh” about this one.
Pretty Things - Meadowlark American IPA
Well I’m not as taken by this offering from Pretty Things as I was their saison, which I tried a few months ago, but it is certainly a solid IPA.
This is the first of 6 bombers I received from my homie, roo-roo, in Massachusetts. He’s the same guy that hooked me up with the Pretty Things saison some months back. It pours a mostly-clear bright gold that really retains it’s head, which is also very substantial. This thing laces the glass all the way down to the bottom.
A very floral aroma on top, deeper inhales hint at aromas of citrus fruit, pineapple, grape, and some other tropical fruit I can’t put my finger on.. The taste holds some of the same notes up front, but it’s pretty soft on the tongue overall- softer than the aroma would lead you to believe. Furthermore the body is incredibly light and flowing. Even the carbonation level seems low.
Softness aside, there is some brief fruitiness in the front, followed almost immediately by a bit of caramel maltiness. Right after that is a decent kick of bitter hop flavor in the middle, easing off into subtle pine resin and toast. Subtle smacks of tropical fruit flavor - maybe passion fruit? - and subtle residue of pine resin linger on the palate in the aftertaste.
Not bad, not bad. Another B+ in the house here.
Drake’s Brewing - Black Robusto Porter
HOLY FUCK THIS IS SOME DEEEEEEEP CHOCOLATE BREW.
The aroma coming off this bad boy is powerful. It’s deep, it’s bitter, and it’s toasty.
On the tongue it’s not as deeply chocolate-y, but it still packs a nice bittersweet choco-punch overall. There’s also a decent little hop kick somewhere in the middle-back that really well compliments the bitter chocolate flavors.
I think this is finally the last beer from the stuff I got from the homie, llincolnbeard, back in, what, about a year ago? Yea, you read that correctly- my numbskull slef has been sitting on beers for a year or more, whether they can be aged or not.
I’m making the effort to:
a. not sit on beers I get in trade from other regions or beers that I save for reviews
b. write more reviews (seriously I have a whole lot of photos that need reviews attached to them)
Anywho… I give this one a B+
Hinterland Lunatic Imperial Stout. Smells like a steak dinner covered in cacao. Tastes like it, too.
I had heard the drama, but I hadn’t yet seen the result.
I have a LOT of beer blog drafts saved and poised to be posted, but here’s a nice blog entry by the Solemn Oath dudes about the everlasting controversy over being Chicagoan, being a craft beer drinker, and continuing to support Goose Island since their “buyout” by Anheiser Busch.
I have been trying to educate the masses at every turn on this matter. Yea, at first it was like “OMG BUD BOUGHT GOOSE!” but of course many people failed to realize that it was mostly a financial win-win for both parties. And it was really just the more ubiquitous Goose beers got the shaft, not the high-quality, low-production or seasonal offerings.. The good stuff is still mostly made here in The Chi.
Plus, no one else in the nation has the Clybourn street brewpub. The brews coming out of there are just plain AWSM.