Ravens Game Day 6 Pack (Week 7) – Tröegs Perpetual IPA

Welcome to the Ravens Game Day 6 Pack series, where we will try to highlight some unique/different/fun beers available right now to try and enjoy while watching the Ravens.  Or Orioles, or Terps.  Why you’d want to watch anything else…I don’t know?

Previous weeks posts:

Week 1 – Troegs Hop Knife

Week 2 – Stone Enjoy by IPA (Follow Up)

Week 3 – Goose Island Sofie

Week 4 – Saucony Creek Kutztown Lager

Week 5 – BYE (I had a migraine…)

Week 6 – Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

image

The week one seasonal harvest ale from Tröegs was so good, when I saw this in the store I picked it up without hesitation.  Let’s take a look at the information provided by the brewery:

Download (PDF, 1.06MB)

The first question that comes to mind when I read that is “what is a hopback?”  Well here you go.  Basically, it’s a process where a separate tank with a “hop filter” is used to separate out smaller hops in the hot wort (the alternative and more popular/easier method being centrifugal separation).  So basically, it separates out the hop particles from the liquid, and ads more hop flavor while doing it?  HOPS FTW!

This IPA gets reviewed well, with a 91 on BeerAdvocate and a 98 on RateBeer.  But everyone seems to be in love with IPAs these days, and I’m a bit more picky.

I’m writing this from a hotel, so I’ll spare you the plastic cup picture.  Needless to say, the appearance is pretty much like most pilsners you’ve ever had.  Golden in color, clear, with a modest white head made up of homogenous, small to medium size bubbles.  Nothing to get excited about in terms of appearance.  However…

Even while pouring, you can’t help but smell the hops.  There’s no way you’ll mistake this for a pilsner for long.  I get mostly pine and floral, with a lot of sweetness in the aroma, though many others include citrus and random tropical aromas in there as well.  It smells good.  Too good to sit around and analyze the smell of…image

The taste adds two things to the aroma in my mind: citrus flavor and bitterness.  A lot of bitterness.  I’m getting less of the floral hops and more of the pine and citrus.  I’m getting a bit of metallic flavor.  I’m tasting bitter up front, and in the aftertaste. Behind everything is a subtle grainy base similar to what you would get with a pilsner, but with a bit more sweetness mixed in.  The overall flavor is lighter in every way than I expected, and I don’t see that as a bad thing.  I wouldn’t be ready for a stronger presentation with this much hop flavor and bitterness (though undoubtedly, many would love it).

I am enjoying this, and I am in general enjoying IPAs more and more as I try to understand and appreciate their unique flavors.  That said, this would have been past the “too funky” line for me a year ago for sure.  It’s saving grace for me is the lack of “funk build-up.”  I’m sure they are right when they (they being the brewer) recommend this with spicy food, as the flavor can certainly hold up too it.  Still, I don’t want to drink any beverage that is so strong it dulls my taste buds to everything else, leaving me tasting only that.  This doesn’t.  I should mention that I am drinking this very cold, counter to the recommendation of 55 degrees.  I’m sure there are more hop flavors at that temperature, and I’m sure commenters on reddit would ridicule me to no end for drinking it this cold, but whatever, wouldn’t be the first time.  Maybe I’ll let one warm up a while.  Maybe.

It’s hard for me to say exactly why, but I enjoyed the Hop Knife a bit more.  Surprisingly, it gets the exact same ratings as this on on both sites, a 91 and a 98.  Weird.

So there you have it.  I’m a day late, but not a beer short.  If you like IPAs, I’m pretty sure you’ll be a fan of this.  And it comes in cans, which adds +1 to the ratings for just being awesome.

 

Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale Review

You can see from the 2014 Pumpkin Season Intro post that we’ve got a wide selection of pumpkin brews for this year.  In order to review a decent amount of them, we’ll be doing several different post formats, including full reviews, Throwdowns, and Thirsty Thought posts.

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery Pumpkin Ale

The bottle advertises this as “America’s Original,” and I can attest to the fact that this has been available for as long as I can remember (while most other brands have only started seeing widespread availability in the last 5 years).  Having said that, I don’t think I remember ever having anything else by Buffalo Bill’s, or can I remember hearing anyone talk about it either…not a good sign.  To make matters worse, the reivews on this one aren’t good, coming in at a 33 and a 68 on RateBeer and BeerAdvocate (quite a difference, no?).  But mass reviews aren’t everything, and this wouldn’t be the first time I thought something was worthy of a better score than the reviewing public did.  Let’s see for ourselves what the “Original Pumpkin Ale” is all about.

1-DSC_0193From the Brewer:

An amber style ale, originally brewed by George Washington, brewed with fresh roasted pumpkins, malted barley. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are added. Bottled form is brewed under contract by Portland Brewing Co.

Appearance – 3

This looks like a typical pumpkin ale.  Color is deep orange-brown.  Carbonation looks to be on the light side, as almost no head was present even immediately following the pour.  A very small amount of small bubbles rises from the bottom of the glass.  Tilting the glass leaves a wall of foam, which slowly recedes down with no lacing left behind.2-DSC_0196

Aroma – 3.5

The first thing I notice is a good pumpkin smell.  The second is a dark molasses sweetness.  This is backed by lighter quantities of spice, which are honestly hard to identify for me, though I’d say they swing closer to the nutmeg and clove end than the Cinnamon end.  This does have the savory feel that I enjoy in Pumpkin Ales (I enjoy the sweet ones too), but that doesn’t always carry over to the taste.  So far- nothing to fault this beer, or justify it’s low ratings.

1-DSC_0191Taste – 4

The taste clears things up a bit for me. The flavors listed above are there, but not in the intensity that they should be.  I can’t help but think of this a too watery, both in flavor and in palate.  The pumpkin flavor, molasses sweetness, and spice blend are honestly not that far off- I don’t have issue with the flavors that are there…there just aren’t enough of them.

Palate – 1

This is where this beer really falls short for me.  It’s just too watery.  Combine that with very low carbonation, and this just reminds too much of flat soda…not good.  There’s something about drinking a beer with zero head and very low carb…it just doesn’t feel like your drinking a beer.  A few people recommended this as a “sessionable” pumpkin ale, probably due to the lightness of flavor, but I disagree.  I want my pumpkin ales to pack a flavor punch, not to provide refreshment in large quantities- a big reason why I don’t prefer them until cooler weather hits.

Overall -

It may have been the original, but it is far from the best.  In fact, it falls to the bottom of the (mental) list of pumpkin beers I’ve had.  This one is widely available in stores, but I’d recommend giving it a pass…there are soo many other options out there.  As an aside, the 2.3 score equates to a 46 out of 100, which puts it right between the two scores on RB and BA.

Score (Out of 5) – 2.3

 

Beer Camp Wrap Up and Rankings

In early August, we began this series with an Intro & Unboxing post, which laid out the plan.  If you haven’t read any of the previous posts, or don’t know what Beer Camp is, you should start there.  Then we did 6 posts, each with two reviews.  The goal of the posts wasn’t to tie specific reviewing scores to each beer, but to collect enough thoughts to put together a final ranking.  An emphasis was put on unique flavors and combinations, as this was the intent of the collaborative 12 Pack.  The final promise we made was to wrap everything up and rank them, so here you go.

Links to previous posts:

Intro & Unboxing

Torpedo Pilsner & Maillard’s Odyssey

Yvan the Great & Electric Ray

CANfusion & Alt Route

Chico King & Tater Ridge

There and Back & Yonder Bock

Myron’s Walk & Double Latte

Rankings (favorite to least favorite)

I didn’t say “best to worst” as all were very good, and calling any of them “worst” didn’t seem right…

1-DSC_0105

1st (Tie): Ninkasi Brewing Company (Eugene, OR) – Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout

- roasty, creamy, dark, coffee, chocolate…these are a few of my favorite things…

1st (Tie): Bell’s Brewery, Inc. (Kalamazoo, MI) – Maillard’s Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale

- a perfect mixture of caramelized dark flavors: roast, coffee, smoke, but with a noticeable difference- that buttery flavor that makes this much more savory than other dark beers.  Like a good seared steak.  mmmm

3rd: Victory Brewing Company (Downingtown, PA) – Alt Route Altbier

- one of my favorites in the pack.  how a beer can pack so many distinct flavors in your mouth, but then have them mellow away for a smooth, easy drinking experience is a new thing for me.  This is the first I’ve had of this style, but if this beer is any indication of it, I love it.

4th: New Glarus Brewing Company (New Glarus, WI) – There and Back English-Style Bitter

- excellent drinking ESB, high on caramel and hops but low on bitterness, making a wonderful flavor combination

1-DSC_0110

5th: Cigar City Brewing, LLC (Tampa, FL) – Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock

- the combination of high ABV, sweetness, malts, and hops suggesting tropical flavors, makes for a unique and delicious bock unlike any I’ve had before

6th: Russian River Brewing Company (Santa Rosa, CA) – Yvan the Great Belgian Style Blonde

- this one really was a great combination of a light saison and a hoppy blonde ale, I think this would be quite popular during the summer for fans of both styles if produced again

7th: Asheville Brewers Alliance (Asheville, NC) – Tater Ridge Scottish Ale

- massive caramel malt and high alcohol make a delicious brew, but this fails to deliver meaningful sweet potato flavor for me

8th: Ballast Point Brewing Company (San Diego, CA) – Electric Ray India Pale Lager

- good blend of smooth lager and hoppy ale, much more of a drinker than IPAs are for me, enjoyable unique combination

9th: 3 Floyds Brewing Co. (Munster, IN) – Chico King Pale Ale

- enjoyable APA, but in the end doesn’t really stand out from all of the other APAs I’ve had, including the most popular one of all, Sierra Nevada

10th: Allagash Brewing Company (Portland, ME) – Myron’s Walk Belgian-Style Pale Ale

- like a cross between a Belgian Ale and a pilsner…good flavors, and an interesting savory take on the typical Belgian White, but too plain for my liking

11th: Oskar Blues Brewery (Longmont, CO / Brevard, NC) – CANfusion Rye Bock

- not very remeniscent of a bock for me, I’d call this a RyePA, and not having had too many of those, I’d say it was just OK

12th: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (Paso Robles, CA) – Torpedo Pilsner Hoppy Pilsner

- an extra hoppy/bitter pilsner.  If that sounds good to you, you’ll love this.  I thought it was too plain in a pack full of beers that were much farther out of the brewers “comfort zone”

1-DSC_0117

Conclusion

Well there you have it.  I hope you enjoyed the series as much as I enjoyed writing it.  I am very happy that I had the opportunity to taste all of these “one time only” beers, and can’t help but think that if a few events hadn’t all lined up perfect for me- I never would have had the chance to grab one of the (limited) 12 packs.

The concept of trying a pack of all different beers, with the knowledge that you won’t have the chance to have any of them again (aside from finding them on draught somewhere) even if it is your favorite beer ever, doesn’t appeal to everyone.  Some people like to stay within their comfort zone.  But I’m not that way…I would rather have something new and different every day, even if it meant having my share of things I did not enjoy as much.  In a way, the craft beer community is a bit like this when they make a collaborative pack like this: I’m sure everyone probably could have made more profit if they did things normally, without all the collaboration, travel, and the summer tour.  But these people favor experimentation, exploration, and the social aspect of craft beer over mass production (at times), much as I do, and I am glad they do.  I hope they do this again (or other brewers do), I’ll be keeping my eyes open…

Thanks for reading.