Tag Archives: craft beer

Breaking Bud

I went camping with my family over the weekend in California’s gold country. A few of us went to the Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn to try some of their amazing craft beers. Hoptologist is probably their flagship beer but they have a lot of other brews that rival it, chief amongst them is Breaking Bud. It’s a pretty amazing American IPA. It pours a nice golden color with a thick white head. The aroma is of citrus hops like grapefruit and subtle orange peels, and there is also a little pine and malt as well. It tastes of grapefruit, tropical fruits, dank hops, and little resin. Not only is it a great beer, it also pays homage to Walter White and Breaking Bad. How can you not want to try it? Pick it up if you see it at the store. The brewery is definitely worth checking out if you’re ever in the Auburn area. Plus they sell it in growlers or crowlers (32 ounces sealed in an aluminum can) so you can buy it in bulk. If you like IPAs, you’ll love this beer.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Fireside Chat (beer)

Fireside Chat is a winter spiced ale from 21st Amendment Brewery. 21st Amendment Brewery (also called 21A) is one of San Francisco’s best microbreweries and Fireside Chat is one of my favorite seasonals. The beer is named after Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous radio addresses. They even put a cheerful cartoon image of FDR sitting in front of a comfy fire. It’s an English-style brown ale brewed with spices. The aroma is of spice, cinnamon, raisin, coffee, cloves, and maybe a little vanilla. It tastes of sweet malt with allspice, cloves, cinnamon, figs, nutmeg, cocoa, vanilla, and coffee. It’s categorized as a Winter Warmer and that’s a great way to describe it. It’s perfect for those long, dark, cold winter nights that are soon to be in abundance. It also has a 7.9% alcohol content so you can stretch out a six pack with a friend. Get it, sip it, enjoy it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Stone RuinTen IPA

RuinTen IPA is a summer release from Stone Brewing Co. It’s an American Double/Imperial IPA and was first released in 2012 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of their popular Ruination IPA, but it’s now been rereleased and renamed as RuinTen IPA and here we are now. It pours a dark copper color with an offwhite head. It’s a hoppy beer. It smells hoppy and it tastes hoppy, mostly citrus hops but some pine hops as well. There’s a malty backbone but it’s overwhelmed and overpowered by the aggressive hops. Did I mention that it’s hoppy? Because it is. It has a nice boozy finish, which is in thanks to it’s hefty 10.8% ABV. It’s a nice beer to relax with at the end of a long day.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Panty Peeler

Alaska’s Midnight Sun Brewing Co. presents Panty Peeler, a delicious Belgian-style Tripel with a delightfully raunchy name. It’s an ale brewed with orange peel and coriander and me likey mucho. It pours an orange-amber color with a white head that laces quickly. It smells of cloves, orange peel, Belgian yeast, coriander, and breaded malts. It tastes even better than it smells. I get bready malts, dark fruit, spice, orange peel, coriander, banana, and candied sugar. It’s extremely drinkable, I could sip on it all day. But I can’t because it has a hefty 8.5% ABV and the alcohol creeps up on you. I know that I said Chuli Stout was a great Alaskan beer, but this one is even better. Did I mention that me likey mucho?
Critically Rated at 15/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Chuli Stout

Chuli Stout is an Irish Dry Stout by Denali Brewing in Talkeetna, Alaska. It pours a rich black color with a nice creamy head. It has the nice roast and toast malt aroma as you’d expect from any decent stout. There’s chocolate and coffee notes as well. It has a nice malty flavor, lots of chocolate, some cream, and it has a bit of a spice compared to other Irish Dry Stouts. It’s very full flavored for only have a 5.9% ABV. Quality craft beer is available everywhere and Alaska has a lot of impressive offerings. This is one of the better ones.
Critically Rated at 15/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Local Brew

One of the perks about traveling is trying new things, like a local brew that you’ve never heard of before. I was flying to Anchorage, Alaska the other day and I had a layover in Seattle. I went to the first airport bar I could find and asked for the best local brew on tap. The bartender poured me a Pike IPA. It’s wasn’t the the best beer in the world, but it was certainly enjoyable. And there’s no way that I would have ever tried it if I never asked about it. Asking for a local brew is a good way to sample the culture of the area you’re visiting. It’s a way to experience new things. And experiencing new things is what life is all about. It’s why we travel. It’s why we ask for a local brew. It’s how you win at life.
Critically Rated at 14/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers

Stone Brewing Co. presents Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers, a seasonal summer American Porter brewed with real chipotle peppers. It pours a dark brown, nearly black color, with a thick tan head. It has a rich malty aroma with hints of spicy peppers, chocolate, caramel, and smoke. The taste is of roasted malts, smoke, pine, and it starts sweet but then you get a spicy kick from the chipotle. I’ve had pepper infused beers before, but combining chipotle peppers with a smoky porter takes it to a whole new level. The chipotle is subtle yet still lingers on your tongue after each sip. It’s indescribably tasty. It’s has a 5.9% ABV, which is about average for a craft beer. But nothing else is average about this beer. You have to experience it for yourself. Do it. Now.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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NightTime (beer)

Petaluma’s Lagunitas Brewing Company consistently brews amazing craft beers, and they’ve done it again with NightTime. NightTime is a limited release American Black Ale with an 8.2% ABV. It pours a dark brown, almost black color with a thin tan head. It has a mellow aroma of citrus hops, pineapple, mango, and pine. The taste is a nice balance between citrus and pine hops and roasted malt, with some spice and maybe a little rye. It’s bitter, sweet, smooth, and dry. Black Ales aren’t my go-to brew, but NightTime is a very solid and enjoyable beer. I would get it again, and then I’d get another bottle after that. Then I would try a different beer. Life’s too short to stick to only one.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Sock Knocker (beer)

Sock Knocker is an Imperial India Pale Ale from the Coronado Brewing Company in Coronado, California. It pours a golden orange color with a thick foamy off-white head. The aroma is mostly pine and citrus hops. I also get grapefruit, orange, orange peel, and malt. The taste is as you would expect. It’s hoppy. It’s bitter. It’s delicious. There’s a lot of citrus, pine, resin, and a little malt creaminess. It’s 8.5% alcohol. It’s a satisfying craft IPA, but it really won’t knock your socks off. They lied to you.

Critically Rated at 12/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Pine Mountain Pilsner

Deschutes Brewery & Public House is one of Oregon’s best breweries, and they have a lot of good breweries in Oregon. Pine Mountain Pilsner is a crisp and refreshing spring release, perfect for day drinking. It pours a clear golden yellow with a nice frothy head. There’s not much of an aroma compared to a stout or IPA. I get hints of hops, grass, spice, some florals, and a little pine. The taste is of bitter hops with a light malt flavor to balance it out. There is some grass, pine, bread, and spice. It’s very smooth and drinkable. It has a 5.2% ABV so feel free to have more than one.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale

Lagunitas Brewing Company presents Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale, a limited release American Strong Ale. It really is a strong ale too. 9.7% ABV is nothing to scoff at. It’s a very enjoyable craft beer. It pours a reddish copper color with a tan head. The aroma is mostly floral and citrus hops, but I get hints of grass, caramel, pine, pineapple, and sweet and bready malts. The taste is mostly bitter hops, but it’s balanced nicely with grapefruit, orange, lemon peel, pine, sweet malts, caramel, burnt sugar, and spice. It’s deliciously bitter with an IBU of 66.6 (so I wouldn’t drink it on a Sunday if you’re the religious type). It’s a limited release so you should get on it while you have the chance. Buy a six-pack and thank me later.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Undead Party Crasher (beer)

Undead Party Crasher in an American Imperial Stout brewed by Clown Shoes in Ipswich, Massachusetts. I’ve never even heard of that brewery, but I was lucky enough to come across a bottle at a liquor store in Las Vegas. The label is what originally attracted my attention. There aren’t too many beers that have zombie apocalypse-related artwork. I really didn’t have a choice, I had to try this beer and I’m glad that I did because it was pretty damn good. It pours a dark brown, almost black, with a thick tan head. It has a rich roasted malt aroma with coffee and chocolate notes with a little vanilla. The taste is of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, mocha, vanilla, molasses, a little smoke, and a dash of spice. It’s a very smooth and creamy stout and it’s very drinkable. You can’t even taste the alcohol despite the impressive 11% ABV. I haven’t had the chance to try any other beers from Clown Shoes, but Undead Party Crasher made a great first impression on me. I will be on the lookout for their brews from now on.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Brewers Association’s Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies

The Brewers Associationjust came out with its list of the Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewing Companies. This isn’t my list but it’s worth sharing.

1 Boston Beer Co. Boston MA

2 Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Chico CA

3 New Belgium Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO

4 Gambrinus San Antonio TX

5 Lagunitas Brewing Co. Petaluma CA

6 Deschutes Brewery Bend OR

7 Bell’s Brewery, Inc. Galesburg MI

8 Duvel Moortgat USA Kansas City MO &

Cooperstown NY

9 Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn NY

10 Stone Brewing Co. Escondido CA

11 Matt Brewing Co. Utica NY

12 Harpoon Brewery Boston MA

13 Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Milton DE

14 Shipyard Brewing Co. Portland ME

15 Abita Brewing Co. Abita Springs LA

16 Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Paso Robles CA

17 Alaskan Brewing Co. Juneau AK

18 New Glarus Brewing Co. New Glarus WI

19 SweetWater Brewing Co. Atlanta GA

20 Great Lakes Brewing Co. Cleveland OH

21 Anchor Brewing Co. San Francisco CA

22 Long Trail Brewing Co. Bridgewater Corners VT

23 Summit Brewing Co. St. Paul MN

24 Oskar Blues Brewery Longmont CO

25 Full Sail Brewing Co. Hood River OR

26 Founders Brewing Co. Grand Rapids MI

27 Rogue Ales Newport OR

28 Victory Brewing Co. Downingtown PA

29 Ballast Point Brewing Co. San Diego CA

30 Ninkasi Brewing Co. Eugene OR

31 Southern Tier Brewing Co. Lakewood NY

32 Cold Spring Brewing Co./Third Street Brewhouse Cold Spring MN

33 Flying Dog Brewery Frederick MD

34 Odell Brewing Co. Fort Collins CO

35 Stevens Point Brewery Co. Stevens Point WI

36 Bear Republic Brewing Co. Cloverdale CA

37 Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe Eureka CA

38 Left Hand Brewing Co. Longmont CO

39 CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc. Chattanooga & Louisville TN/CO

40 Breckenridge Brewery Denver CO

41 Karl Strauss Brewing Co. San Diego CA

42 Blue Point Brewing Co. Patchogue NY

43 Sixpoint Brewery Brooklyn NY

44 BJ’s Chicago Pizza & Brewery, Inc. Huntington Beach CA

45 North Coast Brewing Co. Inc. Fort Bragg CA

46 Uinta Brewing Co. Salt Lake City UT

47 Allagash Brewing Co. Portland ME

48 Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Houston TX

49 Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. San Jose CA

50 21st Amendment Brewery San Francisco CA

 

I’ve tried beers from twenty-two of these breweries, and that’s not bad. It’s not impressive, but it’s definitely not bad. I’m pretty happy that a few of my favorite breweries made the list. I’ve been going to 21st Amendment for years, and I’m pleased that they were able to crack the list and gain a little more exposure. I’m a big fan of Bear Republic, Stone Brewing, Ninkasi, Anchor Brewing, and Lagunitas, so seeing these breweries make the cut just reaffirms my taste in craft brews. I like Sierra Nevada, but I’m really surprised to see them so high on the list. Stone and Lagunitas make much better beers with a lot more variety. There are a few breweries that are decidedly overrated and undeserving of a place so high up on this list (Rogue Ales and New Belgium, I’m looking at you). There are a lot of breweries that I can’t wait to experience and Critically Rate. This isn’t just a list of top U.S. craft breweries, this is a bucket list. And really, no Russian River brews? No Pliny the Elder? No Pliny the Younger? Seems like a pretty incomplete list to me.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Youngurl

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Apex Special IPA

Apex Special IPA in an Imperial India Pale Ale from Bear Republic Brewing Co. It’s not available year round so you should snag a bottle or a 6-pack if you come across it. It has a nice orangey gold color with a thick whitish head. The aroma has a lot of hops, as you would expect from a good IPA. I get a lot of citrus like orange, grapefruit, maybe even tangerine, but there’s also a little pine and resin too. It’s balanced with toasted and sugary malts. The taste is more balanced than the aroma would have you believe. Yeah, you get a lot of citrus and pine hops, but the toasted malt has a bigger presence than I thought it would. I also taste orange, grapefruit, melon… it’s definitely fruity, but there’s also pine, resin, and spice. It’s delicious. I could drink it all day. But it’s 8.95% alcohol so I probably shouldn’t. This is a very good IPA. I’m happy it’s in my belly.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Racer 5 India Pale Ale

Racer 5 India Pale Ale is an IPA from Healdsburg, California’s Bear Republic Brewing Co. It’s one of their flagship brews along with Red Rocket Ale. It pours a golden orange color with a small white head. It has a nice hoppy aroma with traces of citrus, cedar, pine, and sweet malts. It tastes like you would expect. I get lots of citrus hops, grapefruit, orange, orange peel, some pine hops, and it’s balanced with toasty malt. It’s not as bitter as I thought it would be. The 7.5% alcohol content isn’t as high as I’d like it to be, but this is a solid IPA and worth trying. Me likey.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Youngbear-republic-racer-5-ipa

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San Andreas Malt Club

I like craft beers. My friends like craft beers. And we enjoy talking about the cool craft beers that we’ve found and tasted. One of my friend (let’s call him Joey) likes craft beers and discussing craft beers so much that he decided to start a craft beer club. The basic idea behind it was that a few of us would meet up once a month to share and drink some microbrews. We would sip a couple of beers to compare, talk about, and rate. It’s a way to get drunk and not feel like an alcoholic. We had our first meeting the other night. We all bought and brought some 22-ounce bottles and most of them were IPAs. We learned that we need to communicate some more, but it was a pretty awesome first meeting for the group. We came up with a pretty satisfactory name… we call ourselves the San Andreas Malt Club, and our slogan is that you can “Hop On It.” I like the name. It’s a pun about California and beer, and our slogan is another pun about beer. It seems to work for a beer club with people from California. It was a pretty awesome first meeting. I recommend that you start your own beer club. Just remember that the San Andreas Malt Club is already taken.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Wookey Jack (beer)

Wookey Jack is a craft beer from California’s Firestone Walker Brewing Co. I decided to try it because I’m a nerd and the name reminds me of Star Wars. The label says it’s a Black Rye IPA but Beeradvocate.com says it’s an American Black Ale. They need to make up their minds. It pours a dark brown, almost black, with a thick tan head that lingers for a while. It has an intriguing aroma. I get citrus hops, roasted malt, rye, spice, and maybe a little chocolate. The flavor profile is a good balance between hops and malt, and spicy rye. I also taste bitter chocolate and a hint of smoke. It has an 8.3% alcohol content, so your head will be buzzing pleasantly after a couple of sips. This is a very satisfying beer with lots of flavor and personality. I suggest that you try it. But I won’t take it personally if you don’t.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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