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Found 4 results

  1. Victory has been a solid Mid-Atlantic brewery going on 20 years now, one of those "so established they can't be trendy anymore" kind of places. The founding brewers both earned their stripes at the late, great Baltimore Brewing Company/DeGroen's (I don't think there has ever been a better brewer of traditional German styles on this side of the Atlantic, and it was a great loss when they shut down). So it should be no surprise that Victory Prima Pils is very good, but almost all of the hype they get goes to their other styles. Hop Devil is an excellent American IPA and has been for a long time; Golden Monkey Belgian tripel has a strong following (but I think it's too cloying, and I've had what must have been off bottles that were very yeasty in not a good way). DirtWolf is their newer flagship DIPA. You can find it year-round in bottles, and if aggressively hopped DIPAs are your thing it's one to check out. It scores a 99 overall on RateBeer, and similar high marks in other ratings, but when you dig into individual ratings you can see a lot of variation. People either love it, or say it's nothing special or not what they expected in a DIPA. To my taste I think what sets it apart is how dry this beer is. The normal progression for big IPAs these days is a strong hit of hops up front that gives way to a malty/toffee finish with a noticeable alcohol warmth under the sweetness. DirtWolf is hops layered all the way through. The nose is strongly resiny, and the first sip is fresh pine. That then gives way to the fruity hop characteristics that blend really well with the relatively subdued maltiness. It's a dangerously smooth transition for a beer that weighs in at close to 9%; it drinks like something much lighter. I currently have a sixtel of this on tap at home, and I think it opens up a lot better on draft than in bottles; it probably would open up even more if I raised the temp on the fridge a bit more. They had this on cask at Snallygaster, which was even better. I don't think it should rank as highly as it tends to be rated, but it's a top tier, readily available DIPA from a local(ish) brewery that otherwise gets lost in the hype hive mind these days. (By the way, the name is a nod to the the scientific name for hops, humulus lupulus, which is also where the term "lupulin" comes from that refers to the resin contained in hop cones. So I guess a wolf that grows from the dirt? Sure.)
  2. I had the opportunity to sample this one at Snallygaster. In all honesty, prior to that event I had not heard of this beer and had not been keeping up with Bell's new offerings in general, but apparently it's been around for a few years (but maybe not distributed widely?). A friend and I went for a sample of this and Bell's Hopsolution just to compare the two DIPAs they were pouring and to see how they differed from HopSlam. The Oracle was the clear winner of the two, and in my mind surpasses the current iteration of Hop Slam. I'd even go so far as to say that The Oracle c. 2014 is closer to what I remember HopSlam tasting like 5-6 years ago than HopSlam c. 2014. It has a malty, toffee/honey backbone that I recall being the hallmark of that beer, and it balances the intensely fragrant hop nose very nicely. Very squarely in my wheelhouse. I probably wouldn't even bring it up had I not seen a 6-pack for sale the other night that jogged my memory and noted another apt comparison to HopSlam: the $27 price tag
  3. Okay, take two...we're going to roll with Lagunitas Sucks. A little wikipedia sourced history of Lagunitas Brewing: "The brewery was founded in 1993 by Tony Magee in Lagunitas, California and moved a year later to nearby Petaluma, California when they quickly outgrew their original rural West Marin location. Since the mid-2000s, Lagunitas has been one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in the United States, increasing from 27,000 barrels in 2004 to 106,000 barrels in 2010." And the back story about this particular brew. Lagunitas had some construction going on at their brewing facility, and couldn't produce their usual seasonal winter brew Brown Shugga. So instead they brewed the self deprecating Lagunitas Sucks. I guess it would be considered a Double IPA, but beer classifications are an inexact science. This should be around 10.99 for the six pack and available most everywhere that sells craft beer.
  4. This one is a recommendation from outside of the board. When my wife's boss asked my thoughts on this one, I had to admit to not only not trying it, but never having any Firestone Walker beer. So why not jump head first into a new brewery with their Double IPA? Here's some info on it from their website. "Double Jack IPA is our first ever Imperial IPA. It features a big malty middle to cloak the high alcohol and mouth puckering hop bitterness. Huge tangerine, grapefruit and juicy fruit aroma blossom over the herbal blue basil and malt earthiness of this aggressive beer. Best enjoyed in moderation." Sounds like some conflicting tastes in one bottle, so I'm interested in how they all work together. It gets a whopping 97 from the field on Beer Advocate, which could be our highest rating yet. I know it seems like we're going back to the IPA well so soon, but the fruit beers didn't appear to be a conversation starter. Firestone Walker has some pedigree and money behind it, according to their story, so let's see how they do brewing beer. "Firestone Walker Brewing Company brewed its first beer in 1996 in a small facility rented from the Firestone Vineyard estate in Santa Barbara County. In 2001 owners Adam Firestone and David Walker purchased the SLO Brewing Company located in Paso Robles, CA. Firestone Walker's ales are selectively fermented in the Firestone Union oak barrel brewing system. The Firestone Union incorporates 65-gallon, medium and heavy toast American oak barrels. Firestone Walker Brewing Company continues to grow as the palates of Americans migrate to craft beer. Our brew staff have picked up "Mid Size Brewery of the Year" at the World Beer Cup an unmatched four time." It is available in 22oz bombers at $9 or so and clocks in at 9.5% abv. Enjoy, Eric
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