Tuesday, November 5, 2013

IPA Experiment | Does Chloride to Sulfate Ratio impact perception of Bitterness

Recently, BeerAndWineJournal.com and Basic Brewing made a call for all of their readers and listeners to participate in an experiment.

"Does the Chloride to Sulfate ration in your brewing liquor influence the perception of hop bitterness in the final beer."

Here are the basics:
We were to brew an IPA using the parameters outlined.  Then during bottling, add specific amounts of Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) after each gallon.  Then during the sampling, we needed to observe whether the different Gypsum additions had any impact on the bitterness of the finished beer.

Brew Day: 10/5/2013 
Dry-hopped: 10/17/2013
Bottled: 10/22/2013
Bottle conditioned till 10/31/2013

(The following is quoted from beerandwinejournal.com)

Brewing the Base Beer

The experiment is simple, brew 5.0 gallons (19 L) of IPA with a 1:1 chloride-to-sulfate ratio, then adjust the ratio as you bottle. To do this, on brewday, start with distilled water, RO water or tap water that has been diluted with distilled water to 25 ppm bicarbonate or less. Then, add calcium to your water by adding both calcium chloride and gypsum. For 10 gallons (38 L) of water, add 4.0 g (a little over 1 tsp) of calcium chloride and 4.0 g (about 1 tsp) of gypsum to get to 50 ppm calcium, with a 1:1 chloride-to-sulfate ratio. Make the wort, ferment it and get ready to bottle.


When you bottle, you will bottle 1.0 gallon (3.8 L) of beer at the existing 1:1 chloride to sulfate ratio. For each subsequent gallon (3.8 L) you bottle, you will add gypsum to yield bottles at 1:2, 1:3, 1:4 and 1:5 ratios, respectively. Here’s how to do that. Bottle the first gallon (3.8 L) as you normally would, and label these bottles with a “1.” Then, add 1.5 g of calcium sulfate to the remaining 4.0 gallons (15 L) of beer. To prevent foaming, wet the gypsum before adding it (see below for more). Stir to dissolve the gypsum into the batch, but not so much that you splash and aerate the batch. Let the beer sit for 2 minutes (so the dissolved gypsum evens out), then bottle the second gallon. Label these bottles with a “2.”
For the third gallon (3.8 L), add 1.0 g of gypsum and label the bottles “3.” For the fourth and fifth gallons, add 0.75 g and 0.33 g of gypsum, respectively. Label the bottles “4” and “5,” as appropriate.

My IPA Recipe/Procedure

13lb - 2 Row Pale Malt
1lb   - C-60

1oz Magnum - 1st Wort
.5oz Magnum at each time - 55 min, 45 min, 35 min, 25 min
1oz Cascade - 5 Minutes
1oz Cascade - Flame Out
2oz Cascade - Dry Hopped for 6 days

Wyeast 1056 (1qt starter from smack pack)

152 F for 7hrs (much longer than was necessary but I had family matters to attend to during this time)

1 hour


Priming Sugar:
4.2oz Dextrose

Each gallon consisted of two (2) 8oz Coke bottles and nine (9) 12oz amber bottles. This only equals 124oz.  Even though a full gallon is 128oz, I didn't feel this was a big deal.

After each gallon bottled, I would add Gypsum in the following amounts.

1st Gallon   - 1:1 Ratio - I did not add any addition Gypsum for the first gallon.
2nd Gallon - 1:2 Ratio - Added 1.5g Gypsum
3rd Gallon  - 1:3 Ratio - Added 1.0g Gypsum
4th Gallon  - 1:4 Ratio - Added .75g Gypsum
5th Gallon  - 1:5 Ratio - Added .33g Gypsum

I then let the beer bottle condition for nearly 9 days.

Results of the Experiment

To give a better indication of sensory observation, I decided to do a blind tasting of each sample.

I blindly covered all distinguishing marks on each bottle using masking tape.  I then label each bottle and 5 glasses with A-B-C-D-E

Any deviations from the process recommended in article:

  1. Even though my bottling bucket read perfect measurements after each gallon bottled, the 1:5 ratio only had 100oz bottled instead of 128oz.
  2. My digital scale only measures in whole grams. It does not do decimal points. I measured as closely as possible. Did some math and cut lines like a coke (cocaine) head. So hopefully I was close enough. 

Sensory observations:


Head & Retention

All samples had heads consisting of small (almost nitrogen-like) creamy bubbles.

A (1:3)-Small head and sticking around
B (1:5)-Small head and Falls fast.
C (1:1)-Nice thick head. Had 2nd best staying power.
D (1:4)-Nice Thick head. Had the best staying power.
E (1:2)-Nice head on the pour but it fell quickly. But not at bad as A & B.

At beginning of the Experiment (50F)
Order of head retention from least to greatest.
B (1:5) - A (1:3) - E (1:2) - D (1:4) - C (1:1) (at beginning of the experiment)

After Swirling At end of experiment (60F):
E (1:2) - Had absolutely no head retention after being swirled. It fell immediately. 
A (1:3) & B (1:5) – Not as bad as E but almost.
C (1:1) – Was closed to D, but not equal.
D (1:4) – Had the best head retention over time.

They were all citrusy.
The bouquet was the same throughout all of them.

On all of the samples, the mouthfeel was very big. Not like James Spencer's All- Rye beer, but from the perfect carbonation. Very very creamy. 

Beginning of Tasting (50 degrees F)
They were all very similar. To pull out anything, I had to do about 15 minutes of sipping. I let them warm up and re-sampled. It's very difficult to tell a difference in any of the samples.
A & E are nearly identical in every way.
A (1:3), B (1:5), & E (1:2)- Have a mellow bitterness. It doesn't bite.
D (1:4) - Is a step above A B & E in the bitterness and flavor.
C (1:1) -Noticeably different. With the most distinctive bitterness. A little sharper than the rest. Not harsh, but more distinct.

End of Tasting (around 65 degrees F) Most bitter to least bitter:
C (1:1) – Most distinctive. Still stands out.
E (1:2) & A (1:3) – Are about the same. Much less than C (1:1) but not as minimal as D (1:4) & B (1:5).
D (1:4) & B (1:5) – Definitely the least perception of bitterness. 

What are your conclusions?


My results seemed to show that the More Calcium Sulfate that is added, the less sharp the bitterness becomes.

The perception of bitterness in the 1:2 thru 1:5 changed slightly a the beer warmed. However, 1:1 remained the most distinctive.

I think that if I'd brewed, specifically (from start to finish) a 1:2 and a 1:3, etc that the results might have been more pronounced.

I think that the chemicals didn't meld well with the alcohol in the finished beer so therefore did not result in a pronounced difference between the samples.

    The differences in the samples were so slight that if you weren't spending

the time to sip each individual sample, you would never know the difference. NEVER. 

Youtube Videos

For each date listed below, I will be posting a youtube video.  Just click on the link and you will be taken to the correct video.

(Brew Day: 10/5/2013 --- Dry-hopped: 10/17/2013)
Bottled: 10/22/2013Bottle conditioned till 10/31/2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hi Wire Brewing in Ashville, NC

This past Friday night, I visited Asheville's beer scene for the second time.  My wife (a licensed Zumba instructor) was going to a Zumba event on Grove St at a club called 'Scandals' so I decided to tag along walked around and try to stop in to few of the local brewery's tasting rooms.

But this did not quite go as planned.  I walked for about 2 minutes, then by chance, happened upon Hi Wire Brewing.  At first, I did not realize that it was a brewery. I walked past it. I had no map, other than my iPhone's map program open, so I was literally just wandering aimlessly.

As you can see from the screen shot (below) of my phone's map, I only walked for about 2 minutes from my starting point, before I stopped at the first brewery of the night.  And what, I'd soon realize, would be the only brewery of the night.

I had every intention of having a beer then continuing on my journey. After all, I had between 2, and 2.5 hours to kill before my wife was finished with her Zumba thing.  

When I had come to Asheville a few months earlier, I read up on this brewery and decided that it may not be worth my time; compared to some of the other breweries that I'd read about. .  However, during this trip, I decided to give it a chance.  And I'm glad that I did. 

Below is my review of not only the beer, but the brewery itself.

The Brewery

It had a nice, rustic atmosphere. It looks to be built in an old mechanic's garage or fire station. There are two large garage doors.  The tasting room bar was in the brewery.  On the bar was an old 13 inch boob-tube TV with an original NES connected with the original Super Mario on the screen.  It seemed to be a fairly popular place but there was always a place to sit. High-top tables were set up with stools all around the room. There was also a bar to sit at. During the 2 and half hours I was here, the crowd was constantly waxing (getting larger) and waning (tapering off).  There were periods where it was completely empty, then 10 minutes later, the brewery was packed.

The Beer

None of their beers are overly high in alcohol. The abv's range from 4.6 for the lager up to 6.7 for the IPA.  And the seasonal was 7.0%.

The price for a pint is $4.00, which is pretty standard for most of the breweries that I've been to in Asheville.  The sampler of 4oz glasses was $5.00.

There are 4 regular beers on tap and a seasonal. But there are also 5 guest taps from other craft brewers. Personally I don't get that.  My feeling is that if I'm making it a point to come to the brewery to get a beer, I want their beer.  However, I guess it's not a bad idea to have some selection, so that their beers don't run dry. Or if they do...

Today, the guest taps were from Terrapin, Lagunitias, Pisgah Brewing, and Rogue.

Today I tried their full available lineup.  I had a glass of the Seasonal (Red Rye), then I got four, 4oz samples of the regular line-up.

In the image below, from Right to Left:
1. Seasonal: Ringmaster Red Rye
2.  Hi Wire Lager
3. Bed of Nails Brown
4. Prime Time Pale Ale
5. Hi Pitch IPA

The Beer Reviews

Seasonal: Ringmaster Red Rye  


  • Like a brown ale with lacing that sheets down the glass. 


  • Very hoppy aroma. Spicy hop character and spicy rye to accent the hops.


  • Just like the aroma it's hop spiciness and rye stick out. 
  • The malt is not the dominant presence in this beer. 
  • From the first sip to the last it had staying power. My pallet didn't get fatigued even though the taste was pretty strong.  This is odd because of how strong the hop flavors are.  So when I say my palette did not get fatigued, don't mistake that for a weak tasting beer.


  • Best beer currently at this brewery. 



Hi Wire Lager  


  • Pale yellow like pee. Creamy head.


  • Grainy and sweet. Very Unappealing.
  • If I didn't know better I could mistake this for Budweiser. 


  • Sweet and grainy. 
  • Tastes just like Bud except with a tad more bitterness. A very small "Tad".


  • If you are going to come to a craft brewery of this quality and order the most bland beer on the menu, you might as well just get some free water out of the igloo cooler in the corner of the room.
  • Personally I think they put this beer on the menu to have something to serve to people who don't like anything other than Bud/Miller/Coors (BMC) beers.


  • This is difficult to rate because I hate this style. 
  • Overall for my tastes I'd give this a D.
  • But since this is par for the style of having no discernible flavors other than sweet grain,  it would get an A


Bed of Nails Brown Ale


  • Color is dark brown. It does justice to the title of being a "Brown Ale," at least in the color.
  • After 10 mins of sitting the creamy foam is still on top. 


  • Very weak aroma. Nothing draws me in to this beer.
  • If I were to close my eyes and smell this and water I wouldn't be able to tell which was which.
  • There is absolutely nothing here. 


  • Faint faint faint.  
  • Almost nothing there. 
  • No yeast fruitiness like I'd expect from a brown ale.  Surprising, especially since the description on their website says they model this after the English Brown Ale style.
  • It's very bland. Theres no bitterness to add to the experience. It's smooth as water. The only thing I'm really getting is an ever-so-slight aftertaste of vanilla. But so faint I'm just trying to find something



Prime Time Pale Ale


  • Looks like a darker light lager. It's only slightly darker than the hi wire lager.  
  • Medium to law carbonation but tight bubbles. 
  • Creamy head sticks around on top even after 30 min. 


  • Piney hops are the first thing you notice. 
  • There's a bit of graininess coming through. But only in the background as an afterthought. 


  • Spicy hop character. Not as strong as a mild IPA but much more than a new Albion type beer. 
  • Very similar to Sierra Nevada pale ale. 
  • Hop flavor is up front. The medium bitterness tops it off. 
  • I would guess about 50 ibu's. But the board says 37 ibu. 


  • If you wanted to come here and get a good favorable session beer that won't kill your palette, this is the one to get at this brewery. 



Hi Pitch IPA


  • The color was nearly identical to the brown ale. 
  • But, even after nearly over an hour, the head is still prominent on top: As you can see in the picture below.


  • Spicy hop. Pale ale had a more intense hop, and overall, aroma than this IPA.
  • If I were to have a lone glass if this, by the aroma alone, I'd think this was a pale ale. 


  • Citrusy.
  • It's not a strong IPA but it's definitely an IPA. 
  • After the aromatic experience, I wasn't expecting the flavor that I got. 
  • Don't get me wrong. It's not super strong. But the citrus is definitely on the forefront of the sensory experience and there's a nice malt backbone.


  • It's pretty good.
  • Definitely the best regular line-up beer at this brewery.

B in the ipa category. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Myth of IPA's Losing Their Hoppy Mojo Over Time

I always hear that you have to drink IPA's fresh otherwise they'll lose their Hoppy Mojo.

Well I'm calling BULLSHIT on this.


I've had a few beers that have reputations of losing their hoppy mojo's within a few weeks. (i.e. Stone Enjoy By and Russian River's Pliney the Elder).

I've had these beers.  I've had Pliney fresh.  I've had Enjoy By fresh.  And here's a quick synopsis.

Pliney the Elder: Medium High alcohol.  Billed as an Imperial IPA but once again I call Bullshit on that.  There is no way that an 8% beer is an Imperial IPA.  Torpedo Extra IPA is 7.2%.  And that's just classed as a regular IPA

  • Aroma:  Piny and citrusy.  
  • Flavor: Medium to low Hoppy flavor.  Torpedo Extra is twice as strong (hop character) as this beer.  Personally I think it's pretty weak.  
  • Verdict:  I don't understand the hype.  I tried the 6 month old version first.  Then I tried a fresh sample.  EXACTLY the same.

Stone: Enjoy By:  9.4% ABV.  This is an awesome beer.  Super hoppy.  I've saved a bit for laster tasting.  6 Months.  Still just as strong.  Just as good.  Awesome.  No difference.

Grand Teton Brewing Company - Lost Continent:  An 8% abv beer bottled on 2/24/2012.  I bought this beer on 9/26/2012.  I drank it on 7/2/2012.

  • Aroma:  Super piny and medium citrus.
  • Flavor:  A little boozy, even at 8%.  But very, very, VERY Hoppy.  So hoppy, I'm sitting her sipping this beer.  16 months after it's bottled-on date and it is so hoppy that I have to sip lightly.

My verdict on the myth of IPA's losing their hoppiness...  Once again.  I call BULL... SHIT!!!
So when I review an IPA with a crazy big reputation and say it is weak, I mean "It's weak."

It's not that the IPA is old.  It's that the IPA is weak.  I don't get hung up on Brand Reputation.  Except that if it has a reputation, then I'm going to judge it a bit more harshly.  i.e., Pliney is weak and way over rated.  If Lost Continent is still super hoppy and tastes fresh after 16 months, then the argument that Pliney is only good 'fresh' is a cop out for how weak and over-rated this IPA actually is.

So feel free to store those stronger IPA's.  They will last if they are taken care of.  Their profile may change but it won't go away.

Drink what you like.  And enjoy what you drink.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Calculating (Homebrew) Kegging PSI and Hose Length

"At what PSI should I carbonate my beer?"
"How long should the tubing be?"

These are important questions you need to ask when kegging your home-brew.  

"Why?" You ask.
"Can I not just hook up the tubing and crank up the PSI on my CO2 tank and just let it go?" You ask.

Well the honest answer is, "Yes. You can." Well... you can if you want a big glass of yummy foam, that is.

After home-brewing for nearly 7 years, I have finally transitioned to kegging my beer.  My first beer is currently being carbonated in my DIY kegerator.  But since I didn't have the answer to the two questions at the top of this article, I had to research on my own for the answers I needed.

I called my local homebrew store for recommendations on which type of hoses/tubing to use.  They recommended 5/16 ID for the CO2 lines and 3/16 ID for the Beer line.

The CO2 lines don't really make that much of a difference since the pressure in the tube a keg eventually regulate themselves at whatever you set the pressure at. For mine it took a couple days of constant attention, but it finally leveled off at the pressure I had set it.

When the home-brew store said what the length was, I got a little nervous because I'd been reading contradictory information on all of the beer forums.  One forum would say no less than 7 feet. While another forum would say 3 feet is fine.  But my local home-brew store said between 3-4 feet was fine.

Well, what I found out, later on, was that they were all, technically, correct. 

"Why?" you ask.

Simple.  The easy answer is that the PSI that you set your regulator at is directly proportional to the length of the lines.

Essentially you can make your tubing as long (or short) as you want as long as the pressure is set proportionally.

Basically, the longer the lines, the higher the PSI. (And vice versa).

I found a website (I put the link at the bottom of this article) that finally explained EXACTLY what my PSI needed to be.  And EXACTLY how long my lines needed to be.

Every child from 1st to 12th grade always asks when they are ever going to use that stupid math once they're out of school.
Get ready for that 9th grade algebra to come in handy.


L = (keg_pressure - 1psi (H/2) ) / Resistance 3

This equation does come in handy, but based on my experience, I would take the results with a grain of salt.

I followed this equation to a T and my beer ended up being over-carbonated and I was just getting a glass of foam and flat beer.

So what I would suggest is to visit the links I've posted below (especially the first link).
If you have problems, do a search on google or bing for "Keg Balance Calculator"

How did I fix my over-foamed problem?  After searching the internet for "homebrew keg is foamy+how to correct"  I found some forum posts that led me to my answer.

Essentially what I did was:

  1. Turn off the co2.
  2. Bleed the CO2 from the keg.
  3. Let it sit for a few hours.
  4. Then turn the keg back on to a low psi (5).  Try to dispense.  The beer came out very slowly (almost a trickle) but I was checking for mouthfeel.  Once I was confident that the mouthfeel was good, I proceeded to the next step.
  5. I turned the psi up to 10, then tried to dispense once again.  This time the beer came out at a normal level.  The foam was good and the carbonation was good.  I think it's fixed.
  6. I tried one more move up to 12 psi.  This time it was perfect.
  7. I set the CO2 regulator at 12psi and left and it's been good ever since.

Online Calculator:

PSI Chart

Explanations of equations:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beer Review | Mission Street: Pale Ale

Mission Street: Pale Ale


http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/mission-street-pale-ale/29082/  Rating = 70
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/562/15286  Rating = 82

This pale ale is from a six pack I bought at Trader Joes.  My first inkling was that it was going to suck just like most of the other beers that I buy there.

According to many sources on the internet, and while I don't have definitive proof, everyone seems to believe that Firestone Walker contract brews this beer.  I can't seem to find a website for Steinhaus Brewing Company.  They are the supposed brewer of this beer.

Style: Pale Ale
ABV: 4.7%
Color: Yellow


Head fell quickly.


Yellow as a Budweiser.
Lots of carbonation.


Very citrusy hop smelling.


It  had no bitterness.  But the hop flavor was identical to the hop aroma.  It was very unbalanced.  Without the hop bitterness, it made the beer seem very thin.  It was as if they were trying to cover up the fact that there was barely any malt body with more dry-hopped flavors.  It was just weird.
The aftertaste was kind of grainy.


It wasn't too bad.  This would definitely be a good transition beer for a Bud drinker.


Based on the style, I'd give this beer a "B"

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beer Review | Terrapin - Pumpkinfest Ale

Terrapin: Pumkinfest Ale

Today I'm going to be reviewing Terrapin's Pumpkinfest Ale. This brewery based out of Athens, GA.
This blog is a companion to my youtube video.  http://youtu.be/TK5cLrTQ05A

http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/2372/53146                      Rating = 85

Terrapin's Pumpkinfest Ale is a seasonal beer and comes out of Athens, GA. This is a very nice example of the style (Pumpkin Beer). I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys Pumpkin beers, as well as to anyone who has not tried one yet. Make this your first.

Website says: Expect a pumpkin pie nose followed by a strong malt backbone, low hop bitterness and authentic fall taste, all wrapped in a light bodied beer.

On the website, there wasn't really any style guideline. I'm just going to call this a Seasonal Pumpkin Beer, for that reason.

STYLE: Seasonal Pumpkin Ale
COLOR: Medium-Light Amber
ABV: 6.1%
IBU: 14.5
HOPS: Vangaurd, Hallertaur, Hershrucker
MALT: Munich, Vienna, Munich II, Catamunich II, Melanoiden
ADDITIONS: Cinnamon, Ginger, All Spice, Cloves, & Pumpkin

BOTTLE CODE: Written on the Label. Typically the date code on Terrapin beer is marked clearly on the label. But I guess it's different with the Seasonal beers. However there is something laser-etched on to the bottom of the bottle. But this is not the bottle code.
- Only says, “Seasonal 2012”

- $2.49 - Single 12oz bottle
- $11.00 - for a 4pk

The helps give German beers such as Bocks and Oktoberfests that rich malty flavor without using many, if any, crystal malts.

They are formed when sugars and amino acids combine at high temperatures and low water activity. Melanoiden is commonly present in foods that have undergone some form of non-enzymatic browning, such as barley malts, bread crust, bakery products and coffee.

So hopefully this gives you an idea of what they mean when they say, “We used melanoiden in our beer.”


On the pour, there was not a whole lot of head. This seems to be a constant theme with these pumpkin beers; with all the ones I've ever had. They all just seem to be lacking in the head.


This beer is a hazy beer. It's not cloudy. Just hazy. I can see light through the beer and I can see my fingers going up and down the glass, however I can't see detail through the glass.

There are small streams of bubbles rising from the bottom, so it is definitely carbonated well. But it's not effervescent.


The first thing that I notice is the nutmeg aroma. The cinimmon and the all spice as well as the other spices come through in order.

The spice aroma is not astringent. It's not overpowering. It is not a potpouri bomb like many other pumpkin beers. It smells like a sweet, spiced, buttery-crust filled beer. Just like you would expect a pumpkin beer to smell like. It seems to be all encompassing. All of the aromas from what you would expect from a pumpkin pie are coming through in this beer.

It seems to be a very well balanced aroma.


Once again, the nutmeg is the first thing that comes through. Then the cinnamon comes next, then all the other spices in order, just like in the aroma.

But what you'll notice is the pleasant buttery, pumpkin pie crust flavor that lingers on the back of the tongue. It's just like when you eat pumpkin pie. First you taste the sweet. Then you taste the spices. And then the crust coats your tongue and slowly fades away.

This is a very delightful beer. Everything kind of blends together. No one flavor is out of control and unbalanced. It's a very very nice beer.


This is a nice, well balanced, pumpkin beer. I've had some that were litterally just potpouri bombs. I've had some that say they're pumpkin beers, but that really are not. They're just the same color.

You can taste everything that you would expect to taste in pumpkin pie, in this beer. It's very good.

It's difficult to pick out one this that I like the most. But I'm going to say that it's probably the absence of any overpowering elements. Nothing is more powerful than anything else. It is very well balanced.

There is just a bit of that residual sweetness. All of the sugar has not been fermented out of the beer. So it is not extremely dry. It's sweet like a pumpkin pie would be. However it's not over the top. And I think this put it just a step above most of the other pumpkin beers on the market.


Once again, they sell this in 4-packs. My feeling on 4-packs... “I DON'T LIKE THEM.”
They don't sell it in 6 packs or above. I've never seen this in a growler fill.

At $2.50 per bottle, that's okay if you just want to try it. And it's a very good try. I HIGHLY recommend that you try this. For a 4-pack you're look at between $9, $10, possibly $11 depending on where you buy it.

I'm conflicted a little bit because this is a very good beer. To try it for $2.50, I say “Go for it.“ But to buy a 4-pack for upwards of $11, I feel that's way to steep.


4-packs, for some reason, are just outrageously priced. And there is no need for the prices that they charge. I'm sorry. I know that sounds cheap, but there is no reason for it. It should be either 6-packs, or by the bottle. Or heck, sell it in a 22oz or 24oz bomber. Because I just feel like I'm getting ripped off.

With that said, "Drink what you like and enjoy what you drink."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Beer Review | Sweetwater: Road Trip Ale

Sweetwater: Road Trip Ale



http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/sweetwater-road-trip/73255/   Rating = 44
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/273/36744/   Rating = 81

Once again, another out of date IPA. The bottle is dated July/13/2012 and it is currently Feb 23th, 2013.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.

The website says, "This is a fiery Pilsner fermented at ale temperature for a fuller flavor, capped by an intense spice-hop finish."

Style: Pilsner fermented at ale temps.
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 60
Color: Yellow
Malts: Pilsner and vienna malt
Hops: Sterling and US Goldings
Bottle Code: Etched into the bottom left corner of the label.  "07/13/12"


A half pinky of a white creamy head formed.


It wasn't very carbonated.
The color was yellow like a Budweiser.


A very, very light hop spice.  But almost non-existent.
A nice malty aroma.


It actually wasn't too bad.  It tasted like an lightly hopped American Ale.
No frills.  No nothing.
Not very impressive.


I'd like to try it fresh and see if it's any different.  But as it is, there is not much here.


Based on the style, I'd give this beer a "B"

Friday, February 22, 2013

Beer Review | Flying Dog: Snake Dog IPA

Flying Dog: Snake Dog IPA



http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/flying-dog-snake-dog-ipa-2008-and-later/86882/   Rating = 92
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/68/205   Rating = 81

Once again, another out of date IPA. The bottle is dated Sept/6/2012 and it is currently Feb 22th, 2013.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.

ABV: 7.1%
IBU: 60
Color: Medium Straw Gold
Malts: C-60
Hops: Warrior and Columbus
Bottle Code: Best by code in Julian format. 250A12


A half pinky of a white creamy head formed.


Almost no carbonation.  It's very very light.  In appearance, the beer looks almost flat.


A sort of cardboardy aroma.
A light hop spiciness.
Malt doesn't really come through the other aroma.


This is the first time I've ever experienced the cardboard flavor.  It is stronger in the taste than in the aroma.  I am extremely disappointed.
The beer is almost flat.


I would say that this beer is just old.  It expired in September.  But I had an IPA the other day that was older than this and it was absolutely excellent.  I don't know what the heck is wrong with this beer.
It's pretty gross. Not gross enough to pour out. But pretty close.


Based on the style, I'd give this beer a "D"

Beer Review | Wild Blue: Premium Blueberry Lager

Wild Blue: Premium Blueberry Lager

Brewed by: Anheiser Busch



http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/wild-blue/51222/  Rating = 9
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/29/26049    Rating = 52

Once again, another beer that's out of date. While there is no bottle code on the bottle, I know it's old because I bought it back in February 2012 and it is now February 2013.

Style: Fruit lager
ABV: 8%
Color: Purple
Bottle Code: None


A tini tiny purple head formed then fell almost immediately as it was being poured.


The beer is dark purple with heavy effervescent carbonation.  Almost like soda pop.


It almost smells like a really sweet blueberry wine.  It smells like alcoholic cool-aid.
It is not very appetizing.


It tastes like sweet wine.  Blah.
The only thing that is even vaguely similar to beer is a light, almost hidden aftertaste.


This is an absolutely disgusting alcoholic beverage.  I'm not even going to call this a beer.  It is really gross.
I actually poured it down the drain.  I could not finish the drink.  It was terrible.
I can't even force it down.
I wouldn't really expect much more from an Anheiser Busch beer.


Based on the style, I'd give this beer a "F"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Beer Review | Russian River: Pliny the Elder

The review is a supplement to the youtube review that I did.  You can view that review at the link below.  http://youtu.be/vZmlaD5cjaQ




Russian River Brewing Company:Pliny the Elder
Rating: 'B+'

This is the first time I have ever tasted Pliny the Elder.  Heck, this is the first time I've ever seen a real bottle of it.  So that being said, I plan to give this an honest review that is not jaded by an opinion gathered from previous experiences.  But I will also be giving a true review of this particular bottle.  I am leaving the “Hype” out of this review.  It will get an unbiased review.

Is it really as good as everyone says?

My brother-in-law picked this beer up for me while working in Portland OR.  I live in the upstate of South Carolina.  And the only place they distribute on the East Coast is Philadelphia, PA.  So I can't even get this where I live.

The side of the bottles says, “Pliny the Elder is best enjoyed fresh.” This particular bottle was bottled on August 31st, 2012.  So that makes this bottle 3 months and 17 days old (as of the day I filmed this review which was December 17th, 2012).

I'm not sure what they consider fresh, so hopefully three months in the bottle hasn't affected this beer too much.  But personally, three months isn't that old.  But other factors may also affect this beer including how the store handled and stored the beer.

Style: Double IPA
Color: Dark yellow bordering on light amber.
ABV: 8.0%
IBU: The website says, “Bitterness is High” but other sources say it's about 100 IBU's.
Hops: Amarillo, Centenial, CTZ,  and Simcoe

Bottle Code:
It's plainly printed on the side of the label.  It says “Bottled On: 08/31/12.”  So I assume that mean August 31st, 2012.

Cost: Varies depending on where you buy it.
 Costs range from:
  - $5.00 - $8.00 for 17.25oz bottle (510 mL).
  - $7.50/$5.00/$4.50/$6.00 for a pint on draft, depending on where you get it.

Up and down the West Coast.  But the only place it's distributed on the East Coast is in Philadelphia, PA.

The Pour:

It started off with a nice 2-fingers worth of head.  There was nice lacing on the glass as the head settled down.


The beer is really cloudy.  From the looks of it, they either do not filter it or it's bottle conditioned.
There's not a ton of carbonation but there was definitely a steady stream of bubbles.


Citrusy hop aroma. Grapefruit is the main citrus smell.  It's not overpowering but it is definitely the main aroma of the beer.
It's very malty but mostly citrus.
It smells just like Bell's HopSlam.
There is no alcohol aroma.


It was good.  For an 8% ABV beer, you don't taste the alcohol at all.  In this respect, it is nothing like HopSlam, which is very boozy.
There is a hop citrus and pine.
The flavors don't linger.
Regarding the bitterness; it's not that bitter.  It's about on par with any other regular IPA.  Weak compared to other Double IPA's.
It definitely does NOT taste like a double IPA.  The flavors are very muted compared to other beers in the “Double IPA” category.  Honestly, it just tastes like a regular IPA.  Sierra Nevada: Torpedo Extra is a stronger tasting IPA than this beer.  And that is only a 7.2% ABV beer.  Almost up there with Pliny but not quite. But it's also only classified as a regular IPA.  And the hop character of the Torpedo Extra is three times what is coming through in Pliny.
I've had many other Double IPA's that completely overshadow Pliny's hop character. Hoptologist, Avery's Maharaja, RJ Rockers Rockhopper IPA.


I'm a bit conflicted.  Should I give this beer a higher rating because of it's reputation?  The answer is clearly “NO.”  If that were the case, I feel like I should judge it more harshly than I would other beers.  It must prove itself to me.  I do not have to prove myself to it.

I've been waiting to taste this beer for years.  I've read all of the reviews.  And, in my opinion, this beer is way overhyped.
Was is good?  Yes.
Was it great?  No.
To me, it was just another everyday IPA.  If I were to put this up against other regular IPA's I wouldn't be able to pick it out.  There was nothing over-the-top about this beer.  Nothing really stuck out.
I personally wouldn't classify Pliny as a Double IPA.  There was nothing “Double” about it.  The alcohol wasn't that high.  The hop character was very muted for the style.
The other beers I mentioned above (Hoptologist, Avery's Maharaja, RJ Rockers Rockhopper IPA) were far beyond the Double IPA drinking experience of Pliny.
When you open up any of those bottles, you are immediately hit in the face with Hops.

I will concede that some of this lacking-of-flavor could be due to the age of the bottle.  But I don't feel that 3 months is enough time to mute the hope character this much.
I recently drank a bottle of “Clown Shoes: Supa Hero” that was almost a year out of date.  However, it tasted like a fresh, super hopped, Double IPA. It was 8% ABV and was only listed as a Regular IPA.  It was the same price as Pliny but was still massively hoppy.

So those that are whining and fussing about this beer being to old for a true review, I say “Bulls*&t!!!”  If Clown Shoes can produce a beer that holds up after being a year out of date, then Pliny should be able to hold up after 3 months.

Because of all these factors, this is getting a “B+” from me.  It is not worth any more than that.

Worth the Money:

For the reputation alone, I'd say that it's worth $6.00 per bottle.
But if I'm basing it solely on the drinking experience that I'm getting from this beer, I would say, “No. It's not worth the money.”

For those of you out there crying “Foul” and are huffing and puffing that I got an old bottle... My feeling is if a beer with this kind of reputation loses everything after 3 months when I can find a comparable beer in style in price from a different brewer that is 12 months out of date and it still knocks my socks off, Pliny IS NOT worth $6.00 per bottle.

That's my opinion.
If you disagree, leave me some comments below.

“Drink what you like.  Enjoy what you drink.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

Beer Review | Sweet Water: LowRYEder Rye IPA

Sweet Water: LowRYEder IPA



http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/sweetwater-lowryeder/179502/   rating = 88
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/273/82647   rating = 85

Once again, another out of date IPA. The bottle is dated 12/30/2012 and it is currently Feb 15th, 2012.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.

ABV: 6.2%
IBU: 45
Malts: 2-Row, Rye malt, CaraRye, Rye Flakes,  Munich malt
Hops: Centennial and Mt. Hood
Bottle Code: On the bottom left corner of the label, clearly printed .

  • Best By: 12/30/12 = 12/30/2012


No head.  Only a light layer of creamy film formed.


Medium-light amber.
Somewhat cloudy.  Most likely from the rye.
Very light but steady carbonation.


No hop aroma.
Light spiciness from the rye malt.
Not much of any aroma at all.


Very minimal, almost non-existent, hop flavor.
Malt is also very minimal.
Not impressive at all.


This beer is only a month and a half out of date, but there is no hop or malt flavor.  This is definitely not worth what I paid for it.
I do not recommend this beer.
However... this may only be due to the fact that it is an "Old" beer.  But this particular one is a huge letdown.


Based on the style, I'd give this beer a "B-"

Beer Review | New Belgium: Red Hoptober Ale

New Belgium: Red Hoptober Ale



http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/new-belgium-red-hoptober/180193/   rating = 94
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/192/83434   rating = 86

While this is not officially an IPA, it is however a VERY hoppy beer. So I'm treating this as if it were an IPA.  That being said, it is slightly paste it's best-by date of December 2nd 2012.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.

This beer had a different name a few years ago.  It was simply called "Hoptober."  The packaging is the same as "Red Hoptober", only they simply added "Red" to the label.  While this isn't official, it is, however, true.

ABV: 6.0%
IBU: 60
Malts: Pale, Crystal 80
Hops: Target, Nugget, Cascade, El Dorado, Centennial
Bottle Code:

  • Best By "02Dec12" = Dec 2nd 2012
  • Bottled On Date: "120727" July 27th 2012 


No head.


Dark brown color.  Resembles a brown ale.
Very clear.
Very light but steady carbonation.


Piney hop aroma.
Very malty aroma, similar to Thomas Creek's Appalachian Amber Ale.


Light hop taste.  Spicy piney flavor.
Very very malty.  More malt than hops is coming through.
Has a roasted nut flavor.
Very tasty.


Due to it's age (more than 2.5 months out of date), the bulk of the hoppiness has disappeared. This would make a great brown ale, at this point.


Based on the style (IPA) I'd give this beer a "B"
Rated as an Amber Ale, I would give this an "A"

Monday, February 4, 2013

Beer Review | Abita: Jackamo IPA

Abita: Jockamo IPA



http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/abita-jockamo-ipa/80779/    rating = 77
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/3/39390   rating = 63

Once again, this is an IPA that is well paste it's best-by date of May 5th 2012.  So instead of reviewing it on camera, I'm going to let you know how it holds up over time.  But based on Beeradvocate.com and Ratebeer.com it's not looking good for this one.

ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 52
Malts: Pale, red, and Caramel malt
Hops: Liberally hoped and dry-hopped with Willamette and Columbus Hops
Bottle Code: Best By "05/05/2012"


A creamy white head formed on the pour.  About 1/2 finger of head.
It dissipated very quickly.


Light amber color.
Very hazy.  I can't see through it at all.
Very light carbonation


Piney hop aroma.
Although it is only a 6.5% beer, it smells really boozy.
Very malty.


Light hop taste.  The aroma was much bigger than the taste.
Very malty.  More malt than hops is coming through.
The slightest bit of a skunk flavor on the back end.


Despite what the rating sites say, it really does taste fairly good.  But here's the problem.  While it's a pretty decent beer, if you're looking for a great IPA, this is NOT the beer for you.  But if you're looking for a decent beer (in general) then this is a a fairly good one to try beer.

It only has two downfalls.

  1. The hop flavor is pretty lacking.
  2. It's got a slight skunk flavor on the back end.


Based on the style (IPA) I'd give this beer a "B-"

Beer Review | New Belgium: Red Hoptober

New Belgium: Red Hoptober




Once again, I am cleaning out the beer fridge (so to speak) and drinking another IPA.  And as we know, IPA's lose their hop essence more quickly over time than any other flavor in the beer.  So instead of reviewing this beer on camera (http://www.youtube.com/user/nowitstimeforbeer/featured) and not giving it a fair review due to it's age, I'm reviewing it here on my beer blog.  I'll let you know how it tastes now, after it's expiration date.  Some beers keep better than others.  So lets see if this holds up.

This beer is the progression from a previous beer that New Belgium put out call simply "Hoptober"

  • Cost: $7.99 6 pack (at beer and wine store) $9.00 at the grocery store.
  • First Brewed: August 2012
  • ABV: 6.0%
  • IBU: 60
  • Hops: Target, Nugget Cascade, El Dorado, Centennial
  • Malt: Pale malt and Crystal 80
  • Bottle Code: New Belgium is very good about their bottle codes.  They have a best-by and bottled on code.
    • Best By Date "18NOV12": Translated = Nov 18th, 2012
    • Bottled-On Date "120708": Translated = July 8th, 2012


There was almost no head.  If you didn't see the lightest bit of creamy lacing, you'd think this beer wasn't carbonated.


It's a very dark beer.  Nearly the same color as the amber beer bottle.
It's lightly carbonated.  With small streams of bubble rising through the beer.


Very piney hop aroma.  It's very spicy I'm surprised at how hoppy this smells considering it's 2 1/2 months older than it's best-by date.
The malt comes out up front.


Piney hop flavor, right up front.
Then a roasted malt flavor mixed with the Caramel malts takes over.
It has a very nice blend.


Even after 2 1/2 months past the best-by date, this beer is still absolutely wonderful.  I had a fresh one of these the other day and it tasted nearly identical to this one. So that proves that it does keep well.  Although I wouldn't try keeping it too much past the best-by date, a couple months doesn't seem to have hurt this beer at all.

If you want a roasty malt / hoppy beer, then this is certainly a great one to try.  It's well worth the $7.99 your are paying.



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Beer Review | Southern Tier: 2XIPA

Souther Tier
: 2X IPA





Availability:  Year Round
Packaging: 6pk and 24pk case 1/2kegs and 1/6kegs
Brewed Since: 2010
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.2%
Bottle Code: Near the bottom of the label.  Bottle-On Date: 02/10/12

The Pour:

Very little head.

The Look:

Very cloudy.
Yellow in color.
Medium to low carbonation

The Aroma:

Thick sweet aroma.
Smells like it could be very boozy.
Strong piney hops.
Smells strikingly similar to Thomas Creek's "Up the Creek IPA"

The Taste:

Flavor is very balanced.
Very effervescent.  Nice carbonation.
Not as boozy as it smelled.
Not as sweet tasting as it smells.
The website claims that it is more citrusy with light pine.  But I'm getting a lot more of the piny hop aroma.
Very very tasty.


I highly recommend this beer.  It's very smooth.  You could drink many of these in one sitting without flinching.  Unfortunately you'd get knocked on your ass after doing so.  You don't taste the alcohol. 
It's a very delightful beer.  I could drink a 6er of this (and probably regret it massively).  It is so good.  I could imagine what it tastes like fresh.  This bottle was born Feb. 10, 2012 and today is Feb 1st 2013.  So...
I highly recommend this beer.  Don't miss out.