Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hop Stoopid Ale - Lagunitas Brewing Co.

Hop Stoopid is a Double IPA that I received as a gift during Christmas last year. I finally got around to drinking it and I'm very pleased with this Lagunitas lap-worthy liquid.

I've had my fair share of IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs, Imperial IPAs...etc, etc. While most of these style beers have quite a bite to them, I can happily say that Hop Stoopid is subtle enough where it doesn't make my bitter meter go past the enjoyable drinking level.

Lately I have gotten sick of IPAs, their piney flavor and the bitterness associated with them. Whenever buying a new one I cautiously sip as I don't want to be pushed into IPA purgatory where I don't want to drink any of them for a long period of time.

Hop Stoopid doesn't inspire this disdain for the style, but rather has me embracing it again.

If I had another bottle of Hop Stoopid I would gladly drink it again. This is a beer I can see myself enjoying on hot summer days on more than one occasion and even on these warmer winter nights where I'm in the mood for an IPA.

Lagunitas Brewing Company truly has something special with Hop Stoopid Ale and it deserves all the praise it's receiving on Beer Advocate.

I give Hop Stoopid 4.5/5 Cheese Steaks on the delicious scale.

Give it a try!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pumpkin Beer Fest 2015 (Part 1)

I may have slacked just a little bit. I am about 4 months late to the party, so without further ado, here are the results of Brett, Erica and I's 2015 Pumpkin Beer tasting (Part 1):

Brett Class (Lighter and Crisp)
Leaf Pile Ale - Leaf Pile was a brand new Pumpkin beer we tried for 2015. Initially I loved it and it reminded me of a pumpkin cheesecake or even a pumpkin soft-drink. Erica described it as "sweeet and a little sticky, but also spicy," while Brett stated it tasted "canned, yet pumpkiny still with a very nice spice blend." At 5.2% ABV this was one of our favorite of the lighter ones. Greenport Brewing.

Jack-O Traveler Shandy - Recently I've grown to love the Traveler Brewing Co. and the lighter, sweeter beer options they have to offer. I never hesitate to grab a six pack of one of their shandies every summer for a nice refreshing beer. Jack-O Traveler is no exception to this and provides a nice light and sweet pumpkin beer that I could see just about anyone trying and liking. Brett's description of Jack-O Traveler is as follows; "It had a beautiful spicy flavor and the aroma was off the hook!" Erica said, "So sweeeet and sticky!!!" Jack-O has an ABV of 4.4% and was brewed by Traveler Brewing Co. in Vermont.

CBC: The Great Pumpkin - Another new one we tried this year. Cambridge Brewing Company's Great Pumpkin Ale was about middle road for us when it came to the lighter options. I thought it was slightly above average while Erica thought, "It was okay, not bad, but not sweet enough, especially for Brett." Brett stated: "Not bad, but a little less Pump than I like." CBC has an ABV of 4.4%.

Wolaver's Organic Pumpkin - I've always made it a habit to have some Wolaver's on standby during our pumpkin beer tastings and while it never truly floors us, we still keep it around. Very beer-like in flavor, Wolaver's Organic Pumpkin is average at best. Brett describes it as "A little bitter for my liking, boring-ish in terms of body." Erica said, "The aftertaste is SO BAD." At 5.35% ABV Wolaver's is at best forgettable.

Too bad Organic doesn't also mean delicious

Post Road Pumpkin - Brooklyn Brewing's pumpkin offering consistently seems to be the worst every year. You would think with Brooklyn's name on it, it would be good. Post Road barely has any flavor and will leave you disappointed. Erica says, "Sad and boring, thumbs DOWN," while Brett thought it tasted like Budweiser with very little pumpkin added. While I stated "For people who don't know any better." Do yourself a favor and avoid Post Road Pumpkin if you see it at the stores and want to try a good Pumpkin beer. It falls at 5.0% ABV.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Best and Worst Pumpkin Beers of 2014

Every year, during the months of September and October, I enjoy drinking Pumpkin Beer. Ever since becoming a craft beer enthusiast about 2 years ago, I've made it my mission to try as many different kinds of the pumpkiny beverage as I could get my hands on. Initially I started off small and only tried a handful of pumpkin beers my first year of drinking them. The following year I found even more to try and expanded my pumpkin beer palate. This year I outdid myself once again and sampled 22 different pumpkin beers in the same day with some close friends by my side. Below you will find our impressions of each of these beers. I've divided them into separate classes based on their alcohol content, plus it wouldn't be fair to compare the lighter Post Road Pumpkin with the super sweet and delicious Pumking. Listed in order from best to worst in each class.

Light Beers:

Jacko-O Traveler Shandy: At 4.4% ABV, Jack-O was the lightest pumpkin beer we drank. It reminded us more of a summer beer than anything. True to its shandy nature, there was a sweet lemon taste throughout as well as a hint of pumpkin. Very light and refreshing, although definitely more suitable for drinking in warmer weather.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead: Shipyard's brews have always been a good standby beer for me. Their carbonation and flavor remind me of that of a soft drink, like a flavored soda. In their pumpkin offering we tasted cinnamon and different spices. I enjoy it every time I drink it. 4.7% ABV.

Post Road Pumpkin Ale: A middle-of-the-road (if you will) pumpkin brew. Knowing this was made by Brooklyn Brewery I expected more. A good amount of flavor, but not anything special. Enough to like in this one to enjoy a bottle or two. 5.0% ABV.

Great South Bay Splashing Pumpkin: One of our very own Long Island brews! While I initially enjoyed GSB Splashing Pumpkin, upon further tasting I didn't think it was so great. My friends agreed. You could do worse, but there's not enough spice or flavor to keep this as one of my standbys in my mini-fridge. 5.0% ABV.

Uinta Punk'n: One of my least favorite pumpkin beers of all time. Punk'n has nothing going for it and is unpleasant to the taste. Burnt pumpkin flavor and not in a good way! Soapy too. I drank this one last year too and it was the same thing. Would never drink again willingly. 5.0% ABV.

Medium Beers:

UFO Pumpkin: Harpoon's offering was consistently one of my favorite pumpkin beers the last two years. I've had friends, coworkers and family all try this one and they all's good. When it comes to alcohol content and flavor UFO is right in the middle and perfect for both craft beer lovers and people who enjoy the occasional light beer. 5.9% ABV.

Wilhelm Scream: Magic Hat brewed a pumpkin beer? Who would've thought. This year was the first time we tried Wilhelm Scream and we were pleased. It had a good amount of sweetness, but also enough bitterness to accompany it. I could easily see myself drinking this one at a bar with little other options. 5.4% ABV.

Captain Lawrence Pumpkin: A little more mellow than Wilhelm, but still with a good amount of flavor. The average of the medium class. 5.5% ABV.

Ithaca Country Pumpkin: This one was my #2 choice, but sadly my friends didn't agree with me. I thought Country Pumpkin had a stronger flavor than both Wilhelm and Capt. Lawrence, while also remaining light and not too overpowering. My friends thought it was too bitter and slightly bland. 6.3% ABV.

Pumple Drumkin: This falls in the same class as Uinta's Punk'n. Pumple Drumkin is a pretty bad pumpkin beer. Average at best and too bitter for its own good. Promises of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg on the bottle are never fufilled. 6.0% ABV.

Medium-Heavy Beers:

Only 3 in this category as it was our resting/food break point

Night Owl Pumpkin: Elysian made a damn good pumpkin beer and this was the first year trying it for us. Reminded us all of a pumpkin pie cooked just a little overdone. Brown sugar and nutmeg are present throughout every sip of this pumpkiny delight. Can be enjoyed on many autumnal occasions. 5.9% ABV.

Horseheads Pumpkin: My girlfriend and I LOVED this one. My friends thought it was a little too sweet. Horseheads Pumpkin tasted just like candy to us. Cinnamon and brown sugar throughout, I could easily get this one down. Reminded me of eating a more intense Auntie Anne's pretzel. 6.6% ABV.

Roadsmary's Baby: Another great one. Roadsmary's Baby was aged in rum barrels and has a sort of vanillaly pumpkin flavor associated with it. Tasty to say the least. 6.8% ABV.

Heavy Beers:

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin: So much flavor, Weyerbacher is to die for. Tastes just like a perfectly sweet pumpkin pie flavored candy beverage. You can taste the cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices with each sip. Near perfection. 8.0% ABV.

Schlafly Pumpkin: A close runner up to Weyerbacher. Schlafly is similar to Night Owl in its pumpkin pie like-taste except sweeter. I could drink this one for weeks (and I have!). 8.0% ABV.

Dogfish Head Punkin: Dogfish Head succeeds in making a really good pumpkin ale. Erica described it as nutty and more of a brown ale. Nutmeg is present in the flavor. I liked it, but didn't think it was anything too special. 7.0% ABV.

Fisherman's Pumpkin Stout: The only pumpkin stout we tried in our tasting. Fisherman's tastes more like chocolate than pumpkin to me. Chocolately as most stouts and with a hint of pumpkin for good measure. Good, but not if you're in the mood for a straight up pumpkin flavor. 7.0% ABV.

Gruntled Pumpkin: A unique take on pumpkin beer. Had a distinct flavor, but no where near as good as the rest. Tasted a bit off honestly. 7.0% ABV.

Super Heavy Beers:

Pumking: The best of the best when it comes to heavier pumpkin beers. Southern Tier has made a real winner here. One of the sweetest pumpkin beers I've ever drank. Tastes like candy, cinnamon, and vanilla. Forget candy, give me this beer! 8.6% ABV.

Harpoon Imperial Pumpkin: In addition to UFO, Harpoon also brewed their heavier take on a pumpkin beer. Delicious and full of flavor. Nothing can touch the greatness that is Pumking though. 10.5% ABV.

Punkuccino: If the words Pumpkin Coffee Beer don't excite you then skip out on this one. Tasted more like coffee than pumpkin to me, but was still a very good brew. I finished every last drop! 5.0% ABV.

The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Stout: Flying Dog what have you done to us? With The Fear they made the darkest pumpkin beer I have ever seen. The color is near black and the taste, leaves more to be desired. I think they tried too hard with this one. Tasted like burnt pumpkin with too much alcohol in it to mask the flavor. 9.0% ABV.

So there you have it! Our results of drinking 22 different pumpkin beers. Have you tried any on our list and have anything to say that we left out? Let us know in the comments section below. Happy Halloween Everyone!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Founders Mosaic Promise

Founders Brewing has always stood for creativity, especially among themselves and all of the beers they have brewed over the past 17 years. They are never afraid of stepping too far outside of the box and giving us beer lovers something new, inventive and pleasing to our palate. 

Mosaic Promise is the 2014 Founders creation for the annual ArtPrize competition that takes place every year in Grand Rapids Falls, Michigan. Through an exclusive 5 year contract, Founders became the official brewery for the competition and will brew a brand new beer to benefit ArtPrize each year. Every six-pack sold will be used to help fund every future competition and encourage creativity among all the artists that enter.

Founders to me is like an old friend. One of the first true craft beers I have tried was made by Founders (if you're curious it was the Breakfast Stout!) and every time they have something new to share with me, I eagerly get out my pint glass and wait for them to pour.

Whether I have had a rough day, or I'm just enjoying a fun night with some friends, I never hesitate to grab one of my many favorite Founders standbys out of my mini fridge and indulge. There are so many good Founders brews, all of them full of flavor and comforting for me to drink.

Mosaic Promise: Refreshing and Tasty
Mosaic Promise is no exception to that rule and to me tastes like a more refreshing All Day IPA, brewed with a single malt and a single hop. Founders beers always has that pleasant flavor associated with them and they always serve as a reminder of my induction into the world of craft beers.

The art on the label of Mosaic Promise is titled "Ninkasi" and was created by Grand Rapids artists Matt and Elizabeth Kolenda, Adrianne Hollemans and Maria Orr of Kolenda Art Glass originally as a stained glass piece. It was submitted in the 2013 ArtPrize competition and depicts the ancient Sumerian goddess of beer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Founders Dissenter Imperial IPL

Labor Day was yesterday and what better way to celebrate than with a good beer? Last night I cracked open my 750ml bottle of one of the most recent beers released by Founders Brewing Co in their Backstage Series: Dissenter Imperial IPL. Dissenter is an Imperial India Pale Lager.

Founders is not really known for brewing lagers...ever, but they decided to give this one a shot and try something new with the style. Founders always creates complex beers. If they can brew a lager worth drinking then I'm on board.

Right from opening the bottle a hoppiness is present in the aroma. I poured myself and my friend Rob a glass.

Dissenter had a generous amount of head and a hoppy taste/flavor throughout. It almost felt like I was drinking All Day IPA or Double Trouble with each sip.

Overall I thought that Dissenter was just okay. There's a lot of people on the Dissenter review page on Beer Advocate that loved it and thought its flavor was complex with pineapple, mango and other tropical fruits. I just didn't taste it this time around.

Both Rob and I throught it was a pretty standard tasting beer with a good deal of hoppiness and bitterness. I fear that I've grown tired of IPAs since I've had so many of them over the summer months. I think it's time I take a break from the style and gracefully come back to it in a year or so.

That being said, if you can find Dissenter in stores feel free to give it a try. At 8.7% ABV it's sure to knock you on your butt right onto your couch.

Founders Dissenter Imperial IPL is the first beer to be released in its 2014 Backstage Series. I'm more excited for the next one to come out; Smoked Porter in February.

Still good, just tired of IPAs

Chip Blog: The Great Lays Showdown of 2014

Last year marked the first ever Lays 'Do Us A Flavor' contest, which allowed potato chip fans from around the U.S. to pick a new flavor that was to be made into a permanent option in the Lays lineup. Last year's entries included the sweet and delicious Chicken and Waffles, the spicy yet great Sriracha and the winner of it all Cheesy Garlic Bread. I tried all of these flavors and thought Sriracha should have won it, but I guess not everyone shared my love for the Thai hot sauce infused chips.

This year the polls for the 'Do Us A Flavor' contest opened on July 28th and they will be closing on October 18th. There are four options this year to choose from: Wavy Mango Salsa, Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger, Cappuccino, and Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese.


I sat down with a couple close friends and decided to try them all and write down all of our impressions of each flavor. We started with Cappuccino as that one made us the most curious.

"That's a weird flavor, very interesting." - Brett S

"What is that? It's a little spicy under my tongue." - Erica W

"Good and sweet, like a dessert chip." - Phil

"I think it should be sweeter." - Brett S

"Tastes just like the foam of a real cappuccino!" - Erica W

Next we moved on to Wavy Mango Salsa:

"It smells kind of like Fruity Pebbles." - Phil

"Tastes like a dried mango." - Brett S

"Oh no, no, no, no, no." - Erica W

"Needs a better balance of mango and salsa, I don't taste any salsa." - Brett S

"Tastes like they couldn't decide on making fruit snacks or potato chips." - Phil

"I was absolutely disgusted by that one." - Brett S

Cappuccino and Wavy Mango Salsa on the top,
Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese and Wasabi on the bottom

Thirdly we tried the Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger:

"In your face, just like real wasabi." - Phil

"Ooo I like this, it's soo good." - Erica W

"That is so Wasabeeeee, I taste the ginger too." - Brett S

"Not too spicy either." - Brett S

Last but not least we threw the Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese down our gullets:

"It smells like dog food." - Brett S

"That's dog food." - Erica W

"Tastes like mac and cheese, nothing special." - Phil S

After the initial tasting we all sat down for a couple of minutes and continued to taste test the chips seeing if our opinions changed as we did so. Eventually we each voted on each chip placing them with a number 1 through 4 depending on which we liked the most and the least. Here are our results:

Brett: 1) Wasabi 2) Mac and Cheese 3) Cappuccino 4) Mango Salsa

Erica: 1) Wasabi 2) Mac and Cheese 3) Cappuccino 4) Mango Salsa 

Phil: 1) Wasabi 2) Cappuccino 3) Mac and Cheese 4) Mango Salsa

Despite Erica and Brett initially both thinking the Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese smelled like dog food they ended up digging the flavor a lot more after eating a few chips. We all agreed that the Wasabi Ginger was our favorite and had a good balance of spice and flavor and was the best fit with its kettle cooked style. I really enjoyed the Cappuccino and it was almost my number 1, but it was a bit too sweet for a chip that I would eat on a daily basis. The Mango Salsa chip, while it sounds good in principle, was disgusting for all of us and they should never make it ever again at least not with that overpowering nasty Mango flavoring.

So there you have it; Our great Lays off! Have you tried all of these flavors? Which one will you be voting for and hope will be made into a permanent flavor?
Let me know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hoptimum (Sierra Nevada)

Good Ol' Hoptimum. Literally this bottle was both good and old. This batch was brewed in 2012 and while normally it's customary to drink an IPA (India Pale Ale) while it's still fresh, this one was left in my basement to sit for awhile (and not on purpose!).

Hoptimum, brewed by Sierra Nevada is a Whole-Cone Imperial IPA that is a whopping 10.4% ABV. What makes this IPA different from the rest is the brewing process in which whole-cone hops are used aka the entire hop. The majority of other IPAs are brewed using hops that have been cut up into smaller pieces. By using whole-cone hops produces a stronger, more robust flavor that is present in the beer.

So how does Hoptimum stack up with the other countless IPAs I drank over the years? Let's find out.

Not only is my shirt Kick-Ass, the beer is too!

Like other IPAs Hoptimum has a very pine-inspired scent associated with it. Its color is that of an amber orangey red. The taste is both strong and memorable.

Bitterness is expected with an IPA and Hoptimum has its fair share of it. Hidden behind the initial explosion of bitterness on your tastebuds is citrus notes, almost like that of a grapefruit. The pine flavor is evident in every sip although I would say it's not as overwhelming as a beer like Heady Topper.
That being said Hoptimum is a great beer, but not as good as my favorite IPA of all time Hopslam. It just doesn't have the smoothness that Hopslam had and the subtle sweetness that made it great. For those who are more of IPA purists though Hoptimum is a dream come true and one of the best IPAs you can buy on the market.
Look for it in stores, it's sold in 4 packs!
Hoptimum was created by the masterminds at Sierra Nevada Brewing and if I made a list of my top five favorite IPAs it would be on there.