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<strong>The Disgruntled Chemist</strong>


Beer Blogging - Red Hook Long Hammer IPA

Since that last beer was a little disappointing, I'm going to try another one from the ol' beer fridge. Next up is Red Hook's Long Hammer IPA.

The pour: a clear golden color with a big, fluffy white head. It pretty much looks like your standard IPA.

The aroma: surprisingly light, considering all that head. You'd think there would be a ton of aroma coming off this beer. What I can pick up smells like I expect from an IPA: just floral hops and no malt. There's no citrus to speak of.

The taste: It pretty much tastes like your standard IPA, too. That's certainly not meant to be a criticism of this beer; it's a good example of a simple little India Pale Ale. The dominant flavor, of course, is hops - not the wallop of grapefruit and orange peel you'll sometimes get in those double/triple IPAs, but a nice, mellow floral taste. It finishes off with a little bitterness and a little malt, but not too much of either. The bitterness lasts the longest, but it's not so strong that it gets in the way of the next sip. There's no hint of alcohol (6.5% ABV) and a moderate amount of carbonation.

The rating: 8/10 for possibly the least intimidating IPA I've ever had. A lot of people are turned off from this style because the hops are too bitter or harsh for them. This beer won't do that to you. The drinkability is very high for an IPA. If you don't like IPAs, you might actually like this beer. Give it a try before you write the style off altogether.


Beer Blogging - Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale

So, how has everyone's Memorial Day been? Hopefully you took a moment to remember why the holiday exists. Hopefully you also ate a steak the size of your head like I did earlier. Now it's basketball time, and it's also delicious (hopefully) beer time. I'm drinking a 22 oz. bomber of Rogue's Morimoto Soba Ale.

The pour: the beer is a cloudy golden color, with lots of bubbles in the bottom of the glass. There's a large, white, fluffy head that's in ho hurry to dissolve.

The aroma: it's both hoppy and nutty. I would say the dominant aroma is hops, with bready and nutty smells underneath that.

The taste: Not at all like it smells. When I first poured it and smelled it, I was expecting a bready version of a pale ale, but that's not at all what I have here. It's more like a lager with some sharp, roasted flavors added in. The flavor starts out like a lager, by which I mean that there's not much strong flavor at all, just a sourdough maltiness. After that comes a sharp hop bite and the toasty flavor of roasted soba (buckwheat). There's a lot of carbonation, and I don't know whether or not to blame that, but the beer tastes kind of watered down (something I've never dreamed of saying about a Rogue beer).

The rating: 5/10. A decidedly mediocre offering from a generally outstanding brewer. The watered down taste kills it - I can see the flavors being good, but there needs to be more of everything. That being said, I can see this beer pairing decently well with delicately flavored sushi or a light Japanese udon soup. Anything more than that, the flavors of the food would dominate this beer. I don't think I'll buy this again - it's just not that interesting.



Beer Blogging - New Belgium Springboard Ale

It's a crisp spring day here in Southern California, and as such I decided to drink a spring seasonal beer. Specifically, I have here a glass of Springboard Ale from New Belgium Brewery.

According to the description on the side of the bottle, Springboard Ale "combines oats, ancient Chinese herbs and Mt. Hood hops to maintain a balanced equilibrium for such an exhilarating ale. This cloudy blonde has a spirited threshold, and a creamy body, followed by a refreshingly dry finish." The front of the label says that it's a blend of 98% ale brewed with Wormwood, Lycium and Schisandra, and 2% ale aged in oak barrels. Let's see if all that verbiage adds up to a tasty beverage.

The pour: well, it certainly is a cloudy blonde. There's a big head that comes up as I finish pouring, and then just as quickly fades away to lace. I must have poured it too quickly, because there's a layer of yeast left in the bottom of the bottle.

The aroma: it's almost fruity, actually, which I didn't expect from the description on the label. The main aroma seems to be lemon, but not a hoppy lemon peel. There's no malt to speak of. It certainly smells like a seasonal brewed for springtime.

The taste: They nailed the description of the body - it is very creamy. There's almost no carbonation, which is kind of strange in a beer with this delicate of a flavor. The first flavor to hit you is a very light malt, not the strong toasted biscuit that I've come to expect from New Belgium beers. After that is the creamy section of the beer, which has that lemon flavor and also some very light hops. The aftertaste is almost tangy, which I think comes from the herbs but I can't be sure. Overall this beer is very different from anything I've ever had from New Belgium. That's not a bad thing; it's always good to see that a brewer is trying new things.

The rating: 7/10. The flavors, once you can pick them out (they're very faint), work well together. The reason that it didn't get a higher rating is this: when a seasonal has a light, almost fruity flavor like this, I'm looking for it to be refreshing, a warm day kind of beer. This one almost gets there, but the aftertaste detracts from that a bit and the drinkability suffers as a result. I think the Chinese herbs take away from my enjoyment of the beer. Your mileage may vary, of course, and I'd say it's worth buying a 6-pack and trying it.



Beer Blogging - Stone Vertical Epic #7

This beer is part of Stone's Vertical Epic series. If you're not familiar with the idea, I'll let them tell you about it:

As with any good epic, herein lies the promise of larger-than-life experiences, heroics and twists & turns as the adventure unfolds. These bottle-conditioned ales are specifically designed to be aged until sometime after December 12th, 2012. Provided you can wait that long. At that time, enjoy them in a "vertical" tasting. Each one unique to it's year of release. Each with its own "twist & turn" in the plotline. Each one released one year, one month and one day from the previous year's edition.

To my everlasting shame, I had never heard of this before last month. The first beer in the Vertical Epic series was released six years ago, on Feb. 2, 2002. The bottle I have here was released on July 7, 2007. I found it in a very small liquor store along a highway outside of Anza Borrego State Park in San Diego County. I was eating at a Mexican restaurant that didn't serve beer, so I went next door to the liquor store to buy a 6-pack. I came out with the 6-pack and this:

Since this is designed to be opened four and a half years from now, I feel sort of bad about drinking it tonight. If I find more, I will certainly buy it (along with any others in the series I can find). I'm not confident, though, since I'll be leaving the west coast in a two months. It seems kind of silly to age a single bottle of beer for 4 years. If I can do even half the series I will wait, but for now I'm going to enjoy this one. Let's see what we've got.

The pour: a thick, white, fluffy head springs up right away and disappears almost as quickly. The beer itself has a very nice golden honey color.

The aroma: it smells like a strong Belgian ale, with lots of malt. The aromas are apple, banana and honey, and a little bit of biscuit.

The taste: it tastes like a strong Belgian ale as well. That same honey flavor is prominent, as is the banana. I'm starting to doubt whether I smelled apple at all, because I can't taste any. As it warms up a little, I can taste a bit of coriander and maybe a little bubblegum. The bottle tells me that the brewer added orange peel, lemon peel and grapefruit peel, and all three come through (well, the taste of citrus peel generally does) during the aftertaste, as well as a decent wallop of ginger. There's a ton of carbonation (made naturally in the bottle), which is actually a pretty good complement to the flavors. I can taste some alcohol, but not a lot (the bottle says 8.4%). Overall there is a very nice progression from sweet out front to spices in the aftertaste. Those guys at Stone really know how to put a beer together.

Maybe it would be better after some more aging (it's had 9 months in the bottle, but was meant to sit for 5 years), but I couldn't wait. They do have some very detailed homebrewing recipes for all these beers at this website; maybe I'll make it when I move and get some homebrewing supplies, and let it age for a while.

The rating: 7/10. It's a decent Belgian ale right now. If you see some and you have more patience than me, pick some up and let it sit for a while. I'll bet it gets better.