India pale ale

[Beer Review] A Triple Shot of New Treats From Zipline Brewing Company

October is in the air and while at least one of the three beers up on the docket isn’t strictly here for the bonfires and falling leaves, it is brand new to Zipline’s year round lineup. First off, we’ll dive into the crushable hoppy session IPA, Alpha Modern; move into the fall delights of the toasty Festbier and finish off with dark decadence of Zipline’s latest seasonal, Coconut Stout. 

Alpha Modern

Over the course of their existence Zipline hasn’t exactly been known for their witty Beer names or boldness in their packaged releases–sticking almost exclusively to nailing traditional recipes with on-the-nose names (IPA, Oatmeal Porter, Copper-Alt, Kölsch and so on). Nowhere on the quality scale is there a check mark for “Clever Beer Name”, so the fact that to this point Zipline’s biggest “sin” is laziness in naming beer is a testament to how well they nail the styles they do release–seeing as few of their offerings will warrant grunts of disgust. 

In steps Alpha Modern. In name alone you’d be hard pressed to pin down exactly what you’re gonna be sipping on, aside from the Alpha precursor which undoubtedly hints at the almighty hop. Alpha Modern is a Session IPA to be exact, meaning that it’s alcohol content is mild with the hopes that the hop flavor pop with each drink–the end goal being that you can crush a sixer in a single sitting and not forget your kids’ names when you pick em up from daycare. And crush it you can. 

Pouring golden yellow and settling like hazy lemonade the nose on Alpha Modern is deliciously dank. Lemon pops through the soapy head with additional notes of pineapple. The fruity hops really shine from aroma and directly into taste. Crisp mouthfeel and carbonation bite help the zesty fruity crackle on your palate. Dank hops and lemon linger with each sip, demanding you to go in for one after another until the glass is empty and the flavors still linger like a siren song prompting you to open another and start all over again. As it warms (if it lasts long enough for you to let it) its IPA characteristics amplify–allowing a greater deal of acidic pineapple flavors to dominate in tandem with the dank aspects of the hops. 

Session IPA are often criticized for muting flavors and phoning in on aroma. Alpha Modern is guilty of neither. The beer sort of teases the appearance of the New England IPA craze, but maintains the straightforward integrity of the Session IPA mission statement and will quench the thirst of many a hop head. 

Rating: A- 


Festbier

The long running tradition of Oktoberfest beers has allowed for endless interpretations of the style. Over hopped variations lend to experimenting with rye spices and various other malt combinations. True to their beginnings, Zipline enters the market with straightforward execution of an Americanized version of the seasonal favorite. 

Pours light copper/gold and settles with a thin quickly dissolving head. Lots of malt on the nose–hints of burned caramel and buttered biscuits. Aroma very much paints the picture of Fall. First impression on taste is creamy caramel followed by toasty malts and a spicy bread-like finish. Very full mouthfeel that spreads nicely over the course of each sip. The flavors are sped through the drinking experience with a very slick and smooth character with virtually no alcohol bite (6% ABV) to be perceived. 

While there’s nothing here that’s going to jump out at you here and blow your mind, it’s just another example of an endlessly drinkable beer from the good folks at Zipline Brewing Company. Sure to be a Fall staple on the shelves in Nebraska for a long time to come. 

Rating: B


Coconut Stout

I’ve got a complicated relationship with coconut. As a young lad the only time it ever came across my taste buds was through treats like Snoballs and an unfortunate bite into a Mounds bar. As a kid, I don’t think I had the ability to appreciate the nuance of coconut. Flash forward to the first time I took a sip of Death by Cocout by Oskar Blues where my brain went through a cinematic quick cut of taste buds finally connecting the dots where as an adult the nuance aligned. 

Zipline’s Coconut Stout pours dark brown settling with a black appearance but with highlights around the glass. A thin slightly off-white head dissipates quickly as I took in the aroma–dark chocolate dominates and sweet coconut note cuts through at the end along with roasted coffee. Oskar Blues’ Death by Coconut I described once as a liquid Mounds bar–Zipline’s Coconut Stout is whatever the off-brand of that would be. It hits a lot of the same notes, but does them each with slightly less pizzazz. There’s coconut, there’s chocolate and there’s a roasted malt character. What sets Zipline’s apart and weakens its overall impact is that it’s a bit aqueous. Instead of pouring thick and having the appearance of oil you can tell by its muted color scheme it’s thin and the mouthfeel suffers as a result. The coconut does struggle to shine in favor of coffee forward flavors to the extent you could argue with is more of a coffee stout than a coconut stout. Good thing as a non-coffee drinker I actually semi-appreciate it in my beer. 

Credit where credit is due Zipline has been branching out of their style comfort zone in recent years. Their seasonal line has managed to deliver competent styles that adhere to closely to expectations, but I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be nice to see them take a step further with measurable risk here and there with some of their smaller format packaged offerings. 

Rating: B

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[Beer Review] Kros Strain’s Fairy Nectar–A Salacious Affair for Nebraska Hop Lovers

Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like we’re in a weird place as craft beer fans where IPAs are a dime a dozen. While not necessarily a bad thing, the style has taken on a life of its own and some breweries are getting a little heavy handed with their various iterations–suffice to say I’ve got a Mango S’mores IPA review in the backlog. All that being said, being a craft beer drinker in Nebraska has been increasingly more exciting over the last few years. Not only because the distribution has taken off (to the point of being overwhelming), but breweries are popping up everywhere.

One such brewery that I reviewed once not too long ago is Kros Strain Brewing Company. One of Omaha’s youngest currently operating breweries, they’ve already made quite the splash in the metro area with their three standard releases (available pretty much where you can buy beer in the area) and some experimental variations on two of their most popular beers. One of them is the Fairy Nectar IPA. Brewed with Mosaic and Citra hops (my favorites) the beer pours golden with a slight haze and settled with a thin creamy head that, thanks to the nucleated brewery glass (featuring an etched hop at the bottom) it sticks around no matter how long you leave it sitting around–which, spoiler alert, probably won’t be long. (more…)

[Beer Reviews] Southern Tier Brewing Company’s Overpacked Mixed 15 Pack

Back when I first got into craft beer and drove to an area with vastly different distribution than what I’m used to one of the first brewiest I latched on to that weren’t readily available to me was Southern Tier. Of course, my first introduction was the wildly popular Pumking, but I also really dug releases like Live, 2XIPA, and their oak aged Unearthly. To this day when I find myself face to face with some of my favorites and new releases I do not hesitate to bring some home with me. Most recently I stumbled across their “new to me” mixed 15-pack jam packed with all new beers or new recipients I hadn’t had the chance to try–with the exception of Tangier. So with all that new, how could I resist the urge to chat/write about them?

Instead of deep diving into each beer like I would normally do with a full on beer review, this will be a collection of quick observations based on my own notes as I worked my way through this pack. Before we even begin I’ll lay down an unnecessary spoiler alert that if you can get this, then get it. Each beer is well worth introducing to your taste buds regardless of the fact that they might not redefine the beer landscape.  (more…)

Beer Review: Frame the Butcher IPA by Kinkaider Brewing Company

 Growing in popularity in their home state and hailing from Broken Bow, Nebraska is Kinkaider Brewing Company. This micro brewery did something on April 1st that no other brewery in the state has attempted thus far. Bottling a beer, handing it to the distributor, in the hands of several retailers and in the glasses of fans across the state within hours of bottling- thanks in large part to House of Beers, their distributor. The bottling began at 12 a.m CST and this particular beer drinker had it in hand by 9 a.m. and in a glass to drink about an hour later. This sort of thing is common amongst some of the heavy hitters and whalez around the country, but a first here in Nebraska- particularly for a brewery several hours away from my stomping ground in Omaha.

Ok so big deal, right? Any brewery can make, distribute, and sell fresh beer- the real trick is making, distributing GREAT (even good) fresh beer. Luckily enough for anyone sipping this particular beverage, it’s quite good, maybe even quite great. The best way to describe what you’re getting when the beer is poured from their speak yet simple packaged bottles is a mild yet borderline refreshing IPA. The style itself contains a tapestry of hop bombs and bitter drain pours outside of the standbys and trade bait brands. Frame the Butcher doesn’t punch you in the face with any of its aroma or flavor, it settles you in and makes you feel right at home. As someone who tends to like an IPA’s aroma to be just slightly aggressive this beer does not hit that level, but it most definitely works for what Kinkaider is aiming for.  (more…)

Beer Review: Scratchtown Brewing Company Wonder Twins Double IPA

scratchtown_wondertwinsMosaic and citra hops are the hot ingredient this summer for many IPAs hitting the market. It’s not really a mystery, both are delicious as a single hop showcase, so it’s a no-brainer to throw them together and bring the collective of beer geeks to the bring of euphoria. Here in Nebraska we aren’t necessarily hurting for good beer, but we often don’t locally source the types of beers that craft beer junkies are jonesin for and overvalue in trades. In steps Scratchtown Brewing Company with a double IPA that rivals some of the best on the market.

Scratchtown’s Wonder Twins Double IPA comes in a 22oz bottle and is a mosaic/citra hop bomb. Coming out of Ord, Nebraska Scratchtown in and of themselves until recently have not been readily available in many markets outside of their little corner of the world. Their first foray into the bottle distribution game was their Black Eye Imperial Porter- which much like Wonder Twins is a fantastic representation of its style.  (more…)

Beer Review: Modern Times’ Booming Rollers

IMG_5994 Livining in the Midwest, beer lovers often stare longingly out the window dreaming of the golden suds being made out on the West Coast. Folks in California are spoiled by the likes of Pliny the Elder and many of Russian River’s other stellar beers. Now, over the last couple years a new contender for up and coming CA brewery Modern Times has been churning out an impressive lineup of solid beers. This review will focus on their recently released seasonal offering, Booming Rollers.

Billed as a Hoppy Citra IPA per the text on the front of the 16oz can, Booming Rollers is incredibly aromatic right from the opening of the can. There is a slight haze around the glass that only slightly clears up when sitting in the glass for a few minutes, but settles a bright golden color with a thin tightly packed layer of foam.  (more…)

Beer Review: Epic Brewing Armageddon IPA

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For a while when my lips first touched a beer that was anything but the typical college kid shotgun friendly beers I was of the mind that the less hops the better. IPAs just were not my thing. That’s the beauty of craft beer, no matter the style there will be interpretations that ease a newbie gently into the fold and some just aren’t good, plain and simple. At this current moment I’m now of the mind, the more hops the better and Epic’s Armageddon IPA fits the bill.

Upon cracking this bad boy open I could immediately get a whiff of what this beer had in store and I wasn’t even holding it near my schnoz. As I poured the bomber into my snifter it’s hard not to admire the beautiful orange color filling the glass, not to mention the nice pillowy head that builds and slowly dissipates. (more…)

Brew & View: The Beauty Vs. The Beast

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Maybe it’s just drinking beer that brings out the feisty side of me, maybe it’s just the overwhelming hype of certain movies and then again maybe it’s something about a brewing company named Surly that inspired me to bring up one of the most overrated movies in recent memory. I say overrated not because people spew overwhelming love about it wherever you go- quite the opposite I’ve found in my lack of travel- what I really mean is the fact that AVATAR was inexplicably in the running for what most might call a prestigious award the year it was released.

The title of this Brew & View refers to Beauty and a Beast. I don’t want there to be confusion that I somehow screwed things up and I posted the wrong Brew & View- what I’m arguably posing is that for this edition one of the picks is a beauty and the other…not so much. I could have called this the OverRated edition, but that seemed like overkill to me. If you haven’t guessed by now I am not a fan of James Cameron’s AVATAR- but none of my beefs have anything to do with the visuals of the film. I find AVATAR to be profoundly stupid and shockingly boring, but man if them there special effects ain’t perdy.

Now I’ve seen my fair share of stupid movies, I’ve seen my fair share of boring movies and I’ve seen my fair share of movies with awesome special effects that are stupid and boring. The baffling thing to me is that AVATAR got a slew of what I see as undeserved praise during award season and plenty of people felating James Cameron for his work. To some extent Cameron might well deserve some of the love, but only because of the technology he created for the film to create the amazing special effects. That in and of itself is nothing short of ground breaking and I just so happen to love computer animation and computer generated imagery so the innovation in that field cannot go unrecognized.

So, why did I decide to go with Surly’s OverRated West Coast Style IPA to pair with AVATAR? Well that is a pretty simple answer- the name of the beer is OverRated. So anyone reading this to try to justify sending any hate mail due to their anger that I was calling Surly’s offering overrated can power down the engines a bit. I love Surly and I love OverRated- in fact OverRated may be one of my favorite beers released by them, though I’ve only had limited experience with the beers released by Surly. For me this IPA is a much smoother drink as compared to Furious and the Abrasive Ale thus making it something I could drink in succession- the same type of repeated enjoyment that I can’t possibly get from the paired film, AVATAR.

To put some additional context for what makes AVATAR overrated I need only point to the film’s lead actor, Sam Worthington. The man had been cast in movie after movie around the same time and for what? The one main characteristic of his performance is that he has no personality and every character he plays just lands flat- aside from AVATAR just look at his performances in TERMINATOR SALVATION, CLASH OF THE TITANS and WRATH OF THE TITANS. What is the reward for subpar acting? Oh, just being a part of the top grossing movie of all time is all. The amount of money AVATAR made is nothing short of annoying and underserved. I cannot in good conscience begrudge the film making some money since I did love the special effects, but earning the top spot as the top grossing movie of all time hardly demonstrates the quality of the movie.

The road to posting this brew and view has be plagued with an infuriating amount of technical difficulties- most of which stemming from the fact that Apple’s version of WordPress is kind of an abomination and lost every word I typed more than three times. No one asked for the behind the scenes look at what it takes to put this together so just consider this a half assed commentary/bonus feature accompanying the post.

So what have we learned from this session of Brew & View? Well, not much really except that I really don’t like AVATAR and to no one’s surprise I enjoy beer. Surly is consistent in putting out some pretty high quality beer where as AVATAR suffers in consistently putting forth an entertaining film experience. The two might share the same main color scheme, but that is where the similarities come to a complete halt. James Cameron has an eye for some jaw dropping visuals, but his film is profoundly stupid, unoriginal and boring. Few times have I been witness to such amazing imagery and at the same time on the verge of falling asleep. Indeed maybe the only way for me to enjoy AVATAR would be to sit down and consume a 4 pack of OverRated and ride my buzz all the way through- assuming of course my buzz can survive the bloated run time.