India pale ale

[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. 

2xSmash – I’ve never been one interested in following much a unified strategy when I sit down to enjoy multiple different styles of beer in a sitting. So naturally the first out of the pack is the single malt, single hop Double IPA. Pouring deep gold with a fingers worth of head and settling beautifully in the glass. Lots of malt and grapefruit on the nose which transitions nicely into the beer’s actual flavor profile. The initial smack of grapefruit smooths out over the palate finishing with a mostly pleasant malty backbone. A very balanced first impression of the pack that–for my taste–allows the malt to take over more than I generally look for. Rating: B

German Pils – Anyone who visits regularly (which lets be honest, is wishful thinking) may have noticed a bit of a drought on the page in recent months. The reasons have been two-fold. One is more of a focus on personal life (which includes work and my beautiful 18-month old daughter). The second is a bit of fatigue–both in other commitments with my movie opinions and with my tastes in craft beer. Over that time I’ve rekindled a love of the delights within light lagers. ST’s German Pils is a delightful take on the style that pours transparently golden with a soapy head. Visually the carbonations bubbles satisfyingly slide up the glass giving it a refreshing appearance. Light aramatics include noble hops and biscuity malts. The flavor profile is more hop forward than your traditional German Pilsner, but remains crisp, crackers and crushable–reminiscent of another American take on the style, Pivo, from Firestone Walker. Rating: B+

Citra Hopped Live – Fresh ST Live was a euphoric experience way back when I first had it. It became harder and harder to locate bottles within anything resembling why would be considered fresh whenever I was looking to buy some. Much to my delight I came across this pack with their updated recipe and well within the fresh threshhold. More of the same in its appearance. Golden beer with a soapy head and crisp citrusy nose–pineapple coming through predominantly. Much of the same on taste. Light mouthfeel, pineapple and crisp citrus finish. Refreshing, but maybe not quite as memorable as it once was even with the addition of one of my favorite hops. Rating: B (Sorry guys/gals. Must have forgot to get a pic of this one–I’ll update if I find it)

Tangier – I finished off a six pack of this well over a year ago and remember being uninspired by the overall drinking experience–again, not quite as fresh as I would have liked. Opening this I wasn’t expecting a lot having already had some preconceptions. However, fresh it has much of the same running theme of the pack overall–crushable. This is a relatively straightforward IPA with lots of sweet orange aromatics and present with the flavor profile. Finishes slightly bitter with some rind notes on the back end. Rating: B

Nu Skool IPA – To round out the pack it seemed right to finish it off with one of their newest offerings. This beer has strikingly similar appearance to the rest and the aromatics as well as the flavor profile comes together like aF rankenstein monster of all the other beers combined. A grapefruit citrus cocktail with a hint of crackery malt to carry it through, but with a stereotypical bitterness that lingers. An interesting take on their style of IPA that’ll certainly have its place poolside, but nothing that’ll blow your socks off and is a statement point for what you’re in for with all the beers in the pack. Rating: B

Overall – All rock solid beers, but it’s gettin’ hot around here so gimme more of that pilsner!

There ya go. Some hot takes on the five tasty beers in Southern Tier’s Overpacked mixed 15 pack. What say your beer drinkers? Have you had a chance to try all these? If so why are your favorites? Lemme know!

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.