Another April Fool’s Day and another fresh load of hoppy deliciousness from the gold folks at Kinkaider Brewing Company. Maybe you remember last year at this time they unleashed hours old bottles of their Frame the Butcher IPA throughout Nebraska–something that almost never happens in the Cornhusker state and something local politicians were recently trying to make impossible to ever happen again…but let’s not go there. This year Kinkaider chose this usually awful and obnoxious day to debut the updated recipe of their 4 County Pale Ale and have it available or in the hands of customers within hours–bottled April 1, 2017, delivered to stores April 1, 2017 in six packs of 12oz bottles and on draft.
Previously brewed exclusively with Cascade, the new recipe enlists the unique and broad qualities of Equinox, Citra, Cascade and 7C’s (which itself is a blend of Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Cluster, Citra, Columbus and Crystal hops). The new and (SPOILER ALERT) improved version of 4 County Pale Ale pours very cloudy, settling into a reddish orange/amber color in the glass with a fingers worth of off-white head. The beer is beautifully hazy (not turbid–like the trendy wave of New England Style hop bombs) showing distinct signs of being unfiltered and packed with glorious hop flavors. (more…)
Citra hops have been my personal favorite hop over the last few years with mosaic following in a close second. The problem with citra is that if used “incorrectly” or perhaps too liberally, they sometimes have a bizarre quality to them. Now, hops are all different things to all different people so this is not a universal feeling, but for my personal tastes when it comes to a beer that uses citra exclusively moderation is key. The two best examples (that also happen to be pale ales) are psuedoSue by Toppling Goliath and Zombie Dust by Three Floyds. To be fair, that’s a high bar to place in front of any beer for equal consideration, but it’s also the gold standard to some and to fall short can be considered a disappointment.
Surly, a top tier brewery in and of itself, makes their fair share of stellar beers. If I were to be so bold as to cut right to the chase, Xtra Citra certainly doesn’t measure up to the heavy hitters in the style. However, this is a sessionable pale ale so the question is whether or not this should be held to the same standards as the “non-sessionable” pale ales. Session itself at times feels like an arbitrary categorization to be begin with so in my opinion, no it should not. PsuedoSue and Zombie Dust respectively clock in at 5.8% and 6.2% ABV while Xtra Citra comes in at 4.5% ABV. The difference in percentages are slight to say the least and while Xtra Citra has a much lighter body, the ABV doesn’t quite play into the drinking experience. (more…)
Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age. Maybe I’m a little too sensitive about my age, which isn’t that old by traditional standards, but I am a huge fan of the trend of session ales/session IPAs. You get all the flavor with half or less of the ABV that you generally expect from the india pale ale style. It’s the fact that I’m so on board with these low ABV beers that I’m wondering if I’m slipping with age that I don’t crave the challenge of high alcohol beers and side in favor of a beer I can drink all day long with less risk of getting hammered. That being said, it’s been tough finding local session beers that I’m happy to drink all day long. I have my go to’s that I would call “sessionable” but the ABV is technically higher than that word really signifies.
Session beers are beers that you can enjoy in a single sitting or for an extended amount of time without the added risk dying of alcohol poisoning- at least that’s my well thought out explanation. Lots of beers can be described as such though- I can think of several right off the top of my head I could “session,” but because they carry a higher alcohol content my body is gonna hate me in the long run. The trend of Session Ales is meant to bring a beer that is (usually) less than 5% ABV, maybe even less than 4% depending on the style. IPAs are my poison though and if you can give me all the IPA flavor with less of the ABV I will follow you around like a puppy for the rest of my days. Carton Brewing Company is the latest brewery to bear that cross as of late due to a generous Untappd friend who bestowed upon me some cans of their Boat Session Ale. (more…)
I like Sierra Nevada- but I do not get particularly excited about their beers. Given that they are pretty readily available throughout most of the United States their beers are not spectacularly hard to track down. That has never stopped me from enjoying their Pale Ale and Ruthless Rye IPA on a semi-regular basis. Sierra Nevada no doubt makes good beer- I’ve yet to be blown away by anything, but they make damn good beer. The last time I got excited about something Sierra Nevada put out was a 12 pack of four different IPAs they had worked on- the pack left a lot to be desired. Again, none of the beers were “bad,” but they were plain and uninspired- except for the Snow Wit, I did not care for that one much at all.
By now though I’m sure everyone familiar with craft beer has heard of their latest mixed 12 pack which has been making the rounds both as a packaged product and as a touring festival. The Sierra Nevada Beer Camp of 2014 this time has taken 12 different breweries to collaborate on 12 different beers- each brewery contributing a style and working with the folks at Sierra Nevada to create the mixed pack. These have been making the rounds long enough that I’m sure there’s been plenty of time for people to dig into the beers so that’s what I’m gonna talk about now- six at a time. (more…)
Being a Nebraska native for over a decade now there were a number of things I had to get used to. Once you get passed the crappy weather, boring scenery and annoying stereotypes people around the country throw at you it’s not half bad. As a beer drinker though, your choices aren’t near as exciting as other parts of the country. It’s been gradually getting better in recent years, but it was slim pickens for a while- at least once I burned through the readily available choices.
Nebraska Brewing Company wasn’t always around when I first moved and to be honest, the first time I was able to try the majority of their lineup I wasn’t all that smitten. For several years all that was available as packaged in stores were their Reserve Series beers which all carried a $20 price tag per 750 ml bottle- which I don’t always tend to default to on my beer runs. Then February of this year (2014) the long awaited canned offerings started rolling into stores with their core lineup of Cardinal Pale Ale, IPA, EOS Hefeweizen and Brunette Brown Ale. Eventually I plan to write up each of them, but I wanted to start with what I consider the best of the bunch.
Once upon a time a young man stared in wonder at the shelves of a liquor store. Shelves that contained an endless amount of beer for him to choose from. He often reached out and closed his fingers around the soft but somewhat sturdy cardboard that gave a little as it was lifted from its position. On the box the words ‘Bud Light’ gleamed like a beacon from heaven. The second the can was cracked open and the liquid touched his lips- he suddenly awoke from the nightmare of his own doing. That young man finally came to his senses and has now quite possibly tasted one of the most amazing beers he’s had since venturing into the craft beer universe.
It’s true that I’ve come a long way since the days of regularly buying and chugging the fizzy yellow water. At this point I’ve been able to try many of the beers I held high on my “Must Try” list and though Toppling Goliath only recently came into my life, I’ve crossed off another. Lots of hype surrounded PsuedoSue before I stumbled across it almost by accident. I traveled to Des Moines on a short road trip with my wife to sample some of the local flavors and the extensive menu at El Bait Shop offered a staggering amount of choices but the elusive Sue was not listed. I already knew that finding a bottle would be a fool’s endeavor but I asked the locals anyway. As it turns our asking was the best thing I could have done as my waitress overheard and informed me that she would go get me a glass- as Sue had just recently been tapped once again. (more…)