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Showing posts from 2018

Taft's Gavel Banger American IPA

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When two brothers agree that I should try a particular Cincinnati beer, who am I to argue? I mean, they both have been drinking beer longer than I have, and they know my penchant for hoppy beers, so they know the audience and the topic - seems like a sure thing. Well, I've never had a Taft's before, and it's time to break that streak.

The delightfully amber-gold beer has just what I like to see - a sticky head that leaves lacing and a patchy quilt on top of the beer. Many of you may wonder why I always comment about liking a patchy head that leaves lacing, and I'll tell you that it just happens to be my preference, and I think the good IPAs tend to have this kind of head - but I haven't systematically gone through my reviews to validate this anecdotal observation. The aroma is citrus and biscuits.

First sip is very nice indeed. It isn't really hard-hitting at first, but it builds up (and this is just a sip, mind you) to a full throated citrus and hoppy bitterne…

Urban Artifact Finn Berliner Pale Ale

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My tour of Cincinnati breweries continues with this other gift from my brother. I may have some of the best siblings a person could have, and I have very few hobbies any more, and this is an easy one to contribute to. So, my family has figured out that they can please me with the gift of beer. Pleased I am.

The pale gold beer starts with an okay head, but that head disappears into a very wispy group of uninspired bubbles floating on top. The aroma is mush more vibrant than the head, though, with citrus juices overflowing and a kind of wheat or grass alongside them. It's an intriguing beer smell from the little brewery.

First sip is pretty tart and juicy, but there is more earth in this and that indeterminable grass-wheat that is also throwing things into the mix. I think I'd prefer something to sip that just had the fruit all forward and crap like some of the other beers I've had, but this isn't a DIPA or even an IPA. As a pale ale, I guess you can have a lot more room…

Blackstone Black Belle Imperial Stout

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This is possibly the nicest looking bottle I've ever gotten from Blackstone. I've been exceedingly underwhelmed by their beers so far, but maybe something that says it is a "Limited 2017 release" would be more up my alley than their other beers have been (this is being reviewed in 2017). I want all of the Nashville breweries to be great, so let's see how close to great this can get.

The syrupy-thick black beverage has no head, but the little that I am able to coax out is definite brown - no tan here. There are tiny little bits of stuff floating on top of the beer - but it isn't head, it is stuff. As soon as I start to pour this, I can recognize the syrup, no head look of a beer that has been aged in bourbon barrels. The aroma backs up the idea that this was aged in bourbon barrels (also evident on the label where it says this was Blackstone in cooperation with Belle Meade Bourbon).

First sip is a rough one. There is too much going on in this beer. I taste bit…

Rhinegeist Cidergeist Dry Hopped Hard Cider

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Rhinegeist? The very name is too intimidating. From the previous beer, I know that this Cincinnati brewer can put out some good beers, but does that make the name any more approachable? The name means "Ghost of the Rhine" because the brewery is in the "Over-The-Rhine" area of downtown Cinci. What does this mean about the beverages? Damned if I know.

The clear yellow-gold drink had a head like that of a Sprite or 7-Up that was full and very, very short lived. Now, there is not a single bubble to be seen on top, but the inner points of nucleation are definitely still streaming bubbles to the top where they can meet their death. The aroma is tart granny smith apples.

First sip is more tart and watery than I expected. The very tart green apples are there, but the tartness is imparted while the flavor is very muted. Instead, the water flows in like there's no tomorrow. So far, this is pretty weak for a cider.

Tip-in is significant carbonation burn with the tartness …

Yee Haw Blackberry Beret Wheat Ale

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This beer may have the lowest alcohol content of anything that I've reviewed that had any alcohol at all. I've had a few 4.0% ABV beverages, and I had one non-beer 0% that I'm not counting, but even the hard sodas that I've had were more potent than this beer's paltry 3.8%. I also admit to leaving this in the fridge for a little while, as I grabbed other, more attractive beers before coming to this one. I just don't have a good feeling about the blackberries, even though I generally like blackberries.

The blackberries are definitely giving this beer a dark red tint, but the base light yellow is evident. The beer is exceptionally clear - you could read a book that was on the other side of the glass. The head goes away almost completely - just a very light dusting, clumped in the middle of the glass remains. The aroma is blackberries and ... nope, just blackberries.

First sip is very tart. It's like a sweet-tart without the sweet. The berries are just unpleas…

Lagunitas Sakitumi Ale

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I've never had sake before. So, I really don't know what I'm about to have, and I just hope it's great. For some reason, I've been looking forward to having a beer since about lunchtime today, and it's about time I got around to drinking one, isn't it? Lagunitas has produced this thing is a QUART bottle. I don't know why or what it might mean, but I'm on it.

The very light yellow-gold beer has a strangely IPA-like sticky, spotty head that leaves a perfectly honorable amount of lacing. The aroma is heavy on the yeast, light on resin, and then it has a background of tropical hops and a bread malt. When I say background, I mean I struggle to smell it.

First sip is... a beer. It has the taste of one of those popular sour beers that the hipsters love these days, but it's not nuts with it. Instead, it's a bit of meaty, bready malt that has lots of that yeast on it. It's interesting, but too brief.

Tip-in is oddly watery with a sweetness like s…

Rhinegeist Crash Pale Ale

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Seems like I've been hitting a lot of local Cincinnati beers lately, haven't I? Well, with relatives in the area, why not take advantage of the access to see if other cities have just as vibrant of a local microbrewery scene as the greater Nashville area has proven to have?

The slightly hazy amber beer has a white head that is patchy and sticky enough to be an IPA rather than a straight pale ale. The aroma backs that up with the scent of pine and tropical hops absolutely exploding from the top of the beverage as soon as I pour the sucker. This is going to be a stronger pale ale than the rather bland can would lead me to believe.

First sip is a strong flavor of various citrus hops and tropical fruits - but it's got a lot of rind in it to alter the taste pretty dramatically. The biscuit malt has a nice and crackery crust, but it's not holding back the bitterness that much. There's a lot to unpack here, and the sip is just not the way to do it.

Tip-in is light carbona…

Alpine Windows Up IPA

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I remember the first time I heard that Lamborghini put an Alpine radio in their cars. That was it. Alpine must be the best radio. Later, I had a car with an Alpine radio in it, and I realized that most Lamborghini Countach owners were probably either listening to the engine or so high on cocaine they didn't care about radios. To be fair, this is a wholly different company.

The murky gold beer has chunks of detritus floating like a fog inside - and I dig it. The white, frothy top is sticky and leaves an okay amount of lacing. The aroma is tangerine, orange, and grapefruit hops, and I am loving everything so far. I may just be really thirsty, but that is benefiting the beer right now.

First sip is a bitterness from those fruity hops that is not properly tamed by the malt that tastes like a cracker that has been sitting out way too long and something is growing on it (probably coming from the yeast, really) that is kind of off-putting in a way that I was not ready for.

Tip-in is tang…

Tröegs Blizzard of Hops Winter IPA

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To level set, I originally wrote this review at the tail end of 2017, so it was the dead of winter when I wrote it. This is, then , completely appropriate for the time of year that I was drinking it. I just have a massive backlog of beers that I reviewed and didn't bother to publish until now. I'll try to do better in the future.

The pale yellow beer has only the slightest bit of mistiness inside of her and the white cap is patchy and sticky - just like the best IPAs have. Given the very light color of the beer, I anticipate this drink with a bit of trepidation. The aroma is a bit weaker than I would have liked, but it's definitely lemony.

First sip is watery on the front end and acidic on the back end. It's not terrible for a lemony drink, but it is definitely not a sipping IPA; it's just too much like an unbalanced see-saw with the front and end fighting each other, and the middle not bringing very much.

Tip-in is lemon zest and carbonation burn. The middle is be…

Southern Tier 2XSmash Double IPA

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I had to check the label on this four or five times. I mean - what do these guys have with 2X? I had the 2XMas and then the 2XIPA - now, I have the 2XSmash. This is too many 2X names. I mean, Lincoln recently announced that they were going away from the MK branding in favor of real names, so I think maybe we all can.

The light gold beer has a white head that is patchy like most IPAs, and it has lacing very similar to the last 2X beer I had from Southern Tier. The aroma sets it apart from its sibling, as the aroma is heavy with wet, doughy malt more than anything. Under the malt is a smattering of tropical fruits that enhance the smell quite a bit.

First sip is less malt than the nose had. It has lots of the tropical fruits mixed in here, but the malt seems to only kind of hit in the back-end to tamp down the bitterness. This is just fine by me. Instead of a hit of bitter, I get the dough with a bit of flour on top.

Tip-in is light carbonation tingle with grapefruit and mango leading t…

Southern Tier 2XIPA Double IPA

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Don't confuse this (as I did briefly) with the 2XMAS seasonal beer that I looked at a while back. Instead, this is a double IPA, a style that is my newest favorite beer style, and I don't expect it to be knocked off the top of the hill any time soon. That said, I hope to encounter more styles and more beers to find the ever-so-elusive 5.0 beers.

The very golden yellow beer has less head than I expected, but it's a sticky enough head to warrant consideration. The splotchy patches that wind up on top of the beer are reminiscent of a fractal or something similar. The aroma is sweet, dusty citrus and pine. That citrus is mostly grapefruit, if I am any judge - and judging beer is literally why this blog exists.

First sip is very similar to other DIPAs in that it is a more sedate hops than you'd find in a normal IPA, but that makes the whole thing a lot more approachable. The pine is a lot more forward than I would have expected, but the malt is doing its job admirably, beat…

Bearded Iris Patina Dry Hopped Festbier

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What? Is this not an IPA? But... most of the Bearded Iris beers that I've had have been derivations of IPAs, and they have been interesting and made me want more. But this is an Oktoberfest. I can't blame them for wanting to try one of these out, and they can't blame me for trying it and telling you, my loyal reader, what I think about it.

The honey golden beer has a very patchy head that bubbles away to leave a little bit of lacing on the sides and wisps on top of the beer that look downright artistic. The aroma is flowers and honey. It's an odd combo for an Oktoberfest, in my opinion, but I'm not going to lie and say that I don't want to try it. In fact, I'm more eager now than I was before.

First sip is more doughy malt than I expected, but it has the honey highlights and the flowers are blooming. It's easy to overdo floral hops pretty much any time you go for them, but this one is nicely tamed by the malt, so the overall impression is a full bodied …

Mill Creek Batch No. 1 Double IPA

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Mill Creek has a history here of being a bit better than average (three beers is a history, right?), but they haven't had anything that was really a break-out beer. With a DIPA, they have a chance to put together something special. DIPAs somehow manage to smooth out a fierce IPA to bring a lot of flavor and a lot of calm at the same time. This should be good.

The beer is a light honey color with a nice, sticky white head that takes a while to dissipate, and it leaves the much loved lacing in its wake. It's not a sheet of lacing, but it's scattered bubbles that are defiantly gripping the sides. The aroma is sweet and piney. There are citrus hops under that, but it's breath of an alpine skiing resort.

First sip is an utter delight. It's got bitterness from the hops, but they don't overwhelm the beer, as the malt is honey and sweet and holds everything back. Instead, the general citrus and pine hops are really giving a mouthful of hoppy goodness with the bitternes…

Tröegs Perpetual IPA

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Another beer from the land of chocolate and coldness - Hershey, PA. I have had Tröegs beers before, and I know what they are capable of, so I can only hope that they formulated an IPA worthy of their name. I know most people outside of Pennsylvania have never heard of them, but that used to be true for Rolling Rock and Yuengling.

The very foamy beer has a white top with a clear yellow-gold liquid under it all. The aroma of hops overwhelms everything in the area when the beer starts to aerosolize as it pours. This certainly bodes well for a beer that claims to feature hops - that hops are the only feature from the aroma that I can make out. They are pine hops with some floral backing, and citrus hops spring forward quite a bit - but late.

First sip is bitter, but there is a sweetness to the malt that swims in the deep end to reduce the overall impact of the bitterness. This allows the flavors to assert themselves a lot more than if the bitterness were to overwhelm everything. Instead, …

Almanac Farm to Barrel Vanilla Cherry Dogpatch

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I have avoided sour beers, as I have put them in the category of things that hipsters are really trying to make happen, and I just don't want to befoul my mouth with a concoction like HiCu ever again. The fact is - I know sours have gained in popularity, and a sizable portion of the good beer section of my favorite beer store is starting to be taken up by them, so I need to give them a chance, right?

There's a red cast to the very clear amber beer that has absolutely no damn head at all. It's not flat - the head was like seltzer water with the way it popped up while being poured and then disappeared right back into the liquid. The aroma is stringent with the sour cherries and stems all up in my face with the smell of something that has been aged in oak and mixed with some fermented grapes.

First sip is damn sour nonsense to the point that I don't want more. It definitely has a wine backing, but those sour cherries are taking all the fun out of beer. Why must they do th…

Collective Arts Stranger Than Fiction Porter

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It appears that this beer has some kind of special artwork that they put on the front of the can. It's so special that I contemplated using a picture of it in this review, but I opted for the picture that actually had the name of the beer in it. I'm not sure that it would have translated well in this format (or the size of my pictures here).

The beer is so brown I'm going to let it slide into the "black" category without any fuss. The tan head eventually becomes a tiny layer of fuzz that evenly covers the top of the beer. The aroma is chocolate and coffee malts. Fact is, this beer looks and smells just like it says porters should on the box. What box? Every box that knows what a porter should be.

First sip is a lot more mild than I expected to find, and it's a bit watery. The chocolate and coffee dance well together, and they got joined by some milk and even a bit of earth. I don't mean the watery texture to sound as bad as it does, but it isn't as me…

Founders CBS Imperial Stout

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This CBS is not named after The Tiffany Network (Columbia Broadcasting System). Based entirely on the label, I'd say it was based on The Mounties, the Canadian ... err... Bouncing Stallions? I don't care. Jeremy went out of his way to save me a bottle of this and - no matter if I like it or not - I am very grateful for the opportunity to try it.

The exceedingly dark brown beer has a head that looks like it's made of some kind of whipped chocolate, and there is a LOT of that head. I swear I poured about as carefully as I could, and I still wound up with head of about 1/4 of this pint glass. The aroma is thick with oak, earth, maple, coffee, and chocolate; it's really rich smelling.

First sip is heavier with the coffee than I would like, but all those other flavors are definitely asserting themselves over it all. So, the effect of a sip is that this is an alcohol-heavy (checks label and sees that it's 11.7% ABV) hunk of thick bread with all of the ingredients in the …

Black Abbey Guy Fawkes Brown Ale

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Another Nashville Brewery for the blog. At what point does my blog achieve the popularity that the local breweries start to seek me out and give me free beer? I mean, I'm certainly accessible. And goodness knows I want to try more beer and would love to save the money I routinely put down at City Sliquors to buy more. What I'm saying is - call me, Boo.

The clear brown beer has a head that is definitely not leaving any lacing. It boils down to a light dusting with the ring around the sides of the glass, but the bubbles just aren't sticky in the least. The aroma is nutty and malty with a touch of brown sugar.

First sip is... gripping. It is nutty and all, but it adds quite a bit of bitterness from coffee, earth, and even pine. It's brown ale through-and-through, but that doesn't mean it's particularly approachable. Instead, it is packed full of flavor and quite heavy with potential. Let's see what the swig brings.

Tip-in is a little unexpected smoke, coffee, …

Bearded Iris DDH Chief of Chiefs Double IPA

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I'm not sure if Bearded Iris will get knocked off of my list of favorite brewers, as they have really worked hard to get there. Yes, Lagunitas has been more consistently high in my ratings, but even their large number of varieties don't match the number that Bearded Iris seems to be coming with. I don't even recall the last new beer that I saw from Lagunitas, and I'm looking. Instead, I get the very good beers from this local brewer.

The familiar juice texture and murkiness is joined by a tangerine orange color with a head that just has no staying power. Yes, there's a dusting that lingers quite a bit, but there isn't going to be any lacing, and that's a miss, in my book. The aroma is very much grapefruit with other citrus tossed in just to make things a bit more interesting, but that grapefruit is right in my face.

First sip is strong with the citrus. It's a good balance of sweetness to eliminate the bitterness, but it definitely has gone toward the ta…

Small Town Brewery Not Your Mom's Apple Pie

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I'm calling this a hard soda in my labels, but I really don't know what to call it. The only other "apple pie" beverages I've had were moonshines, and a 5.5% ABV moonshine is... not a moonshine. So, as these guys brought me the Not Your Father's Root Beer, I'm assuming they use a similar method for... brewing(?) this beverage.

The clear yellow drink has almost no head to start with, and by the time I got to the camera, it lost pretty much any head that it had in the first place. I think a can of Coke would have had a head that lasted longer. Still, points of nucleation show that this is a carbonated beverage, and the aroma of apples is both sweet and tart to the nose with a bit of cinnamon spice. I'm calling it: this is a cider.

First sip is very much more cinnamon than I smelled. It is heavy with the cinnamon, but the apples are definitely there, tarting up the place like they owned it. I don't really taste any malt that would make up the crust o…

Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA

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When Southern Tier rolls out another IPA, I'll jump in line to try it every time. "But Tim," you may find yourselves saying, "Don't you jump in line for pretty much every new beer you find?" Well, smartypants, I will avoid Prairie Artisan and Magic Hat, but I guess you're right about most of the others.

I'm going to call the color an amber haze with a honey hue. The light head is barely there, but this thin head sticks around for a while. The aroma is resin, citrus, pine, and flowers - it seems like they have all the hops going on in here.

First sip is quite the taste sensation. The hops are citrus heavy, and they bring the others with. The bitterness is here about as heavy as the resin, and the resin is just behind the hops. The malt is very mild, but it's trying valiantly in its losing battle with the bitterness.

Tip-in is resin and citrus with pine skirting around the edges while carbonation sizzles lightly underneath. The middle opens into a…

Tröegs Scratch 307 Cherry Chocolate Stout

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When you're looking at microbreweries, you may find that you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one these days. This one is based in Hershey, PA, so it is only fitting that the first one I review has chocolate in it. Is it Hershey's chocolate? Well, they don't say, but I'm going to say probably. I could be wrong.

The black beer has more brown than red, which seems strange. With this being a cherry stout, I automatically assumed the normal ruby color of a stout would be even more red with the addition of the cherries. The head is pretty thin, and the bubbles are a mix of very many tiny ones and a few biggies. The aroma is chocolate, coffee, and sour cherries. Sour? I hope not.

First sip is very strong cherries and light milk chocolate (not dark chocolate, as I had experienced with other chocolate stouts). Lacing is noticeable now, and it is a lot more than I had expected. The experience of the sip is pretty good. The cherries aren't really sour, so there is …

West Six Pay It Forward Cocoa Porter

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NIBS! From Lexington Kentucky comes this porter featuring NIBS! Now, I know what you're thinking - what is a nib? Aren't nibs those really good Twizzler-like red licorice things you can get in good candy stores and pretty much any other place that sells candy? Well, yes, but that's a brand name. I don't know which part of the cocoa plant is the nib, but I hope it tastes good in beer.

The very dark porter is another one that is ultimately a bit red, but it takes a bit of effort to establish it. The head boils down to a few bubbles gripping the sides and a few steadfast islands of rather bigger bubbles floating on top. The aroma is more coffee than I expected, so the addition of the chocolate makes it seem more like a mocha.

First sip follows the nose almost exactly. The chocolate doesn't dominate - the coffee does. The earth is sitting behind, mocking me for thinking that this was going to be all nibs and no beans. The roast emits a smoke that is not unwelcome here,…

Diskin Cider Lil' Blonde

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Another day, another new company to get something to drink from. Today, I return to the land of ciders where I spent a lot of time in the past, but I ultimately always come back to the mountains of beer to enjoy the fruits of the hop tree (is it a tree? I should probably look that up). What new cider will they think of next?

The golden beverage has no head, and I didn't expect any. The sparkling nature of this liquid is almost entirely lost on the appearance - I think I can see several really tiny points of nucleation that are just barely giving rise to the occasional bubble. The aroma is sweet apple wine.

First sip is light and sweet apple juice. It's sweeter than I would expect from something calling it a "semi-sweet" southern cider, and the carbonation is right around the outside of the mouth with a very mild, but noticeable, bubbles.

Tip-in is like the apple equivalent of white wine with it's softness, and it has that same sweetness to it of fresh apple juice…

Braxton Revamp IPA

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It's the first time I have had a beer from this little Kentucky brewer. I drink a lot of different brands of beer, so this really isn't all that noteworthy, but it's noteworthy for me in that I like to find out what each new brewmaster thinks about what makes a good beer. Indeed, will this even be good beer?

The wonderfully cloudy copper beer has a somewhat off-white head that sticks around like an IPA head should. It's sticking to the sides with a fierce gusto that lets me know that lacing is certainly on the menu tonight. The aroma is a lot more muted than I would have expected, but the pine and citrus dance together serenely. Quite inviting.

First sip is sweet and bitter up front with a dusty coat of pine bitter bringing up the rear. This is pretty clearly not a sipping beer. It has too much bitterness and not enough taste to balance it out, so the mouth winds up all cattywampus with a feeling that the mouth is tipping forward where the sweetness is barely helping t…

Fat Head's Head Hunter IPA

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A present from one of my favorite brothers, this is direct from the outskirts of Cincinnati (technically from Middleburg Heights, OH) and hand delivered to me. So, it seemed only right that I give it the old college try. I mean, they MUST have colleges in Ohio, right? I hear that have football teams in the NCAA, so that must mean there are colleges associated with them.

The beer is honey colored with an orange twist and a minimal, yet full-hearted head with a good mix of tiny and big bubbles that eventually leave a simple, splotchy cap that still lets the dusty sourdough bread and resin aroma with lots of citrus spread all around the area, and I'm loving it.

First sip is like a dam holding back a wall of bitterness from the citrus, and I kept expecting it to break, but it never does. It's not sweet, but it's not the torrent of bitterness that all the citrus would generally lead to. Instead, it's held back by the malt and the yeast to allow the citrus to thrive, but a t…

Bearded Iris Entangled Saison

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As a kind of break from the Bearded Iris IPAs (of which there are SO MANY) is this saison. These are, I understand, supposed to be a kind of laid-back pale ale that can be confused with a summer ale or similar. However, this one has been dry hopped, so it will probably have a stronger taste and bitterness than your average summer ale. Of course, the easiest way to know is to start drinking it.

The pale yellow beer has a suspiciously large head of big, lazy bubbles. The aroma is fruits and yeast above it all. The yeast is wet and like dough that has been baked a little, but it's still in the process of becoming bread, yet the yeast has already started to rise. It's fresh and fairly powerful.

First sip is sharp. It's lemon and a wheat bread dough with that full yeast and the carbonation is a bit too much. It tastes more like a stolid pilsner than a relaxed summer or farmhouse ale.

Tip-in is carbonation burn with lemon zest and maybe a bit of grass. The middle comes with a cr…

Tailgate That Roller Coaster Thing Double IPA

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For some reason, I always think that Tailgate is brewed somewhere else, but it's brewed right here in Nashville. I went from moving here and being told that Blackstone was my only option to finding little breweries left and right (and then seeing some of them go away entirely, much to my chagrin).

The beer is so murky that I would have suspected this to be a Bearded Iris brew, but it sure enough is Tailgate. There isn't a whole lot of off-white head on this amber-brown liquid, and I noticed that the bottom has chunks of... I assume hops or yeast or something. Never heard of a can-conditioned beer, but I guess there is a first for everything.

First sip is a delight. It's all sweet and cuddly with a creamy malt that is highlighted by lots of interesting tropical fruits. The fruits are meaty more than just juicy, and there is passion fruit, grapefruit, and possibly too many others to name, but they taste very nice.

Tip-in is absolutely meaty fruit edged with a bitterness I ha…

Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine

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This claims to be Junior Johnson's family recipe. If you're unfamiliar with Junior, he was one of the NASCAR greats back when stock cars were actually mostly stock cars. As NASCAR started its life with moonshiners comparing their cars, this is supposed to have some legitimacy - it even says it is made using corn, and that is (at the very least) the correct ingredient for it.

The beverage appears like a syrupy Juicy Juice apple juice. So, it is pretty much what you'd expect. My initial reaction when I opened the jar was AHHHHGH! What the hell is that overpowering acetone smell? Well, I still don't know what it was. Maybe it was something to do with the jarring process (please note that this is not a usual Mason jar - it's a sad copy) because I now can only smell heavy alcohol, apples, and cinnamon. So, maybe everything will be okay.

First sip is very strong. The alcohol absolutely overwhelms the mouth, but I still get apples and... cherries? Why am I tasting cherrie…

Evil Czech Voodoo Vanilla Rye Porter

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The American Czechs are at it again. Will they managed to tame the giant of a rye porter (known to be a bit intimidating) by adding a little vanilla and a whole lot of attitude? Well, your guess is probably as good as mine. Actually, it might be better.

This beer brings a lot of head. I had to carefully pour three different times (letting the beer settle in between) to get this glass full. The copious head is frothy and thick with the aroma of burned coffee grounds and earth. It sounds like it would be bad, but it's a good mix of bitter and sweet, so I'm okay with the smell of this black beer.

First sip is bitter as all-get-out. The malt is not burned - it's charred with vanilla poking it's cheery little head out of the coffee and earth blackness to see what has happened to all of its friends after that giant bitter meteor hit. It sees nothing, so it heads back down the hidey hole never to be seen again. A sip is not the right way to look at a big beer, though.

Tip-in …

Ballast Point Sea Monster Imperial Stout

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Here's the thing about Ballast Point: they do what they are supposed to do. They pick up challenging styles of beer, look to see what makes the style unique, and they produce beers that match the expectation of the style. In this case, I have found Imperial Stouts to be a bit intimidating and stolid compared to the affable nature of an Irish Stout or Milk Stout. So what will they bring here?

As black as Batman's cowl and topped with a light tan head, this stout has the makings of something very good. The aroma is chocolate and oatmeal with earth backing it up nicely. So, my fear about this possibly not being approachable seems to be unfounded, but that's only according to the smell.

First sip is more bitter than I expected, but there is the earth and chocolate simmering under it with even some sweetness chilling underneath it all. I think the main thrust of the beer is like tree sap that has been scorched. It's a good start.

Tip-in is sweet, roasted wood with chocolate…

Southern Tier Choklat Oranj Imperial Stout

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Southern Tier is my favorite tier-themed brewery. I honestly can't think of another one, but it's a good one - let's leave it at that. I already complained about this not actually being from the south, but I think geography shouldn't be that big of a factor with beers (aside from my love of local beers).

Another black beer with a tan head. To be fair, this particularly thick beer had pretty much no head at all for most of the pour, so I coaxed a bit out by pouring slowly and from an increased height just to get some, and it is gone entirely within 5 minutes. The aroma is thick and rich with chocolate and smoky wood - very little orange, but it might just be being overpowered by the thick, sweet chocolate.

First sip is sweet deliciousness that very much follows the nose with chocolate, wood, bitterness mixed with the sweetness, and, yes, orange peel in the mix. It's actually a pretty good sipping beer, and dessert beers will typically be imbibed in this manner, so g…

Ole Smoky Orange Moonshine

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The chase to find a good moonshine is not at a run these days - it's not even at a trot, really. I delved into it out of curiosity more than anything after commercial moonshines started appearing on the shelves, and I'm not just trying to find the ones that are any good at all.

It's a pale orange - really watered down orange drink. Like, REALLY watered down drink. It looked a lot more orange while it was still in the jar, but this is why we pour it, I guess. The aroma is also orange drink, but with teeth in it, even though the are excessively dulled.

First sip is sweet, orange and a little burning. The alcohol isn't the add-on alcohol that you get in the Seagram's sodas, which makes sense, as this alcohol isn't added - it's the point of the beverage.

Second and third sips reveal the character of the beverage to be very mild for one of these moonshines. Unlike a good whisky, my experience with moonshine has been that the better moonshines have something that…

Garr's Tripel Belgian Style Ale

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Garr's Red ale wasn't a big hit with me, but that doesn't rule them out. I mean, it was close, and they clearly want to try, don't they? Well, if they want to try, I want to help them out by trying their beer (although, to be honest, I have put this one off for a while). There may just be something about their dour can design that makes me not want to try it, but beer can overcome bad labels.

She's a cool amber color with a white head that has no stickiness about it, and it runs almost completely away right from the get-go. The patchy layer on top is joined by a ring of bubbles around the sides, as a good, well-behaved beer is wont to do. The aroma is malt-centric, but it's kind of a twigs-and-earth malt. It has citrus trying to offset it, but they aren't overpowering the malt.

First sip is a whole lot more fruits than malt. It is mangoes and passion fruit up front with a kind of earth back end that is not really doing all that much other than hanging aroun…

Henry's Hard Soda - Hard Grape

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When it comes to hard sodas, I have tried a few. I started with the hard root beer, but most of them fell very short of the mark. Henry's Hard Orange was pretty close to what I thought it should be, but it needed a little something more. What this needs is nothing - grape soda is grape soda. Should it have vanilla? Nope, it should be grape.

It's like a... grape soda. It's purple, but light gets through pretty easily, and it has no head to speak of. I think I managed to catch some of the bubbles in the picture here, but there aren't many, and they went away very quickly. The aroma is undeniably grape with effervescence and the telltale alcohol waft.

First sip is just grape soda. I can't for the life of me taste the alcohol, so I'm saying that a sip is pretty much exactly what I would want in a hard soda. I mean, you're not drinking a hard soda to taste the added nail-polish-remover-like slap, are you? You want to taste a good beverage that hints at being adu…

Hoppin' Frog King Gose Home

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I just want a fanciful brand like Hoppin' Frog to work out. I haven't been excessively impressed with their wares so far, but I haven't assigned them the moniker of "Hipster Swill" yet, and I hope not to. That said, it certainly seems like the look and general overreaching for their beers indicate that might be the direction that they are going.

The beer reminds me of dirty dishwater when I first look at it. It has a murky look to it with the added color of very watery honey. The head wasn't particularly significant when I first poured it, and it fizzled away about as quickly as the head on a soda water or cola would. The aroma is a bit of spice and then a whole bunch of lemon-lime. I could be convinced that this is a camouflaged version of Sprite or 7-Up. To sum up - presentation is not great.

First sip brings the beer into focus. This sucker is sour and tart out the yin-yang. It has flavors under the sensations of tart and sour, but I can't get to much …

Cigar City Tampa-Style Lager

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This beer is for drinkin'. At least, that's what Cigar City says.  Here's the thing about them - I may stop buying their stuff. It's not that it is bad, but none of it is all that great. This one should be a straight-shooting lager, and that means there aren't unrealistic expectations for it.

The pale yellow, misty beer appears almost neon in the right lighting. The head isn't copious to begin with, and it withers away to a few clumps of surprisingly small bubbles all huddled in a few little groups on top. The aroma is sweet grains and grasses blowing in the breeze. It's a simple smell, but that's the nature of a simple lager, right?

First sip is a little lemony, a bit acidic, some grains, and a whole heap of water. It's not an impressive start. It seems that (at least from the sip) this brewer intends on pretty much hitting the traditional macro-brew lager right on the head. I don't know why - the other guys do that at extreme volume and a lot …

Founders Harvest Ale

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Founders is a good, reliable brewer that I go back to quite a bit. Every label is going to have the one or two bad ones, but the question is: how many can you really nail? Well, Founders has earned the right to have me try beer after beer at this point. It's a terrible burden that I carry, but I carry it nonetheless.

This beer is a nice shade of copper with a white head that boils down to a patchy and very sticky coat of bubbles on top. The aroma is mostly hops, but it seems to have both pine and citrus in just about equal measure. There may be some spices in here backing things up, and maybe just a touch of tropical fruit to add to the hops, but I'm straining to try and smell any malt.

First sip is not nearly as bracing as I had expected. While there is bitterness, it's deftly being held down by a somewhat undefinable malt. Can resin hold back the bitterness? Either way, it's loosely the pine, citrus, and tropical fruit as three legs on the stool of flavor. It has a b…

Beavertown-Stone-Garage Project Fruitallica Double IPA

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Another project where Stone found others to work with, slapped their names on the bottle, and went to town with producing a bunch of it. Is it any good? Well, if Stone thinks it has a chance, then I should probably not dispute them until I sample the outcome.

The slightly misty amber beer has a thin - but sticky - head that will leave whatever lacing it can. The aroma is fruity, but it has a definite pepper kick to it - jalapeno, habanero, or something like that.
*quickly looks at the label*
You know, if I would just bother to read the label on some of these beers, I wouldn't wind up with coffee beers that I don't like, and I would have known to expect the peppers, as it clearly states on the bottle that this has habaneros.

First sip is smoother than I would ever have expected. While I have found DIPAs to be pretty smooth and approachable, this is managing to do it with more aggressive ingredients. It's pretty impressive, all things considered. But, the sweet fruit and bre…

Bearded Iris Catalyst Imperial IPA

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I don't know how many people they employ down there at Bearded Iris Brewing, but they surely have more versions of IPAs than they have employees. That isn't to say that they are too tiny of an operation, as they seem to put out more different variations of IPAs than Budweiser has breweries.

The thick, citrus-and-pine scented beer has a very orange color and the little head that I was able to coax out went away very quickly on its own. All that I have left is a very slight dusting on top like it's my car's hood on a not particularly pollen-filled day.

First sip is pretty much a blast of tropical fruits and spices. It hits a lot harder than I expected, but I might not have sniffed as much as I normally do. I've definitely got mangoes and pineapple and oranges just jumping up and down on my taste buds, begging to be noticed. Believe me, I noticed.

Tip-in is a sweet, slow start with spices and fruits calmly sauntering in. Then, the middle picks up with the fruit meat, …

Lagunitas Fandom Ale Fusion XXXIX

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I think this is the first time I've gotten a Lagunitas beer on tap at my local beer slingers'. It's a wheat beer, and that has me even more intrigued. Fact is, Lagunitas is really my go-to for an IPA, and it's when they go off book they can they can really break new ground.

The very pale yellow/gold beer has a little head that appears to be sticky enough (for wheat beer at least). The aroma is curiously citrusy. Indeed, it's very mandarin orange, but I think I can smell the grains sulking in the background.

First sip has a very watery front-end, but spices and greens are sitting in the background. I think I get mangoes, some oranges, and even some watermelon mixed all inside there, but who can really tell a sip? Yes, a sip is a peek through microscope through the looking glass through a keyhole. That's not the way we test beer here.

Tip–in is very gentle carbonation caress with equally gentle mangoes and grapefruit just taking the whole scene in. The middle see…

Uinta West Coast Style IPA

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When the California coast is under water or is ultimately destroyed by a North Korean nuclear weapon, what will we have to show for it? California Emissions? Transformers 5? Jeff Gordon wine? No. I think we should concentrate on the best that that coast can give us - legal marijuana and the west coast-style IPA.

The sticky-capped, orange, and hazy beer has more lacing than it deserves, but it has no more than I desire. The aroma that emanates from it is laid-back citrus hops and bready malt that is waiting for you to come back from the surf to enjoy a relaxed evening with your tired muscles stretching themselves out on the sand.

First sip has more of a bite than I expected from the style or the smell. It has more pine to it and more of an acidic scrape than it should have; the aroma is all laid back, but the taste is a bit manic. Well, it's manic from the perspective of a simple sip, but that's not how we decide things around here in the deep south. We drink like we mean it.

T…

Mother Earth Kismet IPA

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Ah, you tiny little micro breweries - how I love you. How micro are you if you have at least two breweries in two different states and ship to lots of states that are pretty far from either of them? Mother Earth Brew Co. has a brewery in Vista, California and Nampa, Idaho, and I got this can in LaVergne, Tennessee. Is this macro economics or micro economics? Either way, I benefit with the chance to try it.

The bronze-gold beer has the sticky white head of an IPA that knows what IPAs are supposed to bring to the table, and I applaud it for doing the minimum necessary background work on this topic. The aroma is a giant bowl of tropical fruit with a little pine and citrus to boot. This is a serious bouquet of hops going on right now, and I'm much happier for it.

First sip is dank. I used to not really understand what they word meant, but I've had a few beers that claimed a bit of dankness, and I now have a firm grasp of what they mean. Under the dank is pine and lots of fruit. I …

Blackberry Farm TN Times Pilsner

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I'm not a massive fan of most pilsners, but that doesn't mean there aren't good ones out there.  Why not look for one of these at home here in Nashville? Why not try to get one from the same people who gave me Screaming Cock? No, that wasn't the best beer from the area, but I like people who really try.

Gold with a slight haze, this beer has a nice white, fluffy head that leaves a patchy cap floating on top of the beer. The foam sticks to the sides well enough, and I anticipate lacing. The aroma is solid bread with a spritz of lemon on top that gies the beer life.

First sip is a bit acidic due to the lemons, but the bread is joined by a gentle grass to offset the acid of the lemons. Honey adds a bit of sweetness to the drink, and the sip is enjoyable, but forgettable.

Tip-in is honey sweet with the biscuit backing it up nicely. The carbonation is just there enough to let you know it isn't flat. The middle is where that acidic note takes hold, but the lemons and gra…