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Showing posts from 2018

Mantra Roots Double IPA

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Mantra produces good beer, they are made here in Nashville, and I've enjoyed most of what I've had. So, it is in that vain that I accept the challenge of a beer that has added carrots. The last one that I had with something added was tangerine, but it's not uncommon to add chocolate, coffee, or something to the mix. Sometimes it works out, but I would kind of rather that brewers master the usual ingredients first. Also notable was that all but one can distorted the top from internal pressure when I pulled them from the standard four pack holder.

Holy foam, Batman! This beer's head shot out of the can as soon as I opened it. When I tried to pour, I wound up with like 2" of beer and the rest was just foam that took too long to go down. The hazy, orange-bronze beer has the aroma of ... beer. I don't smell the carrots, and I'm quite the fan of carrots, so I would think I would detect the scent. Ah well, let's see if we get beer or a vegetable garden for th…

Grimm Brothers The Griffin Blood Orange Hefeweizen

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"Let's name our brewery after the Brothers Grimm, but we will reverse the name to make it OURS!"
"That's a great idea, Bob. Is that legal?"
"We're in The International House of Pancakes. This is international territory. EVERYTHING is legal!"
"Bob, you're drunk."

The head is the most interesting thing about this beer. It is like slightly thick soda bubbles in the way they are all so big and they go away almost as quickly. Points of nucleation keep a steady stream of smaller bubbles rising to the top, but they die almost immediately upon reaching the crest of the bronzed orange beverage. The aroma is ... you know, I don't actually know what a blood orange smells like, but I bet that is exactly what it is. It's kind of a cross between mandarin oranges and regular oranges with maybe some tangerine and grapefruit tossed in.

First sip is about as tart as you can get. It's so tart that it seems to start to sour. Presumably bl…

Honky Tonk LeBrown James Barrel Aged Brown Ale

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I'm not going to lie to you - this brewery has been quite the surprise since the word go. So far, I've only had two of their beers, and they were both 4/5. Now, anyone who knows anything about my ratings knows that this is a very, very good score on my scale, so I'm expecting even the brown ale (not my favorite style) to be tremendous. The fact that it is barrel aged will no doubt help.

Brown. Deep, dark brown. I mean - you thought you knew brown, but this isn't the lame UPS or cardboard-style brown. This is a deep, cosmic brown. Like all of the Honky Tonk beers, this has a substantial head and it takes a while to go down. Even settled, this has a good .25 to .35 inches covering across the top, and (while not sticky) it is lovely. The aroma is strangely a little chocolate, nutty, and woody.

First sip is sweet, woody, bitter, coffee, chocolate, and nutty. There's a lot is what I'm trying to say. No, it isn't the world's absolutely most complex beverage, …

Mill Creek Batch No. 1 Dark Strong

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Mill Creek has been solidly better than average with all of their beers so far, and I am expecting a delightful Belgian Ale to really be the break-out hit. These Nashville guys have been coming strong with the mixture of beers, and I would expect the very good DIPA to be my favorite, but I'm okay if this one is better - I won't discriminate.

A spotty, clumpy head leaves some lacing as it adorns this brown beer with a slight amber hue. The aroma of yeast, caramel, and spices light up the night and entice the drinker to stop writing in his stupid blog that very few people ever come to and just drink the beer like he (and it) knows he wants to. I shall not be rushed, Mr. Beer.

First sip is like freebasing Belgian yeast. Well, I say it's like that, but I don't actually know what freebasing entails, so I don't even know if you can taste whatever you're freebasing, but in my imagination it is something like this where the effect is amplified. So, in that sense, it…

Honky Tonk Simple Man 2X Double IPA

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The Badonkadonk was very, very good (4/5). But this here isn't a barrel-aged beer or even a stout. this is my new favorite style of beer - the Double IPA. I had been told that pale ales and IPAs are the easiest beers to make, as the hops tend to cover up a multitude of errors, but the malt-heavy DIPA, I imagine, does not have that kind of grace period. Let's find out if these guys need it.

The hazy bronze beer has a very sticky head that is the kind of dense foam that every beer should strive to have. Seriously - everyone else, take note of this Nashville-area brewer and this fantastic head! The aroma is citrus (lead by oranges) and some pine hops. Mostly, though, it's the citrus.

First sip is strong and crisp but very smooth. It's oranges backed with grains that are a lot heavier than I had expected. But, they are mixed pretty damn well, and that means that yes, I really kind of like just sipping this beer. Is that the Honky Tonk way? Maybe, but it's not my way.

T…

Honky Tonk Badonkadonk Barrel-Aged Stout

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I was happily surprised by how much I liked Yee Haw, despite the overtly redneck name. This one comes from here in Nashville, so they will likely earn the Honky Tonk name, and (being a local brewer) I will likely be trying others of their wares, assuming this one isn't undrinkable.

The beer is so dark brown that it may as well be black, and the head is a very pleasing and soothing shade of light tan. Eventually, the very little bubbles boil down to a thin pepperoni pizza across the top (there are a lot of small circles of bubbles on top that are fairly regularly spaced). The aroma is thick with unexpected chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, and wood.

First sip is a little more watery than I expected, but it seems to work in its favor. It takes what is normally a syrupy, heavy beer and kind of makes it mild and refreshing. Well, refreshing for a given amount of refreshing, I guess. I mean, this isn't going to beat an All-Day IPA for it, but it's actually not bad just to sip.

Tip-i…

Braxton Graeter's Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Milk Stout

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Is this what I've become? Am I the guy who orders a black raspberry chocolate milk stout at the bar because the regular raspberry chocolate milk stout is so passé. Let's go ahead and assume that the brewers in Covington, KY have won over enough people to get their beer canned and then distributed, so maybe they are onto something I don't know about.

She's a very dark beer with a bit of that raspberry purple/red coming through. The head took a bit of coaxing to come out to play, and it fizzles down to a lumpy patch in the middle and a requisite ring around the sides. The aroma is quite potent, and it conveys chocolate, scorched wood, vanilla, and a little sweetness. I'm kind of surprised that we don't have berries in the smell, but I guess it'll be in there when I taste it.

First sip says very loudly, "There are raspberries in here!" Mind you, there is chocolate and even a bit of the charring, but I don't really taste the wood that I thought I …

BrewDog Punk IPA

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My third BrewDog beer, and the last one I had was fantastic. I hope we're starting a trend. Either way, I'm pretty sure this is the last of the BrewDog beers that I have in the fridge, so I want them to go out on a high note. Were all three of these IPAs? Wait - one was a DIPA, wasn't it? Surely they couldn't all have been... Yup, they were all IPAs.

The brassy-gold beer has a head that could use a bit more stickiness, but it has some lacing going on, so let's just accept what we have and say that it could be worse. The aroma is a dusty citrus and sourdough bread. It's not a bad start, and these guys can make magic happen.

First sip is a taste explosion! Actually, it's not that, but I'm pretty sure I read that on the can or something. Instead, it's a strong taste, but it is strangely dusty without being bitter up front, but bitterness hits in the end. It has citrus and a light caramel malt doing the work of solidifying the whole thing. I don't k…

Jackalope Snowman Stout

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So, a friend (Frogman) had this beer and told me he couldn't even taste the coffee in it, and he liked the beer. Well, I'm going to rely on his take and try the sucker out for myself. Mind you, I'm the guy who complained that a Keurig once had coffee go through it, and I could taste it in my hot chocolate (and no one around me - including Frogman - backed my play).

The beer so brown that it is black has a light tan head with bubbles that are too large to be nitrogen, but they are not really as big as most carbonated beers. The head is thick, but it doesn't have any stickiness. When it leaves, it leaves only footprints and memories with an aroma is coffee and earth. So, let's see where we go from here.

First sip is what they say on the can - coffee. What did I expect, really? I suppose mocha might mean that it also has chocolate or something, but I am getting nothing but coffee. I need to read labels before I buy beer from now on.

Tip-in is acidic bite with carbonat…

Clown Shoes Galactica Double IPA

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I noticed that I stopped commenting on new breweries. I seem to be going through them so quickly these days that it barely even registers that I'm getting to try a beer from a whole different place, brewed by entirely different people, and using entirely different methods. I mean, who'd have thought people from.... Boston would drink?

The delightfully amber beer has a sticky head that makes me happy. The aroma is weak as all-get-out. I mean, there appears to be almost no smell. Do I have a cold or something? If so, I have no other symptoms, and I can still smell my (currently wet) dog, the bag of Jalapeno cashews I have, and the beef jerky in a bag on my desk.

First sip is all malt up front and all bitter and pointy bits at the back. The back is so harsh that it ruins whatever the beer is trying to do. I can't say this is a good beer to sip, but it might be a good beer to drink like you mean it.

Tip-in is sweet and tart with biscuit malt and light citrus. The middle is inc…

BrewDog Hazy Jane New England Style IPA

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Is New England the new West Coast IPA? They're very different beers, but I notice that my selection of beers has definitely swung that direction lately. I'm not complaining - New England-style IPAs are pretty darn good, but the West Coast style are also tasty. What a delightful conundrum to deal with.

The beer is very hazy just like the package promises, but I genuinely believe pretty much any random selection from Bearded Iris would be significantly hazier. The white head is admirably sticky, so we have quite a thick webwork of lacing on the sides. The aroma is mouth-wateringly citrus, and I don't even want to bother writing this review - I just want to drink it.

First sip is a joyous expression of citrus, bread, and happiness. It's sweet, tart, and a little bitter, and the flavors are mingled together like an artist with an impeccable eye has spent hours going back and fourth before finally applying color to canvas and painting a masterpiece at a stroke. I may be get…

BrewDog Elvis Juice IPA

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I'll admit to being one of the few people who tuned into the TV show Brew Dogs that featured the guys who founded Brew Dog on their jaunts from country to country, brewing odd beers in strange ways with complicated, contrived time elements. The reason BrewDog is known internationally is that they brew beers with very high percentages of alcohol. This has a pedestrian 6.5% ABV, so they aren't breaking any records that way.

The copper beer has a stark white head that is nice and sticky, clumping together into an uneven mat across the top of the beer while managing to leave a webwork of lacing on the sides. The aroma is very, very distinctly grapefruit, but it's a sweet grapefruit like one that has had some sugar sprinkled across the top. Presentation of this beer is pretty fantastic.

First sip is delightfully grapefruity, but there is a heavy malt that is taking away the tartness and sourness that you might expect from the abundance of grapefruit. I had wondered why they wou…

Evil Twin Double Barrel Imperial Biscotti Break

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I don't normally look at price when I buy beer. It's not that I'm made of money, but I look for the styles and labels I haven't tried yet, and they tend to get more expensive. It's easier for me if I don't put too much thought into the whole affair. I would probably avoid Evil Twin, but Jeremy (of City Sliquors fame) went out of his way to point out that he got very few bottles of this, and it was the most expensive bottle he's ever sold. That's not true, but I went for it anyway.

The brown-to-black beer has a thin head that is pretty dense and very brown. After a bit, the head is almost completely gone, leaving just a quarter of a ring around the side of the glass. The aroma is heavy with bourbon, wine, and wood. I wonder if there is beer under there. I wonder because I can't smell it at all through the other scents.

First sip is tart, bitter, and even sour. It adds that to the aforementioned bourbon and wood, but the wine is pretty light. Instead,…

Off Color Dino S'Mores Imperial Stout

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What the hell? I hadn't ever seen a s'more-based beer until a few weeks ago, and now I'm looking at my third. It was like when I had those peanut butter and jelly beers or when Armageddon and Deep Impact came out. It might even be like when White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen came out. Someone heard about something in the works and said, "I can do that!" Well, let's see if they can.

She's a pitch black beer that loses the head pretty quickly, and it loses it completely. I mean, there is nary a bubble atop this sucker - like a cider, really. The aroma is chocolate, coffee, maple, and some soft wood. Its smell is probably the best of the s'mores beers so far; I wonder if the taste will follow.

First sip is nothing like s'mores. That said, it tastes like a very good imperial stout. It's sweeter than most stouts, but it definitely has that smoky, okay taste to it that both they and most porters sport. I wonder if the middle is smooth and milky…

Bearded Iris Ever Clever Double IPA

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I can't go on about Bearded Iris anymore. Much like my love of Lagunitas (haven't had a new one of those in quite some time) I think I need to stop my effusive gushing of love for them in these reviews and just get on to business. They aren't always the best beers, but they are very interesting, and that'll get you somewhere.

The delightfully very hazy and brassy-gold beer has a very nice head that boils down to a patchy mass with gobs of lacing left on the sides as if the head didn't like to be taken away and left its claw marks. The aroma is a strong citrus (orange and grapefruit) with bitterness right on the nose, but a flaky malt is somewhere under that.

First sip is a beer that asserts itself and lets everyone in the area know that it is not to be taken lightly. Hops bounce around like they own the place, and the orange and grapefruit are at the fore. Some pine join the mix, but the malt is really the story. It's not loud like the hops, but it is handling …

Dogfish Head-Victory-Stone Saison Du Buff Ale

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I'm not sure I could pick three better craft breweries to combine efforts to make a beer. However, I don't know what to make of the resulting ale. It says that it's "brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary & tyme." It was they who used all of these spices and no Oxford comma. Attention to detail, then, might not be at the fore.

The very light gold (verging on yellow) beer has big bubbles (with some teeny tiny ones hovering around it) that leave more than enough lacing for this... ale? I mean, it's not a pale ale, IPA, APA, DIPA, or anything like that. It just says it's an ale. The aroma is all kinds of spices and flowers, and that isn't surprising considering what they printed on the label.

First sip is an odd one. I'm definitely tasting the various spices, a bit of sourness, and some flowers. I can't say this is hitting me over the head with awesomeness. In fact, were I out and about and only having a few, I would definitely not get another o…

Hi-Wire Aerialist Summer Lager

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Well, as I write this, summer is about on us, so I'm grabbing a beer and enjoying the company of my puppies. Today, I have a beer from Asheville, NC. As I have found, beers brewed in the South can totally go toe-to-toe with the big names from the North and the even bigger ones out West. Let's see if this holds up.

That is one hell of a bright yellow beer. It carries a very thick, big-bubbled head that is fluffy and sticky. It leaves a nice patchwork of lacing down the sides of the glass and emits an aroma of light, fanciful hops of the citrus variety, but they aren't heavy like an IPA.

First sip is very, very nice. It's crisp and smooth at the same time - a rare occurance as far as I can tell. It has very nice, light hops forward with citrus, peach, and (as the bottle proclaims and may have influenced me on) apricot. There's a nice biscuit and cracker malt that has a backing with some grains. I could sip this all day, but I'm not going to.

Tip-in is very malty,…

Prairie Artisan Ales Paradise Imperial Stout

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The absolute best that Prairie Artisan can probably hope for in this review is somewhere in the 2.0 to 3.0 range. Fact is, they've only had one beer that was above a 2.0, and that got a 2.25. The way my rating system works, anything between a 2.0 and a 3.0 should be about average. For the specific brewer, it seems like an average beer is the best they can do. This is especially disappointing as they are a craft brewer who appears to want to break out of the mold, but they simply seem to lack the ability. Maybe that'll change with this beer.

The black beer has a thick dark tan head that winds up as one big, thin lily pad on top of the beer. The aroma is thick, and it's filled with chocolate, coffee, coconut, vanilla, and sweetness. There's not a whole lot of smoke in the smell, and that seems unusual for an Imperial Stout. But, these guys like to do their own thing, and that's why we have different brewers that brew the same style. Variety is in the nuance.

First si…

4 Sons Land of Hopportunity Blood Orange IPA

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I hop they thought this one through. I hope it's not the hopposite of the fine tradition of IPAs.  I hopped the top off the can, and the hops didn't exactly slap me in the face. I won't hop drinking until I get the ultimate score done with. Okay. I'm done with that stupid game.

The amber liquid hosts a solid, thick cap of bubbles that never, ever goes away. The aroma is delicious, delicious hops of the citrus variety. To say that I am looking forward to this is to underestimate just how much I'm looking forward to this beer.

First sip is surprisingly mild overall, but it has a harsh bite on the end that is very much off-putting. The bite is bitterness and nuts, and it doesn't seem like they really want to get along with each other. That cloud spoils what is a heavier malt and not nearly enough of the hops from the aroma. I need to dig in more.

Tip-in is distinctly sweet with floral and citrus gently caressing the tongue. The middle comes with a sizzle of needle…

4 Sons The Great One IPA

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Is this named after The Great One, Wayne Gretzsky? As far as I can tell, it is not. This is brewed in California, and there is no mention of hockey on the label. In fact, the label is completely dominated by the 4 Sons logo, and it's not a great one. It is, however, one that will likely appeal to the youth market (hipsters).

Amber, a little hazy, and topped with a patchy, but not a sticky head. This beer will not leave lacing, and that in itself is noteworthy for an IPA. I like a stickier head than this. The aroma is a seared malt and citrus hops, so it is actually starting off well as far as the smell goes.

First sip is sweet, mandarin oranges, grapefruit, a stiff cracker malt, and a little bitterness. I'm also kind of happy to see that I was wrong about the lacing - it's runny, but pretty good. So too is the sip. The mix of flavors are strong and more bold than crisp, but it's a strong stand for just a sip.

Tip-in is agave sweet with a crusty malt and the orange/grap…

450 North Pay Day Hoppy Pilsner

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Another 450 North, and I'm ready to play. I mean, this is a pilsner that they appear to have gone nuts on with the hop hammer, and that means fun times for Tim. The name is a little difficult to see the connection with (Pay Day?), but they can name their beer whatever they want. The design of the label, however, is pretty much junk. At least I can reliably read the name, right?

The slightly hazy, bright gold beer has a patchy top that leaves lacing for the eye and allows the aroma of citrus hops and bready malt to hit the nose with just as much pleasure. Its presentation is particularly good for a pilsner - and that must be the hops! I mean, it's "hoppy" right?

First sip is delightfully citrus, bread, tartness, and lingering bitterness. The sip is very good; the balance is nice - it's not even, but clearly they played with it to give it a sweeter entry and a more bitter exit. I could sip this all night, but I won't.

Tip-in is citrus and bread with a good bala…

Omnipollo Shploing!! Mango S'mores IPA

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There are two exclamation marks in the title of this beer. They are in the middle of the name. It's a mango-s'mores IPA. All of these things do not speak well of the people who cobbled this together. The actual label is unique and kind of intriguing, so they have that going for them. Let's see if they know how to brew beer.

The fact that this beer comes out a somewhat cloudy yellow is almost anti-climactic. I mean, the exclamation marks signal that a polka dot or striped beer seems more appropriate, doesn't it? Well, I guess we are still a slave to fluid dynamics. The head is nicely traditional IPA - sticky and leaving lots of lacing while leaving a patchy cap on top. The aroma is a sweet marshmallow with some lingering floral hops, but it's understated.

First sip is not great. It's got a forced sweetness and it does not counter the underlying bitterness, so those two are battling. In the midst of this clash is the floral hops, citrus, and a poor cracker malt t…

Country Boy Shotgun Wedding Brown Ale

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So far, the Country Boy beers are exceedingly average. I was hoping for another Yee-Haw where they were a little scattered, but relatively above average. Nope. So far, Kentucky can't match the Tennessee boys, and I hope it's eating at them enough for them to come up with some absolutely great brown ale.

The undeniably brown ale has a fairly minimal head tat just goes away completely with only occasional bubbles coming to the top tell you that this is carbonated. That said, you won't mistake this for anything but a malty, nutty brown ale, as the aroma is pungent. I don't mean it's strong - it's invasive!

First sip is nutty and vanilla with a brown sugar backing it. As a result of the brown sugar, it's a sweet beer, and I have to say that it's pretty good. At one point, I think I called out brown ales as my least favorite style, but this could definitely be a beer to just lay back and sip all day. But sipping isn't the way we do things around here, is…

Buxton Stillwater Subluminal Imperial Stout

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The thing about these Stillwater beers is that they may classify themselves as "artisanal" but they have been particularly good. Even so, I've had this beer waiting in my fridge for me to swig for quite some time - I have been avoiding it. The only rational reason I can give for wanting to avoid it is the fact that artisanal beers are too often crap.

Everything about the presentation puts me in mind of one of the bourbon barrel aged beers. It has that thick, syrupy texture. Even with a slow pour, the head on this thing just will not die down. Lacing is a frilly affair with tendrils remaining on the glass all the way to the top. The aroma is chocolate, vanilla, and a little coffee.

First sip is chocolate, earth, vanilla, and it's a hollow kind of dryness. It's not bad, but it's strange to be so dry and yet be rich at the same time. It's no sipping beer, though, as it has too much of the bitterness form the chocolate and too much... earthiness from the eart…

Decadent S'Mores Double IPA

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What? What is this? What planet am I on?  Is this going to be that odd kind of awesome that the Ben and Jerry's beer was? Because I'm totally down with that. These odd beers really make me fear for the future of beer brewing, though. I just hope that the ability to significantly alter the taste of the beer doesn't draw us away from the core - hops and malt.

The head atop this swirling honey colored beer is decent at first, but it reduces to a simple film laying on top. The aroma comes through solidly, though, with an odd kind of strong wheat and grain above anything else. That said, the slightly toasted marshmallows do kind of squeeze their way through.

The first sip reveals that this does not taste like a s'more. It's sweet like one, but it is also grainy, bitter, and that odd kind of hollow that I have tasted in some other beers, but I really don't think I've found the right way to explain it.

Tip-in is crusty malt and grains with pretty much no carbonati…

Bearded Iris Offbeat Double IPA

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You big, beautiful bastards! I knew you had another IPA in you, but I never expected another DIPA. Bearded Iris isn't the greatest brewery out there, but they are easily in the top 5%. There are very few breweries that have me chomping at the bit to try out another beer that may be almost identical to the rest of their line, but Bearded Iris is in there.

Another cloudy beauty from the guys that have a brewery just a stone's throw away. The head is really minimal from the get-go, and the remnants are just about nothing but a scattering of bubbles on the top. If there are any points of nucleation sizzling underneath, they are lost to the murkiness of the tangerine orange beer.

First sip is bitter, citrus, floral, and a little funky. It's not bad, but it's not great. The funkiness is a bit unexpected, and the mix of it and the floral reminds me of some off-putting floral hop beers (and floral beers that actually used flowers) and that's not great.

Tip-in is bitter flo…

Two Brothers Outlaw Mosaic IPA

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From the heart of Warrenville, Illinois <checks map> just close enough to Chicago for it to be an issue, but not close enough to get any of the windy city's benefit comes a beer that appears to be produced by two brothers. Do they consider themselves outlaws? Do they intend the beer for outlaws? Is the beer itself so offensive that it has been outlawed? Who knows.

The clear, honey-gold beer has a very nice, dense head on top that doesn't leave any lacing, but it lets the pine and dusty hops aroma waft right up to my face-nose, and I'm digging it. I'm writing this toward the end of summer, and I just mowed the lawn, so I'm looking forward to a good beer (not that I'm ever looking forward to a bad beer).

First sip is a thick, bready malt with a slice of lemon and a bright smack of spices mingling with it all. The dusty Mosaic hops are a bit strong with their strange mix of pine and tropical fruits, but I can't say it's too overwhelming. It's... …

Country Boy Cougar Bait American Blonde Ale

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My second Country Boy beer, and it's too early to call. I am still guessing that Georgetown, KY is a town, so it's not strictly speaking the country. Now, if the guys who are running this consider themselves country boys, I can't really argue, as I don't know them. I do, however, know quite a few people who I would consider country boys, and it might be interesting to setup a kind of test. But that would be for a different blog.
The head of this beer isn't big, and it doesn't stay very long. What remains is barely a mote of dust like the slight haze of smoke from a smouldering ember. The beer itself is a murky, dull brass color with the aroma of lemon crackers. No, I've never had anything that was labeled as a lemon cracker, but if such a thing exists, it would probably smell the same as this.
First sip is a little tangy with the lemon mixing with some other citruses and the cracker adding a more thick biscuit to the mix. It's decent, but it's not …

450 North Star Burst IPA

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450 North is from Columbus, Indiana. I genuinely don't know how I have wound up trying more than one of their beers, but I have, and I'm cool with it. The can design (and the fact that it's a pint) puts me in mind of Nashville's Bearded Iris, but I know I'm just conflating the two in my mind-brain. Still, if 450 can be as good as them...

Clumpy, fluffy head? Check. Straw color with proper haze? Check. Lacing? Well, probably not much, but I can deal with that. Aroma? A bit dank with citrus and odd powdery dust on top that makes my nose crinkle a bit. I was not expecting dank.

First sip is rough on the back-end. It is a bit sour, a bit dank, a bit bitter, and a bit tart. Everything else is boiler plate IPA with citrus and pine hops dominating everything. That ass is... not what it should be. But that's only a sip, isn't it?

Tip-in is a biscuit malt with orange, mandarin orange, and tangerine. The middle is the meat of the orange with grapefruit and mango. The…

Country Boy Cliff Jumper IPA

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Another Country Boy beer. What? I never had one? Wait... what about.... no, that was Yee-Haw, wasn't it? Okay, let's start off by pointing out that this Lexington-based brewer has a handsome can. It's distinctive without being bland or gaudy. One of the complaints I had about Bearded Iris is that their cans look too similar, and it's not easy to tell them apart. Clown Shoes has the opposite problem with too much going on with their label (but I haven't published any of their reviews yet).

The yellow-honey gold beer has a head that isn't sticky, but it's patchy, and that'll get you points. The aroma is more malty than anything, and that seems especially odd for an IPA. I'm not saying there isn't a citrus hop or two in there with it, but the bready malt is really a lot stronger than I would normally expect. But, these country boys clearly think they have something, so let's get 'er done (apologies for pandering).

First sip is an unbalanced…

450 North Crystal Vision Double IPA

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A 450 North beer that doesn't claim to be dank is something I can buy into. I wasn't a fan of that Dank Candy Gummy Haze (What name could more accurately indicate a bunch of guys who were high came up with it?) Well, Crystal Vision sounds... like... oh crap. They were high with this one, too, right? Dangit.

This is another patchy, sticky head that leaves a nice selection of fluffy pillows floating on top. This time, the beer under it is a hazy gold-amber color, and it emits a delightful doughy bread malt and citrus hops aroma featuring grapefruit.

First sip is a quiet start with a sudden bang as it goes out. It's got mango, grapefruit, tangerine, and oranges that are almost nowhere in the beginning which is just the fairly mild taste of the doughy malt. As a sip, I can't say it scores very high, as it is just too wobbly.

Tip-in is juicy juice of the grapefruit and tangerine while the carbonation sizzles lightly. The middle arrives with a well balanced bready (not dough…

Garr's Juicy Trip IPA-Hopped Tripel Ale

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Garr's and I have had a sketchy relationship so far. The fact that I root for small breweries means that I really want them to win. The intelligent and approachable Jeremy from City Sliquors has explained that they basically partner with one brewery after another to brew their beers, and that leads to a certain amount of inconsistency in their end product. I'm trying again, and this time an IPA-infused Tripel should be about the best shot so far.

The honey gold beer has a relatively sticky head (good enough lacing for a non-IPA) made of tight, white bubbles. The aroma is faint, but bready malt leads the slightly fruity hops that are really more of a background noise than anything. I'm not sure what balance they were going for, but I'm okay with a malty tripel.

First sip is a hollow mix of grains, doughy bread, and some very light tropical fruits. It's not a bad sip at all, but like I said - it's hollow. I wish I could describe it better, but it is like there is…

Garr's Red Vanilla Porter

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Garr's and I haven't really had the greatest start to our relationship. I really wanted to like them as a brewer, but I must have not picked the right beer to start with. This would be a porter, and everybody who reads my blog (hi mom!) knows my affinity for porters. This beer wasn't actually brewed by them, though. Instead, it was brewed by Straight To Ale, a brewer I am definitely familiar with, and quite a fan of. Actually, has Garr's made a beer without the help of Straight To Ale? Ah well, let's leap before we look.

The ruby dark beer has some fairly big bubbles to start off with, but when the head settles, the bubbles that are left are tiny indeed. There is no lacing left on the sides of the glass, but I expect that more from a hoppy ale then a porter (yes, I know that a porter is a kind of ale). The aroma is dark fruits and earth, but I can definitely smell the vanilla coming through. The should be fun.

First sip is surprisingly tame. The beverage is plenty …

Ommegang Three Philosophers Quadrupel Ale

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Ever work so hard that you set a precedent for the quality or volume of work that you do, and then you find that you started off too gung-ho, and now things are going to go downhill? Well, I really suspect that Ommegang has painted themselves into that kind of corner, but I want to keep seeing what they are doing.

The beautifully dark brown beer defeats light that tries to go through it pretty well. The head is significant and has a bit of staying power to the point that the settled head is still a powdery blanket across the top with thickness around the edges. Lacing is a no go, though, as the head just isn't sticky enough. The aroma is predictably raisins and plums, but cherries are highlighting it all nicely. If all goes well, they won't be sour cherries, but my luck couldn't be that good, could it?

First sip is a mixed bag. The cherries are sour, but the sourness isn't taking over the whole beer. Instead, the beer's inherent Belgian Ale qualities are kind of he…

Diskin Cider Bob's Your Uncle Dry English Cider

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I have experience with ciders. Strangely I think I may have had more cider brands and styles than many of the people I know who actually drink ciders regularly. That said, I don't really consider myself a cider guy. I want to know what the beverage is about, though, and the only way to know is to keep trying them.

The exceptionally pale yellow cider has fairly minimal carbonation; even the usual points of nucleation don't really amount to many bubbles - I don't know how to feel about that. The aroma is dusty, tart apples. I'm not smelling the hops, but it might be me.

First sip is a little underwhelming at first. Turns out, the finish is a bit stronger than the actual cider, and the actual cider is really watery. The finish does overcome that, though, with a not-quite-tart apple. Mind you, it's not sweet. It's an odd sensation.

Tip-in is semi-sweet grape and apple. The middle is the weakest, most watered down from-concentrate apple juice I've ever had; it&#…

Tennessee Brew Works Nashweizen

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The Tennessee Brew Works guys have produced other beers that I've tried, and I'm not going to sugar coat it - they haven't all been winners. The friendly Jeremy seems to think more highly of them than I have so far, and I like that guy and think he has a pretty good palate, so I'm going to go with this hops-infused wheat ale. Let's all hope.

The clear gold beer has a white head that has some impressive staying power, but it leaves little lacing. Still, the puffy cap on top of the beer is almost like how a child might draw a picture of a beer. That I'm forcing children to draw idyllic pictures of alcoholic beverages is okay, isn't it? I hope so. Otherwise, my master plan for taking over the world is ruined. The aroma is hoppier than I expected - with a kind of orange and wheat smell.

First sip is a whiplash of styles with a well balanced IPA and a slap of an outside-the-box hefeweizen with all that wheat and grains and ... it's really hard to wrap my hea…

Tailgate Fire Emoji IPA

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Has Tailgate jumped the proverbial shark? They named this IPA after an emoji, so I am going to assume their target audience is hipsters. Actually, I don't even know if hipsters are still a thing. Who is the fire emoji supposed to appeal to? Well, I've had their beer before, and I like their beer, so I'm ignoring the name for now.

The quite hazy golden beer has a stark white head that leaves no lacing, but it does leave a smattering of bubbles covering the top well enough. The aroma is a great big pile of citrus, but the malt is definitely there to bring some bread to this meal in a can. There's grapefruit, lemons, and tangerines in here, and the smell is mouth watering.

First sip is exactly what the nose prepared me for - citrus with a malt backing. The bitterness is kept in check with that malt, and the hops are allowed to sing the sweet song of grapefruit, mango, lemon, and tangerine. The beer has a strong taste in general, and the bitterness seeping into the edges i…

New Holland Dragon's Milk Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout (Revisit)

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The first time I tried this beer, I had no idea what I was getting. I was at a bar with a football game on, and I was in the mood for a Guinness, but this was the only stout they had on tap. Anyone who knows something about beer would have told me that you don't go drinking any stout expecting it to be Guinness, or you will be disappointed - even by a great beer. It's like eating popcorn expecting butter and getting cheese; cheese popcorn is great, but when you are expecting butter, you aren't getting what you want.

The dark brown beer is indistinguishable from black, and the light tan head is difficult to coax out of the beverage that isn't as syrupy as other bourbon barrel beers I've had in the past. I'm not complaining - just noting the difference. Likewise, the head stays at least a little bit as a very thin sheet of bubbles right in the middle of the glass. The aroma is cherry, oak, bourbon, and oats.

First sip is rich and interesting. It's definitely …

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…