Dundee IPA

Dundee’s IPA

While the other Dundee offerings have cartoon mascots, this one’s is a model ship in a bottle, sitting on a book whose spine gives the title “S. S. Dundee”. And as usual, no info on the packaging other than a catchphrase: “Bold And Bitter”. Well, let’s just see about that.

Color is a darker shade of pale and a slowly drawn noseful picks out some hoppy characteristics in the aroma, not overpowering but not flat either. With a taste, there’s no surprise that this is $8.50 a twelve-pack. Beer body is flaccid and flabby with no exertion, not sure if this is all barley or if we have some rice let in through the back door.

There’s a bitter that’s not hops, it’s the beer body’s desperation at having to get out of bed and go to work again. The hops side of this IPA is not too bad, however. Not crazy hoppy, and there’s no fruit or floral dimensions, but it does do the job of drying out the weak ale.

Whatever that additive is, it tastes like it’s trying to give the hops a helping hand, but it’s got a somewhat leaden taste, like coal. Separate that from the true hop elements, and they’re not bad. But the complete taste profile is gritty rather than grand. As with all Dundee’s: this is a sweet beer. Good idea with the Honey Brown or the other ales, but with an India pale ale, sweetness is not a friend.

I just can’t recommend buying a lot of this, but you could probably drink two of them before the tar-like bitter taste becomes annoying. Price is good, but let’s just say that while there are some great bargains in IPA Land, the universal rule still does apply: you get what you pay for. This rates a 3.6 but then again, it would’ve been much lower if this sampler-12 had been a few dollars more dear.

Goose Island 4 Star Pils

Goose Island’s 4 Star Pils

Not a regular customer for Goose Island, since i think it may be a zombie craft brewery, eaten and digested by one of the major commercial brewers. And not a regular pilsener drinker, they just don’t have the bite nor the heft that i look for in a pricey beer. A fun side-note: their phone number is 1800-GOOSEME. But, to round out a pick-your-six this was the best non-IPA goose left, so let’s see if it turns out to be a duck instead.

Label calls it at 5.1% alk and 44 IBU’s, but the label also says it’s a lager… they must be considering the pils malts in the naming here. Very bright and clear color, spot-on golden. Blurb says it’s got “crisp hop aroma” and “clean & refreshing finish” and the first one at least is true. The smell is good hoptown, citrus with a layer of composting straw, if you know that pungent smell you’ll know what i mean, and if you don’t you’ll think that’s nasty, but it really isn’t a bad smell.

The taste bears out the rest of the blurb, i would call this crisp on the back end, but also crisp right up front as well. In fact, the attack is crisper than the finish, which is a little more wet. No mention of which variety of hops used, but they do come from their own hop farm in Idaho, which is a ways away from the three brewing locations listed: Baldwinsville NY, Chicago IL, and Fort Collins Colorado.

Not a bad beer, i’ll rate it as if it is truly a lager, in which case it’s pretty darned hoppy, and the malt body is not as punchy as one would like in a lager. Like the hoppiness but would like more weight, this beer seems more trendy than serious. Rates a 6.7 for not sucking terribly.

Sam Adams Cold Snap White Ale

Sam Adams Cold Snap White Ale

It’s chilly in here! Just kidding, it was another 85º day, but it’s the first time i tried Cold Snap white ale “brewed with spices and spices added” because, as the label reminds us, “spring is on the way”. Right, so this is not the freshest bottle on the shelf. But it was only a buck in the bargain bin at a big grocery store, so what the heck?

The spices mentioned in this 5.3% alk white ale are orange peels, plums, and coriander, which is a spice that Sam Adams just loves to slip into their beers. An orangey color, and it’s not transparent, just as the label says, it eschews filtration, so it is thus. A noseful tells the same story: fruits and maybe a hint of that spice, but coriander is not very noisome to begin with, so let’s taste and see.

Yes, that’s a fruity beer alright. White ales, to me, mean Belgium. And to me, Belgium means horrifying beer. This stuff is not so terrifying, and that bit of coriander is, as i said, much more jumpy in the mouth than in the nose. I like the taste, but would never buy this one to just drink. Fruits in beers are an abomination in my sight, and Sam should know this, after i savaged him and his kin for that craptasstic Grapefruit IPA which i ended up pouring down the kitchen drain.

This tastes OK, but the fact is, that it’s not beer. It’s a wine cooler made with weak barley wine. As such, it might be good for a weak barleywine winecooler. I wouldn’t know, don’t drink crap like that. The real problem here is that they sell it as beer, so i have to rate it as a beer.

And as a beer, this is terrible. It’s waaaaay too sweet and it’s fruity not by natural hop effects but by unnatural manipulation. Ewww. As a beer, this might rate 1.6 on my scale, but there is now a standing rule in effect in my house: all Sam Adams beers get an automatic 1 point deduction until they publicly apologize for making Grapefruit IPA.

So this rates 0.6 as a beer. Sam Adams: Brewer, Patriot, Fruity Bastard.

Founders Mosaic Promise

Founders Mosaic Promise

From the makers of the passable All Day IPA and the superb Centennial IPA, here’s another ale, this time a single-hop single-malt brew, the name a mashup betwixt the twain: Mosaic hops and Golden Promise malt. Label says they appreciate simplicity, and that’s sometimes sucky but most of the time a decent idea, as long as it can be pulled off with skill.

Cloudy with specks suspended, normally a good sign, this light colored beer clocks in at 50 IBU’s and 5.5% alk, and there’s only the one hop but it’s a doozy, the smell alone is strong enough to affirm that 50 IBU rating. And upon a sip, it’s a puckery punch to the twisted kisser, Mosaic hops are apparently the lemony ones. And the Founders people used a lot of them.

Another one like my beloved Bonobo Session IPA in one respect: if you told me this was a shandy, i might believe you. Low on the sweetness to be a real faux shandy, but it’s got the lemon essence pouring out its pores. No kidding, this is a tart and i don’t mean the easiest floozy at closing time.

As such, the hops overshadow the beer body inside this bottle. I really can’t tell you what Golden Promise malted barley is like, because my tongue has shrunk in reaction. Hey Founders, are you sure this is only 50 IBU’s? So no grapefruit, no florals or pine, it’s just lemon. A pity because i had my eye on a six of this for a while, but a stroke of luck because at another store there were 3 bottles of this in the bargain bin for a buck each. Glad i didn’t get a sixer for $11, got a half-six (otherwise known as three) for $3.

In this case, very happy to finally try this inexpensively, even if it’s not for me. It is tasty, and there are plenty of hot days left in the final two weeks of official Summer, and a couple bottles of highly lemonned beer will be welcome. As a beer, in the sight of its peers, this can only get a 5.3 rating, but when used for a certain purpose, i.e. to refresh after a sweaty day’s work, those other two bottles will be very appreciated.

…..

OK, two years after i wrote the above review, and you can disregard about half of it. This beer is like the old-time version of the Sweet-Tarts candy, only it’s liquid and tastes like beer and it’s got alcohol.

Today is exactly 2 years and 2 months after doing my first taste of Mosaic Promise, and it has become my go-to beer. It’s just amazingly delicious and cheap enough to support the addiction. Comes in a 15-pack of cans nowadays for $17, so $19.10 with tax and deposit. I know that number by heart now, because i buy this stuff whenever i see it.

Founders doesn’t make it all year round. Last year i held onto a fifteener of this for the lean months, and scouted out a low-volume store where two sixers of this in bottles were gathering dust on the shelf. As my backup supply, you know. In March someone bought one of them, so i scooped up the last six-pack.

Was down to only a couple Mosaic Promises left, when in August, fresh fifteeners of cans started hitting the stores. Hooray! My stashed ones were a little punchy from an unrecommended ageing in my pantry, but i was glad to retire them.

Here’s how much i like this beer: earlier this week i bought the last one of a local store, then the next day i scouted out another store, and sure enough they’ve got Mosaic Promise on the shelf. And i even counted how many 15-packs they have (17) so i can keep track and save some money up, to acquire a good portion of that store’s strategic reserves of Mosaic Promise.

I’m not kidding. The only other beer i invest into as a stock-up is Genesee’s Bock, on sale from Christmas until it runs out, usually in early March, and i run out in June or July. Ooops that’s not true, i also buy a case of 3 Heads Giant Panda Dub Style IPA twice a year, and drink one a week. So Mosiac Promise is the third beer i stock up on, but still, that’s saying something.

The bright citrus of the hops, the sweet malt of an uncompleted fermentation. For the price, about $1.25 a beer, this is the perfect balance of value and quality.

Two years ago, MP’s fizzed up as soon as the bottle was opened, and that’s the incomplete fermentation continuing inside the bottle. Means that they were over 5.5% alc by that point, so lucky me.

Today’s MP has less floaty specks, and it doesn’t fizz over when it’s in a can. So they’ve refined the process here. Alas for that, but the taste is still spot-on from the original crop of 2016. Because i did not appreciate what i had, my original review pegged MP at 5.3 rating. Now, i see that’s preposterous.

I love this beer, and i seek it out, and i hoard it. A more proper rating today would be closer to 8.3

Troegs Troegenator Doublebock

Troegs Troegenator Doublebock
Troegs Troegenator Doublebock

Pricey stuff, the Troeg brews are. So rarely have a chance to try them unless they go on sale, and that’s just what happened so finally got a chance to pick up a sixer of their flagship mind-melter, the Troegenator Doublebock. You know i love bock beers, and doppelbocks are simply a higher plane of bock existence. With a menacing portrait of a goatman with bushy eyebrows on the label, i just knew i would like this, once i could afford it.

Label calls the color “bronze” but i’d say it’s brown, and it’s see-through, unlike some at this end of the bock spectrum. The label is plenty helpful with everything else i want to know too: 8.2% alk; 25 IBU’s; and the hops used: Brewers, Magnum, and German Northern. There’s a blurb mentioning “caramel, chocolate and dried stone fruit.” Well, that middle attribute can be taken with a grain of something, coming as this does out of Hershey, Pennsylvania, the home of some other company you might have heard of.

The nice thing is that everything on the label is true. This does have that “chewy” character and it is a liquid meal. The one thing i want to know is this: where is the regular Troegs bock? To make doppelbock, you need to make a bunch of regular bock beer. I have not seen that on the shelf. Maybe they only sell it local in Hershey?

The smell at the glass rim is heavenly, a mix of foreboding meal grains perverted from their original nature, a sour mash of cannibal yeasts eating their own dead, and velvety charcoal. The taste is the same, no deception allowed in a doppelbock. Sweet and sour like a Chinese restaurant wishes they could replicate, this tastes like a drop of vinegar on a caramel cube wrapped in soggy pumpernickel bread. That sounds gross, but try it before you deny it.

Light carbonation and high alk, and these would be be detractions if this was not a double-bock beer because, you see, 2x bock is the pinnacle of beer flavor. The only step up from doppelbock would be beer schnapps, and that’s been tried, only to be discontinued after someone realized that nobody drinks schnapps without a fruit or menth in it. So this is flat and buzzy, but the sheer joy of concentrated beer flavor is well worth it.

I don’t know about “dried stone fruit” but there’s a wild array of other tastes in Troegenator. Walnuts, venison jerky, limed mushrooms, crushed oat chaff, a tizzy of flavor in every sip. It’s like you left Black Forest bread in a pan of water and let the fruitflies and wild airborne yeasts attack it to the point of fermenting. Disgusting, but wow what a result!

Ooof, just in joy here. My god, what a great beer. Every time i drink a stout, i wish it was a doppelbock. Even Guinness is a shadow of what beer can become once you concentrate it like this. When i am emperor, there will be no small beers, and every beer will have to go through 3 years of brewing and then re-brewing to make doppelbock. Honestly, every time i have a doppelbock, i wonder “why bother with single-run fermentations at all?”

Now, back to Earth a tiny bit. How to rate this? Obviously it’s high, high, high. Spaten’s Optimator Doppelbock is one of my highest rated beers. The Celebrator Doppelbock will come up for review here before long. How to rank the Troegenator among its peers?

Well, it doesn’t have that genuine German twang to it, that odd backthroat gotcha which is the hallmark of real German beer. But it does have some other flavors inside, which you don’t get in Europe. And like a good doppelbock, i can’t have any other beers tasted for review any longer today, because the Troegenator, like a doppelbock will, has seized my tastebuds and will not let go for several hours.

Doesn’t have the absolute sublime beauty of Optimator, but for an American 2x-bock it’s a wizard. This is a really tough call, but 9.3 seems about right. That’s a very high rating, and there’s room to move above, because Celebrator is coming soon to a tongue near me.

Troegs Troegenator Doublebock carton
Troegs Troegenator Doublebock carton

Rohrbach Highland Lager

Rohrbach's Highland Lager
Rohrbach’s Highland Lager

Only info on the can, as usual with Rohrbach, is “crisp German style amber lager” but at least that’s 100% accurate. Nice amber color, a bit on the sweet side in the taste, and it is frankly as crisp as an autumn sunset. Alk content can’t be too high, since i had three of the customary pint cans in a row and this did not slosh my nosh.

Taste is great, this is a fine lager for relaxing, hearty malt flavor and it does have that German twang to it, though of course it does not have that German bite to it, but it also does not have that German whap to your head either. As with most Rohrbach beers, this is competent and experience shows in the result. Also, this is the last Rohrbach beer to review for me. They have a Vanilla Porter which i was not wowed by, good beer but not a strong vanilla taste. And they have a Blueberry something-or-other, which i will not touch with a ten foot pole, not even a borrowed 10-foot pole.

I prefer lagers a little less sweet than this, so a 7.0 rating seems appropriate to my tastes, lowered for the sweet and uppered for the color and weight.

Miller 64

Miller’s 64

As fateful as Luke and Darth, as Luthor and Batman, Lucy and Charlie, the Millers and the Buds have been at war for decades, destinies intertwined in a deathgrip as they fall to the mat with claws in each other’s throats. No surprise then, that these two are racing to the bottom of the low: ultra-light beers. Bud has the “55 Select” and here is Miller’s “64”. So Miller has nine more calories, let’s see what they do with them.

As a reminder, this portion of the beer reviews is a public service. I’m careening through the crap, so you don’t have to. The basic premise is that there is no beer on Earth so crappy that a few ounces of Yuengling’s Black & Tan can not make it taste like nearly good beer. So far, this theory has withstood some truly horrific beers, some shudder-worthy liquids. One day a bright light over my head, and realized that “light” beers are even crappier than cheap beers, so the second phase of this quest marches forward lower into the swamplands.

The color is yellow, more likely due to Yellow #5 than anything malted, and the odor is nearly nothing, if anything, perhaps saltwater taffy and in that regard, half the smell is the wax paper wrapping. Lightly carbonated here, and the only other bit of info we care about is the number 2.8, which is the % alk. Label says “perfectly balanced” which is no info at all, they could be referring to a “balance” between mouse urine and banquet beer.

And actually, that’s not far off. No real beer taste to speak of, because that would increase the carbs, and we’re not talking about carbonation, though it might do that too. One mighty thing in “64”s favor: it does not make you gag, like some light beers. Most light beers are around 100 calories, and i don’t know what they spend it on. Not malts, for sure. But i really have to focus here. Not on what this is as beer, but how it matches up with the cream of the crap.

On that account, Miller 64 stands tall. And physically tall too. No really, the cans are too tall for the middle shelf in the fridge, which is for cheese, eggs, lunchmeats, and drink cans. But the taste is the tallest midget under the rainbow, right up there with Michelob Ultra, which has the delusionary confidence to call itself “premium”. Lightly tinny, barely fizzy, reminds one mostly of weak lemonade which was jammed full of ice seven hours ago.

On its own, Miller “64” gets a 1.8 rating. But when rescued with Yuengling’s Black & Tan, this is as good as Mick Ultra, and much better that Yuengling’s own light beer. We have to remember, of course, that even the worst cheapo regular beer improves to a higher level of tolerability with some YB&T, than any light beer.

Nobody chooses to drink light beer. But if you have to drink light beer, choose this one. It’s just as good (!?) as Michelob Ultra, and if you have to drink light, then the reason why is likely the cals and/or carbs. This has got 30 less calories than Mick Ultra, for the same price, so there’s no reason not to choose Miller 64.

Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA

Damn those pesky torpedoes! The real Commodore Perry was full speed ahead about beating the English Navy and now let’s see what Great Lakes Brewing has tagged as his 21st Century legacy… ahh, an IPA, an English-origin beer. As the label says, how ironic.

Color is light golden, not much bubbling going on, and the aroma out of the glass seems hoppy, a bit, but also meaty, as in real meat. And the taste bears this out: it tastes like there’s roast beef in my beer. At 7.7% alk and 70 IBU’s, this ought to be a serious experience, but i just can’t get over the eau de au jus in this beer. Not kidding, tastes like someone let their grill drippings into a batch of beer.

The hops are not overpowering, because the beer body comes through quite well in this, and it’s a nice flavor of malts. There’s a little wheaty taste but mostly some mid-toast barley and a hint of corn even. With the overall meaty taste, i would almost expect some potato flavors in here to make it a balanced meal.

The hops are not as fierce as 70 IBU’s would make you think, but fully evident. More to the pine side of the cone than the fruit side, a hint of tongue-numbing attests to evergreen influence, and the more sips i get, the more the hops take over from the beer body. But there it is all the way through: that taste of beef. You know when you fry burgers in a skillet and each burger gets those gray beads of fat built up around the edge? Eat one of those, and that’s what the meatish taste is, in this here IPA.

Pretty odd to find burger lard in an IPA, but it’s not the terrible thing that you might imagine. The beer body is barleybread, and a touch of beef fat actually goes hand-in-glove with it. If you try this IPA, might wish to have a packet of ketchup at hand to make the flavor complete. Maybe some dill relish. Oh wait, i know what this taste is: Yorkshire pudding but with a barley dough instead of wheat dough.

So what have we learned? About Commodore Perry, next to nothing. But about the beer which culturally appropriates his name? When you have some friends over and do some BBQ’ing, this would be an excellent beer to provide. The aftertaste of Cmdr Perry IPA will make your burgers taste like a star spangled success, no matter how bad a grillmaster you may be.

Very interesting beer, and an IPA rating has to take into account the body, the hops and the balance. Balance is good here, hops are comfortable, and the malt body is solid enough to support everything else. Don’t think i would buy this for Beer Appreciation Night, but for a picnic? Hell yeah! Rating is a casual 7.3 for good balance but unexpected extra tastes.

Bells Oberon Ale

Bells Oberon Ale

Have seen this on the shelf many times but didn’t realize until i got it, that this is from the same folks who make the Two-Hearted Ale, the one with the fiesty fish on the label. This one has a happy sun, and not much else on the label. Just that it’s 12 ounces, 5.8% alk, and it’s a wheat ale with a “spicy hop character” and some other descriptors, but by now i’ve learned about beer label blurbs, so most of that stuff goes in one ear and right out the other. Come to think of it, the sun on the label doesn’t look all that happy, more somewhat ungruntled.

So this should be interesting. The 2-Hearted got a strong 8.7 from me, and i fancy a weissen (wheat) beer now and then, let’s see how Bells did. The color is not really, as the label says, like a sunny day. Unless you’re looking directly at the sun, and don’t do that. It’s yellow, like completely yellowish yellow, with some light bubbling and a smattering of floaty things suspended in mid-beer.

And the taste is as good as i’d imagined. Obviously, the hops are not “spicy” but i can see where someone with an overactive imagination, or someone with a communications degree from a party-school college, might come up with “spicy”. The taste is actually “yellow” to me. Cross a dandelion with a daffodil and bite that. Fruit note is more lemon than a grapefruit or stone-pit fruit, and like most wheat beers the grain is upfront in it’s own idiom, but as with all weissens, more muted than barley malts.

Not too bad, and what someone called “spicy” is just, in fact, German-ness in the taste. A real German beer would have that bitey twist of flavor in spades, here it’s half a hint. But nice to have it there at all! This is my first weissen up for review, so there are no peers to compare it to yet. Thus, must rate this as simply a beer and how much i like it. That’s 6.5 for being a little sweet which tones down the grain.

New Belgium Rampant Imperial IPA

New Belgium’s Rampant Imperial IPA

OK, had some dentistry done today, so am hitting the assortment of hi-alk beers waiting in the fridge for review. Just did the Uinta Dubhe Imerial Black IPA, which is in fact a stout with “IPA” mysteriously slapped on the label, at 9.2% alcohol. Now let’s keep the imperial theme going with this one, NB’s Imperial IPA, nicknamed the Rampant, at a feral 8.5% alk.

Label has a crown overgrown with hop vines, so someone at New Belgium doesn’t understand that word “rampant”, but hey, public schools whatever, let’s move on. Color is tawny gold, small head and no bubbles eagerly reaching for the surface. Label claims it’s good on the nose, and shucks, they’re right. This has got one of the best aromas of an IPA yet tested. Not spiky pine or punchy citrus, but those mellower fruits, plum and peach, just as the label mentions peach, and there it is. Florals too, and we know that flowers don’t grow on pine trees, even though the label mentions pine as well.

The bubbles appear where your lips meet the liquid and swirl up from there, so they’ve got the carbonation locked in tight here, and it’s light but maybe that’s what “imperial” means when talking about beer? It did make me burp, so it’s not like this is flatter than a middleschool prom. One odd thing, the smell is better than the taste here. I could sniff this pint all day long, but there are some smells inside that don’t translate to the tongue.

The taste is veritably heavenly. I liked the NB Ranger IPA, and this is indeed a little more far-ranging than that. Still have some numbness from the novocaine, so will paste a mental post-it to pick this beer up again and make a more sober review. It deserves that, judging from my initial reaction, which is luv.

Damn, that taste is good. This might be the one which knocks off Sam Adams 48º Latitude from the Top Five IPA’s, but again, that serious decision will await a more sober review with all my nerve endings firing properly. Right now, i just appreciate the 8.5% alk. The taste is worldly, there’s that citrus fruit, but not a nostril-enlarging pucker. Here, it’s more general fruitiness, and yes there is that pine, but the undercurrent is berries and spice.

Cripes, this is one fine IPA. In fact, this may be a rare opportunity. Now i need to gather a bottle each of The Five and some of this Rampant, and do some fine-tooth testing. I’m going to give this a provisional rating of 9.1 on a par with higher into the 9’s. Potentially very high… i have not enjoyed an IPA this much for quite a while, and that’s not just the drugs talking.