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August and September Beer of the Month(s)

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Summer is a fun, but busy time. As such, the date for picking and posting an August Beer of the Month just slipped right past me. No mind, though, R&B’s East Side Bitter deserves extra acclaim.

My plan upon realizing the lack of update was to just let it slip until September and hope no one noticed. This is normally my plan for pretty much any disaster, btw.

However, something happened yesterday that changed that plan. And that something was Driftwood Twenty Pounder Double IPA. I’m not going to beat around the bush. This beer is astoundingly good. When Driftwood released Fat Tug last year, it was a serious contender to Central City’s reigning IPA, beating it in the all important viscosity battle but ultimately losing out to the fragrant and copious hops in CC’s beer. Seriously, open a can of that and see how long it takes for you to get a whiff of strong hops five feet away. It’s measured in seconds… with a decimal.

With 20 lb-er, though, Driftwood has taken the high sugar/viscosity goodness of Fat Tug and added a schwack of hops. And then another. And another. There’s so much hops in this bad boy that I’m fairly sure I just discovered the root cause of the recent hop shortage. Four hours later I could still quite vividly taste the hops. Hell, the next morning I could still detect lingering bitterness.

Now, I know it’s not fair to compare a DIPA to a regular IPA. They are quite different beasts. A better comparison would be Gary (of CC)’s excellent Roach DIPA, which is fantastic, but 20lb’s extra viscosity still takes the battle (well, and it beats Roach on hops, too). Perhaps a double-blind double-IPA taste test is in order. We can get samples from CC, Driftwood, GIB, Howe Sound, and Tree and line ’em up (maybe throw some Ace of Spades and Dogfish Head Squall in there for good measure). Of course, such a tasting is a ticket to very bad morning. Still, I’d be up for it because I’m dumb.

So there we have it, a double IPA for Beer of the Double Month. Fitting, no? I’m only 1 bottle into this so far, and believe me, there’s lots of research remaining to take 20lber’s measure. However, thus far, there is only one negative thing I can say about the beer: the label. I like the design, but the subtle black/blue colours just kind of blend into one another during printing. Oh well, can’t win em all, eh guys?

As someone with first hand experience,
let me just say colour correction is a bitch.

Written by chuck

August 19th, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Beer and You,Beers

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Too Hop To Handle

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Last Saturday saw CAMRA’s latest Fest of Ale at St Augustine’s: Top Hop to Handle. After the mild and nuanced flavours of the Spring Sessional Fest of Ale, CAMRA swung the complete other direction by challenging brewers to cram as many hops into their ales as possible, and believe me, some of them were absolutely up to the challenge.

Specifically, Big River. Not only did they brew a nice big IPA for the event, but then they went and stuck a hopinator/randall on the end to further dull the pain. I didn’t get a picture of the beast, perhaps because the resulting beer was so hoppy I lost all sensation in my upper body, so I had to steal one of Leo’s. As always, for a much-better-than-I-could-do write up of the event, head over to his post. I’m not a journalist; I’m a beer snob.

I hop they cleaned that fish tank filter out.

So, what did I think of the event overall? Overall, I thought it was well executed. The brewers brought their A-game, for the most part. Noticeable disappointments where Phillips and Spinnakers, who brought unaltered versions of their Hoperation and Lion’s Head, respectively. I don’t know what kind of beer snobs you have over on the rock, but us big smoke-types expect more effort. Don’t get me wrong, I like both beers (especially the Hoperation, which is probably the best beer Phillips makes), but this is the city, guys.

Actually, scratch that. Nothing tells me I’m more wrong about Victoria beer types than the fantastic insanity-in-a-cask concocted by Dean from Lighthouse. Hands-down my winner of the event (and I was not alone on this one), Dean’s enthusiast use of New Zealand whole-leaf hops produced a beer so interesting I had to go back and ask him if it was based off of the Deckhand recipe. Yes, it absolutely had a certain saison-ness about it, but it all came from the hops, as he deliberately used a neutral yeast. Huh, you learn something new every day.

In the end, though, the hops had their inevitable effect, and I couldn’t taste freaking anything. About 90 minutes in, my tongue stopped tingling and was attempting to retreat into my nasal cavity to escape more punishment, and we still had half the beers to go. Luckily the provided tasting sheet listed the IBUs for most of the beers, and I proceeded through them from lowest to highest, so each successive drink was even more aggressive than the last, and thus I could actually taste some aspect of the brews.

Of course, this is akin to eating hot peppers in ranked order of Scoville Heat Units. It is a march to madness. Eventually my tongue (and face) had had enough. It gave up, took the ball, and went home. Extreme measures were taken; luckily Claire from Big River not only had that 151 IBU Randalled-IPA, but also a nice bag of fresh hop leaves…

Somewhat surprisingly, this is not the single worst idea I’ve ever had.

Looking back, I guess a hop festival had to be done. For next time, though, could we please just have a normal, regular cask festival? I love crazy beers, but I am also somewhat partial to actually tasting them from time to time.

Written by chuck

July 29th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

July Beer of the Month: R&B East Side Bitter

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I know, I know. July was about five days ago. I’m sorry. I was distracted by drinking beer on a sunny deck overlooking both the north end of the straight and a dramatic, miles long sandy beach. Sure, I guess I did technically have internet on my phone and could have done this post then, but I also technically had several more beers in the fridge, and we know who wins that battle.

So here it is at last, July’s Beer of the Month. I was tempted to go with something a bit more summery than R&B’s outstanding new ESB, but honestly I just can’t get enough of this beer, and I haven’t featured it before in a BOTM post, so here it is. I’ll not bother writing up just how much I love this beer again, since you can just go read it here if you’re so inclined.

Yes, I did just try to paw my monitor. Yes, I am pathetic.

If you see this beer, buy it. Buy lots of it. Not only is it great, and rapidly disappearing, but we also need to reward R&B for doing well by producing their first serious beer snob level beer. Good job guys; keep up the great work.

Written by chuck

July 5th, 2011 at 11:40 am

Posted in Beers,Breweries

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