Continuing their tradition of spamming the local craft beer market to see what sticks, Dead Frog recently pushed out two more seasonals, logically sourced from the opposite ends of the planet: an Aussie-hopped ESB and a Belgian IPA.
In addition to making these beers, they were also brave/stupid enough to send me some for review, so let’s get to it.
Furious Friar Belgian IPA
I’m just going to come out and say it: this beer is awful. Many of the constituent components of a great Belgian IPA are here, and the colour and nose definitely get your hopes up. If you were to get that far, and then somehow fail to actually put the liquid in your mouth you might have a favourable impression of this ale, but alas I did run some past my tongue. I regretted this decision immediately.
Okay, maybe that might be a bit dramatic. This beer didn’t scar me for life like, say, Voodoo Donut. Instead, it’s just super hot. The long chain alcohols give you a definite nail polish, fire-water tone that simply doesn’t go away. There are some nice banana/clove esters in there as well, but you don’t get to enjoy them because you’re preoccupied by being worried about going blind*.
* Note: Long chain alcohols, while unpleasant, won’t actually make you go blind. At least not in the levels achievable during normal fermentation.
Rocketman Interstellar ESB
To be honest, I’m not sure what an “Interstellar ESB” is, in terms of style. Since interstellar space is really just a nigh limitless void of emptiness, maybe drinking this beer will make you go mad from perceiving the infinite? Or maybe it’s a cheeky play in the heavy use of Apollo Hops coupled with not quite knowing enough space history to realize that “Translunar ESB” would be a much better, more awesome-sounding name for this beer. Whichever.
What about the beer, though? After the Furious Friar I was frankly frightened to try this puppy out. I even gave myself a 24 hour no-beer-cation to let my taste buds reset. So, with a fresh mouth and a heaping sense of impending doom I cracked the bottle, poured it into a glass, and did my job.
The result? This is a pretty good beer. I wasn’t sold on it for the first 1/2 glass, but over time the malt backbone did what it was supposed to do: make me want more.
Pours deep cloudy/almost opaque dark brown with tight, long lasting white head.
Classic bitter. Good caramel / biscuit malt with well integrated hops.
Great malt backbone below a decent helping of fruity NZ-style hops (despite no actual NZ hops). Hops aren’t over done, but rather well balanced.
6.5% ABV / 40 IBU / ESB
Absolutely. Even if you don’t have to forget drinking FF.
|Name||Furious Friar||Rocket Man|
|Style||Belgian IPA||Interstellar(?) ESB|
|Potential as rocket fuel||Decent||Ironically, none|
|Availability||Most LRSs/some LDB|
|Cost||~$6-9+ per 650ml|
|Similar Beers||Fernie Snowblind||Red Racer India Red, Driftwood Naughty Hildegaard|
The latest release from Granville Island Brewing’s Small Batch series is a barrel-aged Pale Ale, fermented with Brettanomyces yeast. This beer represents GIB’s first attempt at a Brett beer, and the very limited distribution of this puppy is more due to their reluctance to run Brett through the bottler than any real limitations in batch size.
Enough about the background, though. Is it any damned good? I normally like to beat around the bushes on reviews before lowering the boom, but let’s jump straight to it there. This beer is bloody awful.
It’s a total mess. The nose is lemon zest with a hint of pepper. The taste is firm, but not overwhelming Brett with a good sugar/caramel backbone, and the finish is a long, lingering dryness with complex barrel tannins. Colour? Try a light pale ale that looks like it’s been aged in used red wine barrels long enough to pick up some of the red.
Only an imbecilic bearded beer geek could come up with a shite recipe like this. Someone so out of touch with the common craft beer community that they feel that whatever beer they like will be good enough for everyone. In short, only a colossal ego-maniac with a sense of self-worth completely out of touch with reality could have devised this disgrace to Pilsner. Heck, they probably put their name right in the title.
What’s that? This beer is “Granville Island X Barley Mowat Lost in the Barrels”? Huh… that would have been useful information about three paragraphs ago. Well, damn. In that case, this beer is actually brilliant. A home run. Better than water.
All joking aside, though, this is a pretty decent ale. The tasting notes above are basically bang on, just sub-out “total mess” with “interesting and complex.” It’s a lighter version of the more popular Brett Ales you see around town, and I just love it to bits. I want to name it George and make it my very own.
Am I perfectly happy with it? Not by a long stretch. In the end, I felt it wound up a bit too sweet and picked up a bit too much of the barrelling, and the Brett could be a touch stronger (not a lot; just a little). All this would be solved by a shorter, more vigorous Brett fermentation, so if this is a hit perhaps GIB Brewmaster Vern Lambourne can try that for round two.
However, as the guy who brewed it* I’m too invested in it to give a fair review. I will pick up on faults that only Vern and I can perceive, and I will laud praise upon it like a new mother talking about how smart their crotch fruit is, because their child started walking earlier than 55% of other infants. In summary, there is simply no way that this review will be worth reading, but that doesn’t mean I won’t write it anyways.
* Please note that Vern actually brewed this beer. I lifted malt, sweated, and turned the odd dial (half of which Vern discretely turned back after I’d wandered away to screw up something else).
Pours deep auburn with thick, quickly dissipating white head
Lemon, pepper, some other Brett funk
Good mouthfeel. Sweet start and a dry finish from the Brett. Brett character develops well over multiple sips. Long, lingering dry finish.
6.3% ABV / 30 IBU / Brett Pale Ale
Yes. High sales means Vern can play around with Brett again. We want that.
|Name||Lost in the Barrels|
|Style||Brett Pale Ale|
|Percent of mash that was actually labels and string from grain bags||0.01%|
|Cost||I have no idea|
|Similar Beers||Commons Flemish Kiss|
Shame. It comes at you in waves. First, you try and deflect it or deny it. Then you get angry. Why did this happen to me? Who hates me so much? What did I do to them?
Eventually, though, the pain ebbs and the reality sinks in. You fucked up. Again. East beats West, and now all we can do is reconstruct the pieces and ask ourselves Why? Why did Chuck let this happen? Again?
Well, there’s no easy answer to that. I put three very good beers on the table, but Jer put three ever-so-slightly better beers on the same table. What’s important, though, is that we drank the beers, on a patio, by the ocean.
Here’s the blow by blow.
|East Beer||Grimm Ales Bees in the Trappe|
|West Beer||Logsdon Peche ‘n Brett 2014|
|Chuck Says||I voted for the Logsdon. It was a beer displaying perfect delicate balance between sour and sweet, like a refreshing summer’s day. The Grimm was a very good beer, but in the end I felt the intriguing Belgian-meets-Mead approach to be, well, not perfect.|
|East Beer||Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break|
|West Beer||Lighthouse Belgian Black 2013|
|Decision||4-2 vote for Evil Twin|
|Chuck Says||I had hoped that the pirate beer from Lighthouse would be pouring perfectly, as it has been recently, boy was it. Beautiful malt accentuated by a lovely Belgian yeast and esters. Complex, beautiful, and graceful like a sailboat in full flight.
Then I had a sip of the Imperial Biscotti Break and realized that I’d brought a freaking sailboat to a drag race. Evil Twin makes some great Imperial Stouts, and this is one of them. Gimicky ingredients aside, the heavily roasted malt balanced out the syrupy sweetness perfectly.
The Black was just behind Biscotti in mind, but then committed the double fault of inheriting its awesomeness from malt and yeast, whereas the Biscotti was a purely awesome display of malt prowess. I voted for ET.
|East Beer||Other Half Green Diamonds|
|West Beer||Central City IPA|
|Decision||4-2 vote for Other Half|
|Chuck Says||Contention! I strongly disagreed with the crowd vote here. To me, the Other Half was a B-level DIPA. While I did love the strong Aussie hops, they weren’t integrated into the beer well, and the very thin mouthfeel made the relatively modest 8.6% ABV seem like a much harsher >10%. B-level is still a pretty good beer, but it’s not coast-winning
The CC IPA was pouring as good as it ever has, and it did just win a blind three-IPA tasting that afternoon against Fat Tug and Four Winds IPA. Democracy is a sham.
There ya have it. The East Coast takes the trophy back to their Brooklyn river-front loft for a second straight year. Oh well, I didn’t have a spot on my wall for it anyways.