Bourbon Barrel Aged Are You Ready For Some Darkness?
There’s an old rule in journalism: If a headline ends in a question mark, the answer is always no. But we’ll go on the record that this doesn’t apply to this beer—and with an appearance black and thick as ink, we’d better be ready for some darkness, anyway. Bourbon and saddle leather are looped together in the nose by dusty twine (a probable contribution of the hemp seeds added to the brew), while pleasantly sugary nougat and vanilla round the edges off oily, peppery espresso. On the tongue, wet bourbon barrels drip atop burnt coffee bean bitterness and a middle thread of plump grapes. Certainly boozy (it’s 9.6% ABV, after all) but not hot, the stout finishes with a medley of tangy dark fruits and leather, like a well-aged tawny port.
Fort George Brewery
Astoria, Oregon (home of The Goonies!) also harbors Fort George and its excellent canned beers; this 4.5% ABV session IPA is a treasure One-Eyed Willie would covet. Brewed in collaboration with Tape Op, a creative music recording magazine, the honey-hued beer exhibits soft haze that proves its generous late-hopping, picked up in the nose as tropical sweetness flowing into toast and rye bread. A sip draws grass, melon rind and cilantro hop flavors to the fore, but toasty, crackery malts rise as well before an evenly bitter finish. The body’s exquisite, a soft silk blanket on the tongue, and there’s a ton of flavor here for the low ABV.
You’ll hear much more about Long Island-based Transmitter and its farmhouse ales in our July/August issue; until then, this review will have to tide you over. (This Belgian witbier brewed with hibiscus, orange peel and coriander certainly tided us over.) Highly carbonated, the fizz atop W3’s pink/orange body gives off juicy aromas of superripe apricot and peach; light floral tones and hints of sweet orange, dry wheat and green grass sway below. We could smell this for days. But taste it we must, and the tongue is rewarded upon first sip with something far more subtle and witlike than the aroma. A sort of grungy yeast halo cushions black pepper spiciness; flower petals build throughout the sip and linger after the swallow. Clean wheat and a finger snap of tartness close the flavor and increase anticipation for the many whiffs and sips to follow.
Carton Brewing Co.
Hailing from New Jersey, Carton’s probably best known for its 4.2% session IPA, Boat Beer, but IDIPA (say it: id-ee-pa) is bigger, badder and danker. To make the foggy, sandstone-hued IPA, brewers drop hops into the beer six times throughout the brewing process (with 60, 20 and 10 minutes left in the boil; at whirlpool; and during two dry-hop adds, for you brewing nerds), doubling the amount of hops going in with each addition. That means, essentially, that 32 times as many hops are added during the final dry-hop addition than went in at the start of the boil. The result of such back-loaded hopping is an IPA fairly low on bitterness but outrageous on aroma, blending notes of fresh-cut green peppers, garlic, dill and peppercorns in a swirl that reminds us of an Italian grandmother’s kitchen. The sip’s quite a bit more even-keeled—there’s a flash of the grassy, garlicky funk up front, but peachy sweetness and scallion-specked hops rein things in midpalate. A finishing blast of earthy, gingerlike heat replaces the expected bitter bass drop as the soft, medium-light body slinks off the palate.