Cigar City Brewing Black Whole

Cigar City Brewing Black Whole poured up very nicely with a head that faded quickly to a minimal amount of head that stayed throughout the drink. The color is a rich brown to deep dark copper.

The aroma is rich in chocolate and a spice that can’t be placed.

The taste is dry with chocolate flavors throughout. The chocolate is not too much in that it will not overwhelm. The alcohol heat is barely detectable.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable beer. The chocolate flavors would make this good with a dessert or as an after drink beer.

Sprecher IPA2

Sprecher IPA2 poured up nicely with a good head that faded slowly. The color is a rich copper color. There are particles in suspension in the beer with some being large and some being small.

The aroma is mild for what I would’ve expected from a double IPA. There is a hint of pine in the aroma. Given the limited hops in the aroma, I wonder if the beer is old. There is no obvious date on the bottle, but there is a code which I guess the brewery could figure out.

The taste is kind of mellow. There are hops flavors throughout, but they are ill-defined.

There is a medium body to the beer. The body seems about right for what I would expect from a double IPA.

Overall, I was hoping to be more impressed with a double IPA. The ABV is 7.72%, which doesn’t put it too of outreach for drinking a couple of them with friends. I am concerned that this was just not a fresh batch as I picked it up at a local grocery store.

Left Hand Brewing’s 400 Pound Monkey

Left Hand Brewing’s 400 Pound Monkey has a small amount of haze in the deep gold to a light copper color. The head fades with a good bit of lacing left behind.

The aroma is very mellow for what was expected. Hops characteristics present nicely with slight pine flavor. No wheat is detected in the aroma, but I’m not sure how much is in the beer to contribute to the aroma.

The flavor starts out with a mild bitterness with a small amount of sweetness. The finish holds on for just a bit with a kick of more bitterness. The flavors fade fast in the mouth and leave behind a slight bitter after taste.

The mouth feel of Left Hand Brewing’s 400 Pound Monkey is heavy for what the appearance would lead you to expect.

Overall, this an enjoyable beer with a interesting mix of characteristics. The finish leaving behind a bitter after taste leans this beer to not be a session beer, but it would be great with a mix of other beers.

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA is a seasonal. It pours up with a nice head that fades slowly with nice lacing. The color is a light copper color that is very clear. The carbonation is rising up nicely in it.

The aroma is rich with rye and hops. For comparison, the rye aroma is much stronger than Terrapin’s Rye Pale Ale.

The rye presents boldly at the beginning of the taste. The rye adds a different dimension that the traditional IPA profile wouldn’t have by itself. A fan of hoppy beer is likely to enjoy this new dimension.

Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA has a medium body that compliments the flavors of the rye.

The rich flavors of this beer makes it very enjoyable, but the flavors don’t overwhelm. It would make for a good session beer with the 6.6% ABV. I will be looking forward to this seasonal coming around again.

Achel Extra

Achel ExtraThere are currently seven authentic Trappist breweries in the world (six in Belgium and one in the Netherlands). To bear the Trappist logo, the beer must be brewed within the walls or vicinity of a Trappist monastery, the monastic community determines the means of production, and any profits are primarily intended for the needs of the monastery or for social services. The smallest and most recently recognized Trappist brewery is Achel Brewery (Brouwerij der Sint-Benedictusabdij de Achelse Kluis) in Achel, Belgium. Achel currently brews five beers (Achel Blonde 5°, Achel Brune 5°, Achel Blonde 8°, Achel Brune 8°, Achel Extra (Brune), Achel Extra (Blonde). Only the Blonde 8°, Brune 8°, and Extra (Brune) are distributed beyond the abbey walls.

Achel Extra (Brune) (Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 9.5% ABV) is distributed in 750 ml bottles. It pours a dark brown, with golden-red highlights visible in light. It has a fine light brown head and exhibits excellent lacing. The aroma is a little yeasty, but as the beer warms dark roasted malt dominates the smell. When I initially poured the bottle, I detected a slightly sour roasted malt flavor, but as the beer warmed a little, the sourness diminished and the toasted malt, prune, and raisin flavors were outstanding. It was at about 60°F that the superior flavor of this beer really became apparent. Some other reviewers have noted low carbonation levels, but this bottle was fully carbonated and a world class beer.

Empty Glass LacingI took another picture of the empty glass to highlight the thick lacing that was present to the end. In addition to the Achel Extra, I also highly recommend the Achel Blonde 8° and Achel Brune 8° — they are a little harder to find than most other Trappist beers (except Westvleteren), but worth seeking out.

Bell’s Brewing’s Hopslam

Bell’s Brewing’s Hopslam poured up from a firkin so there was minimal head, but what there was came primarily from the pouring. A deep golden color almost turning to a light copper with a SRM scale reading between 8 and 10.

Hopslam’s aroma is rich hoppy mixture from the numerous hops. It is like a potpourri of hop smells.

The initial flavors are sweetness likely from the honey followed by a hoppiness that fills your mouth with citrus and floral. The finish is mixed with a little alcohol heat showing up right it the end of the all of flavors.

The flavors cause the mouth feel of this beer to be driven by the hold that the flavors have on your mouth. The sweetness and body of the honey help to give this beer a nice medium body, which compliments the favors.

I would say this a classic for the hophead to include in their annual rotation of beers. The highly limited availability of this beer here in the south makes this beer something to mark on your calendar for each late January.

New Belgium Fresh Hop india Pale Ale

New Belgium Fresh Hop india Pale Ale from the Lips of Faith Series jumps out of the bottle as it is uncapped with hops aroma being pushed out as the pressure rushes to equalize.

The appearance is very golden with orange to copper colors. The head is big at the start and fades slowly with thick lacing.

The aroma is very strong and full of citrus and grassy characteristics. A little bit of a pine aroma is present, too.

The taste is mellow compared to the aroma. There is a very even hop flavor throughout the mouth, but a pine flavor returns to provide a stronger hops finish to the beer.

Overall, this is a very good fresh hop beer. Some would appreciate a taste profile that is richer in flavors. The 7% ABV helps make the beer very drinkable.

Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale

The Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale pours up with a nice head and copper color.

The aroma is full of rich hoppy goodness. A little pine and citrus are the main aromas.

The taste is starts with a hoppy bitterness turning to a malt mixed with hops bitters.

Overall, Sierra Nevada Estate Homegrown Ale is a very tasty fresh hop organic beer with a 6.7% ABV.

Oskar Blues Brewery’s Gubna Imperial IPA

Oskar Blues Brewery’s Gubna Imperial IPA opened without any sound from carbonation, but when poured into the glass it produced a nice head that held on for a long time. The lacing is very nice, too.

The aroma is very rich in hops. There is a citrus aroma that rises up quickly to fill the air.

The taste starts with a crisp bite from the hops. There is a rush of bitterness that just fills your mouth. The finish starts to present a little hint of the malt backbone of this beer. The 10% ABV is hidden in the cyclone of hops flavor.

Overall, this is very enjoyable beer. The can makes is it easy to travel. The high ABV will or should slow you down some.

Key West Southernmost Wheat

Florida Beer Company’s Key West Southernmost Wheat pours into the glass with a haze that is very uniform unlike most wheat beers.

The aroma present with lime citrus right away from the key lime in the beer. The lime overwhelms the other aromas for the most part, but the typical phenolic characteristics are present.

The taste is surprisingly flat for what would be expected. The key lime and spices are to main taste in this beer.

This would be a very enjoyable beer during the hot summer months.