Schmaltz Brewery Coney Island Lager $4.05/ 22oz. (NY)
Intense, finely crafted East Coast lager with a West Coast muscularity to it. Finishes almost dry, with a long finish well-balanced between hops and malt.
Unibroue Ephémère $5.99/ 1pt 9.4 oz. (Québec)
A gorgeous, light beer brewed with apple juice, coriander, and curacao. Perfect for Indian Summer afternoons, the fruit flavors are very well integrated; the beer is not at all sweet, but enormously refreshing.
Lagunitas "Kill Ugly Radio" $3.49/ 22 oz. (CA)
A mightily-hopped double IPA that Frank himself would approve of, if he hadn't been a teetotaler. Lighter in color and more bitter than last year's incarnation, this is Lagunitas' second beer dedicated to the inimitable genius Frank Zappa. Drink it and think of the field day he'd have eviscerating our current "administration"... I did mention that this beer, and its reviewer, are from the Left Coast, right...?
Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale $1.35/ 12 oz. (CA)
To quote the earlier post on this beer: "This beer celebrates Sierra Nevada as pioneers in the craft brew revolution. On November 15, 1980, Ken Grossman began the first-ever batch of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and the world has never been the same. The Anniversary Ale is a worthy addition to the family. It has a beautiful, bright copper color, with floral, assertively Northwestern hops (they are Cascades, in fact), smelling like a fistful of the stuff right off the vine. On the palate it is super-clean, with its hoppiness wound around delicious malt and fine carbonation. It is reminiscent of a hoppy steam beer; absolutely delicious."
Bayern Oktoberfest $1.35/ 12 oz. (Montana)
The color is dark brown, the same as cola. The nose is classically styled, “varietally-correct,” you'd call it, to borrow a wine phrase. It smells of roasted chicory, rich and malty. In the mouth, its heavy mid-palate belies a crisp, rather dry finish. A fine effort.
Heather Ales Fraoch $4.45/ 16.2 oz. (Scotland)
A delicious beer whose style predates the widespread use of hops as a bittering agent. In existence for over 2000 years, this is one of the oldest surviving ale styles. Brewed with sweet gale and flowering heather, then poured into a vat of heather flowers for an hour before fermentation, it is delicious and unique, with a rich peaty aroma, light sweetness on the tongue, and a spicy herbaceousness to the dry finish.
Full Sail Vesuvius $3.79/ 22oz. (OR)
This is one of the best American Belgians around, better than last year's version by a fair sight. The nose is dazzling and rich, ridiculously true to style, full of lavender, lilies, white peppercorn, and ruby red grapefruit zest. It has a refreshing bitterness on the tongue, with the rich mid-palate you'd expect, but a surprisingly dry finish. A truly wonderful beer.
Stone Ruination IPA $2.49/ 12 oz. or $4.79/ 22 oz.
I have to hand it to them, the boys down south have shot the lights out with this beer. The label proclaims it to be a “liquid poem to the glory of the hop,” and I certainly couldn't describe it better. But I will say that it is an avalanche of floral, citric, peppery hops that glow around a lean malt nucleus, almost preening. Probably one of the best five or six IPAs around.
Samuel Adams Imperial Pilsner $2.75/ 12 oz.
Even though Sammy Adams are a gigantic brewery, and even though they were at the very forefront of the revival of American brewing, I can't help but to get a little aw-shucks when I try this beer. I mean, bless their hearts, it's just so cute for them to make a northwest-style hop-bomb! They're trying so hard! Don't you just want to take them out to Chuck E. Cheese's as a reward? Joking aside, this is a massively-hopped beer, verging on – gasp!- too hoppy. The Hallertaus they use are not as floral as our Pacific hops, and the resultant beer is bitter almost the the point of being acrid. It does retain an unmistakably Samuel Adams malt core, and that's a good thing. A beer you must try, even if it is kinda like stumbling through a hailstorm of peppercorns with a beer in your hand (I mean that in the best possible way).
Stone 11th Anniversary Ale $5.49/ 22 oz.
Did I mention that we dig Stone? Everything they make is great, including the labels to their beers (read up). This beer is the world's darkest IPA, cola-brown and nearly opaque. The resultant head is creamy and rich, and the nose is a massive wash of hops. On the tongue it shows a creamy texture, with pleasantly bitter flavors of cherry skins and malt. One of the most refreshing dark beers around, with the potential to inspire a trend in its wake- maybe this style, dark-brown, yet ultra-hoppy and lithe, can justify the moniker San Diego-style IPA. Whatever you call it, we like it a lot.