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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wild Card Month

This month we at BOTB decided to throw caution to the wind and bring a favorite (or interesting) beer that we had not yet reviewed. Amazingly they were all IPAs or DIPAs. What a strange coincidence. We ended up with some pretty terrific beers - some new and some old favorites that somehow had slipped through the cracks of our crack team of reviewers. We'll get to the reviews in a bit. But first...


Congratulations to Auburn, NY's Prison City Pub and Brewery. Their Mass Riot IPA was named the best IPA in the country by Paste Magazine, an online culture and entertainment emag. Let me repeat that - best in the COUNTRY! It competed in a field of 247 IPAs in a blind taste test. Take a look HERE to view all of the beers in the competition. It's pretty impressive. They also took a silver medal at The Great American Beer Festival for their Belgian Pale Ale earlier this year. 
Unfortunately, it is difficult to find their beer outside of the Auburn area. Hopefully that will change soon. 
In the meantime - send us some beer!


The Beer Facts: STYLE: IPA; BREWER: Breckenridge Brewing, Littleton, CO; ABV: 6.3%; IBUs: 66; MALT: Full Pint

What the Brewer Says: "Finding the right balance of aroma, hoppiness, and fullness of flavor is a mountain worth climbing. that's what we've done with Breck IPA. Scrutiny of ingredients and experimentation with process resulted in this yin and yang - distinctively pleasant floral aroma with crisp hop flavor that's mellowed by Full Pint malt, a relatively new and unique malt variety. Drink up. Breck IPA is available all year long!"

Color: Unfiltered golden

Pour: Decent head

Aroma: Floral hoppy nose

Body: Bit beyond Medium

Taste: Hop bitterness at the front, caramel, fennel grass

Overall Impression: Just shy of "Can't Get Enough!"

Comments: "Solid malt backbone; Good mouthfeel; Not a bad beer; A really nice beer if you ask me; I'm a fan; Complex beer, more so than you would expect from a 6.3%; A decent IPA, might not be my go-to, but I wouldn't turn it down."


The Beer Facts: BREWER: Left Hand Brewing, Longmont, CO; STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 7.1%; IBU's: 75; MALT: 2-row, Rye, Wheat, Caramunich III, Acidulated, Carafoam; HOPS: Jarrylo, Cascade, Comet

What the Brewer Says: "A hoppy attitude and a mouthful of dynamic flavors give this IPA a big personality. Assertive, fruit-forward hops with aromas of orange blossom and pineapple mingle with flavors of wet pine and sweet malt with a dry finish."

Color: Unfiltered Golden

Pour: Fairly decent off-white head with nice lacing

Aroma: Yeasty, sweet

Body: A bit beyond medium

Taste: Somewhat sweet for an IPA with deep caramel/malt overtones. Some citrus  bitterness comes through

Overall Impression: I Could Drink This!

Comments: "Heavier, yeasty British taste, No grapefruit taste that I could detect; A sweety; It works; Different hops at work here, kind of earthy taste going on; I prefer a drier finish myself; A little bit of pine there, though surprisingly malty sweet."


The Beer Facts: BREWER: Empire Brewing, Syracuse, NY; STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 6.5%; IBUs: 49; HOPS: Falconer's flight, Mosaic

What the Brewer Says: "Slo Mo' is a true American IPA brewed with a blend of Falconer's Flight and Mosaic Hops to convey bright tropical citrus notes for a crisp dry finish."

Color: Unfiltered wildflower honey golden

Pour: Pretty decent head with nice lacing

Aroma: Grassy, earthy, spicy

Body: Medium

Taste: Hints of Caramel/toffee, orange peel with a pleasing spiciness

Overall Impression: Between "I Could Drink This!" and "Can't Get Enough!"

Comments: "An adequate beer, in my opinion; Solid beer; This is one of the best beers I've had of theirs; Unique; I like it; Flavor of some of their other beers, I'm just not a fan; It's just unique enough so that I like it; Seems to lack the bitterness you look for in an IPA at first, but then it comes through with a smooth aftertaste; They only seem to be bottling this, White Aphro, a Stout, an Amber and a Light, I think. But they've got a ton of beers at their brewery; My favorite is their Liv and Let Rye."


The Beer Facts: BREWER: Bear Republic Brewing Co., Sonoma County, CA; STYLE: American IPA; ABV: 7.5%; IBUs: 75; MALTS: Malted Barley, Wheat, Crystal Malt; HOPS: Columbus, Cascade.

What the Brewer Says: "This hoppy IPA is a full bodied beer brewed with malted barley, wheat, and crystal malts. The malt base is designed to highlight the unique floral qualities Columbus and Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest. Racer 5 is one of America's most medal winning IPAs. there's a trophy in every glass."

Color: Hazy golden

Pour: Somewhat better than Decent head, off-white.

Aroma: Grassy, some hints of pine

Body: Between Medium and Full

Taste: Complex, full-flavored with solid malt, hints of coffee, piney, grapefruit, solidly West Coast IPA

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough!

Comments: "This is their iconic beer; Freaking-A good beer!; Clean aroma; They've never had a reason to change this beer; I can't believe we haven't reviewed this until now; Smooth, balanced; Terrific beer; Tried and true, it's what I expect from an IPA; Generally always in my fridge; It's got that nice citrus/pine you expect with a good solid malt base; Great beer!"


The Beer Facts: BREWER: Middle Ages Brewing Company, Syracuse, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 8.10%; MALT: British Pale, Pilsner; HOPS: Citra, Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook

What the Brewer Says: "This beer has a very light body but is loaded with citrus hop flavor."

Color: Crisp Golden

Pour: Between Decent and Guinness Class off-white head - nice lacing with staying power

Aroma: Piney, citrus, herbal

Body: Between Medium and Full

Taste: Citrus, pine, with bit of banana/clove British vibe one expects from Middle Ages, but not overpowering, creating a nice blend of Brit/US IPA taste.

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough

Comments: "Nicely balanced for a double; Sneaky good, but dangerous because it's so smooth; Really hoppy with a strong British malt backbone; A nice fusion of West Coast American and British IPAs; Clean; Goes down like a session - should come with a warning label; Their ImPaled Ale is more a classic British IPA than American, this is a delicious melding of the two; I like the way Middle Ages expands their inventory of beers to include a variety of styles while staying true to their roots; Terrific beer, I'm so glad to see it bottled now."


The Beer Facts: BREWER: Ithaca Beer Company, Ithaca, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 8.5%; MALT: 2-Row, Caravienne; HOPS: Citra, Columbus, Simcoe, Centennial, Cascade, Mosaic, Amarillo

What the Brewer Says: "Piney at the nose, Creeker is by no means an ordinary double IPA. Creeker is all hops with little malt body. Enjoy the intense citrus flavor with tropical notes, floral aroma and full body mouthfeel."

Color: Unfiltered wheat

Pour: Decent white foamy head

Aroma: Floral with bit of mustiness, peppery spice and pine

Body: Fairly full-bodied

Taste: Citrus, piney resin, not much malt but hints of toffee/caramel, nice grapefruit tang, good alcohol warmth without overpowering.

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough!

Comments: "Heaven in a bottle!; An excellent beer; Well blended; What you'd expect from Ithaca Beer; Don't need a paddle with this Creeker; Can definitely tell it's a higher alcohol; Terrific aftertaste; Real nice East Coast IPA - big on the floral and citrus flavors; Orgasmic experience!"


The Beer Facts: BREWER: Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 8.8%; IBUs: 83; MALTS: Pilsner, Munich20; HOPS: Columbus, Cascade, Centennial, Mosaic, Calypso, Mandarina Bavaria; YEAST: American Ale

What the Brewer Says: "Double IPA is a style we were excited to brew - it's a further exploration beyond the Belgian styles we are known for historically. Nirvana received such a great reaction, of course we wanted to see if we could take that to another level."

Color: Hazy wheat

Pour: Big Guinness Class head, thick and white.

Aroma: Spicy, fruity with some pine resin.

Body: Full

Taste: Big, hoppy, citrus taste redolent of grapefruit and tropical fruits

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough!

Comments: "Nice beer - a real sipper; I could drink that beer, alright; Not a Belgian at all; I would not have pegged this as an Ommegang beer, totally out of character from what you would expect; You can't beat Ommegang if you're a fan of Belgian style beers, and now they've made a delicious American style IPA, good for them; This beats out Nirvana, and I love Nirvana!; Ommegang has garnered quite a reputation nationally, you go to any self-respecting craft beer store and you're bound to find Ommegang; I really like this beer!'


It was a tough call. To be honest the last four - Racer 5, Late Knight, Creeker and Great Beyond all scored unconditional "Can't Get Enough!" Racer 5 is the only straight up IPA of the four with the lowest ABV (7.5%,, not exactly session level)  so that might be a choice if you're going to have more than one.

Of the remaining three, they ranked as follows:

5. Breck IPA - Nearly scored a "Can't Get Enough!" Very good IPA.

6. Slo Mo' IPA - Some of us really liked this Empire Brewing IPA, others were underwhelmed. 

7.  Extrovert IPA - We felt this was certainly a drinkable IPA, but not one we would seek out - a bit sweeter and maltier than the others.

Next Month - American Pale Ales


The BOTB Guys

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