Ok, I've been a bit off my game recently and haven't felt especially "write-y" but I wanted to try to post something beer related here. I finally finished the last of the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp beers and finished this write-up.
On to the second half of the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp 12 pack! This is a cool collaboration series with several other noteworthy breweries from around the USA, all packaged into one box. I'm not sure if any of these are still available but if you see one--get it! I blogged about the first six bottles last week: see that HERE. I'm going to keep my descriptions a bit shorter.
1) There and Back by SN and New Glarus. I've loved New Glarus for a very long time, so I was looking forward to this particular beer. The name conjures up images of Bilbo Baggins sitting in his hobbit hole after fighting off Smaug the dragon, fondling his One Ring and having a pint. This English bitter seems to be one of the lowest alcohol beers in the pack, clocking in at only 5.6% ABV. Poured into an English style pint glass.
Aroma: Malt up front with a pleasant toasted bread character. There is a bit of herbal and minimally citrus hop in the aroma as swirled. Very subtle fruity esters.
Appearance: Slight haze (may have been my pour) with a deep golden to almost copper color. Large tight white head.
Flavor: A healthy bite of hops right off the bat--earthy and citrusy but not musty. Fades to a mellow toasty malt flavor ripe with melanoidins. Finish is dry with a slightly bitter tinge--but not astringent. Fruity notes as it warms.
Overall: Hoppier than most bitters, and more American hop character. Balance is great on this and it is very drinkable. I could drink a few of these (if I had more!) 4/5.
2) Tater Ridge by SN and the Ashville Brewers Alliance. The ABA seems to be a group dedicated to furthering beer education and knowledge, as well as organizing beer festivals and events. This beer is a Scottish ale brewed with local sweet potatoes. ABV 7% and 35 IBU.
Aroma: Very malty! There is a citrus zing to it as swirled as well as a hint of alcohol. Overall sweet aroma.
Appearance: Deep copper in color. Good clarity but not perfect. Fine off white head that fades fairly quickly.
Flavor: Malty caramel and toasty flavors are dominant in the brew. I do pick up on citrus hop flavors, but restrained. Barest smoky note at end. The finish is notable for a somewhat astringent end. My wife (who loves Scottish ales) didn't like the finish and had me drink her half. Oh well!
Overall: A very good beer. I really like mix of American hops and Scottish style, but certainly not a great BJCP example of a Scottish ale. I would drink more. 3.5/5.
3) Yvan The Great by SN and Russian River. I love Russian River. The only way we can get it in Minnesota is collaboration beers and having friends and family mule it across borders. Known for both sour beers and some of the best hoppy ales in the USA, I had high expectations for this beer!
Aroma: Very hoppy citrus (lemon and orange) up front. After the first burst of hop, I gather a complex Belgian yeast aroma with banana and other fruit esters. Hint of sulfur. Some sweet candy sugar and bit of corny pilsner malt.
Appearance: Very light golden color with excellent clarity. A fine white head with tight bubbles that fades fairly fast.
Flavor: In a word: Bright! This beer has strong orange and lemon flavors that were hinted at in the aroma. After the flash of hop, this fades to a wonderful bananas and cream flavor. Some light pilsner malt character but more sugary. The body is light and the finish is very dry. Not astringent.
Overall: Let me say up front that I dislike most excessively hoppy Belgian ales (especially with American hops). This one blew me away by having a very harmonious blend of hop and Belgian yeast character. By all rights this beer shouldn't work, but it does! 4.5/5.
4) Alt Route by SN and Victory. An Alt beer (a style fairly difficult to find in the US--a German style ale brewed at lagering temps.) ABV is 6.6% with 50 IBU.
Aroma: Some malt present with a subtle roastiness. Candy sweetness with an almost Sweet-Tart twang to it. Citrusy.
Appearance: Deep copper to nearly brown. Large tan head with large bubbles. Slight haze.
Flavor: Sweetish malt flavors at first. Sweetness quickly fades to a harsh bitterness that tastes of burning metal (ever throw tin-foil on a camp fire?) that just stays with you for several minutes. Body is medium. Balance wayyyyyyy to the bitter side.
Overall: My least favorite of the Beer Camp box. Rough and bitter with terrible astringency. Not a win for Victory... 2/5 and I dumped it.
5) Maillard's Odyssey by SN and Bells. This is a darker beer of no stated style that plays up the malty and toasty quality of carmelized grain. I tested this while brewing a barleywine so my notes are a bit spotty...
Aroma: Roasted malt with milk chocolate sweetness is dominant. Slight metallic twang. No hop aroma picked out.
Appearance: Deep black and pretty much opaque. Large dark tan head. Very persistent fine bubbles.
Flavor: Just like the aroma promised! Sweet malt and a milk chocolate and toasted bread flavor. Fades to a smooth roastiness and a more bitter dark chocolate finish that is slightly astringent but not bad. There is hop bitterness to even out the sweet but not much hop flavor (a shock for this box set!) Thick milkshake mouthfeel, but an off-dry finish.
Overall: My favorite in the box set! Amazingly complex interplay between the malt and chocolate flavors. Like an Imperial Milk Stout! 5/5.
6) Double Latte by SN and Ninkasi. I love Ninkasi and was really looking forward to this beer--in fact that is why I saved it for last! This is a 60 IBU and 7.6% ABV coffee milk stout. The hopping is all nugget, not an incredibly popular hop these days.
I liked the aroma and appearance of this beer: a huge malt and roast nose and an enormous tan head. The flavor fell a little flat for me. The gratuitous hop bitterness and astringency accentuated the bitter coffee and roast and made this very harsh instead of creamy and pleasant. Don't get me wrong I still drank it all, but not quite what I was expecting.