I’ve made one trip to Madison and two trips to East Dubuque, including a stop at Family Beer and Liquor Store, since the last one of these.
I’ve also done the beer-in-the-mail thing with Liquid Solutions (http://www.liquidsolutions.biz/home/). The site has an excellent selection and very fast delivery, but shipping beer is expensive, so just know that going in.
Here’s a rundown:
Sierra Nevada Celebration: An annual American IPA from Sierra Nevada. I’m really starting to taste SN’s distinctive dry hops. I might be to the point where I could pick it out of a taste test. It adds an intensity that other IPA’s don’t have. This is for the hopheads. It’s not overwhelming, though. I wish I would’ve bought another sixer. Celebration Ale gets an A-minus on 1,762 reviews on BeerAdvocate. Sounds about right to me. A 6.80% ABV, so it’s not a knockout.
Double Bastard — Where to start? This is Arrogant Bastard Ale’s big brother. It’s the Frankenstein of American strongs. The aroma ranges from pineapple to big alcohol to maltiness and with some pine-y hops. Stone Brewing’s website says, “This malt & hop monster is not for the timid however, so beware.” It’s true. I put this in the one-a-nighter category, if you’re talking about the 22-ouncer. Some reviews mention an “oily hop” feature that my taste isn’t refined enough to pick up on. Don’t worry, I’ll try to push through. Double B gets an A-rating with 1,027 reviews on BeerAdvocate. It has a 10.5 ABV and is very, very rich.
Red Seal — It’s from North Coast, the maker of Old Rasputin. It’s an American amber with a 5.5 percent ABV. It’s not in the Anchor Steam class, as far as ambers go. The Seal gets a B-plus on BA, with the Alstrom Bros. giving it an A-plus. It’s pleasant but won’t find a regular spot in my fridge.
Three Floyd’s Robert The Bruce — A Scottish ale with 7% ABV, it’s sweeter and thinner than I thought it would be. It’s pricey in the $10 a six range (I picked it up at Benz), so that’s a consideration. It gets a B-plus on 511 reviews at BeerAdvocate. The thinness is a turnoff.
Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA — This is a mishmash of tastes, all good. It carries the requisite hop kick that you’d want and expect. Very thick and malty body. A fruity middle and alcohol bite at the end, not an overwhelming bite, though. It has a bitterness that appeals to me. BA classifies it as an American Double/Imperial IPA. That’s a slash that really, really works for me. It gets an “A” with 1,844 reviews on BA.
Boulevard’s Saison — Really enjoyed this Beligian-styled farmhouse ale. I’d almost call it a “bubbly.” Just a terrific effervesence to it. I bought this in the fall and waited into the winter to drink it. It’s more of a spring/summer seasonal with its lightness. It’s part of Boulevard’s Smokestack Series, which includes four beers. With this enjoyable start, I’ll be moving on to the next three. It gets an A-minus with 88 reviews on BA.
Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale — What a find! After liveblogging the last couple Iowa basketball games, hoops beat writer Scott Dochterman and I have stopped at the Wig and Pen in Iowa City. It was my first visit there and I was offered the beer list. I saw “nut brown” and just decided to take a shot. Since, I’ve picked up a four pack at Benz. It’s pricey ($11-ish a four), but it’s worth it. It gets an A-minus with 758 reviews on BA. It’s an English brown ale and it’s up there with the best. Nutty, hoppy, bitter, buttery, it’s a rich dessert of beers.
Obsidian Stout — This is one I picked up from Liquid Solutions. It was worth the expense. Roasted barley with sweetness and hints of alcohol, this American stout has just about everything going for it. It pours black like night, but it’s not as robust as a Russian stout. It’s not entry-level stout, but it’s one that might make you reconsider, if you’re just into hops. This is from the Deschutes Brewery in Oregon. It’s impossible to find around here, but it can be mailed to you. I’m glad I tried it, but I probably can’t afford to do that again. Obsidian gets an A-minus on 407 BA reviews.
Yeti Imperial Stout — I went on a huge Great Divide Brewing Company kick when I visited Family Beer and Liquor in East DBQ. I had to have the Imperial Stout. A black-as-night stout, it poors pitch black with an espresso coffee head. A bit chewy, it’s so thick. A little hop bitterness and molasses built in. Yeti gets an “A” on 687 BA reviews.
Hercules Double IPA — An American double/Imperial IPA, resiney, piney and citrus-y, I love this style of beer. A clean, bitter hop taste without much of the kick of the 9.1 percent ABV. It’s pretty expensive at $14 a four pack (Great Divide product), but I believe it’s worth a shot. BeerAdvocate gives it an A-minus on 806 reviews.
Hibernation Ale — Another Great Divide brew, this is classified as an “Old Ale.” I’m not sure what that means, but I really enjoyed this one. Bitter, chocolatey, earthy, this one has a little of everything. The alcohol is a strong element, but hops and sweetness come through at the end. Gets an A-minus on 530 reviews on BA. Thoroughly enjoyable.
I think that brings us up to date. I didn’t experiment much with beers in Florida. I wish I would’ve.
Gotta get on John’s mailing list, so I have a beer assignment. Also, I’ve been tipped off that they have Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot down there. Highly recommend.