Review: Raging Bitch, Flying Dog

Raging Bitch
Flying Dog Brewery — Frederick, MD

  • Style:  Belgian IPA
  • Bitterness:  60 IBU
  • ABV:  8.3%
  • Malts:   Not provided
  • Hops:  Warrior, Columbus, Amarillo
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle

Description:  "Raging Bitch was brewed in commemoration of our 20th anniversary.  It quickly became one of the hottest craft brews of 2010.  And once you've let a Bitch out of its cage, there's no controlling it.  Raging Bitch became part of our regular Canis Major lineup in 2011." — Flying Dog Brewery

Random thoughts:   I had a quick taste of Raging Bitch last fall at a Beer Bloggers Conference.  I enjoyed it and wanted to re-visit it as part of my IPAs Gone Wild! series.  If you haven't already noticed, Flying Dog features some very interesting label artwork.  In March, Flying Dog sued the Michigan State Liquor Commission for banning Raging Bitch based on its provocative label. 

The tasting:  Golden orange in color (hazy) with a huge frothy off-white head that dissipated slowly, leaving lacing all over the glass.  Spicy aroma of clove, black pepper, and coriander.  The aroma reminds me of a Belgian Golden or Wit.  The flavor starts with grapefruit hops, citrus hops, and slightly sweet caramel malt.  It's followed by black pepper and clove.  The spices are more potent in aroma than they are in flavor.  A bit of alcohol is noticeable in the middle.  Raging Bitch is medium bodied, with an effervescent mouth feel.  The bitter grapefruit hops kick into high gear in the finish.  The alcohol is very well concealed!

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   This beer is an amazing combination of two styles.  In aroma, it's all Belgian.  In flavor, it leans heavily towards IPA.  I appreciate how it balances characteristics of each style in distinct way, without muddling them together.  If you like IPAs and spicy Belgian ales, give this one a try!

Have you tried Raging Bitch or any other Flying Dog beers?  What do you think of the label artwork?

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Hopworks Galactic Imperial Red Release Party

Hopworks is releasing Galactic Imperial Red Ale on June 1.  The release party will be held at Ground Kontrol in NW Portland and is open to the public. Here are the details:

Hopworks Galactic Imperial Red Release Party
Ground Kontrol
511 NW Couch St.
Portland, OR 97209
Wednesday, June 1 from 7 – 9 p.m.

$6 for a pour of Galactic and you keep the glass. $5 Galactic 12 oz. pours and $4 Lager pints

Musical entertainment provided by DJs Ben “The Doctor” Love and Matt “The Speckler” Speckenbach

Galactic Imperial Red Ale - 9.5% ABV  100+ IBU
Robust caramel malt flavors battle NW Centennial and Cascade hops for interstellar supremacy. Throw down your quarters before it’s game over.

This is the first time Galactic Imperial Red is being released in 22 oz. bottles.  I haven't tasted Galactic, but I recently profiled Rise-Up Red.  Both have similar hop profiles (Rise-Up features Magnum hops in addition Centennial and Cascade), but Galactic launches the ABV and IBU counts into a higher orbit.  So head over to Ground Kontrol, play a few games of Space Invaders, and get a taste of this beer!

Have you tried Galactic Imperial Red Ale?

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Beer Run: Summer Seasonals, Round 1

Memorial Day—the unofficial start of summer!  Although summer weather won't appear in Portland for at least another month, summer seasonal brews have arrived and will provide us with a taste of the glorious season we will soon enjoy.  I'll get a jump start on summer with these beers:

As you celebrate this holiday with family and friends, please take a moment and raise a glass for the men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country...

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Sour Beer Tasting

I've become a big fan of sour beers.  My local bottle shop recently held a sour tasting and I jumped at the chance to try some new brews.  Sour beers must be aged for a long time to develop sour and funky flavor characteristics.  The added TLC needed to make a sour beer unfortunately translates into a higher price.  But if you ask me, it's worth it...

Anyway, here's what I tasted:

  • Ichtegem's Grand Cru (Flemish Red Ale), Brouwerij Strubbe, Belgium (6.5% ABV): Garnet in color.  Aroma and flavors of green apples, sour cherries, and balsamic vinegar.  Sour, but not over the top.  It's aged in oak barrels and a mild oakiness comes through in flavor. 
  • Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée RenéBrouwerij Lindemans, Belgium (5.0% ABV):   Gueuze is a form of lambic made by blending young (1 year old)  and old ( > 2 year old) lambics into a new beer which is then re-fermented.  Thanks, but what's a lambic?  A lambic is a type of Belgian beer produced through spontaneous fermentation via exposure to bacteria and wild yeasts.   Now that we have that behind us....  Golden in color, flavor of citrus with some slight barnyard funk.  Light bodied with prickly carbonation.
  • Echt Kriekenbier (Flemish Red Brown Ale)Brouwerij Verhaeghe, Belgium (6.8% ABV):  Kriek is a another form of lambic, but with cherries.  Flavor starts with cherries, moves into a nice malty backbone, and ends with some oak and funky flavors.   It's not overly sweet and reminds me of a cider. 
  • Maracaibo Especial (Brown Ale),  Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, Dexter, MI (7.5% ABV). My first Jolly Pumpkin taste!  Brewed with real cacao, and spiced with cinnamon and sweet orange peel.  Slightly sour, this beer is all about the marriage of the flavors of the speciality ingredients.  I'd like to try this again sometime, but my palate was tuned for sour.   
  • Supplication (Brown Ale),  Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa, CA (7.0% ABV).  Aged with sour cherries in French oak pinot noir barrels, this brew is inoculated with Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus.  That's a log of bugs!  Amber in color, the sour cherry flavor is front and center, with plenty of tartness and some mild sweetness. It has slight barnyard funkiness, oak notes, and finishes dry.  Amazing!

I enjoyed each of these, but my favorites were Supplication, Ichtegem's Grand Cru, and Echt Kriekenbier.  Do you have any favorite sour beers?  

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New-ish Beer Recap for May

Here's a rundown of some of the new-ish beers I've tasted.  I say new-ish because some have been out for a while.  In the future, I hope to sample new releases on a more timely basis.  None of these were included as part of a prior review series.  Click on the URL for the full review.

Have you had any of these beers?  What are your favorite new releases? 

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Review: La Fin du Monde, Unibroue

La Fin du Monde
Unibroue — Chambly, Canada

  • Style: Belgian Tripel Golden Ale
  • Bitterness:  19 IBU
  • ABV:  9.0%
  • Malts:   Not provided
  • Hops:  Not provided
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle
  • Price: $1.99 ($11.99 six-pack equivalent) at Trader Joe's.

Description:  "La Fin du Monde was developed through 18 months of research on a unique strain of yeast originating from Europe. It is brewed in honor of the intrepid European explorers who believed they had reached the “end of the world” when they discovered North America ‘the new world’. This triple-style golden ale recreates the style of beer originally developed in the Middle Ages by trappist monks for special occasions and as such it was the first of its kind to be brewed in North America." — Unibroue

Random thoughts:   I found this at Trader Joe's as part of a Unibroue variety pack.  I thought this beer was fitting as I contemplated our impending doom on Saturday.  Fortunately, rapture has been delayed, so I can share my thoughts on this beer with you.

The tasting:  Light golden in color, hazy, with yeast and sediment floating in suspension.  Its fluffy white head dissipated slowly into a fine ring around the glass, leaving no lacing.  Aroma of pepper, coriander, clove, and yeast.  The spices introduced in the aroma all come through in flavor, along with subtle pear and a slightly sweet bready malt backbone.  La Fin du Monde is light to medium-bodied and has a slightly effervescent mouth feel.  It finishes semi-dry with spice and a touch of alcohol.   

Rating:  5 star.  Liquid Perfection!   For only the sixth time, I'm awarding my highest rating.  I've tasted and enjoyed several Belgian Golden ales, but La Fin du Monde is in a different league.  It has the perfect balance of malt and spice and its 9% ABV is amazingly masked.  At the end, I was ready for another as if I was drinking a session ale.  If the world ended on Saturday, I would have left it drinking an amazing beer.  Give La Fin du Monde a try—but don't wait until the next apocalypse...

Have you tried La Fin du Monde or any other Unibroue beers? 

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Visit to Four Peaks Brewing

Yesterday, I made a quick trip to Phoenix for work. At the end of the day, some co-workers and I went to Four Peaks Brewing in Tempe for dinner and drinks.  I'd been looking forward to visiting Four Peaks ever since I tasted Kilt Lifter Scottish Ale a few months ago.  

Whenever I visit a brewpub for the first time, I always order the sampler tray.  Four Peaks' tray was huge!  It must have occupied a quarter of the table.  Here are the 8 samples I tasted:  

1.   Arizona Peach:  Nice malt sweetness with plenty of peach flavor.  When I drink a fruit ale, I want the fruit to be front and center.  It was, yet not overly sweet.  Very nice! 
2.   Sunbru:   A crisp Kolsch-style ale.  Faint aroma and not much flavor going on.
3.   8th Street Ale:  A nicely balanced English-style Bitter with mild malt sweetness and spicy hops.
4.   Hefeweizen:   Unfiltered, full of banana and clove aromas, with a hint of citrus.  
5.   Oatmeal Stout:  Rich toasted malt flavor with a very smooth mouth feel.
6.   Kilt Lifter:  Great caramel malt flavor!  Click to see my full review.
7.   Raj IPA:  An English-style IPA with spicy and earthy hops.  I'm not familiar with the English version.  It didn't have the bitterness I expected.  If not labeled, I would have have thought it was a Pale ale.
8.   Hop Knot:  My kind of IPA!  Full of piney and grapefruit hop bitterness.

My favorites were Arizona Peach, Hop Knot, and Kilt Lifter.  They had a full menu with plenty of sandwiches, burgers, salads, and house specialties.  I ordered the seared Mahi Mahi with Israeli cous cous.  It was absolutely delicious!  

If you're visiting Phoenix, make a trip to Four Peaks.  You'll be glad you did!  Have you had any Four Peaks beers?  What are your favorites?

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Review: LTD 05, Full Sail

LTD 05
Full Sail Brewing Co. — Hood River, OR

  • Style:  Amber Lager
  • Bitterness:  28 IBU
  • ABV:  5.6%
  • Malts:   Pale, Chocolate, Caramel
  • Hops:  Czech Saaz
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle
  • Price:  $6.99 six-pack at a grocery store

Description:  "For those who love amber ales, here’s a Limited Edition Lager that is so crazy good, you might convert to lagerism. New in our LTD series, this copper colored lager is refreshingly smooth, with a hint of dark roast and a clean hoppy finish." — Full Sail Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:   I tasted Full Sail's LTD 03 last summer and wasn't a big fan.  I have heard good things about LTD 05 and I've been warming up to lagers recently.  Perhaps this will be the beer that completes my conversion to lagerism.  On a slight tangent, I just looked back at some of my first reviews from last summer.  Yikes...they were bad!  Not that they're all that great now, but they were really bad back then.  I've learned a bit more since I started.

The tasting:  Deep amber, very clear, with a white head made up of fine bubbles.  It had lots of of champagne-like effervescence floating through the glass.  Aroma of caramel malt, bready malt, earthy hops, and yeast. Flavor of caramel, biscuit, and roasted malts, which combined to give LTD 05 a mild sweetness.  Hops were spicy, but subtle.  There were also some nutty flavors in the background.  Light to medium bodied, the carbonation level was high enough to provide a prickly mouth feel.  It finished with sweet malt and a mild bitterness.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   I enjoyed LTD 05's strong malt profile, which differentiated it from the pilsners I've tasted recently.  If you want to try LTD 05, you better get moving.  It's only available though June.  I need to try Full Sail's Session lagers.  Lagerism is looking pretty good right now!

Have you tried LTD 05 or any other Full Sail lagers?

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Review: White Rascal, Avery Brewing

White Rascal
Avery Brewing Co. — Boulder, CO

  • Style:  Belgian White Ale
  • Bitterness:  10 IBU
  • ABV:  5.6%
  • Malts:   Two-row Barley, Belgian Wheat
  • Hops:  Czech Saaz
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle

Description:  "A truly authentic Belgian style wheat or 'white' ale, this Rascal is unfiltered (yup, that's yeast on the bottom) and cleverly spiced with coriander and Curacao orange peel producing a refreshingly fruity thirst quencher." — Avery Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:   I'm exploring Belgian inspired beers.  This is the first of seven that I'll be tasting.

The tasting:  Pale gold, hazy, with a white head that dissipated slowly.  Spicy aroma full of coriander, clove, and yeast.  The same spices were present in flavor, in addition to orange peel, lemon, and black pepper.  The wheat gave it a slight tartness that meshed nicely with the spices.  It had very little bitterness and only a hint of alcohol was noticeable in flavor.  White Rascal was light bodied, had medium carbonation, and a silky smooth mouth feel.  It finished dry and spicy. Very drinkable.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   I haven't tasted many beers of this style, but I liked it.   I'd liken it to a less aggressive version of a Belgian Golden Ale (in terms of alcohol and intensity of flavor).  It's light, refreshing, and a great beer for summer.  If you're new to the style, give it a try!

Have you tried White Rascal or any other Belgian White Ales?

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Review: Stumptown Tart '10, Bridgeport

Stumptown Tart 2010
BridgePort Brewing Co. — Portland, OR

  • Style:  Fruit Ale
  • Bitterness:  14 IBU
  • ABV:  7.7%
  • Malts:   Not provided
  • Hops:  Not provided
  • Specialty Ingredient:  Raspberries 
  • Sampled:  22 oz. bottle

Description:  "...a Belgian Style Framboise infused with 2,000 pounds of Oregon Red Raspberries grown at Willamette Valley Fruit Company in Salem, Ore. This year’s Stumptown Tart varies from years past as it blends an aged oak barrel and a fresh Belgian Tripel. Stumptown Tart is touted as a brew that hits the drinker upfront with fresh fruit flavor and finishes with the spicy, oak flavors of the two blended ales. Don’t be fooled by this pretty face as each bottle is 7.7% ABV (alcohol by volume) while still staying light on the tongue, making this a great summer brew." — BridgePort Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:   I'm sampling last year's incarnation of Stumptown Tart.  I doubt you can buy this anymore. I've had it in my fridge since last fall, and decided it was finally time to crack it open.  Each year, Bridgeport releases a different specialty fruit ale.  Prior editions include a wheat ale with sour pie cherries and a marion berry ale aged in pinot noir oak barrels.  Tasty!  The 2011 version, a strawberry ale, will be released on June 2.  For more details on Stumptown Tart '11, check out the details at the end of this post.

The tasting:  Reddish pink in color, hazy, with a white head that dissipated slowly.  It's a great looking beer!  Aroma of raspberry and a hint of oak.  I didn't notice malts, hops, or any Belgian spiciness.  At the beginning of the taste, the raspberry flavor was front and center.  In the middle, the tartness kicked in. It finished dry with an oaky bitterness.  It was definitely tart (as the name states), but not full-on sour.  Light bodied, with medium carbonation, it had a smooth mouth feel. I was very surprised to see this is a 7.7% ABV beer.  The alcohol isn't noticeable in aroma or flavor, so be careful—it will sneak up on you!  Very drinkable.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   Latha and I drank this together and we really enjoyed it.  I didn't detect the aromas or flavors of a Belgian Trippel, but still thought it was great.  It had a great raspberry flavor, but wasn't overly sweet.  I expect this was bottled about a year ago.  I'm sure it tastes different now than it did when it was fresh.  I'll never know for certain...  Anyway, I look forward to sampling the next incarnation of Stumptown Tart in a few weeks!

Have you tried any of BridgePort's Stumptown Tarts?  Which were your favorites?

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Fourth Generation Stumptown Tart Uses Strawberries from Willamette Valley Fruit Company

PORTLAND, Ore. – April 4, 2011 – BridgePort Brewing Company, Oregon's oldest craft brewery is releasing its fourth generation Stumptown Tart on June 2. The new brew is a Strawberry Ale infused with 2,000 pounds of Oregon strawberries from local growers at Willamette Valley Fruit Company. Brewmaster Jeff Edgerton used Czech Saaz hops, most often found in pilsner or American Lager, to allow the taste of the Willamette Valley strawberries to shine through.

“Earlier this year I was able to sit down and talk with Jeff Dunn from Willamette Valley Fruit Company,” commented Brewmaster Jeff Edgerton. “It became evident pretty quickly that using strawberries was the way to go, especially after hearing more about the varietal unique to Oregon and the Willamette Valley.”

Oregon strawberries contain a higher “brix” count, when compared to other growing regions across the world. The higher the brix reading on a strawberry indicates a higher nutrient content and, in turn, a sweeter berry. This unique quality also means that Oregon strawberries are red all the way through, adding more flavor, as opposed to water filler.

BridgePort will host a Stumptown Tart release party Thursday, June 2 at 5:30pm at the BridgePort BrewPub in the Pearl at 1313 NW Marshall St. Free and open to the public, attendees can be among the first to try free samples of the new brew while supplies last and purchase a limited-edition 22-ounce bottle of Stumptown Tart. Guests will also be given the opportunity to meet the Stumptown Tart herself, bottle model Bernie Dexter, as we celebrate another year of this tasty brew. Bernie will be at the BrewPub to sign bottles, posters, and provide festive eye candy to all in attendance.

BridgePort’s Stumptown Tart Stats:

IBU’s: 15
ABV: 7.75%
Color: Reddish-Pink
OG: 17.3
Ingredients: Barley malt, German Saaz hops and 2,000 pounds of Oregon strawberries.

Beer Run: Belgian Brews

Since I started this blog, I've only tasted a handful of Belgian beers.  That's about to change!  I pulled together this mix of Belgian style beers and will be tasting them during the upcoming weeks:

  • Hoegaarden (Witbier), Brouwerij van Hoegaarden, Hoegaarden, Belgium
  • Monk's Blood (Belgian Strong Dark Ale), 21st Amendment Brewery, San Francisco, CA
  • Silk Lady (Belgian Golden Ale), Dick's Brewing Co., Centralia, WA
  • Star Island Single (Belgian Golden Ale), Smuttynose Brewing, Portsmouth NH
  • PranQster (Belgian Golden Ale), North Coast Brewing, Fort Bragg, CA
  • True Blonde Dubbel (Belgian Golden Ale), Ska Brewing, Durango, CO
  • White Rascal (Witbier), Avery Brewing, Boulder, CO

Have you had any of these beers?  What are your favorite Belgians? 

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Review: Double Pilsner, Odell Brewing

Double Pilsner
Odell Brewing Co. — Fort Collins, CO

  • Style:  Double Pilsner
  • Bitterness:  Not provided
  • ABV: 8.1%
  • Malts:   Not provided
  • Hops:  Not provided
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle (provided by brewery)

Description:  "We feel the eyes of tradition upon us whenever we brew our Double Pilsner. But this beer is not just our tribute to the classic Bohemian pilsner – it’s our own craft interpretation of it. Refreshing and delicate yet bold and assertive, it’s clear golden color leaves nowhere for imperfections to hide but plenty of room for mystery." — Odell Brewing Co.

Random thoughts:  I’ve recently come to appreciate pilsners after many years of macro mistreatment.  Odell’s Double Pilsner provides an interesting twist on the traditional pilsner.  Formerly part of Odell’s Single Batch Series, Double Pilsner is being released as a summer seasonal in a special 4-pack.  Double Pilsner is a bit of an oxymoron.  Traditionally, pilsners are light in alcohol.  This brew weights in at a whopping 8.1% ABV!  If you’re looking for a thirst quencher for a hot summer day, be wary…

The tasting:  Pale gold in color, clear, effervescent, with a white head that dissipated slowly. Aroma of bready malts, grainy malt, grassy hops, and alcohol.  Sweet malt first comes through in flavor and is immediately followed by the taste of alcohol.  I also noticed notes of citrus and cereal malt . While hops are present in aroma, they are not as apparent in taste.  I assume the subtle noble hop flavors were masked by alcohol.  Medium bodied, with medium-high carbonation, it finishes with sweetness and warming alcohol.

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if someone gives it to me.   I’m a fan of big beers and was intrigued when I saw Double Pilsner. Imperials and Doubles can take some styles (IPAs and Stouts) to entirely new levels.  However, I don’t think “double” translates as well with pilsners because the high alcohol detracts from the drinkability of the style. Anyway, I don't care if a beer meets style guidelines—I just love trying new variations and twists on classics.  For that reason, give Double a try.  Just don't expect a traditional pilsner!

Have you tried Odell's Double Pilsner or any other amped up pilsners?

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Review: Maudite, Unibroue

Unibroue — Chambly, Canada

  • Style: Belgian Style Amber Ale
  • Bitterness:  22 IBU
  • ABV:  8.0%
  • Malts:   Not provided
  • Hops:  Not provided
  • Sampled:  12 oz. bottle
  • Price: $1.99 ($11.99 six-pack equivalent) at Trader Joe's.

Description:  "Maudite (damned) was the first strong beer to be retailed in Quebec. The word “Maudite” refers here to the Legend of “Chasse-Galerie” a tribute to the early lumberjacks of Nouvelle-France. The legend tells of eight daring woodsmen who, during winter, yearned to be home for the Holidays. They conjured up the Devil and all of them pledged their soul in return for flying them in their canoe to their village. As they sailed across the moonlit sky, one of them managed to free himself from the pledge by invoking the name of God, which caused the flying canoe to come crashing down to earth." — Unibroue

Random thoughts:   I found this at Trader Joe's as part of a Unibroue variety pack.  Unibroue is known for big Belgian-style beers.

The tasting:  Deep reddish orange in color, very hazy, with a huge white head (fine bubbles) that lasted for the entire drink. Amazing retention! Very spicy aroma with notes of  black pepper, clove, coriander, and yeast.  The same spices came through in flavor along with fruit (raisin and plum).  Beneath the fruit and spice is a solid caramel malt base which provides a touch of sweetness.  Hops are not really noticeable.  There are a lot of complex flavors in this beer!  Maudite is medium-bodied and has a smooth, creamy mouth feel.  It finishes with plenty of spice and the alcohol leaves a nice warming sensation.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!   What a great way to start this variety pack!  While this is not my "everyday" beer, I'd look for this when I'm the mood for a big Belgian-style brew.  If you can still find the variety pack at Trader Joe's, consider picking it up!

Have you tried Maudite or any other Unibroue beers? 

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