Ninkasi Total Domination IPA

Posted in ale, ipa on January 30, 2011 by Mick

A beer Vader approves of...

Right there. LOOK! Right on the bottle it reads: “Beer is a staple of civilization”. Fuck yeah it is. Especially if I were to run a country…like Mickaragua!


Pretty brilliant people, those Oregonians. Its pretty awesome to name your brewery after the Sumerian Goddess of fermentation, Ninkasi. I mean, if not awesome, but lofty. Especially if you can stand behind it.


I first had this IPAIn Seattle,  purchased for me by my friend Jeremy. He knew I was a fan of hoppy beers, and he being a fan himself, I knew I could trust his judgment. He warned me that it wasnt the most severly potent of IPA’s at 6.7% abv, which is fine. Because as you all may or may not know, to me its MOSTLY about the flavors. I popped the cap on this one, and I could immediately get a sense that I was in IPA country. The hoppiness was direct right off the bat, and the citric “taste” I was about to throw down with, punched me in the nose. This, is always a good sign to an amazing start.


I take the first sip and immediately, I am reminded of hoppy IPAs like the Big Daddy’s and the Racer 5’s. But further milling this around my mouth takes me to a level that has the SLIGHTEST of nutiness, akin to a brown ale. Now, I will be the FIRST person to refuse a Fat Tire (review coming soon, I promise. Its just such a vile beer) because of the OVER-nut flavor of it, but I learned that in very SMALL SMALL quantities, a nutty flavor…well, aint that nutty!


This beer is quite filling too, and very enjoyable. As if the Goddess Ninkasi herself, was wrapping her matronly arms around my shoulders and hugging life and sweet sweet fermented love into me, sip by loving sip. Matter of fact, the more I drink this fine IPA, the more I feel WARM and cozy inside. Looking at my thermo, its now 48 degrees in Oakland, California. And funny enough, Im comfortable.


I decided this. This is a brewery I can get behind. I can follow these folks, and hope for the best. Because I expect the best. Perusing their website, I got a beer boner of their library. Tricerahops Double IPA, SLEIGHER Dark Double Alt Ale (used in the typeface, as in Slayer the metal band) and Maiden the Shade (using the Iron Maiden typeface).


Beer and metal? That’s is some serious sexual coupling I can get behind. Im glad a brewery like Ninkasi can not only look over mental porn for me, but the general fermentation of all good things. Speaking of good things, I expect to be seeing a few more good high scores here on WTFIMD from Ninkasi.


No pressure of course, Goddess.


My score  – 94 out of 100 glorious points.

Jarful of Goddess....

Drake’s Denogginizer Imperial IPA

Posted in ale, Imperial, ipa on January 30, 2011 by Mick

Taken by yours truly, at my desk

As you may have read in my previous review of the Black Diamond Brewery Rampage Imperial IPA, I was a bit disappointed in the lack of hoppiness and malt for what was called an Imperial, or in other words, a “double IPA”. Since I have been on a big beer kick lately (that is, beers sold in 22oz bottles) I also picked up this son of a bitch. To be quite honest, I had left this one on the fence to try because my work week needed the utmost attention. And with a beer called the Denogginizer, weighing in at a liver-bruising 9.75% abv, I needed a very lazy Sunday.


And glad I did. Sundays are usually reserved for big dinners and laying around. Which, is this IIPA’s raison d’etre.  I say big meal because when I popped the cap off of this badboy, there were like a million scents and smells that corrupted my entire olfactory system. (Speaking of “olfactory”, Drake’s distills their beer in an old factory, literally. The old Caterpillar factory in San Leandro, CA. Yuk yuk). The tastes I would get would only exaggerate my senses.


As I poured this big feller into the Sally Jar (that is, a mason jar given to me by Sally Kuchar, which I do ALL of my beer testing with), immediately I saw how dark and malty the head was. I got…EXCITED. Having an IIPA at 90 IBUs (that is, the measurement for hoppiness) its a pretty good indication that I was to get what i predicted. Strong citrus tastes, grapefruitiness, and just the perfect mount of TANG from the FOUR (count them, four) different varieties of hops used; Simcoe, Columbus, Cascade and Amarillo. What I did not predict, however, was the super malty balance to the hoppiness. I think maybe it was a bit too malty, as their use of the Crystal and Munich malts went a really long way. I expect my IPAs and IIPAs to be flavorful, but a little refreshing, but this malt-heavy brain flasher tastes like no other IIPA Ive ever had. Im not turned off in the least, its just completely different than what Im used to.


This, Black Diamond Brewery, is what an Imperial IPA is. Take notes. A flavor that punches you in the sense and jars your brain into a new world of mouth sensations.  Dare I say, it DENOGGINIZES you.


My score is 93 out of 100.


Sally Jar of Brain Fuzz



Black Diamond Brewery Rampage Imperial IPA

Posted in ale, ipa on January 29, 2011 by Mick

Dont let Dumbo fool you....

I live in an area where local beer is quite the luxury…Russian River Brewery, 21st Amendment, Speakeasy, Anchor, Rogue…you cant go wrong. After parusing WholeFoods’ olive bar* (I like to “test olives and consider them for my next social event”. This makes it ok to eat a 1/2 pound of them for free) I recently discovered that Black Diamond Brewery, out of Walnut Creek, CA makes an Imperial IPA. Well hell. I have a powerful thirst, and this badboy elephant label looks like it might be a contender for smashing said parchedness. It says Imperial. It is called RAMPAGE.  Thats fucking badass, right?

Well, if you WANT to Rampage, sure. At 9.0% abv, it can knock you silly. But damn kid, Im 36. Im refined and shit. I need some flavor. When i drink an Imperial IPA, i expect something just a little more than an IPA…like i dont know…an “Imperial” more. Rampage didnt quite do it. Ive had regular IPAs that poach this pachyderm.

Dont get me wrong, its a decent beer, if it werent for its lofty title. By definition, Imperial IPAs denote more hops and malt than an IPA. So I am not too far off in complaining here. I think if Black Diamond were to market THIS beer as its regular IPA and shoot higher for the specialty beers, they could be a contender in the local Bay Area market.

For now, i give this “Imperial IPA” 72 out of 100.

If it were an IPA, it wouldve been scored much higher. This is a perfect example of how marketing can tusk you in the ass.

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

Posted in ale, ipa on January 29, 2011 by Mick

Dont take me lightly, puny human...

Have you ever been punched in your fat face by a gargoyle with a grapefruit for a fist? Anyone? *crickets* Fine. Well I have. And it was from this beer. Stone rarely does wrong, and they rightly did no wrong with this one.


Originally brewed as their 11th anniversary ale in ’07, the SSRA was never intended to be, well, so self-righteous. But do to the success of the ale, and the public demand for MORE MORE MORE! they had no choice.

They didnt change a thing about the recipe, using the Trio of Hoppy Triumph (Chinook, Amarillo and Simcoe hops) to make a lip puckering, 90 IBU bitterly deep ale that will roundhouse your sorry ass at 8.7% abv.

And if the hops dont get you off of the first smack, the cornucopia of flavors that follow will. Im going to go out on a limb and say this…it is hands down, my jam at the moment. I am in love with a beer. Im not going to tell you the filthy things i did with this self-righteous bitch, but man. I felt like a dirty dirty man afterward.

That of course, could have been the insane buzz I got. Its like they say, something something beer, then something hangover.

My score – A sublimely 98 out of 100 self-righteous choral “Ahhhhhhhh”s

Maker’s 46

Posted in bourbon on August 31, 2010 by Mick

Ok…here we go. Let me give you an analogy that anyone could understand. I used to have an 84 VW Rabbit. It was passed down to me from my Pops, who bought it brand new in 84. It was 1991, I got my license, and i was set to take over the world. My dad, unfortunately, had a stroke, and couldnt drive stick anymore. One day, when i asked to borrow the other car (a 1986 Plymouth Reliant K Car Station wagon) he tossed me the Rabbit keys and said “If you teach yourself stick, you can HAVE it.”

HAVE it. Like, take it. Its yours. A 1984 Rabbit, in 1991 with…count them….31K miles. It was the Wolfsburg edition, which means it was as loaded as a Rabbit could be. And at the time, in my mind, it was well, just a Rabbit. Eighty-nine horsepower. TOTAL. Thats it. I knew the value of a dollar, and accepted the free car…but my teenage mind was like, “Damn…some of my friends have muscle cars…i got …this.” I had all these preconceived notions of Rabbits. Slow. Four cylinders. Tiny. Until i took it out. Once i got the hang of shifting, ill never look back or diss something i had preconceived notions about.

Enter Maker’s 46. Maker’s Mark has always been a decent go-to, but always never what i would consider top shelf. So the notion of Maker’s making a boutique bourbon was like…well, the Rabbit but being the loaded Wolfsburg Edition. Until first taste.

Jesus. H. Christ. This is NOT Maker’s Mark. This is Michters. This is Blantons. This is amazing. The depth, the caramel, the butterscotch, the body. This shit was Ice T’s wife Coco in a thong. (Google her. You wont regret it.) This is seriously one of the most complex bourbons Ive ever had. The nose, insane notes of caramels, and yes…oatmeal cookies! And at 94 proof, this taste is a PERFECT proof. The heat doesnt kill the delicate flavors, but yet adds enough for a kick. I even tasted some oak!

I picked up this bottle for $34 at Cask, and I was lucky, given that its slow rollout is making it a bit scarce. But, make no mistake, I would pick it up ASAP. Who knows how long this little bourbon is going to last. Especially with its boutique-ness.

Dont be a fool like me, and judge things based on what you think they might be.

My score – 97 out of 100

Hop in the Dark – Cascadian Dark Ale

Posted in ale, ipa, Uncategorized with tags , on July 21, 2010 by Mick

As some of you may know, I will be a married man in about two weeks. In part of that preparation, i have been dieting and almost 30 pounds later, im one hella shapely bastard. During this time, ive been avoiding some huge B’s – Big, badass burritos coupled with big, badass beers. When i hit the 30 pound mark, it was time to celebrate.

I went to my local corner beer mart (Whole Foods, believe it or not) and picked up a couple celebratory pints, (the other being Blind Pig) including Deschutes Hop in the Dark. At 200 calories per 12oz serving, i was ready.

As soon as i cracked open the bottle and poured it into my Imperial pint glass, i immediately stopped pouring. The beer was BLACK with a caramel brown head. What the what? I continue pouring, and i can say is “Stout, stout, porter, stout, porter…”

Hey, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like one….

But does it taste like one?

NO! It smells and tastes like an IPA. Imagine biting into a NY slice, expecting spicy sauce, greasy cheese and salty crust, and tasting only marshmallows. Its a little discomforting.

I like the beer ok, i just cant wrap my head around it. I get WHY its black…i get WHY it tastes like an IPA, but i dont get why the combo kinda works. Crystal and Munich malts give it the darkness, and the hops come from a blend of Centennial, Citra and of course, Cascadian hops.

Im probably new to this mish mash, but i gotta say, despite being thrown off at first, id be willing to take another plunge off the diet.

My score – 88 out of 100

Green Flash Brewery West Coast IPA

Posted in ale, ipa on July 13, 2010 by Mick one sexay IPA, gurrrrl.

So i get it, friends of mine who dont care for IPAs. They can be bitter…but listen…While i love MOST IPAs i encounter, rarely do they have a depth that makes me be like “Wow, i shall dream about you, fair maiden of the Hoppy World of Taste-ania.”

This IPA is no slouch, at over 7% abv, and i say this. If the restaurant or bar youre enjoying this in serves it, it deserves all the Yelp fivers it gets. Let me tell you why.

This beer is an ARTISAN beer. These folks went to great lengths to design an IPA using FOUR (count them, FOUR) different hops, (clocking this beer in at 95 IBU‘s) each having characteristics that genetically make a superhero of all beers. Lemme break it down for you, Holmes….Dr Mick of Beer Genetics-style.

  • Columbus Hops – Used for a good base. This is what gives it its HOPS and bitterness.
  • Centennial Hops – Adds that West coast pine and citrus notes
  • Semcoe Hops – VERY IMPORTANT – Strong grapefruit and lemon zestiness to balance that badass initial hop-on-popness. (Oooh)
  • Cascade Hops – Holy shit – those amazing florals on the nose……baby baby…put this in a bottle, cuz ill buy it for my fiancee.

I first enjoyed this IPA in its hometown of San Diego, CA at this amazing beer bar called Hamilton’s Tavern in South Park. (Ill write more about this beer mecca another time.) I had 5 or 6 different beers PRIOR to this one, and i remember this being my favorite. I enjoyed it again, and again, and about a year or two later, had it on father’s day in Oakland at Cesar with some amazing tapas and pollo asada. Man….compliments. This beer had them. Handled fruit, tang, sweet AND the hottest of Latin spices imaginable. Green Flash WCIPA trucked through it, squeezing all the flavors on the ass as it sauntered through.

At this point, i sound like a fan boy, but Green Flash can do no wrong with this IPA. To me, initially i should base IPA scores on this one. But….its way too…..damn…PERFECT. The balances, the taste, the hoppiness, the smell….i just..goddamn. Go immediately, and get this IPA. You will thank me and buy me one. I PROMISE you.

My score – 98.6 out of 100 – Because its hard to love anything so much that isnt human.

Rowan’s Creek Kentucky Bourbon

Posted in bourbon on July 13, 2010 by Mick

Try this badboy sans rocks. If you got the stones!

Sorry for the long delay. Ive been REEEAALLLY hungover since January. The truth is, im planning a wedding, and getting married in about 3 weeks. While i HAVE had imbibed in many a new bourbon/ beer/ wine/ tequila/ drink, i havent had time to update.

My apologies. If you are a regular, ill buy you a couple fingers’ worth.
Anyway, this little bourbon. Dont let the label fool you. It may look like Cletus Ray Van Hallibaster the IV (or his father/son) designed the label, but what they lack in artistic panache, they make up for in TASTE.
This is one hell of a bourbon. If this bourbon were a vidya game, id put it at an “intermediate level” as it comes raging out at just a possum hair over 100 proof. If you can manage to get past the hotness of this bird without pussing out and adding water, youll get immediate snaps on the tongue of licorice, tobacco, chocolate and a bitter that seems to taste of old coffee. But goddamn…all of these flavors together are better than your grandma’s easter ham.
And i meant that in the most obnoxious way i can muster.
If you got the stones, do this one neat for the first taste. Its hot as hell, but man…this dog WILL hunt.
My score – 92 out of 100 fiery Southern stars.

High West Rendezvous Rye

Posted in rye with tags , , on January 3, 2010 by Mick

I think we can thank Mad Men for rye having the comeback its having.  I remember for a hot minute, there were probably 4 or 5 big ryes out there that were available at some liquor stores. Now you can buy it in the grocery store. (Out of state peeps – In CA you can buy liquor in supermarkets)

My point is, with all of these “new” options, (i used new loosely, as its new to me)  it was time that BABAC (Bay Area Bourbon Aficionado’s Club) did a one-off and had a rye night.

To me, rye isnt the best thing to drink straight. Im not into the harsh bitter end you find in most ryes, and the empty middle. So we made sure we had two testings. Straight and a classic Manhattan. In both catagories, High West DESTROYED the competition. Like, when i say destroy, i mean imagine a 1-on-1 game between LeBron James and Stephen Hawking.  I know….that was harsh. But this rye wasnt.

Why? It tasted like a goddamn bourbon. Caramel? Butterscotch? Deep earthy oak notes? WTF? Are we being punked? I remember looking around for Ashton Kutcher’s goofy ass….nope. This is a RYE.

A little more research told us why. High West creates a blend of two of their ryes; a 6-year old 95% rye and a 16-year old 80% rye. With this mixture, you get the bourbon caramel and maple notes, but the sharper rye finishes youd expect. And at about 92 proof, its smooooooth.

Make no mistake, im no rye expert by any means, mainly because i said “I like this rye alot. Because it tastes like a bourbon.” Any rye drinker would slap my Bearded cheeks for saying that. But, its a start.

Im probably out of my gourd for saying this, but until i have another rye as good as this one, ill just assume THIS rye is amazing.

My score – 97 out of 100.

Victory Yakima Twilight IIPA

Posted in ale, beer, ipa on January 2, 2010 by Mick

Off the bat, i almost avoided this beer because I have a natural aversion to the word “Twilight” now. As well you can understand.

Im not a 15 year old girl that cuts.

I am, however, a 35 year old man that likes a good, heavy strong IPA. And if its Imperial, thats even better.

We were in San Diego, and we checked out one of the local beer-happy bars, Hamilton’s Tavern, as they boasted a pretty good selection of beers, and according to the locals, never really got over run with the striped shirts.

I first ordered the Victory Yakima Twilight, as i wanted my tasties to experience the stronger flavors before the 9% ABV killed off my tongue. The hoppiness, caramel smells and strong honiness really kicked in….i was just a teeny disappointed in the tail end of the taste, as it didnt quite pack the punch an IIPA should.

It was however, enjoyable enough to drink TWICE. This isnt a beer id use as a model for an IIPA, but as an IPA, its pretty goddamn good.

My score – 89 out of 100 stars.