Archive for the ale Category

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

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.

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.

Holiday Ales – 2009 Edition

Posted in ale, Seasonal on December 15, 2009 by Mick

Ahh yes….the Holidays.

The time of year when you eat, laugh and drink. Alot.

Usually, the holiday beers give you alot to offer. Full bodies, spice and usually a higher alcohol content. The breweries KNOW that youre going to be celebrating, and they do it to an aplomb.

To me, living in California, but an Upstate NY transplant, (518 represent!) doesnt really offer alot in the mire of what the holidays have to offer. Yeah, there is the black Friday sales, the attempt at making it look “snowy”, and more importantly, trying to completely get you in the spirit of the holidays.  The thing is, i have had the REAL Christmas holidays, ive had the snow, ive had the caroling, ive even had the cold, below zero wind-chill. But i take what i can get here….even if its Holiday Ales.

Anchor Steam is based in San Francisco, CA, and makes one hell of an ale. They are some of the best in the hoppier class, and easily found around the west-coast. Brewer Fritz Maytag takes special care in his beer, (as well as the Old Portrero line of whiskies) and you definitely taste it in his Christmas Ale.

Immediately, you open the bottle, and you are punched in the nose with a STRONG smell of pine and cloves. It smells as if 14 goth kids are smoking their ciggies outside in the cold forest. Pour the bottle, and its body is thick and black. The first taste knocked me off my feet. There arent enough numbers in the world to count the winter spices like nutmeg, pumpkin, clove, cinnamon, and even a deep chocolate in the flavor. And those are just the tastes that hit you off the mark. The 9.46%abv is pretty potent, but the beer is a heavy hitter, and you probably wont want more than one.

However, easier to drink is the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. Though not as much as smack in the nose, it still has the essential smells of a holiday ales. Pine, thyme, clove and nutmeg complement this one as well. Where it is different is the body. Its. So. Friggin. Easy. To. Drink! I found after four bottle of the 6.8% abv beer, i was wobbly, wondering where the hell did the four beers go? Dangerous? Yes. Worth it? Fuck yes.

Last in the list of tasted holiday ales is Deschutes Brewery’s Jubelale. The name is ridiculous. I cant say it. Especially if i have had a few. The beer? A bit disappointing. Being a huge fan of their Mirror Pond, Inversion and Obsidian Stout, but this beer left me empty handed. Everything about it was a bit lackluster, but as a non-holiday beer, its decent. I think i expected more out of it because of the flavors i got out of the previous two. Its pale-aley, but it lacks the spice the other two have. At 6.7%abv, its still worth a drink or two, but i would not bust this out at a party expecting Holiday “Jubilation”.

All in all, im sure there are a ton i havent tried this year, but i took the big three, and went with it. When you do enjoy these beers, make sure you do it with the ones you love, and laughter. Have a great holiday season!

My scores:

Anchor Steam Christmas Ale – 97 out of 100

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale – 96 out of 100

Deschutes Jubelale 09 – 81 of out 100

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Posted in ale, Seasonal with tags , , , on October 11, 2009 by Mick
Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, 7.0 ABV

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, 7.0 ABV

I always had a pretty basic rule: Beer should taste good e3nough on its own without adding limes, berries or…..pumpkins.

Now keep in mind, im an upstate NY transplant to California, so i miss seasons. When i watch my NY Giants destroy Bay Area football teams, i think about my parents in Gloversville, NY, watching the same game with a roaring fire and the smell of a roast wafting through the house. Outside, leaves of every color imaginable falling in the crisp air.

So when i find something that reminds me of those days and the flavors, i go with it. Hence, pumpkin ale.

I am no pro at all with these seasonals, but i know what i like. I experiment, i will try anything once. Its just the theory i have to get past.  The theory that….fuck…this is a beer, that tastes like pumpkin.

Dogfish Head makes one of my favorite beers ever, the 90 minute IPA. So naturally, when i see them making a pumpkin ale, im going to try it. Initially, when i opened the bottle, and poured it into my favorite beer jar, the smell of pumpkin, nutmeg, and autumn hit me like Brendon Jacobs on a 3rd and 2 goaline smash. The taste however, isnt as smashnose. It has an initial bite of a strong ale, with a softer spicy middle and finishes smooth with the tiniest sweetness of pumpkin. Just ENOUGH to say, “Yeah…this is punkinney.”

We had the beer with a coffee-rubbed pork shoulder i slow made, slow cooking it for about 7 hours, and THIS is why this beer was made. I decided then, that this beer, like alot of my go-to Belgian ales, is to be paired with a fall food, like the pork, or my bourbon sweet potatoes.

Either way, drink this while you can, especially if youre out of your climatic element. I really enjoy this seasonal beer, and look forward to it every Sunday when im watching football and cooking a roast. Just like at home.

My score – 91 out of 100 jack-o-lanterns.

Rogue Dead Guy Ale Growler

Posted in ale, beer with tags , , , on April 30, 2009 by Mick

64oz_deadguyAs some of you have seen, i reviewed the Double Dead Guy Ale, which was gorgeous in the packaging alone…

For whatever reason, with beer packaging, i think that bigger IS better.

The 64oz growler they put their Dead Guy in, tastes far better in this form than in draught or singe 16oz bottles. I sit here on my 4th pint, toward the end of the growler and im still enamoured by how fresh and hefty the flavor is….

I like to think of Dead Guy like this….a piece of fresh baked bread, a thick, dense heavy bread, dipped in a super tart applesauce. Ive described it like this before, and alot of people will agree.

The best part, if im not mistaken, is that i can take said growler to the Rogue Ale House in North Beach, SF, and have it refilled. True, its only about $13 at BevMo, but man…just to say you got a beer refilled at a brewery….that is some shit youll ONLY see at Rogue or Speakeasy.

This is also the first strong, hoppy ale i ever got in CA….so it holds a special place.

Show up at the Orange Gallery, and im sure youll find yourself having a pint with me.

My score, 94 out of 100 points.