New England and Some Beers

We went to visit a dear friend in New Hampshire for New Years. I definitely had some serious beers while there, because I have long been spoiled by southern California weather, and if I hadn’t resorted to beer jackets, I would have been like,

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We arrived early evening on December 31, and headed over to the Thirsty Moose Taphouse in Portsmouth. They had a gigantic beer list, so things were off to a good start. I opened with the Dogfish Head 61, after being warned that “IPA’s are not the same here.” I have always loved Dogfish Head beers though, so this was an easy decision. The beer was smooth, a little sweet, and hoppy, but not arrogantly so (even though I do love a good arrogant-tasting West Coast IPA). There was a smell of maple, which became more apparent when the beer got warmer. This beer did not disappoint.

Next was an IPA by Smuttynose (Portsmouth, New Hampshire). It tasted more like pale ale, with typical IPA coloring. It had some citrus and tart tones, and was notably un-floral. It’s on the mild side for me, being used to West Coast IPA’s. It smells pinier/bushier than it tastes. Though my review for this IPA is somewhat lukewarm, Smuttynose does make a bunch of other really good beers.

Beer number three was the Green Flash Soul Style IPA, because I had two New England beers in a row and wanted to switch it up. Plus, I hadn’t yet tasted this particular gem from Green Flash. This was hoppy and typical of Green Flash, with a floral and fresh feel. It had a thick head for an IPA, and almost had a buttery scent. Smooth and lovely.

After beer number 3, I lost interest in taking notes, and after beer 4, I took a shot of whiskey.

I thought I’d taken pictures of all these lovely beers, but I guess not. I may have been distracted by the crazy bitch that came to our table trying to hit on me and steel beers from our table that night. New Years Eve is the best because of good times with friends… and watching the crazies in all their glory.

Beers at Wine Bars

We recently met up with some friends in San Clemente and hit up a couple of wine bars. I tried a flight of wine tasters at San Clemente Wine Bar, They were all great, but after that, I moved onto beers. First up was the Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red IPA (See picture above). It was hoppy, nutty, smooth, flora, and light. It had the scent of apples, but did not have a strong IPA smell to it. A fresh, solid IPA. Beer Advocate considers it “Outstanding.”

We then moved on to The Cellar, another wine bar (which has a fantastic weekend brunch with live music, by the way). There, I had the No Name IPA. It was nutty, with mild hoppiness (mild by San Diego standards). It was on the lighter side of what we’re used to on the West Coast. It had a thin head, and a bit of a metallic smell. In reading its Beer Advocate page, the lack of characteristic hoppiness is explained by the fact that Cody, the brewery, is located in Massachusetts. East Coast IPA’s tend not to be quite as hoppy.  This is going to sound awful, but occasionally, it had the scent of wet dog. To be fair, I asked everyone else at the table to confirm, and they did not perceive this wet dog scent, so maybe I’m just a loony toon.

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A Few Notable Beers over the Holidays

From the Stone Stochasticity Project – Master of Disguise. I caught sight of someone drinking it at a Christmas party and had to try some myself. This is a blond stout, and it’s the first I’d ever heard of one or tried one. It was smooth and nutty. The color was deceiving, as it was sort of a golden color, yet lacked the hoppiness or assertiveness that is typical from Stone. The name sort of speaks for itself: it tastes like a stout, but is blond in color (that’s a glass of it to the left, barely visible in the picture below). It’s a full and rich flavored beer.

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Voodoo Doughnut Pretzel, Raspberry, and Chocolate ale by Rogue is an American brown ale. My dear friend brought a bottle of this over for my birthday, and I did not drink it until about a week later (had to clear my palate from all the beers I did consume on my birthday). Beer Advocate gives this a 79, which is just “ok.” I rather liked it, though it’s a little bit on the sweet side for me. Then again, that’s to be expected from the raspberry and chocolate. I didn’t taste the pretzel at all. It’s a little bit thin, but overall, its flavors make it a nice cozy beer to share during the holiday season.

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Affligem Tripel. Nothing new about this one. I’ve had it many times, but it’d been a while. It’s a Belgia tripel with notes of orange and spices. It has a floral quality and an ABV of 9%, though the flavors hide it. It’s full-bodied, with a nutty edge.

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Lost Abbey’s Red Barn Ale. Also not new, but it was another lovely bottle brought to us (by my brother-in-law) for my birthday. This is a floral, light, Saison/Farmhouse style beer. According to the Lost Abbey website, this beer is lightly spiced with ginger, orange peels, black pepper, and grains of paradise. It’s a golden/orangish color. I tasted slight notes of apple.

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