Saturday, February 19, 2011

Masked Men and Masked Beer.

With a long weekend ahead, and a house devoid of my significant other, I have free reign to do what I want. And what do I want to do? Drink beer, eat meat, and watch hockey. Last night I hit up Total Wine and More and made a six pack of loose bottles of various IPAs. Being kind of a weird guy, I thought I would do a blind tasting of the single bottles.  Because I have no one to proctor the beer selection, to avoid bias with perceived quality, I have spent part of the morning taping up the bottles to obscure labels and will randomly pick bottles for consumption. I will label each 1-6 in the order that I pull them out of the fridge, and do a short review of each beer. Only once all beers have been consumed will I remove the labels to discover what beer displayed what attributes. 
As I prepare for the drop of the puck to begin an afternoon faceoff between the Thrashers and Oilers, I dig my bottle opener under the taped cap and open the first bottle of India Pale Ale .

#1 (Victory Hop Wallop) - The first sip is all bitterness. No balance with any noticeable sweetness. Grapefruit flavors on the front end, with a lemon zest back end taste. Appearance is golden orange and clear, after up front bitterness the beer mellows out a fair bit.
Thrashers lead 1-0 going into the second period, time for another brew.
#2 (Terrapin Hopsecutioner)- Appearance is a nice rich ruby red color with particulate as if unfiltered. Lighter grapefruit nose than #1. First sip is more balanced, while still bitter, sweetness rounds out the beer, making it very palatable. Flavor is straightforwardly grapefruit in nature. The drink also has a creamy mouth feel.
10 minutes into the second, the thrashers are now up 2-0, and you guessed it, time to pop another top.
#3  (Weyerbacher Hops Infusion)- Appearance of the beer  is reddish brown,  and the lacing is better than that of the previous two beverages. The nose is fairly nonexistent for I cannot really smell much more than a slight bitterness. No distinctive smells are apparent. Mouth feel is clean and crisp. A mild flavor of lemon zest brings forth slight bitterness, with a slight malty backend. It’s an okay IPA, but #2 is still more balanced and had a more robust flavor overall.  
                As I pop the 4th cap of the night, the thrashers are up 3- 1 at the beginning of the third period. As I realize that the beer has frozen, the Oilers notch up a goal on a 2 man advantage power play. Adding to the frustration of my solid state beer, the Oilers get another goal to tie the game, making my wait that much more painful.
                #4 (Bison Organic IPA )-Perhaps too soon, while the beer is still slightly overly frosty, I end my wait and begin to drink. The nose is slightly bitter, with orange and lemon zest notes. This profile continues as I sip it, malt, like last two is present, adding balance and mellowness. The mouth feel is somewhat creamy. Largely the beer is somewhat middle of the road in robustness, leaving a slightly bitter aftertaste, much like watching the Oilers pop another goal, and ultimately a fifth as well with the open net to take the win.   
                With the conclusion of the game I will give my palate a rest and prepare dinner, leaving my last two IPAs as an aperitif to my NY Strip and roasted potatoes. As I consume my dinner I feed my hockey obsession as well, and enjoy jumping from the Ducks/Blues and Leafs/Sens games.  Oh Canada, and oh direct tv.

                #5 (Victory Hop Devil )–This fifth beer is amber in color, and seems to have the most carbonation of the beers I’ve had thus far. Nose is light and reminiscent of grapefruit. The taste is crisp and refreshing, leaving my mouth dry as I swallow it down. The flavor is predominately grapefruit with a delightful apricot note on the backend.  Bitterness is on the lighter side, but present while drinking and becomes more noticeable as an after taste. It appears to be well balanced and full flavored.  Lacing on the glass is excellent. This is my favorite thus far, and ultimately my favorite of the self made sixer.
                #6 (Brooklyn Brewery IPA)– The last beer is also amber, leaning more to orange than brown. Lacing is excellent and will stay present several minutes before dissipating. The nose is faintly orangeish, as is the flavor. Bitterness is on the medium-full side of the spectrum, but just barely, leaving a light bitter aftertaste and a dry, crisp mouth-feel. 

                With each brew, with the exception of the first, which was too heavily handily bitter and sour, all are decent examples of an IPA. All were well balanced and tasty. The fifth, though, was my favorite hitting an excellent stride of hoppyness while being a very good all around beer within the context of the India Pale Ale style.

Happy Drinking –Pope Crisco

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