Monday, 28 July 2014

4 Brew Tasters - "All-Star" Line-up

Hey all, I went back to visit my good friends at the Hop and Vine Neighbourhood Pub in Burnaby, and just needed to try something good. They've always got something I like, and something I've never tried. This time around, I decided to try 4 new tasters with a good friend of mine.

The brews will be reviewed from Left to Right (as pictured below).

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Oro De Calabaza (8% ABV)
New Belgium - Spring Blonde Ale (6% ABV)
Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA (6.6% ABV)
Phillips Bottle Rocket ISA (5% ABV)
@ Hop and Vine Neighbourhood Pub, Burnaby BC
Photo: Andrea

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Oro De Calabaza (8% ABV)
The first one I tried was the Oro De Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin. Before ordering it, I'd never even heard of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales. Well, there's a good reason why. They're based out of Michigan, which is more than just a stone's throw away.

The smell is initially sort of sour, with little or no hops detected. I guess that's the best way to describe it, as there are definitely some tart fruit notes. I think I definitely pick up apples, sour cherries, and perhaps something citrus-y. Either way, this is something I never would have expected. It smells delicious!

On first sip, the first thing I noted before the taste was how light-bodied this brew is. The fact that it's 8% is masked so well by the flavouring. It stands out as a fruity ale to me, as there is so much packed punch in this beer, it's impossible to resist it. With every sip, the flavours become a little different and a little stronger, in a good way.

Overall, this brew is phenomenal. I had no idea a name like Jolly Pumpkin could carry such magnitude. Thank you guys, and if this is what the norm is for you guys, I can't wait to try more of your brews!

The Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Oro De Calabaza gets a taste-bud-ovation 9.0 / 10

New Belgium - Spring Blonde Ale (6% ABV)
Next on the list is a name I've heard again and again in the craft beer world. Everyone is going nuts over Fat Tire from New Belgium (which is actually quite delicious), but then you get the brand-loyal people (just think of any over-indulgent Apple worshipper). So I'm here to set the record straight. Did New Belgium really pull it off again this time?

This is a bit funny because I had to check the markings on the taster platter just to see what was what. The Spring Blonde Ale is almost the same colour as the Oro De Calabaza. But, onto the nose of the beer, notes of citrus and a standard blonde ale smell. Nothing too special yet.

On first sip, this brew puts up a small front of initial tartness, but continues with a smooth and delicious follow-through, topped off with a crisp finish. I think they've done it again. Albeit I do like their Fat Tire much better as it's a more heavier-bodied ale (two completely different brews). The blonde ale is actually quite good here.

If you're not a fan of darker beers, and you just got off work, pick up a pack of this and relax on the patio.

The New Belgium - Spring Blonde Ale gets a maybe-blondes-do-have-more-fun 8.5 / 10

Sierra Nevada - Ruthless Rye India Pale Ale (6.6% ABV)
Out comes the Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA. Everything I've had from Sierra Nevada before has been quite good, so I had some solid expectations for this brew. Think it followed through?

The smell of this IPA brought me back to the reason why I love IPA brews so much. You know that Team America theme song (from the movie)? That's pretty much what was going through my head. I smelled earthiness and orange peel, with a hint of pine. I'm guessing the earthy smell was from the rye.

The initial taste reveals what the nose detected. However, I didn't get an overload of anything. I'm used to being steam-rolled with flavour in most IPA brews. Although it caught me by surprise, the lack of smack, I quite enjoyed it. The flavour notes were present, and the lingering after-taste was quite pleasant.

If you're a fan of craft beer, and want to get into a good IPA that won't scar you for life, this one's for you.

The Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye India Pale Ale gets a big-bark-without-the-bite 8.0 / 10

Phillips Brewing - Bottle Rocket India Session Ale (5% ABV)
Now, a turn from one of my favourite BC breweries. If you don't know what an India Session Ale is, you would have been in the same boat as me. In a nutshell, an ISA is essentially the "light" version of the IPA. It is supposed to still be flavourful, but with less of a punch. I'm not sure if this is a new trend, but I'm going to give it a go anyway.

The smell of this brew holds some citrus, and some pine, with a little bit of hops. It doesn't smell like it'll do any damage to me whatsoever.

On first sip, the notes of citrus and pine come across more, mildly flavoured with some bitterness of hops. It's a great mix of flavours, and a new style of brew to savour, that's for sure. There's not a lot to say about this brew. I've described the smell, the general taste (similar to the smell), and it's just a good, easy-drinking beer with real flavour to it.

If you want to step out of your econo-lager comfort zone, this is probably the way to go. I give this bonus points for being that transition beer that we can finally get all of our "Vitamin-P" drinking friends into.

I think the folks at Phillips Brewing did an excellent job hitting the target of the ISA. Whether I like it or not determines my score, though.

The Phillips Brewing - Bottle Rocket India Session Ale gets a we-could-drink-this-all-night 8.0 / 10

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