I thought it was a more interesting, pun-filled title than, “Craft Beer Review.” It’s a pun because that’s the name of one of the beers, but it also describes my flirtation with the craft beer scene, roaming around between different ones, trying them out. I’m a novice when it comes to “knowing” about beer, so I’m certainly going to be a novice when it comes to reviewing them. But I wanted to try it out. When I was taking notes while I was drinking them the other night — yes, I took notes — the only word that tended to come to mind was “smooth.” So, beer is either smooth or not smooth. WHAT ELSE IS THERE? Anyhow, let’s do this.
I was thinking of ranking them from best to worst, but that would be too difficult to remember and differentiate how they felt on my tongue. I’ll say, none were beers I would never drink again, i.e. none were nasty or anything.
1. Small 471 Batch IPA
If you notice, it’s advertised as “double hopped.” And they ain’t lying. It’s like licking an electrical fence when taking a gulp, but that’s what I’ve come to like in a beer to some extent. I like that it explodes into your taste buds. This one brewed out in Breckenridge, Colorado was probably among my favorites I tried. I made a note, “So strong, but smooth.” See, smooth. I say strong because it has a 9.2% ALC. I’ve never seen an ALC that high before in a beer. Not even in Kentucky Bourbon. It certainly shows in this batch.
As for the art design, something I’m into with these craft beers, nothing too special to see here. Simple, but a good color combination with the orange on a brown bottle.
Bright, elegant certainly describes this beer. Another one that plays havoc on the taste buds, but in a much subtler, understated way than the 471. Much lighter, too, at 5.2% ALC, but also brewed out in Denver, Colorado. Oddly enough, they say this goes well with caramel ice cream. I can’t imagine a beer pairing well with ice cream; I didn’t try it, as I didn’t have any ice cream on hand. Nevertheless, it’s a crisp beer worth giving a shake (not literally).
The artwork (and the name) is what caught my eye at the store. Yellow is eye-catching and I instantly romanticize the notion of the nomad.
3. Dogfish Head Sixty-One
I’ve had some other types of Dogfish Head before and it’s always a beer that delivers. Admittedly, I would say this one is likely the least (maybe second least) of the seven I have here for you today. Even though I’ve really been getting into the Indian Pale Ales, this one has a “grape must.” Grape or grapefruit in beer has just not gone over too well with me in the past and it didn’t land with much success here, either. To be fair, it’s not an overpowering grape taste, so it was still an enjoyable beer.
Dogfish always has the classic fish label at the top of their beers; this one then has the grape-colorized background. A bit ugly, honestly.
4. Irish Setter Red
Come on, man, it had a dog on the cover. I was getting it. I noted that there was a bit of a cherry flavor, albeit subtle, to this one. Maybe I was mistaking it for its caramel flavoring, however. I’m a novice, remember. I’ve also not tried a whole lot of red ales to my recollection. Heh, this one is actually bottled in Akron, Ohio. Nice. On the label, you can’t see it, but below it says, “Ruari,” which is an Irish name meaning Red King. I like small details like that. Maybe they put a different named dog on each one.
5. Black Butte Porter
Again, I haven’t had a whole lot of Porters, either. But I’ve always been satisfied with them when I do. This one brewed at the Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon is an interesting one for me because it’s noted as having a chocolate flavor to it, which would normally be a no-no to me. But it works. Sure, I made a note that it was a thick, thick taste, almost like liquid sandpaper, but I enjoyed it.
Artwork is a bit pedestrian, like something you’d find in a search on Microsoft Clip Art, but it makes sense given the name of the beer.
6. White Wing
Belgians, man. Whenever I see “Belgian white” on a beer, it’s a go-to choice for me because of my bias toward them. Unfortunately, this was my least favorite of the bunch. Yes, it has “brewed with an orange peel,” but it also has coriander. And I don’t know, I like orange in my Blue Moon, but this was overpowering. Cool artwork, cool name and the lowest ALC at 4.7%, but it was a do-nothing-for-me beer. I’d probably try it again just to see if my mind changes, though. Or my taste buds, rather. It’s light on carbonation, so it was a smooth beer (take a drink), but again, too fruity.
7. Lagunitas IPA
Pronounced “lah-goo-KNEE-tuss,” this one had the highest ALC behind 471 at 6.2% and just look at it, man, it’s a bad-ass beer. I like the IPA in the middle and its lettering. Here’s what it says around the label, “Thanks for choosing to spend the next few minutes with this special homicidally hoppy ale. Savor the moment as the raging hop character engages the Imperial Qualities of Malt Foundation in mortal combat on the battlefield of your palate.” A bit dramatic, right? But that’s awesome. And true. It did set bombs off on my palate. I forgot, apparently, to make notes on this one, but it was among my favorites. No bitterness, but a strong flavor.
Another slogan on it, “Life is uncertain, don’t sip!” Indeed.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading and happy (responsible) drinking.