Beer of the Week: Midnight Sun XXX Black Double IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

If you want to consider Alaska as part of the Northwest, then Midnight Sun Brewing in Anchorage is definitely a brewery that should be considered one of the best in the Northwest. If you are like me and think that a brewery 1800 miles from Seattle is not really part of the Northwest, then you can call Midnight Sun possibly the best brewery in Alaska, a state that has a surprising amount of great breweries. My only knock on Midnight Sun is that their beer is spendy. Take the recently consumed XXX Black Double IPA, which ran about $12 for a 22 oz. bottle. Of course I had to try this beer since I don’t think I ever had a double black IPA, so price be damned, I bought it. The beer clocked in at 8.5% ABV and 87 IBU.

From the Midnight Sun website:

Originally brewed in 2009 to celebrate Specialty Imports’ 30th Anniversary, XXX Black Double IPA is now produced each winter as one of MSBC’s four “seasonal double IPAs”. XXX offers bold, American hop character — comfortably cloaked in dark, luxurious malt. This exciting “winter warmer” will take the chill right out of your bones. Curl up with this session-beer-meets-nightcap.

Although XXX pairs really well with roasted meats and vegetables, it also complements creamy desserts and cheeses, especially those that feature burnt sugar and nutty flavors.

Sometimes XXX just means 30.

XXX-art-only3The beer pours jet black with a creamy brown head. Significant roasted notes with hints of citrus and coffee in the background and a touch of boozy vanilla show on the nose. The beer starts out on the palate with a slight sweetness from the malt before quickly moving into a strong hop character with distinct notes of mango and passion fruit up front, then moving to dried citrus with just a hint of citrus peel. The finish is slightly boozy with strong notes of roasted coffee and hints of vanilla with touches of orange blossom and peel interspersed in a very long finish. Despite the boozy quality, the alcohol is balanced and there is no alcohol burn and the flavors are deep and layered, bringing this CDA to the next level. I would definitely drink this one again as a rare treat to be enjoyed in the fall and winter months in the Northwest.

Midnight Sun XXX Black Double IPA rolls down the lane with 4 turkeys out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Oakshire O’Dark:30

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Oakshire is a relative newcomer to the Northwest Beer scene, opening in 2006 in Eugene, Oregon. They have been around the Seattle market the last few years, available both on tap and in bottles at better bottle shops and supermarkets. They produce a relatively small, but solid, lineup of beers, with O’Dark:30, a CDA or black IPA, being their spring seasonal.  The beers are reasonably priced, coming in at around $6 for a 22 oz. bottle.

From the Oakshire Website:

Dawn has not arrived, but we are awake, brewing this beguiling combination of dark malt and NW hops. Dry hopped with Cascade and Centennial Hops, this beer has a powerful hop aroma and flavor tempered with a sturdy malt backbone.

Style: Cascadian Dark Ale
OG: 15.0 Plato
IBU: 70
ABV: 6.3%

bottle_template_CDAThe beer pours jet black with a creamy tan head, it really poured like a Guinness, but that is about the only similarity O’Dark has with the beer from James Gate. Light notes of roasted malt and chocolate appear on the nose with hints of citrus and fruit peel that permeates the nose but doesn’t overpower it. With the first sip, I was surprised by the amount of roast that appears up front coupled with lighter notes of chocolate that fade quickly before moving into the hop profile – slightly fruity with notes of citrus peel and very light bitterness, surprising for a beer with a high IBU and roasted malt profile. The hops linger and fade after close to a minute and the beer leaves you with a very pleasant chocolate and orange peel finish. Incredibly well balanced and layered, this beer has deep complex flavors and a big hop profile without being palate killing or overly bitter.

Oakshire O’Dark:30 clocks in with a solid 4 half-past-the-hours out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe CDA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

The nice thing about Populuxe and their ever-rotating tap list is that I can drink a beer, take a couple of months to review it and it will eventually end up back on tap. This means that, unlike some of the beers that I am taking so long to post the review of (say Pumpkin beers in March), there is a good chance that you will be able to drink this beer somewhat soon after I review it. Populuxe continued their foray into the world of hoppy beers with the release of the CDA; Cascadian Dark Ale, or as it is otherwise known, a Black IPA.

The beer pours jet black with a tan head. Lots of citrus and hop notes with a bit of roasted malt hiding on the nose. The first sip reveals some chocolate up front, yielding to delicious roasted flavors that linger for a long time before giving way to an explosion of hops and citrus peel in a very long and pleasant finish. A little bolder than the roast on most other CDA’s (which tend to be more hop forward), but very assertive and hoppy enough to please the most ardent hophead. The best part of this beer is how layered it is. It moves away from the one dimensional palate that you get from a number of CDA’s, which look like a dark beer, but taste just about like an IPA and gives you something much more interesting. The amazing part of this beer is that you still and pick out those layers when you are on your second pint.

When this beer shows up on the tap list again, get yourself down to Populuxe and have yourself a pint.

Populuxe CDA sneaks in under the cover of darkness and scores a strong 4 things that go bump in the night out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Firestone Walker Wookey Jack

By Iron Chef Leftovers

To celebrate National IPA day on August 2nd, I decided to crack a bottle of Firestone Walker Wookey Jack, combining a couple of my favorite offshoots of the IPA style – black IPA’s and Rye IPA’s. It is a big beer coming in at 60 IBU and 8.5% alcohol and is available in 22 oz. bottles and on tap in Washington. My beer was from a 22 oz. bottle.

From the Firestone website:

Wookey Jack is our first foray into the dark outer world of black IPAs. Rich dark malts and spicy rye careen into bold citrus laden hops creating a new dimension in IPA flavor. This brew has been left unfiltered and unfined to retain all of its texture and character. At 60 IBUs, Wookey Jack is gnarly on the outside yet complex and refined on the inside.

This beer pours jet black with a cream colored head – looks like a stout and you would probably guess that if you didn’t know what you were drinking. You would definitely know it when you smelled it though – lots of hops on the nose with hints of malt. The initial sip brings roasted malt on the palate with some caramel which gives way to floral and fruity notes with just a smattering of hops. The finish fades nicely into a mild bitterness.

Pleasant to drink but the rye is lost in the mix until the beer warms slightly. At about 50 degrees, the hop finish yields to a strong hit of rye a few seconds later. Reminded me of toasted pumpernickel bread as it warmed, with the addition of hops.

The beer is enjoyable but it just feels like it is trying to be too much at once. I would love to see Firestone produce a Black IPA and a Rye IPA separately just to see what the part taste like.

Firestone Walker Wookey Jack IPA gets itself 3 Kashyyyks out of 5.