Beer of the Week: Midnight Sun Obliteration IX Double IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Obliteration-IX_TTBDespite being spendy, I really do like to indulge in Midnight Sun beers when I can get them. They honestly make some of the more underrated beers out on the market and they aren’t always readily available. The chance to pick up a double IPA, Obliteration IX, was a nice treat, even if the 22 oz. bottle did set me back almost $13. It clocks in at 80IBU and 8% ABV. Was it worth it?

The beer pours golden orange in color with high amounts of citrus peel and tangerine on the nose combined with a slight backing floral note and hints of grain. The beer starts out strong with a huge amount of citrus peel and tangerine before morphing into a slight resin bitterness that pleasantly delivers a finish of building orange peel and orange blossom that linger nicely. The alcohol is virtually nonexistent in this beer and there is great balance between the bitter and floral, citrus and grain delivering a wonderfully hop-forward experience with this beer.

Midnight Sun Obliteration IX delivers on its promises leaving 4 paths of destruction out of 5 in its wake.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Rye IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitle8dAnother review of a NW Peaks IPA? The gods must be crazy. I had actually been waiting for this one since the guys at NW Peaks told me it was one their brew schedule. I have become a huge fan of rye beers and they had tremendous success with their Cave Rye last year, so I wanted to know what they could do with a full blown rye IPA. I don’t think it is currently available at the brewery, but it clocked in at a nice 6.5% ABV.

The beer pours orange in color with a nice white head and there is an explosion of citrus on the nose when you first smell this beer, but with deeper investigation, you will find additional notes of orange peel and orange blossom, spice and rye and grain notes. The beer starts off with juicy fresh squeezed orange and tangerine with orange blossom without being cloyingly sweet before brining mild amounts of bitterness into the picture in the form of citrus peel combined with some grain and spicy heat. The beer finishes extremely long with signifiant citrus tempered with a pleasant bite of the rye and coupled with a hint of resin and spice in a moderately bitter finish. Not quite a good as my favorite rye IPA, Reuben’s Imperial Rye IPA, this beer is extremely well balanced and very easy to drink and is outstanding in its own right.

NW Peaks Rye IPA finishes strong with a perfect 5 stone mills out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Cigar City Homefront IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

homefront-ipa-websiteWay back in 2011, Fremont Brewing, along with a brewery in NC called, ironically, Center of the Universe Brewing started making Homefront IPA as a fundraiser for a group that helps veterans returning home from war. The hook of this beer was that it is an IPA aged over Louisville Slugger baseball bats. The program has expanded and now includes 11 breweries. I was lucky enough to snag a bottle of the Cigar City version in a beer swap (wish I had the Fremont version to compare it to) and it came in a 22 oz bottle clocking in a 6% ABV.

The beer pours golden orange in color with a creamy white head. Strong notes of citrus and pine with supporting notes of resin and grain permeate the nose. The beer starts off on the palate with notes of grain and hints of floral hops before building in with an increasing bitterness with light notes of citrus peel and resin with touches opt pine needles. The finish is not a big one – a pleasant fade of bitterness with very light notes of maple syrup and a touch of sweetness with a nice lingering citrus peel note at the end. As the beer warms the citrus notes are replaced by a dry woodiness that is fine but unspectacular.

Cigar City Homefront IPA does its duty with honor, bringing in 3 star generals out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Stoup ISA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

One of the nice things about living in the Northwest is that, despite living in the land of big, hoppy beers, breweries know that there is always a place for a more session version of the IPA – something that has lower alcohol but still has a significant hop profile to keep all of the hopheads happy without killing them with a 7+% ABV beer on a warm day. Stoup Brewing started producing one early in their life, giving drinkers a nice break from the big IPAs.

From the Stoup website:

Silver medal in the Session Ales category at the 2014 Washington Beer Awards ®

ABV: 5%, IBU: 45, Lovibond: 5

A vibrantly golden brew crafted with the Northwest beer drinker in mind. Hopped to satisfy, moderately dry in the finish, and restrained in alcohol content, our India Session Ale is ideal for a long Seattle afternoon of beer consumption with friends. Or alone. Who are we to judge?

untitlasedThe beer pours pale yellow in color with light floral notes on the nose and hints of hops and citrus in the background. the beer starts off on the palate with mild grain before coming in with very light citrus and a pleasant bitterness that keeps building into the finish before fading with more grain with just a hint of citrus peel. Big flavors and nice balance from a session with nice hop bite to keel the hophead in me happy without being palate blowing.

Stoup ISA jams in with a solid set of 3 session players out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Expansion IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

One of the issues that Populuxe Brewing has is one of size. They make some excellent beers that don’t stick around too long on tap because they are being brewed in small batches on their 1.5 barrel system (which is about 50 gallons at a time). At some point, there is going to be a brewery expansion, but that is still a bit away. In the meantime, the brewers at Populuxe wandered off to Stoup Brewing to brew a beer on Stoup’s much larger system and the result was a 7%, hop-laden brew which has been dubbed Expansion IPA. It was just released this weekend and for the first time ever, I can say you don’t have to worry about running down to the brewery right away to try it – they have a pretty good supply on hand.

The beer pours slightly hazy orange in color with an off-white head. Strong notes of orange and grapefruit with light notes of orange peel and tangerine show on the nose with just the faintest hint of green hops. The beer starts off with a pleasant grain note on the palate before moving into a significant hop profile with strong orange and grapefruit flavors and a building citrus peel bitterness. The beer finishes long with a pleasant balance of slightly sweet citrus and a mild bitterness of citrus peel. Easy drinking without overly bitter, there is a nice, layered balance in this beer.

Populuxe Expansion IPA finds room to grow with a strong 4 annexes out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Reuben’s Brews Triple Hop Imperial IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitled2It is always nice when Reuben’s throws out a new IPA or a variation of one of their existing ones. There have been some fun versions of the Imperial Rye, Blimey and Imperial on cask and randalls, adding new depth of flavors to already tasty beers. A recent experiment with their Imperial IPA lead to triple hopping (and sadly I did not write down what that actually entailed), but it did produce an 80+ IBU, 8.4% ABV monster.

The beer pours golden orange in color with a creamy white head. Strong notes of citrus and citrus peel with hints of lemon and pine appear on the nose. The beer starts out with a touch of sweetness and grain before moving into a strong citrus middle with notes of orange, lemon and tangerine that linger pleasantly before the bitterness sets in with notes of orange peel. The finish is a combination of fruit and peel with hints of resin and just a touch of alcohol, which disappears after the first couple of sips. Very layered and complex with deep fruit notes and enough bitterness to round them out, yes surprisingly easy to drink.

Reuben’s Triple Hop Imperial IPA throws a strike with 4 turkeys out of 5.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Luna dIPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

For the first couple of years of their existence, NW Peaks resisted brewing IPA’s, becoming the sort of anti-Northwest Brewery. They really had no reason to – they brewed some great beers in styles that were not always common, using different ingredients. That has slowly changed and NW Peaks threw its hat into the IPA arena first with the Challenger IPA and now with the Luna dIPA – their first crack at a double IPA. In NW Peaks fashion, they couldn’t just brew any old double IPA, they went out and brewed one using all Southern Hemisphere hops.

From the NW Peaks Website:

The name. The mountain. Luna is the center mountain of the Northern Picket range, arguably the most remote and inaccessible are of the N Cascades (along with the S. Pickets). There really is no good approach; any choice involves a lengthy slog and bushwhack. For those that venture into the area, the rewards are worth it as you are surrounded by gorgeous environs with a feeling of isolation. Since Luna Peak is the center of the N. Pickets including Mt Challenger (the namesake of our IPA), it was a perfect name for the bold and big double version of the style.

The Beer. Luna IPA is a beast of an IPA coming in at 9.5% ABV with about 3 pounds of hops per barrel. Luna starts with melon and tropical notes dominating the hop aroma and flavor. This leads to a crisp, hoppy bite, but one that doesn’t overwhelm your senses. Luna fermented dry (for the style), but the malt backbone, sweetness of the fruity hops, and alcohol warming support the hops harmoniously. The resulting beer is a great interpretation of the style that features unique hops, a full flavor profile, and pleasant drinkability.

untitle8dThe beer pours deep orange in color with a nice white head. There are strong notes of grain and citrus on the nose with hints of mellon and notes of wood. The beer starts off on the palate with just a touch of grain before moving quickly int a significant profile of mellon and tropical fruit with a hint of sweetness, reminding me of eating a juicy cantaloupe. The finish brings additional flavors of pineapple and passion fruit with a tiny amount of bitterness that lingers for what seems like forever and brings just a touch of warming heat from the alcohol. The beer is incredibly well balanced and different, its complexity hides the fact that this beer is a monster and you can easily drink 2 or 3 in one sitting without feeling like you have killed you palate like with most double IPA’s.

NW Peaks Luna dIPA sends Alice to the moon with 5 Pows! Right in the kissers out of 5.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Single Hop IPA with Crystal

By Iron Chef Leftovers

untitle8dKeeping with a theme of single hop IPA’s, NW Peaks released one also recently, this one done with Crystal hops. It was a new beer for the crew down at NW Peaks and an IPA, so it was definitely on my must try list.

The beer pours hazy pale yellow in color with notes of lemon and lemon peel and touches of grain and grassy hops. The beer starts off with a strong grain profile with just a touch of sweetness before quickly moving into a mild bitterness showing hints of lemon peel. The beer finishes long with notes of lemon juice (without the acidity) and a pleasant bitterness with just a touch of astringency (surprising but not unpleasant) and hints of grassy notes giving the beer a bit of a bite. The beer drinks fine and is a nice use of Crystal hops, but it lacked a great depth of flavor that you would normally expect from an IPA and it seemed just a bit unbalanced.

NW Peaks Single Hop IPA with Crystal goes into the china shop like a bull with 2 horns out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Stoup Brewing Citra IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I am back to bouncing all over my beer notes because every once in a while, I have a beer that is on tap at a local brewery and worth seeking out. I love IPA’s and I love single hop IPA’s even more because they really showcase the hop and its flavor profile. Stoup Brewing has a Citra IPA currently on tap that comes in at a reasonable 50 IBU and 5.9% ABV. Since I really do enjoy Citra hops, this one was a must-try.

From the Stoup website:

We like to call this one Sunshine In a Glass … or Sunshine In Your Belly because it won’t stay in that glass long.  Our Citra® IPA is designed to be light and bright in both color and body.  Your first sniff will elicit images of tropical fruit and citrus thanks to a healthy dose of Citra® hops.  Enjoy a pint of this and you might just find yourself gazing skyward, pondering how in the heck sunshine made its way into your glass.

untitlasedThe beer pours hazy golden in color with tinges of orange and a creamy white head. There are significant amounts of orange and orange peel on the nose with light touches of orange juice showing through. The beer starts out with a mild orange juice sweetness coupled with touches of grain before more pronounced IPA character builds in. First, you get hints of piney resin, then burnt orange peel with a bitterness that is mild and pleasant that carries through the finish of the beer without overpowering it. There is more fresh fruit on the finish, combining with the orange peel and pine notes, causing the beer to finish nicely and tricked my mind into looking for orange pulp at the bottom of the glass. This beer is easy to drink with a nice balance and complexity, showing layered flavors and showcasing Citra hops wonderfully.

Stoup Brewing’s Citra IPA goes down to the groves and picks the best 4 oranges out of 5.

Pop Up Beer Tasting Notes

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I cracked open a couple of bottles of IPA tonight because I needed them. They were not exactly the freshest IPA’s in my collection. I will be honest, I was fully expecting to just dump these beers. This is something I wrote on facebook in my personal account:

My aged IPA experiment (ok, it was more that I forgot about the bottles) is surprisingly a success. A couple of nearly 2 year old IPA’s are surprisingly good – malty with just a touch of hops. The American Captian Munson (which is probably closer to 1 than 2), is really complex and delicious. The Seven Brides FrankenLou is nice but horribly overcarbonated. There might be hope for my DFH 120 minute IPA’s in the cellar yet!

The American Captain Munson is probably about 18 months old. It was malty with hints of hop character and as it warmed it had an amazing dried fruit (cherries, figs) finish that really made me wish I had another bottle. I like Captain Munson fresh, I really liked it aged (keep in mind the beer is being kept between 58 and 64 degrees in my basement) and think that I might actually try this again with this beer. I wish I had taken notes on this.

The Seven Brides is good, but the beer is horribly overcarbonated and I think it may have actually been infected with some Belgian yeast that went to happy town in the bottle. The beer is drinking nicely (it was bottled on 4/12/12 according to the bottle) but it has a bunch of Belgain fruity esters going on and actually is drinking like a slightly hoppy Belgian Brown. I actually have no point of comparison on this beer as it was one I bought in Portland a few years back without trying and never opened, but they are distributing now in Seattle, so I may have to pick one up.

As for the DFH reference – I have a few bottles of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA in the cellar, I believe vintage 2011 and 2012. I can never seem to find the sweet spot on this beer as it seems that when I open it, it is either too hot or has that cardboard flavor. I think I am going to take the oldest bottle and just let it go for 3 or 4 more years to see what happens with it.

Hope springs eternal.