January 24, 2011

Hoptimum / Renewale

Quickly then - since my plans of long, thoughtful posts in January are clearly a pipe dream:

ReNEWale (Ninkasi) - a rare misstep by Ninkasi in their seasonal lineup, but a misstep nonetheless. Irish-style red ale, says the bottle, and it definitely starts that way with a hazy-looking amber beer and a faint mix of hop smells mixed with a few whiffs of hay. The taste is an early wash of bitter hop that rolls to more of the hay/straw flavor that I was picking up in the nose. Sort of an odd curveball to the taste pattern and one that I personally wasn't a huge fan of. It's drinkable and isn't a drainpour by any stretch, but I can't see myself making a second attempt with this beer unless I see glowing reviews elsewhere.

I seriously love that picture on the bottle.

Hoptimum (Sierra Nevada) - if you like hops, this one will float your boat. Just a large whiff of pine and citrus and everything good about double-IPAs right out of the gate. It's a good looking beer (orange/bronze with head retention) and up until halfway through the first sip, I was thinking this might be a new favorite. But the incredible sweetness and bite of the hops had a blindside punch of alcohol burn at the back end. While not entirely unpleasant, it can be jarring until you get used to it. I found that things mellowed and merged as the beer was allowed to warm up, so it might just be a different beer at cold temperatures. Regardless, while it's not quite the atom-bomb hop flavor of certain representatives of the style, Hoptimum is still easily packing more than enough to get the job done and is a recommended pickup if you see it.

Also, I hit the Cascade Barrel House on Saturday:

It's not that I was actually drinking liquid gold . . . but some of it was pretty damn close. More on that later.

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