Happy #IPAday once again!

Today is IPA Day, the global toast and celebration to the staggeringly popular India Pale Ale style. It’s as much a social media movement as it is a celebration of beer, the purpose of which is “to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation.”

To that end, participating is easy: drink an IPA today, and “share your photos, videos, blog posts, tasting notes, recipes and thoughts on IPA with the world. Be sure to tag your posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and other social media platforms with the #IPAday hashtag.” That’s it.

As for myself, I may be drinking this monstrosity:

Quart can of Mission Brewery IPA

Yes, that is a quart—full 32 ounces!—of Mission Brewery IPA!

Or perhaps something else, I haven’t fully decided yet. But when I do, I’ll post it online—keep an eye out on Instagram, and/or Twitter, and/or Untappd to see what I drink!

Happy IPA Day—what will you be drinking?

Nosdunk Brewing: Walla Wheat, and Stout

Nosdunk Brewing is a small-scale production brewery located, in Walla Walla, Washington, and they are just over a year old. I don’t know about their fermentation capacity, but their brew system is a 55-gallon system from Blichmann Engineering (that’s about 1.75 barrels); they don’t offer a tasting room or are open to the public, but their rotation of bottled beers (Kolsch, Wheat, Stout) can be found at select establishments in downtown Walla Walla.

Which is where I found the two bottles—in downtown Walla Walla, at Salumiere Cesario, when we were visiting in late June. I picked up two bottles each of what they had available, their Walla Wheat and the Stout.

One thing you’ll note in the pictures below is the two different bottle styles; clearly they are hand-bottling the beers, and using whatever bottles they can get a hold of. Nothing wrong with that, just an observation.

Nosdunk Walla WheatWalla Wheat: 5.2% abv:

This classic wheat beer combines 2 row malt and wheat for a balanced blast of citrus.  We added a twist and fermented this beer with a kolsch yeast strain.  Brewed with Centennial and Magnum hops.

Appearance: 22-ounce bottle that has been bottled by hand, the cap retains the telltale dimple. The beer pours honey-orange and hazy, bright around the edges. It has a finely bubbled, thick white head.

Smell: Fairly clean, wheaty character with a hint of tart, probably due to the nature of the wheat. No real esters or phenols.

Taste: Heavy, a bit under-attenuated so it has a sweet character to it which makes me think of bread dough. A little “off,” not infected, just that the technique isn’t there, I’m thinking. (Perhaps the bottle was old?) A bit vegetal—grassy, herbal greens.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a sweet/under-attenuated finish.

Overall: A little too vegetal-y, should be crisper and drier.

Untappd. BeerAdvocate (only 2 ratings). No RateBeer entry.

Nosdunk StoutStout: 4.5% abv:

Nosdunk Stout offers a tasty flavor profile that combines roasted, slightly burnt malt notes, coffee, and even a touch of chocolate. A dark colored beer nice creamy head of foam.  Brewed with Fuggle hops.

Appearance: Opaque black-brown, with a thick tan head on top, with nicely-laced legs.

Smell: Coffee and dusty, roasty malts. Hits a nice mark for “malty dry stout,” a touch of molasses and licorice.

Taste: Standard dry stout with a bit of sweetness in the malts, caramelly molasses perhaps, or perhaps even a bit of lactose. It’s decent and drinkable, nothing offensive here even if it is a bit average.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full-bodied with a dry bit of roast in the finish.

Overall: Decent dry stout, right in the middle of the pack.

Untappd. BeerAdvocate (only 2 ratings). RateBeer (0 ratings!).

Portland Brewing Oregon Honey Beer

Portland Brewing Oregon Honey BeerI received two bottles of Portland Brewing’s Oregon Honey Beer a little while back (a 12-ounce and a 22-ounce), their summer seasonal that had not been brewed for the past five years or so. At 4.8% abv it’s a nice-drinking summer ale, and though the website indicates it’s only available through the 15th of this month, I’d wager you’ll be able to find it on the shelves for a bit afterwards. And going into the dog days of August it’s worth checking out.

The brewery’s own description is pretty straightforward:

Brewed with Oregon-sourced white clover honey and Willamette hops, Oregon Honey Beer is crisp and refreshing with just a hint of sweetness.

Appearance: Clear, yellow-gold in color, with a white head that thins out quickly. The head is fizzy, not fluffy.

Smell: Sweet grain aroma with a touch of corn and sweet pale malts. Slight grassy, very clean.

Taste: Light, clean, a hint of sweet corn and a touch of grass hops (as promised by the aroma). Easy drinking, with a fizzy effervescence. The corn character has a nice presence and it presents with a lagered character.

Mouthfeel: Light and crisp, finishes a touch sweet and very clean.

Overall: This is a clean, easy drinking summer beer. Nothing flashy but nice for hot weather.

Untappd. BeerAdvocate: 66/100. RateBeer: 2.45/5, 12th overall percentile.

The Session #90: Beer Fight Club

The SessionYesterday was the first Friday of the month, which means it was time for another day of The Session, the monthly collective writing of beer bloggers centered around a suggested theme. This month’s host is Hipster Brewfus, who has suggested a topic that could easily spin into the controversial: Beer Fight Club.

Have you ever drank a beer that became a battle, more than an enjoyable experience? Maybe a beer that was far bigger than you had anticipated? Something you felt determined to drink, just so you can say you conquered that son of a bitch, and you are all that is powerful. Or perhaps it is something that is just so bad, all you want to do is slap it around a bit. Or maybe you were on the verge of passing out, but you just wanted that one last beer, and the valiant struggle between taste bud fulfillment and the velvety embrace of sleep that ensued.

You picking up what I’m putting down?

It’s time put down whatever praise you were about to dole out, and serve up a nice can of ass whupping.

If ever there was a class of beer more akin to battle than experience, it’s probably chili beers. And I actually like chili beers, but more often than not, they are just studies in abuse because the brewery didn’t know how to handle chili peppers in a beer (more likely) or because they actually thought it would be a good idea to over-heat the beer to create a liquid lava. A few get it right, and strike the right balance between malt and heat, or even better, end up with an unlikely recipe that becomes sublime. In the latter category, Portland’s Burnside Brewing gets it absolutely right with their Sweet Heat, an apricot wheat beer seasoned with Scotch Bonnet peppers.

In the former category, however, there are just too many examples of liquid pain that simply strips the enjoyment out of drinking the beer. I’ve actually avoided Stone Brewing‘s two beers, Crime and Punishment, because of reviews I’ve read indicating they are abusingly hot and I’ll just pass, thanks. That, and the high cost of those beers; I simply cannot fathom paying a large amount of money for a beer I will actively not enjoy.

There have been others over the years that hit all the wrong notes for me too. Cave Creek Chili Beer, the novelty beer with the jalapeno pepper floating in the bottle, many years ago—my first chili beer (I think someone gave it to me) that was something like putting cayenne pepper in Corona. Or Calapooia Brewing’s Chili Beer, a 22-ounce bottle of which I bought which tasted like liquid capsaicin and took me something like three hours to finish. Closer to home, 10 Barrel Brewing once did a chili version of their Sinistor Black Ale, I think it was, on their X-tap that I tried a sample of… nope! Too hot.

Look: if you can’t balance the peppers and heat into the rest of the beer, you shouldn’t be making a chili beer. And if you’re doing it simply for the heat, well, that’s just stunt brewing which is a whole different rant.

I actually like chili beers—when they’re well-made. More often than not though, they’re… not. Which is fine if you’re a masochist, I suppose. Otherwise: no.

10 Barrel issues Swill recall

10 Barrel Brewing is issuing a recall on this year’s batch of Swill, their American Radler. They just posted the full explanation on Facebook a few minutes ago:

We Are Voluntarily Recalling Swill

To our retailers and consumer friends,

10 Barrel Brewing Company is conducting a voluntary recall of Swill in all 12 and 22 ounce bottles. It has come to our attention that some of this product may be experiencing secondary fermentation in the bottle, causing over carbonation. This consistency issue does not meet 10 Barrel Brewing’s quality standards and, as a precaution, we are removing all inventory of Swill from our wholesalers and retail shelves and we are asking that consumers immediately dispose of any Swill already purchased. Swill is brewed with a completely different process than any of our other beers, isolating this issue to only Swill. This recall does not affect any of 10 Barrel Brewing’s other products.

Consumers: if you have any Swill in your home, please do not open it, attempt to transport it, or return it to your retail store. Dispose of the product by following these steps: (i) Before disposing of any bottles of Swill, please put on protective gloves and eye wear; (ii) Place all remaining Swill bottles in a closed box and place immediately in a secured dumpster or trash container outside.

We take the utmost pride in producing an extremely high quality product and continuously striving for new and innovative beers to send to the consumer. Unfortunately in this instance, despite a rigorous testing and brewing quality-check process, we didn’t hit the mark. We have an amazing new beer coming out in a few weeks to replace it so keep an eye out for something new in stores.

If you have any questions regarding this voluntary recall, please call 10 Barrel Brewing at (541) 678-5427 or send an email to swill@10barrel.com. If you have any of the potentially affected product and would like a refund, you can use the same phone number or email address.

My guess is, the lactobacillus used in the Berliner Weisse base is eating through the sugars added by the soda component of the radler. Which could definitely lead to bottle bombs if the added pressure gets high enough. I once had a homebrewed brown ale with the same type of issue, and actually saw a bottle explode—the bottom of the bottle broke and the top part rocketed up into the air a couple of feet. So don’t mess around, these bottles could potentially be damaging.