Showing posts with label Sierra Nevada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sierra Nevada. Show all posts

Thursday, February 23, 2023

CorkBillyBeers #13. Craft, with Red/black IPA, via Blacks Kinsale, 9 White Deer, Sierra Nevada.

CorkBillyBeers #13

Craft, with Red/Black IPA, via Blacks Kinsale, 9 White Deer, Sierra Nevada.


The Darker Side Of IPA

Blacks Red Eye Redemption IPA, 5.5% ABV, 440ml can Bradleys

“We’ve peppered a rich amber base with rye and saddled it with hefty amounts of Chinook and Topaz hops to round it up.” That’s the short intro by Blacks of Kinsale to their Red Eye Redemption IPA.

Colour is red, as you might have guessed. And there’s an off white head that hangs about for a bit, not too long, mind you. Aromas are quite strong, fruity and resinous, a promise of what’s to come. And thanks to those generous amounts of hops, what ensues is a muscular hop experience, yet the malted barley and the rye combine well to keep it all in balance even if the finish is tilted towards the hop lovers.

Blacks urge you to Gallop off into the sunset with this double dry hopped Red Rye IPA combining fantastic Chinook and Topaz hops with Amber malts and Rye for a berry pine balance with the caramel base. 

And I’d endorse that and make this a Very Highly Recommended beer. Good to see that the recent Stratasbeer – “hopped to the high heavens” with fresh Galaxy and Strata hops - has been suitably followed up. I know most of you don’t need a shot of redemption but why let the sinners have all the fun!

Very Highly Recommended.


9 White Deer Black Lightning IPA, 6.5%, 500 ml bottle

On a visit to Ballyvourney.

This stronger IPA pours dark, like a stout, and even the tanned head looks stout-like. I got a big head here but I did rev it up during the pour! After all, that is quite the motor bike on the label!

There’s a roasty toasty edge to the aromatics. And that edge continues onwards to wake up any sleepy taste buds. Now the fully engaged palate can appreciate the posse of hops here. They say: “This Black IPA is triple hopped with huge hop volumes of all the American hops expected of the style.” 

So hops galore as the malt plays a background role. The IBU is a high 52. But for all that, there is quite a balance and the brewery gives credit for that to the fact that they adjusted the (soft) water profile “to make the hops seem more rounded rather than sharp and harsh which can easily happen when using so much hops”.

“Black Lightning is hopped from the mash to the fermentor. We use Willamette, Chinook, Cascade, Summit and Centennial hops in very large volumes, about 100% more than a regular beer, but we don’t make it too bitter. It is an intensely hoppy and powerful beer. Like the legendary motorbike Vincent Black Lightning 1952 (the one on the label), this beer needs to be handled with care.”

The brewery 9 White Deer is nestled in the heart of West Cork making the highest quality Irish beers. “We have a range of uniquely crafted beers; our renowned pale ale, a beautiful Irish red ale, an award winning black IPA, the best stout you’ve ever tasted, our balanced IPA and seasonals… Everything we do is 100% gluten free.”

A cracking beer, well balanced. Our recent feature on the Ballyvourney brewery may be read here

Very Highly Recommended.


Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA, 6.8% ABV, 355ml can Bradleys

Once we pick fresh hops, the clock starts ticking. Each year, we visit the Pacific Northwest to hand-select the best Cascade and Centennial hops, race the harvest home, and brew immediately to capture citrus, pine, and floral notes at their absolute peak — aromas and flavors for the perfect winter beer. It’s a magical time at the brewery — has been for 40 years now! — when our brewers huddle around the fermentation tanks, toasting the start of a special season with a holiday beer in hand. Wrapped in red, consider Celebration IPA a true Christmas IPA, your first present of the holidays.”

So, in the early days of February, am I too late to the magic hop party? I wonder, as I pull the tab on this Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop IPA.  It is a red colour - this much I am expecting - with a slightly off white head. All in all, a little lighter in colour than the 9 White Deer IPA. Aromas are that little bit spicy, hints of resin and yes it does, the hops that is, indeed still seem fresh.

And so it continues on the palate. Bit by bit though the bitterness of the hops take over and any semblance of balance fades away, even a few months after the harvest and the maturation,  it is still a big win for the out and out hops lover. Like all fads, it will please the faddists. 

According to author, Mark Dredge (Beer: A Tasting Course),  “there are few better red-coloured IPAs in the world. ….. The hops are tangy, grapefruit, herbal, and floral and overall reminiscent of Campari’s bittersweet balance.” Not too sure about the Campari comparison as that is perhaps my favourite aperitif!

In the Beer Bible, author Jeff Alworth says these beers “taste their best just days after they’re kegged, while that living essence is still at its freshest. By Thanksgiving they’re gone. Fresh hops beers are the ultimate harvest beers, to be savoured in the moment of ripeness, not hoarded and saved.”  

Must be a very special beer indeed if you can get it at its freshest! If I get to the West Coast in August or September, I’d be easily tempted to give this “delight to the hopheads of the world” a go, especially since I began to get more into this one during the last few sips!

Geek Bits

Malts: Caramelised malts, Two-row Pale

Hops: Cascade, Centennial, Chinook

Yeast: Ale Yeast

IBU: 65


Thursday, January 7, 2021

A Quart of Ale± #28 Moving on over to craft. With A Variety of IPAs

A Quart of Ale± #28

Moving on over to craft. 

With A Variety of IPAs

Kinsale Black IPA 5%, 500ml bottle via O’Donovan’s Mayfield 

A hybrid beer, according to the Kinsale brewery, giving us the best of the IPA and Stout styles where West Coast US meets South Coast Cork. 

And that about sums it, this dark beer, another with a short-lived head (coffee coloured). Hints of the coffee and cocoa to come in the aromas. But the big ambush comes with the palate experience, the light touches from the IPA side, the dark deep stuff plus the creamy mouthfeel from the stout side, complex fruity elements holding their own as the coffee and chocolate notes push forward. Somehow there is a harmony right through the dry and very satisfactory finish. This has been spot-on since day one (2016), and a favourite here since first tasted.

They say: This bad boy is a beer lover’s dream come true. We have taken the amazing hoppiness of our IPAs, tuned it to perfection, and fused it together with the roasted malt backbone of a stout to create a hybrid beer that represents the best of both styles. Expect citrus, pine and berry notes to be suddenly ambushed by flavours of coffee, cocoa and liquorice. Pair with Blue cheese, Chocolate brownie. Hops used are Centennial, Citra and Vic Secret. The IBU number is 60.

Sierra Nevada “Northern Hemisphere” Harvest Wet Hop IPA 6.7%, 12 fl ozs bottle via Bradley’s

They promise hops and they deliver with a punch in a dark amber robe, an off white head quickly sinking to a lacy disc. And there are bubbles galore rising. Quite complex in the mouth, earthy and fruity and then a long and bitter finish. 

Quite a concentrated shakehands (it is 6.7% abv) from this Nevadan, one to remember. It took me a few sips to get comfortable with it but soon we were hanging like long-time buddies.

Easy enough to promise hops if your source is the Yakima Valley (Washington state) as it, according to Wikipedia, produces 77% of all hops grown in the United States. Sierra Nevada get theirs shipped to the brewery within 24 hours to “capture hop aroma and flavour when they’re most profound”.

They say: Northern Hemisphere drops you into a hop field, the beer’s profound flavor like strolling under the lush canopy. This year, we picked Centennial hops at their peak, rushing the harvest into our brew kettles the very same day to make a wet hop IPA loaded with notes of citrus blossom, rose, and pine.

Malts: Two-row Pale, Caramelized malts

Hops: Wet Centennial

Yeast: ale yeast

IBU: 67

Whiplash “Northern Light” Micro IPA 2.8%, 440 can via Bradley’s

Hazy mid-gold is the colour of this Whiplash IPA and yet another short-lived head. It may well be micro in terms of abv but nothing shy about the hops, both in the aromas and on the palate. There’s a full-on blast of the more exotic fruits thanks to the generous input of Vic Secret and Mosaic hops. Big on flavour, low on alcohol, an excellent beer and ideal for a session.

The introduction of  ‘Micro IPA’ was “one of our proudest moments of 2018”, according to the brewery. And we punters  lucky to have it. “When we dropped Northern Lights at Hop City last April we thought we’d be crucified for bringing a knife to a gun fight of 10%+ IPA’s. Instead, people came to us and said this stuff is rocking, fun, and accommodating of the sesh. We thought so too. So much was the fun of drinking our 2.8% hop bomb over those weeks that we decided, fuck it, let’s keep this beer on year round. That July we rolled out Northern Lights as a year round offering and man it’s fun to have around.”

So successful has it been that they’ve “built a brewery around being able to deliver this consistently and year round. Still packing a base of German Vienna, Wheat, Oats and a touch of super light Caramalt - this short arsed banger is tasting the best it ever has thanks to all the silly kit we’ve put in to make it sing.” 

Metalman Fracture Rye IPA 6.5%, 330ml can via Ardkeen QFS

Colour is a light amber, millions of micro-bubbles rising in the cloud. Aromas are slightly sour, perhaps that kveik yeast having its say. Fruity and lively on the palate, a tang of spice as well, and then a dry finish (almost Campari like). Probably the most impressive of the Metalman beers in recent weeks (the American style Pale Ale and the Equinox Wheat Lager were the others).

They say: brewed with a Norwegian farmhouse yeast called kveik, this rye is full of soft fruit notes, combined with the spiciness of rye and complemented by Azacca and Citra hops. Ah sure go on then! It’s not pasteurised or finely filtered, so store in the fridge if possible (but not for long).

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A Quart of Ale± #9 Moving on over to craft. American Pale Ale.

A Quart of Ale± #9
Moving on over to craft.
American Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale 5% abv, 12 fl. oz. bottle, Bradleys of Cork
The Pale Ale that sparked the American craft beer revolution in 1980!

You may be familiar with the Brewdog book: “Craft Beer for the People”. They talk a fair bit about how people come to craft beer and have a feature on what they call “Gateway Beer”. And the one they highlight is this very Sierra Nevada Pale, the gateway par excellence, “not only a gateway but a true pioneer”. “First brewed in November 1980, it has inspired countless brewers… (not least ourselves). A stone-cold classic…”. Classic because it has the 3 ‘A’s: accessibility, approachability and availability.

It’s got a mid-amber colour. A big white head that soon sinks to a lacy cover. Aromas are quite intense, fruity, cut through with pine notes. And you find all that too in the bold flavours but it’s a bit more complex than that. Lots of flavour for sure but the whole-cone Cascade hops bring much more to the party, “introducing a generation to the glory of hops”. But the beer is so well balanced that it seems nobody was turned off and the craft scene got up and running accompanied by an anthem of citrus and pine notes. And, 40 years later, we all march on! If you haven’t tried it, then you should!

Galway Bay “Althea” Pale Ale 4.8%, 330ml can, Bradley’s of Cork

Galway Bay’s Althea, is named after the head brewer’s favourite Grateful Dead song. You’ll have no problem catching this widely available beer which is a straight take on a modern American Pale Ale. 

You get quite a large white head on pouring but not for long! The nose, with its bunch of tropical fruit aromas, is quite hoppy, very pleasantly so.  And so it continues on the palate, rich fruits from the hops and barely a peep from the malts. 

Galway Bay are one of the Irish breweries that suggest food pairings and here the tips are: chicken, lamb, and other light meats. 

Bitterness, by the way, is measured at 48 IBUs. And that number confirms the dominance of hops and the downplaying of the malt, fairly typical of the modern American Pale Ale style, but there are many variations as there are in all beer styles. Nothing stands still as innovative brewers keep your taste buds on full alert.

Malts: Golden Promise, Vienna, Melanoidin
Hops: Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe

The White Hag “Ninth Wave” New World Pale 5.4%, 330ml can, Bradley’s of Cork

This New World Pale Ale is named after the (mythical) Ninth Wave that formed a formidable barrier for anyone wishing to cross over to New York and Boston. 

Hard to believe that the IBU here is 15 IBU, a lager like reading, while that of the Althea is 48! Pity I started this quartet with the Galway Bay and finished it with this one. Must taste the two together sometime! Sierra Nevada, by the way, is 38 IBU.

Colour is a clouded amber, topped with a short-lived white head. Aromatics are mild also, apricot, mango and citrus, all from the hops, in there. 

Quite a greeting on the palate though, creamy feel and insistently fruity (citrus to the fore) from the American hops, but all is kept in check as this balanced effort makes its way towards a very satisfactory finalé indeed.  Lively, flavourful and very drinkable. Another for that second glass, or should that be can, designation!

They say: “We are a modern independent craft brewery from Sligo, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. We brew innovative and groundbreaking beers, inspired by ancient and classic styles.” 
They brew a good lot of them! The able and masterly brewers here ensure a lot of them are good.

Western Herd “Siege” Pale Ale 5.1%, 440ml can, Bradley’s of Cork

Two of the same three hops feature in this County Clare beer and again they make the running. Cascade, Citra and Amarillo are in the mix, along with water from their own farm.

Colour is touching amber, again a big head, deflating rapidly. You notice the hops straight away in the aromas, fruity and bitter, a touch of citrus also. Flavours too feature the hops though perhaps the malt gets more of a look-in here compared to the earlier beers. Still there’s no hiding the bitterness from the Cascade hops though I get the impression (after one of each) that the Siege has more character.

Good name too isn’t it? They say: “Anywhere else, Siege is a battle cry but around here, it’s a call to dance. This modern version of the classic American pale ale has distinctive hoppy aromas of grapefruit and orange, perfectly balanced with the distinctive spiciness and bitterness of the Cascade hops.”

Western Herd suggest the following food pairings: Sharp cheese, Thai Curry and Steak (not all together, now!)

White Gypsy “Woodcock” American Pale Ale 5.8%, 500ml bottle, Bradley’s of Cork.

Colour here is amber. Head is off white and inclined to hang on for a bit more than the earlier beers. Hops and malt in the aromas, the hops not as dominant as in the Althea. Fruity and refreshing with the hops and malt in excellent balance, each contributing to the pleasant journey through to the dry finish. 

Hops used are Citra and Mosaic, both American, yet this beer has more character than many American ales, both east coast and west. That probably goes down to the malts and, indeed, the Marris Otter Malt is “world renowned for its deep rich flavour.”

The superb harmony of the Woodcock is a pleasure to enjoy and the ace Tipp beer would be difficult to top in any company.

The Gypsy invites you to follow your fortune to this independent Irish craft brewer in Tipperary and the ale is named after a local legend: “The Woodcock Carden”.

Did you know that White Gypsy make a food pairing range of beers in 75cl bottles. Well worth checking out, more info here.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Ulster Black Sparkles in Irish-Belgian Beer Session #5

Ulster Black Sparkles in Irish-Belgian Beer Session

Brehon Ulster Black Oatmeal Stout, 5.0%, 500ml bottle

This stout is black (you knew that!), black as a wet sod of turf on a rainy day in the bog, and the fleeting head is coffee coloured. Aromas also from the dark side: coffee and dark chocolate. And that theme continues on the palate. But it is not exactly like other oatmeal stouts, not over-richly smooth. There is a balance, a harmony that lifts this stout about the normal. All before a lip-smacking finish. Try it out for yourself! Best served around 8 to 10 degrees.

The brewers say it is “Ideal with game or strong red meat, smoked meats and hearty stews, desserts with chocolate, caramel or dark fruits.” I reckon they’ve tried them all! Me, I’d say it goes best with another one.

“Our small brewery is housed on the farm, just a short distance from the old homestead.We are set amongst the rolling drumlins of County Monaghan, just a few miles from the birthplace of Patrick Kavanagh, the inspiration for our India Pale Ale –  Stony Grey IPA.
Our aim is to create distinct beers that are brewed with care and affection.  Our brewer has created a range of well balanced and flavoursome ales that reflect the changing face of the beer market in Ireland.”

Chouffe Cherry Beer, 8%, 330ml bottle

Dark cherry is the (not unexpected) colour. Cherries all the way, really, even though there seems to be something sweetish in the aromas (Port is mentioned). And the aroma characters follow through on the palate, cherries again, and hints of sweet and sour. Nicely rounded and soft, it is rather nice and balanced, enough acidity there to do the trick. 

They say: “delights the gourmands among us” and recommend pairing with tomatoes, red peppers, red cabbage and fennel, oysters too, duck breast and stewed game dishes and in addition almond, raspberries, cherries and strawberries.

Very different indeed, an amazing beer, and I must try it with Bushy’s Strawberries next time! Or Skeaghanore Duck Breast. Not the kind of beer you’ll be drinking all night.

Always enjoy visiting the Chouffe website - they enjoy a laugh. Check it out yourself at

Huyghe Delirium Argentum IPA, 7.0%, 330ml bottle

Amber’s the colour here with quite a large white head that does linger. Spice and citrus on the nose. Full of flavour, soft citrus the main element, complex though yet pleasantly fresh with a long hoppy finish. Combining softness and character, this Hopped Amber IPA is yet another superb beer this evening.

Brewing beer is a centuries-old tradition at the site of the Appelhoek in Melle. The earliest evidence of brewing comes from 1654. In 1904 Léon Huyghe started working at the local brewery.
They say: ”Delirium tremens" was brewed for the first time on December 26, 1988. The brewing team produced this blond beer (Alc. 8.5% Vol) at the insistence of Italy. The uniqueness of Delirium is in addition to its 3 different yeasts, its very original packaging that reminds you of Cologne pottery. The label portrays the different phases of the delirium in an original way. 

It was amazingly popular, the pink elephant was born and a series of Delirium began and this Argentum in its silver wrap, is one, a very good indeed.
Today, Alain De Laet, the fourth Huyghe generation, stirs the brew kettles. The little elephant that was born in 1989 has grown into an international icon.
Sierra Nevada “Hazy Little Thing” IPA 4.6%, 355ml can

Not to sure how this American got in but we enjoyed having it.

It has a cloudy, lemonade colour. Hoppy aromas. Hoppy on the palate too with citrus fruits. Easy drinking “session edition”, tropical and citrus fruits, pretty flawless really and a very welcome addition to the category. It’s the little sister to the normal Hazy Little Thing (6.7). This version is slightly lighter but not less intense.

They say: The low alcohol content and heavy-handed hopping in this unfiltered session IPA required some brewing finesse to achieve a pleasant balance. Never one to back down from a challenge, we were able to coax just the right amount of body from the malt to support the bold American hops. Hazy in appearance and golden in color, this easy-drinking ale is loaded with piney citrus notes, quenching your thirst without sacrificing flavor.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

A Quartet of International IPAs. Including a couple of crushables!

A Quartet of International IPAs

Odell (Colorada) “Good Behaviour” Crushable IPA 4%, 355mls can Bradley’s

Light gold colour, good mix of hop and fruit flavours. Very pleasant beer. Crushable, you may know (I had to look it up), is beer aficionado’s argot, meaning an easygoing, super-drinkable beer.

Odell say: “Both sessional and bursting with flavour. Good Behaviour is built like an IPA with bright hop flavours and tropical fruit, yet balanced with a light body, slight haze, and crisp finish that’s truly crushable!”

Unusually, the calories (110) are boldly printed on the label. 
“Unlike many low-cal beers and hard seltzers, Good Behavior was brewed without extracts or artificial sweeteners. All of the tropical fruit and peach flavors come from specialized brewing techniques with a blend of nine hop varieties, including Odell’s current favorite experimental, HBC 586.”

Sierra Nevada (California) Tropical Torpedo IPA 6.0%, 355ml can Bradley’s.

A little darker in colour than the Odell and also slightly more hoppy but there is a lovely twist of the tropical fruit in the aroma and on the palate. Virtually no indication while drinking that this Nevada is some fifty per cent stronger than the Odell.

They say: “Inspired by the island life, we created an IPA completely disconnected from the mainland. We used our one-of-a-kind Hop Torpedo to deliver an intense rush of hop flavor and the lush aromas of mango, papaya, and passionfruit with every sip.”

Garage Beer  (Barcelona) “Ocata” IPA 5.4%, 440ml can Bradley’s

In a distinctive black can, this Session IPA, made with Mosaic and Palisade hops, is easy drinking and juicy with hops asserting themselves in the finish. Another well-balanced beer from the quartet. Colour’s close to the Nevada but cloudy. Add this to your crushable list!

Garage Beer Co is the “hottest micro brewery to come out of Spain” and is based in central Barcelona. Founded in 2015, after a successful crowd-funding campaign, they are already making waves  in the craft beer community via their collaborations with established breweries such as Cloudwater. By the way, if you find yourself in the Catalan capital, be sure and check out their downtown brewpub.

Samuel Smith (Yorkshire) India Ale 5%, 550ml bottle Bradley’s

If the Garage Beer Company is the new kid on the block, Samuel Smith, established 1758, is the old reliable.
This ale comes in amber, darker than the other three. And it’s hops all the way in the aromas. And rich fruity hops too in the mouth. By the way, the malt is not found wanting either. Reckon a couple of these would have made life in Lahore or Lucknow or Secunderabad tolerable for a hot hour or two. Not bad either for those of us in Cocoonabad these days.
The label on the bottle is based on Samuel Smith’s Victorian letterhead when the brewery was a contractor to Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s forces.
They say: “Brewed with well water (the original well at the Old Brewery, sunk in 1758, is still in use, with the hard well water being drawn from 85 feet underground); best malted barley and a generous amount of choicest aroma hops; fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ to create an exceptionally full-flavoured complex ale with an abundance of maltiness and fruity hop character.” 

* Our next beer post will take a look at a bunch of Irish IPAs.