Review: Woodchuck Gumption Citrus Freak Hard Cider

Gumption Citrus Freak is a spin-off of Woodchuck’s standard, circus-themed Gumption cider, which here blends apples with grapefruit and Cascade hops to create a unique and surprisingly refreshing combination.

The grapefruit is an impressive pairing with the crisp apple notes — this is a semi-sweet cider, a real crowd pleaser when it comes to sweetness — but it’s the addition of hops on the back end that turn this into something different and unique. The bitterness is subtle, earthy, and intriguing, clearly hoppy but not bracing in the way, say, an IPA might be. This cleanses the sweetness from the palate without washing it away entirely — letting the slight sourness of the grapefruit linger. Well done, despite the crazed monkey on the label.

5.5% abv.

A- / $9 per six-pack / woodchuck.com

Review: Firestone Walker Adversus

Firestone Walker’s latest release in its “Leo v. Ursus Chronology” is Adversus, a big, unfiltered IPA made with lighter European-style pilsner malt.

The malt surprisingly comes through right away despite the fact that Firestone was “hopping the bejesus out of this beer.” On the front of the palate that caramel sweetness hits first, lingering with notes of orange blossoms until, after a few seconds, the hops kick in. The piney bitterness doesn’t dominate though; it fades in short order as notes of flamed orange peel and gingerbread come back into focus.

8.2% abv.

B+ / $13 per four-pack of 16 oz. cans / firestonebeer.com

Review: Starr Hill Summer 2017 Releases – Resinate, Festie, Sublime, The Hook, Warehouse Pils, Grateful, and The Love

Starr Hill’s (late) summer beers are now in full effect — today we look at a full seven varieties, including four appearing in a mixed case of cans for the first time. Let’s take a spin!

Starr Hill Resinate Imperial Red IPA – If “resin” is the operative term here, Starr Hill sure got this one right. Sticky, almost syrupy, this beer offers a maple, raisin-soaked attack before hitting you with a slug of bitterness — chewy, almost chocolaty, resin with a whiff of pine needles behind it. A hearty beer that will fit better come cooler weather. 7.7% abv. B

Starr Hill Festie Oktoberfest Lager – A classic German-style amber lager, fairly heavy on the carbonation with notes of dates, nuts, and a mash-up of baking spices. Warming and toasty, it’s by and large a hit for a beer of this style, though the malt feels a bit overdone on the finish. 4.8% abv. B+

Starr Hill Sublime Citrus Wit – If you like your wheat beers nice and orangey, Citrus Wit is for you. Lots of coriander back up a healthy dosing of citrus peel, giving it an intensely spicy, almost middle Eastern feel. Whether it lives up to its name is up to you. 4.7% abv. B

These four were all reviewed from cans (though they’re also available in bottles).

Starr Hill The Hook Grapefruit Session IPA – Not my favorite session IPA, this is a weak entry into an increasingly crowded field that comes off as watery and only hinting at any fruit, let alone grapefruit. Rather bready, with an herbal edge, the characteristic pine resin and citrus are decidedly lacking. Not there yet. 4.9% abv. C+

Starr Hill Warehouse Pils – A classic German pilsner, this burly lager goes beyond the typically barley-led basics and offers overtones of roasted meats, coriander, and green vegetables. A nicely dry finish helps even things out a bit. 5.5% abv. B-

Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale – “Remastered” for 2017 with a new recipe to modernize the beer with a revamped hop bill and more malt. Good decisions all around: The new version of the beer bursts with hops without being overwhelming, with lemony citrus, gentle caramel, a dusting of spice, and some amaro notes all adding complexity. 4.7% abv. A-

Starr Hill The Love Wheat Beer – A moderately bodied hefeweizen, this isn’t the most distinguished of wheat beers, very heavy on the grain, with a subtext of apples and a significant amount of coriander. Fine, but “love” might be too strong a term. 5.1% abv. B-

each about $15 per 12-pack / starrhill.com

Review: Monday Night Brewing Serrano Eye Patch Ale

We haven’t heard much from Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing in a few years, but at last the company is out with a new release: Serrano Eye Patch Ale, and IPA brewed with serrano peppers.

The brew is actually a reissue of a beer that went off the market in 2015, and the company is finally bringing it back after fans clamored for it. How its made is fairly self explanatory: An English-style IPA (its Eye Patch Ale) is infused with fresh cut serrano peppers to give it some heat. Well, in theory: I found the beer quite approachable, with only a touch of burn to it as the finish fades. If I didn’t know there were serrano peppers in the mix, I might never have thought this was anything other than a well-crafted IPA — well balanced between loads of chocolaty, caramel-laden malt and bitter hops, leading to a rustic, nutty finish.

Super stuff, though come to think of it, it might taste just fine with some fire in its belly…

6.2% abv.

A / $9 per six-pack / mondaynightbrewing.com

Review: Malibu Beer

Never in my life has it occurred to me to mix coconut with a beer, but the folks at Malibu — who do nothing but tinker with coconuts day in and day out — obviously felt that an opportunity was being missed. After all, what about all those people drinking beer with a shot of Malibu Rum in it? What product is being produced that would appeal to them?

Well, Malibu Beer is here, and it is exactly as described: Lager with natural coconut flavor added. And that, my friends, is one hell of a scary thing.

The nose of the beer at first blush doesn’t actually scream coconut — it comes across largely lake any old lager, though a bit on the funky/skunky side. In the mouth, the experience is something different altogether, and that something is wicked indeed. The coconut flavor is syrupy and noxious, coating the mouth like a rancid candy as it slides reluctantly down your throat. That actually might not be so bad were it not for the beer itself, which does no favors by layering on a surprisingly bold-flavored lager that is heavily bready, weedy, and green. Together these combine to create one of the most memorable drinking experiences I’ve had all year.

Unfortunately, I mean that in the worst way possible.

Avoid.

5% abv.

F / $8 per six-pack / maliburumdrinks.com

Review: Beers of East Brother Beer Co.

Richmond, California, is a rough-and-tumble suburb north of San Francisco, and it’s also the home of the new(ish) East Brother Beer Co., which was founded with the goal of creating “familiar, classic styles with precision and a modern sensibility.” No grapefruit IPAs here: East Brother uses traditional ingredients to put its own (modest) spins on the classics of brewing.

Reviews of four of East Brother’s beers — the Wheat IPA was unavailable — follow. Look for them in East Brother’s taproom, at your local Bay Area watering hole, or in 16 oz. cans.

East Brother Red Lager – A bit on the bitter side for a lager (this one a Vienna-style number), with a bit of an herbal element to it. The finish is quite dry — again, particularly so considering this is a lager, not an ale — with notes of rhubarb, roasted nuts, and sunflower seeds. 4.6% abv. B

East Brother Oatmeal Stout – This is a brisk and quite solid rendition of oatmeal stout, mouth-filling but with enough carbonation to let the lighter elements — some berry fruit, a squeeze of citrus — shine past the core of roasted walnuts, dark chocolate, and coffee grounds. Surprisingly refreshing. 5.4% abv. A-

East Brother Bo Pils – A lovely “Bohemian style” pilsner, it’s got ample malt, a pleasantly light bitterness, and layers of fruit on top of all of it — lemon, lime, and pineapple — plus just a hint of oregano. Incredibly drinkable, the toasty, bready backbone soothes the palate as well as the soul. 5.0% abv. A

East Brother Red IPA – Another malt-forward brew, a clear departure from the typical IPA format, with nuttier elements up front, leading to a fruity, lively expressionality (not a word, but I can’t come up with anything better) on the palate. The finish sees some modest hoppiness — nothing any IPA fan will even shrug at — but ultimately the balance between malt and hops proves to be surprisingly deft. 6.8% abv. A-

prices $NA / eastbrotherbeer.com

Cocktail Recipes for National IPA Day 2017

National IPA Day

On August 3rd, we celebrate our love of hoppiness with National India Pale Ale Day. Rather than review a few, since we do that throughout the year, we decided to focus on cocktails using IPA as an ingredient. When beer is used in cocktails, it’s typically the bittering agent, particularly when it’s an IPA. You can also boil it down into a syrup if you don’t care about the alcohol content but do want the hops to come through.

We’re sharing a great lemon bar recipe which has an IPA ingredient as well. Cheers and enjoy!

Coupe de Ville
from Marie Claire online
6 oz. Hornitos Reposado tequila
6 oz. orange juice
3 oz. Triple Sec
2 oz. fresh lime juice
6 bottles of your favorite IPA

Mix together the tequila, orange juice, lime juice, and orange liqueur. After it’s mixed, pour in six cans of the beer and you are ready to share with friends.

Sidewalker

Sidewalker
courtesy of edamam.com
2 1/2 oz. Applejack or apple brandy
2 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 oz. real maple syrup
1 ½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 cup chilled IPA beer
1 1/2 oz. chilled club soda (we used DRY Rhubarb soda)
1 lemon wedge

Dry shake all ingredients except the club soda and IPA. Pour into your glass and add the club soda. Gently stir. Top off with the IPA, garnish with the lemon wedge and enjoy.

Ca-IPA-irinha
courtesy of Craftedpours.com
IPA
Cachaca
Agave Nectar
Lemon
Lime
Mint for cocktail and garnish

Muddle mint and add the remaining ingredients except for the IPA to incorporate the agave nectar into the liquids. Pour into a beer glass; add the beer and garnish with a mint sprig.Albatross

Albatross
This is a fun recipe from bxbeerdepot.blogspot.com
1 oz. Brockman’s Gin
1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz. hop muddled simple syrup
6 oz. Lagunitas IPA
rosemary sprig for garnish

To make the hop syrup:
1/4 oz. of dried aroma hops (such as Cascade, Citra, Simcoe—we used 007: Golden Hops)
1 oz. of simple syrup.

Muddle to combine and strain through a fine mesh filter.

For the cocktail:
Combine the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a tulip glass and top with the IPA. Garnish with a Rosemary sprig.

Deuces Juice

Easier than a Sunday morning, Deuce’s Juice is the kind of breakfast beer cocktail that sneaks up on you. Deceptively sweet and savory, this brew matches the peppery flavors of a Belgian-style pale ale with a peppercorn punch and a bit of champagne to smooth things out. Topped with a bit of Aperol for a hint of citrusy bitterness, this juice is far from loose. The folks at Extra Crispy.com recommend paring it with chicken and waffles.

Deuce’s Juice
Courtesy of extracrispy.com
1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. tangergine juice
1 oz. champagne
6 oz. Bear Republic’s Apex IPA
Orange twist
A pinch of black peppercorns

Fill pint glass with ice. Add the first three ingredients, then top off with beer. Gently stir. Garnish with orange twist and crushed black peppercorns to get fancy.

Campari IPA
courtesy of bbcgoodfood.com
12 oz. Campari
10 oz. IPA
sparkling orange juice
orange peel

Take two rocks glasses and put two to three ice cubes in each one. Divide the Campari between the glasses and top with the IPA. Add a splash of sparkling orange juice (we used San Pellegrino sparkling blood orange) and rub a piece of orange peel around the rim of each glass before dropping into the drink.

Rebel Rhumba

Rebel Rumba
courtesy of Sam Adams
¼ oz. orgeat
¾ oz. lime juice
½ oz. Dry Curaçao
½ oz. dark rum
½ oz. white rum
3 oz. Sam Adam’s Rebel Juiced IPA

Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake. Strain into wine glass, add ice, and garnish with fresh mango or pineapple and mint.

Wassail

Wassail gets its name from the Old Norse “ves heill” and Old English “was hál,” meaning “be fortunate,” which is how we feel when we drink it. Wassail is typically served at Christmas time. However this is a great drink for around the campfire or on the beach in the evening. You can make it up ahead of time and then let each person warm theirs over the fire in metal cups (be sure to use pot holders).

Wassail
courtesy of saveur.com
6 apples, cored
2 1/2 tbsp. light brown sugar
15 allspice berries
15 cloves
6 sticks cinnamon
1 cup Madeira wine (we used Rainwater variety)
1 cup Angry Orchard Summer Honey cider
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. ground ginger
3 bottles Deschutes Pinedrops IPA
3 ½ cups Angry Orchard Crisp Apple cider
peels of two oranges

Heat oven to 350°. Place apples in baking dish; place light brown sugar in center of each apple. Pour 1 cup water in dish; bake 1 hour. Toast allspice berries, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high, 2 minutes. Add Madeira, both ciders, nutmeg, ginger, ale, and orange peels; boil. Reduce to medium; simmer 1 hour. Add apples and any liquid; cook 10 minutes.

IPA Lemon Bars

IPA Lemon Bars
recipe from thebeeroness.com
Crust:
1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
6 tbs unsalted butter
pinch salt

Filling:
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp. corn starch
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup IPA beer
powdered sugar for dusting

In a food processor add the flour, powdered sugar, butter, and salt. Process until well combined.
Press into the bottom of a greased 8 X 8 pan (for a 9 x 13 pan, double the entire recipe).Chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool to about room temperature, about 15 minutes—this will help the crust and the filling to stay in two distinct layers.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour and corn starch. Add in the lemon juice and beer, stir until combined. Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Bake until the center has set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before refrigerating. Chill for 2 to 3 hours before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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