October 21, 2014

Revolution Unsessionable Imperial IPA

Brewed By: Revolution Brewing Company (Revolution Beer LLC) in Chicago, IL
Purchased: 12oz CAN from a 6-pack bought at Sheridan 'L' Lounge in Chicago, IL; 2014
Style/ABV: American Imperial IPA/Strong Ale, 10%
Reported IBUs: 100

Let's be real, the session beer fad sucks. Most session beers are American Pale Ales rebranded using the popular but equally obnoxious "IPA" tag. They are nothing new, and more often than not, incredibly predictable. Tonight's beer is a big fuck you to all the session IPAs...a big ass, all-American, Imperial IPA brewed with 6 hops, that punches in at 10%. Suck on that. About Revolution:
Revolution Brewing is a brewery and brewpub based in Chicago. Revolution's roots are tied to founder Josh Deth, a homebrewer who began working at Golden Prairie Brewing. A few years later, while working at Goose Island, Josh dreamt up the idea for Revolution Brewing. In 2003, Josh and his wife opened Handlebar, while Josh worked as an Executive Director of Logan Square Chamber of Commerce. While working for the Chamber of Commerce, Josh found an old building on Milwaukee Avenue, and the wheels began to spin to open up a brewery. After three years of raising funds, Revolution Brewing opened its doors on February 2010. In July of 2011, Revolution added a 2nd floor Brewers' Lounge. And in 2012, the company opened a new production brewery and tap room. The brewpub is located in Logan Squre on 2323 N. Milwaukee Ave; the brewery is located on Kedzie Avenue at 3340 N. Kedzie Ave. For more information on Revolution, check out their history page here
The Unsessionable IPA is pretty ridiculous, and honestly, I am surprised this came in a 6-pack. This beer is brewed using 6 hops, including: Centennial, Chinook, Amarillo, Galaxy, Citra, and Cascade. Punching in at 10% and 100 IBUs, this beer rides that line between a Strong Ale, Barleywine, and American Imperial IPA. 
Revolution Unsessionable Imperial IPA

The appearance is everything you'd want: hazy orange, with a finger of caramel-tinged head that lasts forever thanks to the hops fueling it. This is clearly well-carbonated, and looks the part of the best American Imperials. It's like California girls and sunsets. Totally, Hollywood.

I can't remember the last time I smelled something this good coming out of Chicago. This challenges The Unicorn Hits Rock Bottom with ease, and makes Zombie Dust look like the mid-ABV IPA that it is. This smells like fat oranges, giant tangerine candies, and I shit you not: gummy peach orange ring candies. The sweet peach and tangerine notes flirt with peach iced tea, dank West Coast vibes, and tropical fruits...but it's all grounded in that sweet peach goodness.

This hits with your tongue with honey-like sweetness. The hops gloss over your palate leaving traces of orange, tangerine, and sweet peaches. This is insanely sweet, with hints of caramel sugars between the aggressively dank and resinous hop punch. This rides the imaginary line between an American Strong Ale or Barleywine...I'm reminded a bit of Dogfish Head's 120 Minute IPA. I'm also reminded of the Pipeworks/Rock Bottom collab, Unicorn Hits Rock Bottom. This is just an insane fusion of intensely sweet hops propped up against a huge malt profile. The hops are equally fruity as they are bitter and dank. The bitterness provided much needed contrast to the sweetness. But this keeps things cool and sweet. It's very West Coast, and reminds me of Florida. 
Soak these in alcohol and walla

At 10%, this beer is way too fucking drinkable. I'm serious, I killed 12oz of this in like ten minutes. That's how you get wasted. Despite being drinkable, this is till heavy-handed and full-bodied. The carbonation and hops cut through a lot of the fat, but this is a curvy beer in every way possible. The palate depth here is outstanding, and this is about as complex as something like this is going to get. It's not quite the 120 Minute...but it's flirting with that Unicorn Hits Rock Bottom. I mean really, this unfolds with sweet orange, peach gummy rings, and tangerine up front; that gives way to intense caramel sweetness, rich sugars, and dank as hell hops lurking beneath; the back end trails with intense hop sweetness, resin, and a sticky-sweet finish. This is truly an aggressive, big, over-the-top interpretation of an American Imperial IPA. A true "fuck you" to all the session bitch beers out there.

Rating: Divine Brew (4.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Light 
Divine Brew on this. If Revolution can keep this around on a regular basis, well, then Chicago is going to finally have a coveted Imperial IPA. For all the good work that Pipeworks is doing, they aren't releasing beers on the regular. Chicago is seriously lacking in the Imperial IPA category, and this beer right here has potential. I'd also love to see this barrel-aged. Food pairings: spicy foods. Seriously. Get this beer to go with some over-the-top wings, and thank me later.

Random Thought: At 100 IBUs and 10%...you'd expect this beer to hold up to spicy foods. And it does! I've now paired this beer with homemade taco salad and nachos. In both situations, I piled on the hot salsa (homemade, with fresh habaneros, baby!). This beer cuts through the spice with ease. 

October 20, 2014

Stone 18th Anniversary IPA

Brewed By: Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, California
Purchased: 22oz bottle bought at Walgreens in Chicago, IL; 2014 (Bottled on 084/04/2014)
Style/ABV: Imperial IPA, 8.5% 
Reported IBUs: 75

Oh man, I don't even know why I'm drinking this two months past the bottled-on date. I guess I'm just a beer hater, but whatever. About Stone:
Stone Brewing are one of the more prominent breweries in the American craft brewing scene. They were founded in 1996 in San Marcos, California, and moved to Escondido, California where they recently expanded their operations. Stone was founded by Steve Wagner and Greg Koch. Koch has a reputation among the craft beer community for voicing his opinion, not putting up with shit, and standing behind his beer. Also...farking woot and fizzy yellow beer is for bitches. 
How about that 18th Anniversary Ale? This one is brewed with El Dorado hops (they dry-hopped it with two pounds per barrel). This also features English Brown Coffee, Cara Munich, and Chocolate Wheat malts. This pours into a caramel-orange body that is surprisingly clear in bright light. It's very much a caramel-affair, with a finger of caramel-tinged head. There's good lacing and head retention, and carbonation. It looks very Stone. 

At 2 months past bottling, this has some faded iced tea hop notes. But it's not one-dimensional in that regard. I'm getting some earthy/herbal and medicinal notes, and big orange: orange juice, orange freezer pops, and big resinous pine. The big orange juice notes flirt with lemon. This smells dank as hell too. There are trace hints of some caramel/malt backings as well...although I'm not getting the coffee, cocoa, and roasted malts as described on Stone's website.
Stone 18th Anniversary IPA

This is very much Stone in the taste. The surprise here is the depth and complexity of the malt...the back end drops some really nice grain and malt characters on your palate. It tastes very much like how a brewhouse smells. And once you lock into that malty flavor, you can dig grain out of this, with biscuit, bread, and even some of the described coffee/toffee that was missing from the aroma. This is actually quite complex for an IPA, and if you served this to me blind and let me dwell on it, I would say/write very nice things. In a lot of ways, the malt complexity infuses a fresh, draft-like quality to this beer. I'm reminded of sessions at Solemn Oath. The hop notes in here lean towards orange, orange juice, lemon, and hints of pine/iced tea. This is balanced...not too sweet, not too bitter, not too dry. But it does finish relatively dry and clean. 

At 8.5%, this is pretty drinkable. Being an anniversary ale, and an anniversary IPA, you probably won't pick this up more than once. So this review is stupid. I realize that, but I'm mostly here for me. Anyway...this has good depth and complexity. Stone knows how to do many things well, but they mostly know how to cram a bunch of hops into a beer and make it taste solid. In that respect, this has above-average complexity thanks to the edition of the malts. This unravels with some good lemon, orange, and pine hops up front; that gives way to resinous pine and iced tea, with a little malt sweetness showing up; the back end drops the biscuit and bready malts, and subsequent sips unravel sweetened hops and malts, with fresh malts that add a nice touch of complexity. I can't fault this beer, but it's pretty par the course for Stone at this point.

Rating: Average (3.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Strong 
Average on this.
Yup, I'm gonna toss this an average. But it's really like an Average+. The "+" comes from that nice malt depth. I'd recommend passing on this at this point, since it is now 2 months out from bottling. Grab some Enjoy By or Stone's classic IPA instead. But I'm happy to have Stone around doing their thing...I'm pairing this with homework. Ah, the life of a grad student, amirite?

Random Thought: 
What the fuck is going on with the Chicago Bears? Holy drama. Holy suck. I'm a sports radio guy and you're damn right I'll be tuning in to Boers and Bernstein tomorrow. 

October 14, 2014

Stillwater Artisanal Even Less Jesus (Remix) - collaboration with Evil Twin

Brewed By: Stillwater Artisanal at Twelve Percent in Westminster, MD (with some help from Evil Twin Brewing)
Purchased: 22oz bottle bought at Fischman's Liquors and Tavern in Chicago, IL; 2014 
Style/ABV: Adjunct Stout/Imperial Stout, 12.0%
Reported IBUs: ?

Evil Twin's Even More Jesus is one of the best Imperial Stouts available anywhere. But how is it going to taste with the addition of burgundy grape juice? About Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Stillwater Artisanal Ales are a Gypsy Brewery based out of Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 2009-ish, the beer is brewed by Brian Strumke. You can find more info at the brewery's blog or their website
My bottle of Even Less Jesus reads: "Sometimes less is more and more or less we tend to stay on the delicate side of things with our beers. But to get down with the hip cats we decided to give a go at a big dog of a brew and mix up Evil Twin's beast. But of course in a true existential Stillwater Fashion. -Brian (Stillwater Artisinal)"
Even Less Jesus (Remix)

This couldn't pour into a more prototypical black/opaque body. This is still an impressively dark beer, even for the style, and the dark brown head conjures up images of cocoa krispies left sitting in milk for half an hour.

On the aroma: insane amounts of deep roast, chocolate, cocoa, molasses, and fruity grape sweetness. Like the regular Even More Jesus, this has cake or fudge like density. Also like the base beer, I am pulling out some hints of meat, with layers of complex malt. The addition of the burgundy grape juice imparts huge fruit notes, with purple grapes, jam, and legit dark fruit notes ala a Quad or Belgian Dubbel.

First off, I want to say this tastes really good. Is it better than the base beer? I'm not sure yet. I'm going to dwell on this bottle for about 45 minutes. This is rich stuff, with tons of brown sugar, molasses, and turbinado. There is also some muscovado sugar in the mix. Between all the sugar is serious fruit character, with grapes, jam, and lots of grapes. The fruitiness is in some ways nondescript. This reminds me of fruited Stouts that have included cherries and raspberries. What sets this beer apart from other Stouts or other fruited Stouts is the base beer. It's just an incredibly dense and layered beer, with layer after layer of complex sugar. 

As this warms up, the base beer really starts to emerge...and I find myself back at square one. I really like the base beer. At 12.0%, this masks the alcohol well. It's still incredibly dense, and requires some patience and respect. Palate depth is insane, and the complexity is middling. Where the complexity shines is with the base beer. The base beer layers this deep roast and meaty character with layers of sugar. Up front: fruity notes and brown sugar give way to huge roast, brown sugar, turbinado; the mids continue to unravel with molasses, caramel, turbinado, muscovado; the back end trails with lingering roast, some coffee, dark fruits....the fruit veers into scented candle territory and sadly doesn't add as much complexity as I was hoping for. C'est la vie, I guess. 

Rating: Above-Average (3.5/5.0 Untappd)

I'm feeling a Light Above-Average on this. And really, I think if I had more time to sit on this, I might bump the rating to "average." Yeah...this is a huge beer...the fruit isn't blowing me away. It's adding some nice grape/raspberry/cherry notes, but the notes are nondescript and artificially sweet and jammy. I'm also getting some scented candle which is...ughhh. But what saves this experience is the fantastic base beer. I really like the base beer. Food pairings here: probably nothing, this beer is calorie-laden and boozy. Maybe a dry chocolate cake with ice cream? 

Random Thought: I'm going to have to hunt down the barrel-aged version of this. I bet that is good.