Fremont Brewing Company Cowiche Canyon

IMG_3710

Breweries in Washington have an incredible advantage when they craft a recipe:  access to fresh super-fresh-just-harvested hops.  The state is home to the famous Yakima Valley, the largest hop producing region in the United States.  With so many hops growing in their backyard, Fremont Brewing capitalizes off of their unique position to create an organic fresh hop pale ale called Cowiche Canyon right around harvest season.  Cowiche Canyon actually is an area within the Yakima Valley where, not surprisingly, Fremont gets their freshIMG_3719 cones from to create this beer.  Will this beer produce better results from pellets?  Time to run them numbers…

Appearance:  Cloudy orange with a tiny white head that left beautiful lacing as I drank.  The color on here is exactly what I like to see out of my IPAs, so hops hopes are high that this beer delivers on taste and aroma.

Smell:  I could smell this as soon as I opened the can.  This beer is ripping with a vibrant hop presence featuring lemon, citrus, grapefruit, and passion fruit.  This brew is on point with its aroma, time to dig in!

Taste:  Holy Cowiche!  This beer is a flavor bomb.  Those bright hops I got from the nose encompass the palate with everything from lemon, grapefruit, and lime to flavors that are oily, bitter, and dank.  This brew is a wonderful balance between those super fruity, juicy IPAs and the more traditional piney and bitter ones.  New school hopIMG_3713s meet old school east coast IPAs – accompanying the hops (which are the main attraction in the brew) is the most complementary grain profile I can remember from a Pale Ale.  It’s light enough not to overpower the cones, but rich enough to impart a lovely malt sweetness to help those hops along by not making them overly bitter.  I can’t stress how perfectly balanced Fremont crafted this beer.  The finish is dry and lingering hitting the sides of your tongue and the aftertaste is that of a fresh lemon spritz.  I am so digging this beer.

The carbonation on Cowiche Canyon was perfect and the mouthfeel was light, although it imparted flavors that you’d find in a medium bodied IPA.  The ABV is a standard 6% which keeps it simple; I appreciate Fremont taking a more traditional approach with the ABV in here and it works well with the beer.

Overall:  This is the best pale ale I’ve ever had.  I need to give it an A+ and a ticket into the hall of fame.  I cannot believe this beer doesn’t have more street cred among the beer nerds out there… I’m fine with that… more for the people who appreciate underrated beers.  They say fresh ingredients matter… you can’t refute that after having this brew.

IMG_3696

Advertisements

Fiddlehead Brewing Company Mastermind

IMG_3576

People say the Vermont beer scene is one of the best in the country.  Craft beer meccas like Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist, and Lawson’s are inhabit the green mountain state, in addition to nationally distributed breweries like Otter Creek, Long Trail, Harpoon, Magic Hat, etc…  Often forgotten about, Fiddlehead Brewing Company out of Shelburne, VT, is making waves in the craft beer realm by producing some incredible IPAs comparable to the ones being concocted by the meccas mentioned earlier.  Mastermind is a double IPA that’s a brewery only release and usually goes quick.  On a recent trip up to the “why does everything smell like cow manure” state, I was able to nab a four-pack and enjoy the contents from within.  Let’s run them numbers.

IMG_3573Appearance:  Murky golden brown with a white head that laced nice in the glass.  You can tell the yeast is alive on the pour alone and it looks like an inviting DIPA.

Smell:  Juicy hops, passion fruit, grapefruit, orange, and lime.  This smells like Omnipollo 42 tastes – there are so many similarities.  Very fruit forward with piney and resinous hops taking a backseat in the beer.

Taste:  Taste veers a little from what I got on the aroma; the main flavor I’m getting from this brew is faint anise.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is a signature taste I get out of almost every Trillium IPA I’ve had and is also quite similar to Bissel Brother IPAs.  It’s spicy and almost has a charred rye taste to it.  I can’t really get past that one taste and the beer doesn’t quite open up to anything else.  It’s not too bitter, there aren’t a ton of tropical flavors, and maybe there’s a touch bit of pine at the finish; the main thing I’m hung up on is the anise.  This is actually the third time I’m having this beer – I had it a few days ago at the brewery and once about 6 months ago – both times I didn’t recognize this much anise and remember it being very tropical and balanced, so maybe with time this will round out?  I might have to follow up on this in a week or two.

IMG_3574As far as mouthfeel and carbonation go, both are fine.  Mouthfeel is thinish and the carbonation is more normal than the name Bill.  The ABV in Mastermind is at 8.1%, which frankly is much more than I would have guessed.  This goes down very easy and there is no hint of the ABV at all in the brew, so kudos for Fiddlehead on that.

Overall:  I like this beer and enjoy it, but I think I could find something on my shelf at home that I’d prefer more.  Given the rarity of this beer (AKA lack of accessibility) I have to give it a B.  However, when I had this a half a year ago, I gave it a 5 on Untappd, which I rarely do; this beer can definitely change with a little time (for the better of course).  The can date on the one I’m reviewing is 5 days ago, so it still may need some “aging”.  A good Vermont beer, but out of reach of Heady and Focal Banger.

IMG_3580

Other Half Brewing All Green Everything

IMG_3527 I feel as if this beer would be most appropriate to review on Earth Day, but seeing that it’s nine months away, a sunny day in July must do.  What a better beer to fight horrifically moronic and utterly ignorant climate change denialists than by paying homage to mother nature, naming this brew after all things green.  I’m not quite sure if this loose interpretation is what Other Half had in mind when they concocted a beer that has so many hops, this is the only name that would fit.  Hailed as a triple IPA, this Brooklyn based brew house isn’t afraid of pushing the limits of what yeast can do and they’re not afraid to take risks even at their young age (established in 2014).  Time to crack this one open and let the hops come out. IMG_3529

Appearance: Golden Brown in color with a white head.  Very minimal lacing left as I drank, but understandable because of the ratcheted up ABV.  Unfiltered, but not murky, looks like an easy drinking IPA, but I wonder how the alcohol will impact that.

Smell:  As soon as I started to pour this beer, explosions of resinous hops leaped out of the can in into my nostrils.  It this is the strongest smelling IPA I’ve had in a long time.  In addition to the hops, I do get some sweet grainy, alcohol notes with slight tropical flavors like mango, guava, apricot, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits. 

Taste:  By far the best 3IPA I’ve ever had.  There are a lot of flavors going on in here, but the first thing I get are the punchy hops.  Resinous, but also giving off flavors like mango and grapefruit – really well balanced.  For a triple, this tastes very bright and vibrant and reminds me a bit of Abrasive, which also hovers past 9%.  The sweetness of the grain and some heat of the alcohol go well together to bring a different dynamic to the beer and counteract the bitterness of the hops.  At 10.5% ABV, you definitely do get some heat and taste the booze in here, but it’s not like other triples I’ve had, where the ABV makes the beer overly sweet and really syrupy – the ABV here takes a backseat to bitter and tropical hops and gets most its sweetness from the grain.  The mouthfeel is impacted, and this is on the side of a full bodied IPA, not because of oats, but because of the booze.  It doesn’t distract from the beer, but I find it noticeably heavier on the palate (which is ironic because the flavors are bright and don’t taste “heavy” at all).  The carbonation is pretty mild, which can be a determent for an IPA, but because of the thicker body, its tolerable. IMG_3522

What makes this beer really stand out is its drinkability.  I could easily have a four pack within a span of a few hours at a party, and I am impressed that Other Half can crank out a beer that is this flavorful, this boozy, and this drinkable.  It seems like those three descriptions contradict one another, but in this brew, they all go hand in hand.  All Green Everything is only sold at the brewery and it comes in four packs – I traded for this particular one and this was my last can of the bunch.  I split two of them when friends came over and had one for myself about a week after the can date.  I’m drinking this one after three weeks of canning, and I can say that the flavors have changed.  Fresh, this is a little more green and the flavors themselves stand out individually, but with a little time, there is more cohesion with the beer.  It got a little sweeter with time, and I would suggest finishing off your four pack within a 3 week time frame.  The beer is drinking great now, but after 4 weeks I can see this becoming a malt bomb.  When I split the beer with my friends, I had them guess the ABV, one said 8%, the other 7.5%, so it definitely drinks like a double rather than a triple.

Overall:  I am really impressed by All Green Everything.  It takes a lot of talent to create a beer this unique and balanced, so kudos to the folks at Other Half for doing so.  I have to give this a solid A.  Abrasive beats it out because there is no hint of the ABV in that beer, but to be fair this is almost a full percent stronger than the brew aforementioned.  I could drink this anytime of the year and I will certainly visit the brewery soon.  While this brewery may be a little green, the beers they’re producing are anything but. IMG_3523

Other Half Brewing Hop Showers

IMG_3457

Some people would love to be showed in money, for others it’s joy and happiness.  Women get showers for their babies and wedding and the Weather Girls like to be showered by men, while Parry Gripp and BooneBum prefer their showers in the form of tacos.  Me?  After a hot day mowing the lawn and doing yard work, I’d prefer a hot shower, then maybe beer shower.  The Other Half Brewing Company, based out of Brooklyn, NY makes a product to suit all average Joes during the summIMG_3448er with a juicy IPA brilliantly named Hop Showers.  If the beer tastes as good as the design on the can, we’re all in for a treat.  Let’s run them numbers…

Appearance:  Golden brown with a white head and minimal lacing.  It’s a bit cloudy (which is appropriate given the whole ‘shower’ name) and looks like one heck of an IPA.

Smell:  Suuuuuppper tropical: mango, papaya, yuzu, heavy tangerine/clementine slight grain presence to round things out.

Taste:  Balanced.  Incredibly balanced.  Flawlessly balanced?  A lot of great IPA flavors bursting across the palate.  First up is a tangy citrus – similar to an under rippened orange, sour tangerine, or grapefruit.  I love this flavor in my IPAs, but it gets settled pretty quickly once your palate adjusts to it.  Like a shower putting out a citrus flame, sweeter tropical fruits like mango and pear make their way in on the mid-palate.  These sweeter fruits help to nudge out the grain in the beer while still being predominately fruit forward.  Hop Showers is certainly on the juicy side as far as IPAs go with a ton of tropical fruit, however don’t let this Brooklyn beer fool you, it’s backed up with a nice amount of bitterness.   The finish is very hop forward, dry, and a bit tangy with some pine.  Much more complex than I was expecting.  A lot of shelf IPAs I’ve been having are just not bitter enough for me, which is essentially the definition of what an IPA should be.  This IPA balances the line perfectly with it reaching over to the bittereIMG_3446r side rather than sweet/tropical.

The flavors in Hop Showers are brilliant, dare I say better than that sweet can/glass design, and the mouthfeel paired with the carbonation follows suit with the rest of the beer.  It’s medium bodied with great carbonation and full of alcohol… not a bad thing for beer.  At 7.4% ABV, this brew packs a punch, but there is zero hint of the booze in here. 

Overall:  From looking at the can to the last sip, Hop Showers rained down from cloud 9.  I have to give this one an A; it was so well balanced and had all of the good parts of an IPA without any of the bad.  Plus, that logo is only helping its cause.  I got rain on a sunny day, and I love it.

IMG_3462

Grey Sail Brewing Captain’s Daughter

IMG_1762

In my head, I imagine all sea captains to be curmudgeony, surly, and abrasive… (see what I did there?)  They set sail with a few cartons of cigarettes and a handle of Old Granddaddy ready for the voyage ahead.  They don’t care about your city slicker education, your fancy new teku glass, or the fact that you have no missing teeth.  They will swear at you, belittle you, and if you dare even lay eyes on their daughter, they will kill you.  Perhaps this is why this beer is becoming so hard to take home for the night.  In the New England area, Captain’s Daughter is flying off the shelves quicker than gallon jugs of water before an incoming Nor’easter.  Is it worth the risk of facing the Captain’s wrath?  Time to run them numbers…

IMG_1760Appearance:  Golden brown and cloudier than an April day on the east coast.  The head was white with a little staying power and some lacing as I drank.

Smell:  Yup, this beer deserves to be in the conversation with the New England elites just based off of smell alone.  Lemony citrus, grapefruit, tropical pineapple, mango, sugar plum, all while maintaining a light grain presence and oily hops.  This smells fantastic.

Taste:  Nice and bitter upfront with some dankness and a touch of tropical flavors coming through.  The hops in here kick you in the teeth and leave the palate stinging, but don’t worry, flavors of resin, grain, and grapefruit come in like a bag of ice from Rocky’s trainer.  Initially, Capt’s Daughter reminds a lot like the beer formerly known as Gandhi Bot – dank yet tropical, resinous yet grainy.  Not too many DIPAs can pull off that kind of yin and yang, but this brew is in that conversation.  It’s not as tropical as Nelson or Abrasive, but there is something to be said about assertive, dank India Pale Ales.  The beer finishes with a nice grapefruit bitterness that gives you both the hops and the citrus providing an ending happier than Finding Nemo.

IMG_1764Since there are pungent hops and a deeper grain body found in this beer, it’s not the most drinkable DIPA I’ve had, but that is not a bad thing at all.  All things considered, this is one enjoyable double that still won’t last very long in your glass.  Once you get used to the assertive taste, it actually becomes very easy to get down.  The ABV in this brew is also curmudgeony clocking in at a comfortable 8.5%, but none of the booze can be detected in the taste.  The carbonation is on point, and there’s not much to knock this brew on.

Overall:  From smell to last sip, Captain’s Daughter does not disappoint.  It, however, is not the beer for the wimpy Gorton’s Fisherman, but should be reserved for those rag-tag group of Alaskan crab fisherman.  It packs a punch, but one that I’m willing to take right to the jaw.  Grey Sail scores an A with this brew.  You won’t find people chasing after it like Sip of Sunshine or Heady, but if you see it on the east coast, grab it and treat it right.  Captain’s orders.

IMG_1758

New England Brewing Locust Reign

IMG_1716

I’d much rather have a plague of hop water than that of locust.  I think Moses would also agree to that, and a local brewery made [what I think would be] his wish come true.  New England Brewing concocted this beer in the hopes that it would let their people go… and grab as many growlers as they could hold, venture out, and pick up some this liquid gold.  That had to be the thought behind NEBCo’s newish IPA, Locust Reign.  Brewed with Mosaic and Galaxy hops, this IPA would make Neil Armstrong take one giant leap to get another growler fill.  With the puns reigning strong, it’s time to see how well this beer will fly.

Appearance:  On first pour, I babied it a little too much and didn’t get much of a head, but on the second go around, Locust poured with a solid white fluffy foam and laced as I drank.  The body is a murky golden color, reminiscent of many tap only IPAs from NEB.IMG_1714

Smell:  So juicy.  Mango, pineapple, grapefruit, papaya, yuzu, peaches, kiwi.  Also get signature NEBCo dankness, and a little bit of citric acidity, maybe some pine.

Taste:  Big bitter hop kick to start that nails the sides of the tongue followed by the softer, more tropical tastes of the hops.  The acidity of the hops are noticeable and give off a bitter grapefruit rind taste but the citrus mellows it out a bit.  Not as much mango in the taste compared to the nose on this brew, but it’s there, especially once you get used to the bitter charge.  The grain in here can only be identified on the back end once the more assertive, punchy hops give way, and the malt has a very light, minerally taste to it similar to the most recent batch of Maine Beer Co’s Dinner.  The beer finishes with a little bit of star anise, which seems to be signature of Trillium, but works with the dankness of the hops in here.  One thing to mention before moving on to ABV and drinkability is how earthy this beer also is.  The hops in here have a connection to nature stronger than most Occupy protestors which makes for an interesting and complex IPA.IMG_1717

In addition to the grassroots taste, what’s really impressive is how easy this monstrous IPA is to drink.  It has the perfect level of carbonation accompanied by a light to medium bodied mouthfeel.  The 8.5% ABV goes unnoticed in the brew only leaving a gregarious hopped up taste in your mouth.

Overall:  Admittedly, I had this beer when NEBCo first came out with it about 8 months ago and was blown away by it.  This experience is a little bit different, but I was still very impressed by it, as were other NEBCo fans judging by the line that formed at 2:30 on a Thursday.  This might be my favorite IPA by New England and is one that hasn’t got a ton of traction yet, but looking at its Beer Advocate score, that will change soon.  I’ll have to give Locust Reign an A.  I actually think that if you give this brew a week, it’ll drink better than it does fresh… but I’m sure many would disagree.  In any event, this beer is one of biblical proportions.

IMG_1718

Trillium Brewing Company Upper Case

IMG_1691

Beer people are the best people.  You strike up a conversation with a beer person, and you can tell immediately that they are just a good human being.  So often they are willing to share their knowledge, information, and most importantly, their beer with others.  Recently, an incredibly generous customer who often frequents the package store I work at proved just how awesome beer people are.  This gentleman returned from a trip to Trillium in Boston with their newest double IPA, Upper Case.  Trillium imposed a strict limit of fIMG_1686our bottles per person, yet he dropped off two bottles for me and my beer manager, just because he thought we appreciate it.  Talk about paying it forward.  With gratitude in the air on a warm spring day, it’s time to run the numbers…

Appearance:  Golden with a little cloudiness and a nice fluffy white head.  Some lacing as I drank

Smell:  Mango, pineapple, apricot, peach, passion fruit, grapefruit, orange peel, floral, and slightly dank.  This brew smells unreal.

Taste:  Another phenomenal IPA reviewed on Beer Chatter.  Mike, this is great.  I identify a lot of flavors all over the board, but theIMG_1694y mesh together so well it’s tough to distinguish them separately.  Grassy, dank hops lead the way here followed by a juicy grapefruit bomb.  The other tropical wafts I got can be picked up in the taste of this beer, especially the mango.  This is really a nice, hop forward DIPA and the malt takes a back seat to let the cones do their thing.  Some sweetness is achieved on the finish of the beer, but I think I would attribute that to the ABV rather than the malt profile Trillium used.  This beer also has a nice floral taste to it like stepping outside in the middle of the Spring as the leaves just start to sprout on trees – it’s delicate yet dank at the same time.  Like Double Dry Hopped Congress Street from Trillium, I do get a bit of star anise at the very back end.

IMG_1687The drinkability of this beer is incredible, especially given its ABV at 9%.  You cannot detect it whatsoever outside of the bit of sweetness it adds to the beer and it goes down so incredibly easy.  I could have this all day, any day, any time, any place.  The carbonation isn’t even noticeable next to how amazing this beer is and the mouthfeel is medium bodied on this guy due to the aforementioned ABV.

Overall:  Just a wonderful beer.  It’s up there with Julius, Dinner, and the like and easily earns an A for me.  Make friends with a gracious beer guy, or go to Trillium right away.

IMG_1697

Burnt Hickory Brewing Didjits Blood Orange IPA

IMG_1679

Citrus and IPAs.  This pairs better than an “I’m with Stupid” T-shirt and a New York Giants fan.  Getting a fresh grapefruit or orange taste out of an IPA is one of the best things ever and is up there with puppies and Cadbury Creme Eggs.  Burnt Hickory Brewing, out Kennesaw, Georgia is not afraid to do a little experimentation with hops and citrus and decided to brew an IPA with fresh blood orange rind.  On paper, this beer sounds like a knockout, but there’s only one way to figure out if it’s Mike Tyson or Peter McNeeley.  Let’s run them numbers…

IMG_1675Appearance:  Fluffy white head with a golden body.  No lacing as I drank and the brew itself is well filtered with no floaties to be found.

Smell:  Fresh citrus, hops, orange, freshly cut flowers, light malt, and slight pine from the hops.  Smells very nice and is what I would have expected based off of the description of this beer.

Taste:  It tastes like something very, very familiar, but I just can’t nail it on the initial sip.  The first thing that I notice are the blood oranges in this brew.  They are very apparent and Burnt Hickory does not at all oversell their use in this beer.  They give a refreshing, candy like taste to the beer but are not artificial at all.  You can taste the grove that they came from in here.  I was worried that adding the orange rind in this brew would make it a little too bitter as the orange oils would destroy everything else in the beer, but they actually do a great job compleIMG_1676menting the bitterness of the hops and the sweetness of the malt.  At first, it takes getting used to as the first few sips hit with a large bitter charge, but after that the beer starts to open up.  It has a very floral taste to it and it’s actually kind of hard to get much other than the oranges in this brew.  The orange oils make the beer bitter and the hops are hard to pick up on underneath that, giving them a generic, mundane quality without much flavor.  The malts aren’t very noticeable until the finish where some sweetness comes out to balance the brew, however they give the beer some depth.

The malts also thicken up the mouthfeel making it medium bodied for such a fruity and floral IPA.  The ABV on Didjits clocks in at 7% even making it nearly impossible to identify any of the booze especially over the assertive blood oranges.  This beer is drinkable, but it’s not as easy to get down as I initially expected.  The beer packs a lot of acidity and you can feel it take a toll on yoIMG_1683ur stomach after the first full glass.  The hops mixed with those orange rinds creates a potent mixture that makes you hesitate a bit before diving back in, which is the biggest knock on this beer.

Overall:  Didjits is a unique IPA for sure.  The blood oranges leave their mark in the taste of this beer and accomplish what the brewers wanted, however the lack of complexity in here is a bit disappointing.  The blood oranges dominate the flavor leaving little room for the hops and malt to show their talents.  Additionally, the extra acidity from the citrus makes this a tough beer to come back to sip after sip.  That said, the flavors are unique and this brew doesn’t taste bad at all, but it’s not among one of those IPAs I’d find myself coming back to.  I’ll score this one a B/B- as there is room for improvement.  This is one brew I’m not sure Iron Mike would bite the cap off of.

IMG_1677

Maine Beer Company Beer I

IMG_1649

State of the art, brand new, the first of its kind… all meaningless cliches strung together by a car salesman thirsty for a commission.  Gimmicks like this happen all of the time and some people will do anything to sell a crappy product.  Can anybody be able to identify the hops in the “triple hops” brewed Miller Light?  Does the world’s most refreshing packaging make Coors Light any more tolerable?  No and no.  However, some breweries have a little fun with what’s inside their bottles, and that’s certainly the case with this never seen before brew from Maine Beer Company, aptly called Beer 1.  What will be a continual rotating hopped series, Beer 1 is yet another IPA from the Northeast.  Unlike the bow-tie can or cold active indication, Maine Beer only cares about the liquid contained within the glass, evident by their plain Jane packaging.  Hopefully this beer will be anything but – time for the numbers…

IMG_1644Appearance:  Quite clear and golden sudsy in color.  A white head came and went with no lacing present on the glass.  The beer looks to be a bit thin, but only the taste will tell.

Smell:  Tropical, grapefruit, mango, peach, kiwi, but really heavy on the grapefruit.  Some sweetness, but mainly the hops are shining… to be expected from the first beer of a hop program series of ales.

Taste:  First thing that I notice about the beer really contradicts itself.  On first sip, I thought that this was over carbed – the bubbles slashed your tongue and really did their best Thomas’ English Muffins impression by getting into all the nooks and crannies of your palate.  The second thing I noticed was just how easy this brew was to drink.  Typically carbonation and drinkability align for me, however in this instance I’m not really quite sure what to think.  Its ease of going down comes less from the carbonation, and more from the body of the beer, or should I say lack thereof.  I notice it to be very watery which is unlike many of Maine’s other hop forward brews like Another One, Lunch, and Dinner.  There is not much of a malt impact in the beer.  There is a little, itty-bitty presence of the grain, which I am able to pick up some sweetness at the finish but mostly I get minerality of the water used in here. I like my hop centric IPAs, but prefer them to be a bit more balanced than Beer 1.

IMG_1651With the lack of grain in this brew, I suspected that the ABV on Beer 1 would be in the 5%ish range… but I was wrong again.  It measures up to be 6.5% which is respectable for a single IPA and quite big for a beer that tastes this thin.

Now with the technical mumbo jumbo out of the way, let’s talk about flavor.  The taste really follows the nose and I’m detecting a lot of light citrus and tropical flavors from the hops used in here.  Again, grapefruit seems to be the biggest component but tangy orange citrus and just a touch of pineyness present themselves through the tangled tropical vines.  The hop flavor is on point, I just wish the body and malt were bolstered to even out what would have been an unbelievable IPA.

Overall:  Even though Beer I doesn’t break into legendary IPA status, it’s still probably better than 90% of the IPAs sitting on your local package store shelves.  Tropical, easy drinking, and a smidge of sweetness make this one fine beer – on the other hand a think body, lack of a grain profile, and little too much carbonation bring it back down to earth.  When push comes to shove, I’m going to give this a B+.  I would gladly drink this again, but the exclusiveness of this beer makes that a problem and takes away slightly from the rating.  Adding flaked oats and a half a bag of malt to this beer would make a positive impact.  Luckily, Maine Beer Company is hard at work on Beer II – the upgrade Apple will be quick to sell you.

IMG_1641

Omnipollo 411 Smoothie IPA

IMG_1584

My brother lives in San Francisco, 3,000 miles away from me.  I don’t get to see him as often as I like, but he manages to come home for the holidays and a couple times in the summer.  Each time he arrives back east, my 91 year old grandmother bakes him his favorite dessert ever – strawberry rhubarb pie.  Yes, even in December… (she freezes rhubarb from the summer garden).  That’s dedication.  Omnipollo is stepping on Gram’s toes a little bit though.  They harvested the flavors of her pie and put them into an IPA… made with strawberries, rhubarb, vanilla, and lactose.  They call it a smoothie IPA.  Seems appropriate, but will it come close to matching Gram’s flagship pie?  Time for the numbers…

Appearance:  Pineapple juice.  Obscenely cloIMG_1570udy with a tropical sunset body and no head.  This beer is my ideal looking IPA: unfiltered, light, and welcoming.

Smell:  This might be the best smelling beer I think I’ve ever reviewed.  You get tropical hops in the background, but featured in the aroma are the strawberries.  You can smell the tang from the rhubarb and it also smells a little creamy because of the lactose.  Calling this a smoothie IPA is more than appropriate based off smell alone.

Taste:  This is really similar to Omnipollo’s Zodiak.  Really light with a nice hop flavor, yet very little bitterness.  The body and initial flavor reminds me of a hopped up session IPA like Stone’s Go To or Founders’ All Day – really vibrant, citrusy, and refreshing.  I don’t get much strawberry flavor in the brew, if anything it’s very faint and shows up near the finish, but man that rhubarb!  You get it mostly on the back end and it hits with a tart burst that leaves your mouth salivating for more.  It sneaks up on you after you swallow and stabs the sides of your tongue like an Eastern European assassin.  If you spend a minute away from the glass after you sip, the flavors that are left in your mouth really do reIMG_1589mind me of a Strawberry Smoothie fresh from the Orange Julius stand you used to visit during your mall outings in high school.

The mouthfeel on 411 is light, even with the oats, and the carbonation gives you some very fine bubbles to complement the beer’s body.  It’s supremely drinkable and the 6% ABV pairs well with this beer.  The only gripe I have about this brew is that at certain times it tasted a little freezer burnt on finish.  I only got that taste a few times as I drank, but it does knock it down slightly.

Overall:  I’m upset that I’m drinking this in early March.  This brew would be perfect for summer days; drinking it while it’s snowing just doesn’t seem right.  However, the flavors are on point and yet again, Omnipollo is pushing the envelope with the flavor combinations in this IPA.  It works, and I’m giving this an A-/A.  Kid tested, grandmother approved.

IMG_1578