Friday, October 29, 2010

008. I Believe in Magic!

I don't love IPAs, but since its still hot out (we've been setting heat records, even in late October), I decided to try a pale ale. You know, keep it on the light side. This time I picked up an entire six-pack of Magic Hat #9 Not Quite Pale Ale at Spec's Liquor Store on Veteran's Memorial in NW Houston (don't recall the price, but I don't remember sticker shock so it can't be too bad).

Now, for those of you (like me) who are not well versed in the finer points between an India Pale Ale and a plain ole Pale Ale, read on for this well phrased bit of knowledge from John Linn at his Beer of the Week Blog:

"Let's clarify something about pale ales really quickly. Pale ales are traditionally light- to medium-bodied beers that strike a balance between sweet maltiness and bitter hopiness. They're usually, but not always, lighter in color, and definitely not as strong as their freewheeling siblings, India pale ales. But as hop heads continue to push the envelope of bitter, floral hops in their beer, it's becoming harder and harder to tell some pale ales from and IPA. The malts are getting shot through the roof, and big hops are added to compensate."

With more than a single bottle to sample, I was able to really take this one for a test drive on my taste buds, so to speak. And I must say that I was a very pleasantly surprised with this one.  It was surprisingly smooth and still had a nice robust flavor. No, not as robust as a dark beer, but very robust when compared with with most other IPAs and pale ales. And, although the hops were present, they weren't bitter or overpowering, which (as you'll read in a few of my future blogs, has been a problem for me of late).

This beer is a perfect bridge between summer and fall. It had a nice aggressive head on it. It also has a very nice lace that lingers for a while. After a few minutes the thing that stays with me is just how smooth it is when it's served cold. It's delicious and I really like it.

Magic Hat #9 Pale Ale
Brewed in Vermont, this ale is, "A beer cloaked in secrecy. An ale whose mysterious and unusual palate will swirl across your tongue and ask more questions than it answers. A sort of dry, crisp, refreshing, not-quite pale ale. #9 is really impossible to describe because there's never been anything else quite like it."

From their Website.
Alcohol content: 5.1%

I give this a 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, October 22, 2010

007. Decadent Imperial IPA

Decadent Imperial IPA is one of the worst beers I've ever tasted, which is really too bad because it has one of the coolest bottles I've ever seen. At least for a beer/ale. It's got a bitchin' skeleton dude on the label and a really cool red "candle wax" dripping over the top. I had high hopes for this one.

And then I tasted it. OMG.

The first thing that I noticed was how sweet it was. It has a nice sweet bite to it, along with a super strong "pucker factor." Very sour-ball, if you get my meaning. But then it was followed by a severe YUCK. Man, I haven't tasted anything this bad since Gubna (You remember that one, eh? It was my Beer Zero).

I'm beginning to wonder if high alcohol content and bad taste just go together. This one has a 10% ABV (that's Alcohol By Volume, for those of you keeping score).

In the "If you can't say something nice..." department, I will say that it has a spectacular color (this photo does not do justice to the glowing amber color) and a wonderful head (with accompanying lace). Visually, it's one of the most sexy brews I've had the pleasure to put to my lips. Alas, that's where it failed to deliver.

Decadent Imperial IPA

I've no idea why they call it "Imperial" IPA. That's like calling it Imperial Imperial Pale Ale. What? It was so Imperial that they had to say it twice?

It's made by Ska Brewing Co. (which, of course, makes me think of the song "Jamaca Ska" from the Back to the Beach movie (thanks for YouTube for making everying available:

I suspect some people might like this beer, but I hope for all our sake that they're not allowed out in public without supervision.

My rating for flavor: -1 out of 10
My rating for appearance of the bottle: 8 out of 10

PS: The whole Annette Funicello vibe got me wanting to have a pajama party where we played Beach Blanket Bingo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

006. Pike's IPA

As I've said before, I don't love Imperial Pale Ales. There are a few exceptions, of course, but as a rule, these are just "okay." Pike India Pale Ale did nothing to change my long-standing opinion.

It was okay. It was comfortably smooth, has that chalky taste that I often find in IPAs, and a decent alcohol content. The color was a clear golden (a hint of cloudiness, but not too much). The lace was okay, but there was no head to speak of. I was very disappointed in that regard.

Pike IPA:
Flavor Profile Powerful malt backbone is balanced with aromatic herbal hop character.

History: Highly hopped to retain freshness on the voyages from England to India.

According to this guy, this has a 6.3% Alcohol By Volume
And the official Pike Website has the same info:

There's nothing wrong with this ale, and I would certainly drink it if offered a pint at a pub. But I wouldn't order it again. I drank it cold, but as it warmed, it did release more barley flavor (which is not always the best thing, for me).
On a scale of 1-10, I give it a 4.5

Keep in mind, this is my rating. If you love IPAs (and I don't), you'll probably rate this higher.