The Burrito Tribune


randomness, truth, and burritos

Craft Beer: Red Brick Brewing Co., Hop Circle India Style Session Ale

hop circle

At some point my liquor store is going to run out of IPA’s, or in this case India-style Ale’s for me to sample.  I guess I shouldn’t really complain, I have found a number of truly fantastic beers.  I am hoping the selection starts to vary up a little the next time I head there though.

Hop Circle is a India Style Session Ale made by Red Brick Brewing Company in Atlanta, GA.  It’s 4.21% ABV, which is a touch lower than the content I’m used to in a craft beer.  It poured a light-amber/dark-gold color with almost no head to speak of.

The smell of the beer is almost the complete opposite of what I was expecting.  It has a very dark, rich, sweet smell like a dark brown ale, or even a stout.  It reminds me of the scent of cherry cordials with dark chocolate.

My first sip makes this one of the more perplexing beers I’ve ever had.  I have yet to drink a beer that smells so dark and sweet, but that still tastes exactly like a hoppy IPA.  It’s almost an unorthodox Salty-sweet contrast like chocolate covered pretzels.

I wish I could come up with a better description of the taste, but all that comes to mind is “hops hops hops”.  Maybe I could stretch and say it reminds me of tart green grapes, but without being overly sour?  That’s all I’ve really got at this point.

This is an interesting beer, and definitely one worth trying out simply for the experience.  I doubt I’d drink more than one or two at any given time though.  It’s also so hoppy, I’m not sure it’d be a great beginner-craft beer to start with.

Filed under: India Pale Ale, , , , , ,

Craft Beer: Lakefront Brewery Inc., Wisconsinite Summer Weiss Beer

Wisconsonite summer weiss

Ahh the excitement of trying another not-IPA never gets old.  Being originally from Detroit, I have been hoping to come across another beer from south-east Michigan to improve my current opinion of craft beer from that region.  I have yet to find another strictly from Detroit,but this Wisconsinite Summer Weiss is from the Midwest and will have to help represent the reputation of the area until I start working through some beer from Bell’s Brewery.

The beer pours a nice light golden color.  It foamed up a little when I first popped the bottle, and for a second I worried I was going to have another glass chock-full of foam. Fortunately it wasn’t the case.  Surprisingly, the head on the beer dissipated a bit more quickly than I expected.  As the head settled, I noticed that the beer has a somewhat tart scent, which reminds me of lime or grapefruit.  As the head fizzed out the richness of the wheat took over and helped balance out the scent a bit.

My first impressions on the flavor are a bit grapefruity as well.  It’s a very light beer, that still manages to hold a lot of flavor, though on the lively-tart end of the spectrum.  The follow through does have some hints of wheat, but it has a mellow crispness that reminds me of biting into a very fresh slice of pear.

Overall this is an enjoyable beer, and Wisconsinites can be proud of making a brew of this caliber, especially because the entirety of the beer is sourced from within Wisconsin.  The flavor intensity of this beer seems to occupy a space between  your average mass-produced beer, and some of the richer craft beers out there.  This wouldn’t be bad really, except that it still carries the full-rich craft beer price of $10.50 at my local liquor store.  I might consider it a good craft beer to introduce new-comers too, if they’re used to your mass-market Coors/Bud/Miller.  I doubt I could get tired of this beer in the same way as most craft beers, I think after two or three I would want to move up to something a little richer to change things up through the night.

Filed under: Craft Beer, , , , , , ,

Craft Beer: Natty Greene’s Brewing Company, Elm Street English Style IPA

Elm street

So apparently, the stock person who sets up the pick-a-pack shelf at our local liquor store really really likes IPAs.  I have another IPA for a review here, another craft beer local to North Carolina.  This one is brewed and bottled in Greensboro.  As you can see in the photo, it’s a dark gold-amber color with a healthy head on it.  I was able to find the six-pack price of this beer, at $9.99 just over the border in South Carolina.  The beer is 6.4% ABV, so a little bit above average in strength.  I also noticed the “seasonal” label at the top of the bottle, so it obviously won’t be available year round.

As I poured the beer, the aroma that was released had a healthy hoppy scent to it.  It has a brisk chill to it like a cool dewey morning.  The wheat has a strong presence as well, reminding me of toffee or carmel overtones.

The beer has a very smooth taste to it.  It doesn’t have the bite that some IPA’s have as a trademark flavor.  It seems to glide smoothly over your tongue with a slowly rising sweetness of the malt being the first flavor to experience.  It has a very very slight essence of pear or apple to the flavor.

After the initial flavoring, the wheaty-ness of the beer seems to billow out and flood your taste buds and nose with the essence of good rich beer, before being washed away with the thick molasses flavor of the malt.  It is a much richer flavoring than many IPA’s I have had before, yet it isn’t overpowering.  It reminds me of a high quality brown ale, but with a much stronger presence of hops.

As rich as this beer is, it doesn’t go down very heavy and is very drinkable.  It is a bit intense, so I don’t think I would want to drink it exclusively all night, but it’d be a great six-pack to share with one or two friends.  I would probably drink at least two or three of these before I’d want to trade off for something else.

Overall, this is another great example of an IPA for both new and returning India Pale Ale drinkers.  If you’re used to your standard american beer, this might be a bit rich for you, but if you appreciate any of the complexities of craft beer, this is a brew you don’t want to miss out on.

Filed under: India Pale Ale, , , , , , , ,

Craft Beer: Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Southseid Weiss

omb southend weiss

I am proud to announce that I am on the last beer from my latest pick-a-pack!  I can also proudly announce that after a string of IPA’s, I can finally review something a bit more wheaty and a bit closer to home.

Instead of an IPA, my last pick-a-pack beer is a wheat ale, OMB’s Southseid Weiss.  I am familiar with several of OMB’s beers from my trips out exploring in Charlotte and I have yet to be disappointed.  I am slightly embarrassed to say that I have not yet had the pleasure of exploring their brewery, but I will be rectifying this situation in the very near future.  I spent the last two years realizing how great the local brewing scene is in Tampa, FL, and I’m now beginning to appreciate how amazing it is here as well.

On to the review of the beer…  The  bottle offers some good detail into the quality of this beer, It claims to use unfiltered wheat ale and Bavarian hops.   It is a healthy 5.4% ABV.  The glass is a crisp golden color with a steady head on the top that is consistent, but isn’t going to give you a mouthful of foam.

The smell is very wheaty, it reminds me of freshly baked sourdough bread and a hint of coriander.  As amazing as it smells, the scents are a bit subdued compared to the IPA’s I have tried lately.  The scents are subtle, but crisp like a cool dewy spring morning.

The flavor of this beer is very bright.  It’s first impression is surprising and amazing at the same time.  It honestly reminds me of a refreshing iced tea you would have on a hot summer day.  The follow through is another tea analogy, and equally awesome.  As the beer finishes, it gives you a sweet flowery push that reminds me of rose-pedal tea you get at a Turkish restaurant or a hookah bar.  I know these are unconventional examples to use with a beer, and I want to stress that this is a very very enjoyable beer, and not at all an unconventional brew.  Overall this beer is very well balanced with flavor and a light weight that makes it incredibly drinkable.

As always, i say drink beer responsibly, but this beer is definitely one that can see me through an entire day/evening event and I wouldn’t get tired of it.  I would also say that if you’re one to host big football game parties or the like and want to put something a little bit more unique in your kegorator, this would be a prime choice.  It’s flavorful enough for the craft beer snobs, but not so heavy and rich that casual beer drinkers would have trouble with it.

Filed under: Craft Beer, , , , , , , , , , ,

Craft Beer: Big Boss Brewing, High Roller IPA

high roller ipa

Here is yet another IPA I am sampling from my pick-a-pack.  I swear the next time I do this I will do more in-detail homework and find the 6-pack prices.  Not knowing exactly is starting to bother me now.  When I go back I will try to find these last few and update the posts.  The pick-a-pack price was $2.49, so it would be near-average but on the higher end of that range.

What I have here is Big Boss Brewing’s High Roller India Pale Ale, brewed in Raleigh, NC.  at 6.5% ABV it has enough extra strength for me to warn any beer drinkers to be cautious.  a little extra %ABV doesn’t hurt if you only have one or two, but if you’re out with your friends for a long night, you might end up consuming a whole phantom-beer and not realize it.  Being a craft-beer lover, I’ve made this mistake a few times myself.  Fortunately the last few were when I lived three blocks from downtown and I could stumble back home.

The beer pours as a beautiful amber color, and without even leaning in I can smell the hops and the sweetness of the malt.  The head never got terribly high, and did not stay foamed up for very long.  I know some purists may say this is not the best sign, but I’ve found enough great beers that buck this rule to not be troubled by it personally.

From the smell, this beer seems a bit stronger on the sweet/malty side than the last few IPA’s I’ve had.  The smell’s sweetness reminds me of iced molasses cookies, with the hops floating in the background to give it a cool refreshing bite.

The flavor of the first sip is as beautiful as the glass of beer looks.  It’s equal parts bold and refreshing.  The flavor has tones of licorice and caramel in it.  I want to say the tastes in this beer are reversed from many of the IPA’s I’ve reviewed lately.  It starts off with a rich sweet old-timey flavor, and then finishes on an upswing of bright refreshing hops.  I really like this, as the brightness at the end seems to cleanse the pallet of the thick sweetness some beers have, leaving you ready for your next sip.

One thing I like about this beer is that the hops, while present, are not overpowering.  IPA’s remind me of the spicy salsas of the beer-world.  People who like salsa and eat it a lot tend to acclimate and want the hotter/spicier blends to get the same kick.  I think the same thing happens with IPAs.  Drinkers get used to the kick-in-the-face hops presence, and keep looking for more punch.  I’m not faulting this, I love spicy food and IPA’s, but it makes it confusing for people coming into the IPA world.  Their IPA drinking friends give them the “nuclear hot-wing” version of IPA, and their shocked and turned off to the brew because what they tried is so intense.  If I had to draw a direct parallel, this beer is the zesty “roasted corn salsa” of IPA’s.  It’s not too strong, yet it’s beautifully flavored.  It would make an excellent example of an incredible IPA to friends who are unfamiliar with this type of beer.

And just to be clear, while I say this is a great beer for an introduction to IPA’s, it will also be a refreshing and enjoyable IPA to committed IPA fans as well.

Filed under: India Pale Ale, , , , , , , ,

Craft Beer: Southern Tier, Farmer’s Tan Session India Pale Ale

farmers tan session ipa

As I perused the liquor store’s selection for my pick-a-pack, I must have been staring at the IPA shelf. A lot of the popular IPA’s tend to be very strongly flavored. While I do love their hoppy flavor, I have long been on a quest to find one that’s just a touch mellower than most. Well, mellow this beer is not… but a fantastic IPA? Most definitely.

I was very excited to try this beer after my last IPA experience. Farmer’s Tan IPA is brewed by Southern Tier Brewing Co. based out of Lakewood, NY. It advertises itself as “brewed with 2 varieties of hops and 2 types of malts”. As part of a pick-a-pack I bought the individual bottle for $1.99. This was slightly below average, and if that holds true for the 6-packs, it’d be an absolute bargain. The beer poured very neat and clean with no fuss (Thank you Southern Tier!). The head wore off a bit quickly, but the scent that was released reminded me of standing next to an energetic waterfall and the stout presence of hops.

On my first sip, I could certainly say that the stout scent of hops is understated compared to the actual TASTE of hops. The hops are boldly flavored and nearly makes my tongue tingle as the beer slides past. The hops is perfectly balanced with the wheat flavor of the beer. The follow through is on the short-side and only deviates from the flavors of malt and hops with just the slightest hint of lemongrass.

On several of my tastings, I have commented on the complexities of the flavors I have found while drinking. I can truly appreciate when an artisan brewer develops new flavors and creates a brand new experience for his customers. The other side of that coin is that I can still appreciate having a sense of the traditional. This beer is an IPA, and it’s character seems to say, “I’m an IPA, just an IPA, and you better be damn well ok with me being an IPA.” (spoken in the voice of a crotchety old farmer), and in that regards, it is a fantastic IPA. There are few bells and whistles to clutter things up and it stands strong with its simply amazing traditional flavor of malt with extra extra hops.

Come to think of it, the name “Farmer’s Tan” is very fitting for this IPA. This is a seasonal beer and feels perfect for a cool refreshment after a day out in the hot sun. The hops give it a tartness that isn’t quite citrus-y, which makes sure you completely avoid that sensation of drinking “one of those heavy craft beers”.

For an IPA I could maintain through this for quite a while. I could work through a 6-pack (over multiple days) and not get tired of such an honest refreshing flavor.

Filed under: India Pale Ale, , , , , ,

Craft Beer: Atwater Brewing Company, Grand Circuis IPA

grand circus ipa

Well I decided to start writing this post early because I am completely jammed up with trying Grand Circus IPA due to a quality issue I will describe in a moment….

I picked up this bottle as part of a pick-a-pack selection the last time I hit the liquor store.  I was intrigued because it is brewed in Detroit, Michigan, my hometown.  I figured I should try it out, and hopefully represent a tasty beer from my hometown.  Because it is part of a pick-a-pack, I cannot quote an exact six-pack price.  I can say that it was priced at $2.49, which was about average for most of the other craft beers available.  I would assume this translates to the six-pack prices as well.

So, why am I starting this post early before I can reasonably taste the beer?  Apparently some post-fermentation or other such issue occurred and the beer I received was severely over-carbonated.  The first splash of beer to hit the glass foamed up completely.  I need to clarify that I mean 1/4 of the bottle turned entirely to foam and filled the cup.  There was no actual legitimate beer in the bottom of the glass for a good five minutes.  Pouring this out I tried again, and the glass immediately foamed up a second time.  I have now been waiting nearly twenty minutes, slowly pouring out more beer as the foam subsides.

It may be harsh to judge the quality of any product with just one data point, but I am glad I didn’t purchase a six-pack of beer that behaves like this.  It is a very disappointing experience to have to wait so long and commit so much effort to drink a single beer.   Having homebrewed several times myself, I am aware there are proven methods to insure a beer does not post-ferment in the bottle and become overcarbonated.  this overcarbonation also concernes me in that it may have released flavors different than normally and may have negatively impacted the flavor of the beer.

To test what I have…

The smell of the IPA is very brisk, with a sweet undertone that reminds me of toffee and cinnamon.  The scent is very strong, likely due to so much aroma being released from the carbonation.

The first taste is shockingly different from the smell I experienced.  The bite of the hops almost feels like it clamps down on your tongue and pushes the subtle aromas I described earlier out of the way.  The beer finishes quickly but pleasantly.  The astringent feel of the initial hops merges into a tart taste like grapefruit.  Despite the shock of the intensity of the initial flavor, I will say this beer comes across as rather invigorating and refreshing.  If the foaming issue is a fluke, I would recommend this beer for a very hot summer day, or perhaps after a long day of yardwork.

The flavoring of this beer is very strong initially, but the flavor experience finishes fast which lends it to be a very comfortable beer to drink.  To be honest, it does kind of remind me of the bold and brisk weather I often encountered when i lived up in Michigan.  If I had a long day of relaxing of playing golf or some other time consuming activity I think I could get through 3-4 of these before I wanted to switch to something else.  Unfortunately, it does seem to lack the body I often associate with a craft beer (again, this could be the carbonation issue).  Because of the body-issue I’m not sure if I would seek this beer out for the craft-beer premium I’d pay to get it.

This beer may be the one for you, but i would recommend you get one like I did and try it before committing to more.

Filed under: India Pale Ale, , , , , , ,

Craft beer: Highland Brewing Company Gaelic Ale


Gaelic ale

My apologies to my readers.  I’ve been on a hiatus for nearly 2 weeks due to a headcold and then travelling.  I’m finally back in the saddle and decided to get another craft beer review going.  This beer is a “Gaelic ale” I found here in North Carolina.  It’s brewed in Asheville, NC, which is now considered one of the craft beer capitals of the world.

Gaelic Ale is a 5.6 ABV beer, and goes for a standard craft beer price of ~$11 per six-pack.

My first impression of the smell of the beer is that it’s oaty with a hint of honey and brown sugar.  It has a very engaging malty sweetness that is different than most standard beers you will find, even in the craft-beer arena.

Taking my first sip, I am actually very surprised at how hoppy the beer is initially.  It is a stark contrast to the sweet smell I experienced as I poured it from the bottle.  The flavor combination makes me think of it as the beer-version of sweet-and-salty like fudge covered pretzels. This beer has a tartness to it that isn’t quite citrus, but closer to that bold raw tartness of nearly-ripe canteloupe.  This flavoring of the hops provides a great contrast to keep it from being overwhelmingly sweet.

This shifts gears very quickly, but also very smoothly.  The second the beer leaves your tongue the sweetness hits you quick.  The malty-wheaty flavor rolls through and gives you a great finish without being too heavy.

Since “Gaelic Ale” isn’t the most standard of beer-types, I would qualify this in the realm of a darker Brown Ale.  It is delicious and full-bodied, and has a heft to it that makes it pleasantly filling.  For drinking time, I would probably have two of these at most.  I tend to not drink too many hoppy beers, or malty beers at once because they tend to be so strongly flavored.  This beer is 50/50 each, and the two different halves still add up to a whole that can be overwhelming to my pallet after more than two.


Filed under: Craft Beer, , , , ,