The Burrito Tribune

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randomness, truth, and burritos

Craft Beer: Highland Brewing Co. Kashmir India Pale Ale

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So as prolific as IPAs are, even making fun of how often I seem to review them is starting to get old.  I don’t have it in me to come up with something else witty for tasting yet another IPA.  That isn’t to say anything negative about this IPA itself.  My experiences with Highland Brewing have been very favorable.  I’m also pretty sure I’ve had this beer in the last year and can’t remember any negative qualities, so I am holding out hope for a good review.

 

I do have to root for Highland Brewing because it is a North Carolina beer, and being brewed in Asheville, is not terribly far away from where I currently live.  According to local legend, Asheville has become one of the major craft beer capitals of the nation.  It seems like Charlotte is working to catch up with that title, but that is another post.

Kashmir IPA is 6% ABV, so it’s strong enough to have a kick, but not enough to knock you completely on your butt.  It pours out a light golden color and had a head that started small but hung around for a good long while after the pour.  It did not seem to coat the glass like some of the others I have tasted lately, but it is far from unimpressive.

The smell is very unique.  This isn’t an aromatic beer, but the aroma has a very light hint of sweet strawberry.  It makes me think of jam or preserves.  There is a sweetness that cuts into this beer’s scent that makes it very intriuging.

The flavoring of this beer reminds me of a melody from a piece of classical music.  It feels like it dances around from one end of the scale of tastes from sip to swallow.  It has a neutral tartness at the beginning that is hard to define, yet quite refreshing.  It seems to sizzle on the tongue, indecisive of where to go.  It reminds me of throwing a slice of lemon in your drinking water.  You know it’s there, and it’s changing the flavor, but it’s so subtle that its hard to identify if someone didn’t point it out.

As this beer slides along your tongue as you go to drink it down, the intricacies of the flavor blossom out.  There is a hint of cranberry in there.  Also maybe a touch of blueberry.  I would also go so far as to say a touch of butternut or pumpkin squash was hiding about in there also.

The finish definitely reminds you that this is an IPA.  The body of the hops makes its presence known and gives your tongue, if not a pop in the nose, definitely a slap in the face.  It’s a bit of a wake-up call that blends well with the sweetness this beer tapers off to.

This is a finely crafted beer, but I do not think i can list it as a casual drinking beer.  It’s complexities almost make it too exhausting to drink regularly throughout a night, and the flavors are too loud for me to recommend for a casual night out drinking with the guys.  This is a beer to be savored.  I would drink this at home after a hard day’s work, with nobody around to interrupt the experience.  Maybe I would watch the sunset, or read a good book on my balcony.  I wouldn’t want to interrupt this beer, it just seems to have too much to say.

Filed under: India Pale Ale, , , , ,

Craft Beer: Cigar City Brewing Co., Maduro Brown

On a recent trip to Florida I was able to pick up an excellent Brown ale local to the Tampa Bay area.  Their Maduro Brown (named after the fermented darker color cigar) has quickly become one of my favorite darker beers to drink on a hot August evening.

Freshly Poured Maduro Brown and standard can

Freshly Poured Maduro Brown and standard can

This beer is a dark black/brown with a tall frothy brown head that projects the sweetness of the beer.  at 5.5% ABV it comes in right at nominal for craft beer strength.  The six-pack I procured was canned instead of bottled, but don’t let this disuade you.  The beer’s flavor is not affected in any way I have been able to tell from the canning vs bottling process.  I would certainly advise you to not drink this beer straight from the can.  Doing so would waste a good portion of the aromatic qualities of the beer because they would be trapped in the can.  Lastly, if this beer is in your area, it is moderately priced.  You should be able to find it at your local bar for ~$5 per pint.  I purchased my 6-pack for $9.99 in the Tampa area.

Now as to the beer itself.  It comes out of the can as an extremely dark brown, almost closer to a stout than a brown ale.  The dark head on the glass suggests a strong thick flavor and may worry some drinkers that it will be too potent for their palate.  Do not despair in thinking that this is a beer you are going to have to chew before you swallow.  Let us all remember that a Florida beer that was too thick and heavy could not survive in a state that routinely hits 97 degrees at 2am in the morning.

The scent of the beer is sweet and strong.  it reminds me of flavors like caramel or dark chocolate.  Behind all of those primary scents is a hint of roasting coffee beans, or pralined almonds.  Behind this though is a bright coolness that betrays the otherwise thick dark looking beer.

The first sip of this beer is surprisingly refreshing.  For a brown ale, the beer has a very welcome light sweet finish that makes a great contrast to the Florida heat where this beer is brewed.  It also suits the deep southern heat of my current town quite well.  The first sensation of this beer is the tingle of the carbonation that creates a citrus tingle across the tongue, and the dark sweet malt of a potent brown ale.  Despite this, Maduro Brown isn’t heavy and slides down more akin to a pilsner or pale ale fit for a steamy summer day.  The finish is sweet and bright, reminding me of something akin to a root beer float with a hint of chocolate.  This may be too sweet for some craft beer aficionados, but it is a welcome change of pace for local beer advocate.

If you are in a region that has access to Cigar City brews, I would highly recommend you try this beer.  it is an great beer in its own right, and an excellent choice for a beer drinker who enjoys lighter beers but is ready for a step up to the bolder dark-beer leagues.  I would recommend it for hot weather or at the end of a long exhausting day.  To pair with food, i would go with your standard bar-food of burgers, chicken tenders, or Carolina BBQ.

Filed under: Brown, , , , , ,

Craft Beer: Great Divide Brewing Co., Rumble IPA

Rumble ipa

In another return to the wonderful world of IPA’s I am sampling another Colorado beer that has piqued my interest.  This one is an “Oak aged IPA” from Denver, CO.  I like that Great Divide Brewing has listed food pairings on the bottle.  They recommend skirt steak, sweet potatoes, brie, and apple crisp with ice cream.  This all sounds fantastic by the way, and even though I don’t have it to pair with this beer, I will probably be eating all of it in the near future.  Lastly on the “what’s writting on the tin” front, this beer is a little higher than standard, at 7.1% ABV.

The beer is a nice dark amber color with a very small head.  The head never really frothed up like i expected, but it let out such a pleasingly sweet aroma as I poured it I’m willing to overlook it.  The smell reminds me of when I tried a recipe for a carmel-butterscotch sugar cookie.  It’s incredibly rich and complex with hints of caramelized sugar, vanilla, and a hint of cinnamon.

It’s funny, I often start off my reviews with strict commentary on how the beer smells.  However, it seems more often than not when I taste it I am very surprised at how much the actual flavor varies from the initial smells.  This isn’t always a bad thing, but it does tend to surprise and shock the senses a little.  I might qualify this as one of the most magnificent beers I’ve had to date because it completely lives up to all the expectations you get from the initial scents of the beer.  The first sip was this amazing thick nectar of vanilla wheat with a hint of hops.  There are so many different experiences in the taste-profile of this beer I feel like I’m going to miss something and do an injustice to this beer.  I will try anyways…

As I take my first swallow, the citrus-essence of the hops pops out and wakes up the taste buds.  It makes all the flavors shimmer like a kaleidoscope before settling into this amazing butterscotch-sweet aftertaste, with just enough bite from the carbonation to remind you you’re drinking beer and not an amazing dessert.

This beer is a healthy craft-beer and as such is a bit on the heavier side.  I want to be drinking this with a half dozen friends with big beer mugs, clinking them together and making a real ruckus at the bar.  As rich as this beer is, I could drink at least 3-4 before even contemplating switching to something else.  (be careful with that though, it’s strong enough to get you in trouble if you don’t stretch them out over a long enough time!)

I have had some great beers since I have started this blog.  I will say, this is one of the first times I’ve regretted only buying one bottle of this beer as part of my pick-a-pack selection.  I have to give some major kudos to Great Divide Brewing Co. for a truly superb beer.

P.S.  I keep having to read the label to remember it’s an IPA.  The hops are there, but are just a fragment of the entire experience.  regardless, this beer is definitely worth trying.

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