Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beer Review: St John's Brewers Island Hoppin' IPA

The great thing about having your own website about homebrews and craft beer is that people want to share their beer with you, and they want to talk with you about the beer they like and the folks they know in the beer business.

I was recently given a few random beers from a friend of a friend who works at Shipyard Brewery.  Apparently they conducted a bit of a private tasting on a weekend not too long ago and a variety of quality brews were enjoyed by all.  A few of the leftovers were brought back to CT for me to enjoy.

One of the more interesting of the lot was a Virgin Islands Island Hoppin' IPA.  Although it's touted as a local VI beer, they brew and bottle it in Maine at Shipyard for domestic sales.  I'm not sure if they make any in the Virgin Islands, but it would be interesting to find out.

Beer: St John's Brewers Island Hoppin' IPA
Served: From pint glass
Location: At my house
Style: American IPA
The American IPA is a different soul from the reincarnated IPA style. More flavorful than the withering English IPA, color can range from very pale golden to reddish amber. Hops are typically American with a big herbal and / or citric character, bitterness is high as well. Moderate to medium bodied with a balancing malt backbone.

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 5.5-7.5%

(In this case 6.20% abv)  On to the review...

1. Appearance - A rich copy color, quite an attractive glass of beer with only a slightest of haze.  Nice foamy large bubbled head that settles nicely with some lacing.

2. Smell - More malty than expected, but hoppy citrus aroma caught on the end.

3. Taste - I like the flavor, probably an excellent beer to enjoy on tap while relaxing in the Virgin Islands, or even in Maine where this baby was actually brewed.  With that said, the hop flavor is a bit understated.  Leaning more toward the citrus side of the hop spectrum the sweet aspect melds into the beer's overall malty flavor.  Carmel with a twist of tart citrus comes to mind.  Dry finish.  As the beer warms the hop flavor seems to come out of hiding, something to keep in mind.  Tasty, but not what I tend to look for in a tongue-shwacking IPA.  This is more of a mild (perhaps an entry level) IPA that wont scare off the newbie with the hop kick to the chops.  Probably ideal for the Virgin Islands vacationer it was intended for.

4. Mouthfeel - A well carbonated medium bodied beer.

5. Drinkability
- This one goes down easily, I could see it doing even more so at a beach side bar with the island music playing in the background.  Not so bad here in it's birthplace of New England either.  But not an over the top IPA some may be looking for.

Drinkability Scale from 1-10: I give it a solid 9, could almost be a substantial session brew with a slight kick.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Beer Review: Shipyard XXXX IPA (Pugsley's Signature Series)

I have an agreement with myself...  If anyone gives me free beer, as long as it's something new to me and interesting, I'm going to review it.  In this case, a friend from work has a friend who works at Shipyard Brewery.  Apparently they conducted a bit of a private tasting on a weekend not too long ago and a variety of quality brews were enjoyed by all.

I had hoped to meet this friend of a friend during a recent pilgrimage to Shipyard, but alas it was not in the cards.  With that said, my friend from work had me in mind and brought a few gems home for me to enjoy, first on the agenda is...

Beer: Shipyard XXXX IPA (Pugsley's Signature Series)
Served: From a snifter
Location: At my house

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
Take an India Pale Ale and feed it steroids, ergo the term Double IPA. Although open to the same interpretation as its sister styles, you should expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out. The Imperial usage comes from Russian Imperial stout, a style of strong stout originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court of the late 1700s; though Double IPA is often the preferred name.

You can thank west coast American brewers for this somewhat reactionary style. "Thanks!"

Average alcohol by volume (abv) range: 7.0-14.0%

(In this case 9.25% abv)  On to the review...

1. Appearance - Amber somewhat hazy.  Modest head but what's there lasts...  Lacing present.

2. Smell - Floral, hoppy, malt and a bit of alcohol...

3. Taste - Flavorful beverage, malt/carmel backbone with strong dose of piney/citrus hops at first and that 9.25 % per volume doesn't hide.  Bitterness quickly turns sweet, like a bite of grapefruit with a little bit of extra sugar on the end.  (Note: As the brew warms the hop flavor increases)

4. Mouthfeel - Medium body, the "bigness" of this beer pushes through, but it's not as heavy as one might think.  Fair amount of carbonation.

5. Drinkability
- Not for the faint at heart, goes down easily enough, but one must pace themselves with a brew like this.  This is not the hop-bomb I expected, but has the warming qualities of a tasty barley wine.  I'd call this a "fire side beer" great for warming up after shoveling some snow.

Drinkability Scale from 1-10: I give it a solid 9, but certainly no more than 1 in a sitting, unless I had a long night be the fire ahead of me, then all bets are off...

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