Founders Dark Penance

Founders Dark Penance is an 8.9 ABV 100 IBU American Black Ale.  The appearance is virtually black with a piney hop and roasted malt nose.  The palate follows, roasted almost burnt sugar caramel malts, finishing with bitter pine hops.  The texture and mouthfeel are deep, creamy and boozy yet still quite drinkable and not at all overdone, that almost 9 ABV could sneak right up on you.  Another outstanding offering from Founders, wouldn’t mind getting another one.

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Dogfish Head Saison Du Buff

Dogfish Head Saison Du Buff is 6.8 ABV and is brewed in collab with Victory & Stone.  The appearance is hazy orange with a floral garden and spice nose.  The flavor is freshly herbaceous as it includes parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, along with notes of spice and tropical fruit.  Mouthfeel carbonation and texture all moderate and crisp and quite indicative of a good warm weather saison.  I’ve only seen the Dogfish version but I’d really like to get my hands on the Victory and Stone offerings.

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Steinhaus Fat Weasel Ale

Fat Weasel Ale is a 7.1 ABV American Strong Ale brewed by Steinhaus for Trader Joe’s.  The appearance is hazy orange and the nose light grain and hay.  The flavor is wet grain and spicy bitter with a raw alcohol aftertaste.  Mouthfeel and carbonation are moderate and uninspiring.  When I realized this was another brewed for Trader Joe’s offering I kind of groaned, remembering the middling to poor Boatswain and retro lagers I had also found.  Fat Weasel isn’t great and not something I can recommend but it’s fine and it finishes clean despite that alcohol finish.

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Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin

Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin is a 5.5 ABV Oatmeal Stout.  The appearance is blackish with a roasted malt nose.  The palate is smooth and mellow oatmeal malt with those roasted chocolate coffee stout notes.  The mouthfeel is pleasant and creamy and only enhances as it warms.  At 5.5% Velvet Merlin is relatively light on the alcohol and dry on the finish so it’s ultimately drinkable yet has such nice texture and depth of character.   Definitely one to try.

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Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot

Blithering Idiot from Weyerbacher is an 11.1 ABV English Barleywine.  The appearance is dark orange and the nose sweet fruity malt.  The taste is strong malt with dark fruit and overwhelmingly sweet, in fact that sweetness makes Blithering Idiot a little one note.  The carbonation mouthfeel and overall texture are creamy and thick but still  drinkable.  It’s too sweet and boozy but anything at double digits can be cut some slack, although admittedly a lot of big IPAS are knocking down that barrier and keeping it tight.  Either way I’d recommend trying one.

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Sixpoint The Crisp

The Crisp from Sixpoint is a 5.4 ABV 44 IBU German Pilseneser.  Appearance is a translucent yellow and the nose herbal and earthy.  The palate has those grassy earthy malts of a pilsener with an herbal hop finish.  The mouthfeel is all pils, crisp and clean but the hop treatment gives a nice complexity.  The Crisp is nice if you want a clean drinkable lager but wouldn’t mind some more character.

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Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter

Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter is a 6.2 ABV 60 IBU AIPA.  The appearance is golden orange with a malty and pungent oily hop nose.  The palate is nicely balanced with those sweet malts and delicious pungent pine hops.  Mouthfeel and carbonation are both crisp and moderate.  Sierra Nevada used fresh hop oil combined with whole hop cones in brewing Hop Hunter.  The nose and taste do have a fresh and delicious oily hop character without being any bit of a hop bomb.  Definitely recommended and one I’d like to have some more of.

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Sixpoint Bengali

Sixpoint Begali is a 6.5 ABV 69 IBU AIPA.  The appearance is amber orange and the nose citrus hop.  The taste is sweet malt in nice balance with those tangerine citrus hops.  Body, mouthfeel and carbonation are all moderate and what you’d expect from a good AIPA.  Bengali is really nice, a solid east coast AIPA that can easily compete with those big west coast powerhouses.  And you gotta appreciate Sixpoint’s taller and thinner can.

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Sierra Nevada Nooner

Sierra Nevada Nooner is a 5.2 ABV German Pilsener.  Appearance is clear golden yellow and the nose floral and grassy malt.  The taste is similar and what you’d expect out of a German Pils, grassy earthy malt finishing with a nice hoppy bitter bite finish.  Mouthfeel and texture are moderate and crisp.  Sierra Nevada is always top notch and they did well giving the west coast hop treatment to a German style pils.  Definitely one to try during the spring/summer months.

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Southern Tier Sonnet

Sonnet from Southern Tier is an 8.5 ABV Farmhouse / Saison.  The appearance is hazy orange and the nose funky yeast, malt and lemongrass.  The palate is similar, strong spicy notes from the lemongrass, wheat malts and funky yeast.  The overall texture and mouthfeel are light to medium.  Sonnet is pleasant and very drinkable but has nice layers to it, a standout in a crowded field of Saisons that come out every Spring.  Definitely nice to try and a great one to come in a bomber size.

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