Russian River Blind Pig IPA

Where – Public House SF

How – On Draft

ABV – 6.1%

IBUs – 70

I am in the minority.  I am not obsessed with Pliny the Elder like most.  It is good, but I am going to reserve my review on it until I have it on draft again.  I have only had it in bottles the last year or two, so I am going to give it a “fresh” look and see if my opinion changes.

That being said, I love Blind Pig.

Pours a nice copper color with medium carbonation.  The head quickly recedes.

pig

Good hop aroma, citrus and pines throughout.

The first thought tasting it is…smoooooth.  I have been drinking a great deal of IIPAs, so this one almost hits like a session beer.  Very well balanced and medium body.  Minimal carbonation.  Smooth mouthfeel.

Overall, this is about a perfect warm day IPA for me.

95/100

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Sierra Nevada – Flipside, Hoptimum, Torpedo, Beer Camp

We have family and Chico and make it up there several times a year.  On those trips, it is pretty much a given that we grab lunch, and more importantly, several brews at the brewery.

The most recent trip allowed me to have 4 different IPAs.  Although I can get all of these IPAs in SF, it is always better to have them at the source.

Flipside Red IPA

First beer I tried was the Flipside Red IPA, mostly because I had not yet had it.

Flipside comes in at 6.2%, with 60 IBUs.

The pour is a dark, rusty red.  Decent carbonation, especially since it was served in an IPA glass.

flip

Fairly citrus forward nose, with some maltyness and limited hop.

Flavor was malty and citrusy, with hops coming in at the end.  You definitely get an amber flavor as well, borderline caramel-y.

I would have it again, but not my first choice of the 4 I had this visit.  Most likely would enjoy it after dinner sitting by the fire.  Uniqueness did make it stand out though, as it is a nice change of pace.

82/100

http://www.sierranevada.com/beer/seasonal/flipside-red-ipa

Hoptimum

Hoptimum was second, and my favorite for the day.

ABS is 10.2%, with 100 IBUs.

The SN website gives a great description:  “Hoptimum is a hurricane of whole-cone hop flavor. Hopped, dry hopped and torpedoed for incredible hop flavor and complexity, Hoptimum is the pinnacle of whole-cone hoppiness and the biggest Imperial IPA we have ever produced.”

The words “biggest Imperial IPA we have ever produced” are welcome words for me.

Nice copper color, and a big nose of hops, grapefruit and pine.

hopt

First taste is hope forward with some nice bitterness.  Pine and grapefruit flavors come through strong, with a hint of tropical fruit.  Only downside is you can tell it is a big, boozy beer.  Not overly so, but you can “feel” it.  It was a hot day but I still greatly enjoyed this beer.

94/100

http://www.sierranevada.com/beer/high-altitude/hoptimum-imperial-ipa

Beer Camp DIPA

The Beer Camp DIPA was third.  8.5% ABV, IBUs unknown but I would guess in the 90 range.

Fairly clear cold pour with limited head.  Fairly citrus forward nose, with some dankness.

camp

Bitter up front, with some balanced citrus flavor.  Nothing about it stands out and blows you away, but nothing about it is “great” either.  I enjoyed it, but it just did not stand up to the Hoptimum.

80/100

Torpedo Extra IPA

Finished up lunch with a Torpedo.  Obviously have had before, but always best to have it at the source.

Torpedo comes in at 7.2% with 65 IBUs.

Torpedo pours darker than most IPAs, as you can see from the picture.  Fairly creamy head that subsided relatively quickly.

torp

Aroma is a nice mix of citrus and pine.  Not overwhelming in any area.

Flavor can best be described as balanced.  You get the hops, you get some grapefruit and citrus, bitterness throughout, and the finish even has a touch of maltyness and caramel.  Just a great, clean beer.

One of the other huge bonuses with the Torpedo is you can get a 6er or 12er for a good price, and do not need to get a bomber.

I am really looking forward to trying this on cask, which apparently I can do over at the new Taproom in Berkeley.

92/100

http://www.sierranevada.com/beer/year-round/torpedo-extra-ipa

Overall, a very successful trip to the brewery.  The bro-in-law enjoyed the Session IPA they had on draft, so I will have to give that a whirl next time.

PS.  The food at the brewery is pretty good too.  The beer cheese and pretzels are a must have.

Fall River Brewing Widowmaker

Where – Anselmo Vineyards in Shingletown

How – On Draft

ABV – 10.2%

IBUs – 100+

index

We recently made the trek up north to visit family in Redding.  During our stay, we had a pretty fantastic brunch at Anselmo Vineyards in Shingletown.  Part of the reason brunch was so great, a few Widowmakers from Fall River.

I had never heard of Fall River, let alone their IIPA.  However, I was very happy to find it.

The pour is a nice copper color with medium head and carbonation.  Aroma is not as hoppy as one would expect from a IIPA with a 10.2% ABV.  Aroma had some tropical fruit notes.

widowmaker

Taste was very smooth, not overwhelmingly hoppy but the hops are present throughout.  Fairly heavy and thick mouthfeel.

If you have ever been up to Redding, you know it can get quite hot.  It was pushing 100 degrees when we were at brunch, and we were sitting outside.  Nonetheless, I was happy to suck down 3 of these with brunch.

One word to describe this beer…dangerous.  Rarely do you find a IIPA that is so drinkable.  I did not expect this beer when we planned our trip to Redding, but have a great reason to get back there (other than to see the infamous @realjohncarter and his lovely wife of course)

93/100

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

Half Moon Bay Brewery is up there for my favorite breweries to visit. It is hard to beat sitting outside on the patio on a sunny day with the dog and wife.  In fact, I have been out there 3 times in the last ten days…

Most recently, I had the Tunnel Vision IPA and Princeton-by-the-Sea IPA on draft, at the brewery.

Tunnel Vision IPA

ABV – 6.6%
IBUs – 100+

hmb

I first had Tunnel Vision last year, and was very impressed by it. However, it was only a seasonal beer at that time, so it has not been around my last few visits. Now, it sounds as though they are going to keep this around on more of a full time basis, which is a good thing.

Tunnel Vision pours a dark orange/golden color with light head.

Aroma is of piney hops with some citrus. Fairly hop forward flavor, with some tropical fruits notes.

Only complaint is a slight aftertaste.

Overall, 83/100 (I was tempted to add a few bonus points just because I love drinking at the brewery so much, but held back).

Princeton-By-the-Sea IPA

ABV – 6.1%
IBUs – 65

Although this is their “regular” IPA, it is not as good as Tunnel Vision.

Clear copper color with an off-white head.

Light hoppy flavor.  This may well be why my rating is lower, as I tend to like the hoppier beers.  This one has little hop aroma and minimal hop flavor compared to the Tunnel Vision or most West Coast IPAs.  To me, it is almost more of a Pale Ale.

Very drinkable, just not the type of IPA I typically crave.  70/100.

Now, here is the kicker.  This truly is one of my favorite places to go in Northern California.  Sitting on the bay with incredible views, and good food.  The artichoke hearts, fish tacos (get them grilled with the achiote rub), and the newly improved crab roll are all bomb.

Can you complain sitting outside like this?

hmb 2

Or when before or after you eat you can be here?

hmb 3

The dog does not seem to mind heading over either…

Where to Drink IPA – Steep Brew, Whole Foods Potrero Hill

Where – 450 Rhode Island St, San Francisco, CA 94107 – (415) 552-1155

So on top of writing reviews on the IPAs I drink, I also wanted to write about the places to drink them.  Naturally, my first such post is about the place we likely grab drinks most often, Steep Brew.

Steep Brew is one of my favorite places to go put back a few IPAs. Location is a factor as it is close to home, but the constantly rotating taps is another huge draw.

We tend to go to Steep Brew at least three times a month for drinks and a light dinner or apps. The taps rotate fairly frequently, and they oftentimes have “tap takeovers” where one brewery will be featured and have several, sometimes harder to find, brews on tap.

Every visit I make starts with a flight.  This is the flight I had for National IPA Day:

 

steep

The flights are $10 ($9 during Happy Hour, which is all day Sunday and between 5 and 7 on weekdays) and a healthy pour for each of the 4 beers.  Typically, I am able to get 4 IPAs, and sometimes I can even get a second flight with 4 different IPAs.  The selection is usually pretty solid, and oftentimes I will find a beer from a brewery I have not had before.

Occasionally they will have a “tap takeover” where there will be several beers from one brewery.

They also typically have 2 beers on cask.

The staff is also great and tend to have solid beer knowledge and recommendations. One of the other great perks is that if you enjoy a beer, chances are you can run upstairs to Whole Foods and buy it to take home!

Food is also generally good.  Our favorite thing to get is the Southwestern Egg Rolls, and the truffle fried are hard to resist.  Alternatively, you can grab grub upstairs and eat at the bar.

For all these reasons Steep Brew is one of my favorite places to get a few IPAs.  The opportunity to taste something new is a huge draw, and it is easy to get to and has good food.  My wife tends to like the wine choices they have as well!

 

Lagunitas IPA

Lagunitas-IPA

Where – Pedro’s Cantina (most recently, Lagunitas IPA must be the most popular IPA on tap nationwide by now, right?)

How – On Draft

Lagunitas for me is like my Nike Free 5.0s. When I do not know what else to go with, go with the classic, easy and comfortable choice.

Lagunitas is the perfect IPA to have around the house at all times. Once we move out of the City and/or somehow figure out to get more room in the City this is likely what I will have on tap at home.  It is a smooth and not overly hoppy IPA, at least compared to most West Coast IPAs. That is evidenced by the approximately 45 IBUs, and although higher than non-IPAs, the ABV is on the low-side at 6.2%.

Color is a little lighter and golden than the bigger IPAs, with a bright, white head.

Hops mix well with light fruity flavor after some initial malty sweetness. Can be surprisingly refreshing for an IPA.

Overall, it is not going to knock your socks off but it is an excellent daily drinker. If you are having people over, you can guarantee a few people will enjoy it and even if they are not big IPA fans, they will put back a few.

Rating this one is difficult for me as the rating will not reflect its true value as an ideal “daily” beer. I had to rate it slightly lower as there is nothing “special” about it.

85/100

Ballast Point Sculpin

ballast-point-sculpin-ipa-can-crop

Where – San Benito Ale House, Half Moon Bay

How – On Tap

Probably my favorite IPA.  Sculpin comes in at 7% ABV with 70 IBUs.

Sculpin pours a rich golden color.  Has a hint of lemon on the nose.  Flavor is fruity with some grapefruit hoppiness.  It packs a mouthful, but in a good and almost refreshing way for an IPA.  Smooth.

sculp

(pic from a more recent Sculpin indulgence at the Tradesmen in SF.  Sara approves).

The only problem with Scuplin IPA is unless you are buying it at a bar, it is exceedingly pricey.  At last check at Whole Foods, a 6er was $14.  I have found it to be $6-$7 on tap, or even bought cans at Gott’s in the SF Ferry Building for $5.

Overall, tough to beat.

98/100

http://www.ballastpoint.com/beer/sculpin/

21st Amendment Personality Crisis

Where – 21st Amendment Brewery

How – On Tap

21st Amendment is a couple blocks away, so we make it there often.  One of the good and bad things about 21st is they have a fairly frequently changing beer lineup.  The good is that you get to try a bunch of different stuff.  The bad, once you find one you like it may be gone by the next visit.

Personality Crisis falls into the latter category.  It is a Double IPA with and ABV of 7.5%, with 75 IBUs.

For a Double IPA it was not as hoppy or alcoholic as most IIPAs. Fairly piney and citrusy.  Carbonation was moderate to light, which made for a smooth finish.  Felt more like a traditional west coast IPA (rather than IIPA) based on the subdued hops.

The bad news, it is apparently already gone, and not sure if or when it will be back.

82/100

http://21st-amendment.com/

Figueora Mountain Lizard’s Mouth

Figueroa-Mountain-Lizards-Mouth-Imperial-IPA-e1398881125832-200x200

Where – Figueroa Mountain Brewery, Santa Barbara

How – On Tap

After a visit over two years ago to Santa Barbara, we stopped at the Figueroa Mountain Brewery in  Buelton on our way home.  I was impressed by the beers, but when we recently went back down to SB and tried some more of the beers in the new brewery in the “Funk Zone” near the pier, it was a whole new experience.

Not only is the new brewery a great place to hang out, listen to music and soak up the sun, the beers are killer.

My personal favorite was the Lizard’s Mouth Double IPA. Another strong one, with an ABV of 9.2% and 100 IBUs.

The pour is golden with a light, white head.  The aroma is citrusy.  Balanced hop flavor, with some citrus flavors and a slight hint of caramel on the finish.

Overall, an incredibly smooth DIPA.  Unfortunately, when we were in town, the SB brewery was all sold out of bottles of this one, as was the Buelton brewery.  Hopefully it will makes its way up north soon…

93/100

http://www.figmtnbrew.com/our-beers/#lizards-mouth

Stone Enjoy By

Where – Steep Brew, Whole Foods Potrero Hill

How – On Tap

index

The first post must go to what is currently my favorite IPA out there, the Stone Enjoy By series.

At 9.4% ABV, this one is a monster.  I have had it both in the bottle and on draft, and it is delicious either way.

Fairly light head and carbonation is light.  Definitely has some grapefruit flavors, and extremely smooth.  Piney hop aroma.

stone

This is the smoothest Double IPA I can ever remember having.  Closest other one is the Cafe Racer.  After the initial smoothness, there is a massive hit of the hops.

Each different Enjoy By “date” I have had has been consistently good with no variation noted.

My rating:  95/100

http://enjoyby.stonebrewing.com/

UPDATE – Recently had the Enjoy By 08/16/14 in bottle, still as delicious as all the prior iterations.

UPDATE – I recently had the 10/31/14 iteration (photo above), and it was a bit sweeter than prior iterations.