- Denver Pale Ale: This pale ale has taken a bit of a separate path from many US pale ales. There is the good body, the balance of hop and malt but a bit more as well. It is a nice light mohogany with a lace-leaving tan head. A wee sniff detects a bit of that singularity with a dusty rich tone with the slight bit of malt sweet. A sip confirms there is actually a bit of chocolate malt in the back there behind a green and roughish hoppy and pale graininess edge which cuts the round sweet malt up front down the middle. It makes it a very three dimensional taste. Jungular even...not the philosopher...the tropical forest. There is also a bit of fresh acidic lift brightening all that flavour. Nice yet the advocates have questions: do they boil down to "is there too much going on"?
- Ridge Line Amber Ale: I don't know if I liked this. I have a hard time with amber ales as I really do not know what is trying to be achieved. Initially it reminded me of that Canadian style of ale I have discussed here, here and here. These ambers are ales which do not take a stand as far as I am concerned, soft-landers for folk who will move on once they get the idea of what real ale is all about. There is a level of cloy about the sweetness that is not fruity so much as brown sugary...without being sugary...just brown...kinda. Not even a complexity of crystal malts. An easy entry beer. But then in this one there is a bit of a backbone of edgy hop and pale malt graininess and no sourness to the yeast - though there is a bit of a tang. It is not that far off a Creemore come to think of it. So while it is pretty with an off-white lace-leaving head over a swell-looking deep-amber sip, it is still not something I would ever buy a six of to have a six. I want hops or roast or sour or smoke or fruit or something that makes me say wow. This just does not wow me even though it could be a great amber...or even the greatest. Maybe I am unfair. Here are the BAers starting with the top marks ones - yet the BA classifies it as a Scots ale! With nae reeky smoke and nae black malt, its nae Scot, Jimmy - ye ken? Maer like a wee glaekit sook.
- Hot Shots Extra Special Bitter: Faith restored. This is a really attractive lively ale with a rich active fine head over medium dark straw...or maybe, say, oxidized apple. It is quite carbonated and even may have some yeast floaties. Some brewers would call this their IPA but it properly sits betwixt pale ale and India pale ale with a bit more sweet and a bit more heat and a bit more hop as the one but not so much as the other. There is a nice orangey note in its hops which really recommends it as there is also a creaminess and smokiness that hint...but only hints...of white chocolate.
- Titan IPA: Lots and lots of green hops...maybe. There is a thing you can do with a highly hopped beer and that is harden the water. Water hardening is a venerible tool of the brewer so not an adjunct or adulteration. Burtonizing it is sometimes called. Making the water like Burton-on-Trent, home of Bass Ales and the entire pale ale style. Trouble is what is added is sulfate and if you are sensative, that can be a headache makers. Al Korzonas says in his excellent Homebrewing: Vol.1 notes:
Sulfate accentuates hop bitterness and lends a long dry finish to beer. Miller claims that together with high sodium levels it is said to give a harsh flavour but many ales have bery high levels of both ions and are not unpleasant...Elsewhere he notes that Burton naturally has 630 to 725 ppm of sulfate while Dublin has 50-55. Pilzn has 5. It is my little theory that a lot of what makes people like one beer or the other depends on their acceptance of the water composition - not just as a flavour component but whether it sets of a reaction of some sort. I tend to like the soft water beers. But I won't go on about that. Oh. I just did.
Anyway, this is a fine example of an IPA with a decidedly long dry finish lent to it by something. A fine filmy foamy white head sits on amber ale. The first sip is pretty malty cut with a large dollop of those green hot hops, a bit pine sappy and chewy. It reminds me of a hard water version of Flower Power, my benchmark US IPA, with the long soft richness of that fine beer not sticking around but rather yielding to that long dry finish. The final long last steps of that finish, after the hops and malt and heat fade, are somewhat minerally. BAers give 100%.
Great Divide Brewing, Denver, CO, USA
Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.
Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."
Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."