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Caldera IPA [Beer Review]

A little while ago I took a trip (along with Devon, Sarah our Cider Writer and some friends) to Maryland for our friends’ wedding. Being who I am, I kept my eyes open for a place to grab some new beer and found it just a quick drive from our hotel. The day before we left, I stocked up. This is one of those beers.

The first thing that caught my eye about the Caldera IPA wqas the bright yellow can. How could I not check this one out? When I took a closer look, I saw Oregon on the label and knew I had to grab this west coast beer. The left coast is known for their use of hops and, despite the east coast doing some amazing things lately, I had to check out what our craft beer brethren/sistren were up to all the way on the other side of the continent. So let’s see how this west coast IPA does.

Caldera Brewing IPA

With a near opaque haziness and an orangey copper body capped by a craggy, dense off-white head...yeah, this looks like an IPA!

If you stick your nose into your glass, be prepared for what you’re going to smell...it’s hops! Not the dank, dense, oily hops of some west coast IPAs but hops almost like fresh grass clippings. After that there’s a bit of citrus fruit in there. In the background there’s a bit of clean, crisp malt but it’s definitely a canvas for hops.

This is IPA the way I love the style! The malt? Dry, smooth, clean and just a hop conveyer. The bitterness? There, but not too assertive and it doesn’t linger. The hop flavor? Citrusy, crisp and it tastes like spring. The beer isn’t resiny or abrasive, but rather it uses the hops in a way where you can enjoy a six-pack of this beer. This is an awesome IPA that I wish we had access to in Massachusetts! It’s just insanely drinkable, but it still gives you your hop fix. Plus, the bright yellow can with a neon green tab on top would draw just a slight bit of attention. If you have access to this, check it out!

Mayflower Brewing Company to Release Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter

ImageWe just received word from Mayflower Brewing Company that they will be releasing their much-awaited Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter this weekend, December 12th & 13th, 2008. The beer was aged in Buffalo Trace barrels and will be extremely rare. For more details, here's the email sent by the brewery:

Happy Holidays from Mayflower Brewing Company!

ImageWe are pleased to tell you that we will be releasing our Bourbon Barrel-Aged Porter this week at the brewery. This unique version of our award-winning Mayflower Porter was aged in a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel for a month this fall. The result combines hints of bourbon and oak with the rich flavor of our Porter to create a smooth and complex brew that will warm your soul.

As you may know, supply is extremely limited, with just 70 growlers for sale. To make it available to as many of you as possible, we will be pre-filling growlers and selling them on a first-come, first-served basis at two separate times , with the first 35 growlers available on Friday 12/12 from 4:30PM to 6:30PM and the second 35 growlers available on Saturday 12/13 from 12 noon to 3:00PM. Pricing will be $20 per growler (including the $2 deposit), and quantities will be limited to one per customer.

All the best for the holidays, and we look forward to seeing you this week at the brewery!

This is one beer we've been excited about for a few months now, and could not wait to try! Unfortunately we'll both be in Pennsylvania this weekend for the Sly Fox IPA Fest (I know, I know... no sympathy for us!). We're leaving early Friday and coming back late Saturday, so looks like we'll miss this one. But it is definitely highly recommended!

Why Do You Love Pumpkin Beer? [Questions]

As a craft beer drinker you can't escape the furor and excitement that starts to bubble up in August...that's when the first pumpkin beers are released. Everyone, from craft beer lovers to those who normally don't care about craft beer, clamors for the gourdy goodness. In fact, it's to the point that many breweries have to contract out some of their pumpkin beer production or start way ahead of season just to keep up.

Every year there is more and more excitement and the date that the first pumpkin beers drop gets earlier and earlier. What I want to know is, "why?"

Let us know why you love pumpkin beer so much. I'll take all this information and put it together so we can finally answer that age old question, "why is there so much hype around this orange fall-time fruit?" Give us your responses in the comments section below or tweet us at @DrinkCraftBeer with #WhyPumpkinBeer.

If you don't like pumpkin beer, feel free to let us know why as well.

Look forward to all of your responses!


Beer of the Month Club Review - Gourmet Monthly Clubs February

Hey all you craft beer drinkers! It's that time again! What time? New Beer of the Month from Gourmet Monthly Clubs time! Yeah... we know, it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But the beer... The beer tastes good. So let's get to it!

This month, we've got beer from Atwater Brewing Company and Lakefront Brewing Company. Atwater sends their Pilsner and Vanilla Porter, while Lakefront  has their White and East Side Dark. With that in mind, let's get to the beer!

And, as always, if you want to get the same club as us go here: Click to Join

Atwater Pilsner

Appearance: Light golden, clear, light white head that disapates quicklu

Smell: very lager aroma, light

Taste: Very light, hint of biscuity malt, light hop bitterness.

Decent beer, very drinkable, it's a step up from the macro's but it's not going to blow your mind.

Jack's Abby Cascadian Schwarzbier [Beer Review]

When Jack’s Abby Brewing came on to the scene in Massachusetts, they said that they were just going to do lager. Everyone thought, “Hmmm...that’s interesting, is it a gimmick?” While it might be their “thing,” this is no gimmick! Since then, they’ve been putting out beer after beer, recreating common craft beer styles with a lager execution. After having Kiwi Rising Double India Pale Lager (their take on a Double IPA), Hoponius Union India Pale Lager (their take on an IPA), Jabby Brau Session Lager and Smoke & Dagger (a lightly smoked black lager), I thought it was time to write about one of their beers in the half liter bottles, especially seeing as they’re going to be at Drink Craft Beer Summerfest: A Celebration of Farmhouse Ale with a crazy lager interpretation of a farmhouse ale!

Jack's Abby Cascadian Schwarzbier

You heard right, their non-bomber beers are in 4-packs of half liter bottles, which means when you think you’re done, you’ve luckily got a little left! That brings us to their Cascadian Schwarzbier, a take on the now-trendy Black IPA style.

So the first thing I noticed is to be careful while pouring this beer! I may have been a little heavy handed with how I unleashed this into the glass, but a column of bubbles quickly filled the entire container with only about a half of an inch of beer at the bottom. The beer itself a dark but not opaque, with ruddy brown hues. The massive head is a light tan color and doesn’t appear to be leaving anytime soon...hopefully like this lager-based brewery.

Once you get past how the head on the beer expands like a vinegar and baking powder volcano, you’ll notice that it has an insane hop aroma! For real, the smell on this thing is incredible. It smells like I walked into a pine forest with a chocolate factory in the middle of it. The hops are assertive but not overwhelming, letting the schwarz (German for black) do its thing as well. Jack’s Abby is doing some awesome stuff with lagers over there.

And yeah, it’s all there! A solid hop bitterness is the first thing you get. Like a lager should be, it’s clean. Once your tastebuds are done with the bitterness, you’ll start to notice some piney hop notes (and the hop burp confirms the pine flavor) that complement the minor, but there, roasted malt character. This beer does not taste as dark as it looks! Don’t get me wrong there are some roast and chocolate notes here but, give its color, I would’ve expected this Cascadian Schwarzbier to be a little bit roastier. That’s good, though, as it really lets the hops shine. I’d say this is a really good schwarzbier, a great but underrated style of beer perfect for just drinking, with a solid dosing of hops to it. The lager answer to the Black IPA, and I love it!