Up first was the Snake Dog IPA. The 12 oz bottle is stamped "221A11", which I poured into a Weyerbacher tulip. From what I can figure that means that it is "best by" August 9th, 2011 and bottled on March 22nd, 2011, making this bottle about six weeks old at the time of this tasting. Not super fresh, but certainly not stale. I may have misread or miscalculated these dates, I welcome corrections.
|Snake Dog IPA|
This feels to me like a good entry level IPA. It's not overly complex or bitter and is well balanced between sweet and bitter. The aroma left a lot to be desired, but the flavor profile is good. I'd have to assume that a fresher bottle would have a much more robust aroma. The 7+% alcohol content cannot be found at all which makes this very easy to drink.
Next up was the Single Hop Imperial IPA with Simcoe. From what I can tell this is the second in the series, the first showcasing the El Dorado variety. I've been enjoying reading about many of the single hop IPAs that have been coming to the craft beer market recently. My buddies and I have tossed around the idea of having a Mikkeller night to try out all 10 brews in his single hop IPA series. Being a home brewer apprentice I can find some scientific value in an event like this. I've also seen that the folks up in Boston are doing a similar project in the context of a mixed 12 pack of their Latitude 48 Deconstructed IPAs, showcasing five different hop varieties in the same IPA base.
|Imperial IPA with Simcoe|
This 12 oz bottle is stamped "227A11" which I poured in to a Pirat tulip. Using the same "Julian minus 140 days" logic that I used above puts this "best by" August 15th, 2011 and bottled on March 28th, 2011, making this bottle about 5 weeks old at the time of this tasting. This appears to be about one week fresher that the Snake Dog bottles in this pack.
It pours almost clear light copper/faded orange with a fine bubbled fluffy white head and constant carbonation streams. The lacing is very heavy and sticky showing evidence of some decent head retention. It smells creamy, almost of sweet dairy. There are some faint bitter notes. This is another IPA from Flying Dog whose aroma does not impress me one bit. As I sip on it I am surprised by a balanced flavor profile. At 70 IBUs I wasn't expecting this to be a super bitter bomb. The bitter and sweet is superbly balanced, hiding all flavors of alcohol and allowing the beer to maintain some depth. At 10% alcohol by volume, this is no small feat. The hop bitterness appears up front, settles in creamy and sweet and fades away leaving a light reminder of what was just had. The flavors aren't overly complexed, but this was expecting coming from a single hop recipe.
I'm impressed with this beer, and very happily so. It feels extremely well balanced. The stats on this beer would lead you to believe that it will punch you in the face with bitter hops and alcohol, but it doesn't. It's very easy and enjoyable to drink. You'll feel all warm and fuzzy after one. Don't forget that this one is part of Flying Dog's Canis Major "big" beer series. It's a true ass kicker in disguise.
So there you have it, a fun Tuesday night sipping on some fine Maryland craft brewed IPAs. Don't forget to support your local brewers. Buy their beers. Advocate for them. Introduce them to your friends. Go take the tour. Talk to their brewers. Enjoy!