I found this gem at Norm’s Beer and Wine in Vienna. It was a couple of weeks ago, so I’m sure they don’t have any more. This year they created a “Super Jubel,” meant to be released only every 10 years, but they only waited five this time. This one was barrel aged 50% in pinot noir and new Oregon oak barrels for 12 months. Not surprisingly it pours a deep, dark brown with a thin off white head. The aromas are filled with wine, dark fruit and toffee. The flavor jumps out at you with waves of complexity. There is an immediate malty sweetness, followed by a whisky-like booziness. That in turn gives way to red wine with a little raisin and plum. The finish is slightly chocolate. This mixture combines beautifully inside a lush bodied beer. It does pack a little bit of a whollop at 10.4% ABV, but I would actually have expected a beer like this to be higher. There was a little booziness, but it was not overpowering. I really liked this beer. Five out of five proper pints.
Three Stars is a local Washington, DC brewery I’ve been fond of for a while now. I don’t get to it often enough, but fortunately, they have started selling bottles in some stores in the area. I got this one at Total Wine in McLean. I think Norm’s in Vienna has some as well. My only complaint was that the bottle was a little hard to open. They come in champagne bottles with a wire and cork. I had some trouble undoing the wire and had to get a pliers. Not a big deal, but I haven’t had that issue before. This one pours a dark brown, almost black color, with a small off white head. The aroma is of coffee with a little maple syrup. The flavor hits you with some roasty coffee, maple syrup or molasses and some vanilla. The carbonation is light and dissipates quickly. The body is a little viscous light flat soda, but not in a bad way. The taste tilts a bit more on the sweet side. I liked it, but my wife thought it was a little too sweet. It did go nicely with some spicy food. I would probably have it again, but did think it was a little sweet for a porter. The alcohol was not noticeable, even though it was 9.6%. I would give it three out of five proper pints.
I tried Palate Wrecker once when I visited the Green Flash brewery out in San Diego about 4 years ago. I remember I was going through a tasting of their different beers and the guy behind the bar said I should taste this one last. I actually don’t remember if I followed his advice or not because that in itself was telling me this is the best beer we have and you should have it now. Anyway, I found it at Total Wine in McLean and thought I ought to pick it up. I noticed recently that I talk about Green Flash in a number of my posts, but I haven’t reviewed it. I have no good excuse except that I started the blog after I visited the brewery and Green Flash wasn’t available here until more recently. I may need to go back through their line up of beers to decide which one is actually the best, but this one makes a strong showing. I’ve said in a number of posts I think Green Flash is the quintessential west coast IPA. They even have an IPA called “West Coast IPA.” The west coast is where American IPA was developed and came to break from the British IPA and go for the ultra hoppy flavors, finding innovative new ways to extract the flavors from hops. Palate Wrecker is no exception. They use 6 lbs of Cascade, Columbus and Simcoe hops per barrel. That is an incredible amount of hops. I’m a homebrewer and usually make 5 gallons at a time. That is 1/6 of a barrel. Typically for an IPA I might use about 4-6 oz. of hops per batch. That would be at most just under 2 lbs of hops per barrel. Green Flash triples that amount in Palate Wrecker. I would say it is very noticeable. For those who fear bitter, hoppy beer, fear not. There is some bitterness here, but it is a well balanced beer. When I poured it, it came out a pretty dark copper color with lots of fluffy white head. The aromas are powerful piney and resiny hops. The flavor is more in the realm of resin with a little pineapple. Given the high ABV, there was also a bit of maltiness that combined with the pineapple to give almost the depth of a port wine. The flavor was not boozy even though it had a 9.5% ABV. Overall, it was really not a palate wrecker, but a very tasty double IPA. It went very well with some pepperoni pizza. Well done. Four out of five proper pints.
I love a good Mexican Hot Chocolate and I love it especially as a beer flavor. I was very excited when I came across these two at Norm’s Beer and Wine in Vienna. A chance to put a larger, National, almost not microbrewery against a local nano-brewery. One of the most memorable of this particular flavor I’ve come across is from Copper Kettle Brewing in Denver, CO. I poured these two head to head. Cocoa Mole poured a lighter brown color, while Kristin’s Passion was a very dark brown. Kristin’s Passion also had a much thicker, fluffier head. The Cocoa Mole has strong aromas of chocolate mixed with roasted malts and maybe just a hint of peppers. Kristin’s Passion was more reserved, but also had a strong chocolate aroma, though I didn’t detect any pepper in the aroma. Cocoa Mole had a light body to it, which wasn’t surprising given its color, but seemed unexpected for the style. Nevertheless, it had strong bitter dark chocolate flavor, with a quick aftertaste of chili spice and a little pumpkin spice. The pepper had a little bite to it that catches you in the back of the throat. Overall, a very nice complex flavor with multiple layers to it. The 9% ABV was well hidden. Kristin’s Passion had a more pronounced roast malt flavor, with chocolate, vanilla and raisin notes. There was a pepper flavor, but it was less biting, more subtle. It was also more full bodied and had a creamier mouthfeel to it. I really liked both beers, but I might have to say I liked the Cocoa Mole a little better. I’d give the Cocoa Mole four out of five proper pints and Kristin’s Passion, three out of five proper pints.