Beer 511

Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

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Exciting news from Russian River

Well, the news that has gotten the local beer internet’s attention is the announcement that Russian River Brewing Co. will start bottling its famous Pliny the Younger triple IPA.

Pliny the Younger, as you may know, is a triple IPA, actually brewed with almost triple the amount of hops of a regular IPA, with a starting gravity of 1.088 and a finishing alcohol content of 10.25%. It was first brewed by Russian River in 2005 and has been brewed seasonally since then and released only on tap at Russian River’s pub and at select locations in California during a two-week period each February. Pliny the Younger is one of the most eagerly awaited beers, with people arriving from every state and even from abroad to sample it, often waiting in line for hours.

Last year, with the opening of its new production brewery in Windsor, Russian River was able to more than triple the production of Pliny the Younger, thus reducing wait times and being able to supply more off-site accounts. Clearly taking advantage of that increased production capacity, and seeking to “find ways to add to … guests’ experience”, Russian River will, for the first time, bottle Pliny the Younger.

According to the announcement made by Natalie Cilurzo on Dec. 23rd (though her blog post is dated Dec. 24th), in 2020 Russian River will offer 510 ml. bottles of Pliny the Younger for sale at their brewery in Windsor and the pub in Santa Rosa. However, each guest will be limited to two bottles, and in order to be eligible to purchase them, guests must “come for the full experience in our brewpubs”, which will be tracked via the wristbands each will receive upon entering.

Pliny the Younger will be available from February 7th to the 15th 20th at Russian River, and offsite draft distribution will start the 2nd week of February. Like last year, pours of Pliny the Younger will also be offered to those who book brewery tours during the release period.

2019 Anchor Christmas Ale

I’ve received a couple of bottles of the 2019 Anchor Christmas Ale courtesy of Anchor Brewing, and decided to pop one open for review tonight.

First off, let me say that it is a pretty beer. It has a big tan, rocky head. It appear dark brown and opaque, but when held up to the light a beautiful dark, deep garnet hue comes through.

Following on that impression, it is also a beer that can fool one a bit. Due to its dark hue and big tan head, one might allow oneself to expect a robust beer like a porter or stout. In other words something with a very malt-forward character. However, the 2019 Christmas Ale is actually surprisingly light-bodied, and the first impression upon tasting is one of smoothness, almost as if it had been dispensed on a nitro system.

It has a malty nose, with a light hop aroma, with some subtle conifer notes in the background. As it warms and the head subsides, some caramel or invert sugar aromas come forward.

In the taste, I got some spice, some coffee, and baking chocolate up front, backed up by some malt or caramel notes. It finishes dry, with the bitter chocolate flavor lingering, and some more of that pine at the back end.

It is a good, tasty beer, but to be honest, I’m not as partial to it as I have been to previous years’ iterations of the Christmas Ale. The recipe changes every year, and taste is subjective, so that is to be expected from time to time. I guess I just miss the more robust mouthfeel of those other versions.

However, because it does have that lighter mouthfeel, it is more drinkable than a lot of other seasonal ales that come out at this time of year. This is one that one can have more than one of in a session.

Small Brewery Sunday

Nightshade by Epidemic Ales

When one operates a small craft brewery the vicissitudes of barrel-aging beers means that one cannot foresee with any great anticipation when a such a beer will be released. It will be ready when it is ready, as they say.

Well, yesterday was the release of this year’s batch of Nightshade by Epidemic Ales. I was reminded of why I so much look forward to when this beer comes out.

Nightshade is a 10.3% abv vanilla stout. It is released on tap at the brewery in Concord, CA, and in 22-oz. bottles, about once a year, after spending, if I recall correctly, up to six months or so in Bourbon barrels.

It is a gorgeous beer; intensely dark, with deep mahogany tones, and a moderate head. It doesn’t have any harsh coffee notes or overt bitterness. Instead it is rich and smooth, with notable sweetness, and plenty of vanilla -some undoubtedly contributed by the oak.

With its high alcohol content, Nighshade does pack a punch despite not having any alcoholic or Bourboney “heat”. So, while it goes down easily at any time of day, a 22-ouncer of Nightshade is particularly nice shared as part of a dessert course; specially at this time of year.

Alvarado’s Daiquiri Island

A few days ago Concord’s Hop Grenade Taproom & Bottle Shop played host to Monterey County’s Alvarado Street Brewery.

While Alvarado Street Brewery’s brewers were guest on a broadcast on The Brewing Network at the in-venue studio, a number of taps were dedicated to Alvarado Street’s beers.

It was there that I came across Alvarado Street’s Daiquiri Island.

Now, let it be said upfront, Daiquiri Island is not for everyone.

It is a 5.5% abv kettle-soured ale, made with the addition of lime, lactose, and several thousand pounds of bananas.

It is creamy, like a milkshake IPA. It is sweet, t is tart, it tastes like banana, and it is certainly unique. It is a beer that requires one to put aside pretty much any preconceived notion of what a beer is and is not like.

If you’re a hophead, you’ll likely not quite get it. But, if on the other hand, like myself, you enjoy Runts® candy or Laffy-Taffy®, or if you’re a fan of banana daiquiris you’ll probably really like this beer.

I can’t imagine that it could ever be a regular offering, so if you’re curious, the time to try it would be now.

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