Although a lot of my posts tend to center around a theme or specific style of beer, by and large, that’s not how I chose beers at the store. A lot of the times, I wander aimlessly through the rows and rows of bottles and cans, reading labels, checking Untappd and talking with the employees about what cool new stuff came in or what they’ve drank lately. Inevitably, that leads to me bringing home a mixed bag of goodies that can only fall into the category of “what’s in my fridge”! So here-for the first of what is going to be several installments in a series – is what’s in my fridge today!
Stochasticity Project: Grainiac
In full disclosure, there were only two reasons why I picked up this beer besides the fact that I enjoy Stone beers from time to time. One: it was the last bottle in the store. Two: it would get me a badge on UnTappd.
Although it seems petty and dumb, to say Untappd badges don’t sway my beer purchases would be grossly inaccurate. It seems my lust for Xbox achievements carried over when I started using the app a little more than a year ago. (Beersandnewspapers – add me)
When I picked up the beer, I had no idea this was a red. I figured at best, it was a super malty strong ale or brown ale and worst case scenario it was a super malty and weird barely wine which still wouldn’t bee that bad. But what I got was a super malty amber that roundhouse kicks you in the face with a delicious dry-hop on the end.
At fist sip, this beer comes on sweet and sort of fruity but as soon as you get comfortable and think this is a mild amber, said roundhouse turns the corner and BLAM! Gone are the sweet sugars and slight caramel taste and upfront is a very present dry-hop that toes the line of being too piney for my taste.
Overall, the beer works. This isn’t a beer I would grab a couple bottles of and crush through myself, rather I would buy a bottle or two, cellar one and bring the others to a tasting with some friends. I manned up and drank the whole bomber myself but as I neared the end, I wanted something lighter.
For a frame of reference, mine was bottled on November 8, 2015. The bottle says “DRINK FRESH” where cellar instructions normally are but I would risk the $7 or so I spent on this beer to see how it mellows out over time. If time in the cellar has any corallation to time spent sitting on my coffee table, than what I’ll get is a fruitier, more sugary amber, emphasis on the fruits. Or I would get a bottle of nasty crap.
If you’re interested in picking up one of these bad boys, you’re probably going to have to go to a craft beer store. This is part of a line of beers by Stone that really push the limits of what American brewing is right now so your WalMart or Price Chopper probably is not going to be carrying something like this.
In another dose of full disclosure, I am not really the biggest fan of IPAs of any stripe. Although that’s sacrilege to a large swath of the American beer culture, it is the truth. They just aren’t my thing. However, that does not stop me from trying some and over the course of my beer-drinking adventures, I have found many I enjoy.
This is not one that I enjoyed.
When I’m picking out an IPA, I go for the fruitiest, most citrus packed IPAs I can find. Those stand on the exact opposite end of the spectrum from the piney, resinous IPAs that seem to be more prevalent than the sweet, refreshing numbers I enjoy. Watermelon Dorado is a a sick joke that really threw off my groove. I was hoping for a nice sweet watermelon flavor mixed with a nice floral, hoppy DIPA but instead I get what I can really only describe as a pine cone dipped in sno-cone syrup …. Sorry Ballast … swing and a miss on this one.
If piney IPAs are your thing, than please do not allow my dislike for this beer pit you against every trying it. It is worth a try and I’m glad I did.
As made apparent by the three different styles this beer is being classified as, The Stranger seems to be a stranger to itself. I picked this beer up from the “New Arrivals” shelf at my local beer store and the owner seemed pretty jazzed about it but had yet to have one. Naturally, something like this is going to draw my attention.
Upon further research, there isn’t much information out there about this beer. Only 200* people, myself included, have checked the beer in on Untappd and the Clown Shoes website is a void of information pertaining to the beer. A follow up conversation with the owner of my local beer store revealed this is a New York State exclusive release so if you’re out of the state, lo siento, hombres.
As a beer, it’s safe to say The Stranger is experiencing an identity crisis. From the pour, the brew comes out looking and smelling like a hefewizen but once you taste it you get the floral hop bite that allows for the IPA label. I am baffled by the apparent lack of IBUs though …
Overall, the beer gives me that earthy fungal flavor I get from hefewizens followed by a dry hop punch and not much else. To it’s credit, the hop blend is nice but aside from that, the beer is rather forgettable.
Would I buy this again? Probably not. But would I discourage true IPA or hefewizen fans from trying it? Absolutely not. For folks more in line with those styles of brews, this may be something they truly enjoy. It’s just not for me. So if you see one of these Empire State exclusives, try it. It was only about $8.
*As of July 7 at 3:19 p.m.
Cold Brew Coffee Lager
This is one of those weird beers that I just can’t seem to get enough of. When I first saw it, I was skeptical but when I saw it being offered as a 4-pack, I figured I’d give it a go. Boy was it worth it!
For starters, it’s a damn beautiful looking and smelling beer. The deep golden amber of the beer stands out brilliantly in the light and unlike other coffee beers that put off that burnt Tim Hornton’s coffee smell, this is more like a coffee roaster. The light coffee scent is delicate and somewhat sweet due to the malts that support the overall flavor of the beer. It produces very little head but what is there, clings to the glass and instead of lacing, it simply follows the beer down to the bottom.
Taste wise, it’s just as light and delicious as it smells. Again, unlike other coffee beers, the brewers at The Matt decided to not club you about the head and shoulders with coffee and burnt malts. Instead, it’s refreshing and relaxing like that first cup of coffee in the morning. With each sip, you slip into this beer. As I drink it, I want to slowly enjoy it … never wanting to take a big gulp and miss out on the nuanced flavors. Thankfully, this beer warms well. As it heats up, the coffee taste mellows out and the burnt, roasty malts become even sweet and transform almost into something chocolaty.
What makes this even better is that — if you live in New York, that is — Saranac is freaking everywhere and it’s probably not going to run you as much as other craft brews are going to. My 4-pack was something like $7.50, which isn’t that bad, and chances are great that this will be at WalMarts and supermarkets in no time.