Pours a dark murky red with plenty of sediment. Trails of bead. Head is jaundiced off-white, dense and fluffy with gorgeous lace. Could do without the sediment, but that's not the beer's fault.
Smells oaky. Touch of coconut and some woody spice like cinnamon. Touch of kiwi and plenty of vanilla bourbon as well. Touch of earthy Belgian spice at the back. Very pleasant aroma.
Taste is massively bourbony. Big vanilla oak character but just stacks of booze as well, really quite unbalanced. Needs more natural malt body and a slower burn towards the booze on the finish. Just tastes like spiritous alcohol throughout and I'm missing the beer character, and the nuance.
Heat in the wrong place means it's bone dry on the back. Definitely needs more body.
What a disappointment. I like beers with this kind of character but it needs to be a complement to the beer flavour, not a substitute.
81 / 100
750ml caged and corked bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA. Brought back to Sydney where I shared it with Rich and Sam during a brewday.
Pours a very pleasant hazed amber colour, which takes on a sheen of red when held to the light. Head is fine and wonderful, forming an almost reverse cascade with the thick body when poured. It settles out to a leopard spotted lace and fine half-centimetre of off-white foam. Body is weighty, holding a lot of snow-like powdery carbonation when tilted. It's a cracking looking beer.
Nose is very pleasant. Smooth sweetness, with a good dollop of caramel balanced with fruit overtones and a raw but rounded not from the oak. Definitely some vegetative characters—slightly spicy with the rye, although not as pronounced as it might be. Some apricot notes come through as well. It's very pleasant all up.
Taste is also very good. Big rounded smoothness from the oak guides the palate from start to finish. There's a lovely fresh woodiness to the front, lilting with a bit of spice and hop character to give a slight cedar note. This is smoothed by the body and sweetness, until the oak appears on the back with a pleasant smooth vanilla tone. A little spice and booze accentuate the finish, but nothing ever gets too sharp, thanks to the oak. It's very pleasant.
Feel is extremely smooth—apart from the lingering booze, which is certainly noticeable after a while, the beer is rounded into a coherent whole. The feel really helps create balance and structure.
Overall, impressively drinkable and very tasty. For 12%, it sure is very accessible. The oak works really well with this beer, and creates the narrative. It's really quite lovely.
750ml caged and corked brown bottle purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a reasonably clear golden colour, with a big frothy head of coarse-bubbled white that seems to burn itself out almost as soon as it forms, leaving a flat, dead beer with no head or lacing whatsoever. Carbonation was effervescent and coarse to begin with, but soon it too runs out of puff. Not the wildest start.
Nose is fairly disappointing. Faint, chaffy grain characters with a hint of flour and a very, very mild, almost indiscernible organic hop character over the top. Maybe a slight hint of acetone from the booze comes through as well: but it's minor, if it's there at all. Mostly, this just smells weak.
Taste is a little better, mostly for the fact that it's relatively smooth and drinkable for 7.7% ABV. Mild, slightly grainy entry with a residual tingle of carbonation (and here's me thinking it had disappeared entirely), with a slight uptilt of bitterness towards the middle to back. There's a warmth on the palate as well from the booze, which leaves a slight spirit character towards the back. I'll admit it tends towards something like a Euro Strong Lager, but it's still pretty smooth overall.
Overall though, I'm not quite sure I get the point. A pils can be a wonderful beer expression, and an imperial one in my opinion should just accentuate the hops, the structure of the malt while maintaining that crispness. This has something of the crispness, but almost nothing of the flavour. Not poorly made, just boring.
750ml bottle, caged and corked, purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a deep orange hue, with flashes of red to it, brilliantly clear and bright. Head is excellent, a big, solid foamy crest that keeps solid to the bottom. Lacing is superb, leaving intricate, solid patterns on the glass. Decent weight to the body, while maintaining fluidity. It's a great-looking beer.
Nose is solid, but with a biting herbal quality to the hops that gives rosemary and a suggestion of eucalyptus. Citrus and fruit is certainly not on the agenda here—perhaps just a faint peely grapefruit quality that suggests bitterness more than anything. Malt is firm, but fairly neutral: there's not much to it.
Taste is also along similar lines. Pronounced bitterness towards the middle and back, with an entry that is ostensibly malty, but without much richness or complexity to the malt flavours. Lingering herbal notes towards the back give more of that rosemary note. Feel is smooth and light, with a kick and a bite from the bitterness on the back.
Overall, I'm a little bit disappointed, although it's still a solid brew. Boulevard have done some genuinely good beers, and I was expecting good things from this DIPA. But it's a little like a baseline: yeah, it's a Double IPA. But it's nothing more.
75 / 100
Small 12oz bottle purchased from K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City, CA.
Pours a deep black, browning at the edges with a fine mild brown head that sticks around as a decent fine ring. Minimal lacing, looking a little like it's too heavy to stick. Carbonation is fine but the body looks surprisingly light when tilted. Overall, it's a beer of contrasts, thankyou.
Nose is dark, but mild, without a big boozy quality, a true sharpness, or a really sweet richness. There's toasty characters, a little dried fruit, a touch of spice, and perhaps a suggestion of whisky and a darker, roastier note. But no more: this is a particularly mellow now for an Imperial stout. I'm not sure that's a good thing.
Taste is also mellow, but here that's quite a boon: it mingles with a very pleasantly done smoothness on the palate, to create a supple and seductive body. There is indeed roastiness here, especially on the back: it develops from an almond nuttiness mid-palate into a true stout richness on the finish. It's dark, but sweet and full. Otherwise, there's a dancing spice above everything, but it's quite separate from the main event, which is that richness, morphing into that oh-so-subtle roast on the finish. Good stuff.
By the end, this was a very decent beer. It still didn't excite me so much as to make me effusive in my praise, but it had won me over by the end. I'm impressed that a beer that didn't start off looking or smelling particularly dark ended up being fully impressive on that score.
83 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour with a bit of cloud; off-white head sticks around nicely. Lacing is gorgeous. Looks great.
Smells interesting. Citric, tangy with a touch of sour. Lemon, some grapefruit and mild phenolic notes at the back. Rindy, but fruity. Quite pleasant.
Creamy upfront with light vanilla notes, then lots of tangy fruit. Lemon with a slight vinegar acidity as well, cidery and slightly woody, touch of buttery Chardonnay on the back. Zippy and refreshing, a lot of tang but doesn't lean too heavy on the bitterness. Really enjoyable.
Smooth mouthfeel, but a bit of bitter puckering on the back, which is unnecessary.
Great quenching Summery beer. Delicious.
72 / 100
Bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland. Despite its proximity to Deschutes, this is actually the Boulevard version.
Pours a really lovely bright but hazed golden yellow colour. The haze adds a lovely sheen and sparkle to the body of the beer. Head is firm, fine and lovely and frothy, but mild and light at the same time, leaving about as much residue as a cloud. Very little lacing, and very little weight to the head itself. It really looks very good indeed, though.
Nose is clear and bright, but somewhat grassy, leaving a slightly prickly vegetative note in the aroma. There's a subtle hint of seawater, or perhaps chlorine to it too, not in a bad way, but in a fresh, slightly too eager brightness kind of way. Perhaps a dot of pepper to it as well, something that gives it something slightly spicy. It's OK, but I was expecting something a little bit more full and better integrated.
Taste is clear and bright, with a brusque, peppery note on the back. Light leafy hoppiness pervades throughout, but I think there must be a good dash of the wit botanicals in here as well: there's certainly an insidious spicy character that drifts through. The 7.5% ABV is hidden pretty well, but there could be a dash more body to support the beer overall. Feel is a little light as a result.
Overall. This is decent stuff. It's a nicely put together White IPA which leans a little heavily on the White, while maintaining some of the aggression of an IPA. I'm probably not the biggest fan, but I'm a fan nonetheless. But just in fair weather.
78 / 100
Bottle purchased from Beermongers in Portland, OR.
Pours a very fine-bodied golden yeloow colour, with an exceptionally frothy and rocky head of white. Slight haze to the body, accompanying some fine suspended sediment. Body is pleasantly light for its ABV. It has good signs that it could be a good Saison...
Nose is excellent, exceptional even: crisp vegetative bite, with plenty of rustic funk and a clean, fresh citrus note that seems to come all from the yeast, and not at all from dry hop additions. It's fresh, and delicious, if perhaps simplistic. But then again, that's the style: it's a simple beer, and this is one that's done well.
Taste is similarly crisp, pleasant, and simplistic. Light vegetative greenness on the front, with a pleasant buoyant hint of funk which gives a touch of interest. Feel is clean, and bright. It meshes well with the light fragrant flavours on the palate.
Overall, yes, it's a good saison: but perhaps a saison needs to do something exceptional to break it out of the banal. Still, I've had very few saisons this good outside of Belgium, and the smoothness, crispness and general drinkability of this one is commendable.