48 / 100
12oz bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a hazed yellow-gold colour, with a frothy head of white that stays around quite persistently with large-bubbled foam. Lacing is patchy, but decent where it forms. Body is light, with the haze giving it a suggestion that it's thicker than it is. Overall, it looks pretty decent.
Nose is earthy and rustic, ostensibly, but picks up a big vulcanised rubber character which gives it a pungent overtone that's not altogether pleasant. Under this are sub-characters of honey, wheat germ and a little lemon. There are some characteristic earthy, funky and slightly sweaty tones, but they're not altogether there as a whole package.
Taste is similar, or worse. Things start out ok, with a mild, slightly peppery tone above some neutral malt, but this devolves rapidly into a big upswell of bread-yeast and white corn flavours. These overpower the beer, leaving a powdery dryness in the mouth, and providing an unappetising residual character on the palate. After a while, they get muted a little bit (or I just get used to them), meaning some other flavours come through: oddly I get lavender and cork. It's just not very appealing, although the bizarreness has some esoteric appeal.
Feel is light and prickly.
Overall, I can't really endorse this: I find it either unpleasant or weird, and certainly not a good Saison. The characters are off-kilter, the flavour is unpleasant and the aroma is disconcerting at least. At least it's interesting.
61 / 100
355ml bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA.
Pours a really quite red colour, deep ruby, especially when held to the light. Clarity is good, and the head is solid: it started out pouring quite frothy and loose, but settles down to a solid, almost creamy persistence. Beige in colour. Lacing is full and strong. The body is fluid, but looks pretty solid. Overall, it's a pretty decent looking brew.
Nose is malty, sweet with a nutty grain character giving it some structure. There's a brightness from the hops too: although they say "spice", I get more of a lemony tone which just sets off the malt characters nicely. Again, solid stuff.
Taste is not as big as it could have been, but it has some pleasant nuttiness, some crisp, delicate grain character and a clean, slightly soapy finish from the hops. In fact, the hops are stronger than I want them to be: the sweetness shown on the nose doesn't really come through, and what promised to be a solid malt-driven beer ends up being a little piercing and a little flat.
Feel is also a little weak. Thin, and surprisingly dry.
Overall, this promised more than it delivers. I like the aroma, and I like how it looks, but when it comes down to it, it's a little bit distracted and rather pedestrian. It would be fine to drink without thinking about it, but it doesn't really stand up on its own under scrutiny.
71 / 100
Pours a burnished gold colour with steady bead. Head is off-white, a bit whispy but nice uneven sinking with clingy lace on the edge. Quite a decent-looking head; otherwise slightly meh.
Smells pleasant and hoppy. Nice citric notes with a side order of mango, melon and apricot. Nice English malt behind it, slightly burnished again and maybe a touch of booze. Quite pleasant.
Taste is quite a malty-hoppy blend. Lots of rich, quite earthy English toffee malts with a touch of carob; gets resiny and slight citric hop notes floating over the top. A little bit spongey and dank, but it's not such a heavy bittering hop flavour that it gets bogged down towards the back. A touch of melon ester on there as well, then finish is tangy and light. Could use a bit more bitterness but it's quite clean notwithstanding. Not mind-blowing, but pleasant.
Clean and fairly smooth. A touch above watery and nothing too sharp.
Nice, drinkable hoppy beer. Wouldn't be complaining if there were more, but it's still decently put together.
Pours a pleasant light copper amber hue with a very fine, indeed powdery, head of off-white. Some patchy lace is left. Body is quite fine and fluid, but with a nice slickness to it. Very fine carbonation. Indeed, "fine" is coming up a lot in describing the appearance; it is a fine looking beer.
Nose is muted, with a touch of crisp, generic American hop aroma that smells as though it's been left a little long. Some clean, lemony dish detergent aromas, with a touch of chlorine and turned earth. Nice, but not that exciting.
Taste is pleasantly malty, with a solid backbone of faintly toasted malts, leading to a clean but pronounced American hop bitterness on the back of the palate. Clear feel lets the crisp hop characters shine, lending a freshness to the mix that a heavier body would mask.
Overall, a pretty nice hoppy American amber ale. It's smooth, and the malt is perhaps a little less pronounced than it could be, but it's a good, if somewhat middle-of-the-road example of the style.
46 / 100
Pours a clear light amber, with a very decent head of off-white foam. Very good lacing from the head, and the retention is pretty good. Perhaps lacks a little body, but otherwise a very good looking IPA.
Some pleasant hoppy aromas, with a rather unfortunate diacetyl butterscotch character on the nose. A little fruit, but not a lot. It's not a huge nose, and unfrotunately, the butterscotch tends to dominate, leaving it a little unpleasant.
Some butterscotch on the palate too, but it is cleaned up by the light hoppy bitterness. Not entirely though, unfortunately, and there's an unpleasant sickly character which sticks around. What clean bitterness is there is also pretty gritty, leaving an alternate harsh twang and sickly sweetness. There is a fair bit wrong about this beer, and unfortunately, the negatives outweight the positives.
This beer ends up showcasing how not to do an IPA. I was very disappointed with this brew, and it just went to show that it's not easy to make a great IPA.