Beer


Last Updated: July 20, 2018

These are my own notes, but perhaps they will be of use to someone else. They reflect my personal tastes. I have no connection to any of the beers I review here.

Ratings:

Golden Hind

A beer in two acts: First, sweet malt, with mild but present hops on the finish. Light copper color. Hops is far more muted than most pale ales, which is welcome. Few pale ales I have had have been as malty up front. Like this one a lot. One of Tucson's stand-outs and a pale ale for people who think they don't like pale ale. I wish they made it more frequently. Could drink a lot of this. A welcome alternative to the tedious march of indistinguishable West Coast IPAs. Would like the beer to have just a little more body. I don't believe this has a higher IBU than, say, Deschutes's Mirror Pond.

Angel of Antwerp

Shocker. A Tucson Belgian I actually dig. Neither excessively fruity/cidery, nor particularly sweet, the real surprise is the aftershock, which is a savory yeast note which pops up seconds after you swallow and coats the tongue in a way which surprises.

And I do love yeast. It's my favorite beer constituent.

Beer is golden and cloudy, and becomes less translucent and a few steps darker (orange) in the middle of the glass. Smell is yeast, and hops has stepped back to the give the yeast center stage (hops is perfect here). This is less bright than most imports, but this is not a weakness, but rather an interesting variant on the style. No trub here, but would not mind a few floaties. Sometimes, they are my only friends.

Keyword here is savory.

Tucson brewers routinely screw this style up in ways which depress me. Way to go Iron John's. Dang.

El Tiradito

Bold foamy white head. Golden. Cloudy. Definitely a chardonnay note here, and just a trace of booze, which is unexpected at this elevated but not particularly extreme ABV. Sweeter than Angel of Antwerp with more fruit. Caps off the hat trick for Iron John's on this Saturday Night. This is a really nice looking beer, and you ought to seek out a good tulip or wine glass to show it off. Tastes like a Belgian beer rather than a bullshit American take on a Belgian beer. Front is fruit, and back end is slightly vinuous (this is a surprise), and while sweetness is there, it does not overwhelm.

The first few bottles I bought from Iron John's (forget the brews/styles) weren't that great. They have clearly hit their stride. What I like about this one is they've put their signature on it, which is that chardonnay/vinuous note which plays well with the classical flavors of this old style of beer.

Nice one.

Trappist Tripel

I don't know what it is about this well-regarded/well-rated beer. It's the second time I've had it and I just don't like its flavor profile. Not much else to say. Would prefer it to be more malty or more fruity. Or something.

Fantôme Printemps Saison

A cracking saison. I cannot imagine any fan of this style disliking this outstanding beer. Exactly what you expect in a saison; balanced funk, present but not excessive brett, spicy finish. Refreshing and delicious. Unqualified recommendation. I will return to the Tucson Hop Shop this weekend in search for more. One of three saisons I've had from this brewery; all were excellent. Compares well with index saison, Dupont. Hip hip! Hooray!

Rupture

This breaks the rules for me. I'm not a hops guy but I cannot fade this oily, substantial, funky, hoppy beer from Odell. Excellent straight from the can, this beer is a bitterness-sparing bomb of hops. The bitterness is there but plays a lesser role as all of the other hops flavors assert themselves in ways they don't in other pale ales. This is difficult to describe: One would think what I'd look for in a pale ale is muted hops (for the style). This is different. The hops are all over the place here but there are more dimensions than I'm used to in a pale ale. The beer is almost vegetal and greasy with plant oils.

Do not serve this too cold, or you'll be cheating yourself. If you had a can of this and weren't impressed, try it warmer.

Veldensteiner Zwick'l

Finally, something to try in the criminally obscure Kellerbier/Zwickelbier style. Somewhere between golden and brown, this excellent beer has both savory and sweet notes, and it is the savory ones I'm after. There is a difficult-to-describe yeastiness that hits the back sides of the tongue which I cannot quit. Every few weeks I go down to Plaza Liquors (one of my happy places) and clean them out of whatever bottles I can find. One of my favorites. Hops is nowhere to be found here, but if you swirl the bottle before you pour the last of what is contained therein, the beer goes completely cloudy from trub. Held up to the light, dark particles can be seen suspended in the beer. This is a feature, not a bug. All hail yeast, my favorite beer constituent. More than most beers, I strongly recommend you do not leave the trub in the bottle (not that I ever do; fuck that.)

Echt Veldensteiner Landbier

Sweeter than the Kellerbier, this is a malt-forward, sweet, accessible beer I think almost anyone would like. "Landbier," according to the Internet, translates roughly to "country lager", which is a sort of "house beer" for breweries. While the style varies (and is described in other articles as a marketing term), this particular one is indeed a dunkel, with all of what one expects from that style. Sweet, malty, and unchallenging, you could serve this to anyone and they'd probably enjoy it. Not a bad beer to give someone who has only ever had domestics. Not a bad beer to give to someone who doesn't like beer. Not a bad beer to give to someone who loves beer.

Fire And Flavor Green Chile Ale

One more from Tucson's mad beer scientists. Iron John's is hilarious. The sheer number of beers coming out of this nanobrewery is mind-boggling. They re-use their bottles, so every time you buy one, you can see the off-center, pasted-on label describing whatever they've refilled it with. It's adorable. But more to the point, Iron John's has, more than any brewery I know, stepped up their game over time. I really disliked the first beers they put out but was entranced by their label (they have the best branding of any Tucson brewery by far). No longer a problem. They have graduated, and at this point, I buy bottles of their beer having little idea what to expect, but once again, unsurprisingly, I find myself smiling.

I am normally not a fan of vegetable or fruit in beer. Not my thing. The one exception is green chiles and by that I mean something like Hatch chiles, and that's what we have here. Upon cracking the bottle open, the strong scent of a New Mexico roadside diner - and if you are not familiar with what I mean, this is a very good thing - fills not only the nose but the whole danged space around the bottle. Red, green, or Christmas style? The beer carrying the chile flavor is perhaps a tad sweeter than I would prefer (though I suspect others would find this agreeable), but as to the taste and scent of the chile essence itself, I have to say, they have really pulled it off. I should emphasize, this is not a spicy beer in terms of capsaicin - rather, they've somehow captured all of the other beautiful flavors of chile, so if you're afraid of heat, there's no need to avoid this one.

Would like to see a version of this same beer with the sugar content reduced a bit.

As a rule I do not display brands on tee shirts or bumper stickers, but the two I might make an exception for are Commodore Business Machines, and Iron John's, the bright burning soul of Tucson craft beer.

Old Engine Oil

Completely opaque black porter. Porter was the first non-macrobrew style I ever liked, which is odd because for years I was convinced I didn't like dark beers, and let me tell you - this is really dark, and opaque even with the brightest flashlight I could find (I collect them), hence the apt name. Conspicuously less sweet than its American counterparts, and with its low ABV aside, this is the sort of thing Stout drinkers would like: roasty, almost burnt, Guinness-like notes. Low sugar, low bitterness, only light years of dark roasted malts to consider here. Viscuous, as its label says. Not particularly chocolatey or coffee-like, nonetheless this beer stands on its own as a celebration of roasted malts. Very British; nothing like the sweeter, milkshake-like porters and stouts in the US.

The Pedaler

Weird. Has an aftertaste I do not dig. There are far better Pilsners out there. Love Iron John's but would not buy this one again. Not what I expect from a Pislner. You know what the problem here is? It's malt. Malt is a part of any beer but "maltiness" is not ordinarily something one looks for in what should be a crisp, refreshing, clipped Pilsner. Wrong taste profile for the style.

Saison Dupont

Easily one of my top five beers of any style: crisp, refreshing, present but muted funk. The ultimate hot weather beer. This beer has an excellent reputation and it is fully deserved. The ultimate in drinkability, it always puts a smile on my face. Outstanding.

La Fin Du Monde ("The End of the World")

In my opinion, this is the best beer produced on the North American continent. This roaring bottle-conditioned beast from Quebec is packed with carbonation, yeast, and overwhelming deliciousness. At 9%, this beer can knock you on your ass, but you couldn't tell the ABV was that high by the taste. This beer stands up to any Belgium-produced tripel and avoids the stupid mistakes American breweries make when attempting the style. Widely available here in Arizona and reasonably priced, it would not be the most terrible thing if for some reason I was stuck drinking this, and only this, for the rest of my life. I give it my highest recommendation. The label is fantastic, too. Perfection. One of my top 5 beers in the world.

Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel

Biggest discovery? I like Dunkels. I thought I hated Dunkels. I do not hate Dunkels. I quite like Dunkels. This is a Dunkel. This one is somewhere between copper and brown. Malt, a little caramel, a little bread. People always talk about "dark fruits" but I don't get that here. It's not sweet enough and there's no sense of acidity. Perhaps what I can say is notable about it is it is a little less sweet than other Dunkels I have had, and that is not at all unwelcome.

Perhaps a welcome hint of nuttiness.

Pretty good; would drink again. Unpretentious and conservative, and that is a good thing.