Lagunitas Brewing Company: A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale

The much awaited release of Lagunitas' seasonal "A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale" has finally arrived. And, after a few weeks six-packs have finally arrived at my local beer outlet (i.e., BevMo in Pasadena, CA).

Let me begin with a disclaimer of sorts. The beer is good, maybe even better than good. But my expectations were beyond that, especially given that the brew comes to us from the fine folks at Lagunitas . . .

The pour reveals a clean, pale colored ale with next to no head whatsoever. In fact after drinking about half the glass, what little head there was at the start was all but gone and my glass resembled a child's glass of apple juice and not my adult beverage of choice. On the nose, you get what you expect . . . fruits and flowers, although I might go one step further as to narrow the "fruits" to that of "tropical fruits" alone; it is very nice.

The taste is crisp and clean (as one might expect given the translucency of the beer and lack of particulates suspended in the brew. The 64.20 IBUs pack quite a punch and add to that tropical fruit and floral aroma that I discussed above. Unfortunately, I could not lay my finger on one or two specific hop varieties. The punch is not like some other brews that I have reviewed and that I am sure you are familiar with. It is not a long drawn out battle of hops in your mouth (Hop Wallop) or a delayed battle followed by WWH (The World War of Hops, Big Daddy IPA), rather it is more like that knockout blow; it is brief but deadly. Alright, it is not going to kill you, but it is pungent and brief. For that, it is different . . . and I like diversity amongst my IPAs.

As I eluded to above, A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale seems to be missing a little sumpin': Carbonation! Since it appears as if this beer is not bottle conditioned, I doubt the carbonation problem could be solved by allowing the beer to sit for a few days/weeks. However, I will update the review if I notice any significant change in the near future.

The bottom line: An IPA of not-epic proportions . . . yet still an IPA of diverse qualities, a fantastic treat for a summer-time evening on the porch with the kids.

For a second opinion, check out the following:

Beer Rant

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Dogfish Head Beers in California

If you are reading this, you are probably already well aware that Dogfish Head is again distributing in southern California. However, the selection thus far is limited in quantity and geographic location. From personal experience, the latter can easily be resolved by simply requesting the beers at your local beer store. They would be foolish to not do everything in their power to get the Dogfish Head beers in their store if people are requesting them on a regular basis. I strongly believe this is how we finally got the beers distributed to the Pasadena, CA, area after almost a year of being solely distributed in a 10-15 mile radius of the distributor.

Being a transplant from the east coast, I grew up on Dogfish Head (well, I mean, it was my beer of choice in college . . . a case of 60 Minute was almost always on my shopping list). And, having been to Delaware countless times, I had the opportunity to taste the beers long before they made it on the truck and were shipped across the country. I also know that there are far more beers brewed than that which is currently available in SoCal. Currently, depending upon the season, the following ales are available in southern California:
  • Palo Santo Marron
  • Aprihop
  • 60 Minute IPA
  • 90 Minute IPA
  • Punkin Ale
  • Midas Touch
  • Chicory Stout
  • Festina Peach
although I have only seen the Palo Santo Marron, 60 and 90 Minutes, and Midas Touch in the stores. However, there are 21 year-round/seasonal brews . . . i.e., only 38% of the Dogfish Head delights are currently available in the Los Angeles area (or 19% if you only consider those that I have actually found). This is not a lot . . . and frankly quite saddening given the beers that should be on the list, e.g., 120 Minute IPA, Immort Ale, World Wide Stout, etc.

Have no fear though . . . there are two ways around this dilemma. The first being that you can easily purchase most of these brews online (Shoppers Vineyard, Sam's Wines and Spirits, etc.). The alternative is to wait. Yes, that is right, just be patient. According to a gentleman who's name will not be disclosed (however, I can tell you that he is an employee at the brewery in Delaware), within a year or so (by the end of 2010 . . . since some beers are only released at certain times of the year, it will take a little longer for them to all get to California), ALL 21 beers will be distributed in southern California!

So, if we all are patient, before too long we will have a wide selection of what are arguable the best, most well-crafted beers in the country (well, at least on the east coast). But, in the meantime, it might be worth having a six-pack or so shipped to your front door (if you live in a state that allows such activities, i.e., not Pennsylvania). Or, if you know someone in a state that sells the remaining 13 ales . . . you could always ask them to buy some for you and have them ship the beers to you.

And now, we just countdown until the day that 120 Minute IPA arrives . . .

IPA Fest at Lucky Baldwins: Day 1

As promised, I made a trip to Lucky's last night for the first day of the IPA fest. And, as expected, the folks at Lucky Baldwins brought in a vast list of IPAs and IIPAs . . . I imagine that there will be more on the way as the week goes on too.

First though, the bad news . . . no Pliny the Younger :-(.

Next, the good news . . .

Beer 1: Port Brewing Company's 3rd anniversary

Definitely not filtered, with a great golden color. Floral aroma. The taste is quite surprising . . . not as hoppy as I was expecting, far more malt though. However, it is fantastic and very drinkable!

Beer 2: Victory's ______ IPA

The blank is because for the life of me I cannot remember the name (and no, it was not Hop Wallop or Hop Devil, although they both were on tap last night as well!). This was your your standard IPA, not too hoppy, but still full of flavor. I sensed something a bit peculiar though in that the beer had a hint of sourness to it, but very slightly. And interesting touch to a superb IPA

Beer 3: Speakeasy's Big Daddy IPA

Although actually an IPA, this one is on the list as a IIPA for good reason. The Big Daddy is something special, something remarkable, something extraordinary. Its appearance is like no other IPA that I have ever seen . . . very translucent, straw like. The aroma: floral as expected. The taste: out of this world. Initially you wonder, "am I drinking an IPA or water?", but after about a second or so, the hops kick in . . . its like the Amarillo hops are fighting the warrior hops in your mouth, like a world war of hops in your mouth!! And, this lingers . . . . . for a while, making this beer a good one to sip! This beer really is a special delight. Thank you Speakeasy.

Well, that is all for now, I plan on making many more trips to the pub before the festival is over (especially since the IPAs are only $3 and the IIPAs are $4 . . . can't beat that). Keep checking back for more updates!! And lastly . . . they have Maharaja on draft . . . it is #2 on the list :-).

The bottom line: Stop reading my blog and go to Luckys!

IPA Fest at Lucky Baldwins

That is right. While everyone else seems to be blogging about the new Bing search engine from Microsoft or about his/her opinions on Sonia Sottomayor, I have my heart set on the upcoming IPA Fest at Lucky Baldwins in Pasadena (13 June to 21 June). For those of you in Southern California, this is one of the best opportunities to taste some of the worlds best IPAs, even if the majority come from California. Lucky's has many festivals throughout the year, but there are really only two that I look forward to: The Belgian Beer Fest (you have to, its over 2 weeks long . . .) and the IPA Fest.

Why is the IPA Fest so special? There are very few bars that have more than 60 taps so as it is. And then, when you take 50 of them and pour only IPAs from them, now that is something special. That is something to mark on your calendar weeks, if not months, in advance. You might be thinking, so what, I have tried so many IPAs already I doubt that Luckys will have many that I have not tried?

Well, you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking this. I go to all of the festivals at Lucky's and each time there are beers that either I am yet to try or, better yet, did not even know existed previously. Without a doubt, this will be the case again this time around. And, so what if you have already had Avery's Maharaja . . . its well worth trying it again (and its cheaper at the festival that anywhere else!). And, I am willing to be that the folks at Lucky's have been sitting on a keg of Pliny the Younger from Russian River . . . what more could you ask for in a festival!?

Anyhow, I plan to be trying many new beers starting this coming Saturday and then providing a detailed list with reviews for each and everyone shortly after each visit to the festival. And, if its like the last Belgian Beer Festival (I went 17 times in 16 days . . . and there were some days that I did not get to go!), there will be plenty to write about over the coming days!!!

Mammoth Brewing Company: IPA 395

Named after the major highway running north-south in the eastern realms of California, this Double IPA is a fantastic treat, especially after a long day skiing or snowboarding on the slopes of Mammoth Mountain.

Mammoth Brewing Company is a rather small brewery located in Mammoth Lakes, California at about 8,000 feet above sea level. Coming in at 8% alcohol this beer is a little low on the alcohol scale for IIPAs, but don't let that bother you, it is a fantastic beer.

The IPA 395 could probably be distinguished quite easily amongst other IIPAs for the fact that the nose is about as floral as it gets. This is due to the abundance of local wild hops used in the brewing process as well as the addition of two peculiar ingredients: desert sage and mountain juniper. As a result the taste is like no other IPA or IIPA: A bit hoppy, earthy in nature, and full bodied. I must say, it was a bold move on the brewers' parts by adding such ingredients to a IIPA, but, what a beer they concocted.

The only downside to the IPA 395 is that out side of Mammoth Lakes and the immediate US 395 corridor, it is next to impossible to find. So, if you do not live within 50 miles of Mammoth Lakes I think it is time you plan a skiing trip with the wife or husband of yours . . . . this way you get the best of both worlds: a few days on the slopes and a few evenings in the brewpub. Who could ask for more!?

The bottom line: Sage and juniper make this IIPA one-of-a-kind!