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Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA

8.3%

Bottled

Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA

Pours a nice caramel amber, clear. Smells primarily of hops, but there is a nice fruit presence and a bit of spice. Tastes fruity on the front, if a bit weaker than expected. That is followed up by a strong kick of bitter hops. The aftertaste is almost pure hops, with a bit of spice.

Impression: This is a beer that I used to drink quite often if I could find it on tap. Unfortunately in the bottle some of the shortfalls come through a bit more. The first taste is a bit weaker than it should be in order to balance well with the bitterness of the finish.

It is still quite a worthwhile beer though. There are some sweet floral flavors to pick out that connect it to a Belgian style beer, though I think it is only named Belgian style because it does not quite hit other categories as well.

The hop flavor could easily be a bit too bitter for those who are new to heavily hopped beers, but if you enjoy hops it really is a nice kick. This beer may not fall that neatly into a category, and it may not be the most balanced beer in the world,  but for some reason it just works.

Raging Bitch has a charm about it that may not appeal to everyone. For those who do like this beer though, it does its job very well. Nothing is being held back here, and if you like that this will be a great beer for you.

Grade: B+

Long Trail Brewmaster Series Double IPA

8.6%

Bottled

Pours a nice caramel gold, clear. If you are familiar with the Long Trail IPA the smell will be very familiar. There is a nice citrusy hop profile, with some sweet malt ont he back-end. The taste is also very reminiscent of an amped up Long Trail IPA. Nice strong hops and coats the mouth nicely on the finish.

Impression: I have always liked the single IPA from Long Trail, but sometimes it just does not do everything you want. The IPA is a nice and light, and this borrows well from that. The initial hops notes are still nice and floral, but you get a little alcohol kick. The taste lingers very well on the back-end, staying around just long enough that you can put the beer down and be satisfied.

The hops are nice and resin-ey on the back-end as well.  This is a double IPA that you could drink for quite some time. Often with double IPAs they can overpower you if you want to have more than one in a night. This one may sneak up on you eventually, but it will not overwhelm you palate. The other nice thing about this beer is that it will not break the bank, coming in on the lower end of  good double IPAs.

Grade: A-

Southern Tier Phin & Matt’s Extraordinary Ale

5.4%

Bottled

Pours a clear gold, nothing too hazy. Smells a bit fruity, some citrus to the nose with an afterthought of toasted malt. Taste is a bit thin at the start, with the mouth feel a little bit weak. The follow-up is a nice little kick of hops that at least keeps things interesting.

Impression: The first thought with this is that there is just a little bit lacking. Be very careful about keeping this a little bit on the warmer side. There are some good notes here as long as you don’t bury them away by keeping it ice-cold. The hop profile is pretty nice actually, mostly citrus but a little bit of pine note on the back-end.

This is not an extraordinary ale, in fact I think an ordinary ale is the perfect way to describe it. It is just a standard pale ale. There is really nothing wrong with it but it just leaves you wanting a little bit more.There are some notes that make this a worthwhile beer to try, however it is not worth searching for it. On the other hand if you are at the store picking out a 6 pack, it would not be a huge mistake to throw a bottle in.

Grade: C+

Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

5.6%

Bottled

Pours very straightforward amber. The smell is great, nice sweet maple flavor and a noticeable bacon kick at the end. The flavor does not follow through with the promises that the nose makes. You get an opening smoke flavor that has just a hint of old gym shoe. The mouth feel is shockingly weak. The main flavors are cheap smoke, fake syrup, and microwave bacon steam.

Impression: This is one of the most disappointing beers I have had in quite a while. Not because it didn’t work, a beer like this really shouldn’t work. What it really needs to do is crash and burn trying to push the limits more. By trying to keep this beer a little bit simpler and more palatable they ruin it. If they had tried to add a bit of doughnut flavor and given this beer a nice strong body it would help a lot.

For a beer with such an impressive title there needs to be a decadent richness in this beer for it to work. The maple does not get the rich sweetness that it needs and focuses only on the sappiness. If it had a syrup style flavor and mouth feel it would help a lot.

I really expected this beer to disappoint me, unfortunately I thought that it would be fun along the way. This is a missed opportunity if there ever was one. There was so much that could have been done here. It could have been great, or an all time great failure at least, unfortunately all they made was a mediocre beer that left a lot to be desired.

Grade: D+

Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA

10%

Canned

Pours a very slightly hazy yellow/amber. Smells a bit sweet, with some hops, but not as hoppy as expected for an imperial IPA. Tastes surprisingly light for what it is, nice and refreshing for an imperial IPA.

Impression: This is a nice strong imperial IPA. Oskar Blues is joining the growing number of breweries that are canning their beers. I did not check the alcohol before trying this beer and was shocked that it was 10%. It does a great job of not burning or letting the alcohol mar the flavor at all.

Starts out nice and sweet with the malts. There are some great pine notes and the mouth feel on the back end is smooth, though a bit sticky. There are some notes that are very similar to a belgian tripel IPA. I would like slightly more hops, as the flavor of the hops is a very nice pine flavor. This is a good beer, not exceptional, but quite good.  It can be a little bit pricey however.

Grade B+

Maine Beer Company Peeper Ale

5.5%

Bottled

Pours an odd grayish yellow, foggy as this is bottle conditioned. Smells a bit fruity, with a nice, if a bit musty smell of the yeast. The first thing you pick up is a great mouth feel, very smooth, and a nice medium body. A nice hoppiness in the front end, that mellows out quickly with some fruit in the middle and finishing with a great mellow feel.

Impression: Peeper is the girl you are a bit hesitant about when it comes to looks, but once you get to know her, she blows you away. The gray color can be a little disconcerting, but the first impression when I tasted it was oh…wow. The flavors are very well-balanced, there is a nice hop flavor but the balance keeps it accessible to people who are not big hops fans. There is a great spice that helps round out the flavor even more. Some orange, and some crispness from the malt.

Often when there are this many flavors in a Pale Ale it winds up muddled and confusing. In Peeper it keeps in fresh each time you take a sip you seem to pick up something new. This does a great job of keeping it tasting fresh and complex, while not making you think too hard. A great beer I would highly suggest if you can find it.

Grade: A-

Boatswain American IPA

6.7%

Bottled

Pours a dark copper, very clear. Smells a bit sweet, with some nice earthy malts, though something is just not quite as round as it should be. The first taste is a bit malty and sweet. It follows out to be bitter and hoppy. Unfortunately its not the nicest bitter finish in the world. The bitterness at the end is harsh, and blends right in with the alcohol flavors on the back-end.

Impression: This is not the typical beer that I review. It is a brand carried exclusively by Trader Joe’s, and sold for about $2.30 for a bomber. For the price I was expecting something a bit worse. While it may not have the best flavors in the world, it exceeds what it needs to be worth its money. This is not a beer that will impress most people, but if you are low on cash and it comes down to this or Bud Light, go with this. I cannot recommend this beer whole heartedly, but I can say that when it comes down to it, it is a decent option.

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices, but when it comes to cutting down on your beer spending, this will make it a little less painful.

Grade C