Pours with a minimal head as a barleywine should. No real aroma to speak of but that may be due to the low tempature of the pour. The first taste is surprisingly complex with a sweet oak primary flavor that sticks around for as long as you drink the beer. Honestly I've never been a fan of the early Social brews so I've ignored them recently despite living a few blocks away, but if this barleywine is any sign that was a mistake. A great beer in a style you love is always something to take notice of. Well done Social, I'll be back for more.
Black lagers seem to be all the rage lately, and since I’m a fan of the style I picked this one up since I’ve yet to try it. Lucky Hand Black Lager is actually brewed by Uncommon Brewers in Santa Cruz, CA for the Lucky Hand Brewing company.
As far as the beer is concerned, it pours a nice black coffee color with minimal head. As you would expect with a black lager, it isn’t too viscous and pours rather thinly. There isn’t really much aroma to speak of other than a little toasted malt and a hint of soy sauce. These muted flavors are carried over into the taste of the beer, with the soy sauce flavor being a bit off putting. This flavor is caused by autolyzed yeast in the beer, which loosely means there is too much dead yeast in the bottle. No real hop flavor to speak of and a very average 5.5% abv. Other than that, there really isn’t anything to rant or rave about with this beer, other than the fact that it’s certified to be organic if that’s something you care about (I don’t). It’s rather boring and reminds me of one of those generic brews you’d get at a half-assed brewpub.
There are plenty of great black lagers (schwarzbiers) to be had out there, but this isn’t one of them. It’s drinkable, and not to be actively avoided, but given the choice between this and say a Shiner Black, I’d go with the latter.
Drake’s IPA pours a hazy light amber color with minimal head that dissipates quickly. As you raise the glass you notice a very rich sweet hoppy aroma that predominantly features pine and citrus. This is a great smelling beer and is exactly what you’d expect with a classic strongly hopped West Coast IPA. That quintessential West Coast style continues with the first sip which hits you with a ton of hops, citrus tones containing a hint of sweet pineapple, and a slightly bitter finish. There’s also a crisp finish that doesn’t leave you with the sticky mouthfeel that too many beers give you.
While this is a very hoppy beer for a non-double or imperial IPA, I find that it’s actually pretty well balanced and has the exact flavor profile that I think of when I think of a West Coast IPA. Were it not a 7% beer this is an IPA that you could happily drink all night. Drake’s IPA is a great beer because it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be, nothing more and nothing less.
I’m always looking to try new beers, so when I saw a bomber while shopping recently I knew I had to give it a try. Oakland Brewing Company is fairly new to the Bay Area beer scene (Est. 2009) but they have already established a fairly good reputation at my usual beer bar, the Toronado, so I have been looking forward to trying them.
Sticky Zipper pours a really nice golden orange color with no hint of cloudiness. There’s a fairly minimal head, but it’s also far from nonexistent. The aroma is mostly citrus, but with a hint of mustiness. At the first sip you’re hit with how light and clean this beer is. That’s followed with some grapefruit, hops that aren’t overpowering, and a bit of biscuity malt. It finishes off with some bitterness and a bit of a metallic aftertaste that isn’t great, but also isn’t too offputting. This IPA weighs in at 7.4% ABV but doesn’t really convey that booziness while drinking it, partially due to the watery nature of the beer.
Sticky Zipper isn’t my favorite IPA by any means, but I’d find it to be an excellent brew to enjoy on a hot summer day when you don’t want anything too heavy, but still want a beer with a good hit of flavor to it. For a brewery that’s only been in operation for 3 years, this is a fairly impressive product. I’ll be looking forward to trying the next brew of theirs that I come across. With Oakland Brewing and Heretic Brewing, the East Bay brewing scene certainly has some exciting new players.