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I had planned several beer reviews…

HopHEadRed I had planned several beer reviews… and then the bombings at the Boston Marathon threw me into a funk. But I want to get this all down before it’s too far removed.

So, the weekend seemed to have some promise. Friday night I picked up a bomber of Green Flash “Hop Head Red”, a bomber of Notch’s “Left of the Dial IPA”, and a sixer of Lagunitas “Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale. The HHR proved tasty Friday night. I actually noticed some similar dark caramel flavors I get from the crystal 120 I use in my rye IPA (guessing the use some 120 or maybe some “Special B” malt). Also, lots of Amarillo, which is the main flavor/aroma hop in my rye IPA as well. But I do have to say, the rye in mine makes it. Hop Head Red was just missing a little something. Granted, it’s a fairly well hyped beer, so my expectations were pretty high.

LaguUndercoverI opted for one of the Lagunitas UISAs after the HHR, and it is definitely an American strong ale. Typical to Lagunitas, I’m thinking the final gravity is pretty high in this. The 60-something IBUs didn’t quite knock down the finishing residual sugars. Lots of pine and some citrus in the nose. It’s a big beer, and there’s definitely some alcohol heat and malt sweetness associated with such a big ale (almost 10% abv)

Saturday was the second one in a row spent working on cleaning out my folks’ house to get it on the market. Depressing stuff, but my sisters and I accomplished a good amount. I rewarded myself with the Notch LOTD IPA when I got home. Fantastic. Then a rare dinner out with my wife and 6 year old while my 9 year old was off to a birthday party/sleepover.

Got to the Amesbury Ale House and had my first Riverwalk Gnomad, a Farmhouse ale made with American (Amarillo) hops. To be honest, in the past, I’ve had Riverwalk’s IPA and while it was fine, I didn’t order a second. But I want to give the local guys a fair shot, and I was in the mood for a Saison. It was very tasty. Didn’t come across like the 7.5% ABV it is… felt like a nice warm weather beer. I’m not a big fan of typical Summer seasonals, and this isn’t one of those, but I could see myself making Gnomad my summer beer. It was both flavorful and refreshing. The yeast profile was nice, not too much of the wet hay, horse blanket funk I find in some farmhouse ales. The Gnomad had it’s spiciness and yeast-derived flavors in just the right proportions for me.

The Ale House had one other Saison on tap, from the other coast: 21st Amendment Sneak Attack. From the 21A’s website:

Sneak Attack is 21st Amendment’s newest seasonal offering, a Belgian-style Saison, dry hopped with whole, organic cardamom pods lending it a very dry, but not overly bitter finish. It features aromas of pepper, cardamom, lemon rind and freshly cut grassy fields. Its refreshing flavor is derived from pilsner malt, Belgian Light Candi Sugar and a traditional spicy Belgian Saison yeast.”

After the Gnomad, I found Sneak Attack a bit more light (less mouthfeel, high carbonation) and summer-ish. The spice was a bit overplayed, overshadowing the yeast profile. Granted, Sneak Attack was originally released in January by 21A as a seasonal, so how old this keg was I don’t know. But I am definitely glad I had both, and ever more so knowing Gnomad is brewed just a couple towns away and I can get growlers at the brewery. 😉


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