Each Tuesday the Monk’s Kettle Staff will get together and taste some beer. Getting a group of seasoned beer palettes on a beer at the same time is a very worthwhile practice. I always learn something.
HOPFIX IPA – BEER HERE Brewed @ BREWDOG in Scotland: Beer Here is a contract brewery. Something I am often skeptical of. However, up until tracking down this little dandy all of the beer I had been lucky enough to taste from Beer Here had been brewed on the Nogne-O (Naked Island) premises in Norway, and as far as I can tell any beer leaving that facility appears to be a winner. Needless to say I was intrigued by the change of facility and the new relationship with Scotland’s most adventurous brewery.
Even after making the long trip over from Europe, and waiting around for weeks before being opened, the nose on Hopfix still leaps out of the glass with aromas of pine, alfalfa, dry citrus and even some rock candy and honey. In terms of flavor we all got more herbs and spices than the pineapple or guava tart-fruitiness that inspire the West Coast IPAs one would think are the inspiration of this beer. Perhaps indended, perhaps do to its less than fresh condition, we did pick up resiny/oily textures in the body of the beer. I would be very eager to taste this beast fresh and local.
JUST OUTSTANDING IPA – KERN RIVER BREWING COMPANY: I had never heard of Kern River Brewing Co. until doing a dinner with Denise Jones, Brewmaster at Moylan’s Brewpub. Denise loading me up with a bunch of cool beers she had gathered including two bottles each of Just Outstanding IPA and Class 5 Stout. From what I can tell these beers are not available very far beyond the bounds of the brew-pub, but both of these brews blow away your typical brew-pub pint.
The IPA is thinner in body than the high-gravity behemoths that characterize this style nowadays. As a result this beer features a pleasant dry graininess and finishes quite clean while still showcasing a the required amount of hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. The nose is reminiscent of a livestock feed store, (Penngrove Hay and Grain if you are “comin’ from where I’m from”) flavor is herbaceous with pickling spices and bright citrus.
CLASS V STOUT – KERN RIVER BREWING COMPANY: This beer was the big pleasant surprise of the week. Interesting that the bottle came from Denise Jones, who has Moylan’s turning out many of the best Porters and Stouts currently pouring in the Bay Area, because this bad-boy has the potential to be a rival.
Class 5 Stout hides its 8.5% ABV very well. The body is dry, but the mouthfeel is rich enough. Bittersweet chocolate is the dominant flavor profile but even with all that malt, Cascade (or a closely related hop) flavor reveals itself. This is a big stout that is round and balanced in every way. I will seek it out again.