Archives for posts with tag: imperial

It has been FOREVER since I did a real beer post. Thanks for your patience and putting up with the sporadic posting. Before I get to the beer, here’s the deal: we’re putting our health before EVERYTHING now and so our eating plan allows one cheat day per week. I’m averaging 1-2 beers on cheat day and I’ve been cleaning out old stuff that has been around too long. Not very exciting for reviews! LOL

I did get tempted into Gomer’s midtown location a couple weeks ago and after ogling all the bottles my eyes settled on a canned beer I hadn’t seen before. YES, I am still enamored with the idea of canned craft beers, ESPECIALLY if what’s inside might pour like motor oil!

I picked up this six pack of Santa Fe Brewing Co’s Imperial Java Stout for under $9 and it seemed like a good value. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized it was an “imperial,” I thought it was just a regular coffee stout.

I’m a sucker for packaging and while extremely simple, the Santa Fe can appealed to me because on one side there is a beer mug that says “after noon” and on the other side is a coffee cup that says, “before noon.” Clever.

Coffee beers are best drunk fresh because the coffee character is quick to go. I didn’t know this until I heard it on Craft Beer Radio recently, so I was excited to try a coffee stout that seemed to be a relatively new addition to Gomer’s lineup (i.e. hadn’t been hanging around long) and was also canned, giving it the best chance of retaining as much freshness as possible without drinking it right at the brewery.

According to Santa Fe’s website (worth looking at, they have a nice lineup of interesting-sounding beers) the Imperial Java Stout has an ABV of 8% uses two hop varieties and four types of malt. The website says they use organic beans fro New Guinea and East Timor that are locally roasted in Santa Fe.

Of all the coffee beers I’ve tasted I would say this one is the most coffee forward. There is no mistaking this as a coffee stout. I’m writing this from memory since it’s morning and I don’t really want to drink a stout from a coffee cup as fun as that seems, but I recall a LOT of coffee character (think cold-brewed coffee) with a good, classic stout backbone.

The beer has a good amount of sweetness to it, not quite like Left Hand Milk Stout but not dry, either. The sweetness is balanced in the finish by an earthy hop character and I would say the beer has good overall balance. I enjoyed one can while eating a couple of Justin’s Dark Chocolate peanut butter cups┬álast week and that dried the flavor of the beer out a lot while bringing out more of the hops and a the dark roasty, almost astringent character.

I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised by this beer since I knew nothing about it going into it. It’s a good stout in and of itself, but as a coffee lover I think this is a great example of what a coffee-heavy beer can taste like when done properly. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another six pack of this again!

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This is perhaps a first for this blog… revisiting a beer previously reviewed! A friend of mine recently gave me a six-pack of the Breckenridge 471 IPA (really a double IPA, at 9.2% ABV!) and I was curious what I thought of it before. It wasn’t as hoppy as it seemed to me the last time I had it, so I wanted to give a new set of impressions. Read my previous review for more of the basic background info on this beer.

The aroma is crazy. The first blast I got right after pouring was of tangerine. Grapefruit is really dominant, but this time I was catching a lot of tangerine aroma, too. Flavor is all grapefruit. Good lord! It’s like a glass of grapefruit juice! Not that hoppy?! What was I thinking when I reviewed this beer initially! It’s a definite hop bomb.

To me, 471 is a “calibration beer.” What I mean by this is it’s a great beer to learn what a specific flavor tastes like in beer. For example, I never REALLY understood what “toffee” tasted like in a beer until I had Ommegang Abbey Ale, then it was like being hit over the head with a hammer… a hammer made from toffee! Another example for me is the coriander flavor of Blue Moon. Not the greatest beer, not the worst, but if you wonder what coriander in beer tastes like, Blue Moon will “calibrate” your taste buds/brain and you’ll know.

For me, 471 is a good calibration beer for hops, just in case you are really new to beer and don’t know what hops taste like! Specifically the bright, citrus-y and especially grapefruit-like hop profiles come through really strongly on this beer.

It’s a great beer, very bitter, which I love, and now that I think of it, one of my favorite double IPA’s because it isn’t offset by so much obvious malt. My biggest complaint of double IPA’s is that they tend to be really sweet, and not as hoppy as some regular IPA’s to me. What I love about 471 is that it lacks some of the balance that other DIPA’s have, not being weighed down by cloying sweetness and really just letting the hops rip full blast. Yum!

In totally unrelated news, I am traveling to San Francisco for a couple days this weekend and will have an opportunity to get some beer in. I won’t have a car, which is a disappointment, and I plan on doing the usual tourist stuff and really walking and getting some photos in, but I also have a stop planned at the world-famous Toronado and food + beer planned down the street a ways at the Magnolia or Alembic (or, hell, maybe both!). I want to try to get most of my beer-related goals met on Friday, then spend more of Saturday doing other things, but I’m really looking forward to the trip. Will have things to write about afterward, so stay tuned!

I had a rare most-of-the-day off last week and stopped by McCoy’s in Westport to see what they had on tap. Figuring I would probably never get a chance to have an imperial steam beer again, I ordered the California Uncommon, , a “double” or “imperial” version of the California common or “steam beer” style.

The most famous of steam beers is definitely Anchor Steam, which (I think) has a trademark on the use of “steam,” so the style used by brewers is actually called California common. California commons are beers made like ales using lager yeasts. Traditionally, they were fermented in coolships to take advantage of the cooler ambient temperatures around the San Francisco Bay area, but the brewing process can vary quite a bit from brewer to brewer.

One of the recent trends in brewing seems to be taking somewhat mild beers and cranking them out as doubles. Rogue has their imperial Pilsner, and the moment Boulevard announced their Pilsner earlier in the year I predicted (correctly… It’s a Christmas Miracle!!!) that they would add an imperial Pilsner as a new Smokestack beer. So, taking the California common and turning it into a double doesn’t seem like much of a stretch, all things considered, but you do have to wonder how much of the beer’s original intended character is really retained when you inject it full of hops and alcohol? The thing about the more traditional doubles like imperial IPA’s and stouts is that they are like their original brethren, only “more.” In the case of IPA’s, more alcohol and more hops, and in stouts more alcohol, more malt, more chocolate, coffee, roast, etc.

Based on the description at McCoy’s, I figured the California Uncommon would be very IPA-like. It was served in a nice tulip glass, as seen above, and it had a slightly tan head that quickly disappeared. Not much aroma to be had here.

The flavor was intensely hoppy, with a very resiny kind of hops. At first I sort of pegged this as being like a barleywine, but after about 1/5 of the glass, the hops had REALLY built and it was very double-IPA like, but with a drier finish than I find on most DIPA’s. I took some notes, but I lost my scrap of paper that had the notes! Sheesh!

I remember the carbonation as being quite low, and the hops were really dominant. There was a fair amount of alcohol, and it seemed to get a little hot with larger sips, really carrying all those bitter compounds in a way that wasn’t entirely pleasant. Overall, I was pretty satisfied with this beer. To me, it retains none of the qualities of steam beer, but does make for a pretty likable DIPA!

large_lagunitas-hop-stoopidHop Stoopid is a beer brewed by Lagunitas, a California brewery that has just recently begun being carried in the Kansas City area. I bought a 22 oz bomber at Lukas Liquors in Overland Park. Lagunitas has absolutely no information about the beer on its website, which is really annoying. BeerAdvocate calls it a double IPA or imperial IPA, but at only 8%ABV (which is well within the range of a normal IPA), it seems like a stretch to call Hop Stoopid an imperial. The label lists it as being 102 IBU’s, which is “crazy bitter” on my personal scale!

I drank the beer from my standard large New Belgium beer snifter, and I put a pretty vigorous pour on it so I could get some carbonation out of the beer right off the bat. It pours a nice cloudy gold color with an off-white head that settles to a really rocky foam after a while. Nice lacing clung to the glass as I drank my sample.

Without knowing anything about the hops or malt used in this beer, I can only go based on my senses. The aroma is definitely all hops, leaning more toward a piney, resiny quality rather than the big grapefruit scent of other West Coast IPA’s. There is a little grapefruit hidden in there, but these hops seem a little earthier to me than, say, the grapefruit soda-like quality of Caldera’s IPA or something from Stone, for example.

This earthiness carries through in the flavor, too, with the resiny, almost spicy hops hitting my tongue initially. I would say the second half of the sip is a little more citrusy, but the finish is almost peppery and really piney and organic.

This is beer is definitely all hops, but it isn’t as in-your-face as I would have expected from the name and the IBU rating, so there must be a fair amount of malt in Hop Stoopid to lend it a little balance. The aftertaste is long and it really sticks around, but the bitterness is really nice for what I was hoping for. A bomber of this might be a little much for one person (palate fatigue is a real possibility with highly hopped beers like this), but the first glass was really enjoyable and a nice sipper.