Friday, October 26, 2012

Beer Review: Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA

Been a while since I posted a beer review.  Doesn't mean I haven't been enjoying different brews, but it does mean that my life has been crazy busy lately with work and the family.  But when you run a casual beer blog sometimes you just need something that makes you stop and write.  Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA is the beer that made me stop to write.

Fat Heads is a brewery I know very little about actually.  I was at a DMB show in June in Noblesville and got to spend some time with someone from Ohio.  We discussed several brews.  He brought some Ohio locals and I shared with him a Zombie Dust.  Sadly, the Zombie Dust was past its prime and so I made a commitment to sending him some fresh Zombie Dust.  He sent some Head Hunter in return and I loved it then just as much as I loved his second shipment of it which arrived a couple days ago.  It's good to have friends in other states.

This is a small brewery based in North Olmsted, Ohio...southwest of Cleveland.  Head Hunter has been a medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup a few times in the past 3 years.  The distribution footprint is quite small.  Looks like the beer can only be found in Ohio and Pennsylvania.   Let's get to it:

I don't get in to the labels much, but I love this one.  A fat guys face that looks like it's about to explode from the massive flavors crammed in his hole.  Awesome.  First batches of this brew appear to be at 7% abv and 77 IBU's.  Seems that through the years this has crept up and now weighs in at 7.5% abv and 87 IBU's.  The more the merrier I say.

Choose Your Vessel:  The Bells 12oz Tulip.  Perfect for IPA's.

The Pour:  Clear deep orange in color.  A slightly darker orange hue than other orange IPA's.  Nice one finger head from the pour.  Lacing was outstanding as well....charting every sip on the inside of the glass as I enjoyed it.
Aroma:  Pungent hops.  Huge citrus on the nose from this one.  It really does smell like someone squeezed some fresh grapefruit into the beer.  You also get a prominent whiff of orange or tangerine.  Can not smell any malt in this one.  The hops are the star.  The description on the bottle indicates substantial pine, but I'm not getting that at all.  Mostly all citrus hops and maybe some sweet tropical fruit.

Taste:  Just like it smells.  Bursting with grapefruit goodness.  Fantastically bitter throughout with a touch of some pineapple sweetness that barely tames this hop bomb.  I'm not getting much pine in this at all, which for me is a good thing.  I am sure the only sweetness I am getting in this is from the sweet pineapple notes.  Also has a really nice earthy and grassy flavor.  Solid dankability.  Incredibly drinkable for me due to the bitter and slightly dry finish.

Overall:  It has to be up there as one  of the top IPA's I've been fortunate to try.  Many thanks to my buddy Walt for the brew.  Luckily he sent 2 more so I may go enjoy another after this review.  This beer hits all the right notes for me.  The label description indicates that this beer is a representation of a west coast IPA.  Typically known for heavy citrus and piney hops.  I have had a couple west coast IPA's like Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Green Flash West Coast IPA....and I would say that both of those beers could learn from this one.  Those two, in my experience, were heavier on the pine than the citrus which makes them less enjoyable for me.  This one focused more on the citrus with minimal pine which was right up my alley.  Hopefully some day they are able to distribute to Indiana because this could easily be an every day drinker for me.  Give me a grapefruity IPA any day....or just let me put this computer down so that I can have another Head Hunter.  Seriously, if you haven't had this one, get yourself a friend from Ohio or make a road trip.  This one is worth the effort.  Cheers, and happy hunting!! (no pun intended).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thoughts on Beer....

There always seems to be some special beer release coming.  I love beer.  It's hard to decide which releases to let slide by and which ones to buy the crap out of to store and savor.  Let's talk about a few recent or upcoming releases that you should be interested in....

1.  Goose Island Bourbon County Stout.  This beer has been out for about 2 weeks in the state of Indiana.  This is a ridiculous beer.  Loads of molasses, chocolate, oak, bourbon, and a touch of vanilla.  Very much worth seeking out because it is totally worth the investment.  A beer that is better 5 years down the road than it is currently.  It's amazing how the beer develops over time.  Grab a four pack, if you can, drink one and make notes of how it tasted.  Then next year open another, make notes. and so on and so forth.

2.  Three Floyds BrooDoo.  Quite possibly my favorite monthly release from my favorite brewery.  The fresh hop harvest ale is just bursting with hop flavors.  I drank the crap out of this last year and this year I plan to do the same.  This one hit shelves in Indy last week and continues to do so this week.

3.  Founders Backwoods Bastard:  Scotch ale aged in bourbon barrels.  certain to keep you warm during those winter months with a boozy sweetness that is nicely complimented by vanilla and oak notes.  This comes out at the beginning of November.

4.  Bells Java Stout:  One of my favorite coffee stouts.  You gotta get this one fresh so that the coffee is abundant, but it's well worth it.  Should be hitting shelves soon.  This one is not to be missed.

5.  Three Floyds Alpha Klaus.  A hopped up Christmas Porter.  I am not into Christmas Ales generally, but this is the one I buy several bottles of and enjoy throughout the holiday season.  November release.  Make sure you don't miss out on this one.

What are some other beers that you try and seek out during the next month or two?


Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Own Great American Beer Festival

Yikes, I haven't written anything in like 2 weeks.  Well that's going to change.

If you are into craft beer then you must be aware of the biggest craft beer festival that is held annually in Denver, Colorado.  The Great American Beer Festival is a 3 day celebration of craft beer where hundreds of brewers bring their creations for consumers to sample and judges to...well...judge.  I have never been but would love to someday.  It is literally the biggest craft beer celebration of all.

Inspired by this festival, I decided to peruse the list of last years medal winning beers.  There were 83 categories of beer up for judging.  Each category handed out gold, silver, and bronze medal recognition for deserving brews.  As I was browsing the list, I saw several beers that I currently have on hand in my fridge.  So I decided that I will pay tribute to the Great American Beer Festival over the course of the next 3 days by enjoying and reviewing some of the beers that won medals last year.

First up is Firestone Walker's Pale 31.  This was entered in category 49 last year under American Pale Ale.  There were a total of 105 entries in this category, and this beer won Gold.  I haven't tried this one before, and my awesome sister and brother in-law happened to send me one a few weeks ago.  Let's dive in:

Choose your vessel:  Bell's tulip.  Probably should have gone with a standard pint glass, but felt that a gold medal winner deserves a special glass.

The Pour:  Beer pours a fairly clear and bright golden color with a small one finger head.  Some mild lacing develops throughout consumption, but nothing substantial.

Aroma:  Bursting with crisp floral, citrus, and bitter hop aromas.  At the same time it smells quite delicate and light.  Incredibly impressive aroma for such a light and low ABV beer.

Taste:  Up front you get a little malt and fruity hop sweetness that quickly turns to citrus and pine hop bitterness.  The bitterness is there at the finish, but in a subtle way that just lingers ever so slightly.  This one is extremely light in mouthfeel, and the crispness of the hops make it ridiculously drinkable.  Medium to light carbonation.  This goes down so smoothly.

Overall:  This is a little pale ale with big hop flavors and ridiculous drinkability.  It's right up there with Zombie Dust for me in terms of how smooth and drinkable it is.  At 4.9% it's also extremely sessionable.  I could easily put away 6 of these in no time.  Incredible pale ale here.  It is packed with hop flavors, but the light mouthfeel and smoothness keeps you wanting to drink and drink and drink it.  I almost wish I had like 3 of them to pour into a large stein so that I could just guzzle the crap out of's that good.  I actually just reached for what I thought was my last drink, only to find the glass was empty....and I won't lie...I was a little sad it was gone.  Well deserving of the Gold Medal in the American Pale Ale category. Get it if you can.